“My Life as a Footnote” (two stories from a future collection)

 

“December 8th, 2011″[1]

His class was three of my mornings, every week, earliest of them too. Anyone who has had a morning class knows how debatable mere attendance, let alone the gods forbid, attention, can be at these classes.[2] But I love short stories, and from the start I enjoyed His lectures both for their literature, and his personal asides. There is not even really much mystery to why the fondness was so instantaneous either, I hate to disappoint, although in fairness: I warned you this story was short.[3] It’s really hard not to be content with a teacher who at once evokes figuratively and literally, the reincarnation of Santa Claus with white beard, round face, blue eyes and even pot belly, and in temperament were like the kind sort of grandfather everyone idealizes someday. He even had a couple blue wiry veins along the nostrils, like mine did, although I suspected for different reasons.

It helped that the stories were so good I think; Poe’s House of Usher, Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues[4], or Jackson’s The Lottery. Oh and that one where the captain watches over his men in a boat after the Lusitania sunk. That was one of my favorites. When he read passages from the story He got into the roles of the different men, and even waved when reading the part about the useless priest on shore. I got a real kick out of him I must say. It wasn’t one particular thing he said or did either; it was the overall way he said it all. He was almost[5]…sly the way he snuck knowledge into stuff.  The room, and my foolish choice of spots in it kept me uncomfortable for most the semester. But I took solace, perhaps especially so, in the Grand-Pa-Santa performed tales all the same.

Front Row, top left had corner of the class. It’s been one of my preferred seats for some time now; you are far enough away from most the students to avoid most eyes, and when the time nears you can make a decent bolt around[6] whoever threatens your anxiety-like, sweat-drenched, and itchy exit.  All because of one unseen, but major issue which quickly, ahem…arose that first morning[7]. I hadn’t really considered, and it worsened as class progressed with such steadiness that I actually began to clear a course of each one based on my state of discomfort- each state that worsened told me we were one step closer to the climax, then the denouement, and finally, His final remarks on the story. My release[8] from this mental ambrosia, yet this physical hell.[9] You see, the entire circumference of the left bank of our class, our troop toward understanding- our exile from darkness to lights unfathomable- was window…window that called the heat of earths mother, a window that was directly and forevermore, facing the god-damn sun.

It was not even an issue for much of the left bank o the institutional trench; it was just the top corner of the teachers desk – which incidentally He never once sat at, for obvious reasons standing center, in the beloved and cool shade of the other 80 percent of the warzone of quiet ignorance and brilliant conjecture of young minds, which somehow surmised my place in the whole of things- skinny, quiet, and usually somehow on the fringe, mature student in the hottest little corner of the room, wondering on that fateful morning when silence killed the battlefield all over- even (and be assured to my shock) my own lips couldn’t find it- the name of the town or state or city of the days short story. And there he was, finally exasperated with months of only a couple students answering the bulk of the questions, and ready to blow his top. They had finally done the impossible with their silence: they had broken the sunny demeanor and light hearted kindness of Grampa Santa. But first, a lesson in the history, short as it had been, yet excruciatingly long for me, of that very quiet front.[10]

As established, I was older than most 2nd years, having doddled[11] a bit with my course load and not entered University until 27. And I have always been thin, and quiet. And fair skinned. One might even hazard the term, “red haired and freckled”. There we have my state, and of course here we are  at my predicament; the sunny corner of short story class taught by coolly shaded Grand-Pa Santa, who just happened to be a naturally gifted teacher of one of  my fondest subjects, as though the torture of basking in the rising sun, magnified by double pained Atlantic ocean style windows.  I should have been as free as that biplane pilot in the Alice Munro story, but instead I was stranded, with only one calming source of hope- the man himself.

Every once in awhile His Newfoundland accent washed up, quite intentionally mind you, and yet he didn’t. It was so sparse, see.  And He used it to both drive a point home and restate a previously “properly enunciated” version of the same sentence.

