Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Biggest Lie I Ever Told

I used to have this cat called Jeffrey. I know this is an abnormal cat name but I feel it is important to give cats names that have dignity; they are elegant creatures and should be labelled as such. Jeffrey was however, neither elegant nor dignified. He was actually, for lack of a better word, a total retard of a cat. He would sit nose to nose with the fridge for hours hoping it would feed him, was completely afraid of the wind and he once went missing for a few days only to be found sitting at the bottom of the garden, completely unharmed, with some type of moss growing on his back. He was also thoroughly unpleasant, so of course I loved the shit out of him.

You know when you have a pet, you often feel like it has certain things it wants to say to you? Jeffrey had a permanently angry look on his face, like he was dying to yell abuse at us, and so my family would voice his inner monologue; giving words to his misgivings about his food, his surroundings and his dislike of the world in general. The dialogue we had on his behalf revealed him to be a well-spoken but cranky old man of a cat. I still worry about the times when people would walk in on us talking from the cat’s perspective, but that’s ok because my family wasn’t particularly normal and I guess no one expected any better from us.

For a few years when I was quite young I had this concern that I may be possessed, like the main character from The Exorcism of Emily Rose, as I would often get up of a morning covered in scratches with no idea where they had come from. One night I woke up to discover that it had been Jeffrey all along; he had been sneaking into my room after I was asleep and settling on my bed; whenever I moved he would attack my legs leaving them bloody and battered. Another time he pooed on my history text book and I had to explain it to my teacher. Yes, Jeffrey was not a pleasant cat at all, but he had character and to me that is the most important thing any animal or object can have.

The following story is about the day that Jeffrey died. I am aware that this anecdote paints me as a liar and I guess I was a bit of a liar in this situation, but you will come to see that I only told one lie. Except it was a massive lie. Probably the biggest lie I have ever told actually. So if you have a problem with fibbing it is best that you stop reading now.

One hot January day I was on a train on the way home from the city. My phone rang and when I answered it, I heard my very concerned mother on the other end – I immediately knew someone had died. Upon realising I was on the train my mum told me she would call me later, but as they say – curiosity killed the cat (har har har) – and I pushed her to tell me what was wrong. She informed me that Jeffrey had been found in the neighbour’s yard where he had died after his kidneys gave out. To say I was inconsolable was an understatement. I hung up the phone and burst into tears. Now, I am by no means a pretty crier. I am frowny, blotchy, and above all, a snotty crier. I cry hard and loud until big slimy ropes of snot pour from my nose. So I sat there, in the most crowded carriage of the train, forty minutes away from home and sobbed. And so OF COURSE this was one of those rare train journeys when the State Rail guards boarded and checked that everyone had paid for their journeys. I handed over my ticket, still whimpering and covered in snot, which they checked and walked away. Relieved, I returned my face to the nook between the window and the seat and recommenced my howling.

BUT OF COURSE THEY CAME BACK. Because nothing is ever that simple in my life.

When they returned they silently escorted me to that small portion of the train which you initially step onto, the part which is neither up nor down. They had cleared this section specifically for me. Oh, the shame. So, they sat me down and asked me what had happened. I didn’t feel quite like I was able to say that my cat had died (how embarrassing to be wailing at that decibel level about a cat) and so I told them that I had lost a family member. I silently congratulated myself on something which wasn’t really a lie and continued to hiccup. Oh, how I wish they were your run-of-the-mill uncaring, bastards and left it at that. But they didn’t.

“Who was it, darling?” the extremely concerned, fatherly, train guard asked me.

This was really the moment that it all fell apart. Flanked by two burly men in uniform, devastated and embarrassed that I had been removed from the main population of the train I looked him in the eye and said “it was my brother.”

Just like that. Earnestly and honestly (except for the fact that it was an utter fabrication), and then shocked by this whopper of a lie I had just told, I burst into fresh tears.

He gently patted me on the back and continued to ask me questions, like any kind stranger would. Ugh.

“What was his name?”

“Jeffrey” I stuttered, my voice thick with tears. Thank god we hadn’t called him Mittens.

“How old was he, love?”

“He was fourteen.” He was. But he was a cat.

“How did he die?”

“Kidney failure.” It was kidney failure, but he was a fourteen year old cat.

“Where was he?”


The guard looked absolutely stricken and I swear to god, he wiped a tear from his eye. At this point, I was so shocked by the enormity of my lie that I stopped crying altogether and just sat silently, praying for time to speed up and my stop to arrive.

“I’m sorry to take up your time” I ventured. “I’m sure you come across things like this all the time.”

“It’s never anything this bad.” He told me, his voice shaking ever so slightly.

I am the worst person alive.

When we got to Hornsby (where I lived at the time) they escorted me off the train, into the lift and waited with me until someone came to collect me. I had to quickly call a friend to come get me, telling them through gritted teeth that “Jeffrey has died, please meet me at the station.” You’d better believe I high-tailed it right out of there – before any conversation between the guards-who-were-comforting-me-about-the-death-of-my-brother and my friend-who-was-there-to-comfort-me-about-the-death-of-my-cat could transpire.

Oh boy. If I wasn’t sure about it before this, I was after – I am definitely going to hell.

Hopefully I’ll see Jeffrey there.

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