A walk in the storm


We had a fairly large storm two weeks ago. After half a day stuck in side and two trips out to try to keep up with the snow, I got a bit of cabin fever and took my youngest, the one most like me in many ways, out into it for a walk.  We trudged, clad in parkas, boots, face shields and mittens, the half kilometer or so to the highway near our home.  The wind and snow blew and more than once we debated turning back, but we persevered until we reached the middle of the normally busy two lane road.

“Look up that way” I told him pointing north, “what do you see?”


“Look that way” I directed him to the south, “what do you see?”

“Still nothing.”

“What do you hear?”

“The wind in the trees”

We kept walking, crossed the highway, down a sideroad to a small creek that had only a skittering of ice on it.  We tossed rocks until they broke through.  Threw long branches like spears, sticking them into the ice until the surface looked like the grounds of a medieval  battle.  We walked on, up he road until we reached an area where a small grove of ancient pine stood, likely over a century old.

“Do you hear that?”

“The creaking?”

“Yes, cool eh?”

“Is it dangerous?”

“No” I laughed, “It’s just the trunks rubbing together in the wind. See how they all grew from the same point at the bottom?  Likely it was one big tree that was knocked over by lightning or wind years and years ago and new shoots grew from the trunk to become almost separate trees”.


“What have we not seen since we left the house?”

“People, cars, animals.”

“Yup.  I like this. Its what I do when I go outside in the snow or at night sometimes.  I wander. It’s like we are the only people left on the planet.”

“Cool” he looked around, threw a rock or two into the woods at a small pond full of ice. “I like it too”.

“I find it calming.”

He nodded.  “I’m getting cold, can we go back?”

“Sure.  Hot chocolate?”


And we headed back, calm, quiet and content if a bit cold and windburnt.  My thirteen year old hold him my hand like he did when he was much smaller for a good portion of the return trip. We saw no cars, no people, no animals the rest of the way.  We heard nothing but wind and snow blowing.  We were alone in the world and okay with it, because that’s the kind of people we both are.

And it was good.


The Story


It sits in my file on my desktop.  It peeks at me. It calls me to finish it. I do not.

I know it will be my last tale, my last fable.  Something said it should not be completed.

So I do not.

Magix are real.

And I see it every day and I think about it every day and I ponder nuances of its ending, its middle, it’s pace.

It begins at the end, for now.  The end of what I tell you.  The end of what will be written

It never truly will end, for you see it ends in the middle, though as mentioned, the end, the end you see, it is at the beginning.

So you need to end it yourself.

But I warn you.

Do not read this story.

If I ever publish it.

It doesn’t, won’t end well, for you, for me, for the characters.

Evil is real.

The beginning maybe should be moved to the end, where the end should go, but I can’t do that.

It serves as a warning, a precursor, a threat, of what will come. It gives you a sense of wonder and perhaps, fear.

The middle, builds, as middles should.  It builds on the fear from the end at the beginning, and as a climax seems ready to drop like the proverbial second shoe.

I should say no more.

The end, well, it is a beginning and isn’t a beginning really a path to the end.

There is death, oh, so much death. Unforeseen though hinted at in the beginning or more appropriately the “beginning” which is of course the end, but not the end, or again, to confuse you, I am sorry, the “end”.

And by reading the story you complete the circle and thus I have transferred to you the responsibility of truly finishing that I dare not complete.

But I should.

Stories are magic, they are telekinetic as they take a thought and drop it word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by paragraph by chapter into your head from the authors.  Then, you play with it, interpret it, modify, criticize and change it the way you think it should have gone.

Should Tim have just stayed home?  Should he have just stayed at the party?  Should he have avoided the strange man in tatty old clothes who handed him the devices and the sachet and the monocle?  Should he have run away? Should he have just accepted his fate and not ate, sipped and donned and seen the evil that hides within society and thus be forced through the magix of clarity to deal with said beasts? Should he have hidden from facts and continued life as a human sheep destined to be consumed by the evil that pervades the world around us?

Should he?

Would you?

I cannot.

It must be told, this, story.

I am sorry.

I said too much.

Forget about Tim. He is not real. There is no Tim.

Forget about the aforementioned “evil” and those who know magix and exist in our world and are real and know of the evil that is around you EVERY DAY ALL DAY LONG.

And forget I just said that.

Forget it all.

Read no more.

I feel compelled to finish the story.

Just don’t read it.

I guess more appropriately I should say… “story”.

Be afraid.

or do not.



The Christmas Tour





Oh sister, here they come again!

Oh, oh how do I look? Are they coming up the walk this time?

No one is around.  Get inside fast.

Yes, fine Marie, fine as always.  Yes, here they are, walking up the stairs, they are very quiet mind you.

Oh, get the door, oh wait, they have it.

Welcome to our home, please, shut the door, yes, it is very blustery outside.

This place is a mess!

