Hamstergate (Part Two)
The inside of the vet is lit with halogen lights. We huddle on plastic chairs in one corner by a watercooler. A yucca climbs up the plate-glass window which has been frosted half way up with pictures or a dog, a cat and a rabbit in order of descending size. I notice how a hamster doesn’t feature within the scale-range of animals depicted. I wonder whether this will be a problem. A terrier with a cone on its head sits alongside us, looking over its shoulder at intervals at Tilda’s intermittent sobs. A little postage stamp of brown hair is missing from its lower abdomen. I assume that it’s a she, and she’s recently had her lady areas deactivated. A Sheeba-sponsored clock ticks up the wall to our left. Tuck-Tuck-Tuck- Tuck-Tuck-Tuck.
The nurse emerged in her loose green smock, smiling kindly. A slight look of alarm spreads across her face as she notices us all advance towards her in unison.
“A big family, you’ve got Biscuit!” the vet states flatly as we all compress into the tiny surgery room. I am careful to close the door behind.
“So what seems to have happened?”
Two of us go to talk at once. Jane prevails.
“It was running around in the ball, when our cat pounced and got it in its mouth. It’s bleeding pretty badly.”
“His name is “Biscuit”!”
“OK, darling, OK, OK.” Jane stroked her daughter’s curls. I notice they are blonde and briefly consider whether Beth’s family are of Arian descent.
“Well let’s have a little look then, shall we.”
The vet moves the Perspex ball towards her, addressing each of us in the group with some high-quality eye contact.
“The good thing about a cat’s bite is that it can often be quite soft, initially, as they like to toy with their prey. Hopefully Biscuit’s just suffered a little nipped.”
Carefully, with a strange reverence, the vet unscrewed the plastic globe.
“Has biscuit had all his vaccinations, that you know?”
“OK that’s good. Well he’s nice and energetic; that’s a good sign…”
Reaching in the vet grasped the struggling hamster between finger and thumb. Biscuit, however, was less considerate and bit down on her thumb with all his might.
“Oww, F***” screeched the vet, flicking her finger upwards instinctively, sending Biscuit flying at warp velocity towards the ceiling.
There was a thwack as Biscuit hit the light diffuser. And then, 0.8 seconds later, a thrump as he landed on the vet’s table.
Breath held, all six of us peered down. After 10 seconds of silence, the vet nervously poked Biscuit with a forefinger. Stone dead.
Me and Aunt Amandine never did manage to get my school uniform that day. At least Biscuit’s demise was swift, I suppose. Later I wondered whether my subconscious foreshadowed the whole even because I’d spied the misaligned wallpaper and had the image-flash of multiple single magpies. I spoke to Beth later on the phone, and she said her Mum is considering suing the vet. I can’t draw my head away from the image of Biscuit splatting on the veterinary table. The whole thing was both funny and tragic in equal measure, and my mind doesn’t know how to compute that. Oh, Archibald, why did you have to unsheathe your claws and put us through all of this?