by Louis Nowra
It was the fault of the psychiatrist. I’d been seeing him because of my pyromania-that’s a person who likes lighting fires-but you probably know that being University educated. You know the problem with pyromania? It’s the only crime where you have to be at the scene of it to make it a perfect crime, to give yourself satisfaction. “Course, that means the chances of you getting caught are greater, especially if you’re standing in front of the fire, face full of ecstasy and with a gigantic hard on. So, the cops got me and I’m sent to the shrink. He tells me that I’ve got an unresolved problem with my mother. I think, hello, he’s not going to tell me to do something Oedipal, like fuck her or something…but that wasn’t the problem. My ego had taken a severe battering from her. He said I had better resolve it, stop treating her like I was still a child. It made some sort of cosmic sense. I had to stand up to her. So I thought about it and realized that I had to treat it like a boxing match, get the first punch in, so to speak, to give me the upper hand in our relationship. She had five cats.
One night I rounded them up, put them in a cage, doused them with petrol and put a match to them. Well, boy, oh, boy, what a racket! They were running around the backyard burning and howling-there’s no such thing as grace under pressure for a burning cat, let me tell you. I hid in the shrubs when Mum came outside to see what was happening. Totally freaked out, she did. Five of them, running around the backyard like mobile bonfires. I figured I’d wait a couple of hours till the cats were dead and mum was feeling a bit sorry for herself and I’d knock on the front door and say to her ‘Hi, mum, I’ve come to talk about our unresolved conflicts’ but, oh, no, one of those cats ran into the house. In a couple of minutes the whole bloody house was alight and within half an hour there was no bloody front door to knock on. (a beat) If it wasn’t for that damn cat, I wouldn’t be here.