So dark.  Wow.  How long has it been shut up?

Decades. The most haunted house in Boston.

So you keep saying.

My name is Marie and this is my brother Jacob.  Yes, welcome to our house.  We are so happy you finally decided to come in.  We saw you looking from the street the other day.  We have so few visitors given the weather, please let us show you around.

We apologize for the darkness.  Power is out.  Oh, look Marie, they brought their own torches, so well planned young people!

Let’s go this way.

Okay but stay with me. Don’t wander off and leave me in here.

Why would I do that and let him find you?

Stop it Tom. I’ll leave right now.

Sorry.  C’mon.

Oh yes, very good, very well thought out, I would have never.

Neither I sister. Please feel free to wander, oh, yes, please go ahead, please do. Yes, this is the family room or as you may call it the living room.

Look at the furniture.  It’s just piles of rotten fabric and wood.

Smells like animals have been living in here.

Animals and probably crack addicts.

No, nobody would live in this house.

So you keep saying.

Many a night we spent entertaining others with mama and papa.  She had a grand piano right there.  She would play for hours.

And the tree went right there.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see one again like we used to have?

What is that?

An old tree in a stand, all the needles and balls have fallen off.  Wow.

It’s like an Edward Gorey drawing.

Tall, oh so tall and to the ceiling and a ladder needed to put the star on.

And we tried so hard to not break one of mother’s precious glass balls.

Yes. That was the best plan.

Look over here through the arch.  It’s some kind of dining room with chairs around an old fireplace.

Look at all the rotten books.  They would have been worth money too.  Most of them are really old.

This is creeping me out Tom. I swear it’s getting darker.

Well, yeah, farther from the streetlights.

Oh and so much comes in through the wooden slats and those rotten drapes.

Oh and here is the family room, or the sitting room if you will. A desk for writing, shelves for books, cabinets for whatever your heart desires.

I bet this is where they hooked up.


You know.

And there is of course the dining room.  Oh the meals we would have. So many people.  With the leaves, that table say all of the extended family.

And then some.

Like when Margaret came with her family.

Enough Marie.

Mister Browning.

Enough Marie. He’ll hear.

Hey, watch the hole in the floor.

Woah, this place is a death trap.

You have no idea.

I will leave Tom.

Sorry, c’mon.  Hold my hand.

Oh, you’ve moved on, sorry.  Yes, the kitchen, in need of some cleaning and the pantry as well. A dumb-waiter that leads to the upper bedroom floor. Exit to the back gardens, again in need of cleaning and weeding. Wait, no, NO you need not go into the basement.

Ah the basement.  Where they found him.

Both of them. So frigging weird.

Here help me with the door.  Its stuck.


No, please, no, NO!  It is unsafe!  The stairs are rotting and the light is out.

I got it open a crack but what a stench.

Oh, shut it Tom.

Ow, crap!  My fingers! Must be some window open down there or something causing a cross breeze.

Are you okay? That wind, oh god it made me gag!

Yeah, just bruised knuckles. Hey, let’s leave this last, let’s go upstairs where all the action took place.

You are so morbid Tom. Okay.

Yes, it is very windy and oh the door is stuck yes.  Please. Yes, I agree.  Onward and of course upward.

Marie, follow them please, I shall re-secure the door.  Father will not be pleased.

Of course Jacob.  What time is it?

Near three-quarters past eleven in the evening.

And it is?

Yes. Almost.

I knew that did I?

Yes. Follow them

These stairs, what a mess.  Watch your step.

Hold my hand Tom. Cripes.  What is that at the top of the landing?

A family painting but, holy crap.  The mother’s face.

Ripped out.

Help me get my headlamp out of my backpack.

What else you have in there Shelly?

Oh, nothing.  Nothing you’ll see till we get out of this place.

Meow.  Here you go,

Finally.  I can see on my own now.

Oh wait up, wait up! It’s good you have your electric torches.  Wait, Jacob are you all right?

Yes.  I’ll be there soon!

Oh, be careful on the stairs, the carpet tacks have popped out.  There are three bedrooms and the servant’s quarters. This was my room, thus the frill.  No, the wardrobes have been, oh.  I see.

This was the daughter’s room.  It looks like it hasn’t aged.

Look in the wardrobe. All these clothes look like new!

Wow. This, is, wrong. So wrong.

That is odd.  I swear they were empty. Oh the dust.  Here, over here, this is Jacob’s room.

Lets, ah, check the next one out.  The brother’s room. Holy crap.  Same thing.

Only a little dust, bed looks like it was made yesterday.

Is that a glass of water?

It can’t be.  Someone else must be sleeping in here.  The roof doesn’t look like it’s leaking and what would the odds be.

A boy room of course, all pennants and rugby balls.  Neither of us have slept in those beds since the night of the party when we returned home from school for Christmas. When father found mother with the..

