Sunday, January 14, 2018

27. The Jesus of the West

Stacey got up first.  She went down to the closest place that wasn’t Starbucks and bought enormous, scalding-hot coffees.  She also bought three newspapers.  The tabloid had a blurry video image of William struggling with the speed freak.  The headline was, “Messiah Mayhem.”  The large format daily had a blurry picture of the mob, frantic people running amid frantic waterfowl, with Milt and Alan at the edge of the frame.  Its accompanying headline: “Confusion Reigns in Western Jesus Search.”  The traditionally dull national daily said, “U.S. Ignores Softwood Lumber Ruling in Canada’s Favour.”

“But check out page three,” said Stacey.  There was a full page spread under the headline, “Who is the Reluctant Saviour?”  There was a picture of William from a year earlier that had been published in one of the local Burnaby papers.  He was in a GVRD uniform, and, unfortunately, blowing into a goose caller.  There was an account of his education and an enumeration of the various lightning strikes.

“They missed the cow,” he said. 

It ended, “Mr. Kendall is unmarried with no children.”  William was stomach-punched.  What was the relevance of that?  Were the empty details of his life revealed to make him seem a more plausible Jesus?  He felt they made him a more pathetic, less accomplished figure to people who once knew him.  It must have been in a dismally slow news cycle.  “He said, “What terrifyingly public lives we all now live—the double-edged, bloody hell of search engines.” 

Stacey raised her eyebrows.  “You okay?  I’m sorry.  Maybe I shouldn’t have bought the papers.”

He looked at her.  She was a gift.  “I’m fine, thank you,” he said.

She was planning to spend the day with her mother, who was worried because her daughter had been featured in the newscasts.  Stacey felt it necessary to explain things to her mom, to put her mind at ease.  Her mother wouldn’t settle for a phone call.  She wanted her baby home.

Before she left, Stacey said, “Your life is becoming very big and strange.  I’m not sure why, but I like being in it, even though you’re like a train heading for a broken bridge.”              

“I feel exactly the same about you,” William said, “except for the big and strange part, and the train and the broken bridge parts.”

“I’m not joking,” she said.

“Yes, I know, thank you.”  He jiggled her hand in an obscure way.

By phone he demanded of Alan, “Take me back to Burnaby Lake!”  First he wanted to prove that he wasn’t the Jesus of the Anything.  Second he wanted to confront Milt about being White Lynx.

Alan picked him up at the Broadway Skytrain station.  From there it was a relatively quick drive to the lake.  The radio was playing Every Move You Make.

“I had to go there anyway,” Alan said.  “Milt and Baba are already on the way there.  Milt is going to try to drown himself again, probably.”

“I doubt it,” William said.

“You don’t know Milt.”

“No, you don’t know Milt,” William replied.  “He may not be as loopy as he would have you believe.”

“He’s extremely loopy.  He’s mega-loopy.”

“We’ll see.”  Then William told him he had addressed the issue of his lie with Stacey.


“Really?”  Alan was genuinely surprised.  “I don’t get why you would bother to do that.”

“Because when I was out my mother phoned and had a lovely chat with her,” William said.

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Imagine her surprise.  What did she do?”

“She stomped on my balls.”

Alan said, “No way!  Or are you talking metaphorically?”

“Definitely not metaphorically.”

“Was it like playful, for fun, or was she angry?”

“It can be fun?”

“Of course it can.”

William ran through a raft of mental questions, including, Did Hannah ever stomp on Alan’s?  He couldn’t imagine her doing that.  Would she ever do that?  Could she make it fun?  He didn’t know the answers.

“So it was more of an aggressive, vengeful thing,” Alan said.

“I don’t think she was being aggressive or vengeful.  Her feelings were hurt.  She was reacting.  I think she held back a bit.  It still hurt like hell.  Afterward we were able to talk it out.”

Alan sighed, “Youngsters, figuring out life’s mysteries together.”  Then he added, “Except for you. You’re getting up there.”

