November 27, 2004 (short story)

November 27, 2004

Morning Run

It’s cold but I want to go for a run. I’m just sitting here staring at the computer, it’s Saturday, I should be doing something. Spencer comes over later, I should study for provincials but I can do that tomorrow night. Today is mom’s birthday but her and Tory are in Victoria. Reston is still asleep and dad is upstairs in the shower singing in a baritone. He actually has a pretty good voice.

 

Oh shit it’s cold and I’m just in the garage. I suppose wearing a sleeveless shirt doesn’t help. There’s the LeBaron, I’m still shaken a bit: did I get away with murder or am I missing something? When Troy and I opened the top while it was too cold and dad was ready to go crazy, then he noticed that Tory borrowed his favourite jacket without asking and it was hidden in the back. That is a bit funny, reminds me of being a kid, Tory would always remember everything bad that I ever did then when he’d get in trouble he’d go “But guess what Barrett did!” This time I think I won. That was a fun night with Troy, we ordered what, 70 timbits from Tim Horton’s with Kim and everybody and even though it was cold those ice capps were also delicious.

 

Let me stop wasting time, ok, whooooo, that is cold air. Let me dial 1216 to shut the garage and let me go. Shit, the ground is a bit slippery but this is fun yeah! My heart is going and my brain is in motion. My iPod mini that dad brought for all of us from Chicago is great, I wonder just how long I could run. Everyone in school is so jealous. Oh, ‘A Perfect Circle’ is playing, let me change that, this is the song that we listened to with Nuala in the LeBaron the first time I ever took her anywhere and she made fun of it. Alexia defended me, that was nice of her. Let’s do Idioteque, “Ice age coming, ice age coming….”, it’s right, today is an ice age.

 

Let me run down the hill first, get me moving. There’s Kim’s house down there. Here is the place where that friend of somebody’s car rolled into the house. I hope no one was injured. There are the swing sets, I used to love it there, talking with Garrett or Isaac for hours, who ever knew that just talking could be so, so…lovely. Stupid word choice. Brain let’s go. Let me go fast. These roads are new. Strange, that there can be a forest here then it disappears and roads come and people have their lives as if there never was a forest here. There’s still that little hut, I remember walking through the forest that was with Garrett after watching the Ring and we were both so scared. He walked me home, then I walked him home, then we agreed we would walk our separate ways right at the midpoint, in the forest. Strange, how a place can change. I wonder who is in my old bedroom on Georgia View? I wonder if Garrett has forgiven me, I don’t think I need forgiveness but I guess I was a jerk.

 

There is a real wind, the waves are big. It would be fun to run down on the beach but maybe the tide is up and it will be impossible. Too much work with the stairs anyway. Reston goes up and down them for sport, sounds boring and miserable to me but then Reston is Reston. Letttttttt’s go. Weird that two girls called Alli emailed me today, both of them are pretty weird. Strange that Alli remembers me all this time after our cruise, I don’t understand what she wants from me, we are so far away but I like her smile. Maybe if she was closer things would be different, but then, maybe if she was closer things would just be as strange. Then, the other Alli, I can’t believe those things I heard her say about me at Survivor camp late at night, when I was going to tell the girls to shut up and go to sleep then listened to her gossip. She was 14, I guess that’s old enough to speak like that but it makes me sad. She keeps saying she’s my stalker, she’s just a kid. I guess I’m just a kid too but not like that, I guess I’m less of a kid than I was.

 

My body is warm now, I love this feeling of my body being like a furnace, the cold just evaporating off me. I feel so fucking alive, it’s nice. Here is the spot where I remember Mr. Simpson stopping his car, reversing and chasing me while I was running. His face was hilarious: “Barrett, you’re running”. I guess I don’t blame him, I was pretty uhhhh, uninspired in gym class. I don’t like to be told what to do. How am I supposed to be competitive about some game? It’s called a game precisely because it doesn’t matter, it’s just fun, it’s just diversion, but I don’t care. Why do I want to win something if the winning doesn’t mean anything. Let the others win if that’s what gives them meaning or whatever. But what do I care about? I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on these other guys if I don’t know what I want. I think probably that I suck at most sports might have something to do with why I don’t like to play them.

