Chapter 10: Sunday PM/Monday AM
Ah, home discreet home, where I could hoover up any psychic weirdness before it escaped into the real world. I sat in front of Craig and Elsie and told them how happy I was to be back. Their response, enigmatic as ever, satisfied my longing for silent companionship, and I settled into their spreading lethargy with ease. All I needed now was a single malt and that was soon procured. In the dim light sneaking in from the streetlamps the jades and I communed.
Perhaps an hour passed in such delightful company. The phone was gracious enough to refrain from ringing, although I could see some urgency had been deposited prior to my reentry. I opened a can of clam chowder and defrosted a bun, chewing on the results of my culinary quackery while gazing at the cinematic ballet that is the opening of Oliver Stone’s JFK. For without the political infomercial that is the voice over, no reaction but the purely esthetic is dictated. I have tried out various classical cd’s as audio companions, but silence seems to work the best. All artsy fartsiness aside, I love the changing light and movement. But the soup was soon done and I felt the tug of civic duty blinking red.
The first was Margaret, asking after Gerry, who’d taken her purse with all her important papers. I chose to ignore the request, banking on Margaret’s shoddy memory, quite in contrast to her furious one pointed invective. The second was Gerry, demanding that I, under no circumstances, was to reveal her whereabouts to Margaret. It was the kind of thinly veiled threat I used to react to and now felt quite liberated from. I gave her the finger. The third was blank except for some laboured breathing. I chuckled at my puzzlement and deleted the lot.
A bath seemed like the best remaining option, so I settled in for a strawberry flavoured soak. I guess I expected the various dramas of the weekend to gnaw away at me, but somehow I felt set free, not responsible for any of it. It was the old innocent bystander excuse, and I was quite happy to abuse it one more time.
For about maybe fifteen minutes I forgot about real estate and ethereal mystification. Just a hot little boy in a bath, all pink and pretty as my mother used to say when I was about six. And how was that charming lush I wondered for but a second.
Later, all smug and cosy in robe and slippers, I glanced at the laundry pile and persuaded myself it really needed bulking up, something the boss would never have agreed with. Such moments of bachelor bliss were few, but I was already relishing their periodic recurrence. I had just enough time to watch a video: which old fave would it be? I settled for Out Of Africa, a sentimental favourite to be sure, but still a classic from so many angles, …Redford moving with the grace of a gazelle, Streep showering Kenya with culture and the landscape embracing all comers.
Still lost in the beauty of a story I knew backwards I saw how my dream adventures could be little movies on their own: you entered, got entangled, maybe wishing it wouldn’t end, and then you wake up maybe go for a pee. Sounded good, perhaps I could impress Eric with it. The burial scene in the Ngong Hills rhapsodized me into tears as usual, and I wondered if I really did want a director’s cut after all.
Clea phoned. She had settled Kendra into a bath and then bed with what sounded like a minimum of fuss, and her own Adam had come home a tad more chipper than when he’d left. She thanked me for my companionship and support during the weekend and I assured her there was no need: it had been the perfect escape for me. From what I did not detail; neither did she enquire, although I suspected she filed away a query for later. And after some low down lover’s talk we said goodnight.
Nursing my misgivings about the wisdom of squeezing all that neurosis into one small house, I settled between the covers for a snooze. I woke about four feeling remarkably clear and calm. After a dutiful visit to the washroom where the suspected bladder download failed to materialize, I padded about the place, pleased with its comforting silence, and glad I’d gone for the remotest lot on the crescent, far from the parkways traffic. Could I afford it on my own? Would I ask Clea and Adam to join me? Would they be mad enough to accept? What did Clea do anyway? Oh yeah, housing co-op management three days a week. Would I be arrested for accessory after the fact tomorrow morning at about nine-fifteen? Would Eric bail me out? Would Derek Austin go easy on me if I found his wife her dream home for less than 4G’s?
All very interesting questions. Turning them over in a relentless tumble seemed to draw me back to sleepiness rather than into agitation, so I returned to the warm nest ready to embrace the next phase of rest. I arose from a pleasing blank darkness at about 7:15 and convinced myself that a short jog around the block would be a great way to start the day. A bracing crispness just short of frost greeted my sudden enthusiasm for exercise, not to mention a couple of surprised and waving neighbours.
I made it to the office without a hitch and strolled in like I owned the place, oozing bonhomie at every turn. Mike Patel asked if he could have a few of whatever I was taking. I told him it was a foul tasting herbal supplement from the mountains of Mongolia. Funny you should mention China, he smirked passing me a phone message, A Mr. Lee called.
