Serval Son Excerpt
Deaken Bites Mom (again)
All her life, for some unfathomable reason, my mother had rotten luck with animals. Geese bit her as a youngster, bats dive-bombed her as an adult, and Deaken bit her—twice! By contrast, I have been involved with just about every kind of animal, from salamander to snake to serval to simian, from leopard gecko to leopard, from lamb to lion, from goose to goat, and never run afoul of them. I have a natural affinity for them.
Mom was amazed that birds and butterflies landed on me when I was a toddler. I don’t remember ever NOT loving animals to the core of my being. I think that’s what probably signals to them that I’m okay and safe to be around. I have worked with chimps, bears, camels, elephants, tigers, and more. The result is always the same: a sense of kinship and peace.
Looking back, I’m astounded and beyond grateful to Mom that she allowed me to have and love animals, given her own history with them!
One evening quite late Mom went into the garage to move clothes from the washer to the dryer. Her recollection of what happened next: “I didn’t know Deaken was in there. He was probably asleep. I don’t know if I stepped backward onto him or if he came to me from somewhere, but all of a sudden he bit me—hard—above the ankle on my leg.”
Startled, Mom jumped and pulled away. Her reaction caused a huge chunk of meat to be pulled out of her leg as Deaken unlocked his jaws, backed up, and moved away.
Mom came into the house and said, “Kris?” I said, “Yeah?” She said, “Deaken just bit me.” I looked down. Her grey sweatpants were soaked through with blood.
I said, “Oh, Mom! Crap! What happened?”
She said, “I must have startled or stepped on him. I didn’t know he was in there.”
I took a look at the gash. It was ghastly. She said, “It’s nothing.”
I said, “No, it’s something! We have to get this looked at.”
I quickly called Tippi—she would know what to do in this situation. Tippi said, “Take her to urgent care, but don’t let them cover the wound tightly or stitch it up. It has to have air; it has to breathe or it may become infected.”
I asked, “Are there any legalities to navigate? Do I have to report this anywhere else?”
She said, “No. Deaken is legal and unless your mom plans to sue, you’re fine.”
I told Mom what Tippi said. Mom responded, “Sue?! Sue who? My grandson? It wasn’t his fault!”
I called Urgent Care because by now it was about ten minutes to ten in the evening and they were supposed to close at ten.
I told the doctor who answered the phone, “My Mom just got bit by a big cat.”
He thought big domestic cat and responded, “Oh, that shouldn’t be a problem. Just clean it real well. Do you have Betadine or a triple antibiotic on hand?”
I clarified, “Yes, I do, but you don’t understand—this is a significant bite. It took a thumb-sized chunk of meat out of her leg. She really needs to be looked at by YOU!”
He said, “Wow! OK. We’ll stay open. Bring her right in.”
When we got to the clinic and he surveyed the wound, he was amazed. “What kind of cat did you say bit her?”
“My grandson,” Mom replied. “He’s a serval. I stepped on him. It was entirely my fault.”
Mom was cool as a cucumber.
The doctor smiled and said, “You’re not from around here, are you?”
She said, “No. Why do you ask?”
He laughed, “Most of the women in this town would be hysterical or in shock if this happened to them.”
She said, “I’m a farm girl. This is nothing.”
He looked at the wound again and disagreed: “Hardly.”
I felt guilty, guilty, guilty. Deaken should have been sequestered in his pen, not sleeping in the garage. It was a valuable lesson. Thankfully, it happened to Mom and not to an Encino housewife or superstar. We lived to love another day, unscathed by scandal.