Felix has just lost his best friend in the whole world. In fact, Sunny was his only friend. It’s not like Felix has anyone in life but his sister, Lexi, and his mother — both of whom live some distance away. No boyfriends, no one night stands, nothing. It was just him and Sunny. Felix still can’t bring himself to remove Sunny’s bird cage from the kitchen. It doesn’t help that his neighbor, Kirk, keeps watching him from across the street, staring at him as if he can see right through Felix. The other man, with his strange yellow eyes and an intense personality, scares Felix in a way he’s not used to.
Avoiding Kirk is easy; Felix just looks out the window to make sure Kirk isn’t watching him and sneaks out the back door to get to work. However, when he accidentally runs over a neighborhood cat that he’s certain belongs to Kirk, Felix has to bite the bullet and walk across the street to knock at Kirk’s door. How do you tell someone that you just killed their pet?
When Kirk doesn’t respond, Felix has no choice but to bury the cat. But there’s still no sign of Kirk when the cat — or a cat looking just like it — shows up again, this time while Felix is dog sitting. Before he has a chance to do more than gape, his sister’s dog has killed the cat. And there’s still no Kirk. So, burial number two … turns into three, and four. Before Felix knows it, there are eight neat and tidy cat graves in his back yard and an irritated Kirk (each time more battered and bruised) demanding Felix go out with him.
That’s when the second cat shows up.
I think this short novella is supposed to be funny in a darkly charming way. After all, how long can Felix go before he catches on? Does he honestly think Kirk has so many identical cats? Or that Kirk’s bruises and limps come from random events? Alas, yes. And no. Felix doesn’t really put thought into any of it. He’s aware that the cat keeps coming back, and he knows he should feel guilty every time he has to bury it again, but he never looks up to actually think about what’s going on or to wonder … maybe I should stop burying the cat since, after all, it keeps coming back. Doesn’t it get tired, constantly having to dig up its own grave?
We never get to know Kirk that well, as the story is mostly told from Felix’s point of view — and Felix doesn’t express much self awareness. Kirk is patient and predatory, and even when he’s exasperated, there’s a sense of cruel amusement. Kirk is in on the joke, after all, even if he’s beginning to find the humor wearing a bit thin. He’s cocky, knowing that all he has to do is push just a bit and Felix will give in but, to give him credit, he doesn’t push as much as he could. He’s willing to ask, to cajole, and even to flutter his lashes. He wants Felix to want him back.
Unfortunately, this book just didn’t work for me. The punchline never landed, mostly due to Felix. As a character, Felix is a rough draft waiting to be filled in. I can’t tell you what he thinks about anything, because his only thoughts are what the story demands of him. When his sister’s dog kills a cat, oh well. When a cat dies in his washing machine, oh well again. When he finds out the truth about Kirk, oh well the third. Nothing seems to matter and that made it not matter much to me.
Kirk almost worked, but only almost. I think it would have been a more entertaining story if it had been told from his point of view, because had had a point of view. The pacing is all over the place with scenes happening between chapters where we’re not allowed to read them, and time jumps that have Felix heading into Kirk’s house on one page and on the next picking up with Felix at work. So … what happened? I have no idea, and the story continues without any explanation. Sadly, I’m going to suggest you skip this one. The writing it decent, but the story feels half finished.