Ch.1: Ginger’s Makeover
Mrs. Cabbage looked at her daughter in consternation before exclaiming, “What on earth are you doing to the cat, Ginny?”
Her gaze was at the moment fixed upon her daughter, Virginia, who, as a precocious eight year old, often found herself in remarkably strange situations, primarily of her own making. At the moment she was engaged in mummifying the cat with various colorful ribbons ‘borrowed’ from her mother’s collection and which were originally intended for the purpose of gift wrapping. There the two were, the cat, nominally known as Ginger in deference to her ginger stripes, lying patiently on the plush beige carpet in the living room, basking lazily in the sunlight streaming in from the half opened window and graciously allowing Virginia to wrap her abdomen and limbs (she hadn’t yet gotten to her tail as this may involve a bit more reluctance on the cat’s part and not a few scratches on Ginny herself) in the aforementioned ribbons.
“I’m trying to preserve kitty’s coat so she doesn’t get it dirty anymore when she rolls around in the sand outside,” replied Ginny, her face as serious as a heart attack as she looked up from her victim, who at the interruption began batting lazily at the red ribbon dangling off Ginny’s hand. Ginny got the idea from one of her favorite cartoons, Mummies Alive!, which she watched religiously on Saturday mornings, along with Ghostbusters and Swat Cats. Ginny loved mysteries and everything supernatural. Puzzles enticed her and enigmas intrigued her. She longed for adventures, perhaps an encounter with a ghost or UFO. She dreamt of being a spy or detective and was often seen with a little pink backpack containing a notebook, pen, and binoculars, in case she happened upon a mystery in her daily wanderings.
When Mrs. Cabbage happened upon the duo, the procedure was not going well by any means. Although a willing participant, Ginger was also a lazy creature, making no attempt to lift the necessary parts so that Ginny could better ensconce her in the strips. She lay heavily on the floor and when Ginny tried to lift her, would slide most exasperatingly back down or hang too limply to be of much use. So there were strips of ribbon strung haphazardly along her abdomen, held together by bits of tape, or straggling loosely on three out of four limbs.
Mrs. Cabbage despairingly eyed the seemingly hundreds of cut- off, torn, or otherwise unusable bits of ribbon scattered here and there on the living room floor. “And who do you suppose will clean this mess you’ve now made, Virginia?” she admonished as she began to pick up pieces here and there.
“I will mother, just as soon as I’m done. I promise!” Virginia often made promises with the best of intentions but they somehow or other fell to the wayside in her almost monomaniacal pursuit of adventures (as her mother well knew).
Just as Ginny finished speaking Ginger’s ears suddenly perked up and she made a mad dash for the half open window that overlooked the front garden. Mrs. Cabbage saw a rainbow colored flash whiz by before she could gather her wits enough to realize it was the be-ribboned Ginger hopping first on the couch, then on the window sill, and onto the branch of a giant elm tree that grew in the yard.
Heedless of the hard work put in by Ginny, Ginger flew past protruding branches and rushed headlong up the thick tree trunk, gathering leaves and twigs in her fur, which, along with the ribbons, presented a rather bewildering sight to any onlookers. Several birds resting upon a tree branch appeared startled at the unusual activity and espying the source decided it would be best to gossip upon a safer shelter. Indeed, a squirrel that was complacently nibbling on an acorn was so surprised at seeing the odd creature coming directly towards him, he practically flew up the tree and onto the roof without further prompting. He disregarded the barely chewed acorn in his haste and it fell with a heavy thud onto the ground below.
Ginger, as suddenly as she started, just as suddenly stopped in the exact spot where the squirrel had just been. She sat pondering her next move, then as if deciding it was not worth the effort, started gingerly licking her paw. Some ribbons hung limply about her abdomen and paws, noticing which she started shaking one paw vehemently this way and that in an attempt to rid herself of the now tiresome strips. Her efforts were futile and in her frustration she started meowing most lamentably up in the tree.
(Incidentally, not long afterwards arose a rumor of a colorful monster with glittering eyes and razor sharp teeth that patrolled the neighborhood in search of naughty children to satisfy its desire for flesh. This creature supposedly made awful moans and groans in its hunger-ridden state and was often heard at twilight, causing the neighborhood children to tremble in their shoes and run home in terror. But more on that later.)
By the time Ginny got into the yard Ginger had lain down on the topmost tree branch, a good distance from the ground (the exact number of feet was beyond Ginny’s ability to calculate but she could have sworn it was fifty feet if it was an inch), and made no move to get herself down, the descent being in no way as easily accomplished as was the ascent.
