Saturday, June 11, 2022

Assignment #8: The Recorder

 Another open assignment. This is a first draft, and will need revision.

The Recorder

He observed the motion of his left arm as it reached out for the recorder, feeling momentarily detached from the action. An inner voice said ‘no, don’t, not now’. He gripped his Olympus LS 10 tightly, enjoying the feel of its familiar heft. The two little soft black mufflers that fit over the mics were missing, but everything else looked just as it did when he bought it new fifteen years ago. Black hard plastic casing, the array of silver control buttons on the front, play back and record dials protruding from both sides. It only ever failed him when the batteries died unexpectedly, and the few wasted times he forgot to push the record button that second time.

He reluctantly replaced the recorder beside the tangled white ear buds. Maybe this wasn’t the time to talk, but where was that decision coming from? He had recently suspected that podcasting might be serving as an escape, like a prescription drug that takes away all your pain and loneliness. That nagging inner voice asked if recording had been a subconscious way of avoiding thoughts he didn’t want to confront. 

Talking at length, unscripted, gave him control over the present moment; his life then became whatever he said it was. He could make himself happy or sad with his choice of words. He could give thanks for all his blessings. He could laugh, shout, rant, rage, sing, read, act, burp, fart, grovel and apologize in any way he pleased. He just let it tumble out, seemingly unrehearsed, leaving him feeling purged afterwards.

Of course there were filters, used mainly to maintain the persona he had created for his handful of faithful listeners. He liked to think of them as his friends, even though the the communication was in one direction only, outwardly. There was never a co-host; the show was entirely his own, and it was up to him to protect and preserve his online reputation. He’d already invested more than nine hundred hours in keeping this character alive and out there; ending it was unconscionable.

But now, this very now, wasn’t the time to shut off the real world by pressing record. He had to let those other thoughts surface, the ones he’d been avoiding, the ones concerning some vague but uncomfortable truth. Where did they originate? Why were they haunting him? What was it that made him so afraid to stop and acknowledge that something was wasn’t quite right.

He wanted to believe they weren’t really his thoughts, that they belonged to someone else, an intimate friend maybe. That way he could dismiss them, put them out of his mind. They weren’t his problems, he wasn’t the one who should be worried. And so what if podcasting offered a refuge — everyone needs a safe place to hide.

It wasn’t like this a year ago. There was never the uncertainty that he was feeling now. What could be wrong about letting loose, having fun, sharing good times? So what if he repeated some of his stories, or forgot a few words. But that cloud still hovered, growing larger and more ominous. Turning on the recorder could make it disappear, but he knew avoidance was no longer an option. 

“There’s no time but now,” the voice seemed to mock.

“What do you want?”, he demanded angrily. He was surprised at realizing he had spoken the words, loudly, as if engaged in real conversation. He stared at the lake through his windshield, waiting for an answer that was his alone to give. 

“I know I’m forgetting things. It’s not that important. Everyone gets confused at my age. It doesn’t matter. No one’s complaining. It’s still a good podcast.”

Like a sudden downpour, sadness overwhelmed him. He gripped the wheel with both hands, head down, and hot tears trickled down his face. His shoulders shook as he tried to muffle the sound of his crying. 

“I can’t tell them!”, he cried out. “I can’t let go — it’s all I have. I need this.”

Silence followed, indifferent to his pain. The cloud had lifted, the secret was out now. It’ll be okay, he assured himself. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he once again reached out for his recorder, smiling faintly.

Ear buds in, thumb on record, no rehearsing, he began.

“Welcome back folks! This is your host, the one and only. And have I got something to share with you today! So listen up eh.”

Friday, June 3, 2022

Assignment #7: A Fleeting Moment

This week we were asked to use our imaginations and come up with our own ideas.

A Fleeting Moment

He seldom visited Charlie’s place before evening, when he’d stop by hoping Rose had prepared goat pepper soup, or maybe had enough of his favourite, pounded yam and egusi, to serve him a meal. It wasn’t a restaurant, it was their living room, but they’d come to an understanding that if he was hungry at night Rose would probably have something leftover for him to eat. Mostly he went for beer, as Charlie was one of the few in the village with a working fridge and a steady supply of cold Crystal.

