BITING OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW • by Brian Laing

I watched as the cat prowled the lawn under the bird feeder. An instinct honed over thousands of years, the predator stalking its feathered prey. Muscles rippled under sleek fur as the orange tabby crouched in the long grass much as its great cousin the tiger might be doing in the tamarisk shrubs along river banks on the Indian subcontinent.

A dark shadow passed over the green grass. Great wings beat and the cat thrashed as it rose into the sky held fast in the grasp of the unyielding talons.

In an instant the predator had become the prey.

The hawk laboured to clear the hedge with the orange cat hanging dazed beneath it. Once clear of the hedge the hawk lifted  twenty feet into the air before the cat recovered its wits and, twisting, spun in its skin and sank its front claws into the bird. Its hind legs pistoned as it tore at the feathered underbelly.

The two combatants careened erratically across the sky while feathers floated to earth. Locked together, they dropped behind the hedge, only missing trailing smoke to look like a biplane plunging to earth in an antiquated war film. I watched, fascinated, for signs of movement. Nothing save the breeze stirred the leaves of the hedge.

As I was about to turn away, the foliage parted and the orange tabby pushed its way through the hedge trailing a mighty wing from its mouth. The predator turned prey was king again, but as he walked, one eye was trained skyward and there was a quickness to his step as he hurried across the lawn.


Brian Laing is a forty-something veterinarian by trade, writer by desire. He lives, practices and writes in a small rural town in Ontario, Canada.


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Every Day Fiction

  • Gayla Chaney

    I appreciate Laing’s account of a predator turned prey. It reminds me of the William James’ quote: “The universe is wild, gamy as a hawk’s wing.” I’m sure ‘gamy’ didn’t bother the orange tabby a bit!

  • Mark Dalligan

    Very enjoyable. Nature as war, bloody in tooth and claw. Great ‘dogfight’ reference as the combatants plunge to the ground.

    Cheers

    Mark

  • mike whitney

    Bravo! Great scene, terrific writing. And my opinion is only enhanced by the author’s being a vet!

    Double bravo!!

    mike

  • Nice! Nature in the raw.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    That was an interesting ‘dog fight’. I’m kinda glad the cat won!
    Oonah 🙂

  • Judy Cabito

    Sharply written story. I’ll always remember this when I see a cat stalk across my property. Judy

  • Great piece of writing, I was worried the cat had had it… but I love the ending, everything back to normal, but not quite.

  • A great piece of flash. I will read it to my cat to make sure he stays safe in the great-out-doors.
    Loved that ending.

    • Sarah Ann Watts

      Loved this tale – glad the cat escaped – especially liked the ending as he hurries across the lawn!

    • 🙂 Hope your cat listens to you!

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    Loved this – a nice slice of observation.

  • Elizabeth

    A very entertaining story, Brian! I can relate, as the birds in my yard are always being threatened by the _very_ hungry stray cats around here …

  • Dear Brian,

    I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It’s crisp, well-written and makes a point. I like the imagery, well-written. The only tiny flaw that occured to me was – how could a person standing on the ground see the detail of the cat turning around and fighting with the hawk up in the air? A general struggle could be seen perhaps, but not the kind of detail described. However, this could be done away with if there is no visible narrator to the story, no human being inside the story, but narrated generally as in the beginning.

    Ditto about what Mike Whitney said about your being a vet-writer.

    I’d love to see more of your writing, Brian. All the best!

  • Fabulous flash, Brian, full of colour and life. I loved the “trailing a mighty wing” – you have a fantastic turn of phrase. Hope to see more of your flashes here soon.

    • Brian Laing

      Thanks everyone for all the comments. Excuse me for the late reply but being new to this I only just discovered the comments. It is great to get feedback. Thank you all very much.

      It may interest people to know that this is based on a true event. This cat was a patient of mine and the owner brought him in afterwards to have the punctures treated.

      Sadly, he succumbed after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was put to sleep in his home and is buried in the lawn.

      As for more writing… Hopefully that will be the case. I have about 50 odd short stories of this nature I hope one day to turn into a book. Right now though it is onhold as I am working on a historical novel on the French and Indian War.

      Thanks again for all the positive comments.

      Brian.

  • cmh

    While not as dramatic as this event, I have seen cats do some amazing, silly, heroic, and tragic things.

    From the safety of my front deck I can observe the comings and goings of many felines. The locals, newbies and the occasional visitor that has made the mistake of coming into this hood.

    The antics and actions are entertaining and interesting.
    Drama. personalities, anger, madness and love. Feline Soap Opera.