Unlike people, unlikeable animals are hard to come by. From my experience, cats lack a sinister motive and the sense for a deliberate betrayal that humans often calculate. Meeting awful people is like seeing a chicken wing bone on Atlanta sidewalks; you’ll come across one almost every day. But cats tend to be more so arbitrarily manipulative, usually when it comes to their necessities. Pets can feel that they have failed you in some way or another — they are remorseful, bowing their heads in disdain. An encounter with an animal who is out of control and erratic in the most devious ways never reaches the back burner of your memory. For example, I stopped believing that a four-leaf clover had any significance in this world after a traumatic incident with our old neighbor’s cat with that exact name.
When I would see Clover, he would usually have a dead animal next to him, or with blood on his jowl, vehemently searching for his next prey. To put his demeanor into frame, he was worse than Church from Pet Semetary. But at the naïve age of seven, I thought every living creature had virtue buried somewhere in their heart. I would often wonder if Clover’s sadistic owner, Adam — who also had a fascination with killing small animals — perhaps made Clover this way. I rarely saw the two interact. Adam was a few years older than me, but still, my parents were wary of me hanging out with him. In hindsight, they were right to be alarmed.
I assumed that Adam named him Clover because he was lucky to slip through the portal of hell. Clover had white fur with patches of black, glaring emerald eyes, and a scar across his eye, similar to Scar from the Lion King. I never learned the origin of his scar, but that was probably for the better. There had been numerous times where Clover was rather pleasant to me, rubbing against my shin as if I had saved him from whatever God-forsaken place that he had come from before. But it was a façade — and I fell for it.
On many occasions, I would have to fearfully interrupt Clover while he attacked my cat, Smokey. His attacks were cold, calculated, and always unwarranted. In the midst of their animated quarrels, with fur flying every which way, I would swing a stick towards their direction to break them away from each other — as if I was an amateur sorcerer. Smokey would have missing patches of fur from his neck down to his tail, blood dripping from his nose, and scabs would later develop on his back. I understood the territorial warfare, but Clover’s violent nature had an underlying animosity that I had never seen in an animal. He thrived on inflicting pain on anything that could feel it, including me.
I was wandering outside on a hot summer day, being a kid, flipping rocks to see what was under them, singing songs from my Chumbawamba album, and feeling euphoric because a trip to Video King was in store. I went into the front yard to get my baseball glove when I felt Clover’s eyes piercing me from a small patch of woods. He had the same stare as Mark Wahlberg did in the movie Fear. This didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary but I began to wonder if he was hurt after he meowed in my direction. I didn’t want him to die. I just wanted him to disappear as the cats did at my aunt Kathy’s farm. I walked closer to him, hoping that somehow he had a revelation, leaving his violent history behind like they often do in films. But there is always a reason for them to return to that violence, somehow better trained than before.
I drew closer to Clover childlike, clicking my tongue, and putting out my wrist while snapping my fingers. His two emerald eyes were blinking slowly and affectionately. Eventually, my hand began petting his head. He gracefully accepted two pets before he lunged forward and dug his claws into each side of my temples. I screamed like Janet Leigh in Psycho with blood streaming down my face. I heard his claws pull out as I threw him off. I began to run away towards our house, noticing in my peripheral that Clover had begun to chase me. I scrambled to grab our front door knob as Clover drew closer. I finally got a grip and got inside before he could attack me again. I heard him clawing at the door as I felt the blood running down my cheeks. That day, I learned that not all animals mean well. And if there is a hell—Clover has a lavish realm dedicated to his nature.