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Charles William Boyes

 

 

The Distraction and Fascination of Stillness

 

C. William Boyes

 

I let the phone ring six or seven times before I care enough to exert the physical strength needed to answer it.

"Hello."

"Hi, Tommy?" the female voice, far too energetic for this time of the morning, asks, questions.

"No."

"Oh! Can I speak to Tommy?"

"There’s no one here by that name," I answer in the same, monotone voice.

"Are you sure there isn’t a Tommy there? I could have sworn this was his number."

A beat. "Wouldn’t I know if there was a Tommy here?"

"Is this 567-7364?" she asks, desperately.

Realizing that whoever this was was not going to get the point anytime soon I hang the receiver up. I sit on the edge of my queen-sized bed for the next minute, two, staring at my maroon comforter expecting a return call. When one does not come I make my way through the bedroom towards the washroom, removing my Stanfield boxer-briefs upon arrival. I flip the switch to the left of the door, forgetting to prepare and am forced to squint for the next few seconds.

I stand, naked after removing my boxer-briefs. I look into the full-length mirror that is about five, maybe four, no, five feet away, examining myself. I look into my eyes for ten seconds without blinking, the pale blue in the mirror returning my icy gaze. After I blink I move my eyes down to my chest, - at which point I take a mental note to work on my pectorals later that day at the gym - my cock, calves, feet: turn halfway to the right, ass, lower back, shoulders. I turn back and face the mirror. I raise my right arm and flex - another mental note; I flex again, raise my left, flex - I’m not sure, but I don’t think a mental note is required - again, flex right, left and drop my arms.

I make my way over to the white porcelain toilet. This is the beginning of my last - or at least last safe, free - morning ritual. A ritual that has kept me in top physical, mental and spiritual health for the last six years. I must take special care today, over-exaggerate every detail, if need be.

I proceed to tarnish the purity of the porcelain with my excrement. I stand, reach down for five sheets of toilet paper, rip and fold them, over and over and over and over. I wipe my ass, toss the paper in the toilet and pull the brass handle down. I watch the combination of soaked paper and shit swirl before going down. I continue to stare as the water rushes back into the bowl from all around.

I turn away after another half minute and come face to face with myself in the mirror that is located over the marbleized - a combination of green, blue and white - sink. I wash my hands: turn on hot, squirt liquid soap into left hand, use the right to ease the left (cold) faucet on, rub hands together under warm, moderately hot, water before drying then on a near-by towel and turning off both taps.

I decide to return to my icy glance contained within the mirror. I pull down on the right side of my face, stretching my skin to the full extent which, after a short while begins to dry my eyes out. My eye! I look closer, moving within centimeters of the glass, my warm breath fogging up the lower half of it.

"Look at that bag," I whisper.

I scan, slowly, to my left eye.

"Fuck!" I scream, running my fingers over the brown, puffy skin that for the first time in six years, is occupying the area directly below my eye.

I violently swing open the mirror; the hinges make a horrible squeaking noise. Concealed within the mirror, a medicine cabinet. I scrounge through the three shelves, knocking various bottles and containers into the sink below.

I find the Oil of Olay bottle. "Fucking piece of shit," I hiss. I shake the bottle. I stare at the white liquid contained in the small, clear glass container. I stare, my eyes fixed on an invisible spot on the bottle.

"Piece of shit," I utter, under my breath, shaking my head in disgust, returning the bottle to the third shelf of the hidden cabinet behind the mirror. I pick up the five items that had fallen into the sink: Old Spice, eye drops, a white bottle with some pills in it, - undoubtedly expired medication - an E-Z sleep box and Tylenol. I make a mental not to buy a bottle of Oil of Olay today - Chest, right arm, maybe left, Oil of Olay.

