CATS: A PLAY
John Marshall Carter
Introduction by Unseen Narrator:
“Remember the musical “Cats” that
was based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats?
Sure you do! It’s one of my favorites.
But, there’s one thing wrong with it.
The author left out one of the most colorful cats you’ve ever seen.
Which one? Why, the Wampus
Cat, of course. Ever heard of
The Oxford English Dictionary explains that a Wampus Cat is a
water-dwelling delphinoid creature. North
Carolina folklore would back up the OED and add
a little color of its own to the explanation of this wonderful creature.
A cat that lives in water? A
giant catfish?—some say thirty-three feet long?
Well, who knows? Anyway, sit
back and listen to a tale of the Wampus Cat (s).
Scene I (Leaksville, North Carolina in 1967)
(Down by the banks of the Dan River, in
the background the “The Wampus Cat Song” can be heard; two teen-aged boys
are fishing from the sandy bank and talking).
Wampus Cat Boy (hereinafter WCB):
Ghing, Mama and Daddy refuse to allow me to go to Myrtle Beach and try to
play at the Pavillion. I’ve got to break out of this cotton mill cycle and become
a rock star at Myrtle Beach.
Wampus, what’s wrong with the cotton mill?
Nothing, I guess, it’s just that Daddy haws always worked in that
dadburn place. If he isn’t pickin’
lint out of his head, he’s traipsing off to the Dan to fish.
I want something more than that, don’t you?
I don’t know about that. I’ll
give it some thought.
What’s there to think about? This
is 1967. The Beatles are making
millions with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
That’s what I want to do—make a living writing songs and performing.
It may be easier said than done.
WCB: I know. I know. But, Ghing, I’ve
got to give it a shot!
We’ll miss you here in Leaksville, Spray, and Draper.
Yeah, right! Well, at least
school is out for the summer.
I don’t think I could have stood to be in Mrs. Farqhuar’s class
Hey, Wamp, what’s going to happen to Ann if you go to Myrtle Beach?
I’m going to ask her to go with me.
Are you crazy, her parents will kill you!
Scene II (At the Leaksville Boys’
Club, later in the day)
Hey, Hotbreath Harris, you gonna come and hear us play tonight at the C.B.
You don’t mean those
Masters of Disaster, the Wampus Cats, do ya?
Yeah, what about it?
Hotbreath: Haven’t you given up on that crazy showbiz stuff yet?
You’ll be off to college next year.
It’s about time you grew up!
No way, Jose!
Hotbreath: Grow up, you guys ain’t got it!
Just wait, Hotbreath, you’ll be eating those words one of these days.
I hope the Wampus Cat gets ya!
Hotbreath: (Sarcastically) I hope the Wampus Cat gets ya!
What a primitive creature you are! Mama
said the Wampus Cat gonna get all da little bad boys.
It’s rather fitting that you choice for a band name—the Wampus
Cats—is a creature that doesn’t exist.
Get it, for a band whose talent doesn’t exist!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
Hotbreath: Come on Wampus Cat, let’s get it on!
(Just as the two were coming to blows,
Boys’ Club director Gim Gam appears and separates the two.
WCB storms out of the club)
Hotbreath: Gim, WCB is just steamed up because I told him his stupid
band is a crock!
Gim Gam: That boy just won’t give up on his band, will he?
Hotbreath: It’ll be the ruin of that boy!
(Along the banks of the Dan River at the
…WCB broods over his predicament…
Old Man Moehead (hereinafter OMM):
Hey dere son, what’s a-eatin’ ya?
Huh? Who said that?
I did. Memba me?
I’se Ole Man Moehead.
Hey, Morehead, where ya been? I
haven’t seen you since Daddy and me used to fish here with you and your
younguns years ago.
My kids donw growed up now. Da
wife lef out last year. I been doin’
a little of dis and a little of dat. Mainly
I been afta that honery ole Wampus Cat. I spent my whole life tryin’ to catch that sucker!
(A great splash downstream!)
(WCB and OMM are startled)
That musta been that varmit! He
were a-listenin’, darn his hide!
Come on, Morehead, that wasn’t a fish, was it?
It were him, I tel ya!
Okay, if you say so!
What you doin’ here anyways?
Yeah. I want to go to Myrtle
Beach and be a big star at the Pavillion but Mama and Daddy don’t want me to
Myrtle Beach is a fur piece. Yo
Mama don’t wanna give up her baby chile.
I gotta go, Morehead!
I can’t rightfully tel ya not to.
I been chasin’ a giant catfish most of my life.
You mean you think I oughta go?
I didn’t say nuthin’ like dat. I
said I couldn’t tell ya not to!
