We Sleep Together

Jigsaw The Wonder Cat brings me a dead mouse. It’s bulging in her small mouth, limp; the mouse’s eyes closed as if it had been scared to death. There’s no blood, no trauma. Folk wisdom believes cats can fling mice by their tails bashing their tiny skulls on the ground or by centrifugal force the spinning mouse is stunned to death. I don’t know which of the two forms of execution I prefer my feline to have bestowed upon this unfortunate. Regardless, the wisdom also says that when a cat brings you fresh kill – a mouse, a cold bird – you are supposed to praise them. The cat is, after all, bringing you a gift, and has performed this duty for you – you had better be grateful. “Good girl, oh you’re my fierce hunter,” I coo gently, picking the critter up by its elastic=-band of a tail, my hand sheathed in a yellow latex glove. As if the dead mouse is evidence, I drop the mouse into a clear, plastic zip-lock bag and dump it into the garbage. Both Jigsaw and Digger The Undertaker’s Dog as we like to call him, follow me to the bin, noses twitching the air: Perhaps they smell something that I surely cannot. Or won’t. For them it lingers in their wet snouts. For me, this tiny death lingers in my eyes. I’m sure all day I will see the mouse, plump and sad, within the pink jaws of my domesticated cat. I’ve kissed that furry chin, the feline jowls. The hunter’s mouth. Jigsaw sleeps with us, laying on the pillow above my wife’s head. During some nights, Jigsaw and I will awaken together. I will motion for her to come under the covers where I will, essentially, cuddle with her. We share breath. Her paws and pin-like talons reach out and kneed me: Daddy, Daddy. “Oh, you’re such a baby,” I say before drifting back to sleep. My sleep is undisturbed by the presence of Jigsaw, the killer. My dreams are not suffuse with carnage, limp fur and the dankness of feral blood. There is wildness, there’s domestication. We are ignorant of the gentle jaws, the quick reflexes, the eyes that see at night. What else have we forgotten or become blind to without notice? What other wild abandon do we place in order? What other killers do we coo? How can we sleep? This chest pain, this leg cramp. My head hurts today. Puff that smoke, sip that elixir, get behind that wheel. Stalk the doe, hook the salmon, hid the evidence in zip-locked bags and close the fridge door. We have kissed those chins. We sleep together. We break bread and sear the catch on the grill. Scared to death for this domestication exits only in counterpoint to the wildness. Gentle jaws speak of no such horror. We coo.

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