“So…what’s ‘dis all about”. “Now, what in god’s name is Poe on about with dis passage”.[12]

That was part of the charm I guess. He already emulated Gramps, now he occasionally became the old man when he was on the piss. For like Him, Gramps could manage mainland elocution just fine- if he chose to do so. Unlike many younger teachers, he didn’t waste time trying to win the affections of his students either. And to me that was respectful of him, the profession and us most importantly- to be an ambassador of learning, a Captain of the written word as it were, this is an honorable title in my opinion, and it’s one that needn’t wilt or waiver in the face of modern youth’s expectations of “new wave” teaching. Rather than capitulation, we got these wonderfully crafted excursions into the jungles of each authors mind and life- we became enthralled by osmosis[13]– myself perhaps also some photosynthesis- of being in his well laid paths. We were safe from many things, though. We wouldn’t be spoiled. Fooled into thinking it was easy to navigate a great short story. Imbued with the notion that stand up comedy and lecturing university are one in the same.[14] No Sir.

We were going to learn the easy way- which is to say the only way, that is, the Right one.

He was never forceful, quite the opposite in fact. He would ask and re-ask and re-ask questions, never a hint of stress level raised, never any indication, save the accent coming out in planned, perfect intervals for humor and emphasis, that anything changed in him despite its obvious challenge. Especially when it was place names and easy stuff like that: stuff that was on the first damn page. But he didn’t. And I guess that’s where I found some recompense for silently melting to death in the top left hand corner of the chemistry building at memorial, those September days. To raise my thin arm and quietly break the quiet a little more often than usual. Because I was about to experience one of the quietest semesters…of my life. Perhaps, I thought squinting one day with arm raised so as to both block  sun and grab His attention, of all time.

Yes,it was That quiet. Young people today, I remember thinking, are just quieter I guess. Tweet, Text, Gaming Online[15]. It’s all very semi-social, and often with the graces of distance between target and shooter, talker and listener, teacher and student, to wit. But even by that standard, this class was a trench of young kids yet unable to even raise the white flag of uncertain hypotheses. It got so that each time I raised my holy thin branch of relief, I would first look back to the class and just make sure I wasn’t being too eager. I’m no greenhorn remember. Never once did it occur that way. Never. Once.

Maybe it was because he was so kind, the kids could sense it as a way to subvert the morning and half sleep through his lectures, my answers, the wind whipping around the curtain in the left corner of the room, the only redemptive burst of cool in the sun-lit area, which was two desks away from me at all times. And not a word mentioned that wasn’t dragged out, often with such reluctance He almost had to do it himself. It was a horror-show some mornings. If I had read the wrong story or not had a chance to re-read the one we were covering, it could get truly atrocious, even gory.

But then one day the impossible happened. Nobody could answer the first and most basic question of the story. I had been under incredible stress that week, my best friend and fatherly-influence, my grand, grand Grampa…had taken a stroke. Then a second. Now he was hospitalized. He was tied up so he wouldn’t continually rip out his own feeding tubes, with his gnarly, bar-fight-fed fists. He was 76, and still drank a flask or a half in the evenings with is best friend “Prince William”[16]. He had been my confidante for a decade or so of close conversations and laughter and home cooked meals, and now, he was one foot in the grave and refusing anyone outside his own kids the chance to visit.

And here was this man, who by all accounts had given it the best fight a man can give in the battle for young minds’ attention and, god forbid, the insight of that holiest, most divine thing: an individual thought[17]. A step. It was all he had begged for, just one foot gained. It wasn’t as though he’d expected us to win the war. Just take a yard. Even a mile. And all that withstanding, if nothing else can ya please Name the god fer’saken town b’y da jeeesus. This was late November now. We had been to the House of Usher[18], we had survived the sinking of the Lusitania with Stephen Crane and we had even survived the smothering sadness of Gogol’s Overcoat, and now we would fumble and break the perfect demeanor near the end, hung up on a story I can’t even recall, though I am sure it was either Cheever’s The Swimmer or Carver’s Cathedral[19]. I mean these were modern stories, not like Poe with the weighty tongue of old gothic- and yet I couldn’t summon the answer. And he finally broke. The man who had been by all intents my Grand-Santa, smiling back at you when you asked who is speaking in A Clean, Well-      Lit Place, smiling when he agreed about the ending of Yellow Wallpaper, smiling and kind despite the artillery of silence and more silence daily aimed toward him, despite all the eyes blankly unable to mouth even a guess and left him to lean on even the hope of one- had finally had enough.

