Trouble’s Brewing by Zachary Car
EDITOR’S NOTE: Last month the first ever winners of the Marion Seabrook Memorial Writing Contest were announced in Ms. Seabrook’s home community of Mindemoya at the Pioneer Museum.
This spring the idea for the contest was borne from the Manitoulin Writers’ Circle and the Central Manitoulin Historical Society to honour well-known Manitoulin author, playwright and English teacher Marion Seabrook, who passed away this winter.
Winning the adult category is Emily De Angelis for her work Fine Bone China, receiving $100, a Scenic Manitoulin calendar courtesy of Jan McQuay and publication in The Manitoulin Expositor. Zachary Car is the winner of the youth category for his piece Trouble’s Brewing. Zachary’s story follows here:
“Tell us a story!” Juniper asked eagerly. “Yes, a story!” added Jupiter. Such curious kittens, always pestering their mother for a story!
“Alright, but just one!” answered Alice. “This is how I met your father, Speckles, and why we had to get a new home.”
“Start the story!” said Jupiter.
“Alright, here’s how it begins…”
Well, one morning, I got up and saw our human, Alfred, bottling some beer. I licked my tabby fur, and rubbed against his legs. He tripped over me, and fell into the tub. It was pretty amusing, until he pushed me out of the room and closed the door, with the words, “Not funny, Alice, get out of here!” and he locked the door behind him as he went to take a bath. He was not amused. It was funny for me, though. He was all wet and stinky! Birds were chirping away at something, and I looked out the window at the vast forest outside. I turned around, and climbed the folding staircase to the attic. I heard a slam, and turned around to see it close behind me. I was pretty startled, and for a moment thought about scratching at the trapdoor for Alfred to let me out, but I looked back, and saw a black and white car pull up in the driveway. Humans in blue uniforms knocked on the door, and I watched through the window as Alfred was taken into the car with some of the humans, and was driven away, tearing all I had ever known from me in an instant.
I turned from the window, panicked, and started trying to find a way out. I picked up an old jar with my teeth, and spun it around and threw it as hard as I could at the window. The glass shattered, and I carefully stepped around the broken glass and climbed down to the floor. I walked inside through the front door that was left open, and stepped past the locked door that led to the basement. Alfred said something about people not allowing beer in the area. I realized I should make sure they couldn’t get to it or see it, so I checked the basement door was locked, I made sure the spare key Alfred put on my collar was still there, and hid the main key in the garbage can. Another black and white car came up the driveway, and the humans in blue uniforms came up to the house. I jumped under the stairs, just in time as four of the humans came through the door. I watched through the knothole in the wood as they searched the room, and I realized they were looking for the key that I hid. I leaned forward to see better, but then I fell on the metal cat carrier Alfred keeps under there. They came over to investigate, and then, one of them found me! He picked me up, and then he saw the key around my collar. “Hey! Look, a key!” he said. I bit down hard on his big, sausage-like thumb, and that’s when all hell broke loose. He took a wild dive for me, and another one jumped at me with outstretched hands. They both missed, and I saw my chance as they were recovering. I jumped through the gap between the steps on the staircase, and a third tried to stop me, so I ducked through his legs, and made a wild dash for the door. The last one surprised me, and barricaded the doorframe, blocking the gap with his legs and arms. I slid on the wood floor on my back, and out came my claws. Straight in the unmentionables. That probably hurt for a few weeks. And I think I left a nasty scar on him. I dashed for the nearest tree, shot up the trunk, bark flying out from underneath my paws. I jumped from branch to branch like a squirrel, with the sound of the wounded human far behind.
