by Dan
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


The Bad Plus - "In Stitches"

Jermaine, the cat, wears a trench coat in the rain. Drops bead on his shoulders and back, I'm like a duck's ass over here. Jermaine is down on his luck. Way down. Luck like pocket lint, luck like old soup skin, luck like an eight-dollar handjob. Nothin to eat in this town, thinks Jermaine, looking through closed flower shop storefronts and barred barrister windows. This town weighed heavy on Jermaine often, he thinks of the way it runs, like a big clock in the sky, full of gears and moving parts, beyond his understanding. His apartment is small, a little room with a mattress on the floor, litter box in the corner, stinks the whole place to high heaven. Can't cook in there, smells so bad, so he goes out every night to eat. But he's sick of the same old diners, that surly bastard with the dirty apron at Gil's Place, that old smoke-stained lady at The Fournier. Tonight, it's just rootin' through the garbage in the alley behind the grocery store. Back to this old shit, he thinks, holding his breath and chewing.

Jermaine goes back to his apartment, left the tv on. "So You Think You're Innocent?" is on, announcing this week's verdict. Not guilty is very different from innocent, thinks Jermaine, clawing in the litter box. The contestant, in a pompadour and a patterned button-down, waits nervously. Jermaine flicks off the screen before the announcement. He looks at old birthday cards on his fridge, almost a year old now, when can you throw these damn things out? He collapses in his bed, looking up at the ceiling. He stares up at it, like staring at a wall, this is my whole goddamn life, just white walls in every direction. But every time Jermaine closes his eyes, it isn't like this. When Jermaine closes his eyes it's colours and stripes and landscapes and everything's easy. And something stirs in Jermaine. He sits up, on his paws, looks to the corner, by the closet. Old paint cans leftover from when he moved in, lids half-closed, drips down the sides, no one ever paints without spilling a little bit.

Jermaine slinks over to the cans, brings them one by one over to the mattress. Stands the mattress up on its side, roaches scatter. He slides his one chair over, it squeaks with weak legs. He holds the open can, Sunday Cloud, with one paw, dips his other paw right inside. Wipes it on the ceiling. Gets the other, Rusted Sand, dips his other paw in, wipes another streak. Something happens. The ceiling opens up and sings, Jermaine is rubbing swirls and streaks and it drips in his face and he's pressing his whole cat face up against the paint, breathing it in, toxic or not it doesn't seem to matter. He paints for hours, layers on layers on layers, sometimes a face, sometimes a whole world, sometimes a series of colours. It's what Jermaine sees behind his eyes, come to life. After hours of painting, he's tired but can't sleep, can't breathe in the apartment, goes out for a walk by the tracks. A train comes by and he hops on and he's more cat than he's ever been in his life. He heads to a place where the sun actually comes up when it's morning.


Posted by Dan at October 5, 2012 2:40 PM

What a song.

Posted by Pierre at October 5, 2012 9:40 PM

For some reason "pressing his whole cat face up against the paint" is my favourite line in this. It's really clear. Cats *do* press with their faces. A *lot*.

Posted by Ryan at October 8, 2012 2:12 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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