I close the mirror and continue to examine the bags. I squint; they remain. I open my eyes wide they remain. I give up and run my fingers over the rest of my face. One black head, which I make rather quick work of by applying pressure from both of my thumbs. One visible line outstretching from my left eye, jutting towards my temple. I reach over to the single shelf to the left of the marbleized - blue, green, white…and a little patch of purple I just noticed - and take hold of a short, opaque bottle. I unscrew the disk-like lid, dip my fingers into the white Wrinkle Away and apply it to the left side of my face, between my eye and temple. I know it doesn’t really work, but have convinced myself that it does. I make sure that before I rub it in and it vanishes, to say to myself it does work, so it will, it must.

After putting the lid down on the bottle I return it to the shelf, where it had been before. I look at it wondering how long I had been relying on that bottle to keep my face looking young; I can’t remember and so give up. Once again, I return to the mirror, this time mouth opened, teeth clenched, examining my white - but not quite as white as the toilet - teeth. I attempt to blow air through the tiny gap between my upper front teeth; I fail. I reach over to the single shelf where I have replaced the Wrinkle Away and I retrieve the green, mint floss. Flip lid, pull, tear piece as long as my index finger, replace floss container.

I examine my teeth again and try to blow air through the gap again: I fail once again. I wrap the ends of the floss around my two index fingers and insert the floss in the tiny gap between my upper front teeth. I slide it up and to the left, up and to the right, left, right, left, right. After a short struggle - and some minimal pain to my gums - I remove the floss and am finally able to force air out of the gap with my tongue. I suck air through the gap, just to be sure it is clear before flossing the rest of my teeth, top right, then top left, bottom right, bottom left.

Upon finishing, I place the used floss into the white trash can - though, still not as white as the toilet - and reach for my toothbrush and toothpaste on the shelf to the left of the sink, right in between the Wrinkle Away and the floss container. The cap twists off the toothpaste - which I place on the end of the shelf - and I squeeze the end, allowing a small amount of the green paste to escape onto the bristles of the toothbrush. Placing the toothbrush down on the edge of the sink I return the cap to the tube of toothpaste and place it back on the shelf, between the floss container and the Wrinkle Away. I pick the toothbrush up and proceed to brush vigorously, carefully, touching each tooth with the now semi-worn bristles of my toothbrush. I pay special attention to the back right as my dentist had told me there was a little build-up of plaque at my last check-up two months and six days ago.

I brush for approximately two and a half minutes, making sure I get away food particles or bacteria I had removed with the floss and had obviously missed last night while brushing. I spit and reach for the fourth - and last - item resting on the shelf to the left of the marbleized sink: a clean glass. I turn the cold tap, slightly, and let it run until the water is quite cool and I fill the glass one quarter full. I place the toothbrush back on the shelf next to the sink and tip the water into my mouth from the glass.

I swirl it around, forcing it back and forth over and over, left to right to left…

With the water still swirling in my mouth left to right to left to right…I dry the inside of the glass with the nearby towel and place it back in its spot on the shelf. I let the water drain slowly from my mouth. I attempt to aim for any residue left from when I spit the toothpaste, but am not able to get it all and am forced to turn the tap to the full extent, letting the water rush out, forcefully. That still does not get all the dregs and I am forced to remove the nearby towel and wipe around the inside of the marbleized sink, cleaning off the toothpaste and a few other unsightly spots.

When satisfied, I return the towel to the plastic bar. I shiver, realizing that I had left the window open, a crack, on account of the decent weather Toronto had been having lately - quite unusual for early April - but I had neglected to shut it after having heard that the temperature was going to drop last night, drastically. I walk the two or so feet over to the window, trying not to look out, trying not be distracted, an impossible task since I had lifted my black Venetian blind halfway yesterday morning to properly let the air circulate throughout the bathroom.

