Flash fiction, short stories, poetry …
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You Killed White Claw

“I

made a cat into a hat once. Feel kinda guilty saying that. Found it washed up in a sewer with a bunch of plastic cups. But I tell ya, all that chocolate soup made the fur real soft. I still got it in the wardrobe. Could show you: it’s got ear-flaps and the tail hangin’ down the back. If I stuck it on a teapot it’d still look like a cat.

“Look, don’t look at me that way. I’m a ‘sterminator. An’ cats, well, you’re vermin, really. Ain’t chya? An’ you got shit for personality: buzz-saw through birds – and I don’t mind the little birdies by the way – and moochin’. Like you’re doing right now – rubbin’ ma socks over ma jean ends; the whatchya call it, purrin’; and all you want is that Gallo salami I got in ma lunch box. I could throw you a piece, but I got a whole building to fumigate. Rats up there, so big they could swallow you whole and shit out the collar.

“Ha. What? You not talkin’ to old Baz Kennedy ’cause he says it as it is? What are you? A kitten, or a cat? Don’t answer that. There obviously ain’t enough on ya to make a right-hand-glove for a Leprechaun.

“And get the F’ away from that box. Jesus-God, cat, you got a death wish or what? It’d be soooo damn easy to scoosh you down with this nozzle, right now: tank’s pumped up, trigger-guard up, target locked. Scoosh, scoosh. Meoweee!

“God knows what’s in them chems, but the rats don’t like ‘em.

“Oops. Uh, man, damn thing leaks. Look at that, ma finger’s gone as yeller as lemon meringue pie!

“Scat! Clap, clap. Damn it. Okay, I’m takin’ the damn box away. Worst mistake a man can make is give’n a piece of his lunch to a God-damn cat.

“Hey, I move it left and you look left. Right, up, left, right again… that’s funny. Your head looks like it’s on a spring. You ejit!

“You want a piece of this? For real? Okay, I’m gonna gi…

“…eat it maself. Ha, you wuz too slow.

“Arp! Ugh, heartburn. Jeez, just like Aunt Annie.

“Gain? Okay cat, get that tabby fur greased – roll up yer little, furry sleeves. You wan’ it? You wan’ it?

“Ha. Too slow, I got it again. Man, you one stupid furball!

“Ooooh, is that, like, a little, tiny, cold cat-shoulder I’m gettin’ for teasin’ ya?

“Well, I guess, alrighty, then. What with you bein’ pissy n’ all. Here, a tiny bit, but only ’cause I’m stuffed, an’ ma yella finger’s burnin’ – that fingernail better not come off, is all I’m sayin’. No wonder them rats are goin’ off like bombs up there!

“Whoa, chewin’ that salami up like it’s one lip-smackin’ piece of griz – sounds like a wet welly stuck in mud. Yummmmmm… delicious lips n’ assholes. Eat up little kitty. Ugh, table manners of a tapeworm.

“So what is this? Fifth job, with you getting under ma feet? An’ I don’t feed ya. Well, mostly. You’se the closest I ever got to a pet, an’ you’se just a no-good stray.

“True that cats kinda zone in on people that don’t like ‘em, ain’t it?

“Maybe I should ask you what’s-what, ’cause, well, hellova thing–

“What the? It’s a frickin lace, not a punchbag. Come here ya little–

“Like that was really worth huntin’ from the other side of ma boot? You cat’s can love some strange shit!

“Anyway, thought I heard a cat talkin’ today. Up the back of the warehouse. Rat ‘festation goes haywire tryin’ to get way from the cloud, all the exits taped, and blow me if some ugly lookin’ tom ain’t in the middle of it. Goes over like a sack of spuds. One eye, an’ white fur that was so grubby it looked wet, and a tongue hangin’ out, chipped fang, the works. An’ I coulda sworn. I coulda sworn it said somethin’.

“Now, ‘atween you an me, Frank (your Uncle Frank, I guess) has a piss-ant kinda humour, that’d have him secret-learnin’ ventriloquism for five years, just to give me a turn for two minutes thinkin’ a cat’s readin’ out the dog results. But, he was downstairs tossing rats to the refuse – swingin’ ‘em by their tails like nunchucks and whizzin’ ‘em into black bags. Three-hundred-and-sixty-eight. Not a bad count, now, is it?

“Anyway, the cat says…

“… an’ look, you’d tell me if you could talk, wouldn’t ya? Wouldn’t ya? Ha, ha.

“Anyway, the cat says, ‘You killed White Claw.’ That’s it. ‘You killed White Claw.’

“Weirdest thing.”

 

***

 

In the half-darkness, the kitten stopped batting around the man’s lace, though its claws were still extended like tiny fingernail clippings. It sat back on its tail, and tipped its head in an inquiring manner, eyes black and beady. It was almost as if it understood the man, whose beard was a little white at the end, and who smelled of death and the violence of chemicals.

When it came, the cat’s voice was thin, and high – as much a mewl mated with a pipistrelle bat – and its said, “You killed my brother.” Then, after an ear-flattening hiss, “White Claw will be avenged.

