Disclaimer: Same as first, BUT I ADVISE YOU TO READ THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS, AT LEAST FROM CHAPTER 3, AS I HAVE MADE SOME CHANGES. THIS CHAPTER WILL FLOW BETTER IF YOU DO.
Owl and I approached to front door and knocked. Cat didn't answer. Owl turned to me with a slightly surprised look on his face. He turned back to the door and knocked again. We waited in anticipation hoping for Cat to answer us but we received no response.
"Well should we try later?" I asked Owl.
Owl looked around, I suppose as if he were looking for Cat. He stopped to look at the sun in the sky. It was late afternoon.
"We should wait for him to return," he finally said.
We did. I proceeded in meditation as Owl played his guitar instrument. It was a tad difficult to meditate at first. It was clear that Owl just recently picked up the guitar. But he being familiar with stringed instruments it wasn't long before he could compose melodic harmony. I lost myself in his music and achieved Zen that way.
About an hour went past when Owl saw Cat coming down the path. He was pulling a wagon full of paper bags. Apparently he went to market. Perhaps he was anticipating company. He had far too many bags for just himself.
"Hello, Cat," Owl yelled as Cat approached his home.
"Afternoon," Cat muffled in return with his teeth biting down on the wooden handle of his wagon.
Cat pulled in and sat his wagon leaning against his home. He turned to give me a glance. He noticed it was his green pond friend from not so long ago. His eyes captured mine. It was a second's glace but his vibrant green eyes pierced mine so deeply. It was long enough to see how much pain he had endured and held in. I've heard much about Cat and his actions. I am quite curious as to what exactly initiated such behavior. I hoped to find out that day.
After we greeted, Owl helped Cat with his groceries as I managed to open the door for them. I was quite surprised to see inside of Cat's home. It was neat. The walls were painted blue and framed photographs practically cover one of them. They were photographs of landscapes, people, animals, events, and friends. It was still a small home. There was no kitchen. There were some chairs, a small table, and a wood oven. There was a window above his bucket of a sink. There also was a hole that led off to somewhere else. By the door I saw some rope and a sign that said "Cat." I imagine Cat must do something new to his home every week at least.
Cat and Owl placed the groceries on the table. Cat rushed to his cupboard to pull out some teacups. He placed them in front of us and went to place a kettle already full of water on top of the wood stove. He lit the oven and came to put his groceries away.
"So what brings you two by?" Cat asked, striking up conversation.
"Well Frog came back and I thought it would be nice if I took him to see you," Owl replied concealing his true intentions.
"Well, it is a surprise to see you Frog. I trust your travels done you well," Cat said still putting away groceries.
"Yes, but my pond called me home! It is nice to see old friends."
"Indeed…," Cat said.
Cat prepared tea and fish for us as we told tales of our adventures. After two hours we found ourselves over in front of Cat's warm stove. Cat went over to place a tune on his phonograph and played it at a low volume. He came back to sit with us. He took out his pipe and smoked hemp as a subtle silence graced the room.
"So Owl, when are you going to tell me what really brings you over?" Cat asked as he pulled from his pipe. With this lone question tension fell and immediately filled every corner of the room.
Owl sighed then responded, "I suppose I should stop beating around the bush here. Do you recall when you told me there would be a day where you would tell me something?"
"Well I've heard that you've been taking care of yourself lately. You've demonstrated strength in character. You seemed like your old self again…I didn't want to pass up a golden opportunity like this."
Cat cut his eyes to me.
"Don't worry about him, Cat," Owl assured. "He is better company than anyone right now."
"If I may interject," I said as if pleading my case in court. "I've…heard some things Cat. I've heard from all of our friends about you, especially from Duck and Mitzi…"
Cat remained still, eyes still fixated on me.
I continued on saying "With all due respect Cat I will gladly leave if you wish. But I encourage you to share with me your story. I may be of some assistance. And even if I'm not I still would like to offer my hand in any way. I know you're hurt, Cat. That much is clear. As a friend, please, open up. Not for our sake, but for your own."
Cat stayed defiant in his stature for a brief moment. He took one last puff from is pipe and butted the ashes in the ashes in the oven.
"I have been waiting for you Owl to ask me that for the past week," he said. "I suspect that you know what it is I have to say. I wouldn't be surprised if you know, too, Frog. But I'm ready to tell you if you're ready to listen. I'll start from the beginning."