I find myself staring out into the world – the world outside my third floor apartment on Balmoral Road. Nothing moves for a moment, all seems still, I’m sure the world stopped moving as well, since everything else had stopped moving. I look at the three trees that adorn the lawn outside the building on Balmoral Road, nothing. No leaves swaying, no squirrels running about, nothing. Then, a car. A red car. BMW? or a Mercedes? It’s too fast to tell. Then the wind, a bird, a pedestrian. The stillness is dead, but I remembered how beautiful the world was for that moment, that silent, still moment.

I continue to stare out at the world, now busy with activity - though I long for that still moment to return. I sigh, inhaling the chilly air that is seeping under the window, it cools my body, inside and out. It takes another shiver to remind me that I had been distracted. I shake my head slightly; blink, then pull the window down. I close my eyes when it shuts, knowing that I have lost that stillness for another day, week, month, who knows? It was gone. My closing of the window sealed that. I’d have to remember to try to find that stillness again, since it could be my last day to do so - chest, left arm, right arm (or is that the other way?), Oil of Olay and stillness.

I walk back, bypassing the mirror, and stepping into the shower. Bracing myself, I pull the faucet and the cold water comes crashing down on me instantaneously, forcing a slight whimper out of me. I tighten all the muscles and let the torture continue. I stand, enduring the freezing water, my body now covered with goose bumps, upright hairs and water. I finally reach forward and turn the knob so that the majority of the arrow falls on the hot side of the tap. My eyes, closed throughout the ordeal, now open and are met with thin shots of warm water. I close them again, step back and re-open. I look down and watch the water flow down my body. It reminds me of watching water flow down the edge of a sidewalk, along the curb. Watching the flow curve around rocks, my nipples, seeing it branch out at curbs, my groin, following it all the way to the sewer, the drain. I watch for another two minutes, maybe three, until I extend my arm and take hold of the soap. I clutch the Ivory bar and run it along my chest – I really do have to work on my pectorals – down my stomach, my left arm, right arm. The water continues to hit my body, turning my abs and upper thighs a bright red, at which point I decide to turn the water temperature down.

When finished with the soap, I run my hands all over my body, clearing any soap left on me. I watch the white, bubbly suds swirl around the drain three, four, sometimes five times before disappearing.

I allow the water to smack against my face. I struggle to open my eyes, but the stinging sensation forces them shut. The warm water seeps into my mouth, I drool it down my chin. I lower my head and let the water soak my normally shaved dirty blond head – I was in need of a haircut.

When satisfied, I shut the water off and stand perfectly still, knowing eventually I was going to shiver, hoping that a shiver would once again lead to that stillness. It doesn’t. The water dripping off my body and the occasional drops from the showerhead prevents that, so I still need to find it again – chest, right arm, left arm (I’m sure that’s it), Oil of Olay and stillness.

The shiver comes as I stand there, making it feel as though my blood has turned to ice water, which it may for all I know. I couldn’t see it, so who knows? Could I be certain that my blood is red? warm? or even flowing through my veins if I can’t see it?

I step out of the shower – thinking perhaps I should invest in a bathtub, more relaxing, less chance to wonder about blood and other mundane things – still shivering, though I think, by now, I am exaggerating since my teeth are chattering. Who I am over exaggerating for escapes me.

I reach for the near-by towel, annoyed to find the remnants of the toothpaste I had wiped up from the blue and green and white – with a touch of purple – sink. While drying I attempt to avoid the contaminated areas, but fail, miserably. I end up with green marks on my skin – concentrated mainly on my calves and hands – and am forced to use the now wet towel to remove the stains.

When satisfied, I replace the towel on the plastic bar, carefully folding it in half and neatly draping it over. I glance around the bathroom to make sure all is as it should be. The sun is beginning to rise and I am reminded by this sight to shut the blind. I pull on the double string, stretching it to the left and the Venetian blind slides down, cutting off the light, leaving me in my mostly white bathroom – with the exception of the marbleized sink and a few other small items – staring at the black slits now blocking my view to the outside, entirely.

