<xmp> <body> </xmp> The Witch, The Tooth, And The Dragon

Tooth Capture!

~The Grumpy Little 'Familiar'~

Having spied the tooth, Hooblinka gathered up her shabby skirts and ran like the wind in the direction of the stumbling tooth. She squinted as she sprinted, making a beeline, and all the while, a loud "Snick! Snick! Snick!" was escaping from her tightly pressed lips.

"Gooseberry jam!" she exploded, "Can't you wait up, you ignorant cat!"

At that, the tooth turned more or less steadily and peered at her. He'd never seen anything quite like it-- messy and puffing and mad as a hornet. "What on earth are you screaming about, ah.....er..........'madam'?" he said-- looking more puzzled than cross.

"I'll TELL you what I'm 'screaming about'... I'm a WITCH... I'm a witch without a cat. Now, here Kitty, Kitty," piped Hooblinka, much nicer than before.

"A CAT, you numbskull. Haven't you eyes in that pointed head of yours? I'm a TOOTH. I am most OBVIOUSLY a TOOTH!"

"Well I know that," said Hooblinka. "But it's a cat I'm needing, so it's a CAT you shall be!" And she ran faster, straight at the tooth.

"Look here, good woman. I'm in a state. I fell out of my master's wagon as I was rumbling along with his other curiosities such as Bigfoot's shoe and King Midas' golden finger, and out I went, simple as that-- and no one noticed! Not one of my old friends! They merely bumped along, growing smaller and smaller in the distance while I lay here like a rock. My brain's been scrambled, madam --and here YOU are, pretending I'm some sort of CAT!"

"What kind of TOOTH are you? You're mighty BIG to be a TOOTH," Hooblinka added.

"I know. I AM rather large. I honestly have no memory of being in anything's mouth before my master found me, but he told me that I was the last six-year molar of Goliath, the giant in the Bible. (Between you and me, I never believed it) -but it has a fine flair, don't you think?"

Hooblinka looked the tooth over. "Hmmmmmmmm....." she said, tapping her foot in its pointed shoe. "I think I'll call you Scatcat because of how we met. You were running from me, don't you see? --so it's perfect. You must learn to meow very nicely, and HISS of course. A witch's FAMILIAR must be able to hiss...."

"A WHAT?" said the tooth. "You mean like a toad or a common housecat hiding behind your skirts and looking wicked the way witches always have some ugly creature hanging about, doing their bidding? ARE YOU CRAZY??? I'M A TOOTH!!"

"That's fixable," said Hooblinka. "I'll simply say you were a naughty cat, so I had to use my magic to turn you into a mangy old tooth. Yes, yes, that's a good story. I'll use that."

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING MANGY?" poor tooth shrieked. "I'll have you know I happen to be a sweet tooth and perhaps that's why I fell out of... whatever I grew in before? A SWEET TOOTH, madam, and nothing less!"

"Are you still a sweet tooth then? I'll just bet with only those two nubby roots you have for legs and no arms at all, you'd find it p-r-e-t-t-y hard to get yourself sweets and sugars and nectars and things, now wouldn't you?"

The tooth began to drool. His stomach rumbled.

"Yeeeessss...I think you'd very much enjoy being my cat, since I have these very useful arms and hands, and I could feed you what you like. S-W-E-E-T-S, dear Scatcat. S-W-E-E-T-S......" - and the tooth drooled pools of silvery slime all over his nubby roots.

"Since I'm not doing anything else... for the time being, I might pretend to be the familiar to a hag, who......"

"HAG???" Hooblinka yelled.

"...you.....you..... MOLAR!"

"SOOT PILE!" the tooth shouted back. "I saw you appear from a knob of burnt, black ash, you.... you..... TAR BUTT!"

"Bothersome BICUSPID!" Hooblinka shot back. "Evil EYETOOTH! And since you're so mean," Hooblinka suddenly purred, "I guess I'll just have to grab that honey from the hive over there, and EAT IT ALL MYSELF."

"HUH...HUH...HONEY?" the tooth pleaded. "Oh, I LOVE HONEY!"

"Well, that's too bad, because this is special CAT HONEY, tooth. Only a witch's CAT can get some of this honey," she said, looking at the tooth sideways, her thin-lipped mouth beginning just the slightest curl of a smile.

"What do you say, tooth. Tooth? Scatcat?"

And with that, the tooth, standing in his own pool of drool, managed the softest, awkwardest "Meooooow" that ever was heard. Bested by Hooblinka, the tooth became, from that moment on, the witch's familiar-- 'Scatcat'. That is how the strange little witch was able to secure her own feline partner. For good or ill, they began a long, long partnership. Tooth and witch.

Little did they know that soon there would be another added to their small band, for just as Hooblinka and Scatcat were finishing up their lunch of honey and wild mushrooms, from just over the hill came the sound of the LOUDEST, most pitiful sobbing they'd ever heard.

"Snick! Snick! Snick!" Hooblinka sputtered, shaking her head like a wet dog.

"Why do you keep doing that? What IS that thing you do, Hoobie?" (Yes... in just a very short time, the witch and the tooth were using pet names for one another.) "Why are you twitching and doing that horrible snick thing?"

"My HAIR gets in my mouth, Scat. I can't help it."

"Well, COMB it then!" said Scatcat.

"Can't. Witches aren't neat, Scat. We just aren't. It's part of 'the look'" And then she laughed.

And believe or not, Scatcat the tooth began to laugh too --and down road they went, laughing so loudly they drowned out a desperate sobbing, that step by step, was growing closer to them as they neared an orchard.

"Apples meow!" said Scat. "Er....mew meowwww, app-pulls, which I LOVE! Is it close to dinner, Hoob?"

"Oh, you!" laughed Hooblinka, and it was precisely at that instant, that a flash of ghastly green with POLKA DOTS darted out in front of them, like a WHOLE HILLSIDE moving! It sobbed as it went.

"What was THAT?" they both sputtered at once.

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