Title: MUSIC SOOTHES THE SOUL
Disclaimer: “SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron,” its characters and concepts are copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc and are used without permission.
Author’s Note: I was inspired to write this simple story from listening to the only baritone singer I know with a breathtaking voice….. Gordon Lightfoot. Music soothes one’s soul and who better to need soothing than the Chief Enforcer.
It had been so very long since he’d picked up his guitar and sang. His career choice had taken the place of the music he’d once thought was the center of his world.
Now his chosen career was fare to grinding him into the dirt with its high tension, nerve racking danger, headaches, pain and grief. Standing on the balcony of his apartment one warm evening, he felt the weight of his responsibilities and the fact he had no one to ease the burden.
Earlier this evening, he was hanging his coat up and caused an empty hanger to fall to the floor. As he reached down to pick it up, he caught sight of his guitar case sitting in a corner. He paused for a long moment staring at it then he reached with his other paw to dig it out.
Putting the hanger back up, he closed the closet and carried the case into the living room. He leaned the guitar case against the couch and went to change his clothes. He padded barefoot to the kitchen and made himself dinner and brought it back to the living area to watch some TV.
It was getting late when he flicked off the TV and stood up, stretching. He glanced at his guitar case a moment then went off to bed. After only a couple of hours, he gave up any hope of sleep and threw his bedding off.
Some nights were like this. When a day went like it did today, sleep became impossible as his mind was filled with regrets and anger. So, he went out to the balcony with just his pj bottoms on and sat on the railing, breathing in the cool night air.
He had turned his gaze back inside, and that’s when he saw the guitar case glinting in the moonlight. He left the balcony and took the case into his paws. He sat down on the couch and opened the case. Inside gleamed a beautiful guitar. It looked almost new laying there.
Reverently, he touched the strings and flicked them briefly, listening to the sound. He frowned at the off notes and lifted the guitar out of its case. He put the case back on the floor and held his guitar in his lap.
For long minutes, he lost himself as he tuned the strings gently, one by one. When he was satisfied, he strummed it lightly. A smile lit his face in pleasure at the pure notes coming from it now.
Letting his mind drift to the past, his fingers found the right cords, and he was soon playing a favorite piece with the same skill he’d had all those years ago. He played quietly for more than an hour. When he finally stopped, his fingers were sore and stiff but his heart was lighter.
Sighing, he gently put the guitar tenderly away then went back to bed where he finally found the sleep he’d sought earlier.
Over the next few weeks, he would pull out his guitar more and more frequently, remembering more of the beautiful music he’d written and played most of his early twenties. It took a while, but he finally got up the nerve to add his voice to the music. He was surprised that, despite not having sung a note in over twenty years, his voice was still sure and steady though now it was much deeper and richer with age.
Now, most evenings, his neighbors were being treated to a remarkably rich and beautiful voice accompanied by a guitar singing folk songs. It got so his neighbors began to look forward to the impromptu concerts they could hear through their open balcony doors. They never told anyone about the Commander’s unexpected talent, not wanting to intrude on his privacy. Besides, they didn’t want him to stop, which he very well might if anyone knew about it.
Over the next few months, he played and sang more frequently. It soothed something within him and made it easier for him to handle the stresses of his work day much more easily.
It was mid-summer, and the days had gotten stifling. His office was air conditioned and so was his apartment, but late at night he hated the humming it made and preferred opening his balcony door to the night. Living near the bay allowed the heat of the day to drain away much faster, leaving cooler air by late evening.
This night, he was enjoying the coolness by sitting in a comfortable chair he’d pulled to rest half in and half out of his sliding glass door so his long legs could stretch out and let his feet rest on the balcony rail, his guitar in his lap. For the next hour, he played and sang to himself, enjoying the evening.
High above the city, a familiar vigilante pair was making a slow patrol and enjoying the cooler night air by flying with the canopy open.