They heard the ice cream music.  “Lookie,” said Alan.  A block ahead, Baba’s truck was veering south off Lougheed Highway onto Winston Street, five minutes from the park.  The next song on the radio was White Wedding, with The Entertainer leaking through the background.  They followed Baba down Piper Avenue, past Uncle Fester’s place to the parking lot.  Ahead the satellite trucks were back and so were the milling throngs, more than ever.  But this time William was pleased.  Running away from the media had been a bad strategy.  He was going to give them their story, but it wouldn’t be the one they were hoping for, ho-ho.

Alan drove around Baba and parked close to the Nature House.  William was watching in his side mirror as Milt toppled from the truck, feigning confusion, already in character.  He then smiled weakly to indicate recognition of his surroundings.  However, in between, William detected a flicker of cognition, of normalcy, of intelligence.  Milt was wearing a nylon jacket, bulging with seed, and his cervical collar.  He would have to pass Alan and William on his way to the lake.  They got out of the Mazda.

“Milt,” William called.  He pretended not to hear.  “Let’s see how he reacts when he knows his cover is blown.”

Alan said.  “He won’t have a clue what you’re talking about.  He’s genuinely loopy, and if you ask me, getting loopier.  Milt!”

Milt stopped and performed a slow, rotating scan.  The cervical collar truly was a nice touch. 
He saw Alan, mouthed his name, and plodded over.

Meanwhile, William had been made.  A camera crew was approaching from the spit.  A reporter was running their way, pointing her microphone like a jousting lance.

William said to Milt, “Hey, Milt. I’ve figured it out.  You’re White Lynx.”

“I’m White Lynx,” he said, but he said it blankly.

“What’s that mean?” asked Alan.

“That’s his alias.  He writes about you on the internet.”

Alan gave an incredulous stare.  “Bullshit.  He doesn’t even know what the internet is.”

Milt leaned back and squinted down his nose.  “I know who you are.  You’re Alan’s little friend,” he said to William, who was almost as tall as Milt, and slightly taller than Alan.  Then he said, “Thank you for helping.”  He clamped his fleshy hands onto William’s arms.  “Thank you for helping, but things have gone awry.”  There was just sadness and confusion behind the grimy lenses of his big old eyeglasses.  Either he was a tremendous actor, or he was tremendously loopy.

William turned to Alan.  “I was wrong, you were right.”

Alan said to Milt, “Got your bird seed?  Got the marshmallows?”  Milt patted his bulging pockets.

And then the media descended.  ”There’s William Kendall,” someone said.        

“Yes, yes, here I am,” William called.  “Turn on your cameras, get out your notepads!  Off we go!”  The throngs were following the media, who followed William like the tail of a kite, down toward the tapering strip of land extending out into the lake.  People walked with their arms held high, waving their digital cameras, living this silly moment through their digital viewfinders, blundering into each other, stepping in purple duck poop, and on ducks too.  The crush of people and waterfowl turned inside out as William strode headlong through the approaching eager faces, dead straight toward the tip of the spit, where prepubescent Jesus of the East and his brother and his pushy mom and the monks and his publicist, or whoever, were waiting, praying, summoning the Jesus of the West.  Alan was close behind William, and puffing along, a few steps back, was Milt.

As they reached the platform of prayer at the end, William heard Milt ask Alan why the Orientals kept looking at him.

Alan said, “Because you look fabulous.  Who wouldn’t look at you?”

William marched up to the Jesus people, to the Jesus of the East child, who was sitting on the edge of the platform, bored out of his mind.

“Here I am,” William announced with his arms spread wide.  Young Jesus looked up.  He had the face of a child tired of his parents’ nonsense.  But then, sudden commotion.  His eyes became large, and in a trembling voice, he exclaimed something in Mandarin.  He stood up, turned his back briefly, and lifted the golden hat from its cushion.  When he turned back, holding the gleaming thing, the crowd gasped.  Cameras flashed, and William’s heart dropped.  Then Odd Job the monk gently but firmly pushed him aside, almost off the platform and into the muck, relegating William to the ranks of the Reject Jesuses.  Young Jesus of the East bowed, and then solemnly handed the golden hat to Milt.

