Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Law of the Jungle

I pad around the bedroom, trying in vain to make as little noise as possible. Mondays are bad enough, but a Tuesday after a long weekend is worse. Plus, there is a train strike today so I need to be extra-early to catch the reduced service.

As I contemplate the autumnal feel from the safety of the toilet, I am joined by the boy-cat, the sweet, angelic boy-cat. He has grown almost beyond recognition since we adopted him, but when he "speaks" he gives himself away, letting out a high-pitched "mew" which could only come from a kitten.

As I head for the shower, he's toying with something in the hallway, but it is too dark (or I am too sleepy) to see what it is. I submerge into the shower, gradually coming off autopilot, the hot water and lime shower gel infusing  their magic. In just one (short) long weekend it is noticeably darker, and the bathroom light is on lest I come a cropper while shaving. As I step out of the shower the boy is there once again. The rest of the house is sleeping, so currently I am the only thing of interest. Deja-vu, we exchange greetings and carresses. Beautiful boy. I open the bathroom door to head back to the bedroom, and as I do so the light from the bathroom illuminates the hallway. I finally see what the boy had been playing with. A still-feathered wing lies at my feet, and in an instant our darling kitten has given away his dark secret.

I think back to the day before. Having pottered about outside for a while, including helping next door's boy put the computer on his bike, I had come inside for a break. After only a few minutes, though, the doorbell rings and I am roused once again by next-door's little girl, "Come quickly, Carlo has caught a bird in your garden". As I venture back outside I am full of disbelief as the front garden comes into view. A mass of down. There, sitting proudly, is Carlo, complete with catch - a wood pigeon around his own size, flapping away. Too late, Alice runs up to Carlo, but the boy deftly heads for the impenetrable hedges at the edge the garden. When he finally emerges, quarry in mouth, the boy has blood around his face and the bird is near-dead. There is nothing to be done, except to let nature take its course and to keep the children away.

I potter some more, but am again alerted by next-door's little girl, who shrieks that Carlo has just taken his catch inside the house. A step too far, I race into the house to find the cat, just settling down in the hallway with his catch. Ignoring the blood already spilt on the carpet, Grabbing some kitchen roll on the way, I snatch the bird from him. Bereft of many of its feathers, its bird is still warm and its heart is beating fast. But it is very much doomed. I remove it to the garden, followed of course by Carlo, anxious not to let his prey go that easily.

An hour later we are all showered and freshened up, headed for a barbeque given by one of the doctors at Jacqueline's practise. As we pull out of the driveway, on the front garden the kitten is enjoying his supper...

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