The Kafka Hotel

The Kafka Hotel

Nothing was the right size. G stood in the centre of the hotel room. The windows were too high to look out of & were too large for the room. On tip-toe G could barely get a brief glimpse of the high-rise across the street.

It strained G’s neck to keep looking outside. The suitcase took up half the bed. The bed would clearly be too small for anyone to stretch out on. The desk was more like ledge. There wasn’t enough room under it for legs. Not enough room on it for a laptop to open properly. The chair back came half-way up G’s spine and offered no support to lean back on.

The wall-to-wall carpet wasn’t quite wall-to-wall. In one corner there was an bare angle of raw concrete floor that hadn’t been covered. The sink in the bathroom was so low G had to stoop to get hands under the taps to splash lukewarm water on the face. There was no cold or hot just lukewarm. The shower stall door didn’t close properly so water rained all over the floor when the shower was on.

Nothing was the right size except for the price.

I’ve never stayed in a hotel room this bad but some have come close. I remember one where the ‘closet’ was just big enough to hang a shirt. More than one had desks with minimal leg room underneath. I did have one with a shower door that didn’t close properly. I suspect every hotel, no matter how good, has crappy ‘discount rooms’ that they give when people book with points or though some online agency.

The first draft of the piece had only ‘G’ as a name so I kept that. I pruned away gender designations to make G as anonymous as the room itself. I was tempted to not mention body parts – hands, face to further dehumanize G but then it felt too much like a parody of Metamorphosis. 

I’ve read Kafka’s novels & short stories a few times. I enjoy his sense of things happening for no discernible reason. Characters who hit that blank wall that refuses to explain, apologize or help. In fact they are made to feel at fault or shamed for even asking for ‘clean towels.’ Life is out of our control – which isn’t fiction as we’ve learned in these covid19 days.

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Picture Perfect 93

Picture Perfect 93

Dan and Cameron walked along the dirt shoulder of the highway.

“How does it feel to be a target?” Cameron asked.

“Target?”

“I’m the one who asks. I’m in frame?” Dan joked.

“Oh yes. The gyro stabilizes things pretty good. I don’t even have to be looking at you or through the camera lens.”

“Cameron stop! You know who you’re talking to?”

“Oh right I kept forgetting you’re the major camera man in Canada.”

“Let’s just say I do know the equipment end of things”

“You also know how to evade a simple question.”

“Which was?”

“How does it feel to be a target?”

“I don’t really feel like a target.”

“If two attempts had been made on my life in the last week I’d be worried.”

“Speculation isn’t productive. Any of us could be …”

“Bull. You know that’s bull.”

“The car was a fluke.”

“The way I see it is if you had got back to the Amethyst on time you would have been in your cabin when the bomb went off.”

“What! The prank call was to get me out so they could plant an incendiary that would go off when I returned after realizing I had been pranked? That kind of timing is … pretty neigh impossible.”

“Yeah. But it’s pretty coincidental all the same. The way I look at you’ve been targeted at four time since this production started.”

“Four!”

“First when Back-to-you John Kilpatrick went for you. Man he was some pissed at being passed over this season of Cold Canada. Second when you got raided in Moncton and nearly got sent up river. Those guys in that division were none to pleased with you. Even less pleased when your bud Warszawa showed up to kick their sloppy asses.”

“I don’t think that quite how it went down when Warszawa showed up.”

“Surely you must have sensed some … tension.”

“Right but they had every reason …”

“Right, you’ve been on their side of the story. Isn’t that how you ended up leaving the forces – targeted by some homophobic asshole?”

“That has nothing to do with this situation!”

“Whatever you say. Then the car you we’re supposed to be driving, rolls killing two. Now your motel room blows up when you were expected to be in it.”

“Are you trying to make me more paranoid than I am already.”

“Sometimes the fly doesn’t know its in a web until its too late.”

“Thanks for pointing that out to me.” Targeted! Maybe there was something to that when he added Sanjay looking for something from him. Plus his sister wanting to get the business out from under him. Typical investigator thinking – everyone is a suspect.

