Chapter 2 The Normandy Invasion

Finally, two mornings later, the ferry is docking at French Francois of Catos. It has been a long hard journey. For the 3 gateros, the very first time they experience sailors sway and wobbly sea legs as their 12 paws meet thankfully with solid ground. The salty air is full with the raucous shrill of white sea gulls. The stone harbour wall is green, slimy and damp beneath their paws, the sharp odor of the early morning catch tantalises their nostrils. Their stomachs rumble, they haven’t eaten since The Daisy Dairy rest stop. For an hour they wander around the throngs of soggy discarded black fishing nets, and past the brightly painted boats, ignored by rubber clad leather tanned fishermen gabbling their strange gallic, unbeknown to three hungry home counties housecats.

Rounding the jetty corner, they come suddenly face-to-face with a huge angry Tomcat, midnight black fur on end, red eyes gleaming menacingly like a tasmanian devil. “..AND WHAT you think you are doing on MY turf, amigos…?” he snarls, striding towards them on raised pawtips… Brave Bobby leaps in front, ready for action, grey furry fists high cuffing the empty air… “..beat it, Indiana Jones”, soothes Lillith, blocking his path just in the nick of time.. “Please Sir”, mews Lillith demurely, through airborne fur drifts, “we’ve escaped from England, we’re Fugitives.. but we’re only passing through…”. “Please, let us be on our way…”

“Papers..?” snaps the Tomcat. Millou hurriedly produces three vaccination certificates, and navy blue cat passports. “Hhmmm”, mutters the Tom, casting a critical eye. “Do you know these expire in two days..?”.

“but we will be gone sooner”, says Lillith fluttering her golden eyelashes becomingly…

At that moment, a pretty black and white cat donning a red bow collar, appears from behind a wooden barrel.

“What is it Gerald?”, she calls across to the Tom.

“Fugitives”, he snarls in reply.

“Oh that’s nice dear, they can stay for supper. There’s plenty for all..”. And with that, she takes Lillith’s paw, and leads them all down some steps, along a narrow passage, and into the chill musky shadows, past a sign proclaiming “Fish Market”.

There, in every direction are heaped piles of glassy eyed silver bodies. They make their way to the most select, tender and smallest. After twenty minutes they are contently licking their paws and washing behind their ears.

“Merci mademoiselle”, says Lillith. She remembers a little French from Kitten Kollege.

“Please, can you tell us the right way to Spain?”

The black and white cat points obligingly across the harbour at an arrow “Disembarkations”.

“Just over there My Dear..”

Making their way over to the end of a row of chugging cars, the 3Gateros notice a man and woman on two bicycles, one of the bicycles attached to a tow bar and mini buggy. On the side of the buggy is emblazoned ‘Our French Tour’.

The man looks around and notices the curious three.

“Hello Vagabonds. Where are you headed?”. Upon hearing their continental travel plans, he exclaims, “Why not tag along with us? We are on our honeymoon and we are heading to Carentan, Normandy. By the way, I’m Mike and this is Evelien”.

The mini buggy is like a double seater chaise lounge. Lillith, Bobby and Millou settle contently in the softly sprung yellow cushions, and the bicycles set sail on the open trail.

As the breathtaking French scenery glides by, Lillith starts to purr a song and Millou washes Bobby’s nose. By nightfall they have reached the idyllic shores of Utah Beach.

Mike leans his bicycle against the campsite wall, and begins to assemble a cocoon tent and Outback BBQ.

“I hope you like hotdogs, we’re frying tonight..!”. Millou, Bobby and Lillith yawn and stretch lazily on the grassy banks of the beach. To the soft hum of the cicada beetles, beneath the silk black starlit night, they slip into a soundless sleep.

The next day they wake to the waves crashing against the shore. Adele appears with a toothbrush in her mouth. “We’ve decided to stay here, Furries”, she says through a mouthful of foam, “you might want to continue without us..”.

“Here, take this..”, she slings a coil of rope and Bobby catches it deftly.

“Okay”, shrugs Millou, turning to the others. “It’s time for a emergency Catference”. They huddle round, paw in pow, tails curled neatly around haunches and whiskers touching at the tips.

“I vote we stay on the water”, says Millou. “The water brought us here, it ca carry us further”.

Bobby also likes the idea of lazy travel. Earlier they passed a red canoe, and they retrace their steps to whe the shore funnels into a deep grey green canal.

With a furtive glance to make sure no-one was looking, they unravel the rope and pile in, setting the canoe free.

Lillith cannot swim, and to steady her nerves she picks up the blue bonnet she is half way through knikking. She needn’t have worried.

With Bobby and Millou in tandem, they cut seamlessly through the canal current, the churning oars flickering glistening mists of water droplets onto their grey and ginger faces.

The days passes until dusk begins to settle. They round one final bend on their course, and the canoe grates on the shingles of a tiny inlet, nestling in a copse of fir fronds. Some hundred metres ahead lies a magnificent chateau.

“Wow”, exclaims Bobby, “It’s like Dracula’s castle”.

They slowly approach, gaping at the grey soaring turrets and the limestone gargoyles. A wooden drawbridge on chains stretches across a moat, and they scuttle apprehensively across. A dozen black bats fill the night sky above them. They follow the chateau wall all the way around, but there is no sign of entrance to the towering structure.

Suddenly, Millou notices a silouette of light through a half open window.

“It’s too high”, objects Lillith. Bobby hops up on Millou’s shoulders, and Lillith climbs up on over into the dim light beyond. Row upon row, upon the flagstone hallway, are vast wooden barrels, and an occasional iron bucket. A bottle lays on its side, its label marked ‘Le Chateau de Taillis Reserva’.

Breathing the ancient oak scents, Bobby makes his way to a half full iron bucket. He dips his paw into the musky gold liquid..”hhmmmm”, he exclaims delightedly…

Millou and Lillith join him and within an hour are exchanging tales of yore, with Bobby giggling hysterically in the background. An hour later all three are snoring deeply, the only movement their twitching tails and chattering teeth as they chase endless scurries of church mice through their dreams.

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