“Well.”

“Well I Just Can’t Believe It. I mean come ‘Awn guys”

“This is ‘tree months IN”

“Does NOBODY know the setting?[20]

I think of him now with the other running list of them. The good ones; Mr. Pardo [21]and the voice, he later became it.  Mr. Hadwyn; taught me the word ambrosia[22], Ms. Macdonald[23] who wanted my short story to get published way back in grade three. And Mrs. Kelland[24] later in adult high- the one who he held all other people to as a sort of moral and human meter-stick.  The ones who should never have had to run out of patience. Not because of that gawd fe’ersakin quiet, of all ‘tings.

I was perfectly out of place to see it all; I was Older, I was 3rd year, I was the guy who’d deluded himself out of adolescence with delusions of being the next Jack Kerouac or London, but ended up looking more the Burroughs, or worse, Huncke.[25] I could see the literal unfolding of the silence over just a single gap of time – a decade and a half or so- from my earliest years as the tall lanky ginger school- wise-cracking but otherwise shy kid. In high school I don’t really remember cell phones. Just weed and hacky sack, pool halls and public parks.[26] Now a hush comes over the titillated mind. The over-twittered, under-spoken. A nation of shyness to hold us back.  And the last few good people aghast at the funeral of conjecture, of discussion, of thought- paid to try to hustle a few marks into an average- nothing more than monks robbed of their patience, hope. Passion.

And yet, by the next class, his temper returned to the infinitely Buddha-like smile and, as though Cheever’s Swimmer, half –senile, or as even the rider who manages to escape Usher- Mr. B- made his way through the trenches of quiet once more…a few good hands to aid, be assured, but amidst the fiery true force of a silence, all the same.

By the time I lost Mick, exams had rushed past. I wasn’t really there anymore though. I was finally making my way from the hellish prism of that vantage; courtside to the slaughter. It didn’t even occur to me until shortly before sitting down to provide my portion of the events leading up to December 8th that he was technically only a few parking lots away the whole time. My grandfather, who hated more than anything the thought of dying for years in a hospital, visited by those he hated but loved. He had refused me admittance after the second stroke with the spastic waving of clawed hands, a childish face according to one family member[27], who in her usual crudeness had remade the sour pus and claw outside Carnell’s Funeral Home[28].

The entire time I was writhing in wonder and later despair and being ultimately destroyed by the reality I was powerless in his final days, he had made his way closer still to my discomfort able place, if only by landing at St. Clair’s. That’s what destroyed him in the end, also. Leaving his place in the Goulds and his best friend William the Black Lab, leaving his safety zone. The place the various causes of stress he had on his back could not get to him. [29]  Whereupon he was eventually sedated and restrained after several, quite violent and swift attempts to dislodge his air tube- he finally followed that hellishly bright light.

Mick loved a few things enough to break his staunch agnostic approach to life “I say a prayer still for my boys dead and buried” (he lost three to Hastings Street and the drug war)-and my old man (his father a veteran at 15 – notoriously declaring himself the youngest Newfoundlander to enlist and lying about his age tat 14 to escape the coal mines of Glace Bay) – and of course…  he loved to drink, he loved his dog, he loved a woman once, and he loved to tell and almost as much hear, a great story. Maybe I am misguided in my detail of his last attempt then; perhaps; hearing the silence broken by the voice of a clearly trained professional in the trade of storytelling and re-telling and re-telling again – perhaps ole’ skipper wanted just to get a better seat for the show!

