I was looking the cat over, listening to Ma go on about how grumpy it was. This was a cat I hadn’t noticed before, with Siamese markings and a blocky build you wouldn’t expect to see in a Siamese, and it had big feet, feet the size of silver dollars. It was laying on its side asleep on the pantry floor next to the freezer and looking about as content as any cat I’d ever seen, but Ma couldn’t shut up or quit complaining about how grumpy this cat was so I decided to pick it up and demonstrate that I had a way with cats and maybe also drop a hint that Ma might be the cat’s biggest problem. I slid both hands down under it so its shoulders and hips were in my palms, with my fingers pointing down toward its feet, and lifted it up, and the cat felt nice and relaxed and comfortable enough so I just brought it right up toward my shoulder thinking I would hold it like a baby. About the time I was giving it that little turn up onto my shoulder, cooing to it, one hand under its butt just like you would a kid, the cat proved Ma right and went for my face with its teeth, latching onto a good half a mouthful of meat right in the middle of my eyebrow and hanging on like a bulldog. And when I say like a bulldog, I don’t just mean ferocious and relentless and strong, but also just hanging there, not really using its legs, which seemed unusual for a cat, but good in that I wasn’t being held and rabbit kick clawed the way most cats will do. The fucker was clamped onto my eyebrow though, and showing no signs of letting up, and my hands just naturally went for its throat. I remember calling it a fucker, and I remember pushing my thumb through the skin of its throat, and being surprised at how soft the skin was and easy to tear, thinking that it felt like rabbit skin and skinning a rabbit – – easy. Even with my thumb right up against the cat’s windpipe though, I was still maintaining the idea that this was Ma’s cat, and that she was standing right there. I don’t have the slightest idea what she was doing or thinking or saying during these moments, but I knew she was still there next to me. I dropped onto my knees and then bent over so the cat was on the floor, and so at about five seconds into this bout the two of us were right down to where something had to give. I didn’t have any doubt that I could choke the cat out or that I could just kill it, which seemed like the quicker way to get it to let go of my eyebrow, but the Ma thing came up again, maybe from my brain or maybe from my blood, I don’t know, and I had this notion about backing off with the strangle hold just to see what would happen. The cat must have liked the combination of having its feet on the ground and my thumb off its throat, because as soon as I eased off it let go of me. I told Ma that I’d torn the cat open, and she put her fingers into the wound on the cat’s neck. There wasn’t any blood and the cat didn’t seem to mind the attention from Ma at all, and Ma said everything was fine. Then my little sister walked into the doorway and started giving one of her speeches into space, not looking at anyone. In fact she had turned in the doorway and seemed to be talking to the doorjamb, or maybe to the series of pencil marks and dates where we’d measured our height over the last ten or fifteen years. She had her glasses on and was raised right up on her toes and going on like a school- marm – – some lesson about how to give a miscreant a proper lecture.