It would be well at this point for the reader to know that Ginger often got herself into scrapes that she could not see her way out of and which required assistance from her two legged friends, be it Ginny or otherwise. In this instance Ginny could be of little help, for her diminutive form prevented her from climbing the tree, as she could barely reach half the distance to where the first branch sprung forth.
Mrs. Cabbage was well used to such antics from the troublesome duo and resignedly went back inside to telephone the firefighters, all of whom were at this point well acquainted with both Mrs. Cabbage and Virginia, not to mention the offending feline herself.
Ch. 2: Ginger’s Rescue
The sound of the approaching fire truck was heard well before its well-known brightly red exterior was spotted coming down Main Street. Regardless of the myriad times the men have been summoned down to rescue Ginger, they never failed to speed down with their blaring sirens, much to the amusement of the neighborhood children who all would flock about the parked truck, chittering excitedly during the performance of the rescue. The men preserved an air of seriousness as they went about their duties, extending the ladder up to the requisite branch and keeping the children well-informed of the proceedings every step of the way. Their smiling eyes and barely concealed laughter was not lost upon the adults, who knew they acted thus for the benefit of the children.
Mrs. Cabbage was standing on one side of the tree and speaking in a low voice to Fireman George, an old friend from high school who had recently joined the Fire department. Ginny had heard that Fireman George used to live in the big city (which city she did not know but her imagination ran wild at the thought of the ‘big’ city and all the adventures to be had there). He had lived there for a number of years, before Ginny was born even, and feeling homesick, decided to move back to the town he grew up in.
Ginny liked Fireman George and stuck close by him during the, as she saw, daring rescue. Her forehead crinkled anxiously as Fireman Tom slowly climbed the ladder, fearing to go fast and startle Ginger, who eyed him suspiciously as he made his way towards her.
Though having constantly been rescued, Ginger did not relish the company of many of the two legged race and shunned them whenever possible. She slowly crept backward as the Fireman Tom reached nearer and her pupils dilated until her eyes were entirely black. She looked like a furry orange throw pillow by the time Fireman Tom could gather her in his arms. She hissed at him a few times but eventually allowed him to grasp her and take her ever so slowly back down the ladder.
As they came down, Ginny breathed a sigh of relief and smiled brightly at Fireman George. “See,” he said, “nothing to worry about. Ginger is okay now.”
He smiled knowingly at Mrs. Cabbage who shook her head, as is her wont, resignedly. “Now go get Ginger and thank Fireman George and the other Firemen for yet again coming to Ginger’s aid,” ordered Mrs. Cabbage, whose patience at the hijinks of both Ginny and the cat was wearing thin.
Ch. 3: New Neighbors
Eventually the firemen left and the crowd of curious children and some amused adults dispersed, leaving Ginny and Ginger once again to their own devices.
“Well, said Ginny, in the most grown up she could command, “what do you have to say for yourself?”
She stood with her arms akimbo, frowning most severely upon a nonchalant Ginger, who immediately began the lengthy process of cleaning herself, beginning with her left limb. The reader will here picture the scene in all its gravity, a somber Ginny staring down in expectation of a single sign of remorse from the outstretched limb of the distracted feline as she fastidiously licked herself clean.
Ginny sighed and shook her head from side to side. The creature was positively incorrigible. She was headed back into her house when she noticed a moving truck pull up in front of the house to her right. New neighbors, she thought excitedly. “I wonder if they have children!” she cried aloud to herself. Immediately she ran into her home and searched for her pink knapsack containing her spy gear, specifically her binoculars. All thoughts of tidying up the living room fled her mind as she scrambled on the couch by the front window and noted every move of her soon-to-be neighbors.
Ginger had followed her Little Miss into the house and settled comfortably near her head, gazing alongside Ginny on her perch on the back of the sofa, upon which Ginny rested her arms. So the spies were found half an hour later, hardly having moved an inch in their stakeout, by Mrs. Cabbage who knew full well that the next few days would consist in various and oftentimes unaccountable movements on the part of both Ginny and her shadow, Ginger, as they sought out ways of gathering information regarding the new neighbors.
“Ginny,” she began warningly, “you leave the new neighbors be. I don’t want you to worry them before they’ve even had a chance to settle in.”
“Okay mother, I won’t. I just wanted to see what they’re like and if they have any children.”