Milt seemed pleasantly surprised.  What a nice shiny thing.  In courteous return, Milt handed the Jesus of the East a full bag of birdseed, which he dropped.  It split open and the ducks moved in, surging among the people like an agitated feathery river.  There was a period of confusion, of yelling, of quacking, of pushing, of grabbing.  The Jesus of the Easters had not developed a multifaceted game plan.  They had not anticipated that the Jesus of the West might be mega-loopy.

Milt simply wandered away, wearing the hat, pursued by media and frantic Chinese religious zealots, who were pawing at him, smiling, and calling to him in Mandarin.  It took him a while to understand that this was not the same as the everyday jostling one experienced during congestion on the Stanley Park seawall.  His expression switched from dreamy, to blank, to worried.  He started walking faster, the fastest William had ever seen him walk.  Alan was guiding him, with a hand on his shoulder.   The Mandarin became louder and more frantic, and Milt panicked.   “Baba!” he bellowed.  “Come quickly!  I need you!”  He broke away from Alan and started chugging toward the ice cream truck.  Baba was standing out front with a face of frozen terror, as if all the squirrels of hell were descending upon him.   Alan turned around to push back against the zealots and, as one who always liked to help, William hip-checked a different television camera man into Eagle Creek.  The ducks and geese underfoot hobbled the pursuers.  Alan and William continued acting as blockers until Milt made it to Baba’s truck.  The Entertainer was playing, and the door was open.  Alan shoved Milt inside, slammed the door, and smacked the side of the truck twice as if it were an ambulance. 

Sensing impending disaster, the Jesus of the Easters were mobilizing, piling into their green Dodge Caravans, worried but determined.  They were not going to let their long awaited flipside slip through their fingers; they were not about to let him be spirited away in an ice cream truck.

As the ice cream truck turned slowly from the auto-glass bejewelled parking lot onto the road, Alan yelled to Baba, “Turkey in the Straw!”  Baba saluted, hit the switch, and stepped on the gas.  He almost sideswiped Ed Daddle, who was driving a collision car.  He had come to check out the situation for himself.  The telecasts had been live, and he had been watching in his office. 

Then, a true miracle: the railway gates at the north end of the parking lot began to descend.  Baba blasted through, but the Chinese Caravan Convoy was trapped.  It would take 20 minutes before the last of the 80-car freight train rumbled past.

Ed appeared at William’s elbow.  “Why the hell are you here?  What has to happen to you to make you stay away!?  Do you enjoy seeing yourself on television every day?”

“I’m helping Stacey,” William said.

Alan butted in.  He said, “You should hear the stories.  She’s like, triple-jointed or something.” 

Ed said, “Go to hell,” and headed toward the spit, unaware that the drama had played out already.

Meanwhile, Green Reject Jesus, seemingly undeterred by Milt’s successful although unintentional audition, was doubling down.  As Ed passed, Green raised his hand and blessed him.

Ed stopped.  “Who the hell are you supposed to be?”  He snatched Green’s staff and hurled it into the ditch in front of the Nature House, and then flung his arms up and screamed, “This whole goddam park is...arrrrghhh!”  Then, realizing he had missed the main event, he ran back to his collision car and sped 30 metres to join the line-up waiting for the train to pass.  An ear of corn was protruding from his exhaust pipe. 

A concerned and confused family rushed to retrieve Green’s staff and returned it to him.  He blessed them, and they were visibly moved.

The satellite trucks were doing 12-point turns.  William was happy.  He was yesterday’s news.  Thank God.  The train lumbered away.  Its mournful horn was half a mile distant.

Alan remarked, “This has been a very fun day so far, but I best be going, to make sure Baba made it safely back to home base.”

