The Pet Thief is a dystopian fable of science, rebellion, humankind’s inhumanity, and the struggle for identity and survival in a post-human world.
When scientists, the government, and venture capitalists conspire to hybridize humans with animalscats, specificallyfor organ harvesting, drug testing, and military applications, the experiment is an irredeemable failure, producing human-like beings with uncanny abilities who are nonetheless fundamentally defective.
Oboy and his mentor/tormentor Freda are two wayward hybrids, “cat people,” who have escaped with others to the depths of a rundown European city being leveled for reconstruction. They are members of a street gang led by an ominous leader called Swan.
Oboy is unable to think or speak except in mimicry, but he is a physical savant, which serves Freda’s mission. Enraged at what has been done to her, Freda wants to “rescue” every pet she can. When Oboy returns with a human baby after his first solo outing, their world and the truths of their existence come unraveled.
|Publisher:||University of Alabama Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Kassten Alonso’s first novel Core: A Romance was an Oregon Book Awards finalist in 2005. He has previously published in the Portland Mercury, Portland Monthly, and The Oregonian, and was a contributor to Citadel of the Spirit: Oregon's Sesquicentennial Anthology, A Merging of Past and Present Oregon Voices and Stories. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, author Monica Drake, and daughter, Mavis.
Read an Excerpt
THE PET THIEF
By KASSTEN ALONSO
THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESSCopyright © 2013Kassten Alonso
All rights reserved.
Tsokka tsokka tsokka.
Running comes. Tsokka tsokka tsokka tsokka. Black boots run. Huh huh red lips puff Huh huh Little fists swing Torn red stockings tic toc tic toc tic tocking. Long brown coat flaflaflap. Allee puddles Black boots splash. Pale throat, black collar Yellow tail wags Red mouth hollers Tsokka tsokka tsokka tsokka tsokka tsokka tsokka.
Allee splits. Corner bricks. Black boots cht cht cht Hand slaps bricks Brown coat spins Red stockings kick Gravel allee Black boots slip, run run run. Yellow tail fish flash sunlight.
Bee bee bee cars redgreenwhite.
Little brown coat black boots byebye. Komp Komp Komp. Black shoes come. Komp komp komp. Black cap blue shirt Komp komp komp komp. Allee splits. Stone allee. Gravel allee. Clotheslines. Green shutters.
Cheeks blow huh, huh, huh. Merde.
Blue shirt bows. Black trouser knees sparkly hands grab. Ouaa. Ouaaaaa. Sparkly cheeks nose pour onions salami brie.
Alors. Blue shirt tummy puffs big, little, big, little. Spits sour. Black cap turns. Black shoes come. My finger Doberman puppy tooths gnaw. Kick kick, little brown paws. Gravel allee.
Spinny top Blue shirt hides, babump babump babump. Scratches, big black shoes. Dirty black trouser turnups.
Alors. black shoes says. Which way she go. A droit. A gauche. The blonde. Hep. Im talkin to you. My tootsies Dusty shoe touches. Hollers come my head my fist hits. Foot kicks.
Cest quoi ce connn Door swings, flashes, Jinglelee Brown shoes come Green sweater Wrinkly hands Bon jour, officer. Mister says. May I help you.
I ask your grandson he saw my suspect, but he does not respond. huffing black cap says. Babump babump babump. Chin drips. Brown eyes my eyes. Hurt. Brown eyes get big.
Why does he yell. Im the one got kicked.
Grey trousers crouch. Grappa. Tobacco. Pink tummy spotted wrinkly hand pats. Yellow fingernails. Shiver. Shshsh. Its okay, my boy. Okay. Okay. My, this little puppy sure is happy, isnt he. What fun, to chew soft pink fingers, yes. Its okay, my boy.
Come on, kid, shes gettin away. says huffing blue shirt.
Mister says, Im afraid he couldnt tell you anything if he wanted to. He cant speak.
Well you can damn well point cant you.
Officer. Take a moment. Le regarder. Comprenez.
Hm. You got one of those, then. says trouser hips hands. Maybe you seen the girl, eh, Granpapa. Blonde, brown leather coat.