I make my way back to my bedroom, still naked, still a little damp from the shower, still shivering, slightly, but with no green stains. The redness that had implanted itself on my stomach and thighs is slowly fading and contrasting back to the pinky flesh colour I am accustomed to.

I walk, slowly, over my six-week old blue carpet. It still has that new carpet feel: fluffy, bouncy – I’m not sure exactly which adjectives to use, or if those are even the proper ones, but it still feels nice on my feet and especially my toes.

I make my way back to my maroon drenched bed and lie back down. I place my hands, one over the other under my head, as I stare at the deep blue ceiling. There’s nothing there – nothing extraordinary, or even unusual – but I stare, nonetheless.

I take my right hand from under my head and aim it for the nightstand at my bedside, trying to hit my alarm clock. After a few misses and wrong buttons, I finally succeed in getting the radio on. Someone, a male who obviously has little talent for his chosen field is singing, "Don’t look now, things just got worse…"

I intentionally keep my fingers on the on/off switch and by the fourth line of the song – a song I had heard before, but cared little for – I shut it off. I roll myself over to see the time. It is 5:35am, April 10th, the year, as always, means nothing to the situation at hand, I live on Balmoral Road, on the third floor of a four story building in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It all begins now.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Staring at the clock, it tells me that I have been laying on my bed for five minutes, but I think it’s lying because it feels like much less than that, one minute, maybe. It seems that when one thinks or does nothing time becomes this sort of void. When life is burdened with action or thought time cannot be grasped, it escapes all.

I stand after the brief, one minute – or five, depending on whose word one was prepared to take – rest and ponder over what to wear today. Gray and white stitched shirt from Roots? shirt and sports coat, both black, from Harry Rosen? a light gray turtleneck of some non-name brand company? I had worn a blue t-shirt – with a tiny hole in the left sleeve – yesterday, but it had grown too cold to do that again. I decide upon the turtleneck as I hope it will get warmer as the day goes on, as it is not as thick as the other options I have given myself.

Making my way to the closet, indulging in the carpet, I stop at a small oak dresser and open the single drawer and remove another pair of Stanfield’s, white and a pair of thin gray socks and, without looking, throw them in the direction of the maroon bed. The socks make it on, the Stanfield’s, however, cut the corner and land next to the other pair I had removed before going into the bathroom. I studied them so to know which pair is the new one. Right, not left.

I open the closet door, look at the nine shirts and six pants I have, among them: blue and black jeans, a faded green sweater with black and white stripes down the sleeves, a new pair of khakis from the Gap, which I paid $60.98 for and have not worn yet, two sports coats, two dress shirts…

I find the turtleneck between my brown sport coat and a pair of black dress pants. I remove it and decide that today is not the best day to wear the Khakis, so I take a pair of black jeans, close the door and go back to the bed.

I lay the shirt and jeans on the bed, next to the socks, which are teetering on the edge of the bed, on the maroon comforter. I pick up the Stanfield boxer-briefs – the pair on the right – and lay them next to the shirt and jeans and socks.

I seize my Sports Stick on the nightstand and, methodically, roll it on, right under arm, then left. I replace the cap and put the stick back, next to the alarm clock, which now reads 5:44 am. I am thinking about what is to come, what was going to unfold in a matter of hours – not thinking specifics, of course, just in general – and how time is not stopping for my thoughts. I should try to clear my head before I leave the apartment. That is going to be tough.

I slide on the Stanfield’s, the socks, right then left, before sitting down on the corner of my bed, next to the gray turtleneck and black jeans. I momentarily look over to the items of clothing I have neglected to dress myself in, thus far. Then, a sudden hope engulfs me and I am tempted to try the radio again. It is 5:47am, certainly that song had to be over, didn’t it? I reach my arm out – it requires the entire length – in hopes that the button will have something better in store at 5:47, 5:48 now, than it did at 5:34am.