William stayed behind.  He had offered to pull together material for an invertebrate zoology program for Stacey, but wasn’t yet prepared to deal with the dead rat reek inside the Nature House.  It was sunny, and the lawn looked inviting.  He sat down to enjoy the silence, to enjoy the solitude, to enjoy the rebirth of anonymity.  Thus he was very irritated to discover that inside the only vehicle remaining in the parking lot, a silver Dodge Caravan, was someone pointing a camera through the window.  Pointing it at him.  He had thought this stupidity over.  He flipped the camera the bird, nice and long.

The photographer opened the door of his vehicle, placed the camera on the seat, and walked toward him.  He was a young Asian man with shaggy hair, dressed much the same as William, in a t-shirt and baggy shorts. As he neared, he looked William in the eye without an uncomfortable smile.  From his clothing and manner William gathered he was Canadian.  He had a familiar face.  

“Are you William Kendall?”

“Yes,” he said, impatiently, as he stood up.

The young man held out his hand. “My name is Dan Imamura.  You knew my older sister.”

For a few seconds William said nothing.  Then he said, “Jesus,” and shook Dan’s hand with both of his. 

“I look exactly like her, don’t I?”

Well, except that he also looked like a man, he did look exactly like her.  William asked, “Are you here for the wedding?”


He shook his head. “No.  I’m a filmmaker.  I’m making a documentary, on Alan, but he doesn’t know it.”

“Why?”

“It’s about the famous artist who’s struggling to deal with the death of his life partner, trying to come to terms with it.  It’s also about my sister.”

“Alan doesn’t know you’re here?”

“No, that would disrupt the narrative.  He would never cooperate.”     

William nodded.  Dan was right about that.  Alan would be sarcastic, or hostile, or both.

“Won’t he see you at Fooj’s wedding?”

“I won’t be at it.  I don’t really know Martin.”

“Fooj said the same thing about Hannah.  You really are an estranged family, aren’t you?”  It was easy for William to say to a fellow who knew nothing of his own situation.

Dan shrugged.  “Our mothers never got along growing up.  Our common grandparents died a long time ago.  Distance, family strife, and death are effective isolators.”  He was right about that.

William asked, “How do you know I knew Hannah?”

Dan raised his hand and walked back to the van.  He returned, carrying a white, paper-backed book, the Proceedings of the Canadian Society of Zoologists Annual Meeting, 2000.  He flipped to the back, to the official meeting picture, a troop of zoologists arrayed on the front steps of the Redpath Museum in Montreal.  As the shutter flicked open, Hannah had been laughing.  She was laughing at something the person standing beside her had said.  Something William had said.  Names were listed below.  “I went through her old books and papers a while ago.  I was looking for anything with her picture.  I liked how she was laughing here.  I memorized your name with the intention of finding you and asking you about Hannah.  I lucked into you because of the coverage of this crazy Jesus story.  You’ve made for some good footage.”

“Look at her,” William said, somewhat lost in seeing her yet again, albeit in a more prosaic way.  “I would always try to make her laugh.  She was fun to be with.” 

“Do you remember what you said?”  Dan pointed at the picture.

He couldn’t remember.  It would have been something about the photographer, something about the silliness of posing for pictures, which didn’t seem so silly now.

Dan asked if he could interview William about Alan and about Hannah

“Would I be in the film?  I don’t particularly like being filmed.”

Dan laughed.  “You should be used to it by now, and it would be best if you were.  In fact, you already are.  I’ve kind of been following you, well Alan, but you and the others were there too.  I have a lot of questions about the characters he’s hanging out with.”

“I’m not surprised about that,” William said.  But he couldn’t refuse him.  Dan was physically so much like her.  William kept looking at him, and seeing her.
               