An RCMP cruiser pulled up beside them.

“Hop in.” It was Sergeant Coster. “I’ve been called back to keep and ye on you. Don’t you know its illegal to walk on the Trans Canada.”

Dan got into the front seat. Cameron got into the back.

“Turn your camera off please.” she said. “I have my dashboard on & that’s enough camera for me.”

“We were heading for Amethyst  to see what progress was going on. No one here knows what’s up.” Dan said.

“A Fire Marshal is there as well some tech from the Arson Unit out of Division 23. It’ll take two days to process the scene. Then your people can get their stuff from the rooms.”

“The vehicles?” Cameron asked.

“Your remote unit is free to go. The explosions were started by the same substance. No trace of it was found in or on any of the vehicles, other than the two parked closest to the sites. That was residue but we have to make sure.”

“I guess that’s good news.” Cameron said.

She pulled into the Amethyst parking lot. The smell of smoke was still strong in the air. Dan put his Lifend around his neck and set it for every three seconds, continual.

He surveyed the damage in the room they had set up at a mini-war room. The ceiling was torn out, walls caved outward, charred papers were being scattered by the breeze. Outward meant the explosion was from inside the room.

He went down to his cabin. The damage wasn’t as severe. A photographer from the fire marshal’s department was taking pictures in the room. From the singe pattern Dan could tell that the fire had started at the head of his bed. Possibly something under the pillow. Whatever it was it wasn’t as powerful as what destroyed the other room.

“Who ever did this,” the photographer said, “wanted you to suffer.”

“Sounds like my ex.” Cameron said. “She never did things slowly that would hurt. She didn’t want the hurt to end until she had enjoyed it.”

“You think who ever did this was here when it ignited?” Dan asked.

“No comment.” Coster said. “‘It’s all very curious’ is my official statement. The convenient text messages make it clear that someone was keeping their eyes on you. You are the target for some reason.”

“That’s been pointed out to me already.” He caught Cameron’s eye. “Me and this investigation. This sure isn’t what I signed on for.”

“None of us signed on for this.” Cameron said. “I have good mind to put in for danger pay. I should speak to the union about that. The more dangerous a stunt the higher the pay rate.”

“This was no stunt.” Coster said. “This person meant business and I doubt if they’re going to give up.”

“What if we shut down the production? This is all just an attempt to do that. They aren’t out to get me, personally. They could have just as easily picked Baxter or my camera man?”

“Hey leave me out of this.”

“What’s this?” Fire department photographer waved a couple of the investigators into the room. They came out ten minutes later with a scorched carry on.

“Holy shit!” Dan said. “That’s my carry on!” He’d completely forgotten that was fire resistant. 

“You say this is yours?” The Fire Marshall asked.

“Yes. Daniel James.” He shook hands with the Fire Marshall. “This was my room. The fire was underway when we got back.”

“From where?”

“Chick Frick.”

“It was around 11?” The Fire Marshall asked.

“Yes.” Cameron man said. 

“The Chick Frick north of here?”

“About ten minutes.”

“They’re only open that late of Friday and Saturday. Most other days they close by 7.  Many a time I’ve cursed them when I couldn’t get there before closing. The wife likes her fried chicken.” The Marshall said.

“They were just locking up when we got there. I flashed a couple of twenties and they let me in.” Dan explained.

“They?”

“It was just a girl. Teenager I’d say. She was nice enough to sell us what chicken & fries was left.”

“Conveniently this happened while you were gone.” The Marshall said.

“We went there because of the text messages I got.” Dan said. “You know about that? One of the RCMP officers confiscated my phone last night to find out where they came from.”

“Cell phone?” Coster asked. “First I’ve heard of that. Who did you give it to?”

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Standing On Guard

Most of these are ornamental statues that are meant to be more than decorative. All are meant to either attract good luck or repel bad luck. I see various sizes of the Chinese lions more often than the others. The courtier is a one-of-a-kind outside a hotel in Stratford, Ontario.

