Author : Sean Maschmann

Sparky has never been the cleverest of cats. He’s a male tortoiseshell, a one in two hundred chance, so rare that Japanese fishermen used to keep them as good luck charms. The problem is, they are congenitally stupid. Sparky, who was named ironically, likes to sit for hours watching the shadows move. I think he can process things at that speed.

The shocking thing about Sparky is his ability to hunt. He’s fat as a baby seal and as stupid as anything, but he can stalk and kill a host of small creatures, from flies to robins. Once he even brought a still twitching rat in through the kitchen door. Amelia, our two year old daughter, laughed delightedly as Sparky disemboweled it on the linoleum.

“Sparky eating,” she sang. “Sparky good boy!”

My wife and I had to clean up the mess. Still, we love Sparky. He’s a good cat, even if his eyes are as blank and dark as flat stones.

Yesterday, Sparky was gone all day long. He never leaves the house for more than an hour or two. He needs to keep up his weight, you see. By the time we were having dinner, my wife and I were growing concerned; we decided to look for him after we’d done the washing up. Amelia, of course, was very eager to begin the search, and fetched her toy binoculars. She held them in her chubby hands and babbled incoherently.

The three of us began in our yard, calling his name and shaking a bag of cat food. Old Mr Marsden, our neighbour, poked his scrawny neck over the fence.

“We’re looking for Sparky!” intoned Amelia.

“Well, are you now?” asked Mr Marsden. “I hope you find the little fella. I haven’t seen him at all today. Usually Penny’ll feed him a bit of cream when he stops by, but I ain’t seen him.”

I smiled thinly. Cream is the last thing our Sparky needs. “Well, thanks Mr Marsden,” I said. We went out of our back yard into the field that abuts our row of houses.

Mr Marsden called as we left, “Look out now. Some of them teenagers was setting fires out there earlier. I seen the smoke.”

My wife and I raised our eyebrows at each other. Marsden is an old fussbudget.

We walked toward the river at the far end of the field. I couldn’t help feeling that Sparky would never go this far from the house. The sun blazed down on us as we called out our wayward cat’s name.

Suddenly, we heard a meow from the river bank. Amelia ran ahead with great excitement, almost tripping over some rocks.

We heard her shout, “Mommy! Daddy! Sparky found a toy!”

As we reached the river, we saw Sparky sitting and cleaning his paws, wearing his usual dazed expression. Behind him was a patch of singed grass. At his feet was a small metal object, not more than six inches long. It was open. There was blood coming out of it.

I still can’t believe the size of the rivets. They looked like they were made by ants.

My wife and I buried it last night after Amelia had gone to bed.

Sparky had to sleep off the meal for quite a while.

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