ERROL CASTENS: A feline twist on Hamlet’s soliloquy



Back in March we were planning a three-day Kairos ministry event at Mississippi State Penitentiary, better known as Parchman Prison.

Over the course of such a weekend event, 10 main talks outline basics of the gospel of Christ, each building on the one before to make real our need for and the availability of God’s forgiveness.

But I’ll wait for some other day to go all theological on you. Right now, muuuuuuch lighter fare.

My buddy Brian Simmons was scheduled to give the very first talk. Because different people learn in vastly different ways, each speaker uses a poster to reinforce visually the main points of his talk. Brian asked my wife, Sue, to make such an illustration apropos for his presentation, which dealt with the choices we all make and the effects they have.

Because some inmates struggle with poor literacy, Sue went with an elementary, obvious theme in the drawing: A man, standing at a Y in the road, deciding whether to go the way that offered drug abuse, crime, anger and a host of other bad outcomes or the way toward responsibility, sobriety, peace and other lifelong benefits.

When Sue delivered the poster to Brian well in advance of the Kairos event, he was delighted with the product. The next time Brian saw Sue, though, he immediately started a profuse apology: He had to ask her to make the poster again.

Seems he’d laid it out on the guest bed in his and his wife, Anne’s, house so that the cardboard artwork could lie flat without being in anyone’s way. Unfortunately, their cat, which has the run of the house, went into the guest room and somehow managed to shut the door so that he couldn’t get out. Nature ran its inevitable course, of course, and after several hours of having a door between him and his litter box, the cat left a big, wet, and impossible-to-miss spot in the middle of the poster.

Sue busted a gut laughing (pardon my grammar; “burst a gut” doesn’t have the same linguistic heft), then reassured Brian that she was happy to make a new version of the drawing. When she redelivered the promised artwork, however, she handed him two posters.

The first was the expected illustration – the fork in the road, the man and the lists of destructive and constructive choices, respectively.

The second poster recollected the history of the first iteration. It showed a cat, standing at a junction, weighing his own options, with a caption almost straight out of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

As the feline stood, deciding whether to turn to the left or to the right, he pondered the choice under Sue’s caption: “To pee, or not to pee: That is the question.”

Yeah, the Parchman folks busted a gut, too.

Errol Castens is a reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at or(662) 816-1282.

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