In the evenings when it was cooler, he preferred to sit on one of the rickety wooden chairs under the baobab tree, but this afternoon the humidity forced him inside the front room. He sat on one end of the large brown faux-leather sofa, aware that his sweat soaked T-shirt would stick to it uncomfortably. The overhead fan rotated slowly, but the air felt too thick to move. Rose came out from the back where she’d been nursing her youngest, and gracefully pulled her wrapper up to cover her large brown breasts when she saw who it was. 

“Mo”, he greeted, in the language of the people of Uzairue.

“Mo,” she replied, adding in pidgin, “how now?”

“I dey fine,” he answered, knowing this was all that was expected of him, being an Oyibo. The other white men, the Christian missionaries, could carry on an extended conversation in Ikpe, having lived there much  longer. Father Boyle, for example, posted to Uzairue since independence, and who enjoyed sharing his vision of the Almighty over a glass of brandy whenever he stopped by. The missionaries had devoted their lives to serving the people of Nigeria, but he would be returning home to Canada at the end of his two year volunteer contract at Ste. Angela’s, leaving little incentive to learn more of the language. All that mattered to him now was getting a cold beer.

Before he could say anything, Rose asked, “Beer?”, and took his smile to mean yes. He was even more pleased when he saw the label, wet with condensation, was Star Lager, his favourite, the beer he first tasted in Kano. That was just over a year ago, when he landed along with about ninety other pale-faced Canadian teachers, and what a year it had been. Homesickness, heat stroke, malaria, food poisoning, loneliness. He had survived those challenges, and now felt almost invincible, stronger than he’d even been.

But today something felt wrong. It starting with a rumbling tummy, loose bowels, explosive diarrhea, and a raging headache. He feared this might signal the start of another round of malaria fever. He sent a boy from next door with a note for Sister Annette, the principal, saying he wouldn’t be in to teach today, but his Form Fives could review Act 3 of Macbeth and the Form Fours continue reading Things Fall Apart. He tried to sleep but his mind, like his stomach, was too unsettled. He worried about the several other tropical diseases he may have contracted.

Eating was out of the question, but beer, yes, beer might help. So here he was, early afternoon, drinking a cold Star from the bottle, and hoping Charlie might return soon so he could share some of his misery. He shifted his position to look out though the open doorway, wide enough for a car to enter as the front room had originally been a garage. Charlie, always looking to supplement his meagre wages as a driver for hire, had now put it to better use. Word soon got around that Charlie’s wife Rose served beer and food, and on any given night this place served as a welcome alternative to the noisier Jane’s Beer Parlour in Jattu, in the adjoining village. No one came during the day except the Canadian, who considered beer a food staple.

The view out front wasn’t unusual. The dark green leaves of the baobab tree. The sandy brown dirt laneway. A tethered goat coming in and out of view. The heavy grey sky above the corrugated metal roof across the way. And something else, something he hadn’t noticed before — a rusty old motorcycle, parked by the doorway, looking like it hadn’t moved in years. Had it always been there? He couldn’t recall seeing it any other time. He thought about the scene in Things Fall Apart, when the villagers had tied the missionary’s bicycle to a tree so it couldn’t get away, and grinned. 

The grey sky gave way to light showers. The rainwater glistened on the motorbike’s handlebars, and the image before him appeared to take on a surreal significance. It all seemed so oddly beautiful in the silence and stillness, but he didn’t quite know why. Did it bring back a memory of a painting he had seen? Maybe it reminded him of a song, or some obscure verse by Dylan? And then as if by magic, in a flash, he was back at Sir George Williams, in English class, puzzling over a poem by William Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow.

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


“Yes!” he cried out excitedly, not intending to speak out loud, “Exactly!”

Rose came out from the back, as if signalled, “Beer?”

“Yes please,” he grinned, “another Star.”

All of the day’s upsets had suddenly disappeared. His worry was gone, his stomach calm. It’s all so simple, he thought, simply wonderful. A fleeting moment of beauty, caught on the fly. A fresh perspective. A readjustment to the present moment, the gift of being alive, now. Maybe Father Boyle was right after all, God is in everything. He let go a short laugh. Damn, even the beer tasted better!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Assignment #5: A Plan

For assignment #5 we were required to write a story with lots of dialogue, starting with two female characters, Eve and Jane, having an argument in their apartment.