I nodded and moved to my desk, where an unexpected attack of nonchalance settled on my shock. Suddenly chatting with a local deity seemed not nearly so mind numbing, something I’d much rather discuss with almost anyone rather than my unfortunate backyard encounter Saturday afternoon. Calling Mr. Lee was actually less terrifying than having Derek Austin call me about him, so I jumped in with both feet. That familiar lousy English asked me why I hadn’t come on Saturday. I told him I’d been there but couldn’t find him and left for another pressing appointment. I used my imperious busy man tone that works a lot better than you might think. Then he said the strangest thing… I go for pee in bushes and feint. Ha ha! Bladder heart connect all wrong. Ha ha! I figured my cocktail party chuckle would work best and used it. He laughed along and then asked if I was still his friend and would I meet him there this afternoon at two. I said sure, I could fit him in no problem and wished him a pleasant morning.
Well that was a load off my mind. If it hadn’t been 9:27 I would’ve offered to buy a round for the entire office. Instead I asked Mike what he was doing for lunch. He told me that sucking up to the boss would do me no good unless I spent over a hundred bucks. It was just what I needed to hear.
A Week, Month or Years Later
Chapter 11 – The final chapter
Time’s like that, especially when your workload levitates itself into some ozone layer way beyond busy and you tell yourself it’s okay, you can take it, you’re an old pro, and besides the money’s rolling in like it never has before, and god knows when you’re going to need a high priced lawyer yourself and not just to finesse the usual real estate fandango.
Obviously, moons had waxed and waned, Gerry continued to be mysterious and monstrously irritating from a distance, so much so I was thrilled to be easily accumulating the necessary filthy lucre to become the sole heir to my own fortune. Clea, in her own inimitable fashion, continued to be supportive and reassuring as she tried, more or less unsuccessfully, to diet. I don’t want you to like my love handles it just makes me complacent rather sums up that. Come to think of it, you do not need a goddamn psychiatrist George has something of a ring to it too.
The whole grow-op bust and torching resolved itself neatly, with Bill showing up with a blubbering apology. And a long story about cut throat competition amongst Chinese triad types spilling the beans on each other’s operations. All through an all too amenable contact in the city vice squad apparently. At least according to Geraldine, she of the irascible quack and waddle, now winning over converts somewhere in the blessedly distant west. And now, as I ponder in the serene retrospect that the ever affable Cannabis Kid and his cheery, gender balanced cabal legalizing everything in sight allows, there emerges out of the pot mist we shall all soon be enveloped in, that shared cell we occupied for a few hours as the cops, convinced I was in on the scam and that our soured marriage was but a cover hastily assembled in some late night kitchen table conference. Not a cell exactly, more an interview room made to feel like one so you would say anything to get out. No torture of course, we’re Nice Canadians don’t you know, we just oblige the Agency’s requests, but I did recall Oscar Wilde’s line about it being either the wallpaper or him. They must have been observing us for some occasional moments of tenderness that would reveal the careless plot, but we did not reward them.
In fact, after the semi-final grudge match of icy stares and sour recrimination, I lay out on a bench and fell asleep, a nap that magically became a portal to my first lucid dream in ages. Don’t ask for an explanation, I couldn’t explain it to myself, other than the psychologically obvious throwing myself a liferaft.
There I was being someone else again, a stranger in a strange land. Barely that really. A body? Well, not exactly. More a kind of iridescent cloud, seemingly going nowhere. Answers? Not really. Knowing, of the inner variety? Yeah, kinda. A sort of smug, sure-I-know-but-I-don’t-have-to-prove-it knowing. Certainly embarrassing at a cocktail party, where you might have to defend that unbearably mystical arrogance to some balding podge fancying himself as the next Christopher Hitchens, but here, in that fluffy cotton wool golden haze with no horizon or shape in sight, it seemed just right. As Eric remarked later, over drinks, No existential dread I suppose.
When I came to, and it could have been mere moments later, a cop walked in and told us we were free to go. And he thanked us for our cooperation. The appearance of the mysterious Bill was the key, and after giving him a peremptory hug that summed up everything I despised about my darling wife, we exited to our separate cars.
The next morning I awakened to another phone call from a police station. Guess what, my dear old hippy mother had been busted for drunk driving, after almost whacking a cyclist that she was likely aiming for, and was looking to get bailed out. Father, of course, was down south golfing. I laughed and told her I’d be over after breakfast so sit tight. Her sardonic reply, probably nicked from some old Germaine Greer interview, was Like I’ve got some fucking choice boyo. I laughed again and hung up. She could wait.
* (Note to non-Canadian readers: Our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, when elected to the leadership of the Liberal party was immediately tagged ‘The Cannabis Kid’ by the opposition Tories. As a PR move it completely failed, and now that the whole shebang is legal we’ve stopped hearing about how we were a narco-dollar economy.)