We are a very symbolic being apparently. We’ve come to realize it’s one of our ‘tricks’ – a ‘trick of the mind’ kind of thing. And once again it’s become very apparent. So apparent that even the wife’s picked up and taken notice.
Lately we’ve been trading stories for cigarettes from her. Two stories, one pack of cigarettes. This is a trade and a deal; not only with her but myself. (Or selves, if you would rather.) Two of us want to go on smoking; most of us want to stop; two are there that need to, and one of them is the Body. It saves me a trip to the store (I used to go walking – for my health, obviously – to go and buy my cigarettes. Round trip it was two miles. Too cold now, I suppose.)
Anyway, there was this one story we went and sent her. It is a story of some abuse that went on. Not sexual abuse; more of a physical and mental kind. I’m cautioning you there may be triggers there; check yourself before you go in there (to my Little House of Horrors). There you’ll find this tale:
It was called (and is called) – The Cats In the Bag. I wrote it years ago, and that title’s always bothered me. “There’s something wrong with it,” I keep saying. “Shouldn’t it read ‘the cat’s outta the bag?’.” But there was something wrong with that also. My brother was in the bag. He’s the ‘cat’ in this one – using old sixties style lingo. That’s what I always thought it should mean. “The cat’s in the bag,” meaning my big brother is in there. No other meaning in there.
And then it occurred to me suddenly this very day. I had written the story way back in the nineties. I had updated it since them – several times, going over the story. I went over it again before I sent it to my wife (electronic mail with its ability to attach things is such a blessing! – remembering the ‘old days’ of hand mail; pre-Fedex and things.) Once again I felt that strange discomfort upon reading the title; once again it felt wrong.
And then it came to me; what that title was meaning. It was meaning the CAT was in the bag. The secret was being kept. That’s what it meant! That was the meaning behind that odd title, that inversion of an old saw. (I was quite excited, excited by my own discovery.) Because, you see, the old saying was right. The cat IS out of the bag. Finally I am telling.
Strange, seeing it the first time after so many years. But that is what is strange with us, and my wife often agrees. We do things in symbols; subtly sometimes – little hints and clues – even to our own selves. Writing something and figuring it out not hours or weeks or months later – sometimes not even years later ! It took us decades to write “The Boy” (a fine novel, by the way, one you might want to read on your own). But there are over 300 symbols and double meanings in there. Easy. Talk about creative writing! Talk about your unconscious mind – we’ve found out a lot about things in there. It’s been quite a ride.
“Look to my book,” I told her after telling her today about the ‘Cats Out of the Bag’ thing. “There are symbols in there.” And it is so often the truth; there are. A person – reader – has pointed out to us: there is so much ‘us’ in there; these descriptions of characters describe my ‘selves’ in some degree; our limitations and our emotions, and our inner child. A whole bunch of stuff in there. The annotated version is even better. We’ve been keeping track of these things.
But I reckon it’s been a “Wonderful Life” to paraphrase the way I’ve been feeling . . . and I’m not talking towards the end. More in the middle sometimes; questioning why I’m here. . .
But that has nothing to do with the story . . . so I guess I’m done.