No, Officer, Im sorKomp komp komp komp komp komp. Running blue shirt black trousers black shoes get little. Little black cap turns sidetoside. Red neck hand rubs. Shoulders shrug. Merde alors. Little black cap Hand throws. Little redwhitegreen cars zoum zoum.
Little blue shirt arm shakes, hollers, What good are you.
Mister rises. Lets go inside now. O dear. The puppys into something over there. Here, dont eat that. Eeesh.
Flap flap torn yellow awning. Shivery window. Greywhite stones Green shutter taps. Tic, tic, tic. Sun shines. Greywhite stones Shadows climb. Drainpipe. Little pink wings flutter.
Red tip cigarette. Smoke, my eyes. Mister says, There Henry is, my boy. The rainwater head again, as you surmised.
Pink w w w wings. Little black Henry eye blink blinks. Little black beak clics. Gettin thoisty up here.
Brown sweater shoulder. Pretty Boyd rainbow wings tha tha tha. Feathers puff. O boy. says Pretty Boyd. Hes a gonah this time.
Now Pretty Boyd. says Mister. Mister coughs. Smoke. Dizzy. Wrinkly mouth Wrinkly hand hides. Goodness, me.
Cough cough. Goodness me. says sky.
Rooftop. Sun. Yellow hair. Moon. Pointy chin has yellow hair moon. Red glasses bingbing. Goodness me.
Stones come slow. Fingers, tootsies, climb. Yellow awning my hand grabs. Streetlamp.
Stones my fingers tootsies climb. Clicky green shutter my hand shuts. Boiled cabbage. Burnt toast. Splintery planter box. Windowsill. Rainwater head comes. Blinky metal eyes clink clink.
Metal mouth says, Me from away bird get.
Henry wings flare, yellow feathers show. Cars zoum zoum. Shooooo Redorange crest feathers plume. My ears hurt. Tootsies slip.
Careful up there. Mister says.
Rooftop moon. Yellow hair shines. Red glasses bing bing. Sunlight. Careful down there.
My fingers hurt. My arms legs shake, burn. Drainpipe my hand grabs. Tootsies push, hurt
Old cloaks, suits or coats Coat rack squeaks, rolls, Old satten, old taffety, or velvet
Black beak shimmers, clic clic. Grey Henry claw shaky finger pokes. My hand grey Henry claws grab Stones my fingers Pinkyellow wings flap flap My shoulder Henry perches, claws pinch.
Rainwater head says, Everytime me poops bird pink.
Haw haw. says Henry. See you round, Bucket head.
Careful on the way down. Mister says.
Haw haw. says Henry.
Stones slow rise. Pink Henry wings flap, my eyes. My ear beak tickles. Shiver. Sweets. says Henry flaflap.
Mister, Pretty Boyd, get big. Green shutter my elbow bumps. Streetlamp. Torn yellow awning. My foots Cobblestones clapclap. Henry wings flap, claws pinch.
Ach, luck run out sometime.
Now Pretty Boyd.
Sweets. says Henry.
That clinches it. says rooftop. Goodness me, yes. Yellow hair flutters. Red glasses bingbing sunlight.
Wrinkly Mister hand says, Come here, Henry Tudor. Wrinkly finger curling grey Henry claws take.
My fingertips dusty white. My tootsies.
Mister says, I dont know whats more silly, a cockatoo afraid of heights, or a cockatoo afraid of heights who repeatedly gets himself stuck in high places.
Sweets. Henry says. Wings flaflap.
Brown sweater. Tobacco. Grappa. Wrinkly hand comes. My mouth chokes. Hollers.
Mister says, Im sorry, sorry. Just wanted to say, some young man is an extremely proficient climber. Anyone else would have broken their crown scaling a façade like that. And how many times. Mais jamais ce jeune homme parfait. How he does it is a wonder that may only find explanation in the besprung watchworks of science, nay, beyond. The inexplicable, the divine. Old Henry owes him yet another debt of thanks. Dont you, Henry.
Thanks. hollers Henry. Desoive sweets, now.
Desoive sand in craw.
