Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fragment 22: Golgotha

Amanda was seventeen when I first met her. Perfect cute in a tight blue sailor's suit.

It was a company function and she was the boss' daughter. Thirty years younger than me.

But that was hardly an issue. After all, I was gay.

Shivering outside, white fluffy film glossing over Bay St., cigarettes glowing in the financial tower dark, only taxis and city trucks about. Waiting for our ride.

What a laugh she had. Whirling Dervish intense. We hit it off instantly.

I was rebounding and needed company.

She was a gal who liked to be around a guy in a Hugo Boss. Take him to clubs. Wanted him nice and old. Wanted to be sure he would never try to touch her.

Since my ideal mate was Wendel Clark at the time, no danger.

Dizzy drunks, doing lines in the too hot condo, beginning and end of night.

She absolutely fucked the sleaziest looking guys. Pubic beards. Grunge band wannabes.

At the time I guess any lad looking like Kurt Cobain made 'em all breathless.

She would scream and moan and all that noisy shit, while I was often on the sofa praying not to puke from tankloads of tequila.

When I met Paul I settled down, but not Amanda. She went roaring on.

767, engines loud, coming in to land through a light summer rain, rivulets trailing off the wing. Tired, business trip gone bad, no deal, now fifty-eight and feeling every decade of it.

Airport terminal was airport terminal white and airport terminal bright.

Dragging luggage along, tie loosened but still on, people criss-crossing, journeys either at beginning or end.

Standing in the shelter, limousines advancing and there is Jack. Amanda's dad.

I had left his company eight years gone by.

Philosophical differences.

Adam, so good to see you, thought about calling.

How is Amanda?

It seems she wasn't well.

It turns out she had hit the needles after I had known her.

Around '93.

Even with the new drug treatments she was dying.

Western Hospital, a brown, bleak colossus, stark and Stalinist against a humid, melting sky.

Down long depressing corridors to room 401.

I brought a potted plant.

What the fuck was I thinking?

She was so frail. So weak. The life all but gone.

She still had that in imitable smirk. That special curl of the lip.

I hear you became a social worker. Did so much good for so many.

For all the good it did her.

Hand held out towards me, fingers still so long, so lovely, curled with mine.

Can't imagine why, but I made a promise.

Two years pass, me in jeans, Paul playing at host, pouring infinite cheap wine into plastic cups.

Community centre finally open. People filing through sliding doors. The mayor thanking me during an informal speech.


It was all misplaced. I was never the one...

It was her, a portrait hanging on the wall of my new, very tiny office. Right between my old brass crucifix and my framed copy of her favourite Degas.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fragment 21: Niagara Falls

Was I crying at her funeral?

As I should have been. As expected.

Car pulling into driveways. Old Volvo. Never worked.

House, fully detached on Brookside. Not far from the train tracks.

At night, in summer, still light, I would be out, watching as she came home.

Good evening, my little boy, she would say.

Tall, beautiful, rigid with briefcase.

Ahead of her time.

Did she know, even then, that she would be leaving?

Long days. Yelling matches. Threats. What happened to them?

Me, on the stairs, terrified as she said she would take us away.

To Calgary.


I did not want to go to Calgary.

Final episodes.

Could I have, should I have, known that the sky would fall? That it was almost all over.

End moments I recollect. She, in blue, imposing, at street corner.

Me on my Big Wheel. Smiling.

Looking back at me that one last time. Preserved in memory at the junction with Woodbine.

Did she wave?

Father with the tea towels in the am.

What is it?

Your mother...

is dead...

Years later knowing it was suicide.

Abandoning me.


On purpose.

Why did you do it?

I was so young. Loved you so much.

Funny, decades sliding by, a kaleidoscope of time, remembering of all things...

You, my mother, laughing.

Outdoor international food court at the Exhibition.

We had Gyros from the Greek Pavilion.

Sister just two. Fighting for notice.

Day perfect. Spotless. Bright.

You leaned forward, Mama, and you touched my face.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fragment 20: Sisyphus

When I was working in transportation in the early nineties the bottom, for a time, fell out of the commercial real estate market.

I mean it fell out...they even stopped building some projects that had started. Partially constructed. Sitting as monuments to capitalist folly for many years to come.

In the shadow of one of these lay this odd little street named by a fucking expired dogooder

Temperance St.

And on it was this total dump of a bar where the guys who worked on the road would hang out.

This was a dump. I don't know why I ever went in there without a fucking Hazmat suit.

Full of smoke, smelling of stale beer, piss and puke, bargals who thought they had got off easy if it only turned out to be genital warts.

All right in the heart of the financial district!

Some of the poor fucks even ate there. Claimed the food was great. I wouldn't have given a flying fuck if Julia Child had been flipping hash behind the counter, there was no fucking way I would have eaten anything served up there. Not had it been the last joint in town.

Now I was an office lad and normally we didn't hang there.

They didn't want us.

But I was an exception as I had fixed a couple of problems for the boys over the years.

The last night I ever went was an August Monday. It was hot. The kinda hot you felt all over, especially if you had an asshole for a boss who substituted requiring us to wear suits all summer for medieval torture implements.

Oh, he wasn't so bad. Just old world.

Anyway, I was hoping Nora would be there. All skinny and skanky.

She was the cat's meow.

And she had the virtue of not yet being a regular.

No such luck, gal blew me off.

Instead there was some gang of losers from a competitor and Darren.


That guy was a genuine rat bastard.


Born mean.

Built like a brick shithouse, so he could get away with it.

The second I walked in I knew he was in one foul mood.

Guaranteed an interesting night though, so I sat down.

Surprise, surprise.

Seems he and some truly ugly fucking lanky biker looking guy at the other table were having words.

They weren't exactly Emily Post.

Trouble was that Bob's your uncle had four friends.

Darren was one of mine, so I had his back.

Nonetheless, not good odds.

Then the fella made a mistake, as dumb fuckers often do, and actually got up by himself and went to the bar.

Darren never missed a chance.

Jumped right up behind the guy and slammed his face on-down, full force.

Shattered his nose.

His buddies were fast and all, but the fortunes had shifted and after some circling and a little church talk they scurried out of there, their fight all done and their pal pretty rough.

Night went on.

Many, many beers.

I kept hoping Nora would drift in.

Instead, only a couple of old timers every now and again.

3 am rolled around.

Trish our less than stellar server had had enough.

Darren stands to go and falls right over. Like he'd been hammered by Ali. Table down, broken glasses, you know the rest.

Trish just furious.

Laughing he bounced up and, no shit, out with the car keys.

Look, I am as big an opponent of law in general as the next guy, but you must be joking.

It took me fifteen minutes to get those keys off of him. I had to block the door. Beg. Yell. Wrestle.

He called me every name known to man. And a few not.

I felt pushing his sorry ass into the cab was a personal victory.

Handed the driver twenty bucks.

Somehow found my way home.

Next a.m. I could barely get out of bed. My head hurt so fucking much I thought it would explode.

Stumbled into the office. Must of reeked like a Front St. brewery.

My mouth Sahara parched.

When I saw Lisa crying I was sober quick enough.

Everyone looked so fucking glum.

Jake was a prick but he was the first I could find who would talk.

What's up?

It's that driver Darren

He's dead.

Dead, what the fuck do you mean he's dead?

Got out of a cab at 3:30 am last night and a blind drunk bastard ran him over as he crossed the street to his house.

Killed instantly.

Well, fuck a duck.