To sneak one last laugh out of it all! To be away from “dat god forsaken” place, the one he swore he would never end up in; “hospital. There’s a story yet to be told. It’s a good one, bout two atheists who end up praying on each other’s souls, in the end. [30]

The Hall[31]

I will never forget the first time I saw that hotel I was to learn the meaning of pain from. I think of it the way I suppose my favorite writer as a boy, Stephen King, thought of the places of evil from where he began his tales. The mansion in “Salem’s Lot” or the hotel in “The Shining”[32]. Places that should be left undisturbed by the young writer, but which our curiosity qualifies we can do nothing but postpone the eventual moment…the one where we know we are in deep and cannot see the way out. Truthfully? Places like that have nothing on an internationally acclaimed kitchen during dinner rushes, at least where terror is concerned.

The Hall; those massive pillars guarding its pristine façade, strangled by the vines and shrubbery whose perfect edges were maintained like pedicures of a god by a dozen migrant workers. They were only seen by us early arriving employees of course, early in the morning, before any of the clientele would be perturbed by their hard-worked bodies.  The car’s out front were often rentals for celebrities or other members of the higher order- not usually from my end of town; in fact our town was pretty middle class aside from a few wealthy families, so let’s just say it- outsiders. I, like most, immediately skipped past the reality I would be washing the shit left over on plates of the diners, and immediately entered the world of fantasy where I ruled over this place like a King in his castle. All of this day dreaming would of course be put to the burner soon enough with my first encountering of…The Dutch-Afrikaner.

I am too afraid even now to divulge. What if it’s like the childhood Bloody Mary or that movie “Candyman[33]” -what if this recollection somehow, however haphazard or hazy, proves a recipe for some incantation? And suddenly in a flash of greasy smoke, brandishing his weapon of choice, the monster comes for me again?

I can see him now, big greasy madman grin from ear to ear, sweat pouring off him like condensation escaping from a smelly cheese, and those silver, smiling evil tongs like a mouth of open teeth. For some time I look at a pair again the same after that day. My groin almost hurts a little in fact …like those veterans who wake up feeling around for itches on long-ago amputated limbs. It’s not often a kitchen utensil can be compared to such things. But I assure you, with absolute confidence, galvanized now by more than a decade’s separation- the fear is quite real. And 100 percent pure, truth.[34] The only time I was ever comfortable was a few years later, when I was working with the crazy British chef who was a punk rocker above all else and loved to curse on the Queen. And I had the tongs.

I can’t quite face it yet though; so let’s take a roll call of the other players in this mad little play. There was a chef for every major country when I first started at The Hall – an Irishmen- let’s call ‘em Gerard named Tom who worked salads, an Italian who did sides, a Greek woman who did a bit of everything and of course a Frenchman who provided endless desserts and of course insults to all around him, sprinkled excessively with each opening of the oven he called a mouth. I hated French as a subject in school, granted, but this was my first experience hating a person because of it. Finally the two men who most frightened me – my Chef and Sous Chef – the former a Brit.

To describe him in action is to depict a savage animal in captivity, clawing at his captors with efficient and timed movement, precise movements too perfect to be anything but natural or artistic mimicry. I thought up until that point in my youth, that a kitchen was a place for the civil, restrained, synchronized or timed even – appropriation of culinary creation. And nothing more. I had no idea the fresh hell that awaited not just me as the over glorified (quickly salaried) “Dishpig”. [35]

And the next week, then the boy’s started in on me with the endless jokes, the fish heads impaled on the nozzle-gun and sink-spout. The one’s tucked into the Hobart[36] so they almost bite you. The fucking hot pans[37], able to catch you off guard even when they tell you, “Hot!” prior to dropping them headlong into the soupy, hot and greasy mess that replaces itself in new, even more grotesquely messy amounts, no matter how fast you move, then switches its assault and begins to mount, likewise manically in fashion, in the form of the customer’s dishes. This is the single greatest delusion any young boy ever, ever suffered from- that a dishwashers job is anything near in sphere or circumference to that which they knew of in suburban domesticity, babysitting or shoplifting for comic shops. I mean working.