Shelly, hold up!

Tom, Tom!  In here!  Look at the master bedroom!  It’s so perfectly preserved!

Okay, hold on.  Wow.  This is wrong. I’m taking photos of this.

Wait, Tom, what is that noise?

What? The Wind?

But never mind, please yes, that is the master bedroom. Oh my.

It seems to be coming from that little door in the hallway.

That’s the old servant’s quarters.


That’s where he found them.

We should go.

No, hear? It stopped. Just the wind, probably blowing through the crack of that door.  It’s more of a hatch than a door. Doesn’t even fit the frame.

You know what that is.

Oh, yes. You must leave now, please thank you for visiting, if you wish to come back please do at a later, time, oh no, don’t go in there, that is nothing. JACOB!

No you must not enter that room.  I am sorry it is off-limits.  Marie! Help please!

Help me Shelly.

We should go.

Come On Shel!  It’ll be cool.  Nobody else has been here in decades!

And there is a good reason, AS YOU KEEP TELLING ME!

No, please leave now!

You must not, damnation!

Damn, its stuck too. Completely stuck.  The brickwork seems to have fallen and jammed the door.


That is where…

…it happened.

That is where she died.

And we found her.

This is where she wails night and day.

You know what happened right?

The father found the mother on Christmas eve in that room with another guest, the father of Jacob’s girlfriend.  There was a fight and she died.

The guest, a local merchant, pulled a penknife out of his pocket and in the scuffle that she tried to break up, she was stabbed or slashed in the side of the neck.  She dropped to the floor and her husband slammed the other man’s head against the wall.  He dragged the unconscious man away, who was never found mind you, not knowing his wife was bleeding out on the floor.

That’s horrible.

He had a history of a temper with others but never her. She however was known around town to have many, relations when he was away.

What happened to the other man?

Nobody knows.

And that why we both.

Yes.  We had to.  We had to help father.

She was.



Was not kind to him.

They have gone Jacob.

No, they are still here. I sense them.  So does he.

Oh, Jacob.  I hear the door.

The basement!



The door is open, oh no.

The door is open!  Shh, there is a light down there. Look.

Are you down here?  You must leave, I insist!

Father? Father are you?

I am here Jacob.  I am here Marie.

It’s coming from behind that shelf. Look.

It’s a door.  Help me.  Help me move it.

Father where are they?

Here, the door, I can see inside. It’s a man.  He is hunched over, crying.

In the room, with the butcher.

Is he awake as well?

Sir, sir, are you okay?  Can we help you?

He is.

Is he mad.

Shelly, you have some food. Bring it here.

But it was for later.

Shelly, listen, church bells.  It is Christmas day.  He can have what we…

The door Tom! The door!

He is never not mad child.

Is mother?

I pay no heed to your mother, the harlot.

Is she in there as well?

She may be. I hope so.  I thought I heard her and woke.

Is she mad too?

No, she is only ever sad.

Are you?

I am happy dear.  Happy we have found them.

And they? The visitors?

Sound like they have met the butcher. He sounds very hungry.

And they?

Have helped us find him. Now to finish what we started.

Merry Christmas Father.

Merry Christmas Children.


With my telephone I write this…

… because I am in bed and completely meant to post something earlier then got sidetracked.

(Why did I turn the clothes dryer on…)

Winter has sprung upon us like a feisty little snow leopard.  I could see all the perennials laying on the wood mulch like washed up jellyfish just two days ago then spleacchh (that’s the sound of a lot of snow landing all at once) all this damn snow landed all at once. Now it’s frigging Hoth outside.

I saw a rabbit. It was huge. Huuuge. It looked angry. Probably because my cats killed a lot of it’s babies this year.  For the briefest of moments I reverted into neanderthal moi and pondered killing it myself and cooking it  with a little butternut squash and some potaties. (Insert disgusting ironic sloppy wet sounds of lip smacking) then I remembered I didn’t like eating rabbits. Also my son again broke his braces so we were all eating soft old people food tonight.

Rabbits are soft I have learned.

(Jesus I can hear it. Thunk thunk thunk thunk THUMP (REPEAT AD NAUSEUM).. the dryer I mean. Not a large frost giant storming around (pun intended) outside. Though I’d not be surprised. Stupid winter.

And Alan Thicke just died. Playing hockey apparently.  Now I get to tell naive Americans that this is how we all doe in Canada.  Poor bastard went to his grave knowing he helped give that numbnuts TV son of his that became a nut job rapture weirdo a start…

(I’m seriously going to have to turn that dryer off till morning…)

And it’s winter. And cold. And I put insulating plastic on almost all the windows in the house but not the one above my head of course.

(It’s making a new noise now. Washing and drying two feather duvets at once is  a Bad Idea…)

So that’s out really. No complaining.  No promoting books. No.. 