“Ahhh, this is much better than sweltering at home right now,” T-Bone sighed, loving the cool air rushing over his face and body.
“Yeah, you got that right. Glad it’s been so quiet lately, especially after all the hell Dark Kat and Viper gave us last month.” Razor sighed as well.
They had passed over Pumadyne and were cruising over Megakat Park, gradually passing over city hall before turning to pass over Enforcer Headquarters and further on. This was their last pass before heading back home, so T-Bone decided to go just a bit lower but high enough not to run into Feral’s patrols.
The city lights twinkled brightly as they flew by. The jet was running fairly quietly compared to the enforcer jets since they weren’t using all their engines. Even this late at night, city traffic was noisy enough to drown out the little noise the jet did make.
Razor was giving his x-ray scanner its usual test runs, as he did periodically. He didn’t spy into private residences. They were only interested in warehouses, shopping areas, and high security buildings watching for trouble.
He was just about to shut it down, as they were moving over private dwellings, when he caught sight of a familiar Kat enjoying the cool night air from his balcony at an apartment building they were just coming up on.
“T-Bone, go to VTOL now,” he said quickly, turning his scanner back toward the figure he’d seen.
“Huh, what’s up, buddy?” his partner asked as he did as ordered.
“Turn on your viewer and see what I’m seeing.”
“Wha…… is he doing what I think he’s doing?” T-Bone said in surprise, trying to see the image better by moving closer to the screen.
“Yep! Want to get closer?” Razor asked, fascinated.
“Are you kidding?” T-Bone asked sarcastically as he carefully lowered the jet until they were just low enough to see their target more clearly but weren’t too low to give themselves away.
“Hey, buddy, turn that listening mic you recently installed on!” the burly pilot said in a low voice, keeping his eyes on the tom on the balcony.
“Already doing it!” Razor said quietly.
Moments later, an amazing voice reached them. T-Bone felt his jaw drop. He’d expected to hear an amateur, croaking away to entertain himself, but this was a professional voice and he played the guitar with obvious experience.
“Wow!” Razor breathed.
“Yeah.” T-Bone sighed out.
The pair stayed transfixed and listened. T-Bone noted there were a lot of neighbors sitting on their balconies in silence with heads cocked toward the balcony of the singer. He wondered just how often Feral did this. Somehow he was certain, that the Chief Enforcer wasn’t aware of his audience. It seemed he was just doing it to entertain himself alone.
The SWAT Kat felt odd to know this about the hard nosed tom. It would make it hard to think of Feral as cold, unfeeling and hot-tempered after hearing the incredible music he was making. The song he was singing now touched a chord within him. It had something to do with taking care of the world by cleaning up pollution before there was no world left for their kittens. One of the lines spoken struck him hard…. ‘It’s too late for praying…….’ he heard and swallowed hard. If they didn’t change their ways, the water would be undrinkable, food would be hard to grow in a heavily polluted soil and their kittens wouldn’t thrive. If everyone heard this song, perhaps it could sway the complacent to wake up and fix the mess now.
T-Bone shook himself in amazement. This was just a song, but it was so full of strong emotion that he was drawn into it despite himself.
“That’s the most beautiful song I’ve heard in a long time and its message is very prophetic and moving,” Razor whispered as Feral came to the end and paused to drink something from a glass beside him.
“Yeah, I know. It drew me in and made me want to change the world. I’ve never had a song affect me that way before. I’ve not heard it before either……. you don’t suppose he wrote that himself…. do you?” T-Bone asked hesitantly.
“I don’t know, buddy. Perhaps he was a singer in his youth. He just sounds too good to be an amateur,” Razor murmured seriously.
“You got that right,” T-Bone thoughtfully muttered.
They continued to hang about and listen, loathe to leave yet. But, eventually, all good things must end, and Feral was apparently getting tired as he stopped playing and got up to stretch and go back into his apartment.
“Guess that’s our cue to leave, T-Bone.” Razor sighed in regret as he shut his scanner and mic off.
