Dog, Cat, and Baby
When my son, Keith, was born, we had a dog and a cat. Both fine critters, but there was a certain jealousy in the air when we brought Keith home. Up until that time, the pets had ruled the roost. This made me nervous. I had heard horrible stories and read horrible newspaper accounts of babies being killed by jealous pets.
The pets and the baby were never left alone, no matter how innocent they seemed. Fear of what might happen if they were left alone fostered this story.
For John Maclay
Dog did not like Baby. For that matter, Dog did not like Cat. But Cat had claws—sharp claws.
Dog had always gotten attention. Pat on head. "Here, boy, here's a treat. Nice dog. Good dog. Shake hands. Speak! Sit. Nice dog."
Now there was Baby.
Cat had not been problem, really.
Cat was liked, not loved, by family. They petted Cat sometimes. Fed her. Did not mistreat her. But they not love her. Not way they loved Dog—before Baby.
Damn little pink thing that cried.
Baby got "Oooohs" and "Ahhs." When Dog tried to get close to Masters, they say, "Get back, boy. Not now."
When would be now?
Dog never see now. Always Baby get now. Dog get nothing. Sometimes they so busy with Baby it be all day before Dog get fed. Dog never get treats anymore. Could not remember last pat on head or "Good Dog!"
Bad business. Dog not like it.
Dog decide to do something about it.
Kill Baby. Then there be Dog, Cat again. They not love Cat, so things be okay.
Dog thought that over. Wouldn't take much to rip little Baby apart. Baby soft, pink. Would bleed easy.
Baby often put in Jumper which hung between doorway when Master Lady hung wash. Baby be easy to get then.
So Dog waited.
One day Baby put in Jumper and Master Lady go outside to hang wash. Dog looks at pink thing jumping, thinks about ripping to pieces. Thinks on it long and hard. Thought makes him so happy his mouth drips water. Dog starts toward Baby, making fine moment last.
Baby looks up, sees Dog coming toward it slowly, almost creeping. Baby starts to cry.
But before Dog can reach Baby, Cat jumps.
Cat been hiding behind couch.
Cat goes after Dog, tears Dog's face with teeth, with claws. Dog bleeds, tries to run. Cat goes after him.
Dog turns to bite.
Cat hangs claw in Dog's eye.
Dog yelps, runs.
Cat jumps on Dog's back, biting on top of head.
Dog tries to turn corner into bedroom. Cat, tearing at him with claws, biting with teeth, makes Dog lose balance. Dog running very fast, fast as he can go, hits the edge of doorway, stumbles back, falls over.
Cat gets off Dog.
Dog lies still.
Dog not breathing.
Cat knows Dog is dead. Cat licks blood from claws, from teeth with rough tongue.
Cat has gotten rid of Dog.
Cat turns to look down hall where Baby is screaming.
Now for other one.
Cat begins to creep down hall.
"Dog, Cat, and Baby" was originally published in The Horror Show. It later appeared in Bestsellers Guaranteed, a collection of Lansdale's short stories published by Ace Books, and in High Cotton: Selected Short Stories of Joe R. Lansdale, published by Golden Gryphon Press. "Dog, Cat, and Baby" © 1987 Joe R. Lansdale.
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