Tuesday, June 30, 2009

XXI: Rain

Mr. Hung was sheepish the next morning at work. "I drank too much last night."

I tried to give him a smile that said, 'I don't care. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.' But I wasn't sure he'd get it, so I said, "I don't care. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself."

He patted my back and raised his eyebrows.

After work I grabbed a jacket from my truck and headed into the woods behind my place, where everything grows straight up and down. It looked like a small rainstorm was gathering.

I carved an inch-thick line through the middle of a trail. When it began raining the water gathered in my path and swelled the path into a river, draining water all over the grass and dirt.

I stood watching.

The water followed my lead for a while, but after a couple minutes, when the raindrops swelled large enough to cause splashes on my arms, my path dissolved. There was no record of my effort.

I contemplated going home for a shovel.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

XX: Birdie

Mr. Hung invited me over for dinner last night. "You should come," he voiced through the phone. So I went. He was drunk by the time I got there. His wife, Birdie, made lasagna.

Brenda Hung. Formerly Walbrandt. Birdie. An old hippy of the Saskatchewan brand: well-read, defensively political, and stubborn. A born New Democrat. But she's cool.

After a conversation-less supper Mr. Hung passed out on the couch with a whiskey bottle, leaving his wife to play hostess. There were several awkward minutes of fork scraping and chair-adjustment until Birdie asked, "D'y'wanna get high?"

Relief. "Okay."

Mr. Hung must've heard, 'cos he half-opened his eyes to mutter, "Yes. Y-you's should git stoooooeee-nd." We were in the kitchen, twenty feet from his perch on the sofa. "Mr. Wilk-ah-son!" he shouted in conclusion, and retreated again behind eyelids.

Birdie laughed.

We lit up.

Fifteen minutes later she confronted me in a serious tone. "What's the last thing you'd want to eat before you die?" she demanded, screwing her forehead in earnest concentration on the word 'die.' As she spoke she waved her fingers, as if conducting the insistent words. "I mean, the last morsel of flavour." She exhaled hard and long.

I laughed, interrupted from my own fancies. "I dunno Birdie. Maybe Milk Toast with egg on top. Or steak with good mushrooms." I thought to myself of the best sandwich I ever had. Clarke made it for me on a freezing cold Boxing Day. Lightly toasted home-made bread with left-over Christmas turkey, fried onions and mushrooms, and eggs. Who knows what else. We ate in his basement, and he took a picture of my first bite.

Birdie offered no response to my comment. She opened her eyes and began focusing on the sleeve of her shirt.

I looked over at Mr. Hung, now snoring quietly. "All my friends drink," I remarked. "I don't know any non-drinkers." It felt like a major revelation, though it isn't remotely true.

"Hey?" Birdie asked, more to the universe than to me.

"All my friends are drunks," I reiterated.

Oh yeah?
Okay, oh-kay, oooooh-kay.
That's awesome."

I gave up and slipped into the warmth. I like her.


Afterward I walked to the Trees and fell asleep beneath a swelling, knotty branch, feeling slightly paranoid. I woke at 5am to the feeling of a green caterpillar on my knuckle. Why do I punish myself like this?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

XIX: Mr. Hung

“I read your website,” Mr. Hung told me today. “Why does Santa want to die?”

“It was just a dream,” I said. “And some of it was made up.”

“I have a dream,” he confided. “A sex dream with many women.”

“I have the same one.”

When I was smoking on my lunch break he opened the door and asked, “Will you write about my dream on the website?”

“Do you want me to?”

“Yes.” He closed the door, then re-opened it. A grin appeared. “Make it very sexy.”

Friday, June 19, 2009

XVIII: The Boredom

I've mentioned it before, the lethargy that greets me sometimes in Hafford. It's been enveloping lately. Even drunk, I just swivel my head and look around in futility. When I get high my head feels lighter as it turns, but the dullness remains.

I'd like to blame the trees, but that's unreasonable.

Only in my dreams is there any real escape.

Last night I dreamt I was Santa Claus, flying slowly over the Crooked Trees in a cruel August heat. From the sky they looked like thick tangled hair pushing its way through the sleeve of a soldier's cotton jacket. I'd never really noticed them before.

"Jesus Christ," I said, contemplating the mess from above. I stopped my sleigh in air, eighty feet above. No wind. No sound. Just a buzzing heat. I stood up and leaned ass-first into the sky. I'm not sure why. My thick hands and booted feet secured me as I backed out.

Then I let go. Purposely. I asked the weight of gravity to have its way. My eyes blurred and I waited for the fall. But nothing happened.

Nothing at all. Like death. I can't quite describe it. There were no sensations and no thoughts. Not even memories. My identity was gone. So was any sense that I was within a dream.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

XVII: Meet Peetsabooty

Peetsabooty is Clarke's dog. I'm not sure if that's how you spell his name. I'm just guessing. Pizza-boodee. Pete's a booty. I don't know.

We get along fine.

More chapters coming soon, I hope.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

XVI: Susan

Susan Yaremshky. 23 years old. I grew up with her. Every month or two she comes over to cry on my shoulder. Which I don't mind, because a) she's a nice girl. I genuinely like her; and b) her legs go all the way down.

We may be inevitable.

Last Wednesday she arrived with a bottle of wine. "Hey Matthew," she grinned at me.

"Susan," I said. I fear I had a knowing look on my face, and that she saw it, and that she didn't mind. But I mind.

She came in and poured us each a glass.

XV: Clarke IV

I went for drinks with Clarke at the K-Bar last night.

“On the radio,” he hollered at me, “they were talking about marriage problems.”

The bar was loud, and working its hardest to make you imagine you weren’t in a small town. Clarke continued. “The radio guy said that in broken marriages one of the main complaints of women was that their husbands didn’t do an equal share of the housework.”

“Yeah?” I said, encouragingly.

Clarke continued. “But the thing is, the guy said, the thing is that -that, if men were living on their own they would actually do less housework. So that in a marriage a man ends up actually doing more than he would otherwise. You know!?!” Clarke was on his 4th pint. “It’s like, they get mad ‘cos you don’t help out much on this big turkey meal with a salad, when the thing is, all you would have if it was up to you is prob’ly just a ham sandwich or something.”

“Those are the words,” I told him, “of a man who doesn’t want to get laid.”

“Ha!” Clarke bellowed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

XIV: Clarke III

I hate the trees. With fury and sadness. I wake up in a sweat.

Today I walked around town with a video camera. I caught the mayor electioneering Clarke a little. I observed from afar with my friend Alissa Fehr.