10 Slices
Medium 9781552452677

Jobbers

Spencer Gordon Coach House Books ePub

JOBBERS

 

 

 

Amid a pile of paper plates, pizza boxes and the crumbly remains of breakfast, I stare down at the July ’91 edition of WWF Magazine. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts glares back from the glossy cover, his cocked brow just oozing evil. WWF Magazine is a regular sight in our house. Eddy, my eight-year-old brother, saves all his change to run down to the convenience store every month to grab the new edition. He has me read the articles to him. On this month’s cover there’s a headline about The Ultimate Warrior – Eddy’s favourite wrestler – and his ongoing feud with The Undertaker, who’s one of the most feared heels in the World Wrestling Federation. To Eddy, wrestling is literally life and death, especially when the Warrior is involved. Of course, as his big sister, I know better – I know it’s absolute horseshit.

From where I sit at the table, I can hear Gorilla Monsoon – black, hyperactive poodle, bought for forty bucks two weeks ago from a retired steelworker on East 22nd Street – whining non-stop in the spare bedroom. Gorilla isn’t properly housebroken. Mom and Uncle Keith (not really my uncle – he’s Mom’s boyfriend, most recent and longest lasting) are throwing a party tonight. They want Gorilla locked in the bedroom because if we let him run around the house he’ll piss and shit all over the floors, and for now it’s just too hot to keep him out back, especially with all that black fur. Gorilla’s so spastic that neither of them wants to deal with his jumping and barking, so his prison sentence extends until the end of the bash. Knowing Gorilla, and knowing Mom’s parties, the puppy will be yelping until three in the morning.

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Medium 9781552452677

The Land of Plenty

Spencer Gordon Coach House Books ePub

THE LAND OF PLENTY

 

 

 

Date: February 9, 2005

To: Szychszczecin, Gary ‘gary.szychszczecin@subway.ca’

From: LNC ‘l.c.royale@sympatico.net’

Subject: Re: Advertising Arrangement

Dear Gary,

I’ve been considering your offer. It’s a deal, man. You’ll be helping me more than you can fathom. Sincere thanks to you (and your father) for thinking of me in my time of need.

So how about we jump right in. How’s this, for instance:

If I decide to buy the small veggie subs (and by small, I mean the modest six-inchers), and I politely refuse those thin bricks of processed cheese (American cheese, they’re called in happy commercials) or even the smallest dollops of mayonnaise or oil (called ‘sub sauce’ by those in the know) or other fatty and high-caloric sauces (Chipotle Southwest, say, or Sweet Onion, light of my life), and I have this assembled and rolled in Nine-Grain Bread with its roughish, earthy exterior and thin particles of flax seeds, then I can begin a new life – not necessarily a longer or more worthy one (for who can foresee the stupidities and vagaries of time: public transit dragging, falling ice, penis tumours, high-profile legal betrayals), or even a life remembered by a generational fetish group, or one preserved in pigeon-shit-splattered iron and bronze or in the pages of rotting, useless books that stand with jutting chins before the last fire or storm wipes away their synthetic inks, but a life that is now and then touched by beauty, and goodness, and occasional mercy, because SUBWAY, you obviously know the secret – that life is shit.

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Medium 9781552452677

Wide and Blue and Empty

Spencer Gordon Coach House Books ePub

WIDE AND BLUE AND EMPTY

 

 

 

June slips into her refurbished office room at 10:49 p.m., full mug of decaf steaming in her hand, and logs in to ICQ Messenger. Finding Chris offline, she minimizes the ICQ Messenger window (heart sinking slightly, but only just – their ICQ date is set for 11:00) and begins a game of e-solitaire, promising herself she won’t wait for more than fifteen minutes before logging off and heading to bed.

It is silent on the second floor of June’s 2,000-square-foot, semi-detached, four-bedroom home – a property of nine-foot ceilings and deep-set cold cellar, two-car garage and oak floors, gourmet kitchen and walk-in pantry – as she waits for her son, Christopher, living across the province in a tiny apartment in Ottawa, to log in to ICQ and to chat with her. June mouths the word warily – chat – feeling a delicious tingle of anticipation. Having bought the internet only three months prior, June still approaches the web as a wild and newfangled landscape, still tinged with the risks of danger and provocation. Every time she logs on she feels bold and daring, strangely and surreally modern. She feels especially sophisticated considering that she, fifty-four years old and feeling absolutely ancient, could actually be in a chat room, and that soon her son might join her and write her text messages in real time, his written phrases appearing in a cute pc window with its accompanying Uh-oh! sound bite. It wasn’t exactly how she envisioned the future, but it was certainly exciting.

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Medium 9781552452677

This Is Not An Ending

Spencer Gordon Coach House Books ePub

THIS IS NOT AN ENDING

 

 

 

Claude Brazeau: His name is Pierre Lebrun …

911 Dispatch Operator: Does he wear glasses?

Claude Brazeau: No. He stutters.

– 911 emergency telephone call, April 6, 1999, 2:39 p.m.

 

‘Hey, Terry,’ says Joel, a shipper. ‘Ask Scabby what kind of bus it is.’ ‘What kind of bus is it, Pierre?’ asks Terry, a mechanic.

Pierre Lebrun feels a lurching drop in his stomach, a stinging rush of blood to his ears. Although his eyes are lowered, he can still make out the blurry shape of Terry’s smile: a looming, left-leaning grin. Without looking up, Pierre reaches across the central workbench of the garage and wraps his hand around a Black & Decker vise. To calm himself, he thinks.

‘Yeah, Scabby, I think you know what I mean,’ Terry says, taking a sip of his Timmies.

Pierre drags the vise closer. He stares hard at the wooden workbench, watching hazy, oil-stained hands stumble over tools. Someone drops a screwdriver. Someone sorts noisily through rivets and washers. A piece of brake mechanism lies cleaned and gutted on the far side of the hangar-like repair shop, awaiting the strong, dexterous fingers of its operators.

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Last Words

Spencer Gordon Coach House Books ePub

LAST WORDS

 

 

 

The doctor points to an X-ray of my lungs, circles an area near my trachea. The office air goes queer – pressurized, headachy – as she opens her mouth to speak. Tumours, she says, delicately, as if invoking the name means invitation. Here and here and here, tapping the photograph, signalling the first signs of a cancer that may spread from my lungs to my throat and to my brain. Or not, she adds, careful; we can’t predict the process of the disease. So, they might otherwise head south, passing through my capillaries to leech into my stomach, my liver, my pancreas. They may shrink, or they may just stay put, grow to the size of ripe plums in my chest.

Who knows? Once you’ve got a weed, I’m thinking, the whole lawn is lost. I’ve spent enough time gardening, knees and hands stained with soil, to know how the whole grisly show operates. One arrogant yellow bloom pokes its tufty head out of so much healthy green, and then there’s a legion. But these weeds aren’t happy yellow dandelions, won’t fade to spidery white filaments that blow to bits at the end of summer. And I can’t simply rise and retire, put away my tools and abandon the manicured fight. No, the next few months will be shadowy, elusive, spiked with the brooding talk of tumours: morbid entanglements of humour and tomb.

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