…seriously what the hell? It just beeped to signal that it’s done drying. No chance. I’m not getting out of bed to check. . Bastard dryer.

.. no political rants. Just me being cold and everyone in the house asleep.

Need time. 

1:50 am. Clothes definitely not dry. All clumped up into a ball. Ugh. Turn them back on. Sleep
2:15 am. Stupid dryer. Thump thump thump. 



No plans made.

No introductions.

No learning one another’s likes, dislikes, wants, yearnings, names.

They passed.

They smiled.

She whispered a hello.

She thought it stupid and forward.

He smiled.

He thought it stupid he didn’t say hello in return

She bought cake mix and sprinkles.

He liked sprinkles.

He wouldn’t ask her to coffee “I never do this, I’m sorry, I’m so embarrassed”

She didn’t invite to share her recipe “I don’t even eat cake. I take it to work.”

He would never learn her husband died the winter past.

“Playing hockey like he was seventeen once a week..”

“.. Drinking beer and eating garbage like he was forty five six days a week”

She would never learn his wife left him for her boss.

“He was married. His wife and I had revenge sex, twice..”

“… they found out. It ended very, very badly.”

He would not know she cried every night until she was asleep

In a pool of tears

She would never learn he spent every day scouring job sites

Hoping to find something dangerous far, far away.

She saw him sitting in his car after he went through the checkout.

He saw her in the produce section.

She hoped he would come back in, she would ask him to coffee.

He debated going back in, he would ask her for her recipe.

Too forward.

Too creepy.

They left alone.

And wasted opportunities frosted the loneliness that baked in their hearts


​She looked at me with eyes that forty, maybe fifty years ago, writers would have called “rheumy” eyes. Nowadays to be polite I guess, we would call them wet, tired, perhaps aged (never old) or even teary with wisdom beyond years.  This woman however was just a rheumy eyed grump.  She looked as me, as noted.
“You DON’T know how much money is in your account?  Even an rough idea?”
I smiled.  I cocked my head to the side. “Nope!” and threw in a small laugh. “My wife does all the money stuff.”
In fact I knew roughly what was in there.  I knew exactly how much was in our chequing account on Friday at five PM.  I knew how much we spent on Saturday and Sunday (if I troubled myself to add it up) and could probably have given her an answer.  Granted, she already was treating me like I was some sort of inept scam artist so I thought I would make it hard for her, as she was making the simple task of getting a new bank card hard for me.
I had lost it Friday night past sometime after eight in the evening. I distinctly remember dropping it on a concrete floor and being amused that a rectangular ATM card could roll that well to drop flat twenty feet from me.  I picked it up, held it against the side of my book between it and my glasses case and corralled children into my car to go home.  From that point on, it’s a little blurry.  I dumped my groceries, gear and children inside and went out to start a small bonfire.  I sat in my screen gazebo and listened to old timey radio shows for an hour or so.  Toward the end of the evening I experimented with great success in sleeping right beside a fire (“Like a cowboy!” I told my amused spouse). I do not remember having it since and on Sunday pocketed (with permission) my wife’s new fancy “tap” card (no more codes!) when I ran Boy # 3 to a local mineral show.
Monday arrived and I was frantically searching for her now missing card.  I gave up eventually and promised Karen that I would run to the bank, get a new one and give her it to use until hers was located. Round about ten in the morning I rushed out of my office on a mission.  Google Maps told me that the closest bank (unnamed to protect myself from financial repercussions) was five minutes away.  It was one I had never gone to, me being one of those people that rarely speak to a human at such places voluntarily.  I drove quickly in hopes of getting a new card in the usual (this has happened before) few minutes then running Karen’s newly located card to her at her doctor appointment.  I was equally excited that all new cards were the efficient, time saving “Tap” cards!  Yay Me!
I entered the tiny branch and noticed immediately there were only two tellers.  Normally, be it a bank, retail shop or grocery store, I choose the youngest cashier/server because a) they aren’t jaded to life yet, b) they are pleasing to talk to c) they don’t smell of death.  Being a man approaching fifty, this is my prerogative.  Today however, I had no such choice. I had old, and older.  By luck, chance or curse, the older one became available.  She had (I noticed immediately) a sit down work station.  Something throws me off sitting down to talk banky stuff, but I decided to be the better man and head over, smile on my face, not trying at all to seem like I absolutely hated dealing with monetary things in person.
“Good morning how can I help you?”
She ddn’t seem pleased at all.  Her last name, which I will not state, belayed in advance her pale, dusty appearance.  Her twenty year service award on the wall told me immediately that a) nobody else sat at her special bank teller sit down old grumpy person work station and b) that she probably worked somewhere else for twenty plus years until they managed to shove her out the door as part of a “corporate restructuring” (restructuring her rheumy eyed self out the door.)
“I need a new bank card…” She smiled, kind of, as this would be a routine action for her. “..Beause I’ve been using my wife’s for a few days”.
Wrong thing to say.  I swear she pressed a button marked “scam alert” under her desk.
“I’ll need ID.”
“Of course!” I smiled, handing over my drivers licence and corporate ID card.  No I can’t tell you where from but they are unique and not copyable/forgeable.
She glared at them, then at me (I smiled toothily, rather innocently). “Do you have an XYZ Bank Mastercard?”
She looked like she was about to trip me up.  I smiled again, broadly. “Of course, I also have an XYZ corporate card in my name!” and shoved both black cards across.  She looked at them, at me, at the corporate one, then told me to insert mine into the machine.
“Enter your code.”
I did. But seeing the suspicion, I intentionally hesitated.  I wanted control of this situation.  I was no longer in a hurry. I wanted her to call her manager.
“Ah that’s it.  Same code as everything else!”
“You shouldn’t do that.”
“AH, its okay, that’s what deposit insurance is for!”
She looked like I just told her I ran a dog fighting ring on weekends.
This is when she asked me how much I has in my chequing account and I played stupid.  In all honesty, I was expecting a benefit payment for orthodontic claims from my insurer so I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what would be in there, but I played dumb anyways for reasons previously mentioned.
“Where do you work?”
I told her.  Showed her the name of the corporate entity on the other card.
“Do you know how much you get paid?”
“Every payday?”
I leaned in as if it was a great secret. “Well, my wife knows accurately, I can call her, but I think its around $Z.ZZ”. $Z.ZZ likely being twice her biweekly pay.  She looked at the screen, sneered slightly and relented. Resignation on her face, she started into a spiel about new ATM cards that were “tap” ready.  “Just like the credit cards.  You tap. No codes!” and she actually smiled, kind of, again, her pearly whites being more grey and dingy than pearly.
I smiled again, cocked my head a bit.  End game.  I would suffer for my win. I knew what to say to crush her morning and make mine that much better.
“Oooh. No. that won’t do. I want a non-tap card.  Can you see if you have one left?”
“But. Why?”
“Don’t know really.  Paranoid I guess.  All that scamming going on.”
She stormed back to the filing cabinet, dug out the last one she could find and reluctantly set it up for me.
As I stood she turned on the bank person charm (finally). “I’m sorry Mister Liddle, for all the questions.  I just haven’t met you before.”
“Possibly the last time really, I don’t usually do in person banking.  Thank you!”
I left smiling, holding back from noting that she might be dead or retired by the time I went back to that branch.

