A New York based writer and documentary filmmaker, Jodie Childers’s work has been featured in Eleven Eleven, Poetry East, The Portland Review, and other literary journals, and in 2012, she received a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize for Poetry. She wrote and produced The Other Parade for RTE in 2011, and she is currently directing a documentary about Pete Seeger's environmental legacy. She is an assistant professor of English at Queensborough Community College-CUNY.
First there was the building of the sets, but he enjoyed that part of the labor, transforming the many rooms of his Victorian home into living narratives with lumber, paint, and scrap metal. Constructing the ark was not easy, and getting enough water to flood the room presented an even more significant challenge.
But matching the cats’ personalities with the proper Biblical personalities was the trickiest. Anybody could see that Orange would make the perfect Adam—a dolt of a tomcat, a feline follower, but he fancied himself a Moses or a David. Both Princess and Miss Kitty wanted to play Mary. He solved that problem by making one Mary Magdalene and offering to alternate them every other night. Lady Tiger just couldn’t understand why he needed Baby Midnight for the nativity. Speaking rationally just didn’t seem to work whenever he approached her and the kittens. The scratches set him back a week.
But he pushed through his trials and tribulations because he believed that this was a project of beauty and import, his gift to his maker, his opus, his life’s work. And on Good Friday, the grand opening, when he saw the long line of patrons at his door, wrapped all the way down Almond Street, all was confirmed—he felt like God himself, the creator of a great universe.
Yes, there were a few glitches in the first few rooms, but doesn’t even God feel that way about his creation? Doesn’t he bestow upon us the gift of free will so that we can surprise and entertain him? Terrified of the snake, Orange climbed the tree and wouldn’t come back down; Sprinkles refused to go into the lion’s den, and Baby Midnight leapt from the crib in a rather adorable gesture that disrupted the narrative but pleased the crowd. But all was worth it for that perfect moment when Mr. Tiger broke the tablets and the hired street cats scattered just as planned. The onlookers watched in silence and awe, humbled by Mr. Tiger, by God, by him—the creator.
It was supposed to be somber, yet beatific. He had thought it all out, planned every last detail—he had even put the catnip in the cross. How could he have known that this would happen? How could anyone have prepared for something like this? And on opening day! Poor little Sandy Saunders. Poor little Tommy Thompson. Don’t worry. Mr. Muffin will rise again in the next scene, he reassured them all. But nothing would calm them, nothing at all—the parents were angry, the children were crying, and the cats just wouldn’t stay still.