• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 08


He was kind to animals.

Wistful remembrances from when he was a boy of the litter of kittens born to the stray cat his parents told him not to feed. The poignant tale of the beloved spaniel he'd had to give away when he decided to go back to college. Not to mention he'd won over her most ornery cat...and her with it. In the backwater town they'd been gracelessly forced to call home, a sportsman's paradise, he told her of the tragedy of his father's attempt to make a hunter of him; how he'd cried while his father took the kill shot, putting the unfortunate bird he'd only managed to wound out of its misery. “Never again,” he'd said. His tender soul had been wounded that day, as well. He meant only to be a healer now.

He spoke of empathy for the underdog. If all those years of Catechism were to be believed, his professed kindness to those lesser than himself undeniably meant he had the virtue of Saint Francis, a true paragon. Animal abuse might be a major red flag for psychopathy...but some flags have a more subtle hue. They were fragile, hapless, the animals and her. He'd taken heroic pride in rescuing them, and now they had become extensions of himself. They were his possessions, and anything worthwhile about them was a reflection of him. He preened while recounting all he'd done for those wretched creatures, how much better he'd made their lives!

But what of his life? Where was his reward for suffering this mantle of suffocating responsibility? She was nothing more than another stray, and now that'd he'd fed her, he would never be free. He'd have to take care of himself, it seemed. He made women a sport, hunting them like pigeons and squirrels, baiting traps with effusive praise and fattening them up on a steady stream of flattery. The weaker, hungrier ones were the easiest; the ones pecking at crumbs, rooting through rubbish.



Her, he wounded pellet by pellet, never quite having the courage to take the kill shot. No more would his soul weep. He'd caged it and left it to die, untended. It hadn't really served him well, anyway.

When they began to languish, the animals and her, he was far too obsessed with stroking his own ego to notice. Grief layered upon her, made her friable, and he regarded her with disgust. He blocked out the keening of her sorrow with brutish grunts and groans. It was her own fault, really. She would never understand the complexity of normal human needs.

Did she imagine he just was some kind of animal?