A Plan

“Where were you last night?” Eve glowered at Jane, her arms locked tight across her plain white blouse. “I was worried.”

“Gimmie a break Eve. Jesus, I just got in!”

“Give me a break. I almost called the police. You could have told me you’d be out all night. Were you out with that lowlife Craig again?”

“You don’t know Craig. And for fuck’s sake, you’re not my keeper. We’re roommates, not lovers, so back off.”

Eve’s eyes stared fiercely at the younger woman facing her. “There’s no reason to be rude Jane. I was just concerned. I woke up around 4 and saw the door to your room was open and you weren’t there. You know—” 

Jane cut her off with a wave of her hand. “We’ve been through this before Eve. What I choose to do in my free time is my business, not yours. Same goes for who I wanna hang out with, day or night.” 

“Yes but…” This time Eve silenced herself, knowing from painful past experience her roommate wasn’t in the mood to listen. “If only—”

“If only I called. If only I left a goddamn note. If only I was more responsible, like you. Well piss off Eve, I’m tired. And I’ve got a frigging headache. Ya got any Tylenols?”

“There’s some in the bathroom cabinet I think. But maybe you shouldn’t…” 

The look on Jane’s face at that moment sent a clear and very menacing message, and the conversation ended abruptly. Several hours passed before Jane emerged from her room, wearing only a man’s XXL sized red plaid shirt. 

“I’m making tea Jane,” Eve called from the kitchen, “would you like some?”

 “I need something stronger than bloody tea,” Jane muttered to herself. “We got any beer?”

“Sorry? Did you say please?” Eva replied, as she turned to face Jane, forcing what was too discernibly a fake smile.

“No! I asked if we had any beer. Is there any wine?”

“Jane, you know I don’t drink, so there’s no point in asking me. You had a big bottle of red wine last week, what happened to that?”

“What happened!? What the fuck do you think happened? I drank it!”

“Well have some tea then, and we can talk. In a civil way. Without anger and accusations, okay?”

Jane smirked at the stern looking woman standing holding a tea cup, wondering how the hell they ever ended up sharing an apartment. The answer was quite simple; Jane called a number posted on a bulletin board in the Safeway on Robson Street, and when they met over coffee she dressed and behaved just as she expected the lease holder would want. As an aspiring actress, Jane was very proud of her performance.

“Eve, I know you’re a little pissed because I’m behind in my share of the rent, but I’ll fix that, don’t worry. Craig and I have a plan.”

“Craig has a plan? I thought you said Craig was sleeping on a friend’s sofa somewhere, what possible plan could he have I wonder?”

Jane, sitting with her feet on Eve’s prized coffee table, raised her eyes and glared. “Craig’s getting his own place as soon as we’ve sold — as soon as we’re done. You’ll get your money then.”

“Sold? Sold what?” asked Eve, with a puzzled expression.

“I didn’t mean sold. Never mind. Anyway, Craig can explain, he’s on his way over. Try and be nice to him. I know you don’t like him, but you don’t know him like I do.”

“Was this why you were out all night, dreaming up some scheme?”

Before Jane could reply, the intercom buzzed. “Come in!” Jane shouted, as she pressed the enter key.

“Hey ladies!” greeted the cheerful young man as he strode through the open door, “what’s happening?”

Eve forced a smile. “Jane tells me you have a plan,” she queried, “she seemed quite excited about it. Do tell.”

“Did she really?” chuckled Craig. “Well that’s good, because she was worried you wouldn’t understand. I’m glad you’re in on it now.”

“In on what?” Eve interjected in a high pitched voice, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about!”

“I didn’t have time to tell her,” Jane explained, “she doesn’t know anything yet.”

“Well someone better tell me. And I don’t at all like hearing ‘I’m in on it’ when I have no idea what this is all about.”

“It’s quite simple, Eve,” Craig staled confidently, “We want to pay back the rent Jane owes you, and not only that, we want to double it, or maybe even triple it, as a thank you.”

“I don’t understand what’s going on. I told Jane she could start paying me back when she’s working full-time hours again. I wasn’t asking for interest or anything else. I find it very strange that you’d come here offering to double or triple my money, when you don’t appear to have any of your own.”

