by Prashant Dhanke
“Not much of a hobby mate.” Johnny whispered loudly through the bushes.
“Ummm?” said Pete distantly. His eyes fixed on the sky, as always.
“Bird watching. Not for our kind.” Johnny stepped back; now better hidden.
“Look, how she glides! Such grace! She would back-flip one day. I know.” Pete didn’t budge as the predator approached him. “It’s a kite.”
“And you are a rat; a fat one at that.” Johnny found his humor as the claws flew past Pete, leaving him untouched, unfazed.
Pete was indeed fat. He never had to run.
No one knew how old he was. They said he lost his death with his tail.
At times he would be on the farm road and trucks would pass over him, depriving him of the sky above for a moment or two.
The limping cat didn’t bother him anymore. Once, she stepped on burning wood while chasing him.
Some rats got their tails castrated. The kite tore them apart nonetheless. But not him.
* * *
A day dawned. The kite picked him up and soared high. Pete looked down at the world below. No feelings. No thoughts. No glory.
Eight seconds later the kite dropped him. Too heavy for the claws, probably.
A truck turned menacingly.
A hungry cat limped ahead.
A kite did a back-flip.
A rat closed his eyes forever.
But the eyes closed before the kite flipped back.
The tombstone read:
HERE LIES A RAT WHO HAD NO TAIL
NO FEATHERS EITHER