Curiosity Killed the Cat

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The cat was dead. There was no question about that. I felt his little chest for any signs of life—nothing.

Only one question remained: who killed the cat?

Could it have been Elise, the cat’s owner? She’d been complaining about him for a while now—the cat was too dumb, the cat was mean, the cat had a habit of shredding the drapes when he was left home alone. Had Elise finally gotten fed up with the cat and killed it in a moment of rage? No, he was all Elise had—kill the cat and she would find herself alone again.

Could it have been Caitlin, the cat-sitter? She never really liked the cat in the first place, and she had every opportunity to sneak a little poison into his food jar when she was housesitting for Elise… But without the cat, she wouldn’t have made any money, and Caitlin was two-months behind on her rent. It just didn’t add up.

Could it have been a stranger, some kind of cat killer who committed his crimes in the cover of the night? Ah, but what motive would this cat killer have had? The cat never went outside—it was unlikely anyone even knew he existed, let alone had enough anger towards him to commit a murder.

I’d explored all the options and I had absolutely no idea what to say. In front of me stood Elise, Caitlin, and my Pet Crimes Partner, Lou. I was supposed to be the prodigy, the Pet Crimes Whisperer, but here I was—clueless.

“One thing is for sure,” I started, unsure of where the thought would take me. “Curiosity killed this cat.”

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The Whole Nine Yards

whole nine yards

The deal was almost set—we’d move our fence six yards to the east and help fix up a barn in exchange for the tractor, giving the Perkins’ a little more land and securing the success of our harvest. The Perkins’ have been trying to slowly get our land for as long as anyone can remember, and we’ve needed a new tractor ever since Jake, our son, broke ours trying to drag a plastic pool filled with his friends across a shallow ravine. Don’t get me started on that boy—he’s full of bad ideas.

That’s beside the point, though. We needed a tractor, the Perkins’ had an extra one that they barely used, and all they wanted in exchange for it was a nine-yard increase along their property’s east side. We’d managed to negotiate it down to six-yards and a few hours of manual labor working to fix up their barn, which had a leaky roof and peeling paint. Six yards? Fine, let them have it.

Just as we were about to sign the deal, Grammy, the oldest member of the Perkins clan and, by extension, basically my own grandmother, pulled out her shotgun, holding it across her body like a guitar, and proudly displayed it for all to see.

“You wait just a minute, now,” she said, voicing her demands as if we were the hostage negotiators in the bank robbery of her dreams. Cocking the gun, she announced, “I said nine yard, not six. Plus help with the barn. I want all of it—the whole nine yards!”

As she showed the gun off and waved it around to further her point, I knew she’d never use it—not on me, at least—but it got my attention nonetheless. I thought to myself, who am I to say no to Grammy, the woman who practically raised me after my own mother passed away?

I stood there, speechless, feeling a strange mixture of fear and pride for Grammy’s newfound gusto. “Fine, you can have it. You can have the whole nine yards,” I said.

Smell A Rat

Tony had been working for the Rodent PD for almost 6 months, which is a long time for a youngster like Tony. He’d joined the IRA, the department of Internal Rodential Affairs about 2 months ago, and was recently transferred to the Undercover Rat Division, where he was assigned to case 231—Mouse Mafia Infiltration.

It was easy enough for Tony to make himself look like a mouse—he’d always been a rather small rat, and was often mistaken for a mouse from behind. He only needed to make a few small changes to his appearance and practice the mannerisms of the Mouse Mafia Members before he went undercover.

So he began making changes to his appearance, all the while imagining himself as the star of a movie montage set to classic 80s rock music. He filed down his teeth, wrapped his tail so it seemed smaller and slightly pinker, and dyed his hair from a dust-gray color to a sandy-looking brown. He even added some darker wet-sand colored streaks to give the impression of a mouse that has known tough times.
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Two months later, an entry in his field notes revealed Tony’s cover was not quite as solid as he’d originally thought. The entry read: I believe I’m in danger—The Boss suspects there is a spy among us.

Not three days later, the mice of the Mouse Mafia sat around an improvised poker table made from scraps of wood and cloth, smoking cigarette stubs and waiting for The Boss to speak. Fear charged the smoke-filled room. Finally, The Boss broke the silence.

“Does something smell weird to you boys?” The Boss asked innocently enough. But the mice of the Mouse Mafia knew better than to answer such a seemingly simple question.

After a long moment in which only the faint sounds of cigarettes being smoked could be heard, The Boss spoke again—only this time, he singled out a few of the Mouse Mafia’s newest members.

“Can you smell that, Freddie? Al?”

“I don’t smell nothing, Boss,” Freddie answered as Al slowly shook his head from side to side.

“What about you, Tony? Can you smell that?” The Boss asked as he turned to face Tony. His voice had taken on an all-knowing tone that suggested, to Tony, that The Boss had identified the spy and was ready to take action against him.

“What’s that, Boss?” Tony replied, desperately willing his whiskers not to twitch.

“I said I smell something funny. You know what it is—I smell a rat,” The Boss said, staring directly into Tony’s beady little rat eyes.

Kill Two Birds With One Stone

kill two birds with one stone

“And while we’re in town we can pick up some of the stuff you wanted from the corner store—pens, a notebook, some a those sore-throat candies,” Andy said with the uncertainty of a person who has never purchased pens, notebooks, or cough drops. “I can grab some jerky, too. Hell, we can get whatever we need while we’re there.”