 

Around the corner, here’s Robbie’s street. I wonder if him and Amie can make things work? I loved Mr. Currell’s class so much with those two guys, but how could Grade 11 have been so much fun, all of us just being crazy fun, while this year it’s like an episode of the OC. Amie’s confusing but Robbie should just stop being such a whiner about this. Whatever. Things are different from the inside than the outside. At least my projects in animation are going well. I think I’m making something really honest, it means something to me but I don’t understand what. Everyone else is making something that already exists, they’re trying to copy reality. I want to create a reality that doesn’t exist, I want it to be something internal, I want it to be, to be, I don’t know, I can’t express it. I want it to show the world who I am. Maybe.

 

Here’s Jill’s house, I hope she can’t see me, she thinks I run funny. Who notices those things? But she is funny, I like going to concerts and seeing how everyone knows her and loves her, she makes people smile. Jenn’s house is down here, should I go down and say hi? Maybe her dad will answer, he is a bit scary. I like those girls, too bad summers over, I was just fitting in now they are back to being Tory’s. I remember in the summer all of us huddled under the slide in Groveland park telling jokes over some vodka and god they are funny and they thought I was funny. Jenn sent me an email a few days ago, what did she say? Something funny but a bit sexy, but then I think it’s just funny, I say the same things and am just trying to stay a step ahead. This stuff is complex, I wonder if I was to kiss her if she would kiss me back or just push me away and say I am crazy or if she would yell and scream and hate me. Let me run faster.

I am flowing. My daytime fantasties our blurring together, I am here running running, free. The cold doesn’t exist, my brain is off, it is something like my project for Mr. Currell’s class, something that can’t be described but is an experience. There is Isaac’s house, he is always so late. There is Little Ceasers, closed right now, I miss mom getting hot’n’readies and bringing them home and making us wait suffering from the smell of the pizza while she microwaves broccoli. I could run forever, I can flow, I can be something more than who I am, I can be something beautiful in my life, let me graduate highschool, let me go to McGill and become a writer and change the world and have the world remember me as something special. Montreal was so incredible, I want to live there, but it’s expensive. I feel bad about watching Grandpa fall, it wasn’t so bad but I was thinking I should warn him but didn’t.

 

I am getting close to home now. Let me keep running hard. The Streets “Blinded By the Lights” droning in my ears. Here is where I did that joke with Robbie in the LeBaron and I slammed on the breaks and he flew forward and hurt himself. I was worried that maybe that hurt our friendship, but then we had that day where he said “Play me a beautiful song” while we were in the LeBaron and I played that song Nuala gave me by Elliot “Song in the Air” with it’s haunting violin and the roof was down in the car and we stared up in the blue sky and it was so nice and he said it was beautiful, but with a laugh so it wasn’t so serious. That was in front of Radu’s house, why were we there?

 

Here’s our house, home sweet home. I’m slowing down and I can feel the cold again. I walk up our driveway but hop around on the grass a bit, I like the feeling of the frost as it crumbles. The day is so clear, I can see all the islands, there are some little boats on the water, I hope the waves aren’t too big for them.

 

I open the garage door and shut the garage door. I go upstairs, skipping every step and leaning into the curve and I see dad in his robe in the kitchen just finishing breakfast. Awesome time and it smells delicious. Too bad mom isn’t here, it’s her birthday and I haven’t even said Happy Birthday yet. There’s all day for that. Dad made that bread with the cheese on it toasted in the oven so the cheese is a bit black, and then I put the eggs on it. Oh god it smells so good. Reston is sitting at the table looking at his physics homework, it’s Sunday, shouldn’t he just relax?

 

Dad makes me a plate and I sit down and it’s so good.

 

 

Super Smash Brothers Melee

The door bell rings and I can see Spencer on the other side, god he is tall.

