Toronto: The Cameron House

toronto A heroin overdose silences Handsome Ned before he reaches his 30th birthday.

I am dozing in the car while Wyn has breakfast with the stripper.

Jerry emits sweaty exhortations to repent while knocking back another bourbon. A young Linda Blair is possessed by Keith Moon.

“I thought you went out west to dry out.”

A young woman at the Cameron tells Mike, with remarkable candour, that she is a prostitute.

Fleming Mackell wins two Stanley Cups and dies at age 86. His daughter, Joanne Mackell, is a dear friend of Handsome Ned. A couple of weeks after Handsome Neds’s death Joanne is performing at Clinton’s. Tears seep from her eyes as she sings “I Shall Be Released.”

Toronto: The Only Cafe

toronto “Hello, is this Wayne Johnston the author?”
“You probably mean Wayne Johnston the novelist. No, that’s not me.”
“Okay. You don’t have any idea how I could find him, do you?”
“I could only suggest you might contact his publisher.”
“Well, now we’ve come full circle because I am his publisher and I’m trying to track him down.”

I am alone on Christmas day. There is no food in the apartment and no grocery stores are open. I go for a walk in the drizzle and manage to find a convenience store where I can buy a tin of tuna. On the way back home I see a woman leaving a house with a coat draped over her arm, her hands held out indicating wet nail polish. Tears are streaming down her face.

“She did crosswords like… let me tell you, she would do five crossword puzzles a day. Now, she may be cognizant of her surroundings but she can’t talk to you. She’s locked in her body.”

The police will not allow anyone on the street to leave for work as there is an incident in one of the houses. Shots have been fired. The cellist dares to peer out the front window but not before putting a spaghetti pot over her head.

Toronto: Amsterdam Brewhouse

toronto Catherine has never tried Chartreuse so we order some from the bar. Carlos is at home looking after Ben.

Catherine and I are drinking Chartreuse by the tumbler at her kitchen table. Carlos comes in and puts his arms around her. I read this as a gesture meant to assert his role.

Catherine comes home late and drunk. She says she unexpectedly ran into Carlos. They went for drinks. During the course of the evening she realized that she still loves him. After she goes to bed I quietly pack a bag and leave.

I have just returned from Geneva and I have Swiss chocolates for my co-workers. I go to the office on Sunday to distribute the chocolates. The Executive Director’s door is closed. I decide to open the door and leave a chocolate on her desk but when I open the door I startle her. She rises awkwardly from the floor.

Toronto: Lee’s Palace

toronto Lee’s Palace is dimly lit by multi-coloured orbs that hang from the ceiling. A young man walks across the floor to speak to me. “My name is Greg. Are you here for the break dance competition?”

In his younger years Scott found solace watching old men play lawn bowling on the immaculate green, the orbs arranging themselves in random patterns. Now an old man himself he finds pain and confusion at every turn.

The young boy has three balloons. Each balloon has a single word printed on it. The words are “life,” “death,” and “random.” He says “you have to choose.” Then he says “I am a ticking time bomb and I have no idea when I will go off.” Ray leans toward him and earnestly states “you are loved.”