“And?” inquired Mrs. Cabbage, for her curiosity was also piqued, despite appearances to the contrary.
Ginny turned around. A look of disappointment was stamped on her face. “There was a mommy and daddy but no kids.”
“Well, you have quite a lot of friends already dear, don’t be sad.”
“I know mother, but it would have been lovely to have a new friend so nearby. And maybe they’d have liked mysteries as much as I do and want to go ghost-hunting with me. None of the other kids like ghost-hunting.”
Despite her good nature and friendliness, it must be admitted that Ginny was a bit strange in her ways. She was uninterested in the pursuits commonly enjoyed by other children of her age. She liked to read a great many books, especially mysteries like Nancy Drew or The Bobbsey Twins while the other children ran outside and played tag or hide and seek.
She wished she had siblings with whom to investigate missing cases with, for though she had the silent and skillful Ginger by her side, yet two-sided conversation would be preferable every so often. While a solace to her loneliness, Ginger’s playfulness and lamentable disinterest had led to many avoidable mishaps in a number of past cases. She sighed and walked slowly to her room, with Ginger trailing along behind her while her mother smiled watching after her. Her daughter surely had a flare for the dramatic that certainly did not come from her side of the family.
She then thought of Ginny’s father. He was a fireman and had died in his prime while rescuing a family from their burning home. He was so proud of his little girl with her strange ways. Mrs. Cabbage sat on her couch reflecting on the days he was alive and a sigh, not unlike Ginny’s, escaped from her lips as she dreamt of the past.
Ch. 4 – The Friendly Meeting
The next morning found Ginny, a surprisingly early riser given her penchant for late night wanderings, and the ever present Ginger out for a walk in the bright sunshine of a rather glorious Sunday morning.
She stopped every few steps to examine an ant or pick up an occasional rock that seemed to have potential for use later on. A leaf or flower sometimes caught Ginger’s attention and Ginny would claim the prize for her darling pet and stuff it in her backpack for future amusement.
Ginny lived in a tight knit community in a small town with very few incidents of note and even fewer visitors. A new family moving in was enough cause for excitement and Ginny became the center of a small crowd when she stopped by the local grocer’s for a toffee.
Everyone in town was aware of her penchant for investigating, whether from personal experience or not the reader may hazard a guess, and so went to her as the obvious source of information, young though she was. She was exceptionally intelligent for her age and spoke with a decisiveness not often found in eight year olds.
She was questioned quite thoroughly, not the least by the grocer himself, knowing his position as one of informant to his customers. Information was very valuable in his line of work, as it provided the extra lure needed to draw in customers daily and made him a man of respect in a town with very little else to offer in terms of amusing oneself.
Finally drained of all information she possessed, which admittedly she was very willing to supply, Ginny made her way leisurely to the Fire House. She thought she might visit Fireman George and perhaps offer him a toffee. She had taken a shine to him, his good humor drawing her in and his kindness solidifying her friendly regard.
As she approached the Fire Station however a soft hissing sound emanated near her feet and when she looked down Ginger’s fur had increased exponentially and she looked almost like a Pomeranian. The cause of this sudden change was evident in the form of the Fire House’s mascot, Spot, the Dalmatian.
Immediately upon spying Ginger Spot took off with a speed surprising for a canine of his advanced age, for he was nothing short of nine years old. His sudden departure called forth a few of the firemen in the station, including Fireman George. Spotting Ginny, he headed straight for her and picked her up like a little doll.
“Well, Little One, what brings you by? I see our friend Spot is desirous of making friends with your mischievous Ginger.”
A he spoke, the twain were at an impasse, for Ginger had dexterously climbed a nearby tree and gazed indifferently from her elevated position upon an enthusiastic Spot, barking his friendly overtures in as many loud barks and snarls as could be summoned in his excitement.
“I think your kitty is going for a record now. This will be the second day in a row she is in need of rescuing.” He addressed Ginny with humorous sparkle in his eyes whiel he tickled her until she giggled with glee.
After about fifteen minutes of trying to appease Spot then finagling Ginger from her position of safety into a cat carrier, Fireman George changed into his regular clothes and escorted Little Miss Virginia back to her home.
There he was courteously offered refreshment and spent a lovely afternoon with two most bewitching ladies, three if you count Ginger eying him suspiciously as he fondly played with her Little Miss. If one might hazard a guess one might say that Ginger suffered from all the wrack and worry of jealousy but disdained to show evidence of such an feeling. She was much too proud a feline.
Ch. 5: A Fortunate Flyer