 

I tell him “Hey Spence man how you doing?” He has a bit of a grin, what’s he laughing about?

 

He tells me “Where is she? Where is the birthday girl?” Oh, that’s where the grin is from. Nice, that he’d remember mom’s birthday. I wonder if his mom reminded him? No, I think he probably remembered for himself, he’s good with things like that: a charmer.

 

I tell him “Sorry man, she’s in Vic with Tory checking out UVic, Tory’s thinking about going there after grad or something.”

 

He tells me “Oh yeah, and why didn’t you go too?” Why didn’t I go too? Well, I guess I wasn’t invited.

 

I tell him “Well I wasn’t really invited and I was busy anyway, it’s the weekend I don’t want to spend all day in the car. Besides, my mom wants to go swim and stuff while Tory’s at his event or whatever he’s doing and I don’t feel like doing nothing while she swims.”

 

He tells me “You could have gone swimming in that big pool in Victoria and you didn’t? Man, you’re stupid, that would have been awesome.” Haha, Spencer thinks everything in the world about a pool is amazing. Spencer Pool loves pools, funny how that works out to be true. I wonder if there is any deeper meaning in my name? Barrett Nash, what does that mean? I like swimming but not for so long and maybe I am kind of too old to play there.

 

I tell him “Yeah, it would have been fun, but not for waking up at 7am. Anyway man, Reston and Duncan are over playing Smash, you want to go join in?”

 

He tells me “Yeah” and he takes his big beige shoes off by the door and we walk over the green and beige tiles and we go through the double doors. There is Reston and Duncan on the couch playing furious, Spence and I just sit and watch without speaking for a bit, don’t want to break their frustration.

 

When they’re finished they do a round of hello’s with me and Spence, we say some hello’s back. They talk about hackie sack and Radu being Radu and how crazy he is, which I guess is a conversation I’m neither in or out of. Then Spence and I grab Gamecube controllers, a yellow one with a good joystick for me.

 

Reston is setting up, choosing the levels and stuff. He is playing as Pikachu, Spencer is Yoshi, Duncan is Princess Peach and I am, as almost always, Samus. We’re choosing a level and it is Star Fox, I like this one, it’s a classic, goes back to the first Smash on N64.

 

BEGIN screams the TV and Peach and Yoshi start going at it immediately. Within seconds Duncan knocks Spence off the platform to death.

 

Reston says to Spencer “Nice one man, good start.” Christ Reston can be sarcastic, but here it is awesome, Spencer really sucked and he’s looking a bit goofy.

 

He’s back in, we’re playing five lives each. I’m doing pretty good, but I’m not sophisticated like Reston or Duncan. Down on the C-Stick. Left on the C-Stick. Right on the C-Stick. Up on the C-Stick. Repeat. Repeat. I don’t do grabs, I don’t use power ups to much, even items are more of a bother. Reston and Duncan are super inventive, they treat the entire world like it is something to make use of, like, nothing throws them off balance. But I’m good with Samus, I’m good with my moves, and I’m not stupid, maybe they’re better players but I can be strategic. Let me come out and hit them strong while they are weak. Let me build an energy ball and just keep launching them from the high ground. Let me let them focus on each other, weaken each other, let me win. Sometimes I do, many times. Very rarely I think is the most beautiful player the player who wins. Where is my head? Let me get back in the game. Spencer is out, Duncan is almost out. Haha. Fucking Duncan. He had a big hammer and just walked off the level yelling “OOOOOOOOO”. He is hilarious.

 

OK it is just me and Reston. One life left each. I’ve got a bit better health but he’s got his tongue out, he’s concentrating.

 

He says to me “Come on stop being where I can’t get you, that’s cheap”. I drop a few little bombs on him, but he’s right that is cheap. OK. Let me get into this. He is jumping around me left right and center. Pikachu is a tricky player to control, has very short range attacks but some interesting distance attacks. Quite nicely balances against Samus actually, they both have some similar electric distance moves. He is sitting on the far end sending electric bounce attacks at me, I am sending electric balls over to him. The two different attacks meet in the center and kill each other. Haha, ok, what happens now?

