COLIN & THE KITTENS.

Colin had three kittens. They had been kittens for three years, remaining tiny and playful and as cute as a bundle of Christmases tied together with candy-striped ribbon. Colin loved them with a deep and abiding passion, in a way that only people who have loved deeply this way could understand. And the kittens heaped so much love upon him, each and every day, that sometimes he felt he would explode with the intensity of their passionate care for him. To the fact that they had retained their kittenness and joyous kittenish ways, he held no surprise as there was not a single moment of time anywhere in his past, certainly that he could recall, when he hadn’t been a lightning rod to happiness and joyous occurrences. He was like a magnet to everything nice in the world, and the consequent overflowing of wonderfulness spread to all who encountered him, so that the simple act of his entering a room seemed to imbue everything and everyone with the warmest of warm golden glows and a feeling that everything, ultimately, was alright and the world was, in fact, a wonderful place. And the glorious effect lasted well beyond his presence. It stayed with all who encountered him for days and weeks after.

ERIC.

Colin’s brother, Eric, on the other hand, while being the nicest of people in every way, and universally loved by all who met him, could be a bit of a klutz at times, like when he once accidentally said, ‘God loves everyone, even the Morons who often disturb our sleep of a Saturday morning.’ He of course meant the ‘Mormons’ who often disturb our sleep of a Saturday morning, and went on to say how he felt God would surely embrace and respect all religions, and while nobody took any offence or thought badly of him in the slightest, you can see the sort of klutziness to which he was prone. But, to his credit, Eric had never contracted herpes or syphilis or gonorrhoea or crabs or the aids or anal warts or elephantiasis of anything or any of the many diseases that can cause pustules to appear on your penis. He’d never had sex with an animal or descended into self abuse or engaged himself in salacious sexual fantasies as he was going to sleep or rubbed his privates against women in crowded buses or exposed himself in parks or bought any of the magazines in which women disport themselves without covering their breasts. He’d never made lewd suggestions to females regarding things he’d like to do to them and things he’d like to have them do to him, and he’d never purposely got a women drunk so he could touch her breasts after she’d passed out. He’d never sneaked into a female toilet to see how they differed from the men’s and he’d never ruminated, even in a general medical sense, let alone a lascivious one, on where exactly a woman does her pees from. He’d never tried to make animals from different species have sex together. He’d never tried to modify a piece of cow’s liver with the prospect of having sex with it, and in fact had never even read, ‘Portnoy’s Complaint,’ where the idea was first formally postulated. And the very concept of having intercourse with a dead body had never once entered his mind during his entire thirty-four years of life. In fact once he’d even made a device of leather and brass and elastic that could be fitted to a cat to keep its tail from sticking up so you could see its bottom-hole. He was a man, essentially pure and virtuous of both heart and mind, but in a humble, unassuming way, not at all show-offy or in a look-at-me-I’m-so-good kind of way.

VINCE & OSWALD

Then, of course, there was Vince. Vince was a handsome man with a deep voice and pleasant manners. The kind of person you trust instantly, and someone who makes you feel more than comfortable in his presence. He had that rarest of rare gifts that God can bestow upon a man – charisma. Throughout his life Vince used this to advantage, and the very best advantage to which he put it was with the ‘Pigeon Drop Con.’
The way the ‘Pigeon Drop Con’ works is, you sit next to someone in a busy restaurant and pretend to find a wallet on the floor. It contains a very large amount of money. Then, through a series of cunning moves and clever talking, without going into too fine a detail, both parties put up money, in preparation for one of them going to collect a reward and the mark is left with a handkerchief wrapped around pieces of blank paper.