Dan attached a battery pack/transmitter to William’s belt, and had him feed a wire up through his shirt.  He clipped the tiny microphone to his collar.  They went for a walk, to the dam and back.  He had a video camera, somewhat smaller than the news guys,’ and a tape recorder in a black nylon case hanging from his shoulder. Throughout, he kept the audio tape running, but he only filmed twice, once when they stopped to sit on a cedar log in the forest, and then on the dam.  He would ask a question, and then point the camera when William started talking.  There was no filming of a conversation per se, just William rambling on about whatever.


While walking, Dan asked background questions, William’s work history, and why he was a GVRD Park Interpreter. 

William spoke of his education, of the lightning strike in Washington that left his vision damaged, and of his good fortune in meeting Tom Carlisle.

When William was seated on the log, Dan asked, “What is your earliest recollection of Alan?”  He asked if they had been close when they were young.

William said they had been very close for a short time, in the strange, intense world of a residential summer camp.  He told him the story of almost being in a head-on car crash with Alan, and how that close flirtation with death turned them into inseparable pals, despite their very different personalities.

He asked if William foresaw Alan becoming a wildly successful artist.  William told him that as an 18-year-old who knew almost nothing of the world, he predicted that would happen, which, depressingly, was maybe the only thing William had ever correctly predicted.

He asked if William considered himself an early influence.

William said Alan could draw long before they met, but it was Olive, his tortoise, who sent him on his way.

“What happened to Olive?” Dan asked.

“She’s buried in my parents’ back yard, which they don’t know, along with probably twenty other dead pets.”

He asked William why he and Alan lost touch — was it before or after he became a success?

It was immediately after summer camp.  There had been no contact since then.  As years passed, as Alan’s work was gaining attention, William heard or read about him in the media, but over the same time William was becoming increasingly absorbed in the cloistered world of academia.  He was happy for Alan, for his success, and would sometimes tell people that he used to know him, but it wasn’t long before they were off in vastly different directions.  Their friendship had been a lark, an entertaining 3-month lark. 

He asked if William was surprised to have Alan back in his life, and if their relationship had changed since they first new each other.

William said, “It was a surprise, of course.  It’s been interesting, but it’s also been sad.  In some ways we haven’t changed, and our relationship hasn’t changed, but the 17 years have inflicted cruelties and there are scars.  We keep stumbling across them.”

He asked how Alan had changed, and did William know if he was painting again.

It was William’s opinion that Alan had become a little more thoughtful, less selfish, and he had taken an interest in a wounded old man and seemed to be trying to help him, although William wasn’t sure he really was, or why he was doing it.  “As for his art, I know he’s at least sketching, but I don’t know what.”  He did not mention that there were no painting supplies in his apartment, that there was almost nothing in his apartment.  William drew the line at describing Alan’s present home.

He asked why William thought Alan had come to BC. 

“I think he thinks he can find Hannah, in some sense,” William said.

“What if he can’t find her?  What will he do, how long will he search?”

“I have no idea,” William said.  “I can’t imagine a solution.  I can only imagine endings.  Not one is a good ending.”

Dan turned off the camera, and the microphone.  “That isn’t very encouraging,” he said.
                 
He had William stand on the top of the Cariboo Dam, at the midpoint.  There, all the questions were about Hannah.  He asked where William met her, and how many times he saw her over how many years.  William first met her at a conference in Ann Arbor.  He figured he had seen her maybe eight or nine times over a six-year span.

When did William learn that she was married to his old camp friend?  Dan wasn’t surprised she had never told William she was married to Alan.  He called her a private person, protective of her identity.  She never wanted to be known as ‘the artist’s wife.’

He asked when William saw her last.  William told him it was New York.  He didn’t say anything more.  He asked William to describe Hannah, what he remembered of her.

