There were five in one night, one rat, two mice and two birds.
The rat Fluffy tucked under my desk, near my feet, and ate whole as I typed. It was a quiet night and I could hear the crunch of small bones being chewed over the quick, light tapping of my fingers on the keyboard. I tuned it out, my capacity for denial never greater than when a rat is being consumed at my feet.
He came in a while later with a little mouse, a tiny thing, not yet dead, in fact, still squeaking as he batted it behind the curtains. He eventually tired of it, and Rudy, who has never killed anything, never eaten anything but dry food, is suspicious even of treats, eyed it curiously, and gave it a good licking.
In the living room, there were the remnants of a bird, de-feathered and bloody, a real mess, but easy to clean since most of it had already been eaten. I vaccuumed the feathers and sprayed Folex on the stain, and as I blotted the damp carpet, he came in and gently placed another bird by my knees. Just set it there, stepped back admiringly, and casually flicked his tail and purred.
I went for a shoe box, scooping it up and walking toward the back door, where there on the doormat was a mouse skin butt--just the back legs, the tail and a flap of fur holding it all together. I left it there, subconsciously worried that the other half would sneak up on me in the middle of the night seeking revenge, but knowing that dead rodents left on the doormat are usually gone by morning.
I flung bird number two over the fence and when I came back in, I noticed the mouse number one, the squeaky little guy that Rudy was licking, was missing. His absence barely registered, so tired was I by the evening's death and denial and inevitable cleaning up of carcasses. And the next day, when I remarked on it to my sister, she assured me that if it hadn't been eaten, I would find it. It would, Erin advised, eventually start to smell.
Erin was right on both counts. I found the missing mouse, made known again to me by its smell.
It was in the closet under the stairs, a place known to my Swedish nephews as "the Harry Potter cupboard," and to my somewhat more avant garde seven-year old niece as Artopia, a gallery and light show where she is, apparently, the artist-in-residence. To me, it's just the place where I've stored my microwave, new and unopened in its original box, for two years and three months.
Poor little guy must have dragged itself there in an effort to escape the ignominy of death-by-licking. I screamed when I found him, shuddered in spite of myself, although he appeared wholey unmolested, looking perhaps as though he expired while taking a nap.
Cat will hunt.
I'm getting a dog.
Somebody, please install my microwave.