Sir Richard the Destroyer is a killing machine. He has a spot out in front of the barn, where the septic mound’s long grass folds over the mesh of fence panel and makes a lovely tunnel for rodents, and here he sits, watching these little holes. He waits.
He doesn’t need to hide. He can sit in the long grass and barely be seen, a ninja. Often, I will catch a glimpse of him leaping from one spot to another, or just see the black tip of his tail twitching while he pokes around in the grass for whatever he is tormenting now.
About three weeks ago, he brought us his first Dead Rodent Gift. We came home from running errands to find him sitting at the bottom of the house steps, proudly displaying his mauled victim at his feet.
I showered him with praise and affection in return. He doesn’t know that DRGs are not the best gifts for humans. He had gone to all that effort to catch and kill the thing, and then he had decided that he wouldn’t keep it for himself. Sharing is caring, after all. That, and I want him to be motivated to hunt. We live in the countryside, in a nation where it is normal to have space under your house for things to live, and if he can keep the population down, that would be smashing.
It would also be good to keep the mouse and bird levels in our barns to a minimum, so Richard’s hunting skills are always met with love and adoration from me.
Then a few days later, he brought me another DRG. This one actually made it into the house with him, as he tricked me into opening the door for him before I realised he had it. He took it to the spare bathroom, where I feed him. I wondered what on earth he was messing with for a moment, before I heard – before I heard the little rodent corpse explode. When I went to investigate, already despairing at what I would find, he looked up at me cheerfully. He batted at the body a couple of times as if to demonstrate what a good killer he is.
“Yes, good kitten,” I said, trying not to vomit at the smell of rodent bile. To show my appreciation, I wrapped the corpse in paper and threw it out, and then bleached everything.
Richard brought three or four DRGs back last week. Cowboy sent me a photo of the first one, and updated the death toll when I got home a few days later.
Nowhere was safe. When I went to the bathroom, a toy mouse would be shoved under the door to entertain me while I flossed. The dog’s bed was decorated with Walmart cat toys – tiny, luminous coloured mice that have been chewed and thrown about so much that they just look like neon blobs now. Richard mapped out the best spots in the house to survey both the interior and exterior landscape for potential prey.
Inevitably, he would resume his little outpost by the septic mound fence. His patience is enviable. I can’t spend that much time focusing on one thing without losing a piece of my mind in the process. Most human beings these days can’t sit for that long without checking Facebook at least eighteen times. Richard would just wait.
Last weekend he upped his DRG game. He brought his treasure to the door and knocked. He literally knocks on the door when he wants to come inside. I peered through the glass to see what he was doing. He knocks a little differently when he has a DRG. My suspicions were confirmed: we had a body.
I didn’t open the door. We were heading out to the barn and I decided dealing with the ritual of praise would wait a moment longer. I faffed about, and finally was ready to go outside. I informed Cowboy about the fatality in the porch.
“Are you sure? It’s not there now.” He looked around, shaking his head. “I don’t see it. Sure it was dead?”
“Quite sure,” I said. I checked for myself, but the DRG had vanished. Perhaps Richard had eaten it. I pulled on my left boot. I went to pull on my right boot. My foot touched something small and soft and still slightly warm. I said “OH AHAHAHA EEWWnnnnnngh… Nooooo…”
“Mouse?” Cowboy said, grinning. I tipped my boot up. *whomp*
It landed on the mat. I sighed. “Yes, good kitten…” The body was disposed of again. I uttered several phrases of disbelief that Richard had gone to the trouble of putting it in my boot. The boot is taller than him. He would have had to deliberately pick it up, stand up on his hind feet, and drop it into the boot.
Well, this evening I checked in with Cowboy on the phone. We covered the usual stuff, and I listened as he threatened Richard with death for chewing on his phone cable. Then he remembered the important news.
“You might want to get new Muck Boots,” he said.
“Me? They’re new. What happened?”
“I’ve pulled out a few more dead things from them the last couple of days. You’d better check ’em when you go to put them on this weekend.”
I feel so loved.