Timothy gave a quiet, breathy laugh and said, “Yeah, that’s great. Kill two birds with one stone, right?”

“Well, uhh… I guess we could try that,” Andy said, shifting in his seat. “I mean, I’m not real sure how to go about that. There’s gotta be some real skill involved…”

Timothy furrowed his brows and cocked his head to the right in disbelief. Did Uncle Andy not hear me laugh? he thought. Does he not know that idiom? He has to know it—how could he not know the expression ‘kill two birds with one stone?’ Doesn’t everybody know that? I thought everybody’d at least heard it before…

It was pretty clear by Timothy’s expression that he and Uncle Andy were not on the same page, but Andy was too caught up in his own thoughts to notice the confused and disapproving stare coming from his nephew.

“You’ve gotta get a real big stone, I ‘spose. That or you use some sorta mathematical equation to calculate what angle and speed you’d need to throw the rock at to make it hit one bird, bounce off its skull and hit the other…” Andy continued, simultaneously horrifying and impressing his guest—impressing him in the way that a psychopath might impress a person with normal emotions, not exactly an admiration but dredging up some weird, momentary jealousy in the normal person.

But how could Timothy not be somewhat entertained by the determination in his uncle’s face? He’d never seen Uncle Andy work this hard at anything before, never in the entire 23 years they’d known each other. Not once.

Timothy wondered, is it possible that creative problem solving could be Uncle Andy’s passion? That all these years he’s been hiding some sort of intelligence, hiding well-honed critical thinking skills out here in the middle of the cornfields? Or maybe he’s just been harboring some sort of deep-seated hatred of birds, some weirdly strong resentment with origins unknown to me?

“You know, you might be better off using a slingshot. Don’t you think?” Andy continued. “I mean, to get a rock to bounce off a bird’s skull and hit another one hard enough to kill it? That rock’s gotta be movin’ pretty fast, if you ask me. Plus the slingshot would help with, like, accuracy and that stuff.”

Timothy, his full attention back on his uncle, realized that having a passion and voicing a fantasy about killing birds were two entirely different things. He hated himself for confusing the two, even if it was only for a moment. One moment of stupidity, but it felt more like the beginning of the end to Timothy. It wasn’t just the whole stupid conversation, but the whole stupid town—it was throwing him off his mental game already. After only three days, country life was getting to him. He wasn’t a country-man like his uncle Andy, he was a city-boy with a city-education and the sense of arrogance that is virtually nonexistent in the country.

Andy was still rambling on about how to kill two birds, but he had somehow escalated to thoughts of killing entire flocks of birds with a handful of rocks.

“I don’t know, Timmy. This whole damn thing seems a little silly, if you ask me. Why don’t we just head into town and grab a couple of beers with the guys and see what they think about it? You know they’ll have somethin’ to say,” Andy concluded, already grabbing the keys to his truck and heading towards the door.

Timothy, shaking his head, laughed quietly and muttered to himself, “You can do this, Timothy. Bond with Uncle Andy while you’re researching for your next story. Kill two birds with one stone.”

Put A Sock In It

put a sock in it

“Make it stop,” the man commanded. His wife looked up at him, her heart beating faster with each passing moment.

“I can’t,” she admitted quietly with a quivering voice. She cleared her throat and repeated her confession, a bit louder. “I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t,” the husband asked in a steady, stern tone. He had to remain calm, had to keep the situation under control. His head was throbbing in time with his heartbeat. He could feel a migraine coming on and the piercing screams in the room were certainly not helping.

She could sense her husband’s patience running low. The wife panicked, her eyes darting around the room desperately as she looked for something to quiet the cries of the baby. She was in trouble; she didn’t know how to make it stop crying or what it wanted.

“I… I don’t know how,” she managed to stutter. She was sweating profusely, though it wasn’t any hotter than usual in their small studio apartment. Her breathing was short and shallow as she watched her husband’s face turn a deeper, darker shade of red. It looked almost purple and the vein in his forehead was bulging.

He clenched his jaw, grinding his teeth while he looked around the room. “Why don’t just put something in its mouth? Just put a sock in it,” he screamed, his voice booming over the cries. If she didn’t shut that baby up in the next ten seconds he was going to lose it.

She grabbed the nearest sock and shoved it in the baby’s mouth, instantly dulling the cries. She had to admit, she was in a little over her head. This whole kidnapping a baby thing was turning out to be more than she’d bargained for.

You Are What You Eat

“You are what you eat, little Johnny,” his mom warned, waving her perfectly manicured finger through the air.  Her golden brown hair was set in big, loose curls, without a single piece out of place.

Johnny looked up into her big brown eyes, searching for some sign of sarcasm on her face.  She stared back into her young son’s wide eyes, amazed at how much he looked like her.  With a little laugh and a shake of her head, she turned around and went back to her housework in the other room.

Johnny was left alone at the kitchen table, with only the remainder of his dinner in front of him.  He stared at the plate full of carrots and peas.  Johnny didn’t want to be a carrot or a pea; he didn’t want to be bologna or jelly or mashed potatoes.  He certainly didn’t want to be fish sticks or steak.  He didn’t even want to be whatever animal bacon came from!

He wanted to be what he was—a little boy. He looked up and down at his arm, and realized what he needed to do.  Little Johnny made up his mind.  From that moment on he would only eat people, thus ensuring he would always be a little boy.  He would eat what he was and he’d be what he ate.