Vince had done this more times than he could remember and had made more money than he ever cared to think he’d spent.
He was, however, not a total clapperclaw-hound and always directed some of his gains towards helping his sister’s retarded son, Oswald, who had Down syndrome. Vince would often take him along when he went off on jaunts about the place, buying him ice creams and sweets and fried chicken and French fried potato chips. Sometimes they had hamburgers, often with potato wedges that came with two different dipping sauces. And sometimes they’d buy takeaway ethnic food, like pizzas or tacos or donner kebabs or Chinese fried rice and egg foo-young. They never ate Lebanese food because Vince somehow confused Lebanese with lesbian and he worried about not knowing enough about lesbian mores, if they served non-lesbians in those establishments, what lesbians would do to him if they didn’t like him for some reason, (being a man perhaps). He worried the lesbian restaurants might use special utensils, the way the Chinese did, and if somehow eating lesbian food could turn you into a lesbian, then, eventually, what it might be like to be a lesbian. After that he wondered about Chinese lesbians. Then after that he wondered about how lesbians actually did it, if it was in fact clitoris-to-clitoris the way the taxi driver had explained it, and he got himself so tangled up and confused that he dropped the whole idea of having anything to do with anything lesbian or Lebanese.
So they never ate Lebanese food, but once they had Mongolian lamb, and later that day, when they got home, Vince got out his atlas and showed Oswald where Mongolia was on the map. But the most exciting times were when Vince would gather all his stockpile of weapons, hand guns from different countries and an assortment of rifles, both automatic and semi automatic, as well as some antiques from earlier times. Vince would collect Oswald and together they’d go off for some target practice. He showed Oswald all about how to use them; how to load, aim and fire, and while Oswald quickly got the hang of firing, loading, and particularly aiming, were quite often problematic. Vice was an easygoing sort however, and revelled in Oswald’s obvious joy and the enthusiasm he showed towards the whole concept of shooting things. He remained patient and calm, even throughout the most trying, and often harrowing experiences with the automatic weapons. Often, after a good afternoon of fun, firing the guns and rifles, Oswald would beg Vince to let him take a gun home with him and one day, overcome by the desperate look in Oswald’s pleading, mongoloid eyes, Vince let him have an automatic pistol and a box of ammunition. His one stipulation though, something he made Oswald swear to on his very life and cross his heart and hope to die, was that he only shoot at things, never people. ‘Ory figs, needer peedle,’ Oswald repeated excitedly, nodding his head in the serious nodding style he always used when he wanted to look cooperative but had no idea at all of what was really going on. ‘Good boy,’ Vince told him, and wrapped the gun and shells in an old towel and stuffed it all in Oswald’s Captain Atomic backpack. Oswald tried to get the gun out, in the car on the way back, but Vince told him, no, he should wait till he got home.

VINCE’S SISTER.

Vince’s sister, Oswald’s mother, was a drug addict and lived in a large old mansion which, along with a considerable sum of money, she’d inherited from her father, who had died under mysterious circumstances, but nothing could be proved. Her main areas of interest were in heroin, cocaine, crack-cocaine, meth-amphetamines, skunk, LSD, smack, morphine, speed and ecstasy, with a side interest in some of the prescription medications, particularly those having an opioid base. Her drug of choice though was heroin, but she was always careful to inject sensibly and had never once contracted any of the many diseases like aids, hepatitis A ,B or C, or any of the other blood-born viruses associated with intra-venous drug use, or ‘shooting-up’ as it was colloquially known. Because of her constant reliance on these substances, and the both physical and mental effects they produced, she was not always as careful in the supervision of her son as she perhaps could have been. But all that aside, she was generally happy, and during the occasional lucid moments would often take the time to attend to herself and apply make-up to her face and over the needle puncture wounds. Sadly neither area showed benefit the procedures, but things have a way of looking after themselves, and she and her retarded son lived, for the most part, together in happy harmony.