The Cube


The crew were asleep
When the medic saw the cube
Black, flat, absorbing of light
Sitting outside the ship on the flats of methane ice
Her coffee dropped onto the floor
They all rose and ran
To windows
and monitors
and keyboards
and watched and listened and looked
from one to another
then to the captain
With a word, they suited up
and moved out into the icy cold
poisonous air
of Titan

The cube sat
black and flat
and the ice below
creaked under its weight
and it watched the crew
of the ship Expediter
as they wondered what to do

Cameras, probes, devices
all failed their job
so the men and women recorded
and streamed
their observations
Back to earth
Where a worried series of men
and women
wondered what would happen
and devised a scheme
that was minutes away

For the ship, the other ship
the cubic black ship
absorbing of light
began to groan
as it’s doors began to open
facing north, away from the humans
and their ship
along the shore
who tried to cover their ears
in vain
who tried to shield their eyes
in vain
And who tried to keep out the sound and vibration
and smoke like apparitions
from entering their suits
in vain
and the suits rose from where they fell
and as the morning winds on Kraken Mare began to blow
they returned to the ship
and the ship’s door closed
and the ship rose into their air
and headed home to earth
many hundreds of days away

observations in an Irish pub

Sitting alone

it’s okay, I like being alone


eating fish and chips

Drinking a cider

reading a book

Hockey on the television

Russia versus canada

But I don’t watch

The fish is good

a couple old and grey

Dwindling in their days


but it’s okay

They kiss

They like being together

Young couples, two

Guys typical baseball 

Sad at a loss

The girls feigning interest

And sorrow

because their boys are sad

The chips are good

Guy standing at bar

Just left work though it is after eight

he is alone

He doesn’t look happy to be alone

Two hipsters

Ironic biker shirts

They wouldn’t last ten minutes

At the Hotel Belvedere

But they are here and happy

Animated talk of  some interest

Or another

The cider is good

The old gray haired lady smiles around the room

Her man is off to pay the bill

The boys smile at the girls

The loss forgotten

The girls smile at the boys

Their efforts successful

The hipsters smile at the world

Happy they have a friend for life

And my tartar sauce is good

And the guy alone at the bar

Smiles vacant at nothing

His life his job


He will get it one day

Time for another cider

Then sleep

And smiles of returning home


For being alone is only okay

In small  doses

The Wedding (part 1)

