June 2005

So Here We Are...

Indeed.

I can only count myself amazed at how many ways I have found to disappoint you.

Spectacular really.

The funny bit of it all is that I never even tried. I suppose that had I vested slightly more interest I might have managed to do a more substantial job. Chalk that up to lack of ability to follow through. I'm sure that my high school guidance counselor would tell you the same thing.

If you're going to be a failure, do it in



So everyone can see.

In as many hues as possible.

I was never supposed to amount to anything. In that I have succeeded. In that I have failed. The hours have slimmed themselves enough that I know better.

I was never enough. Both you and I knew that when we came into this twisted bargain of ours that it would never work out even. Prices must be paid, even in the worst.

That is the way that things work. Understand that or it will crush you in the end. I will fail you in a million ways, and when you think that I have found them all, that is when I will find the one that will crush you the most.

I am the nightmare.

But here's the catch...

So are you. You are here, not because you want to be, but because you are. You are all of the frailties that I am.

What fun.

The inside story is never as much fun as the one that gets passed around. Plotlines are so much more interesting when we can mix them up with a healthy amount of our own imagination.

A couple of nights ago Bill Cosby was stalking me in my sleep. I haven't the vaguest idea what he wanted, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't good. He hung out in the back alleys of my dreams waiting for me to come out of my apartment. I remember he smoked these horrible wet smelly cigarettes. I could smell them from my window and I knew that he was waiting.


Just before that I had an incredibly vivid dream about a nuclear war. I'm not sure who fired the first shot, but I do know that it was quite the light show. For one reason or another the missles aimed at my little home town here missed the mark by a couple of hundred miles, but boy they did make for quite the light show. Ripples of fire and light climbing up a mushroom cloud.

I knew enough to try and fill up the bathtub for water and try and get the hell out of dodge. I wanted to go north, but no one would listen to a word of it. Either stay in one place or maybe go east. A couple of people even wanted to go to the states. Safer behind the imaginary shield of a felled giant.

I just wanted to go North.

Awake now, I think that in the next little bit, maybe I will. I'll see if I can't borrow a car and drive on down to the playground of my early youth. There's hills there, and there's trees.

And I can't help but think to myself that maybe there's no fire up there.

I could go for that right about now.


Walter...



The hallway looked a lot smaller that day.

That's the first thought that Walter had as he turned from closing his little storage rooms door. He had just finished putting away one of those power floor buffers that look like zambonies, but with big fluffy sideways wheels on the front. It had a big yellow hood and the yellow words "Charge 200" written on the side. It was more or less brand new, and Walter didn't miss the irony that after years of asking the school board for a new power floor buffer, he had finally gotten it only a few months ago.

Walter had just spent the better part of the last five hours polishing the floors up to what he honestly believed was the best shine that he had ever given them.

The irony of that fact wasn't lost on him either.

Walter double-checked the door to ensure it was locked, and the ridiculous nature of that act wasn't lost on him either. Truly, there wasn't much of anything that was lost on Walter. He had a way of catching on to almost everything that went on around him, even though he hardly ever said a thing to anyone about it.

Or anything else for that matter.

Walter stood there for a second and looked around the empty, but very, very shiny hallway. He couldn't stop thinking that everything looked so much smaller now. The lockers all seemed to be a little more compact than they had only twenty minutes before, and the water fountains seemed a lot closer to the ground than they had moments earlier as well.

He looked down at his feet on the freshly reflective floor. The black leather of the steel toed work boots that he had gotten at an army surplus store years ago (before army surplus got trendy and drove the prices way up so now Walter just refused to buy another pair) was scuffed with years of minor encounters and there were creases all across the front of them where they bent at the toes.

Walter was struck by how on any normal surface his boots would never deserve to be noticed, but on a floor that shiny, they had to be.

Not in the most complimentary light, mind you.

They had definitely seen better days these boots, Walter thought to himself.

But they had done their job, as Walter had done his.

Walter stood there for a moment, looking down the locker lined hallways inspecting his handiwork. He was not a proud man, but today, he allowed himself to feel a little swell of pride just up in the back of his throat. He smiled just short of letting a tear loose.

Good handiwork has to be admired you know.

It's a rare thing these days.

Walter stared at the hallway when a small little something, far down the hallway caught his eye. He wasn't sure what it was, but he was quite sure that being he had just done the most thorough floor polishing of his life it had no business being there.

So Walter lifted one of his boots very carefully, testing the tack of the wax that he had just laid down. He knew his boots were clean so they wouldn't leave any dirt to ruin his work, but he knew full well that if the wax in that particular area of the hallway wasn't set, the weight of his enormous frame would leave imprints, thus ruining the perfection he had just finished spending the better part of his day on.

