Here Kitty, Kitty (She Wrote, Week 5)
by Christine Hawks
She kept a firm grip on the warm, now lifeless body of her victim while digging what would serve as its final resting place. The hole wasn’t very deep, but should sufficiently cover the remains, hiding what she had done. Time was of the essence and if she didn’t finish soon, she knew she would be discovered. She tossed the carcass in the slash in the ground she’d just made and then hastily covered the body with loose dirt and leaves. Just then, she heard her name being called and hustled up to the porch. Momma greeted her, as usual, so she allowed herself to relax a little. Momma hadn’t seen what she had done.
Contrary to how it might appear, she was not a killer. Stalking her prey was innate, though truth be told, it was just a game for her; one in which she was always the victor. Well, almost always. One summer evening, her keen eyes spotted a flick of a tail in the darkness. She sprinted in that direction and when she was upon it, her victim had already expired. Puzzled, she nudged it, trying to coax life back into the creature. By that time, Daddy had come up beside her and saw what she had done. She fixed her eyes on his, pleading with him to understand that she didn’t kill it. She found it this way. Daddy gently patted her head and led her back to the house.
She watched as he retrieved a shovel to bury the body. She saw him approach the corpse and then stop and look around, shining his flashlight in all directions. With each sweep of the beam of light, she peered into the briefly illuminated darkness, searching for the body. It was gone! She heard Daddy chuckle as he returned to her. “It was just playing ‘possum, girl.”
While Daddy encouraged her to give chase, Momma frowned upon that behavior. So, when she caught something, usually under the cover of darkness, she buried it. Momma didn’t need to know. Besides the opossum that got away, she actually caught rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and the occasional baby bird that was too slow to flee. Squirrels were, by far, her favorite to hunt since they were too tame to scurry away immediately. And, they had the added attraction of their long, showy tails, making it easy for her to pluck them off of the fence, thwarting their get-away.
She used to bring the catch of the day back to Momma and Daddy, whom she was certain would be pleased with her accomplishment. Momma was always chasing the squirrels out of her garden, so she reasoned she might even be rewarded for exterminating this nuisance for her. She soon came to learn otherwise. Momma and Daddy would sigh before taking the carcass away from her. Then, they’d get the shovel and bury the creature in the backyard. Well, if they couldn’t appreciate her work, they need not be a part of it. From then on, she took care of the disposal herself.
One day, making her usual rounds, she noticed a new character prowling the grounds. It was bigger than a squirrel with a short, fuzzy tail like the rabbits. She charged up to it, but her sister, who usually consciously ignored her, stopped her by calling out, “Don’t waste your time! It’s a stupid cat. It’ll just taunt you, and you won’t catch more than a swipe on your nose with its claws.”
Sister, who was not her sister by birth, but by adoption into the family, never joined her on hunts. Sister said she was too old to chase after things anymore. She preferred to lounge on the hot stones of the patio while telling everyone else what to do or more ofter, what not do.
She pondered what Sister had said for a moment. It had been awhile, but she could remember cats on the farm where she grew up. And, she would occasionally see them watching her from under cars or other discreet hiding spots as she passed by on her morning walks with Daddy. None of them had ever been this close to her before. She decided to press on until she was face-to-face with the orange tabby. He arched his back and hissed at her. “That’s close enough!”
She was startled to a halt. Did that cat just speak to her?
She heard Sister snort, directing her attention back towards the house. “Never heard one talk before, have you? People think that it’s natural for dogs to hate cats. The truth is, dogs hate cats because they don’t know when to shut up! Dogs are cursed in that we’re the only creatures that can actually understand them…besides other cats, of course. Cats are so self-absorbed, though, that they just ignore one another. So, they talk to us, incessantly!”
She turned her attention back to the cat, who was now parading back and forth in front of her, but safely out of her reach, for now. Sister, noticing she was still engaged with the feline, huffed in disgust and headed back to the house. “You’ll learn!”