It all started when Hen decided to stop playing with us. Honestly, I couldn't care less if she left or stayed. It was her decision. Besides I find her presence insufferable at times. That day when she walked away from us I went to take a walk and I began to realize how much of a fun time I had when we all got together. I figured I should do something for the sake of us all. I went to go see her and try and see if I could sway her mind about playing with us again. But I had to bend myself to her liking, so to speak. That may not seem like much but it was much more than I could bear. I sat when she said I could, I sipped daintily her "perfectly" sweetened tea, I was forced to complement her coupe every two sentences, and I listened to her complain and bicker and babble and defame. She was going on sharing mean perceptions of our friends and names I did not know. She was self righteous and evil and I couldn't take anymore. I yelled and struck her. She fell and looked at me. Then her beak went on insulting me, demeaning me and placing herself on her self-obsequious pedestal, all the while from the floor she fell upon! I never paid much attention to how pompous she was. I hit her again. I hit her, smacking her all over her kitschy home. I gripped my paws around her fat neck and sunk my claws into her. She died slowly…
How fiendish, I thought. I looked at Owl and I saw a look of shock spelled across his face. I couldn't blame him. How could Cat commit such a dastardly deed against his own friend, or rather someone he called his friend.
"I understand your reaction but please allow me to finish and explain myself."
I couldn't believe what I've done when I saw her body sprawled on her floor. I had to get rid of the body, I thought. I found a knife in her cupboard and cut her into pieces. I was careless and sloppy because I was rushing to get it done quickly. I waited in her coupe until night fall. I cleaned up eradicating any evidence of foul play until then. When my time came I grabbed Hen's gardening wagon and scattered her remains along the edge of the woods. A few days later some of her was found and we had her funeral. I was a nervous wreck. I saw everyone's sad faces and I lost it. I broke down in tears. I brought sadness to my friends when I only wanted to make things right again. It was a traumatizing event for me. It wasn't long before I turned to the bottle. I knew Grandfather Bear kept a healthy assortment in his seller. Having lost any shame I threw away I broke into his seller and stole all I could carry. I drowned my sorrows and it helped. And Mitzi and Duck…
I dealt quite a bit of pain to those two. They both were enamored with me and I knew it. Mitzi did what she could to help but ended drinking with me. She stuck by my side always. She would ask if she could help and I always turned her away. Her company was appreciated and we produced beautiful work together. It was because of her I got into photography in the first place. She bought me my first camera. I have so much respect for her and I wish I could've opened up more to her. No one should be disrespected for just being a friend. And Duck! Oh Duck, I'm so sorry…
Cat broke down in tears. I knew what he has done to poor Duck. I wondered if Owl knew. Cat composed himself and continued.
I did not mean to do it. I was drunk and confused and I pushed Mitzi into it. I had no shame. I wrecked the lives of two souls that night. I made Mitzi violate Duck and I pulled her off of her to finish the dirty deed. Mitzi just sat in the corner and cried. I yelled at her and told her to be quiet as I finished! What was wrong with me?
Apparently I did not know the whole story. I wonder what else I don't know.
After I finished Duck stayed for a while and then left. Mitzi stayed and never said a word. On one of my trips a man offered me an unusual herb called opium. From time to time I would part take of it. That night we smoked all I had with Mitzi. I suppose I wanted both of us to forget about what happened that night. This is the first time I spoke of it since then.
Duck kept coming to see me, always bringing fish, bless her soul. Sometimes I would be away and she would take care of my place for me. I was so confused. She was brimming with love and compassion. I hate myself for taking advantage of that. I was almost afraid to talk to her. Conversation really never accelerated beyond simple pleasantries. Mitzi and I continued to travel and collaborate. She stopped smoking with me but would have a drink with me every once and a while. She was trying to better herself. I wanted to ask for what but part of me always knew. She wanted to be an example for my sake. I always thought that was foolish of her. I could have all the examples in the world. I could shape up and be a beacon of righteousness, but it would not save me from the pain I caused.
I remember one Christmas we all gathered at Little Bear and Emily's for dinner. It was when Emily was pregnant with her child. Her child is the most beautiful thing that ever entered this world. Everything about her is just surreal. But, the whole evening I was drinking. I made a fool of myself stumbling around in a drunken stupor, blabbering gibberish. I fell and bumped my head pretty hard. I woke up later that evening lying in a bed. I made my way to the door of the room I was in. Instead of walking out I slightly opened the door to see what was happening. It seems everyone has eaten. Music was playing and everyone was laughing and talking. Closer to my door I saw Little Bear, Owl, and Father Bear talk over drinks. Father Bear was concerned about my behavior and that maybe I shouldn't be invited to their social events until I get better. Little Bear vouched for me saying that it would help if I was in the company of friends and loved ones more. I realized that what I was doing, my self-destructive behavior, was only hurting more people. Emily is expecting. The day Little Bear found out Emily was pregnant he wanted all of us to be their baby's aunts and uncles. My heart felt warm when he said that. I thought it was amazing that he and Emily were going to be parents. I genuinely wanted the best for them. I always did. Birth is so precious to me. A new life has a fresh beginning and what this world has to offer it; they can make the very best of it. I wish for a chance to be rebirthed into the world. I want to start over.
