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Soul Identity - Dennis Batchelder's debut novel
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a cat's life in galilee
By Dennis Batchelder 6 June 2000

meow! that's cat language - the same the world over. i'm sure you understand. if not, i don't mind. you do your thing, i'll do mine.

why am i so nonchalant? because i'm a cat, and that's how i am. i'm a tom cat who lives on the sea of galilee, in a city called tiberias.

yesterday i was doing my thing as usual - watching this old guy fish. he's there every day. he does his thing, too - puts some bread on two hooks, throws the line in the water, and yanks out a fish or two every few minutes. they're small fish - more cat sized than old-guy sized. but do you think he shares with me? no way. he's too stingy. he's never given me or my buddies a single fish.

but that's ok. i hang out at this joint called "st. peter's grill". this is a good tourist trap, and often there's some sucker or other who will share their fish with me. and their's is cooked, anyway. much better.

the reason the tourists come here and feed me is because lots of them are christians, and there's lots of references to this sea in their bible. the locals here make a lot of money by giving these tourists rides in the boat that jesus rode in, or showing them exactly where jesus and peter walked on the water, or selling them a piece of the bread and fish that jesus fed 5,000. and some of them make their money by feeding them (and me).

the sea is really a big lake, about 15 meters deep. well, now it's about 10 meters deep, because there's been little rain over the last two years. but there's still plenty of fish, which is all i'm really interested in. i'm a cat - what else do you want from me?

so these two guys come in to eat - an israeli and an american. the israeli tells the american to order st. peter's fish, because it's the only place you can get it. i call it mousht. i think others around the world might call it tilapia - i'm not sure.

anyway, do i like mousht? duh - i'm a cat - of course i like fish. "ya mousht ta-eem." that's hebrew for "st. peter's fish is delicious" especially the way they make it at st. peter's grill - fried.

so here i am trying to get my share of the mousht. i do my thing - wiggle my tail and my butt at the american, but it's not working. so i start purring, but nothing doing. this guy is tough. he tells the israeli that i'm cute, but i can tell he's not a cat lover. he says that if he feeds me,
more cats will come. this dude has the way of speaking the obvious.

so being nice doesn't work. it's time to get pushy. i put my feet right up on the table (i'm standing on a ledge between him and the water), and give him a big MEOW. then do it again, but louder. still no mousht for the pussy cat. the guy's kinda big, so he's definitely not starving - maybe the trip from nazareth to tiberias took too long, and he's just too hungry. that's all right - i can be patient.

finally the american throws me a little tiny bone. jackpot, and WE'VE GOT HIM! i call my buddies, and pretty soon there's seven of us swarming around the ledge, fighting and clawing and hissingn over that little bone. one of my buddies (traitor) took it from me, so i didn't even get to eat the american's stingy little gift.

that's just what the american needed i guess. i love these guys! they have this sense of fairness that tends to get them in trouble. like this: every time he threw me a piece of fish, i'd let one of my buddies take it. i was pretty slick about it - i would put up a fight, and do my own share of clawing, hissing, and scratching, but in the end i'd give away the bone and skin to someone else.

this really bothered the american. he threw more and more bones, and when he ran out of bones, he threw some fish. and when he ran out of fish, he threw the israeli's bones. what a sucker! what a feast!

finally, i saw that the fish was almost gone, and i took the last two pieces for myself. my buddies ran off, and i savored the last piece of mousht, all alone with the tourists.

ya mousht hayya ta-eem. meow!

a cat's life in galilee - israel