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Side Notes to a Deposition

jlee@smylex.UUCP (Jeff Lee)
Shipbrook Software (Tampa, FL)
(smirk, original, true)

(Warning, this is a bit long.)

Court reporting runs in my family; I came across this gem recently in
some of the old files.  My grandfather's brother, in the days before
computer-aided transcription (or even Steno machines), would dictate
his shorthand notes onto a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and sent the
tape to a typist.

One day, in a strange mood, he interrupted his notes to wax philosophic;
the typist, for some reason, kept his diatribe in the witness' testimony.  
(Fortunately, the extraneous bit was removed before the final copy was
sent out of the office...)

Here it is (names have been changed):


Q  Now, would you tell the court in your own words concerning
   the general demeanor and actions of John Smith,
   which would throw any light on his competency, his mental
   competency?  Tell the court in your own words.

A  It is a long story, but if the court is willing, I will
   tell it.

Q  It will save my questioning you.  I think you are intelli-
   gent enough to tell the court what you know.

A  I knew very little about the family except that they
   lived next door and minded their own business.  I had no
   trouble with them.  They were quiet, the children were
   co-operative, they kept the children at home.  The elderly
   gentleman, Mr. Smith, we had very little association
   with him at first, but we had a big cat -- a very valuable
   cat, by the way -- that we had brought with us from Texas,
   and which was a show cat.  Mr. Smith had made friends
   with this cat, which was a difficult thing to do because
   the cat had been castrated when young and was not friendly.

     Operator, let us go off the record for a moment so that
   we may consider the last statement of the witness.

     At first blush I thought it was a perfect example of non
   sequitur, the jumping from an insufficient premise to a
   faulty conclusion.  It seemed to me that the witness'
   reasoning was wholly wrong:  that here should have been a
   placid cat; a happy, contented cat; a cat not subject to
   the storms and stresses of natural tomcathood; but one that
   could eat and sleep in the sunshine, and purr with no hate
   in his soul.  But the lady was qualified in psychiatry.  She
   was educated, and so I gave ear again to her words and
   another picture began to develop.  I noted that she did not
   state that this cat was a kitten when he suffered this
   great loss, but that he was young -- there's the difference.

     In my mind's eye, I see not a fuzzy, thoughtless kitten,
   but a young tomcat; a lusty, healthy young animal, one who
   is old enough to have forsaken the fireside for a night or
   two, one who had been on the tiles, so to speak, and who
   had roamed an alley or two in his day.  I see a cat
   developing into lusty tomhood, finding life good indeed.

     Then I see this catastrophe, this cataclysm, if I may say
   so, befall him.  I see him seized by a human, or two humans,
   and subjected to the greatest, basest indignity that could
   be inflicted upon cat or man.  I can picture the horrible
   scars upon his psyche, the agonized distortion of his very
   soul, as he tries unsuccessfully to adjust himself to his
   terrific loss.

     Ah, bad enough at his home in Texas, but then -- horror
   upon horrors -- he is wrenched away and brought to a
   strange city, a strange house, that in itself unbearable
   to cats.  I see him fighting another battle with humiliation
   and frustration, surrounded on all sides by his ancient
   enemy, Man, who had de-flowered him in his youth.

     And is that all?  No!  Where did his family take him?  Where
   did they force him to live?  NEXT DOOR TO A VETERINARY

     Yes, I agree.  I see here a cat with no cause to be friendly.
   I see a very bitter cat.

     Now, following the witness' statement out, I find that
   her reasoning is quite sound.  Here is this cat, bitter
   against Man, retired from the world, haunted and hagridden
   by his memories, ruined and betrayed by Man.  He sees Mr.
   John Smith and his lip curls in scorn and hatred.  He
   sees him again and again and one day a curious sensation
   comes to him.  He sees Mr. Smith pottering about the yard,
   while perchance the March breezes blow, the ladies passing
   down the street, their dresses pleasingly elevated by the
   wind.  It occurs to him Mr. Smith pays no attention to them,
   and he realizes in some dim, feline fashion that here, though
   he be a member of the tribe of his ancient enemy, is one in
   much the same condition as he.

     And so, hatred gives way to toleration, and toleration
   finally ripens into friendship.

     Operator, this bitter cat realizes that he and Mr. Garrett
   are brothers under the skin -- the foreskin, that is.

     Now back to the record.

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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