“Oh…oh, God…” she gasped, her breath hitting sweet against the growing beads of sweat against my neck, sending shivers along my bloodied back as her nails dig into my skin in a desperate attempt to hold onto the moment.
My fingers knead her shoulder and thigh as she wraps her endless legs about my waist, anxiously pulling me deeper, as if there would be no greater sin than the separation of such a perfect union.
The threads of sea water sting our eyes, forcing them closed as we express ourselves in the purest manner of communication. Our bodies writhing and twisting against the other as the greatest gift bestowed upon humanity presents itself and we cry out in exaltation, only to lay gasping and prone to the coolness of the breeze.
Our mass is cut short by the loud slamming of a door, my partner’s eyes go wide with confusion and fright. “Fuck, he wasn’t supposed to be home yet.”
“Story of my fucking life.” I mutter, unceremoniously rolling off the dew-kissed torso, knocking away the splayed limbs.
She looks at me pleadingly as the steps come closer, a baritone voice singing the name “Louisa” as it approaches. So that was her name, good to know. I would’ve been caught in the awkwardness of calling her Lisa during the afterglow.
“In the closet!” she whispers, her lithe finger furiously pointing at the tiny enclosure. I shake my head at the notion, leaping towards the open window with my clothing clutched tightly to my breast as I wrestle with my boxers. After a brief dance, I’m at least partially free from public indecency.
With the jingling of keys falling on solid oak, I’m out on the fire escape struggling with an octopus of sleeves and pant-legs. I risk a peek through the window and watch as Louisa throws my wasted progeny underneath the box spring. Shame, I could’ve earned a solid fifty at a donor clinic for that.
The door begins to creak open and provides me with the necessary cue, sending me speeding down the steel steps. This sort of thing happens a lot more than I’d like to admit, but then again it wouldn’t suit my choice of lifestyle if I made a habit of chivalrous courtship.
“Fuck me…” I groan to nobody in particular as I pat myself down, realizing that while I managed to retain my cigarettes and wallet, I didn’t have the foresight to snatch a lighter. Fortunately, the universe takes pity on its court jester and a half-used pack of matches lies just within reach. However, said item also lies atop a pile of canine excrement.
Weighing out my options, it seems redundant to worry about the disgusting diseases that could be crawling along the surface of the book when I’m just going to inhale an immeasurable amount of toxins. So, true to my role in life’s never ending opera, I pluck the sticks from the shits.
One would assume that after rushing down four stories of apartment, I would be a little keener to keep my body in some manner of shape. They would be completely justified in doing so, too. Especially if they were smart and had an iota of self-preservation.
I slide a filter between my lips and waste three matches trying to get the heater lit, my lungs still struggling to capture even the smallest bit of oxygen. Their reward? A nice big cloud of nicotine. I revel once again emerging victorious, another lioness brought to heel and another daring escape from the clutches of the alpha male. My foot-falls provide the backbeat for my internal fan fare as angels sing my praises within my hollow skull;
“All Hail Richard The Great
He’s The Prince We Love To Hate
Hide Your Daughters Hide Your Wives
Hide Ex-Girlfriends’ Carving Knives
Lo, He Comes To Your Estate
All Hail Richard The Great”
Alright, fine. I have an inflated sense of self-worth. In my defense, though, I feel as if I’ve earned it. I may just be the only individual in the whole of the Greater Toronto Area that the soil doesn’t actively despise. I know this because I’ve spoken to it. I can already tell that you either don’t believe me or you’re thinking it loves you, too.
Trust me, it doesn’t.
I strut my way along Queen Street, completely oblivious to the peasants of my domain. See, here’s the thing about the land in the great city of York – It has a special case of schizophrenia. Back before the whole of us were ejected into The Great Mystery that we call life, it was perfectly content soaking the adulation and worship of the First People. It was much simpler for the old girl, she could focus on accepting and adjusting how she would grow based on how the people treated her.
Then, sometime after King James loomed about the Old World, she had to mutate based around Christianity and deal with the sudden culture shock of losing most of her mind in the process. It was a hard hit to the psyche, but she dealt with it in her own way. Wasn’t easy, but she pulled through the best she could and rationalized the whole experience by changing her identity, much the same way a straight A student takes a nose dive and leaps from man to man or drug to drug.
That’s not the worst of it, though. The whole period where North America had more scars and marks on it than a hemophiliac heroin addict came into the picture, bringing the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. Thankfully, the amount of racism and prejudice that lay to the south didn’t seep in quite as badly as it had with her cousins, but it did manage to slap her image of self-worth around a fair bit. Spread herself wide open like a Thanksgiving turkey for those couple of hundred years, pushing a whole new slew of identities into her palette. Still, she did her best. Even went through a phase where she had to change her name out of that one.