He described a vivid memory, from a conference room in a Halifax hotel.  Hannah was about 27 years old, and William was 29.  William was sitting across an oval table from her, and kept looking at her because she was pretty and everyone else was ordinary, and he noticed that her left lower eyelid was fluttering, as if there were a tiny living thing rolling around inside.  It was a tiny, subtle thing, but shortly after noticing it, William saw it was a real thing, annoying her to the extent that she wasn’t mentally at the meeting anymore, that she was battling a tiny, persistent thing just below her eye that was troubling her deeply.  She kept pressing on her eye with her fingertips.  She wanted the thing to stop moving, but on it went, poke, poke, poke.  He wanted to clap his hands and make the thing stop.

Dan stopped filming and stared over William’s shoulder into space.

“Dan?” William said.

He said, “I forgot about her eye tic.”  He was frowning, not looking at William, lost in his own  memory of his sister, far away and long ago.  William turned and placed his hands on the walkway railing and watched the water flowing away.

Dan asked, the camera back at his eye, “What would you say to Hannah about Alan now, about how he’s doing?”

William hesitated, but then said, “She’s worried about him, because she knows better than anyone how messed-up he can get without her.”

“It was a hypothetical question,” he said.  “Why did you answer so definitely?

“It’s just a thing, a feeling.  I can’t explain it.”

Then, boing, he asked if William believed in life after death.

Hmm, well.  How could he answer that?  He said, “Until recently I could have given you a clear answer.  I would have said, quite forcefully, ‘Nope!’  But I’m presently a bit confused about that issue, about death, about what happens.”

He asked if the confusion stemmed from the recent, well-publicized incident in which William had suffered a serious electric shock and almost died.

“I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that episode,” William said.

“You need to talk more, to flesh your answers out for me to use them,” Dan coached.  He asked, “Before you were revived, did you feel you were conscious?  Were you in a different place?  Can you describe it?  What did it look like?” 

William wasn’t going to tell him it looked like his sister sitting in a Gator, sad and lonely.  He said,
“Where I was, was like here, or there, or anywhere.  I was where I was when it happened.  I didn’t feel drastically different.  But there was a lag, a gap between cause and effect, between seeing and understanding.  I felt detached,” he said.  “Maybe it was neurological damage.”  William paused.  “Although the MRI came out negative.”

Dan waited for more.  William shrugged.  Dan stopped the tape.
                                                               
On the way back to the Nature House they talked more about Alan and Hannah.  William asked Dan what he thought of Alan when he first met him.

“I liked him.  I knew who he was, of course, and famous people are usually intrinsically interesting.  I didn’t mind him being with Hannah.  She could handle him okay.”          

William told him he never would have predicted the match.  He would have thought she was too reserved, or intellectual, to be interested in him.

Dan laughed.  “No, she always hung out with bad boys.  That was her secret side.  She had this public persona of good student, then serious scientist, but she was a party girl at heart, always had been.  She was the one who got grounded as a teen, countless times, the one who drank underage, the one who smoked pot, the one who kept our parents up at night.”

“You’re kidding.”

“You’re surprised,” he said.

He was more than surprised.  William was disappointed, without a right to be so.  But this also explained her misadventure with Kyle Patruczak.  Skipping off with him wasn’t out of character.  She would rather spend the evening with an American bad boy than a table of Canadian herp-nerds, which included William.  Unfortunately, that boy truly was a bad one.  That boy was a sociopath.

“Did they date long before getting married?” William asked.

“Less than a year.  They made a funny joint statement, a declaration that they were about to get married because they both knew they would never be able to find a better partner.  They sent it out as an email.”

William said, “That wasn’t very sentimental.”

“No, it was,” said Dan.  “It had little animated butterflies fluttering around the edges, and Hannah wrote the story of how he proposed to her.”

William asked if he would mind telling him, if he thought it would be okay.

It was early summer, and they went hiking in Ontario on the Bruce Trail.  They stopped for a rest in a forest, and Hannah was sitting on a rock.  Alan knelt down in front of her and took her hand. Then, instead of putting a ring on her finger, he moved her hand into a spot of light.  A butterfly landed on it.  He told her he didn’t think a ring would be beautiful enough.

