by Mike Sauve
Speedy Sam Pocks and I had had a terrible fight the night before. He doesn’t seem to remember. He’s rolling a joint. It seems like a peace offering but again it’s not clear he remembers. The fight was mixed with humor. We took turns saying cruel things and then something funny in response to the cruel thing to show how cavalier we were about each other’s feeling, and how immune to personal criticism we were. We’d laugh and then scowl. Or we’d laugh and then lean menacingly in the direction of the other like big danger was on the horizon. Then a joke would break that tension and we’d start all over again. The details of the jokes and condemnations are lost to history. My memory is hazy. There’s a damn picture of me playing a trombone with two other members of some horn section, and I do not play the trombone or any kind of wind instrument so who even knows what was happening there or what that must have sounded like.
There’s a comedy routine, more like a cabaret, that isn’t particularly funny. And I notice nearly everyone has left for the backroom but me. I’m encouraged to participate in the cabaret, but add little.
S.S. Pocks is friends with a lot of pretty Chinese girls and one of them makes an abrupt offer for me to move in with her. Platonically, with like separate bedrooms, for $900 a month. The landlord, who is her friend and also at the bar, is telling me that I can move in on the 1st. A ready-made new life.
On my way home to my parents’ home I often hop a fence, but this time the owners of the home abutting my old home are wagging fingers at me. There are deer in the backyard of my parents’ home. Also a wolf. A baby deer keeps running up to me, which scares me because I’m afraid the mother will attack. I see an old neighbor. The wolf is chewing at my hand in a playful and curious way I don’t like one bit.
I meet Christine, the pretty friend of S.S. Pocks, at her building. She shows me what is called the Wellness Wing, which is really a health club of sorts. The landlord guy is demonstrating proper kettle bell techniques to a group of pretty young girls. I think he’s a cult-leader. Over by the treadmills, I overhear a whisper of dissent. The guy who folds the towels is complaining that the towels always have hair on them, because when the towels are collected, they all go in the same washing machine, and so the hair really has nowhere to go except onto the other towels. His real beef is that there is no process that allows him to register this complaint in a way that will resolve it.
Some middle-aged women, lying on pool chairs by the pool, who have taken good care of themselves, are giving me some positivity-themed advice. They are not fond of my negativity. A guy in the vicinity tries to indicate that everyone has negative thoughts, and that to repress one’s darker instincts is unhealthy. But they are too deep in positivity to get back to where I am.
“All hail the prince of Set,” one of the women says, and I run from the place, crossing myself and desperately reciting the 23rd psalm. It is becoming increasingly difficult to exist among people.
Mike Sauve has written non-fiction for The National Post, The Toronto International Film Festival Group, Exclaim Magazine and other publications. His online fiction has appeared everywhere from Feathertale, Monkeybicycle, and McSweeney’s to university journals of moderate renown. Stories have also appeared in print in M-Brane, Criminal Class Review, Filling Station, and elsewhere.