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In a symbol there is concealment and yet revelation

-Thomas Carlyle

This post contains some graphic imagery of a violent nature and should not be read or viewed by the faint of heart or stomach.  However, in the interest of truth and of my quest, I must disclose the following.  Also, for those unfamiliar with my brother, Orange Boy, I would refer you to these posts: Great Expectations and The Sun Sets on Orange Boy.

During my convalescence this week, I have had time to reflect on some of the unresolved issues in my life.  Perhaps Hawthorne had a point, and perhaps my body was giving me a sign that I must turn my attention to things which trouble my spirit (see his quote in my last post).  The series of incidents I am about to relate have troubled me for some time. It was not so long ago that I received what I believe was a coded message.  I have refrained from mentioning it because I am not quite certain how to interpret it and I have only my suspicions as the sender of the message and the intent behind it.

Let me start from the beginning.

Last winter was my first winter on the East Coast, after we left my puppyhood home in Alaska.  It was on one of my first walks around my new neighborhood when I saw a dog just like me, just ahead of me, at the end of the street.  I strained on my leash, to Woman’s dismay, but was not able to make it to the end of the street before the dog turned the corner.  I put my nose to the ground and sniffed: a familiar smell…Orange Boy?  I tried to follow the trail, but Woman wanted to go right when the trail went left, and I, alas, was not able to communicate to her that I wanted–needed to follow the scent.  Was my brother alive?  I had always wondered if the whining outside my puppy enclosure that night was truly him–I had come to believe that it could only have been a dream.  Did my mother know the truth?  It had always seemed to me that she must have followed her baser instincts–that she had not been able to resist their pull and had eliminated the “runt” as nature had called her to do…and yet…

I began to leave signs in the snow for Orange Boy, in case he truly was near.  I marked my territory in the time-honored way, and sniffed everywhere for signs of Orange Boy.  Had I forgotten the scent?  Was he near?  Had I seen him?  I did not see him again, but I did occasionally find that smell again, which I was almost sure was his.

Then, I saw this:

Just in the spot where I had seen Orange Boy and where I had left for him my most recent message, I saw this squirrel, almost peaceful looking in its final repose.  It seemed to me to be in the shape of a question mark.  I was confused.  Was this a sign from Orange Boy?  It didn’t smell like him…  It also seemed a rather sinister sign.  Who else would leave a message like this?  Could it truly be only a coincidence that this deceased beast should appear in the exact location of my last sighting of Orange Boy?  That it should appear here as if in answer to the sign I left for my ghostly brother?

The more I thought about, the more I felt as if someone must be warning me away. Have I perhaps, stumbled upon something deeper and darker than I had yet imagined?  I have heard of the mafia.  I have heard of conspiracies and gangs and secret codes.  Was this squirrel’s head in my territory meant to be like the horse’s head in the bed?

The sign remained there for days, and I was given no clues to help me interpret it. Eventually, it disappeared as if it, like my brother, had never been.

I can’t help but feel, beyond all reason and beyond what these circumstances have given me evidence to hope, that my brother is alive, and that perhaps I was close to reuniting with him.  I feel, too, that there is someone out there who does not want us to meet, and that perhaps this creature left for me that morbid sign.

I had tried to put this incident from my mind, but it returns, like the recurring nightmare that Freud writes of–that unknown, uncanny thing–and perhaps it is long past the time when I should have lain all these facts out like this, to be considered, so that I can put my thoughts in order and confront my fears.

I hope, one day, that I’ll find an answer, and that neither I nor Orange Boy will meet the fate of that poor squirrel whose gently closed eyes reveal no secrets.

I will find my brother.  This will be my quest, even if it takes me months, or even years, to do it.  I will find him.  I will stop denying what I know to be true.  When I visited Mr. Bailey, I again smelled Orange Boy’s scent, and searched for him.  I will no longer doubt the evidence of my senses.  It was he.  I will find him.