I wasn't planning on going anywhere that day, but Monette called me up and asked me if I wanted to go to the city with her. I was packed in an hour. My last visit to the city had been a short one, on a Wednesday after my flight from Montreal. I had been bored out of my mind.
An hour before we were supposed to leave, I decided to go for that bike ride I had been planning on since noon. I put on my shorts and took off up the hill, down to the cottage, which you can find after the curve where the pavement ends. I got there, and as usual, there was no one there. Just the lake, and the unlocked camp.
The lawn had been mowed a month ago, and no one had touched it since. (I had been there a day after it had been done with Kai, and behind the cottage, we found a dead porcupine. I've been waiting ever since for the body to decay, since I wanted to use its bones to make a sculpture out of it. The way I saw it, is that I would stick the spin into a piece of wood, and have the ribs sticking out, the needles to be laid down on the wood, as a background. I would use the shoulder blades, which for some reason were black on one side, and etch the word " You " on them.) Blades of grass had gone to seed, and the dandelions tickled my knees.
The water in the lake had also risen since I had been there last, so I wouldn't be able to see if there was any glass around. I had cut my feet the last time I went swimming, small slits on the bottom of my feet, which I only noticed hours later when my feet ached. I was going to wear my sandals, but voted against it. I undressed and walked around the edge of the lake to where the leaves and the dead lily pads and lake grass had settled along the bottom. I took off to the right, to get into deeper water, but on my way there, I slipped on the sharp slimed rocks. Getting up, I felt my hand stinging. In the fold between my thumb and index, a chunk of skin had been pulled back, the blood pooling into my palm, its path sped up by the water in my hand. I made a fist and got down on my belly and swam to the middle of the lake, stopping sporadically to look at my hand. I pushed the skin back and kept swimming.
When I got out, I lay out on the warped picnic table and let myself dry. I looked up at the sky through the branches of an old maple, or rather, looked at its leaves, since they blocked out the blue of the sky. I could've fallen asleep there, I wanted to stay and wait for the sun to set, for the stars to come out, and for the loons to sing, knowing that I would hear nothing but the occasional car running around the lake. No one would disturb me here. But she was waiting. I pulled on my shorts and shirt and took off, my hand clenched so that the wound would not touch the handlebar, which was dirtied with dirt and grease.
I took a shower when I got home and cleaned the wound. I bandaged it, and waited for Monette to come. She showed up a few minutes later, and we took off for the three-hour drive.
We got into the city a few minutes before nine. We went to my James, my friend Tad's boyfriend's apartment and picked up to Tad's place where we would be staying while he was away in Cape Breton for a wedding. I'd called earlier on and he said that I could have the key to his place.
We got there and decided to go out. I bought Monette a few coolers and we took off for a dessert in a small Italian restaurant which was on the way home. We left there feeling sick from having eaten too much chocolate, like some kid at Easter who doesn't listen to his parents. I left the restaurant retching. I told Monette about the time that I had gone to a restaurant with some friends and I had been so tired that I started eating sugar packets while waiting for a bowl of ice cream. The guy I was with was drunk, and had said that he was going to have sex with me that night. When we left the restaurant, I felt ill. He asked me if I was coming home with him, and I decided that I would. Then it hit me. I was retching violently, doubled over. I ran across the street and stared puking sweet white vomit behind a Foodland dumpster. He came up to me and rubbed my back. In between wet and dry heaves, I kept saying that I was sorry. Either he was too drunk or too horny to notice (or care), he said, "No worries, people have taken care of me when I was sick. You have before ". I had too. We went back to his place that night/ I came home and the next day I wrote a story about him.
Coming out of that restaurant, I felt like that again. My stomach calmed down, because I tried to forget about puking. I didn't think the people around me would have appreciated it if I puked all over their nice sidewalk. Neither would have Monette, who probably would have been mortified.
We went back to the apartment to go out. I told Monette to take a bath and have something to drink, to unwind, get cleaned up and buzzed, all at the same time, killing three birds with one stone (Monette is a cheap drunk, she got buzzed on that one cooler). After waiting for forty minutes, in which time Monette put on her face, we went out the door after I started faking leaving. We walked downtown to the bar, got in and went dancing as soon as we got in.
Later on that night, while talking with a friend of mine from home whom I had spotted, I turned around to see him. The guy who had taken care of me that night. The guy whom I had written a story about. (The same story I tried to get published, and warned him about the next time I saw him. "There's nothing bad about you in it", I told him that time I had seen him. He said that he wasn't worried, that he trusted me.) He looked at me, and I could tell me he didn't recognize me. I smiled, really smiled, with my whole face. I smiled at him like a whore smiles at a john. Like half of the men in the place were smiling at each other.
