I found a bunny head on the back porch this morning, neatly severed at the atlas, next to a perfect drumstick and thigh. There was a smear of blood, but a surprisingly small one. That was all. The eye was clear and brighter than I liked. Claire, our cat, moseyed out and looked away.
“Nice,” I said. I was carrying the newspaper, so I used the plastic to gather up the pieces. Claire watched. “Very nice.” I did realize it was a gift, but I really didn’t care. “Beautiful.”
“Well, I’m a predator, dumbass.” I think I may still have been sleeping.
“You’re a ridiculously overindulged housecat.”
“A ridiculously overindulged predator. Schmuck.”
This was really too much. “I’m really getting tired”—winding up—“of the names, okay? And how many times have I told you that if you do manage to kill some hapless little crippled creature you are not to drag it onto the porch? I don’t like it. I don’t appreciate it.”
Claire straightened herself up and seemed to make an effort to look suitably impressed. “Tell me about it.”
“I know you do it as a gesture of submission, because you love us. But we really—“
“I do it because it’s my nature to do it, not because I love you. I don’t even like you, particularly.”
“Tell me that while you sit in my lap getting your neck massage.”
I swear she shrugged. “You’re warm. You’re softer than the floor. And you have the smelliest urine.”
“Don’t get morbid.” She stretched, managed to convey exactly how tiresome it had all become.
“You have to stop killing these animals. Bells. Do I have to say more? Or else we feed you till you can’t move.”
“Did you say something? Are you trying to break my heart? I could probably deal with that, actually.”
“What’s the downside? Give it your best shot. The tuna’s passable.”
“So.” This was too easy. “Do we have a deal?”
“Sure…” She closed her eyes.