​Cough, sputter, snort, “aughkoff, koff, blughhh, koff what the fuck?”
That’s how I woke up.  I was flailing in the middle of a lake, dead of night, completely clothed, sans one shoe, sputtering, coughing. I was going to die, then I realized I was in four feet of water and stood up, my unshod right foot slipping off of a rock to enter the gooey floor of the lake only to be retracted in fear and disgust.
I looked around, arms extended into the dark as I turned.  I could see lights and a few fires along the shores and thankfully, the looming dark shape of an island about twenty yards to my right.  Carefully I walked toward it, mercifully not bumping into any denizens of the not-so deep because I would have screamed like a little girl, fallen down and probably actually drowned in the rocky shallows.  I reached shore eventually and assessed my situation while trying to remember how the hell I ended up where I was, late at night, in the middle of a cold, wet, Ontario Lake. Looking down as I did, I saw something rolling in the light wave action a few feet away.  My missing shoe.  Things were looking up.  I was about to yell for help when I heard a sound behind me.  Thinking “motherfucking bear!” I dropped down to a squat, ready to fling myself back into the safety (?!) of the water when I heard the unseen visitor speak.
“eeeoowah trrilp. Trillp flahgd. *Tick*”.
I slammed myself against a nearby tree.  “Motherfucking not-a-bear-something-else!” I thought and held my breath…
Okay. Let me rewind a bit to the week before, before all the fun takes place and I tell you the story as I remember it.  Insert the wavy lines and the “eeeoooeeooowoooeee” sound effects. Okay last phonetic noise word, I promise.
I met Jane at my friend Stan’s house.  Stan is a bit of a freak, he being from Eastern Europe and I do mean east, like he hid behind the iron curtain with his family ignoring the falling of the wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union for ages. They ran a co-operative grocery and book store well past the date most everyone there had adopted the western ways. It was only after his parents died and he was offered a bazillion bucks by McDonalds to sell their property did he become the poster child for bad Euro stereotypes.  He moved to Canada, hooked up with a fellow former die-hard socialist (who started shaving under her arms only last year) Helga (German, of course) and made a bunch more money buying and selling slums to new immigrants looking for real estate investments.  He’s horrible but he adopted me as his Canadian pal a while back.  Not being all that socially adept, I hang around.  I’m honestly not all that into trying to find friends so when people gravitate to me (and they do for some reason) I entered their orbit.
Jane worked for one of Helga’s friends at the seniors’ home.  Instantly she took a liking to me (seriously, I don’t know why) and after an evening of Cards Against Humanity, crappy Polish beer and bad Euro-pop music (including some drunk dancing I am embarrassed to say) we ended up in the spare room.  When I woke, she was gone but my phone now had her number in it and a text message that read “great nite! Stan was right, we are ‘gud 2gether”! I’ll send deets on wedding by wed. xoxo (smiling lips emoticon)”
Stan was up, hungover and loud.  I ate some cereal, helped him cleanup and Helga drove me home in silence till she pulled up to my place. “You be nice to her or I gut you like a fish. We’ll be at the wedding too so you better not bail on her”.
She didn’t even look at me as exited her Camero, sputtering an “of course, thanks, where is this wedding anyways”?
‘Canoe Lake.  We will drive. Dress nice.”
And away she sped.  Stan texted me later to explain that Helga did not in fact agree that Jane and I would be “gud 2gether” and that I was an ass to women.  I disagreed and he did too, we both agreeing that I just have not found the right girl yet and that they are all crazy and that we should NEVER EVER say this to Helga or anyone else in fact because we would be spurned by all women in the future because they all talk and are in fact borderline psychopaths when it comes to men who are not all that “call you back” ish which I am not. (Sorry that should be three sentences at least. You get what I mean right?)
I spent the day recovering, went to the gym, received three clingy texts from Jane and came home to find her sitting on my front step in a pretty sundress, hair glistening in the sun, aviator sunglasses and running shoes. She said “Hi Sailor”, handed me a bouquet of flowers she had hidden in my mailbox, kissed me on the cheek and actually skipped away down the street, turning after a few houses to yell back “just passing by!  See you soon handsome”!
I went inside, checked that all doors were locked, windows locked from inside and called Stan to ask him what he got me into.  He wouldn’t answer and just texted back “just go with it stupid.  H here. Talk later”.
Thankfully the rest of the day went by without incident, as did Monday and Tuesday.  That night I decided to text her to be nice, even though she seemed whacked and because well, I am male and you know. Girls.  She didn’t respond till seven asking “Hey whatcha up to”.
“Watching TV”
“Eat yet?”
“Just some salad and popcorn”
“You need proper food. I’m bringing pizza.”
And within an hour she was with me, happily watching all my stupid shows, eating pizza (she badgered Stan till he told her what I liked on it) and sitting far too close for someone I only met a few days earlier.  Okay, Granted we already slept together and she did type “xoxo” in a text so it shouldn’t be such a surprise but still, you know what I mean right? No? Girls.