My first real wound wasn’t to so fatal. I was leisurely cleaning a Mandoline- tricky fuckers actually, because they look deceptively safe. It is not a matter of cleaning an actual knife – but rather a stainless steel plate with a clever addition – a razor-thin blade subtly protrudes around halfway down. The nick was all I felt[38], enough to recoil from, but by then the damage was well done. One time fluke I figured; not like I burned my hand or something. I did manage to go the next 6 weeks without ever meeting the mean end of the Mandolin again. How could I have, every time it smirked at me I winced back in shame for having cried at least a tear of panic-yelp into her secret slit?[39]

The next one was just the first of many many many pan-related burns to come, and was not so easy to avoid in the future since really, the better or faster the pig of dishes? The more likely you will reach into the abyss, to yank out dirt from the clogging-sink-drain’s whirlpool, and lift with that skinniest arm, scarred up nicely by now, and yank a handful of mush that was once the remnant of a 10, 000 dollar night. In my guts, too,  some nights were remnants of the evening; ostrich egg shell, pheasant breast procured from the occasionally generous…Him. And so much more. The wounds were earned and bettered with many great meals. Oysters, Cheesy Mushroom Risotto, Champagne Sorbet. I learned to love food the same instant I learned to hate the industry to which I was at the bottom- or more rightly, I learned to despise being at the bottom.  Which is when it happened; I joined them somehow. The core group of chef’s, of which only two were left out  – the Head Chef not because he was a British snob but because he was Head Chef and it was customary (like in the military, the reigning officer cannot be seen to socialize with his officers), and because the Frenchman[40] was too much a cunt for anyone to tolerate for more than a service if that,( and was essentially relegated to the same subhuman status as the waiters who were also flown from France and boarded just off the property in some building owned by The Hall). But somehow after the incident I guess…they thought I was somewhere above a Frenchman and a Waiter. But the incident itself was enough insurance against my ever forgetting…my Place.

Just as well to set the table and have you dig into these alluded to, ever hinted at, horror show then. It was not my dishwashing skills that lacked, nor was it my scrawniness that betrayed me to his eye, as to suggest perhaps I was easy prey. No. My doom was sounded by the seemingly least important single utensil in the entire building. A Tasting Spoon.[41]

Morne von Antwerp. There, I have said it. The chef who rode that kitchen each night like a mad-cow infected Rodeo Bull- he sweat and slaved under a thermometer, the main courses were all on him, and he wouldn’t hesitate to point with…those tongs…to the thermometer as you attempted to weave and wobble through the slick, end of night greased floors, to gather each stations piling treasure trove of dirty everything. Dirty cutting boards, inserts, knives, and yes… Tasting Spoons.

Still in my early training stage, I had nevertheless managed to be myself in one regard: I was mouthy as all hell, quick with comebacks, and too young and proud and hooked on the laughter I got from sarcastic remarks to ever think of their consequences. And so it came to pass that when a chef made a remark about my skinniness, or my red hair or dirty appearance (it took at least a month to master the art of not acting like a magnet to the every scrap of dirt in my frail orbit), that I responded in kind with my humorous attempt to stand up for myself. This worked on every person there- except the Afrikaner. Although at first he chuckled, there was a moment when I know I had done something he had forbidden, and all the laughs from the others would not save me. Back track to my first or second shift after the coward jumped ship, when Chef had to remind me, just once, yet spoken as though for the thousandth in that Brit air of authority to “Nevah, evah walk behind me without saying BEHIND!!![42], to which I elfishly crawled away, forever in total fear of Chef. How stupid of me to think the captain was the most frightening thing lurking beneath the Sally[43] and The Pass: Morne “the claw” von Antwerp was about to teach me a lesson in knowing my place, and his.

