Tiger in a Suit

by Chantelle Tibbs

 

Tiger in A Suit

Many nights ago when I was a young girl, my father and I went out for a walk. As I looked up at him I could smell the land. The neighborhood was lined with houses but there was still much wilderness about. Suddenly I spotted a tiger. I alerted my father of my sighting. He was annoyed by my active imagination and need for attention. Several tigers were circling now. I could no longer pretend I wasn’t seeing what I was seeing, even to appease my father.

“Dad! Let’s go home!”

“Sure. And on our way we can tell the little green aliens Hello.”

He didn’t believe me and yet they crept closer. By the time my father could see I was telling the truth, it was too late. He may have called for help, maybe even felt bad, but disappeared nonetheless. I could hear a few people gasp as one tiger pounced on top of me pinning me down. I lay on my back frozen, suffocated by his fur. I felt his heaviness on my chest as my breathing ceased. He licked me. I did not move for fear it would provoke him. His claws sunk their way into my skin with the inertia of his body weight. I could hear the voices of people in the background wanting to help, but they couldn’t get to me. I felt my own blood drip down my shoulders as I braced myself for the pain of sharp teeth.

 

Suddenly, to my surprise, after what seemed like too many moments to bear, the tiger simply lifted himself up off of me and slowly walked away. I lay there still for a bit, afraid any movement would entice his return. The crowd was gone and I was alone. It was a long, frigid walk home. Many steps into the creeping dawn, I quietly felt my fear melt into a sort of forced tenderness. That tenderness covered me like a blanket as I scrambled in the cold. I was attaching myself to the tiger now. I wanted to believe I wanted him. It felt better to believe I wanted this.

 

The next day as I stare maimed and motionless in my room, the doorbell rang. It was the tiger dressed in a pinstripe suit! He wanted to take me and my family out to a movie. My mother poured him lemonade as he pulled a chair out for me at the kitchen table. This tiger in a suit. When we arrived at the theatre, we found our seats in the upper balcony. Chandeliers decorated the ceilings, I squeezed my younger sister’s hand in excitement. The movie began and suddenly the front row of seats we were in collapsed. The balcony was high up so most people fell to their deaths. The tiger grabbed my family up in one swoop. I plunged below looking up at them as I fell helplessly. Before I could hit the ground he caught me in his mouth and carried me to safety. As I caught my breath I heard applause. My hero! Now I could finally embrace my beast fully. There was no trauma here, just a love story.

 

A Way Out

It all started with what I assumed was an innocent question. Which began with a minor curiosity as they often do. One day when my love was licking the blood from a wound he had inflicted on my left rib, I simply asked,
“What does blood taste like?
“Do you really want to know? It’s not something I could explain.”
“Why do you need it so badly?”
“Everything good is outside of me. I must consume it all.”
I thought for a second.
“Would you teach me to hunt?”
He laughed.
“No.”
I continued to let him lick my wound. But thoughts are threads and they pull together great fabric, stitch by stitch. In the back of my head, or maybe more in the front than I would have liked to admit, I knew I wasn’t the only one he pounced upon. So one night when he was too hungry to take precaution, I followed him on a hunt. My curiosity out burned my jealousy as I watched him pounce on others like me over and over again. For more nights than I can remember, I practiced his lurk, his linger, his stealth in open fields.

 

Her name was Jessica. I’ll never forget her eyes. The pupils stay dilated, black dots slapped into green circles. My tiger ran off after this mauling leaving her particularly wounded, immobile and stranded. I gathered all my courage and made my way over to her. She was lying upon an old mattress on the first floor of the dilapidated house I had been peering inside. As I crept in close, I could hear her teeth hit one another as she shivered in the dark.
“Who is there?”
“A friend.”
I knelt down. We were now face to face.
“He’s gone isn’t he?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Would you do me a favor and please kill me?”
“What?”
“I think you heard correct.”
“Oh. Can I taste…can I taste it first?”
“What?”
“I think you heard correct.”
“Will you promise to kill me after?”
“Yes.”
“Promise?”
“Yes.”
I licked her wounds clean. I bandaged her with love, put her clothes on and sang her sweet hymns. All the while her blood making its way down my throat, into my stomach, through my veins, into the backs of my eyes, turning me. Once you get the taste for it, you know you will never be the same. Pounced upon, ravaged or ripped apart. It’s a low hum of a lack of feeling, the emptiness of giving yourself over and over again. Even lower to pretend it’s not so bad. So when I got a choice, a way out, I can see why I took it. I held Jessica while she cried. In one swift blow she never saw coming, I made a new hole in her and left her to bleed out as promised.

 

Years later I saw the tiger I once loved crossing a busy street. When his eyes met mine, his shoulders slumped and he retreated at the sight of my dominance. As I turned to keep walking it became clear he didn’t recognize me.

 

The Black Hole

It was raining. As I licked the blood off my paws it occurred to me how much easier it would be to let the rain wash me clean. But rain has a taste, one I didn’t much care for. And the work of licking that taste off of my fur seemed daunting. Cold and bored, my eyes wandered about the room. My most recent victim at the time had put up a calendar on his wall. I’d been to his home several times but it was the first time I got the chance to really look at it. It was open to the month of December. And the photo for December was of a man and a woman laughing together on a cozy brown couch. I looked away to check the time, but there was something about that calendar girl’s smile that pulled me back. I stepped off of my lover and moved closer to the image. I must have stared at that photo for an hour before I came to the conclusion that the two in the photo loved one another madly. It wasn’t some staged pose. It was life, captured, reprinted, and sold in a store for a price nowhere near its value. The room suddenly felt colder. As my lover lay asleep, for the first time in decades I let myself feel my loneliness. It could have burned a hole in me. After a few empty moments, it came to me. I was ready! I was ready for love. I stepped over my lover’s body fleeing into the night, blood stained and full of hope.

 

I ran fast through the forest past tall skinny white trees I couldn’t remember the name of. My fur was drenched but I hardly noticed or cared for that matter. Not practicing much awareness, I slipped and fell into a black hole. Her name was Linda. She lay underneath a tree, soaked in the night wearing the most spectacular white gown I’d ever seen. Her eyes were magnets. It had to be love, like I had seen in the calendar.

“Linda, I think I’m ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“Love.”

“Oh me too.”

“Maybe we could start a family.”

“I’ve always wanted a family.”

“Or perhaps not.”

“I never cared for children much.”

“Maybe I do want children though.”

“We could have three!”

“Or just go traveling.”

“I know just the place.”

“Sometimes I like to stay in one place.”

“Staying put is best.”

We were so in sync. A few months passed and I felt like spun gold. There was a night looking back now I do remember though. I awoke to relieve myself to find Linda pacing in the kitchen on the phone.

“Anything you say mother. Master.”

I interrupted.

“Who are you talking to?”

Linda jumped and gave me a wry smile.

“No one. Let’s go back to bed, beloved.”

Her eyes were wide and her skin sheet white.

 

Two weeks later I woke up to find Linda gone. She had taken her things. There was no trace of her. Not even a scent to follow. Cut into the bone, I sat in a bathtub full of a mixture of tap water and my own tears for three days. Soaked and finished, I looked down at my paws remembering my hands. I felt fur where there used to be skin. I was suddenly aware of everything that was taken from me and everything I had taken all in one pregnant moment. My chest felt heavy as I gasped for air. I pondered what it could take to make it back to zero. I made my way to a towel and began to dry off.

 

 

 

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One Response to “Tiger in a Suit”

  1. Defenestrationism.net » Blog Archive » Tiger in a Suit: No Way Out Says:

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