“Eve, be nice. Craig’s found something he’s really good at. He’s already proved it. He knows what he’s doing, there’s no risk if you join in. He can guarantee that, I promise.”

“No risk? It sounds like you’re asking me to invest money, my money, in your venture. So what’s the name of this ‘business’ of yours?”

“One word, Eve, just one word. Cryptocurrency!” beamed Craig. “Your savings are getting next to nothing sitting in the bank. I can take that same money, convert it to cryptocurrency, and with 24 hours you’ll have already turned a significant profit. The longer you leave it in my hands, the greater your return!”

“You can’t lose,” Jane chimed in, “that’s why we were celebrating last night. I’m sorry I was a little rude this morning, I just needed some time to get my head straight. I wanted to share our great news with you, but knew Craig could explain it better to you, in person.”

Eve looked from one to the other, visibly astonished. “You’re serious? Craig here figures he can win at this game, with my money, just like that? Like really you expect me to say please and thank you?”

“Eve, I’ve tried this on my computer already. Last night I had amassed almost one million in Bitcoin, just from making deals, buying and selling. If I had been using some real money to actually buy and sell, that gain would be real, and we’d be rich today.”

“Exactly!” echoed Jane, “we’d be rich right now! So if you loan Craig even just 3 or 4 thousand, he can pay you back 5 thousand by next week probably.”

Eve continued to stare at the two of them, nodding her head slowly from side to side. Finally, she spoke.

“While you were celebrating last night, I don’t suppose either of you had time to follow the news? It turns out this cryptocurrency was the top story, and still is today.”

“What are you talking about?” snapped Jane, annoyed that her stodgy roommate didn’t seem to appreciate their good fortune.

“I’m talking about the collapse of Bitcoin, dear. The crypto market crash yesterday. The $270 billion loss, at last count.” Eve didn’t try to hide the mocking tone in her voice. “How much was Craig going to ask me to invest, with his sure thing guarantee?” 

“Bitch!” shouted Jane. “You’re a miserable nasty woman! You’ve never had a dream in your life, and you never will! Fuck you!”

“Craig, let’s get the fuck out of here. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about, she just doesn’t want anyone to be happy. She’s a loser.”

Craig remained silent, and crestfallen. He’d heard a rumour, but had kept it to himself. No sense in disappointing Jane, he knew what she was like when things weren’t going her way. Eve stood motionless, watching them leave, her facial expression seemingly both sad and smug.

Assignment #4: Still Home

Assignment #4 was about setting; we were asked to describe what a person would see, hear, smell, on entering our home. I chose to write it from the poing of view of my elder son returning home after a long absence. 

Still Home

The front porch was new, although it could hardly be called a porch, with no railing and just one step up onto a poured concrete block. And the garage door had finally been replaced with one that opens automatically with a keypad. He recalled how he and his younger brother hated the old one which would fly open towards you when it came off the spring, and was almost impossible to close. His Dad always said you just have to be careful, and he’d reply angrily “that stupid dam thing could kill me!”

The screen door, new ten years ago maybe, wasn’t quite straight and didn’t close tight, but knowing his father that wouldn’t be considered a problem worthy of any attention. Now the question is, will his old key still unlock the front door, which, he noted, was in need of a fresh coat of white paint. Yes!

The front hallway hadn’t changed at all from what he remembered. Small table in the alcove at the door, where his Dad always sat to put on his shoes, and three mats on the opposite side for about a dozen pairs of shoes for all seasons. He smiled when he saw his mother’s tiny sandals and her soft slippers for indoors. He noticed the framed blue Chagall lithograph hanging by the door, which his dad insisted would be worth a lot of money one day. And there was the wooden shelf mounted high on the wall, with the five hooks for hats and scarves; he remembered how pleased his parents were after finding it for $15 at a Pickering flea market. Only his dad’s faded Blue Jays cap was hanging there now that it was spring.

He kicked his loafers off and walked in towards the kitchen. The old linoleum flooring made him feel sad; how often had they talked about redoing the kitchen, and yet here it was, the same as it had always been. Cupboards stained dark walnut, walls cream coloured, fridge, stove and dishwasher matching black. He reached for a glass from the cupboard beside the fridge and was not surprised to the same ones he had used as a kid, but at least the coffee mugs were newer. Sure enough, there was a pitcher of cold filtered water at the front, next to the same no name orange juice he hated so much.