(A deep voice is heard from down river)
Wampus Cat: Goooo!
What? Who said that?
(Another big splash!)
It’s dat fool fish!
Oh, so the Wampus Cat can
talk too, huh Morehead?
Dat fool can do anythin’ he wants to!
Whatever you say, Moe!
(At the Leaksville Drive-In)
How’s the band?
Okay. We practiced last
weekend. Now that school is out
maybe we can spend more time getting better.
Are you trying out for the Talent Show later in the summer?
Does a hobo like a ham sandwich? Sure
we are! But, I wanna play at the
Pavillion at Myrtle Beach—now! That’s
where all the good bands play!
What d’ya mean?
Wait until you’re more experienced.
At least wait until after you’ve graduated.
I am experienced!
Oh, I give up! No more band
talk. By the way, what’s with
this Beatles Fest? We’ve already
seen “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help” twice each.
What else is there?
Mot said that they’re showing these two films continuously—all night!
That crazy Mot, does he know that I have to be in by 11:30 P.M.?
What d’ya mean, it’s summer! Mot
assured me that your parents would cut us some slack now that school is out!
Shows how much he knows! You
better stay away from that Mot! Anyway,
I’m geeting sleepy watching those four mopeads run around twanging their
guitars. They talk funny!
Take me home!
What about our date?
What’s wrong? Isn’t
holding hands, talking, and watching a movie at the drive-in good enough for an
experienced man like you?
I meant experienced in the musical sense!
Take me home, please!
Okay, keep your Weejuns on!
I intend to!
I’m going to Myrtle Beach to play at the Pavillion—this summer!
Okay, just wait!
(in Ann’s front yard)
Sheila said she saw you with that flirt, Nikki!
So, can’t I even speak to another woman?!
But do you have to be seen with such an experienced woman?
Is she a musician? (the song
“Nikki” plays in the background)
You know what I mean!
She’s bad news.
Aw, she’s not so bad!
Who told you?
I’ve got my sources.
WCB: Let me guess—our good friend
Ann: I’ll never tell!
Well, I’m telling you this: I’m
going to Myrtle Beach!
you coming with me?
Have you flipped? My parents would kill me—and you!
Anyway, what makes you think I’d want
to go to Myrtle Beach with you, especially after you’ve been hanging around
with that flirt Nikki? Go ask her,
maybe she’ll go.
Maybe I will.
She is a lot like you , you know—experienced!
Thanks a lot!
Don’t mention it!
(WCB turns abruptly and leaves)
(…Later that evening, a sobbing Mrs.
WCB phones Ann asking if she has seen WCB.
Mrs. WCB relates that Ghing and Mot told her that he has gone to Myrtle
Beach. Can this be true?
Ann is thunderstruck. “He
really did it!”
ACT II, Scene I
(Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, outside of
the Pavillion. People bustle along,
a carnival atmosphere prevails, the “beach season” is in full swing; rides
swirl through the evening air, cotton candy, candy apples, popcorn, and perfume
fill the air, barkers invite passersby to spend their money; “Trans-Atlantic
Tete-A-Tete”, a new beach song emanates from the Pavillion where the
Villagers, a local favorite, are playing to a capacity crowd)
Excuse me, ma’am, but do you know what band that is playing?
Ma’am? Do I look like yo
Sorry, just trying to be polite.
There are other ways.
Never mind. It’s the
Villagers, where you from anyway?
Leaksville, North Carolina
Where the heck is Leaksville?
Uh…it’s very close to Spray and Draper!
Oh, that makes it very clear. Now,
let’s start over. Where is
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.
I mean with where you live?
Oh! Hey, Ann, wait…
(Ann passes by the Pavilliono with two
other girls and three guys)
(non-chalantly likes she was passing WCB on the Boulevard) Oh, hello WCB.
What’re you doing here?
I could easily ask you the same thing.
Your parent are worried sick! I
told yo Mama I’d find you.
Now, get home!
Get home to Mama!
Who are you, Nerd?
He could easily ask you the same question?
Who asked you?
Oh, be quiet, WCB, and leave us alone!
Okay, cutie, I will! But
just wait till the Wampus Cats are playing in the Pavillion, then you won’t
send me away.
What are the stupid Wampus Cats?
Give it up! The Wampus Cats
can’t even get jobs in Leaksville, Spray, and Draper.
And those places aren’t exactly New York, Philly, or L.A.
Hey, Geek Breath, how do you know about L.A.—you know, Lower Axton?
You’re getting on my nerves with this wampuscaterwauling!
Now, now! Why don’t you go soak your head in the Atlantic Ocean, WCB?
Only if you’ll go with me!
Don’t hold your breath.
