After hours of listening to recordings of Cat and his retinue singing, arguing, leaving answering machine messages, and speechifying, I think one more transcription is worthy of inclusion. The rest of it may constitute a separate project down the road though it may be equally worthy to bury it all in a box near the water, or just send it out to sea. The tape was marked “Mixed Ape,” which is either phenomenally clever or totally asinine. In either case, the last of the contents, introduced by a whispered “farewell,” follow as faithfully as I could render them:
“My sisters, it is at an end. I did not come here out of hope or promise, but I must have come to meet all of you, one way or the other. We did important things together, things about which we may never speak again. There will not be songs written about scaling the sides of mansions or spitting into the ocean, because it was all just a means to an end. My heart has worked harder than any cat’s should have to. It has been born and loved, been torn out and replaced, pumped one-eighth as much blood as it ought to have before being renewed. And now it slumps in my chest, protected by my ribs from its desire to leap out onto the floor, because it wants to be closer to you. If you could throw that bottle up in the air, yes that one, straight up into the air, then I will bat it into the wall. That crash is the bond we will always share, in two-hundred-fifty tiny pieces of different sizes and description, but it is shattered, for I must go.
“And you, my brothers, you dragged the equipment and watched as the women threw the punches. You were happy to watch them, it felt right and it was right, this was always their fight. I left all the rest of the money in my room, you know where it is, and you must divide it up equally and then decide where the rest should go. You know exactly what I mean. We threw a party once, and I want you to sound the trumpet again now! Roll the drum also, let the guitar and bass guitar do what they do, and the strings and the voices, it is time.
“I know what true dark is like. You see it here, but it is a different sort of dark, it is the dark of oblivion. Too many people needing too many things and missing too many of them. The true dark I know is the kind where you cannot make out your five fingers in front of your face. There could be water nearby, you might take a wrong step and plunge in up to your waist. It is cold, but you are glad to know you can feel the wet. It feels human. You are not as sharp as you think you are, because if you were, you never would have stepped into the water. It is chilling you and you will want to climb out as quickly as possible, but it is better to find the other side. You are already wet, after all.
“You know about love and family. It would be better if you just loved and worried less about family. Things can change quickly, and I do not mean death. If we meet in a few years, it will not be by accident, I will make sure of that. Find the highest point in that city, look down from it to the next highest one which can be reached by skill alone. That is where I will be, or else I will have left you a sign. I only ask that you never use me as an example, for my case is not one which suggests any course of action or solution. There are too many other cats for that. Celebrate the ones you liberate later, always make sure to light something on fire, as I will again now. These are all the documents I have from the old country, of my own, of Smart’s, who you met, of Cynical, who you did not, of…
“No, I do not have any other advice. I tried to write everything down I could think of, but it is incomplete, because everything is incomplete. It did not matter to you all that I came from far away. You had no concept of who I was or what I might be capable of. You let a dangerous tiger who had been stripped of his claws and teeth sleep on your floors, and for me you even had somewhere soft to lay my head. And we danced and drank together, and you have burdened me with remembering all of your faces when I am far away. The Support will join me at times, but I will not be surprised if I never see the rest of you again. There is no need to hide your tears.
“Set a time limit. If you have not reached our goal by then, blow it up. Do not drag Polaris over the horizon into the sunset. We are all going to burn brightly for as long as we possibly can, and we will not burn out, we will find the next wind to stoke our embers, and we are going to ascend, sisters and brothers, and we are going to make the jailers regret they were ever born, one by one! It is going to be one kicked-in door for every prisoner and one smashed window for every divided soul, until every cat is intact again!”
The tape ends here, which is peculiar, because it certainly sounded to me as if Cat was about to continue the very rousing bit of his speech. His voice was clearer here, especially towards the end, which leads me to speculate he may have been putting on all that gruffness before, or else he was putting on an oratorial guise at this farewell. It is as fitting an end to his own words as I could possibly provide. There is, as I have suggested, much more in the box, but from what I could discern, very little that connected to the events relayed here. I have the creeping suspicion that I am not meant to possess these scraps any longer, that they themselves ought to be blown up, but obviously I lack the gumption to actually destroy them. The fact that I cannot solve the puzzle hardly means that someone else should not be given the opportunity. The one unabashed positive here is that Cat thinks something was accomplished and that no one seems to disagree. How could you not want that for him? The other element that sticks with me, which I personally find entirely affirming and hopeful, is that there is another goal which has yet to be surmounted. In moments when I know there is a great deal to be done and am yet uncertain what exactly to do next, there is a pervasive, though admittedly vague, comfort in this mythological entity asserting the incompleteness of everything, but the desire to make it better anyway. The order of the day: violent hope and ferocious care in the face of the vice-grip of ignorant hate.