 

Then, something happens, bad luck for me, a big electric sword falls to where Reston can pick it up. Shit, that sucks. It’s super good against my C-Stick moves, something similar to it, except has a longer range. He grabs it in mid air, wow he has good control, then runs towards me. He knows he’s got me. He’s coming fast but I have a bit of time. I charge my electric ball, if I can just get it fully charged and get a good hit on him he is damaged enough it could, maybe, blow him away. He’s running fast at me, I’m not going to make it, maybe I will make it, I shoot at the last minute and fuck, well, of course he was expecting this, he puts on his shield, no damage, then he comes over and swipes me right off the level. Still, second place isn’t so bad.

 

We all go into the big garage, biggest garage in the neighborhood, space for four cars. So cool. Fun place to go, with foosball and ping pong and music and couches and the Lebaron and everything. I have all my Transformers and Power Rangers from when I was a kid set up on the ping pong table.

 

Duncan says “Wow man, totally  cool, are those Transformers.” Him and Spencer head over there, Reston is setting up the stereo. Red Hot Chilli Peppers Californication, sick song, Garrett doesn’t like it, says it’s rote or something, but he always want’s underground stuff, like Sage Francis. Sometimes music should just be fun.

 

Spencer is saying he remembers playing with this stuff when he was a kid. Did we play with this stuff back then? I don’t think Spencer was around so much. Maybe. I’m holding the White Ranger’s zord, opening and closing the hidden head for when it is the ultra zord. The coolest is definitely the original Power Rangers Mega Zord, which is complete, could be a collectors edition. I remember mom got it at that function they have at Beban where she get’s baby rags.

 

Spence and Duncan are playing foosball so me and Reston head over to pingpong. I’m standing with the music at my back and there is just a little bit of a slant to the floor which I think gives me an advantage. I can beat him, just like he can beat me. He maybe beats me a little more than I beat him in general, but if I concentrate I can almost always win. And he just beat me at Smash, let me beat him this time.

 

I hit a hard serve when I don’t think he’s suspecting, not unfair, just to go from no movement to total movement. It’s about winning. It’s about strategy. It’s a good serve and it goes right off down the back of the table and oh shit, the door is open and it’s rolling down the garage. Haha, poor Roost, it’s cold out there. He comes back and tosses the ball to me in mid-air, I can’t always catch that but this time I do. I do another hard serve and this time he knocks it back at me. I hit it so hard at him that it comes back at me so fast that I fuck up and it goes off the table right into his waiting hand. OK brother, let’s play man.

 

We are going back and forth and I am getting into a flow. The music is necessary. I have some little tricks I do. I need to wear my glasses. I need to concentrate, but concentrate by losing focus, I just react, I don’t think about the game, I just respond. I can feel my hand unconsciously taking a better grip on the paddle. We are playing crazy good, we are really closely matched. Back and forth back and forth my eyes completely unfocused, it is what dancing must be like, I flow, I can hit anything. Every point lost is annoying but I don’t make stupid mistakes. He is winning a bit but I play better when I’m down a little. OK, let me win this thing. OK. And boom I hit a snipe right into the far back corner and wow he volleys it right back at me but I’m there, my paddle stationary and it just softly goes over the net and he lunges fast fast and hit’s up shit, just hitting it at all is impressive. Fuck, this should be a kill shot, he’s lobbed it to me so easy, I should just be able to nuke it down at him, but my eyes don’t work that way. Instead I wait for it to bounce and hit it back softly over. He is happy to be alive. He eventually wins the point and the game. Fuck it, whatever, I guess it’s not my day.

