What is Pierre doing? (The boy on the left is Mateo...
I think we scarred him for life.)
I will never read Neil Gaiman again.
Something you have to know about me is that I'm one of those flaky sorts who believe that if you think something hard enough, you'll make it real. It works both ways. You can make come true the good, the light, and the wonderful; at the same time the bad, the horrible, and the ugly. Just as long as you believe.
So, back to Neil Gaiman. I'd just finished reading his collection of short stories, Smoke and Mirrors, and as I do when I read something very good I'd given his characters space in my brain for a few days. They got full play at night; I'd gone to bed with images of babies being used as lab animals, God setting up Lucifer for his fall, a child's fingers in a pool of wolfman's vomit, the monster Snow White feeding on her father's genitalia. Truly horrible stuff that used my head as a bridge to walk out of the pages of a book into the country roads of southern France.
Yesterday night the elegant black cat came, fur slightly dusty, a rat clenched between her jaws. She approached her sister, the smaller, nervous one, sleeping on my bed, and with a call like a crow cawing, woke her up so that together they could torture the dead. They moved to the living room and tossed the body around, poked its belly, pulled the tail, nibbled a little.
I shut myself up in the bedroom, barely able to breathe. I remembered myself, five years old, in bare feet going at night to the kitchen for a glass of water, but a few steps away from the fridge stepping on something warm, furry, and alive, feeling things cracking underfoot, then hot liquid on my soles. I turned on the light to find my foot covered with meat and blood.
After I'd spent an hour listening to the sounds of the cats' macabre play in the next room, my husband came home. I thought, "My savior, my hero." I asked him to get rid of the rat, please.
"In Peru, ancient kings considered rats a feast." (Yes, Dang, again he was in Yoda-speak.) I wasn't in the mood for his tales of travelling the wild lands, so I repeated, Come on, get rid of it.
Which he did. Holding the rat upside-down by its tail, he went to his mother's house next door. A few minutes later, he was back with something red and glistening packed in cling-wrap. I saw him feeding tiny bits of meat--was that liver and a heart?--to the cats.
Later that night, in the middle of a post-Christmas dinner at a friend's house, my husband got up and went to the fireplace. From his jacket pocket, he took out his cling-wrapped bundle and gingerly freed from it a string of meat. He put it in the fire and grilled. So while the rest of us feasted on oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, and duck, my husband, he ate like a Peruvian king.
Gutted and skinned.