I wouldn’t go with you from Leaksville to Draper!
I’m gone! I hope you have
a good time with the Geek Brothers!
(WCB walks south of the Pavillion, heads
into Duff’s Tavern and orders a pizza billed by the cook as Myrtle Beach’s
Of course WCB doesn’t see the cook pull
a frozen pizza out of a box and slip it into the oven)
(Wampus Cat Boy leaves Duff’s Tavern
and walks around toward his rented room in a beach cottage, the Bird’s Nest.
Before getting there, he unmistakenly familiar voices.
He stumbles through the sand-laden yard of a beach cottage in the
direction of the music and familiar
voices. He looks in the window and
grimaces as he sees one of the Geek Brothers putting his arm around Ann.
Oh well, he thinks, she asked for it!
(“Lights of your Party” plays in the background)
(WCB slinks into bed, doesn’t bother to
remove his clothes. He drifts into
a heavy sleep saying to himself that things were not like this in the olden
days. (“Olden Days” plays in the background).
(Weeks pass. WCB’s parents, although worried, send WCB expense money.
WCB has also taken a job as a waiter at the Pavillion.
He has seen quite a few Leaksvillians pass through the Pavillion on their
summer vacations: Bugg, Jawbone,
Mot, Whacky-Doo, even the Shag Meister Louis Gryphon, among others have stopped
by for a chat and filled him in on some of the goings-on back in Leaksville,
Spray, and Draper. He has gotten to
know some of the members of Myrtle Beach’s favorite band, The Villagers.
WCB has related his desire for his band to play there.
One member of the Villagers finally gets the group to agree to let WCB
sing with the Villagers on the last night of the summer season. (“Life’s A
Beach Girl” plays in the background).
(Elated, WCB calls his friend Ghing Ghong
back in Leaksville to tell him the good news and asks Ghing to relate the news
to the Wampus Cats. Ghing tells WCB
about several interesting developments:
the city fathers of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper decided to consolidate
the three towns into one city and change the name.0
the city fathers (and mothers) are offering a one-thousand dollar prize
for the best name suggested by a citizen.
Randy Margate, WCB’s co-founder of the Wampus Cats, has related to
Ghing that the Cats are to play in a Battle of the Bands, the winner receiving
one thousand dollars and a trip to Myrtle Beach to
play at the Pavillion.
Ole Man Moehead has been
arrested and jailed on a vagrancy charge. He
does not have the money to post bail.
Ann wants WCB back!
ACT III, Scene I
WCB, you’re back!
Yeah, and I have up a chance to play at the Pavillion at Myrtle
Beach—with the Villagers, no less!
Maybe you’ll still get your chance.
I hope so—where’s Randy, Mickie, and Stoodle? We need to hit a few licks!
No time for that. It’s
twelve noon now, you guys are scheduled to play here on this stage at one
o’clock. Go grab your amp and
But I thought you said this was a Battle of the Bands.
It is, but the Battle of the Bands has become part of the first (and
probably last) Leaksville Heritage Festival.
People are coming from as far as Stoneville for this event!
Scene II: The Leaksville Heritage Festival
Mayor Ivy: My last act as mayor of Leaksville is presenting to you a
group of local boys to perform their original songs.
Now, without further ado, here they are: WCB, Randy, Mickie, and Stoodle, THE WAMPUS CATS!
Thanks, Mayor Ivy, that’s a pretty carnation you’re wearing.
We’d like to play our LSD-inspired music for you people.
Heckler (probably from Chapel Hill):
I knew they were on something!
Not that kind of LSD! I mean
Leaksville, Spray, and Draper!
Yeah, the first tune is one that WCB and I wrote last year called “The
Wampus Cat Song.”
(The crowd listens intently as the band
Greetings from the Wonderful Land of Eden!
Stoodle: Not now, Mickie, keep the talking to a minimum.
(To Randy) What did Mickie say?
Some crazy idea about the Land of Eden.
Where’d he get that from?
One, two, one, two, three, four (in a voice of desperation)!!
Stoodle: (in a frog voice) What’s
(The band cranks up with their original
“Rockin’ n’ Reelin” again)
(The crowd is really awakened now!
Rebel Yells abound!)
Thank-you all! We’d like
to carry on with a tune Randy and I wrote.
As for me, it’s to a very special person. Hopefully, she’s in the audience.
(The band plays “My Everything Is
WCB sees Ann waving. She is
standing in the crowd beside Rebecca Donnybrook, Randy Margate’s sweetie)
This is what we came for, really! Here’s
our song about our own area, Leaksville, Spray, and Draper.
It’s called “The Ballad of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper.”
