Translation #9: fawnə

Fauna, by Quim Monzó

The cat pursues the rat through the entire house and falls, one after another, into the traps that he himself laid for the rodent. He falls in the pot of tar, slips on the banana peel and ends up in the meat grinder, which chops him into bits. While he is still trying to get himself back together, he touches the doorknob, not knowing that the rat connected it to the electrical current: all his hairs stick up, he goes from black to white, to yellow, to purple, his eyeballs pop out of their sockets and spin around eighteen times, his tongue folds and unfolds into a zigzag, he falls, scorched, to the ground, and turns into a mound of smoking black dust. Until the mistress of the house comes with a broom and dustpan, scoops him up and dumps him into the garbage pail.
But right away he’s on the prowl again. Ah! He would give anything to be rid of that worthless rat who no one could possibly like. Why doesn’t he ever win? Why is it always the little critter who gets away? The cat knows, moreover, that rats annoy most of humanity. For many men, of all the vicissitudes of war, the one that they remember with the most horror (more than the bombs, more than the dumdum bullets, more than the sleepless nights, more than the hungry days and more than the shoeless journeys, their feet wrapped in sheets) are the rats. Why, then, do some people forget that repulsion and side with the rat? Just because he’s the little one?
The cat goes back on the offensive. He swears, once again, that this time the rat won’t get away. He sets the house on fire; everything burns but the rat gets away. And the master of the house, when he gets back from work, beats the cat with a shovel. The cat doesn’t let up. He continues to pursue the rat. He finally catches him, stuffs him in a cement truck, and when he’s about to start it up, the dog appears. By some law as incomprehensible as it is atavistic, the dog is always the rat’s friend. This dog is carrying an oversized hammer in his hand. He lets it fall onto the cat’s head, which gets crushed as flat as a piece of paper.
But he gets himself back together right away, receives a package in the mail and smiles. He fills the rat’s hiding hole with gunpowder and sets it alight. Everything explodes, just when he realizes the rat wasn’t inside it, and that he’s watching him from the door, repugnantly tittering. Always the same.
Until one surprising day, many episodes later, the cat triumphs.
After a pursuit through the house’s hallways (a pursuit like so many others), the cat catches the rat. It’s happened so many times, but… The cat has held the rat in his paw so many times, like now, and he’s gotten away, so not even the cat himself is convinced that this time is for real. He spears the rat with a three-tined fork, and from each of the holes appears a stream of blood. The cat turns on the burner. He puts a pan on top. He pours oil in. When the oil is boiling, he places the rat in it, who slowly roasts, between such frenetic shrieks that the cat himself has to plug his ears with corks. Thats when he realizes that something strange is happening. This time is for real. The rat’s body is stiffening, turning blacker and blacker and smoking. The rat looks at the cat with eyes that he will never forget, and dies. The cat continues to roast the corpse. Then he takes the pan off and burns him directly on the flames, until he is just a black and crumpled skin. He takes him off the flames, looks at him closely, touches him with his fingers: he disintegrates into ten thousand charred specks that the swirling wind disperses to the four corners of the world. For one instant, he is immensely happy.


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