Monday, January 28, 2008

Cats & Dad

Dad loathed cats.

They’d dig his precious vegie patches, the ones edged with gnarled logs and lovingly fertilised.

Cats, while sensing the fertiliser and the neatly turned soil, were always indiscriminate. They’d dig silently, maliciously ,through anything growing. Then deposit their own feline crap before methodically scraping soil, seedlings – even well-established plants – back over their own handiwork.

When he could, and thought he could get away with it – which was always in my childhood – Dad would shepherd these cunning, silent devil predators beneath our house and swiftly dispatch them in the shadowy forest of tall brick footings with a single blast from his side-by-side 12-gauge.

Boom! And sometimes Boom!-Boom! – in quick succession – if a cat dared tried to slink away.

I only once saw Dad come up from under the house, his shotgun snapped open and draped over one arm, a dark, dishevelled bag of devil fur, still dripping, draped over the other.

Our eyes locked in what I now understand to be mutual guilt.

- “They’re homeless and starving. It’s better this way.”
Because he was Dad, I agreed. Silently.

I never did discover what he did with these pellet-riddled carcasses. Dad never said, and I never asked. Nor did my brother John.

By the time I’d started high school, Dad had stopped his secret culling. But by then, he’d also stopped growing vegies.


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