Chinese lions – Fu Foo Dogs
Fu Foo Dog close up
guarding serenity
meditation
griffins on O’Connor
happy to threaten you
Stratford courtier with cookies
or is that a hamburger
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Telemann for Dinner

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 – 1767) is a German Baroque composer & is one of the most prolific composers in history, as a result of his productivity his music was often seen as second-rate & not up to Bach’s standards. I have as stand-alones: Oboe sonatas 1 2; Recorder sonatas 1 2; Water Music; Paris Quartets 1 2; Darmstadt Overtures 2 cd; Twelve Fantasies for traverse flute; Concertos/Tafelmusick (lp to cd transfer); Partitas (lp to cd transfer); Twelve Fantasies for Flute/Sonatas (lp to cd transfer).

Telemann did not write for the concert hall but for relatively small ensembles for private court musicians. It was meant, for the most part, to be background music: Tafelmusick was for dining to not for dwelling on the mysteries of a spiritual life. He rarely wrote to express emotions or to create pastoral images.

In some ways we’ve done some periods of classical music a disservice by reducing to concert halls or radio broadcasts where we feel trapped or compelled to listen to it without distractions, without being able to do anything but listen. It was meant to be interacted with not worshipped.

Telemann was a journeyman composer who could write an elegant march for your walk down the aisle, or background for the the opening of your water fountain display. In the salons off the day people would walk around, chit-chat whiles the music was being played or danced to – it was meant to create an ambiance not pull focus to itself.

His work is soothing, elegant & sometimes sublime. My favourite are his Twelve Fantasies for Flute – I have two different recordings, one on transverse flute & the other on recorder. Both are a delight & perfect dinner music 🙂

All Is Well

it’s not me it’s them

it’s a war zone out there

no safe haven 

to stop and breathe in

who wants to breathe 

the air out there

stand in what sort of shit

no place to rest 

to put down the gun 

for even a minute

random bullets materialize in the air

when you are down the street

to look for a burger joint

for a corner to piss in

and bang

if the bullets don’t get you

the burgers will

<>

you’re all out to get me

people everywhere cough sneeze

wipe damp hands 

on door handles I have to touch

grimace at me

at my gun

over their newspapers

crank up their mp3 players

so I can’t hear mine

daring me to shoot 

as they light up a cigarette

as they push ahead of me 

to get their death burger faster

fast food being too slow for them

tear off price tags

rip books to shreds

push their way 

down crowded stairs ways

jump at me with atomizers

when I enter a department store

try this sir

what’s your favourite blood 

I like the smell of 

cosmetic salespersons blood

do you have anything like that

or something that smells 

like fast food counter help

that empty fried fresh aroma

that tingles the taste buds

something that makes people hungry 

when they smell me

<>

it’s not me it’s them

I set out peaceful almost serene

avoid the unscooped spots on the sidewalk

even manage a smile at the barista

who would smile back

if she weren’t afraid it’d slow her down

the swish my coffee enough

to make sure the lumps of milk 

and sweetener have dissolved

I’m happy for the first sip

until the lid pops off 

and I have to watch 

the slick scum cling 

to the sides of my cup

as I sip sip sip to the last drop

<>

I am now ready for anything and everything 

that is out to get me

I won’t fight back too much today

I want to be a power of calm

in all this mindless 

that staggers 

stumbles

hurrys me

to step out of the way

resist have a nice day

resist fuck you too

resist kicking cars 

that stop in the crosswalk

as if they owned the damn streets

<>

it’s not me

I know that even if this a war zone

all is well with the world 

(2008)