For an hour, he would look at me, right at me, and then turn away. I would always smile. He went to the phone, called someone, and while his back was turned to me, I looked him over. Suede sneakers, soft jeans and a large blue sweater. He left the phone, and when he looked at me, I mouthed, " Hello Alec ". He didn't notice. I went up to him and said, " Hello Alec ". He said, " I know you. I've been looking at you, and I can't remember your name. "
"Simon", he said, pronouncing it, à la francaise. He remembered.
We talked for a few minutes, he told of his trip to Australia, and that he was working once again as a lifeguard, staying with his parents for the summer, and finishing his last year of university in September. The conversation lasted five minutes. I was fine. I was totally, surprisingly calm. That incident with him had happened two years ago, and I had never been able to figure this guy out, and it had driven me nuts. The only one. The one that I always wondered about: was he really as tortured as I made him out to be, or had I made him out to be that way...
I went about my merry way, taking off to the dance floor (Monette was busy with some chick) and saw my friend Lance. I smiled and bumped him in the shoulder. He looked shocked and I went on my merry way, dancing by one of the speakers, my eyes closed, the lights pounding through my lids. We chatted later on, he and I talking about old friends. He said he was moving to Montreal in a few months, couldn't stand being here anymore. He had finished his degree, a BA in French. I was happy for him, but wondered how many people in the city would reply to him in English, since his accent was not Quebecois. He sounded like an educated anglo.
Around a quarter to three in the morning, Alec walked onto the dance floor, and came over to me and started dancing with me. I remembered the first time I had danced with him; it was before I knew his name. I had been dancing with my friend Karrie, and he came over to me and started dancing around me. I started to dance with him, but he egged me on to dance with Karrie. At the same time, he kept interrupting, and getting oddly close. I dance alone mostly; other people just get in the way. I could see that this was annoying him this time. When he did get close, he slipped his hand under my shirt, and rubbed his hand on my back.
He went over to get a drink and I followed him, Lance soon coming over to talk. He was absolutely blitzed, more drunk that I had seen him in a long time. When he would speak to me, I could feel his tongue so close to my ear I could hear it clicking on the roof of his mouth over the music. He spoke too loudly in my ear, and I dug my finger in my ear to tell him so. He looked at me with a face that said "oops". Alec once again stuck his hand under my shirt, and I did the same to him, Lance not noticing. But I noticed. I noticed that his skin was soft. I had completely forgotten that. When we would dance again, he would breathe through his nose, and I remembered that smell, that soft smell that came from him. He smelled clean, like a baby. He dug his hands into my front pockets and stuck them out and I put my hand under the front of his shirt and felt small hair on his belly, around his navel. I remembered them. Perfectly.
The night ended and he asked me what I was doing, and if I was going home with him. I said that I might and he suggested that we bring Lance along. I was immediately turned off. "I could never sleep with Lance ", I snapped. "Why not?" he asked in a drunken, nasal voice. " Because we've been friends for years, and I could never sleep with him. It would be too weird ". He even offered to ditch Lance, but only if I went to his place. He wouldn't come back to the apartment where I was staying. I had to take care of Monette, since I had the keys and she was still a little buzzed. I wanted to be alone with Alec. Sort of.
You see, a week ago, I had been in Montreal with the man whom I thought was the man of my dreams. I never was able to bring myself to sleep with him. I have had four one night stands in my life, and two of them don't count, since all we did was sleep. One of the guys turned out to be really nice, but I didn't like his day-job (he was a mortician) and the other one was Alec. The guy I had never figured out. The guy who had made me cry for a week, just because I kissed the fucker. And he wanted to sleep with me again. And I would've have done it in a self-defeating second.
But I didn't. I told that I was going home, and if he wanted to come with me, he could, but I would not let him bring along Lance, who was also wierded out by the idea, and yet he stayed by his side.
I stated to walk up the street when he called from behind me, "We're going to follow you, okay?" "Whatever you want. "
Monette and I walked up one block when I looked back and Lance was talking to Alec. I didn't look back, and I didn't hear Alec's or Lance's voice,
I went home that night and Monette and I went to sleep. Turns out that she had been offered the same deal that night, but didn't want to go to the girls' place. She was a little nervous. We went to bed that night, exhausted, sleep coming on faster and stronger than our hormoned thoughts and we fell asleep within five minutes.
We came home the next afternoon. I've spent the past two days thinking about him, filled with the need to write about him, try to understand him. Like everyone else I've ever known.