The man dropped the rest of the salami and backed away, but the cat ignored the forgotten morsel, which, a moment before, had been used to so richly tease it. It was too busy with the sounds and feel of its own bones popping in its flanks and guts, and now it was down flat on its haunches yewling and yewling, as a force ran through it, that pumped it up and up like a rag being shaken out, until it was nothing more, and nothing less, than a snarling mass of muscle and bone, twice the size of a Pitbull: jaws a bucket of knifes, claws like butcher’s hooks.

It ate the man, peeling off the rubber suit like a mouse skin, chewing off his head, playing with the carcass a little – as is the way of all cats – and then, somewhat bemused, it bounded up and out through an open window.

As it ran, the splash of gore that greased its fur turned from a bucket of blood to a thin streak of red, as the discarded flesh released a kitten… that skittered away, chasing a peppered moth across the cobbles. The moth’s delicate fluttering left a pleasing sparkle in the sunlight.

 

June 24, 2011   11 Comments

Samuel Watches the Cat

S

amuel watches the cat. The cat is completely unaware of the Jew – it clumber-saunters along the up-and-down planks of the fence with some awkward claw work. Samuel waits with a stone. He has turned it so that the sharp edge points out like a shark tooth. He runs his finger along it experimentally, visualising piercing the cat’s hide.

The cat teeter-totters along, up-and-down. Rage burns in Samuel’s brain at the unabashed disrespect, as the cat nuzzles the clambering honeysuckle, dishes its backside through the willow, swats at a fly – an odd, three-legged operation, with the cat hanging on like a crab and the fourth paw high-fiving a plank and skittering around. It’s the perfect moment to throw the stone.

Cara wanders out of her yellow shed, brushing compost from her soft, brown hands. She spots the cat and strokes it. The cat arches its back appreciatively. Cara’s hair is down – long, black, glossy hair that suggest oil and hazelnuts and sparkles on an Irish oxbow lake. She laughs her soft Irish laugh. She is everything a twenty-two-year-old Irish girl should be.

Samuel hides the stone – for now – in the soft cotton pocket of his jeans, twisting the cat’s demise around and around, out of sight. He waits patiently for the glowing figure to notice him, where he stands by the butt and compost, in the shadowy lee of his own shed. His shed is weathered and dirt-grey, where soft, untreated wood has retreated. There is no paint – no colour – that appeals to him.

She doesn’t see him. She lets the cat twist about her hand. The cat sniffs appreciatively. Samuel scowls.

Later, Cara is watering her hydrangeas with a ridiculously small watering can. It’s a child’s thing, of purple, with a yellow plastic flower for a spout. This boggles Samuel’s mind. There is no sign of the bastard cat, but he has the stone ready.

Cara is sowing seeds – tiny, black, mustard grains – a seed at a time. She holds them between her finger and thumb, with some difficulty, where her long pink nails scissor together. The drops are both delicate and awkward. As each seed is placed, she carefully shifts a little soil on top with one of those self-same nails. Samuel might have thrown a fistful of seeds over half an acre in the time it has taken Cara O’Dare to plant her immaculate half-dozen.

When dusk falls, and the midges begin to whine and buzz about – suddenly brave now the heat of the day has passed – Samuel strikes a heavy brown match and lights his paraffin lamp. The lamp is burnished in black soot and oil, mirrored, in places, between the rusting seams. A coat hanger holds it in place, embedded in the chest of a dressmaker’s dummy. The dummy sags in brown folds of torn material, hunched over in its wooden ellipses and metal stays.

Clara looks up from the birdbath she is rotating: pulling it one way, then the next, walk-dragging it into position. It’ll make a nice centrepiece, he assumes she assumes. He can’t help staring at her chest – two globes of firm, brown, flesh that spread out from her dungarees. Gravity and her movements are page three conspirators. She waves cheerfully.

Samuel nods. He is using a tough pair of pliers to throttle a hosepipe, twisting heavy-duty wire around the fleshy, green rubber. Where he kneels, the stone is digging into his thigh. A little bit of the hurt for the cat has found him instead. But he will get his revenge when he next catches sight of its black-and-white patches, and when he is alone. Revenge is best enjoyed quietly and carefully, where hands can throttle rather than ball up impotently. Samuel wants, needs, to get his hands on the cat – or at least a stone in its flank. It is getting too dark to throw stones, though. Neither is he alone.

An hour later, and it’s too cold to continue. He pulls on his jacket, safely padlocks his shed, and walks off the allotment. Cara has already gone – gone with the sunshine – her shed ‘secured’ with a willow branch she has painted with spirals.

Back at home, Samuel stares through the television. The cat lolls on top of it, occasionally dropping a tail or paw down, but mostly just snoozing in the warmth from the vent at the back. The stone is in Samuel’s jacket pocket; the jacket is hung neatly in the hall. It would be no good anyway, he is not alone. Samuel’s wife strokes the cat and sits down heavily with the remote control. She has brought Rich Tea biscuits and strong coffee.

The cat cracks an eye open, studying Samuel disdainfully, before drifting back into sleep.

September 26, 2010   No Comments