Ever since then I kept my drinking and smoking to a minimum and away from others. Mitzi realized I was trying to better myself. She was so proud of me. One day she confessed her love for me. She shared such beautiful feelings. I never knew she cared so deeply. I didn't know what to say so I said nothing. She took that as me not being ready yet. I wouldn't mind sharing a life with Mitzi. She has a wonderful soul. But she deserves much better. Or maybe I really am not ready for her. I am a work in progress…NO! I won't ever be right for her. I know it. That's why I shooed her away from me. For her own good. I'm afraid I'll hurt her like I did Hen. I don't want to hurt her. I don't want to hurt anyone, anymore…
I wasn't sure how to take Cat's story. Cat is a murderer and a rapist. But he is also a victim to his feelings and impulsions. He is deeply sorry. I received that much from him. But I don't know if I could look at him the same way. What he did to Hen and why he did it…I wasn't sure if I could accept that.
"Cat," Owl said breaking the silence. "I want to thank you for sharing that with us. It really took a lot of courage. But you were right. I knew all along what you did to Hen."
My gasp was deep enough for me to choke on. I was shocked that Owl would keep such news to himself and for so long.
"Owl! Why did you keep this a secret?" I asked still composing myself from coughing.
"When I saw you, Cat, I saw you talking with her. I didn't want to disturb so I left. But then I heard a loud yell. I rushed back to see what was the commotion and I saw you strangling Hen. I was so scared. I was too scared to do anything. I hid in the bushes, frozen stiff. I didn't want to move. I saw everything. When you left her coupe I flew home. I didn't want to turn you in because you were my friend but I knew I couldn't just ignore what happened and do nothing. But I did nothing to stop you so this was nothing really different. So I just let the events unfold."
"Owl, you could've turned me in!" Cat exclaimed. "You could've liberated me from my torment. But you just let these things happen to me!"
"Cat! I'm not the wrong doer here," Owl yelled. "And don't turn yourself into the victim. You knew what you did was wrong, Cat. You killed our friend."
"I know! Don't you think I might've told myself that once or twice!? I must've told myself that as many times as I replayed that night in my head! But you know something? As I look back, I can't help but realize that maybe it was inevitable."
"What do you mean?"
"Don't you see Owl? This is me! This is who I am! I am selfish; I'm several shades of it. I am so selfish I want to stop hurting everyone so I can save all of the hurt for myself. I never liked Hen. I killed her because of it. It is that simple, sad to say. I wanted to walk down the path of self destruction. I just didn't want anyone to follow me. It does not even matter that you failed to do anything, anymore. It wasn't going to stop me from being who I am."
I had enough. I had to step in.
"Cat," I said hoping to clear the air of the negative energy. "What you fail to realize is that who you are does not limit you to the path you take in life. It is quite the contrary. The path you take does not limit who or what you can be. It is the journey in life that ultimately defines who we really are. Our actions will shape us. Our convictions will be challenged. The destination of the journey of our lives is our true selves."
"So what are you trying to say?" Cat questioned. "It's not over for me?"
"I do not believe it so, Cat. You have the authority to keep going. The choice is yours."
From that point on me and Owl spent hours trying to convince Cat that he truly can change. Cat has committed unforgivable sins. But before he can take his next steps he must end the war he is having with himself and find peace through self forgiveness.
It was very late when we decided to depart. Cat wanted to thank us for that evening. He offered his home to us that evening. I was so mentally drained it took a toll on me physically and it seemed Owl felt the same. We accepted his offer. Cat set up places for us to sleep.
We knew there was still much to discuss as to what happens to Cat from there. I overcame my aversion for Cat and only sought out to help him. I don't believe Owl wants to turn him in to the authorities. At this point it wouldn't help much, not to Cat. Owl actually seemed really relieved. His concerns for Cat were settled and a secret that has burned him was lifted. He should be relieved. I'm sure we would've continued from where we left off the next day. With that thought I drifted off to sleep…
Cat never went to sleep. He stood up writing down collected thoughts. When he finished he waited for dawn to arrive, smoking from his pipe while losing himself in his thoughts. Dawn finally arrived with sunrise minutes away. Cat grabbed his short ladder and the sign and rope that was by the door and went outside. Cat fixed the sign above the front door. The sign was made of wood and hinged to a metal bar that Cat secured to the shack. Cat then took the rope and tied it tightly to the base of the metal bar where it was attached to the shack. Cat then tied a noose around his neck. Cat saw that the sun was about to make its debut over a far off hill. He felt the rays upon his face as he stood on his ladder. He smiled and then kicked the ladder from underneath him…
He did not struggle or make a sound. The only thing that could be heard was the birds singing good morning to the new day.
**** Well this was a long awaited chapter. How was it? There is still more to come, I gotta close this. It might be the next one it might be another. We'll see.