He came from out of town, wearing a big, black hat, like an executioner of old, but with a gun not a guillotine. Two shots later, our feral cat situation came to an end on the back lawn while the kids were inside watching telly.
I feel a bit sick, about the cats not being here anymore and about having commissioned a hitman to come and do my dirty work to kill them. There wasn't even a commission, it was just a favour. But the angry cats had to go.
Since they showed up out of the blue a few weeks ago, they have become bolder and scarier. The other day I was washing the dishes, mindlessly staring out the window, when one leapt up and gripped onto the fly wire with its arms and legs splayed, like a bat in flight, hissing and snarling at me at eye level with just the glass pane between me and it's open, furious mouth. The 3D cat assault, first from the ground and then from the air, was a bit much for my end-of-the-day-taking-one-dirty-dish-at-a-time nerves.
We fed the cats but instead of slipping into our little domestic paradise with the dog and the chooks, it is as if the food gave them the energy to get mad, really mad. When they started making angry tiger faces and launching spot and stalk hunting attacks on my little daughter who naively floppy-wave helloed them in return, that's when I decided they had to go.
We don't have a gun so we called a friend - what a lot to ask of a friend, hey can you pop over this morning to extinguish two lives - but he didn't mind and for that I am grateful.
I read that back in the day when public executions were the norm, the executioner was almost always forbidden from living inside the town. They were often well educated and passed the trade from one generation to another, but were ostracised from a society that was happy with the business of killing, but wanted nothing to do with the killer. The executioners' reward was that they were able to dip into the stalls of any vendor in the marketplace - taking an egg here, some fruit and veg there - without paying a cent. I can only imagine what that would have done for their popularity stakes.
So Willy (who FYI has no trouble on the popularity front), I know it is not the 17th century and you don't have to exercise your droit de havage to feed your family, but here is a jar full of, spicy pickled beetroots and radishes which feels like a treat an executioner would like to eat in 1678. I'd serve it with lamb cutlets and a lemony yoghurt sauce but since you killed the cats, you can eat it however you want.
Spicy Beetroot and Radish Pickle
Wash five small beetroots, wrap them in foil and roast them in the oven at 180C for about an hour or until you can easily pierce them with a knife. When coolish, rub their skins off and slice thinly. Next thinly slice six or so radishes and chop three or four chillies. Then layer in a sterilised jar with the beetroot, the radish, the chilli and then repeat until all used up. Meanwhile boil about 200ml of red wine vinegar with two tablespoons of sugar and about ten pepper corns for five minutes. Tip the hot liquid over the layered beetroot and radishes, press down with the back of a spoon to make sure it is covered and seal. You can eat the next day and it will keep for a long time in the fridge.