Sixth Annual Wild Violet Writing Contest Winners (2008)
Nina Bayer, a graduate of Whidbey Writers Workshop, has published short works of fiction in Between the Lines, Paperbox, Pontoon, Binnacle, First Class, Clamor, Emptyheaded, and other undiscovered, yet excellent, literary magazines.
started a few hours before, around ten o'clock, when I let Jameson, my
apricot tabby, out the front door. He was to find a clean place in the
soil to dig, then cover up what he had dug and come right back inside.
This was his nightly routine. But within a few minutes of turning him
out, there was hissing and screeching and the swiping of claws, and I
was forced to throw on the porch light and run outside in my nightgown.
I found Jameson cowering in the shelter of the Japanese Maple, his trembling
haunches nestled deep into the cool dirt and decaying leaves beneath the
tree. A large gray tabby stared at him from the porch next door. Harley.
The self-proclaimed Boss Cat of our neighborhood.
usually a passive, non-confrontational person, known for being introverted,
patient; one of the "nice" people in my neighborhood. But as
I bent in the glow of the porch light and scooped Jameson into my arms
his coat dirty and torn, blood from the gash on his leg oozing
over my yellow flannel anger boiled up inside me. It was our yard
after all, and Jameson had every right to perform his duties without incident.
As he meowed and dug his claws into my shoulder, he extended his injured
leg to me for healing, the same leg that had been gashed by the Boss Cat
just one week before. My heart went out to him. Something had to be done
Boss Cat belonged to the man next door. I called him the "Yuppie
Single Guy," even though he was divorced and had three kids who stayed
with him on the weekends. He was also a man of toys, and had more money
and ways to spend it than I could imagine. Every inch of his property
was covered with plants and trellises, fountains and lawn ornaments. Huge
ferns and flowering vines hung from baskets lined across his front porch,
and his garage was filled to overflowing with jet skis, snow boards, camping
equipment, and party supplies. On holidays, he draped tasteless oversized
decorations across his house and yard, the worst being his Halloween decor,
with glow-in-the-dark ghosts and massive Velcro spider webs. The Yuppie
Single Guy irritated me. We shared a mutual driveway, but beyond that
we had nothing in common.
carried Jameson into the house and placed him on the kitchen counter,
stroked his fur and comforted him, then reached into the refrigerator
for his medicine: antibiotics and pain killer. The only saving grace was
that I still had them on hand from the week before. I filled both syringes
a cc of this, half a cc of that then pried open his mouth
with my fingers and squirted the liquid into the back of his throat. He
squirmed with fear and dislike, but soon resigned himself to the inevitable
and swallowed, succumbing gracefully to my gentle care. I cleansed and
bandaged his wound, then laid him out on a blanket at the foot of my bed.
stayed with him for an hour, until the medicine had made him sleepy, then
stepped into the bathroom to dress. I pulled on a warm pair of jeans and
some tennis shoes, slid a sweatshirt over my head and grabbed my leather
gloves. I left Jameson sleeping, backed the car out of the garage, and
turned off the engine. I opened the trunk and left it ajar.
stepped quietly down the driveway and up onto my neighbor's front porch.
The Boss Cat was there, licking his wounds, but looking proud. I picked
him up, carried him back up the driveway to my car, and set him in the
drove with no plan for where I would go, but I knew what needed to be
done. I allowed my emotions to lead me I was livid; I was afraid;
I was resolute. Neither Jameson nor I could endure another unprovoked
attack, let alone an ongoing life of bullying. Living next door to the
Yuppie Single Guy had been more than enough.
Yuppie Guy liked to walk the length of our mutual driveway, smoking cigars
and talking on his cell phone. When he wasn't doing that, he was drinking
beer and filling his birdbath with water from my hose. Both his smoke
and his loud conversations filtered into my house through the second-story
windows, and the intrusion annoyed me like five extra pounds.
children were equally obnoxious. On the weekends that they visited, they
considered my yard an extension of their playground. They scraped colored
chalk drawings onto my sidewalk and ran their bikes through my grass.
To get to the community play area, they trampled a path through my garden
and knocked the heads off my flowers. Sometimes I came home to find dead
rodents on my doormat Boss Cat leftovers.
homeowner meetings, the Yuppie Single Guy was the first to complain about
cars driving too fast down our street and grass growing two inches too
tall in the park. "Not the best for baseball," he said. No one
dared stand up to him, to remind him of his own offenses: his loud weekend
parties, his annoying kids, his vicious roaming cat. I was the most reluctant
to confront him, wanting to live beside him in peace. But on this night,
I had finally had enough. The claws were coming out.