But his boot didn't stick even in the slightest. It was the first section of hallway that he had done and he evidently had spent enough time shutting down and cleaning the "Charge 200" that the wax was fully set.

So Walter took another cautious step, and then another, slowly and deliberately making his way to the whatever it was that had mysteriously appeared on his otherwise perfect floor.

There was one thought that went through Walter's head as he walked towards this little mystery...

Such is luck.


Small Town


Walter was born in 1927, Walter James Douglas. His parents felt that a good strong name was very important for a young man who was going to be growing up in the times that they were in. Walter shared his birthday with the Canadian national anthem, which one would think would have made his birthday easy for friends and family to remember, but that was hardly the case.

Only a few months later, The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that that women are not persons & not eligible for Senate. Six months after that, the Supreme court got the message and the ruling was reversed. Progressive times Walter found himself in during his formative years.

Only two years after Walter's birth, North America (and the better part of the world for that matter) was plunged into the worst depression it could have imagined. Jobs and homes became luxuries only the luckiest could posses.

Walter had a relatively good childhood though, all things considered. His family was quite industrious and while there were never store bought toys for him to play with, his parents were creative enough to make toys and puzzles out of whatever they found.

Walters father was often away for weeks at a time, finding whatever work there was to be found within a couple of hundred miles. Because of this, Walter and his mother were left to tend to what remained of their farm, and while Walter didn't have a whole lot in the way of playmates, he entertained himself for hours with the few animals that there were on the farm and the makeshift toys his mother would make him or that his father would bring him on the sporadic visits he would make to touch base and bring them whatever meager earnings he had managed to put together.

But they got by. The neighbourhood farmers and local men were always willing to help out, and while many farms around them were being repossessed by banks that would later find themselves being foreclosed, Walters farm and family always miraculously managed to have enough to scrape by.

The depression stayed firmly entrenched in the lives of everyone who breathed until September 10th, 1939.

And then the war came.

There wasn't supposed to be a war. The First World War was supposed to be the end of all wars.

That was what they said at least.

Such is luck.

Walters father was one of the first to enlist. He wrote home regularly and sent all off his earnings so that Walters mother would not have to move to the city to work in what he called "abominable places". Some people who knew about this attitude felt that it was snobbish, but most knew that Walters father was trying to protect the home that his fathers father had built with his own two hands.

In 1942, Walters father was part of an assault on Dieppe and was killed in the first wave. Those who were fighting beside him that day said that he was hit with a shell and couldn't have felt a thing before he was reduced to red spray and little bits of blood and bone.

Walter was forced to join the army in 1944 at the age of 17 when On November 22, 1944, Prime Minister McKenzie King ordered conscripts for overseas fighting in Normandy.

This brought him into the war late enough to miss the massacre that was Dieppe and D-Day, but the fighting that followed those two actions were some of the worst of the war. Walter was still fairly innocent at that point, and it marked a profound change in him.

To be sure though, Walter sent ever last bit of his pay back home to his mother, save a few shillings so that he could have a spot of rum now and then to take the edge off of all the horrors around him.

Walter bore witness to some of the worst fighting that there was at the time. The Allies were advancing, and by and large, the Germans were resisting with whatever means they had available. It was during a particularly violent battle where the shelling from the Germans was particularly fierce that Walter had the better part of his innocence taken from him by a chunk of metal that had previously been made up of legs for a desk, various tractor parts and a lamppost from Berlin.

The Germans had gotten desperate.

Walter was in a fox hole when a shell exploded only a few feet away, it more or less liquefied the young GI that had been sharing his foxhole. He was a young man from Nebraska who had been standing up to urinate at the time the shell hit. Walter took a two-inch piece of shrapnel in his left leg and was sent to London to recover from his wounds and shell shock.

Such is luck.

Walter recovered, but was deemed unfit for further service due to his injuries and detached mental state. Seeing someone who you had been planning on bumming a smoke from spread across a greater twenty-foot area can have the effect on someone.

Upon Walter's release, he wandered the streets of London for about a week. On the last day that Walter spent in London, he wandered into a small pub where he met a young nurse who was doing her best to drink away the things that she had seen at the military hospital at which she worked. The worst of the bombing of London was over now, but the end of the world still seemed like it could be only around the corner. They talked and laughed and became what they youthfully thought was closer the more they drank.

After what Walter would later describe to only a few of his closest friends as more than one to many pints, Walter ended up losing his virginity to this woman in her small flat. It was a horrible business, awkward and clumsy.

Horribly ashamed and confused, Walter ran out before his paramour woke.

Quite literally running.

While he was running down the early morning London streets, he was struck by the fact that his leg was hurting, and quite badly at that, but it hadn't hurt at all during his clumsy attempt at lovemaking.

