Wednesday, January 27, 2010

LXXVI: Mrs. Scurfield VIII

"I used to really enjoy going fast," Mrs. Scurfield told me in my truck yesterday. We were driving to North Battleford to run a few 'going-to-town' errands. Groceries, banking, and a stop at Family Pizza. "It's a very powerful feeling."

"I prefer walking to driving," I said as a response.

"You don't like machines generally, do you?"

"I like my stereo."

Friday, January 22, 2010

LXXV: Clarke XIII: Home Alone

Most of the time I spend with Clarke is wordless. Ten minutes of silence, and then a few words, then ten more silent minutes. That's about the rhythm. I read through my old Clarke entries on this blog recently and realized all I've written so far is our talking. 'Cos what else can I do? But it's not like that. Not really. Mostly we sit and drink and smoke and think our own thoughts.

"I'd make a good hermit," Clarke told me last night. I was on my way out the door after an unusually conversationless evening.

"You are a hermit, Clarke."

"Yeah, Leonore thought so too." He looked at me knowingly. "She always wanted to go out, be out, get out. But I'd much rather sit on the sofa, drunk, at home."

“I met a hermit once,” I said. “When I spent that summer logging up north. He grew potatoes in an oil barrel. He was really nice."

"I couldn't be alone with Leonore. She wanted me to share my thoughts with her. All of them. That's why there're no female hermits."

"Goodnight Clarke,” I said laughing.


I shut the door and walked home. I was glad to be there, alone.

Monday, January 18, 2010

LXXIV: Mr. Hung IV: Chan

I stepped outside the restaurant on my break. Stood looking out past the edge of town. The snow shielded all sound and I grew increasingly aware of my own breathing. It seemed too fast. Too loud. Too big.

I hate winter.

“Cold enough?” mocked Mr. Hung, sticking his head out the door.

I nodded. "Seriously Mr. Hung, why did you move to this climate?"

"The cold gets your blood flowing,” he said, and pulled his face back into the steamy kitchen.

I thought about my veins, criss-crossing under my skin, gusting like wind. I squeezed at my neck with a gloved hand. The pressure of blood grew. My head throbbed.

I clenched my teeth. The pulsing increased. I held my breath, pushing at the sensation of a body about to burst. After ten seconds my vision seemed to shift. I let go.

I breathed out, then in, and sat down on the front hood of a car in the parking lot. I focused my thoughts on the Trees.

Nothing. Silence. I hope no one saw me. I must've looked like a fool.

"Why do you do that?" asked Mr. Hung when I stepped back in. "You don't like the cold, yet you're always stepping outside on your breaks."

I thought about his question for a second. "I don't know, Chan."

Friday, January 15, 2010


Last night Susan and I watched a VHS copy of Murder on the Orient Express with Clarke. Clarke had gotten very drunk. Susan and I spent the duration of the film switching between watching the screen and watching Clarke. He got pretty animated in trying to figure out the guilty party. Ingrid Bergman or Sean Connery?

"You should cut back on the alcohol and cigarettes," Susan said to me later, in my darkened bedroom, as we tried to fall asleep.

I laughed. "What? You think just 'cos I let you sleep in my bed you can tell me how to live?"

"Let me?" she joked. "Yes."

"See, sex always costs something."

"Sure does. Now pay up."

"I don't think so." I shifted onto my back and opened my eyes. I tried to make out the shape of the ceiling fan. One shade of black against another. "It's so weird about the Trees."

"Don't!" said Susan. "I liked the sex talk better."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

LXXII: Susan V: Susan is the Trees

"I'll be the Trees," Susan hollered, running from the snow-covered path to hide behind an old gnarled aspen. One of the ugliest in the grove. It was New Year's Day and we were entirely alone, bundled in our winter-wear. Me on the wooden path, her standing behind a Tree.

Only her hands were visible peaking out from the speckled bark. "We can see you!" she said in a whispery, deep voice. Like the voice of the wind in a cartoon, or all the Trees talking at once. "Our branches push up inside you. Stomach, spine and throat."

"Then why aren't I choking?" I replied, following her jest.

"You are," said the voice behind the contorted branches. "I wrap my sprouts 'round your fingers, and my trunk grasps your neck."

"Then why can't I see you?"

"But you can!"

I squinted. "Nope."

"Foolish man. Listen for sight and look for sound."

"Okay." I shrugged my shoulders. "I can't hear you now either."

"But what do you see?"

"Your voice."

"And more than my voice, my heart beating."

"Nope. Just your voice."

"Slow down!" Susan hollered in girl-voice, and then resumed her throaty whisper. "Slow down, slow down. It beats so slow."

So I did. I really did. And Susan too -both of us looking, listening for the heartbeat of the Trees. 'Cos why not? The insulation of winter made the world silent, so we craned our necks in to see and hear.

"I've got something," I lied, extending the game. But then in my lie came a sound. A soft, blurring thunder. Gray like a heatwave shimmering over the roots. Susan looked at me. I looked at her. I watched her come out from behind the Tree. She pushed her hand up into the shivering air and motioned me towards her.

"Me too," she said. "I can hear it."