Only yesterday, my brother-in-law Andy (who apparently thinks he’s too good to accept my heartfelt offer of Internet friendship and social-media bonhomie) wrote a charming and thoughtful Web essay about a tragedy narrowly averted on the cat-eat-bird streets of South Philadelphia.
You should read it; it’s good. This is no surprise, since Andy (I’ve never called him “Andy” before. For the near-decade of our brotherly loving relationship, I have employed the more formal “Andrew.” Well, fuck that shit. It’s time to put the familiar back in the family.) is a fine writer and sensitive human being. A few years back he published an entertaining and edifying novel called “Mother’s Milk.” You should read that, too.
This is not an attempt to match or even one-up my beloved brother-in-law. There is no chance of that. This is not a charming story about a would-be victim miraculously escaping the nefarious clutches of a vicious predator and living to see another day (or hour, or minute or second).
No, this is a pitiless story about death and depredation in nature.
This is the horror I glimpsed upon walking out my front door this afternoon:
This is not a feelgood story. There is no happy ending. Not even for the vultures pictured above, who soon would be deprived of their unexpected bounty.
There is no redemption in this story. Nor is there a moral.
There is only death. Death and the cruel, Darwinian struggle for survival.
We do not know the identity of the killer. But we have a feline of interest.
The evidence is purely circumstantial. Nonetheless, I’m ready to summon the kangaroo court and extract a conviction. She won’t stand an Arab’s chance in a U.S. military tribunal.
She looks something like this:
If you’ve seen this face, please contact the authorities. And if you haven’t, we’d be happy to send her your way for an indefinite, nay, infinite period of time.
Don’t be fooled by the closed-eye affectations of sweetness and docility. This cat is a deranged killer. A deranged killer, I might add, with a fetid arsehole.
You might ask how I know this. I’ve observed this killer in action for nearly five years. She’s been the bane of our existence ever since I went soft and let her stray ass in the house in the fall of 2007.
Don’t get me wrong. I love animals, and adore cats in particular.
But this girl, the girl we call Caldonia, is a different story. She insists on thrusting her foul-smelling butt in my face at all hours of the day. And she insists on taking unprovoked runs at and generally making life miserable for Lester, our beloved feline.
Oh Caldonia, what makes your big head so hard?
Not only is she crazy, but she’s a pestilential menace. First thing she did after offing that poor rat was come strolling in the house and bounding up the stairs before settling down on a pile of my clean clothes.
Oh Caldonia, sometimes I wish you were a dog so I could call you a bitch.
Anyway, as you can plainly see, the situation got ugly in no time. A rapacious cadre of ants soon dispatched the flies, and before I knew it they were colonizing the poor, deceased varmint’s ears and eyes.
It was, verily, grotesque. And just a little bit unhealthful.
And so the hazmat team was summoned, and the vultures evicted and the dearly departed given an unceremonious sendoff by way of a thoughtless discus throw into the nearby woods.
I wish we could’ve given the poor soul a more appropriate sendoff, a more dignified benediction.
I wish I could tell you the victim sprang to life like a disease-carrying Lazarus (actually, when you think about it, old Lazarus must’ve been fairly ripe his own self, what with him moldering in the grave for four days while waiting around for resurrection), caused me to drop him in terror and then scampered off into the underbrush, no worse for the nasty bout of cat-on-rat violence.
But I can’t tell you that.
All I can tell you is what I’ve already said: A rat is dead, and somewhere in the woods adjacent to our house, somewhere thankfully beyond our sight, remorseless varmints are no doubt devouring its lifeless carcass.