“Boy! Come Hea-ah!” (He refused to learn any names for the first month, so many youth having stayed only a few shifts before going to take a bag of trash to the dumpster out back, they never came back). I came slipping and sliding over, the floors greasy not because of the lack of prestige, the kitchen was 3 star at least, but because I was a terrible mop-hand. “What the fack is this, aye?” (He was the only real Dutch-African I had met – but the movie “Power of One”[44] had instilled a deep fear of that accent- brining to mind the ‘coppah’ who beat Morgan Freemans character to death for talking back to him).

In Morne’s fist was a single, silver spoon, glistening and shining in my eyes off the light of the fiery stove he was always stationed at. Glaring at me I hesitated too long in giving the obvious answer, and he filled me in rather than wait out my terror. “Dis? Is moi facking spoon, you hee-ah? Now. Ivery dai You WILL make shure I ‘ave 5 facking spoons, good? I don’t care about the rest of deese faking clowns if they say give me spoons if they get spoons or not! But at night you make sure in the morning I Have My  FACKING SPOONS, OI, BOY?” then, all the while having the deadly tongs in his other fist, he brought them close to my sweating face and snapped them shut violently, punctuating the motion with these foreboding words “Otha-wise?? I will clamp down on your facking bawls boy! And rip them from your skinny facking legs! Oi! Jua’un-dahr-stand!?!?!” I immediately respond in a moment of boot-camp, knee jerk reaction. Pure Instinct. “Yes Sir!”.

Next day. His face turned red as cinder. He couldn’t find a spoon and looked over to see the kinder Chef Oscar with two. My jewels became fodder for his silver death-clamp. My pearls were squeezed and I hit the ground fast. I hadn’t seen him! He’d been too quick! Come up from behind, given me that terrible crushing experience from the job I learned to love thereafter[45]. Love-hate? You betcha. Nightmares have a way of growing on the young writer. They become in themselves, a kind of future fodder, as you see.

Just the sight of those silver utensils…brings a painful remembrance. A smirk. And a thankful sigh, my last service ended more than a decade ago at The Hall.

                                                                              Notes

[1]I intend with this story to draw on my being a horror/film fan and young writer, formatted as youth-confessional; a string of stories of which will compliment and fill out my characterization of self. Steven King is not merely used then as a universally recognized symbol for horror, but also meant to evoke the working class sort of writer I am. King’s book On Writing speaks to something I will reiterate- he may not be literary by academic standards- but his work still has all the demarcations of craft; theme, style and ingenuity.

The image of the workers sheering the hedges, along with the various incidences of blades, tongs and other instruments as symbols of fear, are equally tied into class conflict and arguments of what constitutes craft and what art etc. Morne and the kitchen also function as allegorical to horror tropes like the Underworld and the Minotaur or even the general “other”- he is foreign to me, he is larger than life, savage, and he is the one chef I cannot “pass”. It is the terrifying and wonderful that is meant to be conveyed; what attracts Marlowe as a boy to those blank parts on maps.

I also but only in a feint way since this is part of the overall collections theme- intended to produce something like a Bildungsroman effect, in which I begin my working life as a sort of young person, who invariably must face outside evils but equally those of the soul, in order to eventually reenter society as a writer. (Fingers Crossed)   An additional and obvious image of the racist general from the film “Power of One” will also be later reflected in a story about my reading history called “X”, but really would only be powerful if you had in fact seen it.

Footnotes


[1] This title, like this re-write, is weighted in footnotes, much like earlier stories such as “The Hall” and “ReduXtionist Visions for Doctor Lockett”. I hope to invest enough energy into perfecting this post-modern attempt at making myself a greater read to such an extent that all my professors see my greatness, from here to Oxford and BEYOND!

2-unknown source

[3] In warning the audience I place myself above the usual crowds of academic wanderers who manage a few moments in Kubla Khan

[4] This might be the single best story I have ever read about two African American generations and heroin addiction and music. The final scene Is a majestic evolution of nomenclature and something else that makes me sound smart.