I touch the on/off button; Michael Stipe’s voice comes hurtling out of the tiny, white alarm clock. "…birds and snakes and aero planes, Lenny Bruce is not afraid…" – I am more impressed with the outcome this time - "I am the hurricane listen to yourself…" Removing my hand from the clock, I causally take hold of the jeans and pull them on, standing to pull them over my ass, zipping the fly and buttoning them. I begin tapping on my right leg to the tune of the song, I also try to sing along, but end up humming or "da da dading" since most of the words I have forgotten, or never knew to begin with.

"Da da da do…down…your… neck," I sing, horribly out of tune and about a mile away from the beat. I stop tapping, momentarily, so I can pull the gray turtleneck over my head and slip my arms through. Once I am dressed, completely, I stand, my head now bouncing to the tune. "It’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine," I sing the chorus with confidence.

I remove a few pieces of lint – which may have been figments of my imagination – from the turtleneck and look over the jeans, satisfied with my appearance. Not willing to trust myself, I walk back into the bathroom to get a second opinion from the full-length mirror.

"Six o’clock TV hour, don’t get caught da da da," I chuckle, singing and walking into the bathroom. My life is full of movement, far away from stillness, yet I am happier than I have been all day – though it had only been about half an hour. Maybe stillness was not what I needed, wanted. I decide to keep it on the list though, just in case.

I look at my reflection in the full-length mirror in my pure white bathroom. I remove a few more pieces of lint – once again, possibly imaginary – and flick them onto the floor. I fuss with the collar of the turtleneck. As much I like the shirt, and as much as I think I looked good in it, the collar bugs the hell out of me. I clutch it, pulling it down while looking into a mirror. I’m not sure what I am trying to accomplish; stretch it maybe? Whatever I am trying to do, does not work. I will have to try and not think about, that is the only solution. One more quick look: turtleneck, jeans, gray socks, godforsaken bags under my eyes that are apparent from even five feet away, all the rest is fine. A little stubble, which I enjoy. My hair, not long enough to brush, gel, mousse, spray, is lying flat. Good enough, I suppose, it will have to do.

"…It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine," the song continues, though I have lost all interest in it, most interest. I shut the light off with one quick chop as I exit the bathroom for hopefully the last time this morning. I re-enter the bedroom.

"…LEONARD BERSTEIN," are the last words belted out before I hit the button ending the song, abruptly. Time: 5:51am.

Pleased with my progress, thus far, - I am making wonderful time – and happy with my appearance, I debate whether or not to wear my glasses or contacts today. Glasses, is the decision I come to rather quickly.

I reach down, beside my alarm clock, on my nightstand and retrieve my black Mondetta eyeglasses and slip them on immediately. My eyes aren’t all that bad. I can see without them, sort of, they just help clear things up. I’m not supposed to wear them all the time, but do anyway. They give me clear-cut definition while viewing the world. No fuzziness, no blurred edges, I see what is there, in its true form. And that is the way I intend for it to stay.

I exit the bedroom, wondering when and if I will ever see it again. I walk down the short hall leading to my living room, straightening the only item on the hallway wall, a Keith Haring reprint. Satisfied, I walk through the living room, turn right and make my way to the kitchen.

A chill overtakes me as I enter the kitchen. I had opened the window in there as well yesterday. I promptly shut it, not bothering to look for the stillness since the cool air is unbearable and because the kitchen window over looks Avenue Road, where there was no chance of perfect stillness. So rather than be disappointed, I close the unfinished pine shutters – which I had had made especially by a carpenter I knew in the building – and start contemplating breakfast.

