I have no audience anymore, so I choose you.
With all the access of the internet I’ve got this, a keyboard and an email contact. there’s no facebook here, no twitter. All the shared-collaborative-touchy-
it’s after 10 o’clock. I’m sitting by myself in a half lit room with my laptop (insert typewriter here) on my lap stuffing my face with chocolate cake and vodka listenig to dour music. I could be fifteen right now. The animals have changed; now there’s a large white canine to the right of me on the couch, another brownish one at my feet, a god-damned but lovable cat off in the the distance. But really, they are mere context in spite of my love for them, the only constant, much to my chagrin, is me.
I’ll start this the way I do every story. “I’m not sure where to start…”
I’m at the age one is at when in grade eight, maybe 12 or 13, I’m not really sure and not concerned enough to look it up. I think it’s before I first appeared in class with glasses, but not much before. That instance Tim thought it would be funny if he took my glasses and showed up in class with them before me. that wasn’t scarring, that wasn’t even close.
What was scarring occurred a few ,months earlier when Paul walked into the room before me. He had met me at the front doors of the school, handed off by my parents like a retarded child or a delinquent dog found missing. Maybe that’s when my frailty began, it’s certainly the first memory I have of it.
In any case, Paul awkwardly walked me down the hall toward our classroom. It was about thirty years ago in a school that doesn’t exist anymore, but I remember those halls, that walk. Paul and I didn’t say anything. I had missed the last four hockey practices and the last two games, but there was no mention of it. I hadn’t been to school in over two weeks, and no mention of that. We appeared at the door of the classroom, Mr McKinnon’s room in grade eight. our efforts were so furtive that I can’t even tell you how many eyes met us and how many averted their gaze. we showed up at the door, the teacher at the head of the class diverting attention, and we slinked into our seats. Unnoticed? of course not, but at twelve what sense do you have of what’s going on around you? After this, there is no more mention of the incident. Once, I was told to stop crying and I did, but there was nothing more than this.
This all refers to a morning I’d rather forget, and for literary purposes I could bloat this out and someone really industrious could probably make an entire novel out of it. Me, I’m lazy, so I spit this kind of thing out flippantly in a couple of paragraphs. It’s a morning a few weeks before Paul accompanied me down the hall to our grade eight classroom. Even, it’s a night before. I woke in the early morning and my adopted cousin William wasn’t in his bed. We shared a room for two years ever since my parents, with the consent of me and my siblings, adopted William into our family. William’s mother Anne had died after a long battle with cancer. My only memory of her is at my grandparent’s house during some holiday. In retrospect she must have been going through or had gone through chemo-therapy because she always had a scarf wrapped around her head to hide her baldness. I never did get to know her; I couldn’t even tell you what her voice sounded like. I’m not sure why anymore, but there was always a sense of great excitement if Aunt Anne was going to be be at a family get together, we just never knew why. As kids I remember terrorizing through my grandparent’s house, the backyard alone an afternoon fantasy land of fresh goose berries and raspberries, stalks of green beans and tomatoes. My cousin Paul and I would climb the apple trees and drop natures bounty to William waiting below. Of course we never ate the apples. We used them solely as ammunition against each other as we squared off from the far ends of the yard, but only until our Grandmother…
I digress. That cursed night I awoke in the dark having to pee. When I crawled out of my bed William’s absence was obvious. With outstretched searching arms I found my way through the hall and to the toilet in the bathroom. I sat down to pee in the dark, knowing the wrath I would face if I took the chance and stood peeing blindly in the general direction of the toilet. I heard nothing over the sound of my urine hitting the water in the bowl, my head tiredly tucked into my arms resting on my thighs. I was still sitting like this, crouched over and barely out of my slumber when my peeing stopped and I could hear my parents in their darkened bedroom whispering.
You might jump to a conclusion here and suggest that they were doing what husband and wife do, but you need to understand that this was very early in the A.M., maybe two or three in the morning. Our parents were not night owls. As a child I can remember my parents kissing before they went to sleep, and that means it occurred pretty early in the night. The three of us, my brother, my sister and myself used to make smootching noises from our rooms when we heard our parents saying good night. “Oh I luuuuuv you! Oh I luuuuv you too! I luuuv you so much!” Our parents were thrilled with this game and we were too, laughing ourselves into sleep. We didn’t really understand then that parents and people can fall out of love and separate, but for some reason there was comfort knowing that our parents were still in love, still so much committed to each other that they made the effort to kiss before calling it a day.
In any case, the whispering I heard between my parents wasn’t then cause for concern. With eyes adjusted to the darkness I walked out of the bathroom and stood at the open door of my parent’s room. They stopped talking when the sensed me there. “Where’s William?” I asked. “Go back to bed.” they answered.
I was twelve. I had no sense of how adults operated. I had no idea of what wonders the world could dole out. Still, there was something conveyed in those short words that even a child could discern, even if just slightly. My bed felt cold and stiff, and although I was betrayed by my childhood body that required sleep, it was a fitful slumber.
My awakening arrived and I found myself in the basement in front of the television. I was a mere three feet in front of the box, my pyjamas still warm from sleep, my eyes still lidded and struggling to see, but the normalcy of this was betrayed by my understanding that William wasn’t home and my parents we upstairs in the family room obviously on guard. Without question I was already aware he was dead, I just didn’t comprehend how grave the situation could be.
The phone rang constantly, but it wasn’t until the doorbell rang that my mother’s scream pierced the air. She screamed my name, and then screamed again. Knowing, I ran upstairs and clung into her grasp.
The evening before, William was whisked away by his father. It was William’s birthday, and his father, albeit estranged, asked if he could take him bowling. He had driven from Scarborough to pick up his son and promised to have him back before bedtime. Instead, he convinced William is was ok to spend the night at “home”, and they went there instead.
A bathtub full of water took care of William. I can only imagine how he struggled under the strength of his father. A rope over the balcony finished off my uncle. There were no tools left for the rest of us.