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I Got You Covered

I Got You Covered

I wanted to throw

the book across the room

the brown paper didn’t cooperate

as I folded it over the cover

one side was too big to fold

the other too small to cover

I tried to slide the book

so everything was even

so when I had it covered properly

it would be neat tidy

the real cover protected

I wanted it to look as perfect

as the book my mother

had done in minutes

<>

I lacked her eye-hand coordination

perfected by years of knitting

of dress making

I couldn’t even colour between the lines

now here I was

with a pair of scissors

a roll of heavy kraft paper

brown

attempting to make covers

for my school books

as demanded by the school

if they weren’t kept tidy enough

we would have to pay

I wasn’t even supposed to write on the books

not even to underline

couldn’t dog-ear the pages

<>

the book wouldn’t fit perfectly

I managed to get it wrapped

taped the corner to keep it in place

it was bunched up

that there was a crease 

on the back of it

I hid it at the bottom of the pile

went to bed

<>

in the morning 

it was covered perfectly

The brown paper covering of school books is a real memory of growing up on the east coast. Grocery stores were still using good quality brown paper bags in those days. Life before the plastic bag! My mother would save them for garbage & also for wrapping packages to mail to Wales at Xmas time plus for the all-important covering of school books. 

I can recall doing this until I left high-school. School issued books had to be returned at the end of the term & checked for condition. The same books, in each grade, would be used year after year until they wore out. Apparently keeping up on the latest development in science wasn’t a priority.  Grammar & spelling books didn’t need updating.

Some years my folks would pay a damage deposit on the books & get it back if they were return din good enough shape. Though I don’t recall ever having to pay for a damaged book. If a book had been in circulation for a couple years I would end up with one that was a little tattered & once I lucked out with one that had important passages underlined & even a few answers on the margins.

Some years we were given already cut covers that had been donated by various business which had their advertising on both sides of the paper. Of course ads appropriate for our ages. I can see the layout of these ads with a space left for writing the name of the book etc but I don’t remember what any of them were for – clearly a successful campaign. Maybe for local dairy, clothing stores. 


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Picture Perfect 92

Picture Perfect 92

Dan looked around the Chambers’ parking lot for a familiar car then remembered everything had been impounded by the RCMP. The Amethyst Court was now a crime scene. It was cool and he wished he’d had time to grab his jacket before they went to the Chick Frick. 

There was coffee & granola breakfast bars at the motel’s check in office. Bad coffee, whitener and expired breakfast bars. None of the crew was to be seen as he sipped from the paper cup.

“Good morning, sir.” A short, overweight woman came into the office. She had a box of muffins from Tim Horton’s. She put them on the counter & ran her hands over her arms. 

“Kathy Stevens.” She reached out to shake his hand. “Manger. I hope these will be sufficient. I was no way prepared for so many guests at any time. It is horrible, just horrible what happened to you people there at the Amethyst. Such a shame they had spend a fortune, a fortune, renovating it last winter. The place was a total dump, a dump I wouldn’t let a dog sleep it. No one could believe how good it looked. Really! I thought they’d spent too much. And look all that money down the drain, up in smoke. All that money. Where did they get it from? The money I mean. Now this. Let me tell you people aren’t going to forget this. No siree.” She stopped talking and looked inquisitively at him.

“Do you know which cabin Stephanie Carter is in?” he asked.

“Oh, no sir. People arrived and took what keys we gave them.  Grabbed them. No one officially checked in expect for that black guy, Baxter. He signed for all the rooms. Not how we usually do things around here but the Corporal said it would be okay and besides under the circumstances it seemed the fastest way to do things.”

Things were so confused after the explosion Dan couldn’t place things in order. The RCMP had escorted them over to the Chambers Motel. He’d stayed on the fire truck while the arrangements were made. Brenda had brought him the key to his cabin and walked him to its door.

“Hows the coffee?” Kathy asked. “Not too weak? I maybe should have picked up some actual cream while I was out too.”

“It’ll do.” Dan said. “Is any sort of car rental place around here?”

“That’s right! You folks will be needing transportation. There’s the one in Port Hawkesbury.”

“How about a Bell store.” He’d replace his cell as fast as he could.

“Oh yes sir. There’s one in Hawkesbury too.”

Perhaps he could get someone from the detachment to drive him there. The Amethyst Court would be a fifteen minute walk. There was bound to be someone there to secure the scene who could help him out.