Glass in hand, he walked from the kitchen to the dining room, stopping to look at the teak China cabinet filled with those beautiful hand painted ‘Occupied Japan’ cups and saucers his dad had hoped would quadruple in value. The Chagall might be worth something, but nobody seemed interested in collecting vintage tea cups these days. As always, the matching teak dining table had a centrepiece to go with the season, in this case some long stemmed Japanese Irises surrounded by a pale pink flower he didn’t recognize. The runner beneath the flower arrangement was an red silk Japanese obi, one of several his mother changed with the seasons. Odd how they only used the dining room when they had guests for dinner.

He stood for a few moments at the sliding door leading on to the deck, but didn’t go out. He could see the gate in the fence at the end of the garden where he and his brother used to pass through to get to school, one of his father’s better ideas. Nothing much had changed, aside from the tool shed their new next door neighbour had put up in their back yard. The grove of tall Weeping Willows in the playground behind were in their full majestic glory, just as he remembered from his early childhood. 

He turned to the living room, still dominated by the large screen TV in the corner towards the kitchen, although this was a newer model, and there was no Nintendo game set on the shelf below. He used to like watching his younger brother get excited playing Donkey Kong, but that memory seemed so distant now. Same faded red leather sofa set they’d had for years, and the same big rectangular coffee table in the middle of the room. The fish shaped candy dish was still there, but it was empty, which struck him as sad. He sat down in his fathers old recliner, facing the TV, but it wouldn’t recline when he pulled the lever back. It probably hadn’t for years.

He felt a strange sensation, as if he had jumped through time and was suddenly much older than when he first walked in. Was it the house that had changed? Was it because his parents weren’t here now, and weren’t due back until Friday? Something was missing, something important, but he couldn’t place it. The TV was always on in the background when his dad was home, but that wasn’t it. And then it came to him, the missing element, the thing that was always here, day and night – the sound and smell of his mother’s cooking!

Agedashi tofu! Yakitori. Tempura. Udon. Tonkatsu. Chawanmushi. Okonomiyaki. Curry rice. Tamagoyaki. He could imagine the appearance of every meal, and even the dishes they were served up on! The smell of the oils and the butter. And the very pungent aroma of Saba shioyaki, that only he and his mother would eat. The sizzling sound as the breaded pork was placed into the hot cooking oil, so skilfully done using long O-hashi so as not to splatter. The rapid chop chop chopping sounds of fresh vegetables being sliced and diced on the cutting board. And something else, something that made it all so very special. The sound of his mother humming and singing phrases from Japanese songs. Never an entire song, just parts here and there, as she prepared his favourite meals, which somehow made it all the more delightful. That’s what’s missing, he smiled.

Ken Bole

CW Assignment #4

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Assignment #3: Lost Gosling Learns to Listen

For our third writing task, we had to come up with a plot, and were given the characters a goose and a gosling. I found this challenging.

Lost Gosling Learns to Listen

“Mummy, why do I have to move? I like it here,” cried the young gosling.

“Because dear, we need to stay near the others,” his mother calmly replied. “Look, there’s your father,” she motioned with a stretch and turn of her long black neck.

“But I’m hungry Mummy, and I like this grass,” the little gosling whined. 

“Baby, you are so young, and know nothing of our ways,” mother chided. “Now come along with your brothers and sisters, and I’ll tell you why you must learn to obey.” Mother waddled ahead, followed by a wiggly line of six goslings, with baby at the rear.

The park was busy for a wet spring day, with cars moving in all directions searching for the best viewing spots. Some even had trailers attached, loaded with those Sea-Doos which terrified the geese and all the other water fowl. 

“Hurry!” cried mother, as she flip flopped her big web feet across the expanse of pavement. She twisted her neck to look back, and was horrified to see her littlest babe standing still, and directly in the path of a monstrous SUV. With a loud honk and a flap of her huge wings she turned and raced back towards baby, ignoring the danger on the oncoming vehicle. 

“Ouch!” cried baby, as mother thwacked him with two sharp pecks from her long beak. 