 

I watch Spence and Reston play for awhile then I go outside , not too far, my black Nike sandals don’t protect me from the cold so much. I wonder if it will snow? I remember it snowed a little bit and it was so fun, taking Curtis’s little truck and doing donuts in the parking lot of Woodgrove. Spencer was there too, Spence and Bjorn and Radu, it was a fun day. When we lined up all the shopping carts in a row and used the truck to push them around like a train. Haha, reminds me of when in the same parking lot Jordan chased me down and knocked me to the ground because I leapt out of his car at a red light while owing him a dollar. Him and Troy really got me, haha, them driving over the traffic medium thing, coming at me, was like something from a movie.

 

I say to Spence “Hey man let’s play some Vice City. Come on.” He comes up the stairs into the playroom or whatever we call it leaving Reston and Spence huddled over foot ball.

 

The door shuts just as Duncan is saying something funny, but I can hear Reston’s laugh reverberate anyway. Wonder what the joke was.

 

Quality Foods for Olive Oil

Characters:

Nash Junior (as Barrett and Bear): Middle triplet, son of Cynthia and Nash Sr.

Cynthia (as Mom and Scooter): Matriarch and mother of the Nanaimo Nash’s, this play takes place on her birthday

Nash Senior (as Dad): Patriarch and father of the Nanaimo Nash’s

Scene 1:

Scene: Dad alone in kitchen cooking salmon. Barrett sitting on big black couch below large picture of Elvish reading Time Magazine. Mom out of scene but in earshot.

Dad: Bear, any idea where the olive oil is?

Barrett: Sorry daddio, you catch the cupboard already?

Dad: Already checked the cupboard. Ohhhhhh Scooooter… where is the olive oil?

Mom (offstage in a shout): Honey, I think we’re finished. You didn’t get more when you went to Costco?

Dad: No, I got everything else but I thought we had some in the cupboard

Mom: Well do you really need it?

Dad: Well we have Costco foccacia break, basil tomatoes and need to put it on the salmon. No problems at all though, we can just send one of the boys to the store.

(Barrett puts Time Magazine above his face, trys to disappear)

Mom: No, no, let’s not bug the boys. I can just run to Quality Foods and pick this up, I have a few coupons that expire before the end of the month that I want to use and I don’t want to torture the boys with that.

Dad: Well it’s your birthday so I’m sure one of the boys would love to go with you. (all lights on stage dim except for a bright spotlight on Barrett)

Barrett: Oh, uhhh, yeah. I would love to, let’s go.

Mom: Great, meet you in the car. I’ll drive since the car is setup for me.

Scene 2:

Mom and Barrett in the car, a small black Mercedes Coupe. The egine has a small super charger that makes a whirring sound. It is night time, very dark with crisp November air. The scene starts as they are driving down Groveland Rd.

Mom: Oh, we need some gas. I can just pick up some tomorrow.

Barrett: Sure. Gas is so expensive right now. Anyway, so how was Victoria?

Mom: It was good, Tory seemed to really like UVic. Then you know me, I was in heaven at the Commonwealth Pool. The new Aquatic Center here in Nanaimo (NAC) is so cold, but the Commonwealth Pool  is really perfect. I wonder if I could call the people at the NAC and tell them to make it a little bit warmer? They are always saying that they need to keep it that cold for the aquatic team but then the Commonwealth Pool has the same issue and they keep it warmer.

Barrett: Good point, but they have that Ozone system, maybe it makes things different?

(Driving past Dover Bay, Barrett and the other triplets highschools. There is a large sign with the words “Study for your provincials”)

Mom: So how is studying going Bear?

Barrett: I’ve started a little bit but not too much yet. I think I can really do well in History and English, but Chemistry is a bit harder. Last year it was just all so easy but this year it’s harder. It’s more organic stuff and I don’t have a very good memory for it.

Mom: The organic side was actually what I was always best at. I even studied Biology in university. Have you given anymore thought to what you want to apply for?

Barrett: I would really like to go to McGill, Montreal was such a cool place. But, they charge way more for being out there, like double UVic or UBC. I really like UBC when we went there in the summer. Then, when Shaun and I went to Vancouver in the summer…

Mom: You mean when you broke dad’s fire alarm and just left a note saying  “broke the fire alarm, sorry”. Dad loves telling that story.