Next morning we had breakfast and I dropped her off at her place on my way to work.  She grabbed my hand and wrote the address on my palm and made me promise to meet up that night and bring wine. I drove off smiling.  She was nice enough, a tad weird and clingy but what the hell.  I spent the day slogging through my report reviews and ignoring my phone as it went BING then BUZZ (when I finally turned it to vibrate after my coworker Annie gave me the fourth dirty look over my cubicle wall). At four pm I looked at the array of messages from Jane (semi-creepy clingy but sexy nice girl things only), Stan (“she likes you. Helga is happy”) and Helga (“I am so happy YOU BE NICE TO HER OR I WILL SLIT YOUR THROAT (heart)”). I sped to the gym, then home, picked up Chinese food (smartly checked with Helga) and showed up at Jane’s.
When one hears “minimalist apartment” one might think “less than average furnishings”.  One may also think “muted colours” or “line artwork”. One does not usually think “An apartment where every single stick of the furnishings, few that they are, are either white or black.  The covers of books on the shelf are the only colours brightening up the place and would probably sport white or black covers if she could find them.” Or “An apartment where the occupant wears brilliant coloured clothing in sharp contrast to the rest of the place making her look like cartoon character superimposed into frames of a black and white movie.  It was cool, very cool. Weird but not unexpected.  She said “make yourself at home” which is kind of hard when I half expected an old school Mickey Mouse to show up being chased by Bluto on a train at some point.  She came back, hair wet, showered, in a new dress (she liked her dresses) and we proceeded to eat and discuss the wedding. 
It was “at a lake!”.  It was “at a cottage!”.  It was small(!). Helga would drive us there and back because Helga didn’t sleep in trailers or rental cottages and Stan would be drunk before he arrived most likely, being Stan. It would be “awesome” apparently and she couldn’t wait to show me off. Feeling tired from work and the gym and stupid all-you-can-eat-to-counteract-the-gym buffet Chinese food, I hung out for a while, tried to suggest I go home and let her do whatever and I just ended up in bed with her again. I’m not complaining.  I had been single for almost a year and had just started Googling “health benefits of celibacy” the day before I met her. I was a happy camper and not about to do my usual micro-assessment of the relationship at this point.  She was too hot, just the right height, she didn’t have monstrous hands of feet or a third nipple and I liked her little flirty texts and the general weird stuff.  (I gave her three months tops).
Morning came (not just the morning mind you) and I skedaddled just in time to run in the house, shower, eat some granola and cold French fries, replenish my lunch foods, gym clothes, feed the cat and walk outside to be hit in the face with a wet newspaper.  The little bastard that threw it actually said sorry but as I don’t read let alone subscribe to a newspaper I yelled “asshole” at him, laughed when he crashed his bike into a hedge trying to avoid a dog and began to wonder why the paper was wet on a sunny day like today.
Needless to say, against the will of the print mass media and my new girlfriend/cartoon character, I made it to work.
Friday came (no I won’t make the same joke again) and I did not.  I did however go out and purchase a bit of clothing for the wedding and a flask.  Yes, a flask.  I also purchased some scotch. Yes, Scotch and a flask, like an old timely cowboy or Sherlock Holmsian character.  Why?  Well, because, as much as this may shock you, I don’t really do well in crowds or social events when I am not with people I know.  It’s a kind of, well, a social anxiety thingy.  However, much like an unnamed nerdy character on a popular TV show (popular generally among non-nerdy people) who needs booze to talk to women, I find it is easier to acclimatize to a social setting if there is alcohol involved.  Not wanting my new girlfriend to think I am an alcoholic, it is easier to have a bit in my pocket I can slip into the occasional cup of “soda” than run to the bar over and over.  Go forth young psychologists, analyze me. I dare you. 
I avoided the pleas to hang out that night and spent it playing video games, trying clothes on and preparing for social conversations I would be, as a captive audience, forced to take part in.  Where I worked (“Acme Corporation! We make Anvils!”), how I knew Jane (‘We met last weekend! We boink a lot!”), what my favorite video games, books and movies are (okay this where my conversational planning went sideways). The normal things. I then had a few beer and fell asleep on the couch only to wake up in a panic as the power was out.  Scrambling around, I found my way to the bedroom and finished my fitful sleep, waking at eight in the morning, again, in a panic, because there was a warm body next to me.
When I finally explored the person’s exterior, jumping back when it snorted, a delicate girlish snort mind you, I realized it was Jane and not a dead hooker.  I had of course forgotten to lock the door in my blackout panic and she had driven over and slipped in because she was scared.  We woke, went back to sleep (no I won’t make the joke again) and we came to the conclusion that we needed to get ready.  I grabbed all of my things, clothes, wallet, phone, charger, flask (filled with decent 90 proof single malt Social Lubrication) and shoes.  Grabbing breakfast on the way, we ended up at Jane’s place. I showered, dressed and proceeded to fall asleep watching Netflix while she decided what to wear.  Occasionally I was asked for my (useless) opinion.  I liked everything she threw on, marveled at her ability to change her hairstyle for each outfit so quickly, and began to frantically look at my watch.  Finally, she popped out in a very 1940’s looking floral dress and we headed out to Stan’s.
