The following is an excerpt from Dylan Jewers’ yet to be published composite novel: ‘First In A Chain of Lakes.’
My darling wasn’t in the mood to see me. She wasn’t angry with me, she just wasn’t feeling good enough for company. I didn’t press her. I wouldn’t dare. I’m extra irritating in situations such as those. I desperately wanted to see her, but I didn’t press that either. I just messaged her back saying that was ok, and that I hope she feels better and that I’ll talk to her soon. I sent her a long trail of X’s and O’s leading to a smiley face with pink hearts for eyes.
I closed the laptop and left my buddy’s apartment on Maple. He was busy with GTA anyway. I walked the short three blocks down Ochterloney and hoped there would be people waiting in my kitchen, but there was no one. The place was warm and empty. I turned the heat down and got into my pajamas. Unemployed once again. I had nothing better to do.
The story I had been working on was just about finished. I was out of ideas, now it was a simple matter of editing. Having the place to myself is the greatest time to write, but I wasn’t up for it. I went to the living room and grabbed the DVD box set of Friends, season 4 and took it into my bedroom. It had been weeks since I’d sat back with mindless entertainment. I stared at the box as if it were a rare book or an ancient artifact. I laughed and popped a disc in.
I watched five episodes and then had a cigarette. It was snowing again. The weather had been bad for days. Snow, rain, hail, wind, snow, hail, rain, snow. I wasn’t complaining. The Nova Scotian winter has calmed down significantly since the days of my childhood. The lakes and ponds hardly even freeze anymore.
I finished my smoke and went to find weed scraps. My roommate’s bong had been in the kitchen for days, along with his weed tray and electric buster. I got real close and used the little brush to make a scrap and crystal pile. I worked diligently and rounded up enough for a decent blast. I got most of it in the bowl and fired it up. It stung me. I exhaled. I was hit. I felt relieved.
I went to the fridge and frowned. No snacks, no milk, no fruit, no peanut butter, no juice. Only cold rice and beans, root vegetables and mustards.
I thought about it for a minute and finally decided to say fuck it and drag my sorry ass down Ochterloney to the Esso for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
I put on my jeans, coat, toque, gloves and scarf. The snow was coming down in thick white flakes and the air was cool and breezy. My boots were still damp. I sighed as I stepped into them, bending over and grunting like an old man.
As I walked down Dundas and onto Ochterloney I began to think back to the summer. Not out of longing for the warmer weather but out of remembrance for three separate late night walks down that very same stretch of road, drunkenly heading towards my mother’s house.
The night in July I debated all the way down Ochterloney, onto Prince Albert Road whether or not I should try jerking off outside. I had never done it before. I was horny and lonely and had enough booze in my system to keep me from chickening out. I thought about where I could pull it off and decided that the woods near Graham’s Grove would do just fine.
I slipped in through the clearing by the crosswalk and pushed my way through branches and bushes until I was far enough inside that no one would be able to see or hear me. I could still see the street. I could hear the cars. I pulled my pants down and thought about sexy ladies.
I didn’t struggle too hard. After two minutes with my half limp dick in my hand, and the sounds and sights through the trees, the hilarity of the situation, I laughed at myself and pulled my jeans back up. I pushed through the opposite end of the wood and lit a smoke, laughing and shaking my head, walking across the crosswalk, heading home.
Then there was the August night I had no choice but to shit behind the Prince Albert gazebo. I didn’t make it two blocks down Ochterloney before I realized by bowels were in turmoil and no public washroom was available. I thought perhaps it was only a piss I needed. I hid behind the veterinarian hospital and attempted to pee but stopped myself for fear of shitting my pants. I wasn’t laughing. I was terrified. I slowly and awkwardly made it to the gazebo and not a second too soon. You know when you have to go and the very thought of the toilet being just around the corner excites your bowels to the point of imminent evacuation? Well that night, the Prince Albert Gazebo was my toilet and buddy did I evacuate!
I ran behind facing Banook Lake and dropped my pants, squatting just inches away from the grass and holding onto the gazebo behind me. I let it all go. It was glorious. It was awful. It was completely out of my hands. Luckily I had an LC bag with me, carrying my last few beer. I ripped it into sheds and used it for wiping paper. I ‘washed’ my hands in the lake and lit a smoke. I was finally able to chuckle.
And then finally, there was the night in September where I walked home in a blind rage from Bilby and Gottingen in Halifax, across the bridge, through the commons, and then down to Ochterloney for the final stretch, five in the morning, heartbroken and miserable, angry and confused, violent and sorrowful, broke and tired and only down to one cigarette.
The Scotian Gal I had sung the blues for did not return my affections. Her vagabond lifestyle was too adventurous and flaky for my monogamous, sedentary ways. I found her making out on a couch with a throat singing weirdo and my heart went in several directions at once. I made a scene, embarrassing myself. I quickly shot out of there, kicking over green bins and street signs. I screamed and I cursed. I spat and I smacked myself in the face, pulled at my hair, and hoped to god someone picked that night to fuck with me. I’d have murdered, I’m sure of it.
Ochterloney took over half an hour to get to. It was deserted and calm. I banged on the doors of all three churches looking for sanctuary but I had no such luck. I debated running a cab or sticking out my thumb to passing cars; I wondered if maybe I could sleep in the gazebo but knew it wasn’t worth it. My mother would be in the bathroom getting ready for work. I knew that. That bothered me. I didn’t want to explain myself. I didn’t want to cry or scream or put my fist through the wall. I sat down at the steps on Banook Lake just past the gazebo and calmed down, waiting for the time to pass as to avoid any interaction with my worried mother.
The three nights whizzed past my brain and made me glad it was over. Glad I had a toilet, a bed, and a beautiful little angel close by. But ice cream was needed, and so I continued on my way.
I got inside the Esso and stomped my snowy boots on the black and wet rug, sorry for the attendant who had just recently mopped up. I went to the freezer and picked the New York Super Fudge Chunk and brought it to the counter. The guy looked at me funny and rang it through. Just then it dawned on me—why not ask about employment? I had considered gas stations before, and what with this place being just down the street and me being in desperate need of work, I once again said fuck it and asked the guy.
“You guys hirin’?”
“Well, yeah, man, there’s a guy here who I’m pretty shore is gonna get fired, like, this week…”
“I just live down the street too. Like, three blocks down.”
“Yeah, man, bring in a resume. My manager is here all day. She’ll probly hire ya.”
“How is the gig?”
“Easiest job I’ve ever had. I love it. I’m in school right now and they give me the perfect amount’a hours. It’s not too crazy, yer oat’a here by eleven-fifteen every night, there’s not a whole lot to it. It takes a few days ta get the cash register down and ta figger oat where all the smokes are an’ stuff, but it’s easy, man. Definitely bring in a resume.”
“Aright, I’ll do that. Thanks, man.”
“No worries, buddy, have’a good one.”
I walked back out into the snow feeling blessed. Ice Cream cravings at ten-thirty pm finally paid off. My money troubles could soon be over. My lethargy and bitterness could possibly subside once again. No buses, no long walks, no late nights, no twelve hour shifts. Perhaps I could even get a discount on smokes.
I got home and quickly got back into my pajamas. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to tell everybody. All I had to do was get my resume down there in the next two days. I needed a shave and a clean shirt; a tic-tac and good pair of pants. I could manage that much.
I grabbed a spoon from the drawer and opened up the Ice Cream lid. It was freezer burned all to hell.