Mar 2019 16

‘Why yes, Doctor. Let’s just say I might happen to have an extra kidney or two, should the need arise…’ #checkup #vet #Parkdale #seniordogs #urinetest

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Mar 2019 16

Instagram @henrysperson

Mar 2019 15

“Stephanie of the what?” Apes. Large, ground-dwelling primates. Keep up, please. Sheesh. Part 1 of this tale is here for all 3 of you readers.

 

Present day. He makes a phone call.

“Mom, do you remember my friend Stephanie when I was a kid?”

“Who, dear?”

“Stephanie. When I was really young. Lived on our street. We took her to the zoo.”

“Was she the one who ate paper mache paste?”

“No, that was Emma.”

“Hmmm, I don’t remember her.”

Six year-olds should not be worried about their soulmates being ripped apart by primates. They should be doing six-year old things. Like playing with LEGO, or spreading germs, or wondering why Ernie is trying to score a hit of letter ‘S’ from some shady guy in a raincoat.

But we don’t choose our burdens.

The night before the zoo outing, he strategized.

How to save Stephanie.

Perhaps he could invite someone else to the zoo instead. Adam, or Caroline. He wouldn’t mind if either of them were ripped to shreds. But no, it was probably too late for that.

Praying. Would praying work here? What good was all that kneeling at the side of the bed and asking God to bless so-and-so before sleeping if you couldn’t ask for a solid now and then for yourself? But he had asked for a puppy and still, nothing. No, God was decidedly unreliable.

Could he just avoid the train? Yes. No train ride, no Stephanie being thrown off of train. There. Done. Of course, his sister could downshift into pushing her into the Ostritch pen or something like that but he’d take his chances.

Zoo day. His mother’s sedan awaited on their driveway. They were ready to embark. Stephanie floated down the street, like on a skateboard. Sensible shorts and sneakers. Great animal-gazing attire. As he and Stephanie climbed into the backseat, his sister, Barbara, looked at him and mouthed the word ‘Dead’ to him as she pulled her finger along her throat. They buckled up and away they went.

 

At the zoo, they saw bats hanging upside down. Lions that did nothing but lie under the trees, looking tired. Monkeys did their job of flinging poo at the glass towards them. He watched Barbara carefully.

And after lunch, his mom said “Why don’t we go on the train?”

“Yes, let’s all go on the train” said Barbara.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Honey, don’t you want to see gorillas?”

“No, I don’t want to.”

“Let’s let Stephanie decide,” said Barbara. “Stephanie do you want to see gorillas? Up close?”

“Yes. Very much.”

“Mom, I don’t want Stephanie to die!!!”

“What? Honey, no one’s going to die. We’ll all be perfectly fine. Don’t be ridiculous.”

So they got on the train. They took their seats. Stephanie peered out as the train left the boarding station and rollicked along the track, suspended above something that approximated the terrain of Africa.

And then, Barbara, sitting a row ahead of them, slowly turned around to look at Stephanie.

“Look,” Stephanie said. “Gorillas!”

But he didn’t look. He only looked down, clutched Stephanie’s hand and didn’t look away.

As long as he could see her small hand in his, feel its weight, she was there. She was alive.

But is that what happened? Or perhaps, did Barbara turn around to face them, all gates of hell and evil furnace in her eyes. And did she rip a doll he called Stephanie, right from his hands, and fling it over the side of the train, as he shrieked and it helicoptered down into the trees, disappearing below?

Or did Barbara turn around to face them, yes, with all that above evil stuff in her eyes, and then he, himself, lifted Stephanie up, legs kicking as his mother looked in horror at what her child was perpetrating and he threw her over the side as he thought “If she is to die, I owe it to her to do it myself”?

He doesn’t remember the car ride home. He doesn’t remember seeing her again.

Today he wonders, did Stephanie exist at all?

Memory, like love, can be ripped apart, thrown from a moving train.

 

 

Mar 2019 11

90, going on 8. Update: After almost 4 weeks of hospital food, and giving some pneumonia superbug’s ass the royal fuck right off, figured the guy deserved a Cheeseburger. #Parkdale #physio #rehab #judgeme
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Mar 2019 11

 

When he tries to recall Stephanie, he immediately thinks about gorillas.

And vice versa, too. Even now, more than thirty years later, whenever he sees a gorilla, whether it’s in a documentary, or ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie, or even the famous Nintendo Donkey Kong, Stephanie still comes to mind.

She was his neighbourhood crush when he was six years old.

It’s not that she looked like a gorilla. Well, actually he can’t really remember her face at all. So he guesses it is possible she did resemble a gorilla. But he recalls that she had short blonde hair, and was rather slight. Although he likes to think that even then he was more about the person inside rather than looks, it would’ve been unlike him to be attracted to a large herbivorous ape. Not his type.

He vividly remembers other girls he had a crush on during this period. Claire, and her sun-dappled freckles. Nora and her dark eyes and hair that flipped up at the shoulders. Japanese Kaida, with her short pixie cut and intense stare.

But Stephanie is a swirl; her face, a big, mottled blur.

This is probably because all of his six-year old focus was not on her, as much as it was on saving her from being eaten by gorillas.

This took a lot of energy.

We go back to a summer. No school. Lazy days to fill with activities, and his mom announced she was taking him and his older sister to the zoo on the weekend. He was allowed to bring one friend.

So of course, he did what any six year old in love would do. He invited his beloved. A mom phone call was made, and Stephanie’s parents wisely blessed the union. It would be a lovely wedding story someday.

In the days leading up to the outing, he started to plan it all in his head. Stephanie, you look lovely today. What a delightful sundress. My, how the sunlight does dance in your decidedly non-gorilla eyes. It is like this beautiful and unmatched summer day only exists as a failed attempt to outdo your dazzling beauty. The animals will be the ones who talk about what they saw today. Six year old him was still a romantic.

It would be perfect.

Except for his sister. Four years older, although what does evil care with number of orbits of the earth? She had other plans that she shared with him when no else was around.

“Your girlfriend, Stephanie?”

“Ya, isn’t she great?”

“At the zoo, I’m going to throw her off the monorail train and she’s going to get eaten by the gorillas.”

It’s true, there was a state-of-the-art monorail train at the zoo. He had seen pictures in the ads.

“Noooooooo, don’t!”

“Yes, I am. She’s going to die.”

There was regular sibling mean, like eating your piece of cake, or punching you in the face when parents aren’t looking. Or even telling you you’re adopted. But this went over the line.

Murder. No way. Barbara couldn’t possibly be serious. But then again, she did crush his Batmobile with her bike.

He decided this warranted a family dinner conversation. But it had to be subtle. He waited a good 14 seconds into dinner.

“Mom. When we take Stephanie to the zoo, Barbara says she’s going to throw her off that train that’s there.”

There. That oughta do it. Love wins again.

“Oh, honey, that’s just ridiculous. No one’s getting thrown off of any train. We’re all going to have a great time.”

Across the dinner table, Barbara ate her buttered corn niblets and smiled at him to show the futility of his attempts to save his girlfriend.

He thought of Stephanie’s waifish form in Barbara’s clutches, raised high above her head and then being flung from the train, disappearing into the canopy of trees below, to her fate. Ripped apart by gorillas. More limbs than she even possessed flying everywhere.

Good lord. He realized she was going to get away with it.

 

——

In case you can’t sleep, wondering how it ends… Part 2 is here