“Now that I have your attention,” the cat continued, “allow me to introduce myself. My people call my Harley.”
“Ok. So, why aren’t you running from me like the other animals, Harley?”
“Because you do exactly what I need,” he answered. “I want you to kill me.”
She sat back on her haunches, too surprised to do anything else. Not only had she never been spoken to by a cat, but certainly never had a request from her prey to be a victim. Was this the taunting that Sister had warned her about? She braced to take a hit with a paw, claws extended, because surely if the cat was teasing her, that was his next move, like Sister said.
“Why aren’t you running then, if you want me to chase you and kill you?” she asked again.
“We have to make sure you are not caught, and I am not found.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Look at me!” the cat demanded. “This is not normal! What they have done to me is not normal!” he growled. “My tail was run over by a car, so not was it amputated, but then, my people insisted that it be fashioned into this ridiculous “bob”, lobbing off most of what was left after the initial amputation. As if that wasn’t enough, they had my ears trimmed to ‘match my tail’, they said.”
Now that she gave him a good look, the cat did look rather strange from what she remembered them looking like, though she didn’t admit that to him.
He continued, “The final insult was having me neutered. They insisted that if I wanted to come and go outdoors, as I pleased, that I needn’t be aggressive to the other cats and they didn’t want me marking my territory while I was in the house. They told me to be a good kitty and I’d never know the difference. They had me fitted with these during the surgery,” he said rolling on his back to display what looked like testicles.
“Neuticals!” he howled. “Can you believe it! Removed my natural anatomy only to replace them with silicone! Are these supposed to make me feel better?! I am a the laughing stock of my species!”
Just then, she heard Momma telling her to “leave it”. Momma must’ve thought she had the cat cornered.
“I’ve got to go! What you’ve been through sounds awful. I will help you, though. Come back any time, after dark, so my Momma and Daddy won’t catch me.”
“Please,” he pleaded, “Make it quick so I don’t have to suffer any longer.” He turned, leapt up and over the fence and was gone.
Dutifully, she ran back to the house where Momma was waiting.
That night, Daddy let her out and she ran to the corner where Harley had been earlier. She called out for him. No answer. She trotted along the fence line, stopping to see if she could catch his scent, but he was no where to be found. Nor did he return the next two nights.
She was beginning to think that the whole episode had been a dream like all the rest where she was happily galloping through the yard catching whatever happened to cross her path. Tonight, when Daddy let her out, it was raining. As usual, she made a bee-line for the back corner of the yard. This time she saw movement. “Harley?” she called, mid-stride. She looked back and Daddy was busy chasing sister off the patio into the grass. Sister hated to be wet so she’d often forgo relieving herself until it was drier outside. If Harley was out here, now was her opportunity to do as he requested. Daddy’s attention would be diverted for a little while anyway.
When she got to the fencepost, Harley jumped down in front of her, asking if she was ready. She bowed her head and told him, “Run!”
“Thank you,” he purred before dashing off into the night.
She was upon him again in seconds, lifting him off the ground by his neck. He was heavier than her usual prey. Remembering her promise to make his death swift, she gritted her teeth and then tossed her head fiercely once. Twice. When she stilled, she saw his head dangling limply. She gently placed him on the ground and frantically began digging in the mud. She remembered what he had said, “ We have to make sure you are not caught, and I am not found”.
She looked up to see Sister finishing up her business. She didn’t have much time to bury the cat before Daddy noticed her. She dug faster, despite the mud stubbornly clinging to her feet. She knew she had to dig deeper than usual to make sure no one unearthed Harley’s body. She heard Sister open the screen door. Time was up. She retrieved Harley’s body, maimed by the people who supposedly loved him, and laid him in the new grave. She quickly pawed the mud back into the hole, as Daddy called for her.
As she ran back towards the lights of her house, to her people, she was grateful that they loved her for exactly what she was…a dog.