"Here you go, Crazies." I placed the purple-bottomed waterer on the chickens' food shelf. Tabitha cocked her head at it, then pecked at my shoe which was apparently more interesting. Carefully stepping over her, I maneuvered out the tiny doorway to avoid getting caught on the wire. When I turned around to shut the door, Tabitha was perched on the edge, staring at me.
"Tabitha," I began. "You can't come out here." I pushed her back inside, but she hopped back on the ledge, this time sticking out a foot as if to jump off. "No!" I laughed and pushed her farther in, shutting the door behind her. A bell jingled behind me as Jamal, our insane kitten, leapt out of the tall grass. He crept up slowly, peering in at the chickens. Tabitha came to the wire and gazed at him in admiration, puffing out her feathers. Jamal whined and scratched at the side of the coop. "No, Jams. No chickens for you. C'mon, let's go find some clover for the sweet friends."
I picked up the tiny black cat and carried him to the sunny part of the yard where the weed-vine I called clover (for lack of a better name) grew. As I picked the green treats, Jamal rolled onto his back and mewed for attention. "Sweet kitten, " I murmured, patting his stomach. He purred in contentment and closed his yellow eyes.
On the way back to the chicken coop, Jamal trailing behind, I saw a swarm of ants surrounding something on the concrete. "Jamal. . ." I raised an eyebrow at him. "Did you. . ." I crouched to look at the object. It was a lizard tail. "Jamal!" He looked up at me with huge eyes. "Did you steal this lizard's tail? And. . . what did you do with the rest of it?" He seemed to shrug and sprawled on the ground, sniffing the pile of ants. I glanced around for a dismembered lizard--and saw another squiggling trail of ants leading from the grass. "Jamal!" He jumped up and followed me to the body of his victim.
The dried-up, partially-eaten carcass lay on the concrete. Two legs were missing, as well as its tail. The face had obviously been chewed on. Ants were cheerily carrying off bits of gore. "Jamal!" I turned around to see where he'd gone. He lay on his back, gazing up at me with sweet kitten eyes. "I am so cute!" he seemed to say.
"You tortured him!"
"He was bad. Baaaad!" Jamal mewed. "He would have eaten us all!"
"I'm not letting you play with my chickens," I grumbled, leaving the dismembered lizard carcass behind.
As I opened the door to the coop, Tabitha jumped with excitement. "Friend! Large friend! Cat friend!" She tried to squeeze out the door to join the waiting Jamal. "Tabitha," I admonished. "He just mutilated a lizard." Jamal grinned what was probably meant to be a sweet smile. He looked like a tiny panther.
"Yes!" Tabitha hopped up and down. "Play with him!"
"You are not very bright," I told her, shutting the door. Jamal yawned, showing his pointed teeth, then leapt back into the grass to find another victim.