Barrett: (haha) Yeah, that time. Anyway, we had such a good time. Walking the seawall, having dad take us out to that barbecue restaurant. I think I could really like it there. Then, both Arts 1 and Arts Foundations sound like really cool courses.

(Going down the steep Uplands hill)

Mom: I always find it too easy to speed here. And look, even today on there are police at the bottom. Really, they are scavengers. Good thing I was going slow, that would be a terrible birthday gift.

Barrett: Yeah, definitely.

Mom: So you think you are going to go for an Arts program?

Barrett: Yeah, I guess so. You know Reston is doing Engineering, Tory is doing Business, kind of feel like Arts is the right place for me. I like English and History and everything. Besides, I hear first year isn’t so important for your classes, it’s when you figure out what sort of things you are really interested in. I kind of hate that all these people are asking me all the time “What do you want to be what do you want to be what do you want to be.” You know? I haven’t even started yet

Mom: Well, I’m sure you’ll make the right choice. Having you in Vancouver instead of Montreal would definitely make me happy.

Barrett: Well, it will certainly save me money on airlifting my laundry back here.

(Entering Quality Foods parking lot)

Mom: I hate this parking lot, it’s always so tight.

Barrett: But hey, there’s a spot over there.

Mom: Good eye.

(Both exit car and head towards themain entrance)

Barrett: Did you lock the doors?

Mom: I think so but I can press the remote again.

Scene 3

Mom and Barrett entering Quality Foods. There are others with shopping carts doing their shopping. All the lights are bright but then dim except for a spotlight in the center that Barrett alone walks into. All other characters are frozen in place.

Barrett in a soliliquay speaking to the crowd: Fuck, I am so tired of being asked about university. Everywhere I go, everyone I talk to: so what do you want to do after graduation? I’m tearing my hair out! Maybe I just want to be a plumber. I don’t know what I want to be. But it’s certainly not mom’s fault, she certainly has the right to ask me. I’m just under this weight of everyone telling me that I need to make choices that change the rest ofmy life, yet, it feels like all I am doing is flipping a coin. McGill or UBC. Business or Arts. Can my life be so random? Can really a decision I make today change where I will be in ten years? Let me not worry about these things. Let me clear my mind. Here it is, moms birthday, and I am in my own little mental world, disappeared from the moment. Let me enjoy Quality Foods, I like this place, with its good smells.

(lights back up, crowd begins to move, Barrett grabs a shopping cart and follows close behind mom)

Mom: OK now what do I need? If you want to go run ahead and entertain yourself go ahead. I think I’m going to torture you getting all the things I need.

Barrett: No, no problems, I like going up and down the aisles. Reminds me of When I was little and I would go with you on Triple Coupon day. Was fun and they’d give me a free cheese stick.

Mom: You could probably still get a cheese stick…

Barrett: Mom, that stops at 12 years old: I’m 16!

Mom: Well, why don’t you get one anyway? Get whatever you want.

Barrett: No, I’m OK. I don’t want to spoil dinner anyway.

Mom: Well, if you’re sure. Keep your eyes open for anything you want.

Barrett: Sure

(few moments of shopping)

Mom: Hey Bear, look at this. See these Oreos, they’re normally three dollars but today they’re on sale for two dollars. Then, guess who has a one dollar coupon? So we can buy the entire container of Oreos for just one dollar.

Barrett: Actually, that is a real great deal…

Mom: Well all these things add up, you know if you do this for a year how much money we can save.

The stage begins to dim, there is still some chatter. Mom and Barrett haven’t even gotten the olive oil yet. But, life works in multiple dimensions, one of which is temporal which means that while this author would like to fall in deeply to the p

ryuast, the present is calling. He was sick but no longer and the realities of today are calling. What is interesting is this capacity to fall backwards, to reflect, to remember. This day did not exist but days like it did exist. The smell of Quality Foods, so pleasant, may have disappeared, but a single look at Chinese Noodles anywhere in the world makes this author disappear into a world where he was shorter and the world was different colors.

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