Y’all knew we had a ship’s cat, right? A ship’s cat is a feline buddy who accompanies sailors and other boat-dudes on long voyages across the sea, primarily to hunt for rodents, but also because cats are cool as hell and it’s nice to have them around.

Anyway, this ship is the S.S. DOOMSDAY, and it’s not actually a ship at all: it’s a big ol’ house in Oakland, California. It’s where John and I do our sleeping and eating and bathing and blinking and breathing. We work on VIII NOTHING there, too. It is our corporate (hah!) headquarters; our citadel of sin; our shelter from the madness of this doomed planet.

And of course we’ve got a cat running around this damn place. That cat is named Dante Greyhame Allan Poe Starsailor, and he’s a righteous dude. (He’s also super weird.) The picture you see above was taken three days ago when I stepped out of my sleeping quarters to put the kettle on; it was high noon and time for tea. There was Dante, splayed out on the couch in an “aw, he thinks he’s people” sort of way. It was terribly funny—I could hardly stop laughing.

He just sat there, gazing at me, as if to say, “Yes? For God’s sake, did you need something?”

I said the magic word after that, which was “hungry”. I phrased it as a question: “Dante, are you hungry?”

Dante seldom meows—only when he’s sad about something—but when he hears the few human words he knows (“hungry,” “food,” “sit,” “Dante!” and “treats” (he’s learning “tuna”)), he chirrups. This amazing little trill comes tumbling out of his throat and he prances about, tail swaying, because he wants me to know that he understood what it is I have said to him and that he would very much like it if I filled his food bowl with whatever tasty noun I think he should have.

And I thought, yes, this little guy, at once my son and confidant and closest companion, yes: he is the official mascot of VIII NOTHING; he is, as John once said, the patron saint of the Oakland literati. I must tell the world about Dante (I thought), because otherwise how will they know?

I met Dante when he was only seven weeks old. I picked him up from some crummy shithouse on Lombard Street in Baltimore and took him home with me so we could be cool bros together. He has been my good and faithful friend ever since.

More Dante news from now on! He’s an important part of this fine enterprise we’re steering into oblivion. Without him, we wouldn’t wake up in the morning (Dante demands to be fed as the sun rises), and there’s no question that we’d be even more unhappy than we already are.