Now Pretty Boyd. We none of us can help our basic nature. Of course you may have a treat, Henry. says Mister. Theres a dried apricot for you back at the shop.
Whoa whoa whoa. says Pretty Boyd. Rainbow wings flare. Dry apricots, this plotz.
Okay, Pretty Boyd, okay, treats for you too. says cawing Mister, shoulders hunched. My ears my hands hide. Owie.
Rooftop. Sun. Dust spins. Green shutter tic tic.
Peanut butter biscuit my fingers show. Doberman pup whines. No. My lap panting pup lies. Furry head my hand cradles. Pink tummy cries. Pink tummy my hand rubs slow, Sososo. Brown eye, my eye. Moonpie, brown eye shows. Blink blink. Dry nose.
Cui cui cui. Cage birds hop.
Jinglee. says bell. Rain. Wind blows.
Wood stool creaks. Ahem. Bon soir, miss. Horrible wet out tonight, yes. The door, allow me.
Jingleelee. says bell. Shop door shuts. Pink hurty tummy my hand rubs. Little hidey top spins t ta, t ta, t ta, t ta. My fingers little tongue licks. Tongue pink, rough. Thirsty.
Clic. Clac. Clic. Clac. Clic. Fish tanks, cages, black boots stalk. Cheep cheep. Clic clac clic. Clic clac clic. Clic clac boots come.
Ach, O boy. says Pretty Boyd. Cat drags self in. Ha ha.
Pink tummy whines. Green bird bottle my hand takes. Metal spout shines. Soft black muzzle metal spout rubs.
Clic clac clic. Wet black boots. Long brown coat. Red stockings, wet. Black collar, white throat. Metal tag clinkclink. Metal spout, water drop. Water drops, red glasses. Eyes hurt my eyes. Blink blink.
That mutt looks sick as hell. torn red stockings says.
Cold, my neck. Wet yellow hair red lips chew. Fweet fweet Tell us a secret. Yellow hair Skinny finger pulls. Black crosses have fingers.
Tooths show. Im bustin you out tonight, chickpea.
Red lips say, Hsst. I know you hear me.
Bright smell, shop. Wood shavings. Feed. Fweet fweet fweet birds. Bloop, bloop, fish tanks. Puppies Yip yip.
O boy. says Pretty Boyd. Rainbow wings flare.
Pink tummy cries. Pink tongue licks metal drop. Red glasses drip. Eyes hurt my eyes. My eyes water. Groan.
Brown shoes come. Mister shoes dry. Black boots wet.
Were you looking for something special, miss. says Mister. We shut soon.
Red mouth yawns. Are you a witting or witless accomplice.
Very clever. Long brown coat turns, boot heels clic, clic, clic. Yellow tail shivers. Cheep cheep cheep.
Tell him all that rocking is making that mutt seasick.
Swish swish. says yellow tail. Clic clac clic clac clic. say black boots. Water drops, floorboards. Jinglelee. says bell. Water drops, floorboards.
Doberman pup, green bottle fall. Pup yelps. Floorboards my tummy lies. Water drops big, my eye. Hollers come. Pretty Boyd wings flapflap Cage birds Cui cui cui Mister jumps Holy Moses what a racket Tranquille my boy Calm down Take it easy now Whats wrong.
My shoulder Hand pats. My shoulder shakes, my shoulder burns, my back Floorboards hits bam bam bam fire jumps Floorboards my hollering foots kick My head my fists hit hit hit. Fireflies spin. Hollering.
Im sorry, my boy. I forgot. Im sorry. Dont hurt yourself.
My eyes nose mouth wet. Burning. My eyes blink blink blink. My throat hurts. Mister hands show. Tranquille my boy. Mister says. I mean, theres a wonderful good boy surrounded by friends. We should like him to know he is safe.
Fire gets little. My eyes my sleeve wipes. Floorboards my tummy lies. Water drops sparkle. Sparkle my fingertips pet. Sparkly tails water drops make. My throat hurts. Byebye.
Whats got under his skin this time. says Mister.
Oboy. says Pretty Boyd.
Purple closet curtain sways. Tippy toe closet window, rain. Grey fog, window makes. My cot creaks. Whistle. Cheep cheep. Fuzzy green blanky twitches, pulls. My tummy little blanky legs kick kick. Growl.
