In a way it is such a modest admonition. It is true: the recipient of such a judgement should cease its damaging ways immediately. And yet the word also indicates a type of bemused shock; an alarm that is both subdued and charmed.
But I was not bemused or charmed – or any of those show-moving emotions. I was surprised and angry. And yet this was the first word that came to mind.
My verdict was directed towards the cat. She has always looked to me like the very essence of Pet, for which I hope she will forgive me. Yet she is indeed a very soft and rounded girl. All muscles and instinct, a velvet trust inherited from her ancestors, have been hidden under a life of grooming appointments and bowls of salmon broth. All of her wild gifts were forgotten.
A bell hung from her throat, like a dainty insult. And she wore a collar bearing a name that she did not want. She is a domestic animal, yet her blood is unquiet with an undefined threat. She still moves like a subtle hellion.
I see her most days. Usually she is in possession of a square of sidewalk, waiting for the warmth of the concrete to saturate her tamed flesh. But one morning she was most attentive, and I was not included in her hard, golden stare – which occasionally has been my honor.
And then she began to move. Not run…but to move with the noiseless bearing of a hunter; a half-forgotten locomotion commandeered by the silent, mindless intent of a sociopath.
I tried to warn her intended victim – a mourning dove: foolish, oblivious and feeding – but its escape was a low, depleted flight. I watched the savage miscreant’s launch into the air, the arch of her torso and the extended, hopeful limbs.
I saw the gleam of her claws as they singed the dove’s feathers; I saw her gaze expectantly into the sky. And I stood awhile, waiting to forgive the pet that knows not what it does.