“Silly gosling!” she rebuked, “you could have been squashed to death!”

Mother and her six young ones reached a patch of grass by the shoreline, where father kept lookout, and settled back down to eating. 

“Children” mother announced, “gather around me while I tell a story about who you are, and who you will soon become.”

Sitting comfortably, legs tucked beneath her, mother goose began. “Never forget, goslings, you are ‘branta’ and should feel pride in your heritage. Pay no attention to those long necked white feathered ones they call swans, they are vain and inconsiderate. And ignore those loud little quackers with their fancy finery, they are only ducks. You, my special children, are Canada Geese!”

The goslings continued pecking at the fresh spring grass, acting as if they knew this all along, but mother continued. 

“Long long ago, there was a gosling, just like baby here, who thought he could do just as he pleased. And one day when all his brothers and sisters followed their goose and gander parents towards the water, this gosling wandered off on his own, into the tall grass. He heard the loud honking of his mother, but he was enjoying the taste of the new grass, and was sure he could find them all later. His poor mother was very worried, but it was summer now, and since the young ones were starting to moult and couldn't fly, it was very important find a place close to the water for protection. 

This foolish young goose noticed his feathers falling out, but hadn’t bothered to learn the ways of Canada geese from his mother, and thought nothing of it. He had more important things to learn, things like finding greener grass, so off he went, pooping as he pleased, until suddenly he found something very special! 

“Oh my goodness!” he honked, “aren't they beautiful! I will stay with them.” What our young goose didn't realize was that the beautiful young geese he saw were ‘ansers’, more commonly known as Snow Geese. He waddled up to them in the deep grass, announced his presence, as if to say “I'm special just like you, how wonderful to be together!” Poor silly goose! Mother Snow Goose hissed loudly, flapped her wings and came running straight towards the foolish little Canada Goose. Thwack thwack thwack, she thumped on his head, and thwack again! 

Away he fluttered just as fast as he could! Those white Snow Geese would have nothing to do with a dirty moulting ignorant ill-behaved Canada Goose! Off he ran, out of the deep grass and back to where he had been nibbling when he mother last called. But oh dear, there was no sign of mother and father now, nor his brothers and sisters, and no honk to guide him back to them. 

“If only I had listened to mother,“ cried the poor goose. “Now I’ll never learn how to fly with the others in a big Vee, or find a partner just like me.”

Little goose felt very frightened being all alone. The Snow Geese didn’t want him, and now he couldn’t find his own family. “Help me!” he honked, as loud as he could. Who would hear him now? And then, just when he was feeling a sadness he’d never felt before, he heard a honk, a honk that sounded exactly like his mother. But where did it come from? Not by the water. Not in the grass. He heard it again, closer this time. And then, like an answer to his pitiful little honk, a louder honk, from the sky above him! It was mother! She made a graceful arc in the air, and landed right beside her poor little lost goose. No thwack on his head this time, just a ruffling of feathers, a slap slap of her big webbed feet, and a motion to come over here to their hiding place, safe by the water’s edge. Foolish goose had learned his lesson, the hard way, and from now on would follow everything he was told.

“So children,” said their mother as she ended her story, “and baby especially, will you listen now when I call?” 

Of course they all honk honked in agreement, with little goose the loudest. He would never forget how that silly goose so long ago thought he could join the Snow Geese who looked nothing like him. One day he would get to lead a Vee formation himself, and when he found his partner, he would have her tell his goslings the very same story, just like his mother had. “Canada Geese are the best!” he honked. 

Ken Bole

CW Assignment #3


Assignment #2: Lucky

For our second writing assignment,  April 11, we were supposed to observe a stranger from a distance, and describe them. I saw this person on the way home from class, parked by the cemetery.


From a distance it’s just another blue convertible, but a closer look reveals this one’s a late model AMG E53 Cabriolet, not quite the top of the Mercedes line, but up there. It was parked by the gates of St. Andrews Cemetery, across from the old Presbyterian church. A hundred grand might get you a showroom demo ‘sale price’, but not in Spectral Blue metallic, like this baby. 3 litre turbo, 429 horses, zero to 100 in 4.6, if you don’t spin the 20 inch twin spoke aero wheels. 