The drive was uneventful until we reached the point along the highway where Jane said “it’s a road up ahead that we will probably miss as it’s a dirt road with no sign.”  I and Stan remained silent on this point wondering why she wasn’t using at least GPS on her phone, given that we were to be there ten minutes from then. “Oh there it is, turn”!  Helga skidded, drifted like a pro, nearly killed a hippie walking his mangy Irish setter and raising a cloud of dust that landed as I watched upon yet another Birkenstock shod antiperspirant shunner and their twenty or so amateur hobbyist bee hives.  Screaming erupted behind us as we closed the sunroof and windows and cranked the A/C. Note: Nobody should have an apiary twenty yards from a major highway.    Secondary note: Nobody who does not own proper bee farmer gear should operate an apiary. We navigated the twisty, windy, dusty road until finally we reached the cottage. 
I find it funny sometimes that people I know claim to be heading to “the” cottage when in fact it isn’t their cottage, but that of some extended family member. It’s just a pet peeve of mine.  I wouldn’t say that.  I wouldn’t say “I left my wallet in my car” if it was a friend’s car I borrowed, I’d say “the” car. I wouldn’t say “I’m going to go grab my girlfriend’s bum” if it was my friend’s girlfriend.  I also find it odd that people say they have a cottage to get away from things when in fact they are always working on something constructive every weekend they go to their cottage. There is always a long list of projects to be accomplished and they start talking about them in the winter. “Have to do the roof this year” yet they ignore the roof on their actual house.  Also, have you ever been down one of these cottage roads?  Houses in the city aren’t as close as these buildings are.  I honestly think that cottage people aren’t people who want to get away from the city and people for peace and quiet, they are folks who want an entirely different life and social network to escape to. One where you wear shorts, rarely shower, drink all day and when the kids go to bed you can bang each other in a boat.  Okay I think I just sold myself on buying a cottage. Nevermind, ignore the above paragraph.
We arrived and found we were in fact not late at all. Helga and Stand just told us two-thirty as they knew Jane would be late.  Good planning. I will remember that for the next three months till I get a less tardy girlfriend.
We walked from the car to the cottage, she adjusted my clothes three times in fifty feet, I was introduced to the bride (Natalie) and the groom (Ted) and shown where to drop off the gift and where the bar was.  Jane then proceeded to vanish with Helga, leaving me with drunk Stan who then headed to the bar and disappeared to chase a rental peacock along the shore of the lake.  I didn’t know you could rent peacocks.  I like to think there was no peacock as it suits my reality a bit better but since that day I have seen the ads.  I was alone and stood looking around at about fifty strangers in suits and ties in the hot sun. I realized I didn’t bring anything cooler to slip into afterwards but decided it was okay, it would cool down.  At this point I had no idea how wrong I was.
Just as I was on drink two, Jane appeared beside me, dragged me around to meet everyone else, decided we needed a drink (yay Jane!) and commandeered chairs where we could see people but not be central. I was happy(er) and content to continue my secret tippling.
The wedding began, vows exchanged, rings worn, kisses made, photos taken, snacks arrived, an announcement that the actual meal would be in two hours made. Sorry, I will not elaborate on that sentence because I am male and we don’t pay attention to such things. I will note that I met my future next girlfriend for two months and twenty nine days from now.  Stripy dress, blond hair and brown eyes.  I pointed her out to Jane who agreed she would be a good replacement should she be hit by a meteor or abducted by El Salvadorian rebels which was just a ridiculous idea since that war has been over for years but I didn’t point this out as it was getting dark and booze and fireworks and apparently we already ate and now I remember the meal and yeah my flask was empty.
Fireworks were lit, one guys who was also imbibing at my rate set fire to his pants apparently but they were at the side of a lake so all was well apparently.  We moved to a nice romantic dark spot near the water’s edge to watch the show and Jane snuggled up to me.   I was too far gone to be romantic so began to discuss the metals and chemicals used to create the different colours of the fireworks when the finale, five huge charges, were set off at once.
There was a huge flash! Five booms echoing across the lake!  Yelling from other cottages! Laughing from the men of the wedding! A monstrous splash in the lake and running, lots of running, I lost a shoe in the panic, there was tripping, screaming, falling and something about me getting into a boat.
Cough, sputter, snort, “aughkoff, koff, blughhh, koff what the fuck?”
As mentioned before, I’m in the lake. 
 (To Be Continued)