Chapter 36: THE CAT

One Decadent Life: Part Two



David understood he was not going to sleep again that night. He had turned on the generator, to run the electric heaters, and it was groaning like a banshee, eerie whine in the wind, and then… that cat!

Its yowlings weirdly punctuated the night. Gawd I might as well be back in Manhattan, for all the peace and quiet there’s here…

He ground out the fortieth cigarette of the day. How many days now up here? Three? He had lost count. He knew he was behaving like a mental patient, sitting for hours, rigidly staring into nothing. In the same chair, by the same window.

When he had taken that chair, by the window, he had recollected the first time he had come — one of the first times I’d kicked heroin. The memory ached in him like the scar that it was.

He went on staring out that window at what was coming for him. Not a star flickered for him, no longer a glimmer of the faintest moon. Continuous driving clouds blotted out all celestial light.

Now here was the cat again. What kind of insane Beast is it, really? Lurking right outside the window-ledge, growling in its throat like a big cat, the sound grating atrociously on his nerves. But David had seen it — an enormous feral black cat, a tom, with big shoulders.

It yowled like something out of Poe and made his hair stand on end.

He thought he might wake up Angelique … see what she has to say about this fucking cat!

It came over him then, all at once, that he was in an isolated place with a person notoriously capable of anything. With the phone not working. Soleil had not shown up… David’s paranoia about women and what they might do kept urging him to leave immediately. But he tried to calm himself down: You are being utterly ridiculous. You are in no danger from her.

But his subconscious was on a rampage. Waking life was leaving him devastated, in hyper-sensitivity, and add hyper-aestheticism atop that. All the usual baffles, controls, filters he used to allow the tolerable stimuli in, to prevent flooding — were all awry. He didn’t know what he should react to, nor what he should not to react to.

So he appeared somewhat dense, even retarded. But it was the effects of a dominant subconscious, freed from the sedating drug. While his body felt near dead, his mind was aflame.

Material of every type clamored for his attention; and when he finally dozed off in an uneasy ‘REM’ sleep, he was beset at once:

DELANCEY STREET PLAZA, he muttered, in the dream, reading a huge sign over a gate.

He was back in the copping fields, his home away from home. Where he’d gone for years to buy his heroin.

The Lower East Side had transformed itself into a kind of stage, complete with audience. Except — no fourth wall. Bound in by gigantic tenements filled with people enjoying his downfall —

Yeah… he’s a flop.

He’s still onstage, though. He can’t step down.

David is being compelled to embrace, and then climb, the ray of the Sun God Ra — the Obelisk.

He refuses to do this however because he sees the Ray is grounded in filth.

But all gods start from fecal matter — it’s our very first creative production.

The refuse of the body transformed… into the aspiration of the mind?

So I’m a junkie, mired in shit? Who is being given the chance to re-embrace his Sun God?

If David refuses, the entire world will fall to pieces.

In the dream he recognizes that the violent races have not yet managed to destroy the Obelisk. It’s been pissed on, shot at and painted over. Still, He stands.

But David refuses to embrace Him.

The earth cracks open, and he’s being sent to Hell. The black Cat, the tom with his muscly shoulders — is the Heroin Demon. The Cat drags him in, David falls in and down, spinning through every level underground.

First level, he’s supposed to say Hello to the Ancestors: all of them dead (and some more dead than others.) But he rushes by, ignores them — because he doesn’t really want to know what they have to say.

Second level, total rejection of Nature. Here Hell is constructed of bolted steel plating, all of it created yes, from the materia of Nature, but changed into something human and ugly.

Every bolt is a travesty, a sin.

The Cat is biting down hard, dissolving him — his spine at the neck snaps in two. He is going to be eaten.







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