My foots rub, rub, rub. My chin my hand sits.
Raggedy Ann, my hand, pages turn.
O boy. says Pretty Boyd.
Glow glow glow Purple closet curtain shows. Little tooths gnaw my elbow. Little tongue wet little wet nose. Green blanky kick kick kick. Cot creaks. Clic clic clic, sleepy beaks. Siamese cries. Cracked ceiling sighs, snores, Uhhh hhh. Uhhh Hhh. Uhhh h h h.
Page my fingers turn. Raggedy Andy. Raggedy Ann. Hookie The Goblin. Cookieland.
O boy. says Pretty Boyd. Trouble, trouble, trouble, us.
Jingleelee. Purple closet curtain flaps. Rain gets big. Clac clic clac. Birds whistle, squawk, Who Who Door broke O my Shop shut Who Begone You Barmy Cutpurse You.
Clic clac clic clac clic. Bang.
Green blanky yelps. Cot rattles. Raggedy Ann falls floorboards. Floorboards cold my hands, my foots. Bangbang Raww fweet fweet. Doberman pup green blanky shows. Pup my hand puts crate.
Thief Thief. Pretty Boyd hollers. Wake up old lush. Ach wots use Help Mac Grimalkin robbin coop.
Rusty dusty, purple curtain my fingers taste. Neck tickles. Grey sweater top spins badum badum badum.
Purple curtain peeks my eye.
Shop. Darkness. Fish tanks glow glow glow. Budgies spin, bump wings, bump ceiling, fall, flutter no no no Tippy toe kitty paws swat. Crate puppies say Yap yap yap. Doberman pup says, Oua oua, rattles crate. Cockatiel drape Brown coatsleeve pulls. Opens metal gate Cockatiels sputter dart Brown coatsleeve chases bang bang bang. Shaking blue tail, bang bang bang. Long brown coat spins. Blurry hands.
Hands have wings.
In you go Brown coatsleeves throw, Big cage, wings beat tho tho tho Birds cry My ears hands hide My tooths bite Ach Stop er, Mac My knees clac clac Swinging cages somersault My back my head hits. Cough. Darkness.
Shadows dart, flicker. Your insides are either made of cotton or sawdust.
Ring ring. Ring. Ring ring.
Where are we going. asked Raggedy Andy. To the Deep Woods in search of adventure. replied Raggedy Ann, as they scampered down the stairs.
Ring ring. Ring.
Falling bubbles, goldfish tank. Broke door kitties sit, tilted heads, rain. Mouillé, mouillé.
Bell shines broke door. Ring ring. Bell hides.
Bell shows. Ring ring. Rolling floorboards. My elbows hands push, my botty sits. Head hurts. Bell hides.
Ring ring. Ring ring.
Broke door comes, rain. Kitties turn, cry, Mouillé.
Water drops floorboards. Owie. Hard water bits hurt. Red dot, my finger. Red dot drips. Shiver.
Ringringring. says darkness rain.
Cobblestones glitter. Mouillé, mouillé. Shop pups yap yap yap. My shoulder flittering finch passes tha tha tha tha, streetlamp, rooftops, black sky, smoke.
My eyes rain pokes. Blink, blink.
Broke shop door shuts. Handle my hands pull. Broke door rattles. Hole, sharp glass. Door shows Pretty Boyd rainbow wings flaflaflaflap. Push, Mac, push.
Handle my hands pull. Hollering. Not pull, push.
Ring ring, ring ring.
Glittery stones, gravel allee. Flashing cage flapping wings Little brown coatsleeve swings. Tsokka tsokka tsokka.
Ach, come back, Mac. Mac, come back.
Cold wet stones. Bits, butts, apple core, bones. Rain. Streetlamp. Raindrops float, dart, yellow light. Streetlamp hollers Zreeeeeee. Allee goes byebye. My eyes hurt. Bang Metal ash can falls, cough cough rolls. Fireflies. My back hits, top spins d da d da d da d da, lamp hollers Zreeeeeee.