I woke up sometime around noon to the toads croaking like mad. That’s one of the things of living on Manitoulin. Toads. There’s a lot of nature. Anyway, I had slept in the hollow of an old oak tree for the night. I was hungry. Very hungry. I decided to find a mouse, like I was trained to do as a mouser. I heard some rustling, and saw a shrew. I approached slowly, and made a ninja leap, and caught the mouse in my claws in a flash. I ate it quickly. I had some things to do. I decided to go back to the house, and see what I could find. I went through the door and I looked around for something, anything that could help me. After an exhausting search that didn’t turn anything up, I decided to make my way into town. I walked along the shoreline of the bay, and eventually I came to Kagawong. I looked in the window of the nearest home and saw a woman rocking by the fire with a cat. The cat looked around, saw me in the window, and jumped through the cat flap. He walked up to me, and said, “What are you doing here? Not trying to steal my food, are you?
“I’m not here to do anything. Just looking for a place the humans in blue take their prisoners.” I said cautiously.
“My human was taken because they think he makes beer. They are right, though.”
“I thought that wasn’t allowed… Maybe I can help you out a little? Need directions to the court? I’m Speckles, by the way.”
I told him about Alfred getting arrested, so he gave me directions to the courtroom. That’s how I met your father. So anyway, I walked straight along the path, and made the turns I needed to take to get there. I came across another town, Gore Bay, and I went to the town court. I walked in the door as it shut behind someone, but I was shooed out. But I persisted. I walked along the back of the building, until I found an open window. I looked in and I saw a big room with a podium up front, and chairs in several rows. The door opened, and up came Alfred and a man I recognized from dinner a few weeks ago. They sat down at the two chairs at the front, and people started filling the rows. They started talking, but the man up front banged a hammer, and they settled down. He shouted something, and the man from dinner spoke. Then someone said “objection,” and the man from dinner said something again. The man up front seemed to agree. I took a step closer to hear better, and then I could hear. He was asking for evidence that he was violating it, and the man from dinner said that it’s ‘just a rumour.’ They were talking about the brewery room. I needed to get rid of everything! I decided to burn down the house, seeing that alcohol is flammable. Which you should never think of burning, kits, ever! So, I turned to go, but I fell straight in the open window. All heads turned my way.
I was cornered. Someone let out a confused gasp, and then Alfred shouted, “Alice!” so I took the split second of distraction as an opportunity, and bolted for the door. It got me out, but it wasn’t enough to keep the blue suit humans from seeing the key, and recognizing me. The one I scratched earlier thundered after me, stepping so loudly it sounded like the place was falling apart. He was screaming at me blue murder, and I think he was still pretty mad about the incident with my claws and his man-parts. I bolted past the door, and then stopped suddenly. He didn’t expect this, so he went flying over my head, landing in a face-plant. I didn’t waste a second, and I scrambled to my feet and pushed at the door. I looked around, and saw the person who put me out the first time I got in. She picked me up and tossed me out the door and took the liberty to lock it behind her. I couldn’t believe my luck, and so I ran as fast as I could back home.
It took me a bit to get there, so I wasted no time in unlocking the brewery door with the key in my teeth, and told Speckles, who I met up with along the way, to find some matches. I picked up a bottle of vodka by the neck, and poured a line to the outside. I took another one, and I poured it all over the floor. Then I took out candles and set them up around the house, so it would look like they caused the fire. I ran outside to meet Speckles, who found the matches and struck one on the side of the house. I yelled, “Duck!” and set the line of alcohol on fire. You wouldn’t believe how fast it burnt. The fire spread in a matter of seconds to the house, and then into the brewery room. Then the house exploded in flames, and the noise was deafening. We went back to Gore Bay, where the court room had just received word of the house burning down due to “unattended candles,” and Alfred was set free because no evidence was turned up except a few bottles and a shattered bathtub. But what they figured was, who doesn’t bathe? And besides, bottles can be used for other things. So in the end Alfred was free, and everyone was happy. He used his insurance money to build a new house, and It was right next to Speckles’ place. Alfred learned his lesson, and things were good again. And when the prohibition passed, Alfred opened this very bar, where we live right now.”
“Tell us another story!” Juniper begged.
“Yes, another story!” added Jupiter.
“Maybe some other time, kits. It’s time for bed,” said Alice. Alfred walked up, and gave them a pat on the head each. Closing time, let’s head upstairs.”