As Toronto, she was doing alright. Kept to herself, tried not to bother anybody and went back to being a bookish geek, attracting industry and culture. Up until the Second World War, anyway. Then things became completely confusing for the poor thing. In just under 400 years, she had to change and adapt for a whole cluster-fuck of personalities, leaving her as fragile and abused as a stripper working on a Tuesday afternoon.
Still, she’s not all that bad. She just wants someone to understand where she’s coming from and why she doesn’t want to be the center of attention any more. We have a mutual agreement, Toronto and I. She lets me suckle off her generous bosom, so I do my best to provide the people that live off of her with the same level of damage that they’ve done to her.
So you see, I’m not a terrible person for screwing Louisa when I knew she was taken. Louisa screwed Louisa, I did it for the only woman I’ll ever really love.
So I can get a little over the top. But, really, can you blame me? The entire infrastructure of reality is based on the concept that the louder and more obnoxious you are, the more people will despise you. In this day and age, the more you’re despised, the more likely you are to get noticed. That’s a free lesson from your friend Rick, by the way. Well, from me and the last guy this town elected into office.
The sun looms just above the grey clouds, casting thin wisps of light to sprinkle down upon the featureless pavement and cracked sidewalk, sucking away all traces of independence and creativity. I take a long drag of my cigarette and exhale in a steady singular stream, following the trail further down the road. The city knows what I need to keep myself going, she always has. I stop at a major intersection and take note of three birds flying towards city hall and narrowly avoid a collision with an obese troglodyte wearing a Brett Lawrie jersey. The LCBO across the street enthusiastically splays out the sale of the month, a 24 of Molson for 20 and change. I wait for another minute or so and let my eyes wander about the landscape, settling upon a banner for some jerk’s 40th birthday at a local pub.
I decide it time to stop lingering about and make my exit, popping into a local convenience store to be met with the disapproving gaze of an East Indian clerk as I fill out my weekly lottery ticket. I do my best to be civil, both of us knowing that I had frequented this establishment in recent history under less than gallant circumstances.
“Nice day out, eh?” I speak, twisting the corners of my lips into a cheshire smile. He says nothing as I hand over my lucky numbers, responding to the query with a stoic nod and unblinking gaze. I pass the man a few dollars in change and accept my ticket, freezing the smile on my face until I’ve left. I tell myself that I’ll need to find another store to get my monthly stipend, this source has managed to tap itself completely dry. There’s a bit of a secret to the way people like me ‘live off the land’ as it were. A list of unspoken rules we all have to follow, chief among them being to never wear out your welcome.
I step back onto the marked veins of my lover, moving with the flow of traffic as I hum along to the sounds of rubber skidding along paved road. It’s easy to lose yourself in the constant motion of the daily grind, to forget that you’re not a part of the frantic machinations of the civilian ant colony. Just watching these poor bastards go about their business causes my asshole to clench, each one claiming to be a true citizen of a land that just became too worn down to fight back.
“Excuse me, sir?” the pleasant voice of a newly minted co-ed calls to me with all the false sugar and pleasantness of a first-time pole dancer. I grant her the same courtesy in return, allowing her the privilege of staring into the clear grey of my eyes, the corners of my mouth twisting upwards into a hyena’s grin. “We’re throwing a raffle for anyone that fills out our survey. Would you be interested in a free 32” flat screen?”
I pause and click my tongue against the roof of my mouth, as if considering her words in earnest before I respond with the best I can come up with on the spot. “I’d hope not. I know it’s not really against the law or anything, but that’s not really a fetish of mine.”
She opens her mouth as if trying to form a response, but finds my answer too confusing to process. I continue my trek home, not wishing to explain the joke. Like everything else in my world, if too much is revealed, it stops being effective. Of course, it would probably help if my sense of humour weren’t completely esoteric and require the use of a 16th century scribe to decipher.
After what amounts to a solid two hour trek, I finally arrive at the Victorian landing of my humble home amidst an outcropping of similarly acquainted structures. Toronto, as I’ve already stated, has had a difficult run when it comes to establishing a cemented identity. This street in particular has been standing since the late 1800s, right when the accepted symmetry of social engineering had begun to turn. The owner, James, also happens to be a good friend of mine. We happened on each other years ago, when my casual contempt for the world was fairly less subtle than the seething disdain I carry with me today.
Artwork by Jamie Pollack.