“Airport, too.” She added. “Not a big one like Hal-e-fax but them movies stars sometimes flies in on their own little planes. Charters sort of stuff. Showing off I thinks. Some of’em have never driven a car themselves in their lives. Always got someone else to do for them. Spoils their kids. One bunch that stayed here last summer. I can’t begin to tell you the mess they left behind. If you can have kids of your own why adopt so many more. And if you do, why don’t you get ones that speak English for Christ sakes.

“It’s not as if was m’fault we couldn’t keep up with the amount linen’s they needed. Fresh sheets every day for all of them. Plus,” her voice dropped to a whisper. “they didn’t even leave a tip. Lest ways your boss already gave us a handsome one when by rights he didn’t even have too. Payed for all them rooms too for three nights but’ll only need’em for two, he says. That’s a man who appreciates good service. Guess being black and all he’d be more sensitive to people like us who run around to someone else’s beck and call all day long. Should I make you some fresh coffee?”

“No, no, this is fine.” He put the cold, soggy cup on the table by the percolator. “I’m going to find the … boss … see what’s up.”

Looking out the window he’d seen some of the crew (find out how many would be on such a crew and what their jobs might be) exiting their rooms and heading for a laneway that divided the motel’s strip in half.

“You know which room the boss took?” he asked.

“Oh yeah, that I do know. He took Cupid Cottage one of the honeymoon suites out back of the motel. There’s three of ‘em. Fully detached you know so as to guarantee privacy.”

Dan started laugh as he looked around ate the motel. Each of the cabins had cute name plaques over the doors: ‘Jack & Jill’ ‘Adam & Eve’. The first of the detached cottages, Venus Vale, was directly at the end of the laneway so it was framed by the curved arches on either side. The arches almost formed a heart. Cupid Cottage was well to the left of it. ‘ Behind the cottages was a swimming pool and some children’s swings and slides.

He turned around directly in front of Venus. The view through the arch was a perfect one of the mountains. Someone had done careful planning when they built this motel. Too bad they didn’t think of wifi.

“What the hell is keeping you?” Curtis shouted from the doorway of his cottage. “I’ve sent you a dozen texts. Stephanie has called you at least two times.”

Dan gestured with palms up. “No phone. No answer.”

“No phone!” Curtis said as Dan came into the cottage.

“Evidence.” Dan said.

“No phone!” Brenda said slightly shocked.

“No wifi here either.” Dan cocked his head at Curtis.

“Pardon me.” Curtis said. “We didn’t have time to find a five star hotel for you.”

“Even Amethyst Court had wifi.” Cameron said.

“Listen up.” Curtis raised his voice. “We have more pressing issues than wifi. The first of which is ..”

“Some decent coffee?” one of the crew called out.

“Honey there ain’t no Starbucks in this unwashed neck of the woods.” Curtis replied. “once the cars get here we can sort out coffee. They’ll be here by eleven.”

“One of them will stop at that Tim’s.” Brenda said. “I just texted them.”

“I said decent coffee.” Cameron said. 

Curtis quieted the laughter. “It might even be hot when it arrives. But I have some bad news QTel has decided to shut down the shoot.”

“What the fuck!” someone called out.

“Temporarily. A pause to consider what direction to take things. The insurers are nervous as well. Too many ‘accidents.’ Have any one you worked on a show that had so much bad luck?”

“As soon as the RCMP says we can leave we’ll get you all back to Halifax. Flights home will be booked then.” Stephanie said.

“Fine but what will we do for clothes!”

“Yeah.”

“All our stuff is back at the Amethyst Court. When can we get back there. I need my meds.”

“I’ll go over to the Amethyst Court.” Dan said. “I know something about crime-scene protocols. If any of you need medication I’ll see what I can do. There’s bound to be a Shoppers near enough.”

“Use my Optimum card I want the rewards points.” One of the crew said to a round of relieved laughter.

“I’ll need someone with a working cellphone to come with me.”

“I’ll tag along.” Cameron guy said. “I still have my mobile pack with me. All charged up. As long I keep it running I’ll get paid.” More laughter.