I look in the refrigerator: out of eggs, bacon is questionable since it has been in there for three days, or four, lots of milk. Disappointed and very hungry now that I am thinking "food" I close the refrigerator and lift the cover to my breadbasket. I take the loaf of Wonder Bread out and search for the clip: it’s missing. I untwist the bag and reach in. Two pieces left, one being the end piece. I throw the end away – I can’t stand the end piece – and place the one remaining piece in my four-slice toaster. While the bread is toasting I fill my kettle and plug it into the outlet next to the stove. I reach into a cupboard above the stove and pull out a box of teabags; five left. I remove one, take a mug from the shelf above the one where the teabags are stored and replace the box. By this time the bread has popped out, not quite ready so I pull the tab down again. I take the milk from the refrigerator, pour a small amount into the mug and place it back and close the door. I hear the water beginning to boil in the kettle; the bread leaps out of the toaster again. I give up on it ever being toasted properly – brown with a touch of black – and take it out, throwing it down on the counter when it burns my hand. The water is roaring now, within the kettle. I enjoy the sound of the water bubbling, echoing uncontrollably. I take out a small plate and place my toast on it. The kettle simmers and clicks off; telling me the water has reached the boiling point. I pour it, without unplugging it, into the mug, a plain white mug with a tiny ship on the handle. I drop the teabag in, swirl it around for a minute then toss it out. I make a mental note to do some shopping, but not today.

I take my plate and mug into the living room and sit on a loveseat I purchased from a small furniture store on St. Clair Avenue, near Yonge Street, not far from my house - but I can’t remember the name of it. It’s black, with no visible pattern on it and comfortable. I paid $350 for it not two years ago.

I find the remote and switch the television on just as the 6am news starts on one of the three Canadian all news stations – do I really need three? The male reporter starts, "We have exclusive coverage of a murder in Toronto’s east end…tensions flare in Ireland, as…body found in Lake…war in…hostages…inflation…playoff hockey scores…"

After fifteen minutes of news, weather and sports and after having completed the piece of dry toast and taking the final sip of tea, I turn the television off and take my dirty dishes to the kitchen. I fill the metal sink with warm water and soap from a plastic container that is missing its label. I take a near-by sponge, dip it in the water and clean the small plate and mug with the chip on the handle, thoroughly. When they are clean, I dry them with a dishtowel that hangs over the handle of the stove and put them back on the shelves, where they belong.

I open the cutlery drawer, situated right below the closed shutters. I look in at the forks, small and large spoons, can opener, butter knives, steak knives and the Wiltshire knife, complete with sharpening case. I lower my hand into the drawer and take hold of the white and black Wiltshire’s case. I lightly toss it, maybe three inches, and catch it. I stare for another moment, thinking. That moment becomes fifteen minutes, I discover, when I next look at the clock on the wall, beside the window.

I place the case in my pocket; the handle sticks out, but blends in with my black jeans, hiding it. I decide it is time to leave.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Making my way silently through the hall of third floor of my apartment, I hear people stirring in their apartments despite the fact it is rather early. Apartments 2, 3, 5 and 7 all seem to be alive with activity. Televisions or radios on, kettles whistling; I hope no one comes out and sees me.

To my chagrin, Miss Rosenberg – apartment 6, one that had seemed silent – steps out as I enter the stairwell across from her apartment. I cringe at the thought of Miss Rosenberg – a gray haired woman of about 65 wearing a hairnet and an old pink robe – seeing the knife handle in my pocket, or even talking to me.

"Oh! Good morning. Up early aren’t we?" she queries.

I stand, not knowing what to say, until, "Yes…I am," falls out.

"Off to work?"

A beat. Some thought. "You could say that." I slide my hand down to cover my pocket and, more importantly, the knife handle.

"Well I don’t want to keep you," I start to go, "Oh, I almost forgot. Could you come by later tonight and help me move my refrigerator, ‘cause you see…"

She continued and I nod every once in a while, periodically, just to make it seem as though I’m listening and being polite.

"So what do you say?" she finally concluded.

"Well I’m not sure Miss Rosenberg. It should be all right…but I’m afraid to promise. Tell you what, if I don’t call by four," I continue lying, I really have no intention of calling, "you know that I’m held up at work."

"Thank you. You are such a polite boy," I hope she is through.

"Thank you. Goodbye Miss Rosenberg."