(When the last note is hit, the crowd
Mayor Ivy: Ladies and Gentlemen, the judges have decided that the Wampus
Cats have won the Battle of the Bands even though the competition was stiff:
The Royals, The Night Raiders, The Moonglow Brothers, The Histrionics,
among others. Equally exciting is the fact that the city council has
chosen Wampus Cat Boy’s name for the newly consolidated city (composed of,
what else, Leaksville, Spray, and Draper) “LSD” as the best possible name
for the new city!
(A crowd of bikers let out a spirited
Rebel Yell while others are apparently sipping Rebel Yell)
(A group of hippies from Chapel Hill
punch each other good naturedly and say, “ Far out man, LSD, far out!”)
Mayor Ivy: To make the presentation of the one-thousand dollar prize for
winning the Battle of the Bands and the other thousand-dollar prize for the best
name for our fair city, we are fortunate to have with us WGGO-TV star, Lee
Thanks, Mayor Ivy. I’ve
known these boys for a long time and it does my heart good to be here in their
hour of triumph. To WCB for his
“LSD” name and his song “The Ballad of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper”
and to the Wampus Cats for their victory in the Leaksville Heritage Battle of
the Bands, two checks for one-thousand dollars each.
Remember, folks, this Christmas, you’ll be seeing the Wampus Cats on my
morning show on WGGO-TV!!
Thanks Lee and thanks to all of our friends. Friends, I have heard a rather sad story today.
I understand that my good friend, Old Man Moehead, has been jailed for
vagrancy. I have talked it over
with the other Wampus Cats and we are all agreed that one thousand dollars of
our prize money should go for Old Man Moehead’s bail and to helping him get
his life back in order.
Mayor Ivy: That’s mighty kind of you boys!
Mayor, could you ask Deputy Gallimore to bringt Moehead up on the stage?
Mayor Ivy: Why, I don’t see what harm it’d do. Uh, could you let me hold that thousand dollars for
Moehead’s bail in case he decides to run?
Sure, Mr. Mayor, although I can’t see how an eighty year-old man would
be able to outrun Deputy Gallimore. Besides,
Moehead doesn’t want to run; he loves LSD just like we do!
(Old Man Moehead climbs the stage stairs)
(The crowd cheers as the Wampus Cats, Lee
Kindhearted, and Moehead lift their arms together in victory.
Finally, Mayor Ivy joins in. The
crowd onstage is enlarged as Ann and Rebbecc Donnybrook join their heroes on
stage. Ghing Ghong and Mot go up on
stage. Finally, from out of the
crowd, a bedraggled-looking Hotbreath Harris climbs the stage.
Hotbreath, where you been?
That doggone Wampus Cat attacked my little fishin’ boat, grabbed the
rope and pulled me half way to Buggs Island!
Are you sure there’s a real Wampus Cat?
I’m a true believer now, WCB!
Mayor Ivy: For their last number, the Wampus Cats want to play you good
people their latest composition.
(Some grumbling in the crowd as
Councilman Worsham pushes his way through the throng…)
Worsham: Mayor! Mayor!
What is it Waylon?
Worsham: I thought that we should announce the council’s decision on
this very auspicious occasion.
Well, Waylon, what is it?
(Worsham whispers into Mayor Ivy’s ear.
The mayor’s mouth opens wide as a Wampus Cat.
The mayor finally composes himself and steps back to the microphone0
Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know, I have told you of my plans to step
down as mayor as soon as this consolidation business was settled.
Well, we have done that now. Councilman
Worsham has just informed me that the council has decided on a new mayor for the
new city of LSD.
(Yelling) Who is it, Mayor?
Why, our own Wampus Cat Boy!
(Even while the crowd is applauding, a
horror-stricken Hotbreath Harris bolts across the stage)
Helpppp! Run for your life!
(an ear-splitting Rebel Yell comes from
the direction of the Dan River. The
citizens are aghast as they turn their attention to the river and witness a
gigantic catfish, probably thirty feet or more in length, jump into the air, in
a triumphal way. A tremendous
splash sends a spray that hits people on the bandstand and in the crowd.
You can come out now, Hotbreath, your friend has gone!
Wampus Cats, let’s hear that song before that varmit returns!
Moehead: He won’t hurt you, he’s our mascot.
(a terrifying Rebel Yell from the Dan
Just kiddin’, Mr Wampus Cat.
(amidst roars of laughter)
One, two, one, two, three, four…
(The band jumps into “I Love LSD” for
(Everyone joins in…)
Hey, Wampus Cat Boy, you really fooled me.
I guess I need to apologize for doubting your talents.
But, mayor? How’d that
Anything’s possible in fiction, my boy!