Friday, November 27, 2009


Someone told me once, that the original humans were created by God. These first people made such a fundamentally wrong choice that it eventually killed them. On and on, people make the same choice and die. But God didn't design in the ability do deal with death, because he didn't design them to die in the first place. But we adapt. Some of us better than others.

I'm going to visit Ben today. I feel pretty good about it, because he's known for his ability to bounce back from difficult situations. I would understand if he has a terrible time coping though, especially after what happened at the hospital. He hasn't picked up the phone the few times I've called, but I feel the need to check up on him anyway.
I knock on his door, expecting to hear his kids shouting, or running around inside, but I hear nothing. The lights are off. I guess they're not home, but I ring the doorbell this time. Nothing. I head back to my car, and I am nearly at the end of the sidewalk when I hear the padlock opening. I turn around and walk back to the unopened door and go inside.
It's dim and unkempt. There is an unusual amount of empty, and nearly empty, 2-litre coke bottles around, on the kitchen counter, on the floor near the garbage, and on the kitchen table. There are fewer, but still a large amount of empty bottles of Canadian Club whiskey, gathered on the floor in the corner of the kitchen. He must be in the living room already. I walk down the hallway to the TV-lit living room, but he's not there either. He must be sleeping on the couch lately. There's a blanket on the couch, and the back pillows are on the floor. There's a half-full bottle of coke, and a bottle of whiskey on the coffee table, but no glass where the circular wet ring indicates it should be. The living room is messy, but not the usual mess that having children brings. There is a vacant corner next to the closed curtains where the toys used to sit. Instead, the floor holds 7-11 bacon cheeseburger wrappers, empty cans of Alphagetti and used kleenex. The commercials on the TV come to an end, and Rachel Ray comes back on.

I head upstairs. I round the 180 degree turn mid stairway and see through the open door that the light is on in their bedroom. I approach the doorway and see him in there, sitting on a kitchen chair, facing the left side of the bed.

"Hey man."

No answer. Just a slight lift of the shoulder. His full glass is sitting on a narrow table in the hallway outside the room.

This room is different. It's bright and clean. There's the odd toy here and there, including Ajax's favourite train. It's strange seeing him without it, it's somewhat of a security blanket for him. The bed is made, and clearly hasn't been slept in. It smells quite nice in here, a contrast from the dank of the lower floor. It dons on me that it smells like Agnes. I tear up a little. He gets up and turns to me.

"It's too bad that human cloning thing never worked out." He snickers slightly through his nose as he says it.

He shows me a few strands of hair he must have gathered from her pillow. He puts them in a porcelain dish on the mirrored dresser with what seems like a few others.

"Let's go downstairs."

Next to the dish on the dresser is a piece of looseleaf paper with a poem written on it. I look and read it.

After the Hydrogen Bomb destroys the cities
And the plagues and famines kill a fourth of the world
And after the stars fall out of the sky
Turning the moon and the seas into blood
I'm gonna hold you so close to me
My dazzling pretty girl
Cuz nothing and nobody matters as much to me
Inside or out of this world.

We'll watch as the meteors boil the oceans
And volcanoes explode in the sky
As hundred pound hailstones fall all around us
With a sulfur inferno beside
I'm gonna squeeze your hand so tight
My glittering sugar girl
Cuz nothing and nobody matters as much to me
Inside or out of this world.

When the seven bowls of wrath pour on the earth
And the people are covered in sores
When fire and blood rain down from above
And jet-black plasters the world
I'm gonna kiss your gentle cheek
My starry tender girl
Cuz nothing and nobody matters as much to me
Inside or out of this world.

And when the lightning sparks in the dark
With the violent shudders of earth
Leaving the world in broken remains
So it seems like the face of the moon
I'm gonna float with you up to heaven
My pure and faithful girl
Cuz nothing and nobody matters as much to me
Inside or out of this world.

I place the page back on the dresser and go downstairs to join him, blinking tears out of my eyes the whole way. His glass is gone and I can smell him as I descend down the stairs.

I pick up one of the cushions and place it back on the couch and sit down. After a little while I start to feel like I should say something, but nothing comes. The harder I think, the more urgent it feels, but nothing comes. Thankfully, he finally speaks.

"I've been writing. Here."

He hands me a coil notebook from an Architecture firm he did help desk temp work for when he was in school.

Too many knives to count
in my dried out heart
I should make an effort
so few do.

My soul is like a dusty cloth
whipping in the wind
Maybe I could just lie to myself
but it wouldn't numb

My leprous heart heaves within me
As the film on my soul remains undisturbed.
No one must touch nor see me.
To do so would be
facing. beside.

My life is a blinking cursor.
Waiting for me to make it something.
Nosebleeds all over the desk.
My organs like filthy water balloons.

I turn the page.

The Wasteland

The old civic center
with its marble walls.
They're here, they found me
tonight, tonight.

Darkness bleeds through
a child's play world.
Wheels keep turning.
Sounds strange, doesn't it?

The end of all you've done.
Your art was a nightmare.
Now we can sleep in peace.
Never more happy endings.

What do I say?

"Wow. These are neat" What a dumb thing to have said. He seems unphased though.

"Thanks. Kinda dark, I know. I've been pretty down lately, of course."

"I bet." I bet?

The next thing he says makes me realize he's drunk, and I look to see that his glass sits empty on the coffee table.

"My parents have the kids. They came over a few days ago and got a bunch of stuff and took them. They seemed kind of mad or something. Whatever."

I didn't want to know why, but I already knew.

"I think I scared them." He slurred that last word.

"My mom said "They're sad too. They miss their mom just as much, if not m-more than you. You have to deal with this. For them" Easy for you to say. The love of your life didn't just die. So they're with my parents now. I was just way too depressed to get off the couch. I think I kind of scared myself a bit too."

He looked over at a little orange bottle of prescription pills. They had Agnes' name on them. I hadn't noticed those before.

"You're gonna get through this. It has to get easier. You have to do stuff. Eventually you have to get on with life."

He shouted. Loud. It startled me and I almost peed a little.

"NO! You don't get it. My life is over. She's gone forever. GET OUT!" His teeth were pushed together so hard. I've never seen him so angry.

"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. But I'm taking these."

I got up, quickly walked around the coffee table, grabbed the pills and narrowly missed the fist that he swung at me as I did so. I headed for the door and shouted at him from down the hall as I left.

"This isn't over."

I drove away and at the first red light, I started to calm down. My hands were shaking. Even as I write this I'm almost brought right back to that living room. I guess he needs more time.