Walking back to the house after hauling off Christmas trash, a noise, something jostling the brush, caught his attention. He stopped in his tracks.
The sight before him brought a feeling of relief. And…vindication. Halfway down the drive stood his cat, Misha. She’d returned.
Ten days ago he’d rushed outside with his shotgun to kill the predator that had been eating his cat’s food for over a month. Hearing the boom of the shotgun, his wife met him at the back door.
“Did you get it?”
He nodded pushing the safety on and propping the shotgun near the back door. “Not sure if it was a coon, though. Might’a been that big Tom.”
He sniffed, “Do I smell cornbread?”
“It’s on the counter along with the greens.”
Poking at the hot cornbread with his index finger he looked away muttering. “I hope it wasn’t Misha.”
He knew what he would see in his wife’s eyes if he looked at her now. Oh, she loved to rant about his guns and the money he spent on gun shows, gun magazines, hunting, camouflage, ammo.
His response was that guns were his Constitutional right, a man’s right to defend his home. And he didn’t spend any more on his guns and hunting than she did on shoes or clothes or the kids.
She asked why he needed two shotguns, three .22 rifles, two handguns, a muzzleloader and a crossbow”.
“What - you think there’s going to be a siege and you’ll singlehandedly have to hold off a bunch of robbers?” Her eyes cut to their worn out furniture and spare belongings.
“I’m not hurting anyone. And I do put meat on the table every winter don’t I?”
She just waved her hand at him and walked off.
When Misha didn’t show up the next day, or the next, he told his wife, “I think I killed my kitty. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it.” And he confessed, “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done.”
To her credit she didn’t say, ‘Imagine what the poor thing was thinking as you aimed the gun at her…’
But it didn’t keep him from thinking it.
One of his buddies suggested his wife take his guns away. One even joked that based on his accuracy in the past, he was too close to actually hit the cat.
After that, she’d gone to calling for Misha. Just in case he’d missed.
He kept telling her, in a defeated tone, “I made a good shot. She’s not coming back.”
And yet, here she was. The best Christmas present he could ask for.
She ran off because she was freaked, that’s all. He had made a good shot. He’d just been doubting himself, but now that he relived the moment, he could picture the cat he’d fired on. It was that big grey Tom.
He let out breath. Come to think of it, the Tom hadn’t been around lately either.
Misha meowed plaintively, and he moved forward.
“Where ya been, kitty?” he sang to her. “Come ‘ere, Kitty Kitty.”
She looked up at him, crying again. As he bent down to pet her, he smelled the rotten odor.
Then he saw the cause.
The shredded stump where her paw used to be.