The Claws

“Good boy,” I said to him, grinning devilishly. “Eat your dinner.” Stevie attacked his food with a ferocity I had not seen in years, maybe in another life. As I had been preparing his food, he followed me around eagerly, chirping and crying to every one of my questions.

“Are you hungry?”

“Meeeeooow-ooowww!”

“Are you hungry?”

“Rrrroooowww!” He coupled this exclamation by putting his claws out and playing with my shoelaces.

“Infringement!” I reminded him that he was not allowed to play with my shoelaces until I had finished processing his food. “Silly little animal, you. Making animal noises.”

About twenty minutes later, I returned to my room to find he had left another batch in his litter box. “Stevie, it is quite potent this time. What have you been eating, paint thinner? Jet fuel?” He did not respond, but rolled over onto his belly and stretched. I couldn’t resist going in to tickle him. I had only been doing so for a few minutes when I saw the wildness return to his eyes, and an instant later all four of his paws were gripping my hand along with his teeth.

“Ow,” I said, removing my hand from his jaws and backing away. “I can help you, Stevie. You see, your fits of violence are the result of a trauma somewhere in your past. It could have been trillions of years in the making. But in order for me to tame you, you will have to do something with the claws.”

I returned from the pet store with a nail cap kit and Stevie was sound asleep on the floor, again. “This will be painful for you, but I believe that it will restrain you until you can restrain yourself,” I told him when he woke up. As I inserted each nail into its respective cap, he cried out in anguish. “Stevie, you have to make a choice. You can either be in these for about two weeks, or not at all.” He didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about, but continued to squirm and complain. “You’re lucky I kept you,” I said, “Especially after what you did to that toilet.”

The next day, I found him asleep on the floor, but I noticed that he had bitten off his nail caps. “Stevie, I finally figured out why you seemed so familiar. Years ago, you were an alcoholic, perverted drifter and I a bold thinker, astrophysicist, preacher, volunteer fireman, but above all, a man. I took you under my wing, but ultimately could not help you. I see now that the past has repeated itself. You are incapable of fully devoting yourself to the claws.”

When I first adopted Stevie and had experienced the pungent smell of his homemade concoction, I told him the following: “Stevie, you will continue to make your concoction, and I will have to clean up the resulting mess. And in return, you will be my protege, my guinea pig, my bug killer. And I will be your master.”

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