Tippy top windowsill. Red tip cigarette. Hollering.
Sahd dap dwon trehe, I tlel you.
Breaking. My hair my hands Glass bits hit. Hollering. Cobblestones hard wet. My foots slip, push, slip.
Window. Little bottle waves. Red tip cigarette hollers, Telnilg you for the lsat tmie.
Long hair Window shows. Little bottle little hand takes, caws. Esay, Leo. Lokos lkie hes trppiin on smoe good siht.
Wlel, he sholud be mroe qeiut aubot it.
Suht up and cmoe to bed.
My head hollers spin. My head my fist hits. Fireflies.
Ring, ring, ring. says bell. Ringringringringring.
Rain. Glittery stones. Allee, fireflies byebye, darkness. My hands foots run. Stone steps come. Downhill tree branches wave, clatter. Black boots skip, tic toc, tic toc, toctoctoc. Brown coat shoulder. Bingbing eyes. Little long brown coat goes byebye, White picket fence. Gate cage bangs. Birds cry.
Dont be shy. says darkness rain.
Ring, ring, ring.
Stone steps. Tippy toe tree branches shake. Shadows wave. White pickets, broke gate. Weedy court. Ivy rattles. Peely door. Darkness. Bell Ring ring. Miaou darkness doorway come. Miaou. Ivy rattles. Darkness hums. Wet grey sweater top goes da dum da dum da dum.
Dry. Stairwell flickers, yellow light. Popping rain Doorway shows. Miaou. Miaou. My wet pantleg blue Korat rubs. Eyes bingbing. Pointy ear my fingers scratch.
Faim. Faim. says blue Korat.
Salty dust have shelves, staircase. Bootprints shine wet, dusty steps. Cracked ceiling shadows clic clac clic. Clic clac clic. Stairwell, feathers float. Birds holler Who What How Where Why.
Stairwell says, En haut. Viens ici, chickpea. Dont be shy.
Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring.
Wet bootprints flicker Yellow light. My hands, foots climb. Cats follow, scamper prip prip prip My arms, legs, Coats rub. Flickery tails. Wet steps say Hee. Hee. Hee.
Cats byebye. Doorway. Candlelight. Torn brown sofa. Pale throat, black collar. Tag shines. Wet yellow hair. Red stockings cats rub, miaou. Blue eyes bingbing my eyes.
Floorboards bell hits, bounces, jingleelee.
My grey sweater Fists grab. Black crosses have fists. Red scratches. White tape. Hollers come. Stand up. says fists. You should like to become a horseman like your father.
My arms fly. My arms flap, swoop, dive. Hollering. Blue eyes stare, hurt my eyes. Keep howling. red mouth says. Step right up Hear the forlorn kvetching of the wild man of Burundi Watch him take flight. Listen chickpea, no one can hear you and even if they did they wouldnt bloody care.
Pale throat, black collar, smell. Legs, sweat, crouch, dirt, hot, jump, salt, ash, flowers, owie, bangbangbang.
My grey sweater fists push My heels ch ch ch, my arms spin. Hands clap Hollering red mouth caws Hahaha Black boots stomp dam dam dam dam Book hand throws Kicking shadows Cage birds cry, hop Wings thrash My ears hurt My hands hide Arrooooooo.
My arm cold hand takes, squeezes. Ear tape hand cups. See. red mouth says. Nada.
Candlelight flickers. Cages. Birds rabbits snakes. Aquariums. Rats hamsters. Lizards. Wet cage Wet birds flap wings, shake heads, say,
Ha ha, help. dry birds say.
Thop. Thop. Thop. Wet ceiling boards drip. Shiver.
Détendez, tu es libre. shrugging brown coat says. Youre a million kilometres away.
Brown coat flaps Cats scatter Waterdrops my cheeks eyes forehead. Broke chair Coat flops. Black sweater, long red stockings, skinny, wet. Cold, my neck. Black sweater sleeves hands push. Yellow tail white tape fingers pull. Hair shakes. Wet yellow hair Red towel hands rub.
Excerpted from THE PET THIEF by KASSTEN ALONSO. Copyright © 2013 by Kassten Alonso. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESS.
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