“That’s a sweet story,” William said.

“She never did wear a ring,” Dan said.  “She wore a diamond butterfly pin instead.”

William closed his eyes.  “I remember it,” he said.  

Dan said his parents warmed to Alan quickly, especially his mother.  “She wants him to come home.  She wants to look after him.”

William said, “Maybe you should edit out that bit I told you about not imagining a good ending, then.   It might worry you mother.”

“We’ll see,” he said. 

William asked how Alan dealt with Hannah’s death.

Dan said, “Anger, denial, then depression, but still with denial, and always with anger.  He would rant and rave about what a stupid idea it was to move out here.  He never viewed her body.  She was sent back to Toronto, but Alan refused to view her.  He didn’t go to her funeral.  He was a complete basket case.  Then he disappeared, leaving my parents to decide what to do with her.”

The story had become gut-wrenching.  William was imagining Hannah’s weeping parents, and Alan crazy-eyed with pain. 

William said, “I was feeling pretty good before you came out of your van.”

“Sorry,” said Dan.

“Hell,” said William.


Dan said, “After about a week, Alan turned up in the hospital in Lindsay all bashed up, with broken ribs, a punctured lung, a fractured pelvis, and a compression fracture of his skull.  He was in a coma for almost a week.  He claimed he fell asleep at the wheel.  His Roadrunner crashed into a cliff.  His sister thinks it was a suicide attempt.”

William didn’t tell Dan he was pretty sure it was the place where he and Alan should have died in July 1989.

“He has never visited her grave,” said Dan, “in Pine Hills Cemetery.”  He added, “It was after the car crash, after he came out of the coma, that he started talking about coming out here, to where it happened.  I think he would have come sooner, months ago, but he was pretty busted up for quite a while.”

“Physically or emotionally?”

He threw his hands wide.  “Totally.”

They walked out of the spruce forest, onto a gravel-covered trail that skirted an open, marshy area.   Dan asked about Milt and Baba.  William told him their names, what little he knew of them, and how Alan met Milt.  William said that Alan’s relationship with Milt started as a lark, but seemed to have become a kind of displacement activity.

When they reached the Nature House, Dan asked, “Can I give you a ride somewhere?”

He had yet to gather things for Stacey.   He told Dan he needed about half an hour.

“I can wait,” he said.

William said, “You’ll probably want to wait outside.  There’s a dead rat in the walls somewhere.”

He didn’t seem to mind waiting, and William didn’t mind his company.  He was a nice young man.  He was Hannah’s baby brother.  William asked where he was staying.

“At my girlfriend’s aunt’s place in Kerrisdale.”

When Dan dropped William off in the Skytrain parking lot, William told him to call or email anytime if he wanted more info.  Then William said something that had been in the back of his mind all along.  “Do you think maybe it wouldn’t be better if you went to Alan, were with him, instead of just watching him?” 

Dan replied, “I’ve been with Alan on and off for almost a year.  He was even living with me for three months, which was hard.  That was after he had been living with his sister for a while.  His depression was causing major problems for her and her marriage, so she asked him to leave.  He’s at least doing something now.  He’s functioning, sort of.  Maybe he’ll finally be able to come to terms...although I doubt it.  I’m just sort of tailing along, doing what I do, and hoping he’s okay.”

“You don’t think you should try to coax him home?”

“I doubt he’ll come, not yet.  He has to understand she isn’t here.  Can you help him with that?”

William smiled.  He was asking the wrong person.  “How are you doing, about Hannah?” William asked

Dan looked at the steering wheel and shook his head.  “Not good,” he said, “but I think making this film is helping, a bit.  Thanks a lot, for today.”  They shook hands.

William closed the door and then tapped the window.  It lowered.  William asked, “Are you White Lynx?”

Dan answered, “Are you?”  Then he smiled, a haunting Hannah smile, the one William had seen through the smoke on the Freeway Trail.

Next
                                                               
               






                                                                                                                                

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