On the day Oswald returned home with his pistol and the brightly coloured box with the message ‘Bullets are for everyone’ on the outside, and two-hundred rounds of ammunition inside, his mother, Constance, was asleep on the lounge with a syringe full of blood hanging from here arm, and she didn’t see him. As this was in no way unusual, Oswald did what he always did when he came home from an outing with Vince, or from a bit of a wander by himself, or he was dropped off by a local police car, or, as they lived quite near the big international airport, by the federal police. This was to shout, ‘Herro,’ to his unconscious mother and go up the stairs to his bedroom and sit on the end of his bed and watch TV. But today he had his new toy, and he got the towel out of his bag and took out the gun and ammunition and began to inspect it all. Remembering Vince’s instructions, he released the catch holding the clip, letting it slide out, and he opened the box of ammunition and proceeded to load it up. It was a fiddly affair and half the bullets ended up on the floor and some were loaded in the wrong way around, but it kept him happy for the best part of forty minutes, and when he’d finished, he took the weapon downstairs to show his mother. She was still asleep and Oswald used his customary method of waking her, which was to take the syringe out of her arm and begin poking her in the neck until she snorted and shook her head, and slapped at his hand, trying to make him stop. When he was sure she was properly enough awake he handed her back the syringe and showed her his new gun. ‘Gun,’ he said, and to clarify the fact that it was his and that he was in charge of it, fired a shot into the glass fronted cabinet in which was kept their best crystal and the collection of unique African pottery figurines depicting the seventeen most favoured ways of having sexual intercourse for the Umbahya tribe of Nigeria. He’d been aiming at something entirely different, the black Steinway grand piano in the corner, and when he noticed his inaccuracy, opened fire again, this time exploding bottles in the liquor cabinet until the gun finally jammed. ‘Gun,’ he said again, and bounced up and down with excitement.

EVERYBODY TOGETHER.

Later that week, Vince, driving a late model Mercedes convertible with an automatic sunroof and white-walled tyres, that he’d won in a card game in which he’d cheated using his dexterity in shuffling, dealing from the bottom, top, and middle, and a technique known as ‘going south’ or ‘ratholing,’  picked up Colin and Eric and drove around to Oswald and Constance’s house to collect them for their weekly family outing of dinner and a show. Oswald’s mother had prepared herself with some lines of coke and a handful of Vicodin she’d recently purchased using a prescription from a pad she’d stolen from her doctor some time before.

Colin had brought his kittens in a large leather hold-all which he zipped up in a manner that allowed their heads to poke out and investigate everything that was going on, while simultaneously containing them safely inside. Oswald had brought his pistol and, as they stopped at lights or in stalled traffic, Vince showed him where he’d gone wrong in loading the clip. ‘I gotted it now, Vincie,’ he said and indeed, after a few tries, he did manage to get a full clip completely right. Vince told him, ‘No shooting in the car, Oswald,’ and Oswald replied, ‘No shooting in da car, Oswald,’ and Vince explained the safety mechanism and activated it and Oswald straight away disengaged it, because to his mind that was the way it had always been since he got it and so was the proper way to be.

When they got onto the freeway, Vince, who’d had a few drinks before they left, couldn’t resist the urge to drive a degree or two faster than the limit allowed and, during a spurt where he attempted, and succeeded in a wobbly way, to get the machine up to 150 miles an hour, was pulled over by a roving police car with flashing lights and an eeh-haw siren. As the officer approached the car, Oswald noticed his holster and pistol, and when he drew up beside the drivers window, Oswald produced his own gun, saying excitedly, ‘I gotted a gun too. Look at this,’ and held his arm out so the end of the pistol poked through the window, aiming directly at the officer’s chest. In the firefight that ensued, Vince was the first to take a bullet, this from the officers first shot. Next was Oswald’s mother and Eric, in the back, the result of erratic firing from Oswald, stimulated to a point of hysterical overexcitement by the discovery of someone armed in a similar way to himself. After that Colin took one from the constable, and then the three kittens in the bag, and then in one of those unlikely but occasional coincidences, both the officer and Oswald each took one to the head from the others gun, at which point the exchange stopped abruptly, everyone being dead, except Colin who’d lost interest about then, and died later on the way to the hospital due to complication with a bullet that had blown away both his liver and both kidneys, something the coroner later described in his report as ‘a lucky shot.’

In the newspapers and the TV the next day it was universally referred to as ‘a bloodbath’ and in truth of fact, when you looked at the scene, that was not so much an overstatement by any stretch of the imagination. But in a way, if you looked at the thing from a certain angle, the five adults and the kittens died together as a family, which has a certain niceness to it, and if you twisted your perspective just a little further and turned it a bit more at an angle so you possibly saw the slain constable as a kind of adopted brother, the whole thing could be seen as having a kind of happy ending all around for all concerned.