[5] Almost, also known as completely and fully without a doubt I mean it was like he was methodical in his bay-impressions which were not impressions but minor noises as though one or two of his communities birds so rare and fine were let loose into a strange and yet familiar warzone-trench-nightmare-heaven.

[7] The rise is supposed to evoke zombie imagery but also one of pseudo secularization of plot and theme.

[8] Not to be confused with Bob Dylan’s, or Hurricane’s or Jesus’ Release.

[9]  When I wrote this line I was thinking about two things; Miles Davis “In A Silent Way”, and the Rimbaud Poem En Saison En L’Enfer – (A Season In Hell) which begins “Once, if I remember rightly, my life was a feast where all hearts opened, and all wines flowed.”

[10] The story itself relies much like the art of Photography on three elements; Light…Light…and yes, Light.

[11] Once time cocaine addict, I also spent two semesters barely alive and dying from the addicts double life syndrome, so when I say I was a victim of some type of “doddle” you need to know that this stories skinny motif is connected to its “Season in Hell” diorama (Simpsons episode) style which is all actually just naval gazing. Which all professor’s loathe. Unless its perfect. So here’s hoping on a star, here’s wishing on a Rimbaud good luck charm I have…(L’Absinthe).

[12] He also loved to give characters their own personas which led me to think first of “Dr. J” as a potential short story mirror to my dear grandfathers final days.

[13] Plants and sunlight references for 500 Alec!

[14]  It’s not a big deal, but some professors whom I would never call out outwardly are really more interested in maintaining their slowly depreciating “sense of cool self” via making students laugh all year, then they turn back to the systems profoundly difficult and stress inducing curriculum as though anyone is as prepared as they MINGHT have been had they proff been more like, well, Dr. Grampa-Santa

[15] As the professor and I discussed after I showed him an early draft of this story, and I roughly will quote him here; “What’s really bizarre Scott, is that the same students will come see me or I see them in the halls and they talk and talk and talk like ‘der getting paid for it!!!”

[16] We would buy a 6-pack of Molson Dry sometimes, as hinted at in my other “Undertaker of St. John’s” story of gramps youth, and he would just fill me with stories of adventure, such as the time he stole a yacht from Armon Savoi’s then employer, the infamous gangster Hal. C Banks, and took it for a night sailing along the banks of the St. Lawrence. In another he spent time with Sailor White the wrestler turned coke head taxi driver. Grandfather was a goddamn legend and to write about him without footnoting at least a few of his hi jinx would be deplorable.

[17] As Dr. Loman says “The fact you won’t find it, doesn’t mean an original thought shouldn’t always be the goal”

[18] Hell I had LIVED in Usher’s house many a night, too…but that is another footnote….in another rant…

[19] If other writer’s read this story they will get the reference, and honestly, I don’t engineer massive stories that explain every little old thing to people. That’s spoon-feeding one’s art and that’s not why I write.

[20] This harkens to Hemingway’s classic, “A Clean, Well-Lit Place” and it gets explained later so for me that was a necessary evil, but to weigh the whole piece in such architect’s insider info-style leaks would for me, be redundant. Like explaining this, twice. Which I did, for effect.

[21] He made voice recording of famous cartoon and celebrity caricature’s for his friends back then, and recently I discovered he had quit teaching and become a bona fide voice actor, just Google his name and “Bob and Doug Mackenzie the Cartoon”- he did many voices on that.

[22] “Scotty use this word when your future wife wants to know if she looks good or not, tell her she is Ambrosia

[23] She was a red-head like me. I was in love.

[24] She attended my poetry awards when I won the Eden Mills Youth Contest and The Dorothy Shoemaker Award. Blessed are the lives lived with teachers who shine from the moment we meet them, and like distant stars afterward in the starry dynamo of our lives.