"Goodbye," she says, I think, I am already out the door and onto the first step.

The door shuts behind me and frightens me, a little. I stop; then continue on down the stairs, quickly, listening for voices or noises of any sort. I make it out the back entrance of the building, to the parking lot. The lot is still full, not one space is vacant. I walk over to my car – CD silver Neon – parked in the very last spot in the lot, right next to the exit leading to Avenue Road. I jingle the keys in my pocket just before opening the driver’s side door. I climb in and shut the door. I stare straight out the windshield, at a brownstone building behind the rusted wire fence of the parking lot. I see that one brick protrudes from the corner of the brownstone building.

After a short struggle, I insert the key into the ignition. I take the Wiltshire from my pocket and toss it to the seat next to mine. I look over at the knife, lying on the seat as I start the car. The knife remains still, not moving at all.

Sound streams from the speakers the instant I turn the engine on. Whatever song this was, it was annoying.

I pull my seatbelt over my shoulder and buckle it. I adjust my rearview mirror, sneaking a quick look at my hair and face.

I turn the radio knob, but find nothing but 80’s retro crap and new-wave shit.

I reverse out of the parking spot, change to overdrive and – after a short wait – pull out onto Avenue Road. I drive north on Avenue. I turn left at St. Clair Avenue. I pass Bathurst Street and Oakwood Avenue. I continue driving along St. Clair.

I finally decide upon the "all news" station. I learn that the sudden drop in temperature was caused by a low-pressure system that moved in to Southern Ontario from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. And that we can expect snow, perhaps tomorrow. Today’s expected high: 6 degrees C. Partly Cloudy. Chance of Precipitation: 20%. I pass Caledonia Avenue.

St. Clair Avenue West seems unusually empty for 7:03am on a weekday. There are quite a few cars, but still not as many as there should have been, though I don’t usually come this way at this time in the morning. Chest, right arm, left, Oil of Olay, stillness – still got it.

I see some people walking along the sidewalks in the predominately Italian neighborhood. Some carrying briefcases, two going into a little coffee shop. I turn right on Old Weston Road, driving up to Rogers Road before turning left to Keele Street.

I approach the intersection of Eglinton Avenue and Keele Street – where Keele Street turns into Trethewey Drive. I am driving at just below 40 km/h. Since there are no cars behind me, this is acceptable. About two hundred or so feet ahead of me I see a young mother – maybe 27 – and her son – maybe 6 – reaching the end of the walkway of their home. They walk five or so feet north to the crosswalk and the mother hits the button, yellow caution lights begin to flash.

I slow down; stop, just before the white line. The mother – a fairly attractive woman who I have never seen before – looks at my, now, parked car then at me, turns her head and looks in the other direction, it is clear.

Tired of hearing, "Murder…shooting…kidnapping…hockey scores…last night’s lottery numbers," I change the station to some mix station, playing John Lennon.

"Imagine all the people, living in peace…yoo hoo," John Lennon soothes.

The woman takes her son by the hand and steps out onto the road. The boy looks at me. He has light blond hair, – which I can barely see from under his New York Yankees baseball hat – light blue eyes and is wearing dark blue track pants with a logo down one leg, which I cannot make out and a plain black jacket. He looks right at me, staring while he walks within the safety of the crosswalk’s white lines.

"They may say-ay-ay I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…" Lennon continues.

The mother is approximately three paces ahead of her son. She is still in front of my car, barely, when she looks back at her son, making sure he is there and safe, then turns and takes another two steps, clearing the front of my car, leaving her son – I assume he is her son – alone, a few steps in front of my bumper.

It is, at that moment, I decide that that young boy is the one. For no explainable reason, for no orderly purpose, I choose him and quickly remove my foot from the brake and shove it onto the gas pedal. The car lunges forward, but I once again place my foot on the brake pedal after the boy disappears under the car and I hear a "thud" sound followed by a wail from the supposed mother.

