I was a witness to the events which will be relayed in the following paragraphs. It was evening and my brother and I had just finished eating supper. I was in my mid-twenties, my brother was in his early twenties and at the time, we lived together in a small, two-bedroom apartment built in the seventies. Our apartment was on the second floor and included a balcony which overlooked the apartment complex’s main parking lot, a street and the buildings beyond. While the view may have been somewhat unpleasant, it was at least relatively quiet. The street was small as were the parking lot and the apartment complex. We had one large main room which served as a combination dining room, kitchen and living room.
My brother and I had never expected to live together. We were opposites in that I was always of the softer, quieter type and he was of the tough sort which took pride in belittling others, working out and playing football. He was a large man weighing just over three hundred pounds and standing at six feet, five inches tall. We had decided to move in together after our parents divorced. It was a much easier decision than trying to choose a parent to live with.
That summer night was a balmy night and since our apartment did not have air conditioning of any sort, we kept the sliding glass door to the balcony open. After cleaning up the table and taking care of the dirty dishes, I sat down on the couch to watch a bit of TV and my brother went into his bedroom. A while later, he came out again and sat down next to me on the couch. We chatted for several minutes until my brother’s kitten, Tabby, woke up from her sleep on the lazy boy which was situated next to the couch. My brother had just gotten Tabby from a friend’s family whose cat had had a litter of four kittens. Tabby was the smallest of them and by far the most charming. She had very light gray fur with darker gray stripes running across her back like tiger stripes. The tips of her disproportionately large ears also had darker gray fur to match the stripes. My brother got her when she was only eight weeks old. He had had her for two weeks, making her ten weeks old. She was still small enough to fit into one hand and when she meowed, she did it with such a high-pitched voice that there was no mistaking her for anything but the tiny kitten she was.
Tabby let out one of her high-pitched meows in her kitten-like manner and took a long stretch before jumping onto the couch from the chair. She rubbed up against the side of my brother’s leg and started purring loudly. All conversation between us ceased as we watched her in a trance which only kittens can induce. My brother stroked her for a few moments lovingly, then stood up, picking her up, and walked into the kitchen to feed her. While she was eating, he came back in and joined me on the couch where we resumed our conversation.
Several minutes went by before Tabby came running into the living room as well as she could. She was young enough yet that she could not quite coordinate all of her limbs, which meant she took her fair share of spills on the hardwood floor. She let out another loud meow and my brother got up to play with her. He had purchased a small, furry toy mouse for her to play with and she could not get enough of it. My brother would flick it across the floor and Tabby would go prancing after it in her clumsy, uncoordinated way. She would then pick it up with her mouth and try to toss it in the air, but still lacked the strength to properly do so since the toy was designed for an adult cat rather than a kitten her size. My brother absolutely adored Tabby and could think of nothing better to do with his time than to play with her in such a way. The kitten would become bored with the game much more quickly than he would.
I watched this for a short time, but my attention eventually reverted back to the television set. Having become absorbed in the program I was watching, I was completely unaware of the following events until they had already more or less happened. As the television host rambled on about some unimportant topic, I was yanked out of my trance with such swiftness that it made me jump. My brother yelled TABBY!!! and I turned just in time to see him hopping over the railing of the balcony, following his kitten who had just slipped underneath the railing. Immediately, I sprang up from the couch. Before I had barely gotten off the couch, I heard a terrifying sound and then a blood curdling scream come from my brother. I ran with all my might across the room to the balcony. When I got to the railing, I looked over and what I saw was a nightmare. My brother, who had survived the single story fall without injury, collapsed onto his knees on the pavement below. There before him lay a splattered bloody mess of fur, bones and gore. A single large shoe print from my brother’s boot was visible in the middle of the mess.
He stared at it in total disbelief, then, slowly, he picked up the remains of his kitten. His hands were shaking and he could no longer balance on his knees. He fell over sideways and curled up into a fetal position. Holding the remains tightly against his chest, he began to rock. Tears streamed down his cheeks and it did not take long before he began to bawl uncontrollably. Bits of light and dark gray fur fell onto the pavement as he stroked what he could of the remains. By this time, several of the neighbors had come out onto their balconies and were watching, many of them horrified, covering their gaping mouths with their hands. A few of them began to quietly cry and many of them went back inside in a hurry, unable to cope with the scene unfolding in front of them.
It was dusk and the sun was already set down beyond the horizon. The parking lot was covered from the shadow of the apartment building as the buildings beyond the street were turned a shade of orange. A cool breeze picked up and blew some wrinkled pieces of paper and a plastic bag around the parking lot. A motorcycle roared passed on the road, the noise fading away into the distance. On the pavement below, just a couple of inches away from the small pool of blood lay a silent toy mouse, never to be played with again.