Somehow, that only made him feel worse about it.

He left London for home the next day and would never spend a day of his life not wishing that he hadn't.

After spending several days on a ship of overcrowded soldiers who were all being sent home because they were wounded, Walter arrived at port and waited to board a train to complete his journey home. While he was waiting for the train, he sent a telegram to the post office nearest his family's farm to let his mother know that he would be home in a matter of days and give the arrival specifics so that she could pick him up. He even spent an extra 10 cents to add the line "I love you mom and I can't wait to see you stop".

The train ride was both terrible and wonderful. It was also grossly overcrowded, and the bumpy nature of a train wreaked all hell on Walter's leg (not to mention the countless people who bumped into him or accidentally hit him with their luggage.

However, when Walter was finally able to get a seat with a window, he marveled at how enormous the country that he had returned home to was. He promised himself that one day, one day, he would be certain to see as much of it as he could.

As the train drew closer to the station where Walter would finally be home again, his heart began to perform strange summersaults inside of his chest and he began to become vaguely aware of the fact that despite he had felt very little more than misery or fear for the last several months, he was suddenly both excited and happy.

When the train finally pulled up to the station, all sounds of scraping steel and steam, Walter didn't just walk off the train. He leapt off it.

And then fell promptly to the ground as his leg gave way on him. In all his excitement, he had forgotten about his wound and while he had all the enthusiasm in the world, his leg only wanted to be left alone.

It, as things turned out, had the final veto.

Walter lay sprawled on the wooden floor of the boarding area for a second as his vision went blurry and he saw little stars before he completely blacked out.

Two other soldiers who were returning from the war on the same train saw him and tried to pick him up. Camaraderie and all that.

Walter was fading in and out of consciousness so the question at hand became where exactly the two new veterans were to put him.

One of the soldiers saw an old wheelbarrow propped up against the side of the train station and walked over and grabbed it. The other soldier was doing his best to try and get Walter back on his feet, so the soldier with the wheelbarrow wheeled up behind Walter and the two of them plopped Walter into it.

They were wheeling Walter to the Train station office to try and see if there might be a wheelchair anywhere when a pretty young woman leaped one of them upon from behind. He dropped his handle of the wheelbarrow, and if it weren't for the quick thinking of the other soldier, Walter would have found himself on the floor again.

Luckily, the quick thinking soldier put the wheelbarrow down, and just in time it turned out, as another pretty young woman flung herself onto him as well. There was a great whooping reunion that went on for some time before and their respective pretty young things before one of the soldiers thought to turn and check on Walter.

Walter had passed out and the reason was more than plain to see. The wound on Walters leg had reopened almost completely and blood was seeping through Walters military uniform and beginning to pool around the bottom of the wheelbarrows cup.

The soldier grabbed the other soldier away from his pretty young lady to bring his attention back to Walter. Both pretty young girls simultaneously screamed and passed out as well.

As you can imagine, it was quite a mess.

Such is luck.


Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig...


Walter awoke in one of the town doctor's treatment rooms. His pant leg had been cut open and Walter could see the fresh stitches. Looking past his left foot, he could see that someone had taken off one of his black military boots and placed it at the end of the examining table.

His head had an odd buzzing sound floating in it, and as he slowly started to fade back into the real world, he started to notice little things.

The first thing that he noticed was the cotton sheets he was laying on were very fresh and white and clean and uncomfortably over starched.

As he looked around the room, he inventoried the contents. There were two small paintings of a doctor with a small child done in a strangely cartoonish smile hanging on the walls as well as an eye chart and a cabinet with frosted glass doors frosted enough that Walter could see that there were bottles and various other tools of the medical trade but too frosted to make out any sort of detail.

Walter turned his head and looked out a window that had blue and white flowered drapes. Through the window he could see the center of town, but he was surprised at how in his short time away it had changed. There was some sort of epic construction project going on, and there were a lot more cars making their way about the streets than Walter remembered.

Walter sighed and looked back up at the tile ceiling. The whole room was a very sterile white, not at all like the dirty green canvas rooms that Walter had seen on the other side of the ocean.

Walter sat up and leaned forward. As he did, he knocked his boot off of the examining table and it hit the floor with a loud thump. That thump was quickly followed by a sharp knock on the door. A second later it tentatively started to open.

"Walter?"

"Yes?" Walter answered cautiously.

"It's Doctor Graves, can I come in?"

Doctor Graves had been Walter's family doctor for as long as he could remember. He was an old fashioned man, and it wasn't until Walter was in his early teens that he caught the irony of the good Doctors last name. At that point, Doctor Graves had endeared himself to the family so much so that the realization carried no weight whatsoever.

"Sure, come on in", said Walter.

End of part one








You know where to find me...

Nate@natepike.com