I stretch my neck and head up, trying to see the body. The mother runs in front of my car and falls next to the child – an idiotic move since she could very well hear my engine still running. I think about letting the car creep forward, allowing the ton or so of steel to crush the presumably dead child and grieving mother. I decide against it (it would take up too much time and I can’t be late for work), turn off my engine and release my foot from the brake, the car inches forward, only for a moment. I open the door, taking the knife with me.

I step out of the car and remove the knife from the case and throw the case back onto the passenger’s side seat.

I walk around to the front of my Neon and notice that there is a slight dent that had not been there yesterday. I shift my head down and see the young woman – who is obviously the boy’s mother - crying uncontrollably over the bloody corpse – I think it is a corpse – of her son. There is a minor scrape on the right side of his forehead, a relatively major gash over his left eye – most likely caused when his head hit the pavement – and a cut on his right wrist, nothing major. I am not sure how he died, massive head trauma, severed spinal cord; or even if he is actually dead or just seriously hurt. I decide not to take my chances.

The mother finally notices me, now standing over her. She is huddled over her son, crying, a disgusting blubbering, more specifically. She slowly rises to her feet.

Lennon carries over the silence, "I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one."

"What…" she quietly whimpers, "What did you do? Go get some help…please"

I stare, coldly, at her, the knife partially hidden behind my right leg. Tears flow down her cheeks, down her neck; the top of her jacket is now glistening in the sun, soaked with tears. The lifeless body of the boy is also soaked with tears, from his eyebrows to just above his chin.

I bend down, extending my left arm so I am able to wrap my fingers around the child’s throat. I stand back upright, bringing the child up with me, holding him around the neck at half an arm’s length away. I rotate my head 180 degrees, looking for bystanders. I see one person coming towards us, about two blocks north, an old woman who obviously cannot see what is taking place. There is also a car that has just turned on to Keele Street from Rogers Road. I must hurry.

The mother looks at me, bemused, tears subsiding. She assumes I am trying to help, I suppose. I slowly lift the knife into plain view. The mother stands in disbelief. Not moving.

I feel the occasional beat from the pulse on the child’s neck – but by no means a regular beating. With a short grunt I quickly plunge the Wiltshire into the stomach of the child. A small amount of blood sprays onto my black jeans – I will say it is coffee if anyone asks – but most of it flows down his body from the wound and a small amount from his mouth, down his leg, onto his shoe and dripping into little puddles on the cement, his pulse no longer beating. His eyes, which had involuntarily opened when I stabbed him, now shut.

The old woman is only a block away from the incident and I can now hear the car approaching from behind me. I drop the child, knife still in his stomach and it subsequently tears a little higher into his torso – up to just below his ribs – when I drop him onto the ground, his pulse, no longer beating. The mother did not scream when I stabbed him, though I did hear a muffled attempt to scream, which was most likely distorted by her shock.

As I walk back along the side of my CD silver Neon the mother collapses beside her son, again. I hope she isn’t smart enough to look up at my license plate.

The driver behind me honks his horn, unable to see what is happening in front of the car. The mother hears the honking and leaps to her feet. She screams for help and jumps up and down trying to get the attention of the driver behind. I check my rearview mirror while turning the engine on and promptly placing my foot on the brake; the driver does not even notice her, or if he does cares little about the woman’s plight.

I wave, with a polite smile, to the woman as I reverse, slightly; another honk from the car behind me is heard. I give the other driver an apologetic lift of my arm and change to overdrive. I notice Imagine is over and some Duran Duran song has started. I already miss Lennon.

I pull my car around the mess in front of me – barely edging around the jumping mother who, for some reason, doesn’t try to stop me. She runs to the car behind me, still screaming and the driver finally realizes what has just transpired. He gets out, takes one quick look at me before pulling out his cellular phone. I see all this in my rearview mirror.

I look at the clock. I hope I’m not late for work.


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