“As long as you’re on camera you’ll get paid too.” Curtis. “Hiatus doesn’t start until we’re back in Toronto. If QTel doesn’t like that they can … they can blow me.”

“Maybe it was them who tired to blow you …. up.”

“Right.” Curtis sagged. “All those files, our equipment. Fuck I hope we don’t have to start from scratch.”

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Toys Curbed

When I see these various boxes or collections of toys set out for garbage I wonder – were they outgrown? or was some child so bad their favourites were tossed while they were visiting grandma for the weekend? or maybe they were too painful reminders of lost childhoods

butterfly? or bee that’s lost its stripes
Fall from grace
these aren’t lego 😦 I hate them.
anyone seen Mary?
it’s leaving home whatever it is
look into my eyes
hand-eye coordinators
ramp to the future
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Osibisa

I knew I would love Osibisa from the Roger Dean cover of their first album with its butterfly elephants & the stylized lettering of their name. I was some what prepared for their African rhythms by Santana & their horn section was/is amazing plus some proto-Hendrix guitar work. I also have to admit the amount of male flesh revealed in their cover photos also held my attention. Top that off with a song called ‘Phallus C’ dealing with the myths around cock size & I was a fan.

I have as stand alone First (1971), Woyaya (1971), Osibirock (1974); as mp3 Heads (1972), Live: 1971, The Warrior (1983), Osee Yee (2009). I still have my vinyl of the first two mainly for the covers. I eventually ordered them on CD as Australian imports November 2003. Their Ghanaian-English Afro Rock sound progressed over the years as the influence of the Caribbean members was felt leading to a more reggae sound. 

The live set from 1971, probably a bootleg, is good but not great – it seems to have been done from the soundboard of the concert & it has picked up some crowd conversations that are rather fun but also a little intrusive. Their first two lps are an excellent introduction African music &, to me, haven’t dated much. I have more recent work by African bands & there is little difference. They recently released a new lp! Can’t wait to hear it.

Also in this mp3 collection is Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Shaka Zulu (1987), Zibuynhlazane (1988) – a South African male choral group that recorded with Paul Simon (Graceland). Tradition songs mixed with more contemporary work – the harmonies are sweet, their love work is energetic but a couple of lps was enough for me.

I had a cassette with Liane Foly’s 1990 ‘Rêve orange’ given to me by a friend (it is now in another mpo3 collection). On this one I have Le goût du désir (2008). A sultry jazz blues singer who infuses some of her work with Moroccan flavourings. This is romantic, sweet & sophisticated music.  

Finally from the group that started it all 🙂 is Santana’s Amigos (1976) – touches of disco that work with Dance Sister Dance – critics weren’t happy with the group moving in a more pop direction with latino flavoured songs as opposed full on latino. 