“Yeah,” was all T-Bone said as he slowly raised them higher into the sky then switched from VTOL to forward motion and flew them home. The music he’d heard continued to play in his mind. What an amazing and surprising talent the Commander had.
When they’d returned home, they stripped in silence and went up to their apartment to go to bed. As they went up the stairs, Chance couldn’t help but say, “I can’t shake how incredible Feral’s songs were. I can’t get the music out of my head.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s what makes a great singer and songwriter. Makes me wonder what made him choose to turn away from that to become an enforcer,” Jake mused.
“Huh, me too. Well, goodnight, buddy, see you in the morning,” Chance said, yawning and turning into his room.
“You too, buddy.”
After that night, the SWAT Kats made it a habit to swing by Feral’s apartment in hopes of catching the Kat singing. They were fortunate to do so maybe a few times a month.
During a particularly nasty battle with the Pastmaster some three months later, the dead sorcerer managed to damage the Turbokat, many buildings, dozens of enforcer choppers and cruisers, killed ten enforcers and got Feral injured. He suffered a particularly nasty break in his thigh in the skirmish. It had been a very costly battle.
The SWAT Kats had ended up fighting on the ground, shoulder to shoulder with the enforcers to finally defeat the Pastmaster, sending him screaming back through his portal without his watch.
Dirty, G-suits ripped in places and minor wounds on both, the pair came up to Ms. Briggs as she stood by and watched Feral being treated by medics. They were splinting his leg as they came near. He was going to be transported to the hospital to have it fixed.
“Sorry we couldn’t get that creep before you got hurt, Commander,” T-Bone said sincerely.
Despite his pain, Feral blinked at the SWAT Kat in surprise. Callie was also stunned.
“Yeah, I didn’t see him sending that bolt toward you soon enough to stop him,” Razor growled angrily.
“You take it easy. Let your enforcers get this mess cleaned up and let yourself get healed. We know how much you hate the hospital, but let them take care of you before you try and walk out,” T-Bone said in amusement.
“Who are you and what have you done to those reckless hotshots?” Feral blurted in shock, then winced as they maneuvered him onto the gurney.
Both SWAT Kats just chuckled, then T-Bone leaned closer so that only Feral would hear him.
“Let’s just say we’ve truly enjoyed your evening ‘concerts’ a lot and want to insure you are able to continue them,” he said with a warm smile then stepped back out of the way so the medics could load their patient on the ambulance.
Feral’s face held a gobsmacked look.
“T-Bone! You shouldn’t have said that to him,” Razor snorted, amused by Feral’s look of total shock as they turned away, ignoring Callie’s attempts to find out what was going on.
“Aw, I just wanted him to know we appreciated him and that we weren’t crazy,” T-Bone said with a shrug as they walked toward their battered jet.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t stop his singing,” Razor chuckled warningly.
T-Bone blinked and looked back at his partner in concern. “Oh, you think he might?”
Razor just shrugged. “I don’t know. He didn’t know people were spying on him and now he does. What do you think?”
“I hope he doesn’t stop. I’ll miss it a lot.” T-Bone sighed with regret for his remark now.
“Don’t worry, buddy. I’ve been recording it,” Razor reassured him.
“Yeah, but it’s not the same as hearing it live.”
Razor just laughed. He personally had a strong feeling Feral wouldn’t stop singing. He’d noticed that singing and playing had a calming effect on the usually foul tempered Commander. His more even temper seemed to allow him to handle whatever the omegas did and, what was more important, tolerate them more easily too. So, no…. he was fairly certain the tom wouldn’t cease an activity he found so rewarding and soothing to his soul.
He turned out to be right. Some weeks later, as they passed by a certain apartment, they noted the Chief Enforcer was resting his leg on the couch and strumming his guitar and singing.
Navigate This Author's Stories
Disclaimer: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron is copyright to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 1995. All other characters and material within this page are the property of their respective creators.