In the kitchen Lloyd is wringing its neck like a wet washcloth. Seconds ago, the cat was smug. It hooked the bacon frying on the stove with its paw, meeting Lloyd’s eyes with derision. Lloyd always considered cats to be pretentious. He kept the killing clean, painless.
When he was nine, his father killed the dog with the exactness of a slaughterhouse worker. Tall and husky, he whipped around with the grace of a ballerina, squeezing the dog’s throat then snapping its neck. The steak it had stolen from his father’s plate hung from its mouth like a limp meat rag. The dog lay between them like a sacrificial offering. Lloyd did not finish his supper that night. At first he felt disgust—a coil of rancor unraveled in his gut, up his throat. He despised his father’s weathered flannel shirts, how he never tried to get the dirt out from under his nails, the vein throb- bing in his neck. His mother: a cowering animal. She played hide-and-seek with the light. She blinked at the sun glaring outside the windows. Lloyd was forgotten, pushed away from her breast the way an animal snubs the runt of the litter. They all lived in separate corners.
Lloyd is massive now, two of his father smashed together. The cat, lifeless, peeks past him with a flaccid, dull look. Pleased, he steps over it and picks the bacon out of the pan, pushing the strips of fat belly into his mouth. His son gapes up at him, two soggy egg yolk eyes and a picture-perfect O mouth, begging for a piece of the kill. Lloyd wets his lips and finishes the last wave of curling fat, wiping his mouth clean with the back of his grease- smeared hands. His son is licking the air.