99 Tears Blues

woke up this morning 

with tears in my eyes

pillow was wet 

still so much to cry

woke up this morning 

with tears in my eyes

pillow was wet 

still so much to cry

don’t ask me why

don’t know

nothing going so wrong

all going so good

I have no complaints

<>

couldn’t stop those tears

shower didn’t wash them away

wept all through breakfast 

all the way to work 

people would stare but not dare

ask how come I was crying

glad they didn’t 

I don’t know what to tell them

don’t feel sad don’t feel glad 

just feel like me

<>

went to my doctor to see what he could see 

he said those tears are a mystery to me

went to a man of the cloth he said

those are tears for the sadness of this world

gone to sin and corruption 

someone needs to grieve

I told him get up off your knees 

don’t bother to pray 

I got better things to do today

went on my way

crying sobbing snivelling 

blowing my nose

<>

woke up this morning 

with tears in my eyes

took a plane to the desert 

to see if they can be made to dry

sun blistered my face

salty tracks itch but didn’t fade

each drop a hunger for something 

the sun couldn’t satisfy

<>

I headed home to find a place to hide

not that I felt shame

but life isn’t the same

when you cry all the time

when the tears from inside

find their way out 

there isn’t much one can do

but let them flow 

even if I don’t know why 

or who 

or where 

or what

<>

sun glasses can’t hide 

the endless trail of wet 

wherever I went 

told to leave starbucks 

asked to make myself scarce at bars

all that crying didn’t help 

the doom and gloom already there

took myself home

went back to my bed 

hope that a dream can find it’s way though

<>

woke up this morning 

smiling so wide

why was I happy

it was time for that change

smiling

beaming so strange

people looked away

the grin was so bright

the sun was pale in my sight

didn’t need no doctor 

no bartender

to make me all right

I was fine as I was

ready to face what what to be done

tears have stop flowing

time to get growing

greeting the truth 

rather than crying over it

(2008)

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Early Worm

Early Worm

am I too early

is this the right time

is this where I’m supposed to be

did I wake you

I’m usually early

is this seat taken

I’m not the first to arrive

I’ll walk slower

I’ll get off one stop sooner

walk around the block to kill time

<>

I don’t really want to be here

I’m not as eager as it seems

transit was faster than expected

there were no delays for a change

someone has to arrive first

maybe I shouldn’t be the first one they see

I won’t come back later

I’ll be one of the first to leave

I’ll only stick around awhile

<>

only the late have a place in this room

the ones who struggled to get here

who had trials & tribulations

they arrive breathless agitated apologetic

eager to be there 

all I sacrificed was time

I am usually early when I go to things like poetry readings, plays, coffee dates – I like having a few minutes to orient myself – to find a decent spot to sit so I have my preferred view of the stage. At spoken word shows I prefer to face the stage directly when positive. The worst thing about one spot was the narrow room which meant no one could face the stage with twisting their necks constantly. I was pleased when they closed.

With the spokenword shows I frequented or became involved with being early also gave me chance to help, if needed. Hosts were always glad for someone just to see someone there. The wait for the first arrivals can be nerve wracking.

When seeing shows with reserved seating: i.e Stratford or Shaw, we’d get seated asap to void clambering over people in those tightropes – often not even wide enough to sit without your knees rubbing on the seat ion front of you. Architects who do that seating layout often forget people have legs -thanks for the great sight lines but curses for crushing my kneecaps so badly I can’t walk for the rest of the day. 

At least with reserved seating one does get asked to vacate their seat for someone arrived just in time for the show to start & feel they deserve your ideal spot more than them. I’ve done door for shows & come back to find my coat & bag removed from my seat but people who presume they have the right to turf me without asking. 

If you’re late, you’re late – it’s not my fault you have to struggle in. I’m not going to move down one for your convenience. I’m not that nice a guy. 


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Picture Perfect 91

Picture Perfect 91

Dan locked his cabin door. He wasn’t sure who was driving Curtis’s rental when they left the Waterside. But they might have switched drivers at any point. Curtis was always happy to have someone else do the work. 

His cell was blinking. There was a series of text messages for him from and unknown caller. Why where they calling him & not the tips line? 

“I know where those missing children are.”

“You are looking in the wrong places.”

“You are talking to the wrong people.”

“I know what happened to them.”

“Meet me at the Chick Frick parking lot at 11.”

He made sure messages where saved so he could check the sources more throughly. No messages were untraceable.

It was twenty to eleven. Dan laughed out loud. G.P.S told him the Chick Frick was ten minutes away. It also said the diner had a five star rating. He pulled  his shoes on. Even if this was some wild goose chase Chick Frick sounded like a good idea after the day he’d had.

He attempted to text back but his text was returned as being undeliverable. Was that even possible? He forwarded the texts to Warszawa and to Brenda.

Brenda was at his car with Cameron when he got out to it.

“You expect an interview?” he said.

“It didn’t say come alone?” She shrugged.

“Chick Frick is cat nip to stoners.” Cameron guy said. “Uh … not that I’d really know.”

It was quarter after eleven when they got there. The clerk was putting up the closed sign. There were no cars in the parking lot. Dan got out followed by Cameron wielding his camera. 

“You’re going to scare them away.” Dan said.

Cameron did a slow pan of the empty lot.  

