Chelsi’s champion strode out on to the front porch of her house. The tuxedo colored kitten was a mere seven weeks, but confident in his stride. Upon his appearance small group of village boys, Giddie, Willie, and Kingston, let out a squeal from their seat on the bench.
“Look, look!” Willie said to the others. “Ka ka push.” All their eyes widened, like it was the first cat they’d ever seen. Chelsi watched them from her seat at the edge of the porch. She was sure their gleeful nature wasn’t false, but this was far from their first interaction with a cat. After all, this is my fourth cat, Chelsi thought to herself, regretfully remembering the demise of the previous three. And I know Mike had at least two cats at some point during his service.
“Jizhina?” Giddie asked, fixing his round, dark eyes on Chelsi.
“Ka ka push? Ka Tulip.”
“Tulip, Tulip, Tulip,” the three boy practiced between themselves. Tulip paused to clean one of his paws, and Chelsi wiggled her fingers at him to get his attention.
“Giddie, Giddie!” Kingston exclaimed, grabbing the attention of his friend. “Those small animals we found today, where are they?” Giddie’s face beamed with a smile and he leaned forward, tugging on the string of his toy truck. The truck, made of discarded plastic and wire, rolled towards him on its bottle top wheels. A really engineer that one could be someday, it was clear to Chelsi that Giddie was the best toy car maker in all the village, and every day nearly he was pulling about a new style. When the truck’s rolling came to a stop, Giddie gingerly picked it up and from the back compartment plucked up toy baby dormice.
“Crickee,” Chelsi said with some surprise, “it’s even got passengers today. Mwatanna pi?” Chelsi didn’t fully understand the answer, but gathered that he found the nest out in the bush by his house. She continued to watch with great interest as to what the boys had in mind next. When just then Giddie dropped the two round, fuzzy grey bodies on to the cement and nudged them towards Chelsi’s kitten.
The baby dormice were too young to make any meaningful get away. One wiggled its undersized legs, pushing itself on its belly to the corner by Chelsi’s door. Its litter mate squeaked. The less intelligent move, Chelsi noted as Tulip’s ear perked up in its direction.
To some surprise, Chelsi was not immediately overcome with moral outrage at the activities that were unfolding before her. First, not that the infant mice were disturbed from their nest, nor that they had then been pulled around by a child in a toy truck all day, and not now, seeing that the boys intention were to watch this baby on baby animal battle, hoping no doubt for it to end in the bloody demise of the dormice.
Tulip started towards his first contender. When the kitten pressed his nose in the plump body of the mouse it let out low chirt chirt chirt sound. Tulip, surprised, recoiled.
What could I say that the boys would understand…? Not much, she decided. She knew the children went in to the bush on necessity, looking for food and that mice, particularly dormice, were not off the menu. Not to mention mice, particularly dormice, are a grievous house pest. Better food for the kitten.
Tulip had revised his approach to the protesting dormouse and was now slapping it with his paw. With every slap, the baby dormouse let out a squeak, chirt chirt chirt.
The boys were pointing with interest, discussing the play by play amongst themselves. And as Giddie had noticed the second baby dormouse trying to escape, he picked it up and deposited it in to his chest pocket.
I do want the kitten to learn to eat mice, Chelsi reasoned with herself, putting the best spin on the current circumstance that she could. That why I keep trying to keep cats. The truth was, just one week without a cat and her house was overrun with mice and rats. She thought about the last rat she saw, not a few days before, just after returning home with Tulip from Mwinilunga. Chopping vegetables for dinner that night at the table, she heard a rustling in the thatch of her roof. When she turned to see what it was, a giant rat was jumping out of the grass of her roof on to the top of her wall. She could still vividly recall the green glisten to its eyes.
Tulip continued batting the baby dormouse with his paw. The few attempts he had made to lower his head the baby dormouse had bit him on the nose.
Tulip’s probably never really eaten anything live before. This kitten had come from her friend Oliver’s house, about 30 km south of Mwinilunga. At the time she had gone to see him and retrieve the kitten Oliver was caring for: two dogs, seven puppies, a cat, six kittens and a flock of improved laying chickens, though thankfully those were not also sharing his house. But Oliver is a dutiful keeper and Chelsi was sure all of his animals had been plumped on its most appropriate animal feed. And with so much food about there would have been no need for Tulip’s mother to hunt.
When there was the sound of soft bones being crushed, one of the boys let out a gasp breaking up Chelsi’s train of thought. She reigned in thousand mile stare, and focused on her kitten. Tulip had finally mustered up his courage and had gone face first, mouth open, at the tiny fuzzy body. Bright red blood began to bead-up on its grey fur. With the last of its fight there was a furious chirt chirt chirt.
It makes sense now, why animals are so attracted to squeaky toys.
Tulip pressed down with his paws and gnawed with his needle like teeth. Shortly thereafter the incessant chirting ceased.
The boys, still perched on the bench giggled. As the first mouse disappeared inside the kitten, Giddie revealed the second one. The human beings attraction to blood sports can’t be denied, for even Chelsi had a hard time looking away now.
The second baby dormouse sat stock still, hoping not to be noticed.
Like two beasts in the colosseum. Chelsi watched at Tulip followed his blood covered nose towards the second little dormouse. Or more like the lion and a Christian martyr.