I heard it squeal, but really it was a trill, gracenotes of liquid voice, almost like birdsong, unpleasant only because I had one glimpse of the young rat dragging its body into the violets, its hind legs dragging, paralyzed. I wasn’t sure that’s what I’d seen, a young gray rat, with my old cat after it, until moments later, the dogs hanging back with excited cheers and doubts (these three have never killed, unlike my old cat, my tabby Emitte). Emitte sat down on a mound of hard dirt farther up the garden. I went to pick him up, put him back in the house, and at his feet as I got close, I saw the young rat, dead. I don’t like to see anything die.
Nothing, except ticks and mosquitoes.
I stared at it, not glad that it was dead, but relieved that it was not still breathing in some pained and labored way. I got from the garage a wide-bladed digging tool, and tried to push it gently, lengthwise under the small body. The body jiggled as if there were no bones at all. The soft white belly fur and the gray fur, was like a sack within which was nothing but blood or cream or soup. Completely limp and boneless, the body fell twice from the trowel. I could see then how Emitte had killed it. He had bitten, hard, at the base of its tail, deep punctures that paralyzed the rat (so, yes, I had seen it dragging its hindquarters), and possibly that is what killed it minutes later. I don’t like to see anything die.
I don’t like to see anything dead. If this rat were all white, and lived in a cage on my dressertop, it might still be spinning happily it its wire sheel, and looking forward to sleeping in a crumpled soft washcloth bed, or being petted and cooed to, or eating its special Purina rat food for pet rats.
~ LCF April 25, 2012