Erica was inside the twin-holed box that crowned her cat tower. That's where she keeps her weed stash. You know what I'm talking about.
More and more, lately, Erica's become a bit of a nip-head. Ever since I bought her that 10X catnip at the head shop...excuse me, at the pet store, she's been spending more time high on the stuff than I've ever known her to before.
I've tried to delicately broach the subject with her, but anything I say is immediately taken as criticism, and she then becomes defensive and turns things around on me. Since I don't care to have my habits fall under Erica's scrutiny, we exist in a state of détente on that subject.
Levi was sleeping hard, and dreaming. He let out a little yip in his sleep, his legs were twitching wildly, and both Erica and I could see he was deep in REM.
"What do you think he dreams about," she asked me. "It looks like he's being chased by something. Maybe a puma."
"Levi doesn't sit around watching Animal Planet all the time. He doesn't even know what a puma is," I told her.
In his dream, Levi continued to let out little yips. From her lofty height, Erica snorted in derision.
"Puma's caught him," Erica said, with a touch of satisfaction.
"What do you dream about?" I asked Erica.
"I have the best dreams," Erica declared enthusiastically. "It's always a grassy field. But it's not grass. It's catnip, a big field of catnip! I feel like Dorothy in that poppy field, only I don't fall asleep like she did. I roll in the field, and the sun shines on me, and I grow!"
"Really? How big do you get?"
"Big!" Erica said, happily. "I grow big. Way bigger than Levi. Big enough to kill you!"
"Excuse me," I said, sharply. "Why would you want to kill me? I thought we loved each other."
"I don't want to kill you. I just want to be big enough to," she said.
"It would change the whole tone of our relationship, I think."
"For the better?" I asked.
Levi yipped once more, then, suddenly, barked at full volume. His bark was loud enough to wake him, and in just a moment he had his bearings. He saw me and Erica looking at him.
"Puma…I'm sorry, Big Cat got you, huh?" Erica asked.
"What are you talking about? What big cat? Dad, where's the big cat?" He was wide awake, and excited.
"Erica's the biggest cat we've got at the moment," I told Levi.
"I thought you were dreaming that you were being chased, and then killed, by a puma," Erica said.
"What's a puma?"
"Big Cat," Erica and I answered in unison. Erica giggled.
"I wasn't dreaming about a Big Cat," Levi said. "I was hunting the rabbits."
Our neighborhood swarms with rabbits. Levi's learned to control himself when he sees them on walks, but only after repeated attempts to chase them down were thwarted by the end of his leash and his collar jerking his neck and, sometimes, me off my feet. It only took him five years before he stopped lunging at every one of them.
Until Levi was a year and a half old, he had lived in rural New Mexico, where his hunting instincts could be given full play.
"You sure liked when you could catch rabbits in New Mexico, didn't you, boy?," I asked him.
"It was the best! I caught one every single day, you know?"
"But Levi," Erica said."Why did you kill all those rabbits. You've always had all the food you wanted."
"I was hungry!"
"No, you weren't," Erica said. "That's my point. Why would you want to hunt if you don't need to?"
"I was hungry," Levi repeated.
"Were you hungry in your dream just now," she asked.
"Yes. I was very hungry, so I kept catching rabbits! And eating them! Then I was hungry again, so I caught more rabbits, and ate them, too!" Levi's tail wagged vigorously. I petted him and he pushed against my hand happily.
Erica laughed, softly. "Good for you, Levi."
"Thanks. It was great! I wish I could go back to sleep right now and dream it some more!" Levi suddenly looked worried. "But I'd probably have that other dream."
"The one about the coat rack?" Erica asked. Levi's tail stopped wagging.
The first house we had lived in eight years ago had a coat rack. Once, in a tussle with Arthur, the coat rack had fallen. No one was hurt, but Levi still had nightmares about it with some regularity.
"I wish I could just dream about the rabbits," Levi whined, morosely. "When I catch them, I'm not hungry anymore."
"A dog with all he wants to eat still thinks he's hungry and wants to hunt. I'll never understand them," Erica said with some finality.
"It's instinct, honey," I said to her. "You have instincts, too, you know."
"I overcome my baser instincts," Erica said, lazily.
"Then what about the mutilated bird I picked up from the lawn last week? You didn't need to kill that bird. You're not hungry either, Erica," I reminded her. "At least Levi ate the rabbits he caught. You didn't even eat any of that poor bird. So why did you kill her? Instinct, Erica."
"Not at all," she said, dismissively. "That was entirely personal."
"What did that little bird ever do to you, Erica?" Levi asked.
Erica inhaled deeply of her catnip. She looked down at Levi.
"I don't remember. But it must have been something."
And with that, Erica retreated to the interior of her drug den for a night of dreaming she was a Big Cat who could kill me, or Levi, if she wanted. But she wouldn't want to. Unless, of course, we did something.
© 2009, All Rights Reserved, Rich Sands
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