Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

HOLDING PATTERN

February 7, 2010

The train accelerates after Chatham—steady, galloping, equine—the passengers within docile riders ready to unhorse. Eager to get off train #67 in Windsor, the last stop on VIA Rail’s Corridor run.

“Are you gonna give Daddy a hug, Mommy? Will you give him a kiss?”
“We’ll see.”
“But you said—”
“Enough, Evan.”
“But you said.”
“Shhh, the man across from us is trying to sleep. We’re almost home.”

I lift an eyelid. She looks drained, siphoned—her boy has been pretty good, but still he’s sapped her spirits.

The iron horse hammers home, racing the rigs on the 401 through Tilbury and Belle River. Evan presses his nose against the glass, peering out at Lake St. Clair in the gathering dusk.

“Look, Mommy! The lake’s like a hockey rink!”
“I see it, sweetie.”

She reaches into her pocket, pulls out a gold band and slips it on her finger. She holds out her hand, inspecting. She doesn’t smile. Finally I realize who she looks like. She’s a blonde Sandra Bullock—but not Keanu’s cutesy bus driving sidekick in Speed, she’s the sullen thin-lipped wife of Brendan Fraser in Crash.

She closes her eyes and spins the ring on her finger.

I stare at her profile and Evan’s face-smear on the window and think about my flight this morning from Edmonton, stuck in a holding pattern over Pearson airport before it landed. I picture the plane doing quiet figure eights over and over in the sky above the snow clouds. I picture it suspended in air, and think of how my Mom had been in a holding pattern herself—lying in her hospital bed, not getting any better or worse for months, until her plane decided to swiftly descend.

And which one’s better? The airplane looping round waiting for the all-clear to land, or the train careening headlong to its last stop?

We’re almost in Tecumseh now. The town’s been lobbying for the trains to slow down ever since a young girl was struck and killed on the railway in 1996. But instead it charges ever faster, Tecumseh a scant blip on the radar, as the machine lunges towards the final stop. I still can’t imagine how that little girl didn’t hear the train coming. I spent entire summers as a kid leaving pennies on the tracks behind Tranby Park, waiting for the afternoon train to come by and flatten them. And long before it did, the rail would vibrate and make a sound like far-off sleigh bells.

“This is how you should hug Daddy!” Evan shouts, latching his bony arms around his mother’s neck, a mini bear hug, a schoolboy stranglehold.

Mommy catches my eye as the train finally begins to brake and the nearness of home wrings my stomach. I still can’t get over how much she looks like Sandra Bullock, and wish my Mom had resembled a movie star when I was Evan’s age.

Recently published in Misunderstandings Magazine
 

mmmlele mots

September 4, 2009

HUMAN NATURE

I could lop a head clean off on this Greyhound bus. I could stick a pipe bomb in the overhead compartment and blast it sky high, suicide bomber style. And why the hell not? I’ve seen what we’re all capable of. I surf the web. I read the papers. I’ve seen the horrors, the horrors that you’ve seen, and lately I really feel like adding my own contribution to the mix. Too bad I’m a dreamer and a pussy. So instead of blood and death on this rickety bus, I’ll just stare at the woman asleep next to me and wonder what her deal is. She’s over thirty in age and weight, but she’s still pretty. I gaze at the open pores on her cheek and a couple of ugly moles on her neck.

She wakes up a little while later, yawns, takes her earphones out of her ears and looks at me.

“Where are we?” she asks.
“Two hours out of Toronto still,” I tell her. “What are you listening to?”
“Michael,” she says. “I haven’t been able to stop listening to him since I heard the news.”

Michael Jackson had died a few days ago.

“Yeah, it’s hard for me to believe that he’s actually dead,” I reply.
“D’you like him?”
“Yeah, definitely,” I say. “But I liked him better when he was your colour and not mine.”
She smiles at me. “Yes, poor Michael’s been a tortured soul for years,” she says quietly.
I tell her about me and my sister doing this dance routine to Thriller when we were little kids. It had this whole scary zombie theme to it like the video, and we’d always end up skipping the record player because we jumped around too much.

“My name’s Denise,” she says.
“Nice to know you, I’m Blair.”

Later on, she takes off her coat and puts it over my lap and jerks me off until I come in her hand. The sun had just set and we’re still on the 401 and I feel for a brief moment like I could stay in transit forever. Denise digs some Kleenex from her purse and wipes her hand. She breathes on my neck and looks me in the eye and then kisses me really passionately on the lips.

“I’m married,” she whispers a few minutes later.
“I’m not,” I say back.
She looks at me and sighs. Clears her throat. “My Dad’s real sick,” she says.
“Mine died long ago,” I say.
She stares at me expecting more, needing more, her mouth open.
I close my eyes and ignore her the rest of the way back to Toronto. I’m able to do this because I imagine she’s used to men doing this kind of thing to her. After a while she puts her earphones back in and dumps me for more Michael.

• • •

The next morning it’s back to work for me, and I’m on the Queen streetcar heading east. For a change the train is actually empty instead of rammed with people that I want to stab and kill, so I’m sitting at the back and listening to Thriller on my iPod. A young mother gets on at Bathurst, pushing her baby in a stroller towards the back of the car. She reminds me of Denise just not as fat, and I remember Denise’s hand pulling hard on my cock and I smile as her double sits down across from me. She picks her kid up out of the stroller and puts it in her lap. It’s a boy. She kisses him and coos at him and you can just tell she loves the hell out of him.

“Cute kid,” I say.

She nods at me and mouths the word “thanks” and goes back to loving the shit out of the kid. Tickling him, and blowing on his belly, and telling him she wuvs him, and making him dance on her lap. He moves in sync to “Billie Jean”. Moonwalks in tiny Nikes. And it’s at this exact moment that I think I finally understand that scary look of pure love my Mom gives me whenever I haven’t been home in a while. Cause when she sees me, she sees me first as no bigger than this baby across from me. She remembers changing my diapers and wiping shit from my ass and balls. She remembers feeding me straight from her tit. She remembers my first mumbles and words and questions and thoughts. She sees a hundred different versions of me at once. All the way down to the present version, one that’s supposed to be a responsible adult and making her super fucking proud she didn’t abort me like she originally wanted to. I stare at Denise’s double across from me and for a second I feel kinda bad. Her kid pulls at the neck of her shirt, giving me a brief glimpse of deep brown cleavage. I picture myself as a wee babe, just sucking away at my Mom’s tits, breakfast, lunch, din-din. I adjust my hard-on and imagine having rough sex with this hot young mother, as Michael softly sings: “Why, why, does he do me that way?” and slowly so slowly the filthy city slogs past.

A Thriller indeed.