Lionel Richie Runs Things by Len Kuntz

In the same way gang leaders run cartels from prison, my wife’s cat ordered our lives from the dust mote space beneath our bed.

We called him Lionel Richie. When I’d say, “Here, Lionel Richie, here,” it hissed. Lionel Richie hated the name Lionel Richie. He also loathed me.

Once, I just asked my wife outright. “If it came down to me or LR, who would you pick?” She feigned an immediate case of stomach cramps, gritting her teeth as if passing a kidney stone, and so I thought, there’s my answer.

I tried to convince myself that killing an animal was different than actual murder. Cats didn’t have souls or driver’s licenses. They didn’t pay alimony.

Still, Lionel Richie was a crafty critter.

He foiled every plot I had—sniffing out poison in the whipped cream, the bowl of milk; not following me out to the deck to look at pigeons twenty stories below; not coming into the bathroom where I’d filled the tub and was waiting with rope and anvil.

I got the dart gun from a taxidermist who said the sedative was “hardcore.”

When I raised the rifle, Lionel Richie yawned. I told him I wasn’t kidding. I said, “I’m going to burn you in a smelter.”

As I squinted down the sight, the beast flew at me, gun blasting off.

Now I’m without one eye.

While I’ve been recuperating, though, Lionel Richie keeps me company. I hear him hum beneath our bed.


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Filed under Len Kuntz

18 responses to “Lionel Richie Runs Things by Len Kuntz

  1. guy

    Ha! The first line got me. Great job!

  2. heathereder

    loved it!

  3. Tuere Ganges

    Cats don’t have souls or driver’s licenses! LOL! No, they don’t. *side-eyes her evil cat* I have my defense.

  4. That was awesome Len! It has the air of a Cohen brothers ending…just when you think something is going to happen one way, it completely goes the other way. Great job!

  5. thanks, everyone for reading. i appreciate your kindness.

  6. Len, this is kooky and just enough off-kilter to be fantastic! Has all the elements of your great writing, and I love how odd it is and the twist at the end. Way to embrace this theme.

  7. You see? Animal abuse never pays…
    Oddly quirky!

  8. enjoyed the wildcat humour, and the dark twist of plot. too bad cats can’t read.

  9. Al McDermid

    A perfect take on our cats want to kill us conspiracy. Since we have two of the psycho little aliens, I can really relate. Especially liked ‘She feigned an immediate case of stomach cramps, gritting her teeth as if passing a kidney stone’ as it’s probably exactly the reaction I’d get if I dared to ask the same question.

  10. priceless! i also love “Lionel Richie hated the name Lionel Richie.” somehow, that got me thinking deep thoughts. laughed too…dark humor, len, wonderful.

  11. John Riley

    I think I’m on the cat’s side about the name. This is great. It’d make a great short film, if only the cat would cooperate. Brilliant.

  12. Missy

    That first line got me, too. Haaaaaa!! And Lionel Richie… that’s a heavy name for a pet!

    Funny story. Kept me reading until the end.

  13. Nicolette Wong

    hey, len, your attempt in humor pays off pretty well. cheers.

  14. Catherine Davis

    Righteous, Len. (hey, like, people don’t say that anymore – it suddenly occurs to me – do they?) Anyway, on several levels. Satisfies that animal urge of the animal-human going in, and a sense of justice coming out. Love the choice of name, and the title that comes with. Good stuff.

  15. Ha! I had a dog like Lionel Richie, though he went after my hubby, not me. Great quirky story. Loved it. Peace…

  16. Pingback: Week #26 – Animal behavior | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  17. fun and devious…so thoroughly enjoyed it. Got a few cats here and there’s one in particular that i really do think runs west coast ops. for the Crips..they force your hand and its best to have plans B et al. ready to roll

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