The Cat StranglerRichard K. Weems
It starts with the usual growls: the feline handled roughly by the scruff. The Cat Strangler is at it again.
A slight struggle, a practice squeeze and others methods of impersonal handling, and off he goes. The neighborhood collectively shrugs its shoulders in hope of shutting out the yeowls and the hisses stretched into high pitch by the Cat Strangler's strong, trained hands.
Parents turn up their televisions; children pull pillows over their heads to the point of suffocation. Neighborhood pets break into instinctual runs and flee into unfamiliar territory, their nametags and phone numbers their only hope of return.
The Cat Strangler continues his performance. The neighbors call the authorities, but the authorities stammer helplessly---they've been over all this before (the pulling up, the getting out, the knocking on the door, the being met with the Cat Strangler's cat-strangling credentials, backed with University patronage).
For what few seem to hear under the barrage of kitty torture is the Cat Strangler's wife, Jill, in accompaniment (tonight: Heinrich Ignaz Franz Von Biber, Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in C Minor). No one bothers appreciating how a firm grip on the neck and harsh pull of the tail make a perfect B flat, how a good squeeze produces a high E.
Instead, psychiatrists will be consulted---tears will be shed. Parents will explain to the children the wrongdoings of the Cat Strangler's art form; they will recite scripture; they will make moral imperatives. Animal activists will lick bloodlust from their lips and draw up plans of attack. Far off in distant, political lands, untouched by the screams of dying cats but active just the same, government agencies will do the voodoo they do. Nothing will remain the same.
But for now, the recital ends---to no applause.
Jill, the Cat Strangler's wife, critiques the performance. Siamese, she believes, have too harsh an overall tone for something as technically precise as Biber. For the Russians, fine (for Schnittke, for Shostakovich, even Tchaikovsky), but for the Germans she is more inclined towards the longhairs.
The Cat Strangler makes hurried notes---such a landmark work will his be! His professors had little hope for Musica Zoocidia beyond classroom experimentation, and they certainly never dreamed of using animals wilder than your typical laboratory rat. The Cat Strangler's treatise will break all confines! He sees a future in pig concertos---nay, even a day for the Echo Sonata for Himalayan, Chihuahua and Ostrich.
He transports the spent instrument in a brown paper bag in unceremonious fashion. He takes it to a deep wood, as far as his car will allow, and empties the bag onto a pile of expired brethren, cats piled upon cats piled upon cats piled upon cats, tongues stuck out in strangulation horror. The pile writhes in minute, maggot-infested rhythm. When the Cat Stranlger departs, waiting minions of sporting equipment manufacturers raid the pile of former felines for the making of tennis rackets. These rackets are placed into the able hands of strong-bodied, gleaming white tennis players, who swing into furious volleys for game.
Copyright ©1999 Richard K. Weems. All Rights Reserved.
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