The world as I know it is falling around me. Is it any surprise I went out and bought a magazine rack painted with Rocky Mountain scenes?
Someone painted this magazine rack. Someone who stared out her cabin window across a serene green lake. A lost princess waiting for her prince, filling in the time with brush and paint.
As I walked down 118 Avenue, the rack appeared in an antique store window. Rocky Mountains in the distance. A mosquito-sized rowboat floating on the lake. A miniscule prince paddling away from a princess who waits. Just as I waited for Frank to call and beg my forgiveness.
I point at the object, pushing my friend Crystal closer to the window. “Look at that,” I say.
“What the hell is that?” she snorts.
“It’s a magazine rack. There’s something about it.”
“Yeah, it’s a piece of junk with a $22 price tag.”
“I’m going in. I want to see it closer.”
“Annie, stop. You don’t have two nickels and you don’t need a stupid magazine rack.” Crystal tugs at my sleeve. “Let’s go. I want my coffee.”
I step around her and open the door of the store. A bearded man with a dangling silver earring takes the magazine rack out of the window and stands it on the counter. I stare at it. If only I could climb into that canoe and paddle away with the handsome prince.
Bearded man puts it on my credit card.
Paddling is out these days. Or maybe paddling is in, in a metaphorical sense. My boyfriend, Frank, insists that everything that happens to me is for my own growth.
Last Saturday, Frank took me for a ride in his beat-up pickup. A song played on the radio… Movin’, movin.
“That song reminds me of when I was a kid,” I say. “My dad was in the Navy. We moved 11 times. Must have been hard on my mom.”
Frank says nothing. Turns up the music.
“I’m just trying to make conversation,” I say, yelling over the C&W.
“Do it during the commercials,” Frank says. “I’m listening to the music. I want to see what’s new on the charts.”
I latch on to the warm spring sunshine, to the cars around us, to stop the fall.
I didn’t hear from Frank for a few days.
“Boy, we really lead charmed lives,” he says when he calls. “I could write a book about being a landlord.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll tell you when I see you.”
“Is it something bad?”
“Yeah, it’s bad. One of my tenants. Maybe I won’t tell you. It’ll only bring you down.”
“Tell me now. I’m trying to think diﬀerently these days. To be stronger. This will be a good test.”
“I said I’d tell you when I see you. Monday, noon,” he says and hangs up.
Tell me about a happy world where everyone has a job, smiles, and is safe. Don’t tell me about the unemployed tenant slashed with a razor blade.
“That’s what the hookers are doing now,” Frank says when I see him. “They push a razor blade into a potato and then slash the guy’s face so they can steal from him.” His hand jabs the air as if holding a potato.
Max lay in a pool of blood for two days before Frank found him. Another tenant wandered out of the house in a bathrobe and stopped Frank at his truck. “Something funny going on in Max’s room,” he said.
Frank knocked. A faint sound of moaning coupled with the creak of the door opening. It was unlocked.
Should I tell you about the blood? Well, you can imagine it. Max’s thumb was practically slashed oﬀ. He was moaning for a sip of water.
To get rid of blood on walls, you cover them with silver paint. Then you paint over the silver. Nothing else works, says Frank. That’s reality, he says. He’s taking the cost from the guy’s damage deposit.
I wear a red dress to Bob and Crystal’s garden party. Everyone is laughing. The food is excellent. Spring tortures me with sunshine and the promise of summer. I only stay for a while. Somehow, I’m not really in the mood for reality.
About The Author
Constance Brissenden, a U of A theatre graduate, first worked with Canadian playwrights. She is co-author of award-winning books by Alberta-born Cree author Larry Loyie (d. 2016), a residential school survivor and literacy activist. In one way or another, Constance has been involved in the creation of more than 48 books. She is a freelance writer and editor, now living in Edmonton.