“I think we’ve been pranked.”

Dan went to the door and got the clerk’s attention by holding a couple of twenties to the glass. She let him into the store. He came out ten minutes later with a couple of containers.

“I caught her before these went into the trash.” He handed Brenda the containers.

One held several misshapen chicken pieces, the other had fries and some macaroni salads.

“She hasn’t had a customer since 10. There’s been no one hanging around the parking lot either. So as Cameron said it looks like we’ve been pranked.”

As they ate a van pulled into the lot, honked, the girl left the store and hopped into it.

“Who would have your number?” Brenda asked.

“Everyone we interviewed. I’ve been giving my card out. But I repeated the tips line for the radio interviews. It’s not listed on the website. So I must have been someone I gave it to.”

“What’s that noise?” Brenda said winding down the car window.

They could hear a fire engine sirens in the distance. Cameron got out his cellphone. “I’ve got a dispatch app here. Let’s see what it’ll tell me. Fire service called to an incident at … at the Amethyst Court.”

“Amethyst Court?” Dan said.

“That’s where we’re staying.”

“Oh! We’ve been in so many crummy motels I’;ve stop paying attention to their names.” Dan sped out of the Chick Frick parking lot.

The highway in front to the motel the motel was blocked by the fire truck that was halfway up the drive. One of the cabins was on fire. 

“Shit!” Dan said. “That’s my cabin!”

He pulled the car around the firetruck and parked on the lawn in front of the motel office. They ran over the the rest of the crew who were huddled around the back of the fire engine.

“My God. My God.” Stephanie rushed over to them. “Dan! Cameron! We thought you were trapped in there.”

“No. We were up the road at the …” A realization struck him. “Those messages where meant to get me out of here!”

“Messages?” Baxter said.

Dan showed him the texts.

“What the fuck!” Baxter read them twice. “What is going on?”

“I thought we were being pranked. There was no one there when got to Chick Frick.”

Two RCMP cars & an ambulance pulled up forcing them closer to the side of the engine. As the officers got out of their cars there was loud shattering of glass followed by an explosive fireball that soared high into the night sky. The ground underneath shook briefly. Other cabins were engulfed in flame. Car alarms went off. Stephanie began to sob. Dan held her. 

Cameron came over to them. “I got all that. I think. From when we left for the Frick. That explosion was right out of the movies. Wow. This must be what war is like.”

The RCMP questioned them. He surrender his phone so they could trace the messages. He let them know that Warszawa already had copies of them as well. If they could be traced Warszawa would see that happened.

<>

Chambers, nearby motel provided the crew emergency shelter. Dan slept fitfully in the cabin he was given. He felt uncertain without access to his laptop. His cell phone had been surrendered to the Force to check the texts he had received. Other than the motel phone he had no way to get in touch with anyone. He left the motel without putting anything in his shoulder bag other than what it usually held. His favourite Lifend camera and his travel mug.

Travel mug! right. He hoped the battery was charged enough for him to use it. All his cables were in his luggage. He unrolled the thin keyboard and turned it on. As he feared battery level was low. He hadn’t recharged it since the start of the shoot. The wireless Lifend looked for wifi signal to recharge. There was no signal to be found. He used the Lifend satellite signal, which drained the battery faster than it could recharge. 

It couldn’t connect with the ancient TV in his room without wifi so he was stuck with the small curved screen on the mug. He had several concerned emails all of the “why aren’t you answering your phone? are you okay” variety.

He sent short messages back explaining the situation, that he was well and that his phone was in the hands of the RCMP. There were two Skype calls as well but he didn’t want to drain the battery on those. He shut the mug down to recharge.

He didn’t feel so isolated but didn’t know how to do anything without a phone of some sort. He’d even left his person phone behind int he rush to follow up the lead. He didn’t even have a change of socks. He reached for his cell to check the time and realized once again that he didn’t have it. It was nearly 9 a.m. according to the clock radio.

He wet a face cloth in the tiny bathroom, laid on the bed with it over his throbbing eyes & drifted off to sleep.

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