I have a black cat called Driver. He’s cute enough to be eating takeaway butter chicken on a Friday, but some dark fuckery is afoot with this thing.
About a week ago, an anonymous Twitter egg sent me a picture of Driver on a boat with a swordfish. It’s from 2009…
I’m not a superstitious person. I do not believe black cats to be linked to anything fiendish other than, let’s say, sherbet-like vomit on a brand new $3,000 silk rug. But, I do catch myself slicing an eggplant reliably from right to left and absolutely never ever from left to right, like one only would if you believed them to hold some power over your dreams. On the other hand, I don’t know for sure at all that keeping a pickled walrus penis in your pocket will make you stay harder for longer – but why risk it?
He’s a good cat. But someone, not Driver, needs to explain to me how this wooly imp was onboard the ‘L’Appuntamento’. On the Adriatic Sea. Thirteen years ago.
And who is this egg?
We met at the best of times, we met at the worst of times.
For the most part, Driver and I are staying out of each other’s hair. But back then, slinking forward from the 2020 deconstruction of my soul, I often whispered into the emptiness where my inner being used to carouse, “A cat, just a tiny one, friend, is the crutch you will allow yourself to lean on. Only until you get back on your feet of course and through the depressing sauce of dating in your early 40s. Then you release the love sponge into the world. Salute.”
These days, I’m still carrying around the corpse of bygone relationship which makes me a toxic +1. Regular crazy, you make do with, but I don’t have the patience to look after a feline tooth and claw psychotic. You had to have been there, in the dust of this nihilistic swan song. Grab a toothbrush and unearth the fossils from the pile of your own resentment. There is a beautiful and pernicious lesson to be embraced… with an unflinching hug… that goes on for a little too long – we all have our problems. But this little guy, he has something heavy about him even I can’t espouse. The dismal burden he might be lugging around, the devil himself closed the book on – in cold sweat and then hid the book under a pillow. But Driver says, I’m in trouble. Ha. Which goes to show that he truly is a good few light-footed, fuzzy steps further down the scary stairway that is leading him to the dark basement of my totem’s subconscious. Everybody makes their own fate – when it’s dark at least. Which is a long roundabout way of saying, I tried to help, but.
There is a black and gold ottoman in the living room, an echo of the springtime in cotton, acrylic and viscose from when we used to drink rosé and binge watch the first season of Stranger Things, and before streaming ruined my sperm count. Driver, too, is secretly enamoured with this thing. Secretly, because when he’s around me, he will stay away from it like showers. Instead, he nudges me to rest my feet on it. He insists. I swear, one time, Driver pushed so hard, something in his neck gave out and for a second he looked like he left the stove on. He walked it off and tugged himself in under a cushion of the one-seater across the room, watching me like I’m supposed to do what exactly? – He’s maybe not such a good cat. He wants me to relive the past.
Driver does suffer, yes. But not in the way we suffer. I study his gait after he takes a shit. It is not the kind a submissive creature expresses after burying a traceable bodily discharge to sidestep predation. Driver resents his existence, another day in limbo among the great pagan minds in history unaware of a redemptive god.
He‘s looking at me again. Daggers.
I can relate. But you are shitting on lavender scented crystals, mate.
How I found out that we are kindred spirits of the ottoman?
One night as I get into the building, I can hear The Animals playing ‘House of The Rising Sun’ from upstairs. But before I reach the door, my phone connects to the smart lights in the apartment and… one… two… the music stops. When I come in, Driver is in the kitchen but the top of the ottoman is warm. He told Siri to stop the music as soon as the floor lamp came on, then jumped in the pantry to fuck the porridge.
From then on, I stayed on mobile data to not connect to the Wi-Fi until I open the door. I caught Driver a few times and it did feel good to dunk on him… but still, I was in such a good mood that night and it really brought me down. It’s Woody’s house of course… Robert’s, Dave’s and Joan’s house. Not the Animals’. He’s so pedestrian.
On the days when and I get drunk, we go deep into what the future holds and stuff like that. Then Driver and I lie on our backs, on the nice rug. We stare at the pitch-black ceiling and compare notes about what would end humanity. And at least I am serious about the possibilities, landing on a marine virus that will wipe out most algae, turning the remainder into haemoglobin-catalysing vampire spores emerging from the dried up waterways.
Driver thinks what’s gonna destroy the world are these big-titted Pokémon girls on Twitter, broadcasting their anime melons to millions of underfucked nerds. And I should look into that.
When it’s past midnight however and I’m sitting down at beach alone, contemplating the gradient of the night sky, then I know, he’s sitting up there, on the black and gold, wagging the tip of his tail back and forth, too excited to stop. Intrigued.
He wants me at my worst.
I never found out how he got on the boat. I’ll never know and it doesn’t matter. This has been going on for too long. I’m not afraid of Driver, but I might need to get rid of him… I’m kidding myself. He wants to get rid of me.
We had a fight. Last Saturday.
I’m eating dinner over the sink with a nice bottle of Taylor’s Shiraz. Later, I planned to watch something with dragons on TV and make myself an Old Fashioned to celebrate the occasion. As a rule, Driver gets in a fit whenever I make a cocktail that does not include at least one quart of Campari, but this time, he turned feral demon bag in my dimly-lit kitchen.
I pick up a bottle of 101 from the shelf and hysterical hissing erupts from the dark. I’m mashing brown sugar and orange bitters into a crystalline pulp. Snarling and growling, above the stove. My lighter flicks on and plasters the room in amber and lurid red while the essential oil from the orange peel is taking its sweet time to caramelise. Now I can see Driver’s shadow growing larger and larger in the corner above my cupboards. He’s immense, grotesquely malformed and shrieking, his back arched to the ceiling to look his most menacing.
The little fuck.
I could stomp you out!
Cats, co-evolutionary empaths, feel what we feel. But don’t know, right? They don’t know. He senses that he overplayed his cards, misread my composure for indifference. Defeated, Driver plunges onto the worktop and lands like a wet sock puppet, sending my orange bitters flying. I snatch him up with a violent quickness that must have surprised him and lock the little shit cake in the bathroom.
What a downer. The dragons were just large, scaly cocksuckers and I was bored out of my mind. What’s the scientific consensus? They are supposed to have feathers. No? Sometimes my brain doesn’t bird so well… In any case, the night closed out to a lot more 100 proof liquor than projected.
Somehow Driver makes it out of the bathroom. He must have seen me passed out on the floor because he comes up to my face and presses his wet pink nose firmly against my eyeball to perform a corneal response test – clues, I guess.
Tomorrow, we make up. We’re all good. He got his favourite wet food, Applaws Cat Pot Tuna & Calamari in Broth. In the early afternoon, after I get back from diving head first into the cold, forgiving pacific allfather to cleanse myself of last night’s grief and disappointment, he’s fast asleep on my stomach, snoring like a broken hair dryer. When we get up, he’s in a cuddly mood. It’s 2020 all over again. Driver is very excited and wants to go outside, up on the roof to watch the sun go down.
We’re on the roof. The sun is going down. But it will be some time before it gets really dark and that nocturnal motherfucker must have gone up there last night when I was blacked out and loosened the screws on the bannister.
“Werd ich zum Augenblick sagen: Verweile doch! Du bist so schön! Dann magst du mich in Fesseln schlagen. Dann will ich gern zugrunde gehn!”
He is drowning in something horrible. He’s drowning in a lake, maybe?
He has dreams. Do you know his dreams?