They were shooting cats and calling it self-defense. The sheriff was calling it the same. That was the trouble with this town, and a short-haired tabby like me was going to claw these sons of bitches to death in this life or the next eight.
For the time being, I was safe in Apinya’s arms. She was stroking me, telling that I’d find love again. My mate Maddy was a Siamese who had become 10-bullets-heavier this morning. The shooting happened before the newspaper hit our doorstep. An uninterrupted crackle.
I didn’t sleep all day. Just stared out the window. Stared at the sparrow that hop-hop-hopped on the porch and ate a trail of ants. Just stared at that feathery fuckhead. I didn’t even glance at the cat door.
Around midnight, Apinya put on her nursing scrubs and went to work, so I went to work outside. I padded around the dark patch of asphalt where Maddy was found. The street was still warm from the summer sun. I stepped around 9 mm shell casings the Girl Scouts left behind from their ice cream social. I pawed at the casings for a while. Then two headlights punched out the darkness and an engine was gunning my way. I leapt into a bush.
An SUV parked and Jim stepped out, gun in hand, flipping his head this way and that. He was never without a piece. He even carried one when he went to his mailbox. Tonight was no different, except that the moonlight showed rakes on his neck — red and very recent — a message from Maddy to me.
I completely lost it, rocketed from the bushes, and went for the gun.
I locked onto his forearm, killing it, flaying it, my teeth everywhere.
The gun dropped.
But he threw me on the sidewalk.
I crashed head-first.
He kicked me, broke something. Lava erupted in my tummy. Pain, the only thing keeping me awake. He regained his pistol, and I climbed into the nearest backyard while gunfire coughed behind me. A bullet severed my tail. I hid under a diving board and watched the stars swim on the pool’s surface, because I couldn’t do anything else but bleed and cry, and so I cried a little and bled a lot and then napped for what felt like a human lifetime.
I came to.
My tail screamed for its missing half.
My legs were stiff from all the fighting and running.
That broken thing inside me was still broken.
I had clarity however.
My next move.
Jim would never see it coming.
Jim with the imagination of a goldfish.
Not the imagination of Maddy. She had a fondness for puns. We used to wander together and listen to cats meowing in different homes. We didn’t always see who they were, so we had to guess. “Tabby or not tabby, that is the question,” Maddy would jest. We seldom had the right answers, but the answers never mattered. Our time together did. Our purring.
I’m home now and the answers matter this time, so I stole one: Jim’s necktie. Using my mouth and my claws, I make a slipknot. I hang it on the doorknob of my house, climb the door carefully, and push my head through the loop. With this noose — and my missing tail — it won’t look like self-defense this time. It will look like only one thing. I let go. No more fear, sadness, anger. No more anything.
My senses darken.
I’m falling but I’m purring.
I’m going to share my answer with Maddy.