Gaucho, Episode 2: The hundreds
If you’re just joining us, check out the first ep here:
And now for today’s ep, “The hundreds” …
Yep. That’s a mattress. At the bottom of this huge tree with boards nailed to it, a little house in its branches. “And we call this the Station?”
“Yep.” Pem is a talking cat. Still not over it.
“And what’s with the mattress?”
Pem turns her head at me. “I dunno. In case we fall?”
“Have we ever fallen?”
“I’m not sure. My mind’s usually on other things.”
My finger itches. It’s the ring finger, all callused and missing its ring. It’s raising my hand up and pointing me … out there, somewhere. “Wow, what a view.”
Pem sits on her back feet, front feet between them. “I know, right?”
“What am I looking at?”
“That’s the Valley of Sights and Sounds. It’s the bigger world, William.”
I look at my finger, itching and pulling me toward it. “And this is where we go?”
“Yeah. We follow the finger.”
“And she’s out there?”
Pem shoves her face into her side and gnaws at some fur. “Sorry. Had an itch.”
“It’s okay. I know the feeling.”
“We don’t know where she is, William. That’s why we’re looking.”
I’m curious. “And what are you looking for, Pem?”
Pem’s eyes are huge, ears pointed up, then one ear rotates toward the Valley.
Pem’s eyes narrow to slits, and she relaxes in the shoulders. “Yep. Fine.”
I’m nervous to ask again, but I do. “So what are you looking for?”
“Why better food, of course.”
She’s putting me on. But that’s okay. I can tell we’ll have time to talk.
I walk toward the Valley, in the direction of my finger.
Pem rushes in front of me, presses her body against my shins.
“What are you nuts?”
“What?” I ask. “I thought you said this is the way we go?”
“No, no! Not that way! Not over a freakin’ cliff!”
I look down and see that my finger was leading me right over a cliff, yeah. “Whoa. Good thing you stopped me.”
Pem rubs against my legs some more, and I pet her back and face.
“Let’s try the trail, okay?”
Pem struts along the edge of the cliff, then veers away from it and down a slope.
“There’s a trail?” I ask.
“Isn’t there always?”
I walk over to where she is and see there are, in fact, hundreds of trails at the base of the hill.
“Oh my …”
“What? Too many options?”
I’m stunned silent.
“Yeah, humans have trouble with options.”
“Cats do, too,” I said.
Pem cocks her head at me. “Is that so?”
“Oh yes. If you build a box that has multiple ways to escape from it, but only give the cat one option at first, it will continue to use that option once others become present. Even after it’s removed, the cat will still try to use the first option.”
“Yeah,” Pem says, “okay, but first of all, that’s not options. That’s learning. And second, if you’re putting cats in boxes, William, we gotta talk.”
I laugh, either at her or myself. “I dunno how I know that. I can’t recall putting a cat in a box before.” Then I stop laughing, ‘cause, “I can’t remember much of anything, Pem.”
Pem’s eyes narrow and her little mouth looks like a smile.