[25] To paraphrase Herbert Huncke who once mused, “More evil has been done under the guise of good than darkness could ever accomplish”

[26] And I published a book of LSD induced poetry entitled “Lies, Propaganda and Misconception” which I bound myself and sold 150 copies of to family and random encountered women. (One woman, and most friends didn’t pay the ten dollar price)

[27] Aunt Patty who never respected the old man and took any opportunity possible to remind him he ruined her chances at a normal childhood with his excessive drinking. The truth is more likely that she uses him as an excuse to justify her own excessive alcoholism, and to avoid ever attempting to be kind or normal herself, he acts as the ultimate father really. “Thanks, Dad.”

[28] I had to take the bus to school every day afterward and pass by the funeral home. Even now it bothers me some days.

[29] My aunts were mean to him, my uncles were all junkies and three overdosed, and my own father his only living son, was so caught up in punishing Gramps for his perceived failure as a father, by becoming an uptight asshole Jehovah’s Witness and rubbing it in Gramps face to the point he could do naught but scowl and drink more.

[30] I find the end of this little tale to be morose underscored. It barely moves from itself. It is nothing. Nothing, nada, zilch, fin-eatoe, ghandi, seeya later Charlie, So Long Irene, Talking when Ya Shoulda Been Listening, Vaccinated with a Gramaphone needle?, more sense in a parking meter,

[31] Langdon Hall, located in Blair, the oldest inland village in Canada.

[32] Alternatively, Amityville would suffice. Or House of Usher, even.

[33] Or the equally frightening Omen or Exorcist franchises.

[34] Like McDonald’s and their copy written “100 percent pure beef” which is neither pure, nor beef.

[35] Aka Porter, aka The Help aka The Kid aka “You There!”

[36] Worth noting it would not be my last run in with that company, Hobart also engineers the machine that wraps meat “like a broken Transformer stuck in its transition” as I note in my third tale, “Company from the Mainland”.

[37] Pans which arrived in 18 different varieties of size, each section of the kitchen requiring only certain models.

[38] Much like the line in my butcher tale “Company from the Mainland”

[39] Subtle hints of sexual frustration, for after all, I was just barely 20.

[40] Ran into him years later and I was dating this exotic dancer with curly red fire locks, he was clearly jealous. It felt good to see the little fuck squirm for once. Then I felt sorrow for him. He would never know a love like ours.

[41] Just an average spoon one would think, but I quickly became aware that the Chef with the most spoons wore them like a badge of pride, since for whatever reason there was always a shortage so invariably only 86 of 10 staff had enough to go the day without having to rewash them. A Chef having to wash a spoon is like a general on latrine duty.

[42] To this day anyone who knows me can easily paralyze me by reenacting this ritualistic performance.

[43] As in the grill that sits atop an industrial stove and is used to keep certain meats warm while others cooked, or more often to toast bits of Garlic toast etc, which inevitably burn to shit the second you are distracted by some waitress or new order.

[44] My stepfather turned me onto film at a young age, and before he was deported for not paying his taxes and forced to return to Chile, we sat and watched this movie one last time. I haven’t seen him

[45] Interestingly I was not his first sneak attack victim; the first was Holly- the waitress whom every man in the kitchen drooled over anytime she came back smiling and bubbling, almost naïve of her own sexual power in the kitchen. One day she forgot the basic rule that a waiter can never afford to forget, and she crossed the invisible line  between kitchen crew and wait staff. She wandered like Little Red Riding Hood then, into the forest of Morne’s hellish workspace, and like a wild pixie tempting a wilder boar, she was lunged at in a moment of sexual atrocity. Morne leant over and bit her however lightly on the shoulder. She wasn’t the same after that. The two weeks which precipitated her quitting were no longer filled with a bubbly innocent girl but instead she became, quiet. Unresponsive to any of our jokes or questions. She stopped being the angel she had been since birth. Morne had that effect I suppose, on anyone too young or oblivious to the wretchedness of life in his approximation.

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