That’s one mean machine, so how come the owner isn’t smiling. Could be the car owns him. He looks Tamil, but young enough to have been born in Scarborough, probably early thirties. Clean shaven, his jet black hair was neatly trimmed, not too short, and not touching the collar of his navy blazer. Judging from his upper torso he works out regularly; no fat, but a heavy build, around 220 pounds, and just under six feet. His name was Pratheesh, but he was known to his friends as ‘Lucky’.

Lucky wasn’t religious like his mother, but kept a small gold statue of Murugan on his dash, complete with trident, just in case. For a man whose name means full of hope and expectations, this didn’t seem to be his day. His left hand gripped the sky blue Galaxy S22 as if he wanted to squeeze the life out of it, and if the dead could hear, the Thompsons and all their descendants wouldn’t have missed a word. Strangely enough, it was hard to tell if he was shouting in anger or fear, but the guy on the receiving end must have known. 

“I said I don’t have it now, for fuck sake, I’m waiting for a pay back!”

“Tonight. He promised me tonight. I’ll pay you tomorrow.”

“Leave her out of this. She has nothing to do with it. She wasn’t involved, so fuck off, I’ll take care of it. Tomorrow. All of it, yes.”

Lucky took the cellphone from his ear, pushed the end call button without saying bye, and immediately punched in a string of ten numbers. 

“Where the fuck are you! I want me money. Now!” 

“Don’t fuck with me, asshole! I told you - today!” 

“No you fucken calm down! I need it all. 10 o’clock tonight, no fucken later!”

“Listen asshole, I’ll be parked outside Habiba. If you’re not there by ten, your family pays, one ways or another. All of it!”

He ended the call like the first one, then clicked recent.

“It’s me. I’ve got some business tonight. I won’t be coming by. Listen to me, don’t answer your phone unless it’s me. Never mind why.”

“No, nothing’s wrong. It’s just business. Everything’s okay. I just don’t want you talking to anyone till I’ve got this thing all settled.”

“Because someone might call asking for me, so don’t pick up. No, by tomorrow it’ll all be taken care of. Don’t worry.”

“I can’t talk now. Never mind. Just stay home. I’ll call you when it’s all done.”

“We can talk about that later, not now. Sure, this summer, no problem. But just keep it quiet for now. Never mind your father.”

“No, for fuck sake, I’m not seeing someone else. I gotta go. Ya, tomorrow.”

Third call, third cold disconnect, no ‘alavida’ to anyone.

Lucky dropped the phone back in the console and slammed the steering wheel with both hands. 


It not longer felt like the kind of day for showing off his new car with the top down. With the push of a button, the soft top unfolded from the rear and slowly moved up to the windshield, snapping into place just as the cabriolet was engineered to do. He had five hours to kill before Kethan showed up with his money, if he had it. There was no plan B. Nemi didn’t fuck around, when he told Lucky to pay up, he meant it. No money, no car - or worse. 

Five hours. Why wait! If he left now, with this bomb he could easily make it to Montreal in that time. Nemi wouldn’t know where to look. Anyway, chances of Kethan coming through with his money were slim at best. Mekala would understand, eventually. He’d call her when he was safe. He just needed more time. Yes, drive straight to Montreal, he had a friend in Dorval, he’d sort it all out from there.

Foot on the brake, left hand on the wheel, Lucky pushed the start button and the turbo roared to life. Not yet used to the raw power under the accelerator, aided by hybrid electric assist, the E53 lurched forward at high speed. Forward, and straight into the path of Reverend Newman’s old but reliable 2007 Toyota Corolla, on his way in to prepare for Sunday’s sermon. There’s no good word to describe the sound of shiny new Spectral Blue fiberglass shattering on impact. Speed up and amplify the sound of pouring milk over rice crispies a hundredfold and you’ll be close, then follow that immediately with an air bag explosion and a piercing car alarm. Only one more sound completes the scenario, and it wasn’t coming from Reverend Newman.


Ken Bole

CW Assignment #2

Assignment #1: Coping With Covid

For this first assignment, from April 4, 2022, we were required to simply describe a typical day of our own during covid.

Coping With Covid

Waking up to the mechanical scream of a cheap grinder isn’t the nicest way to start your day, but at least it promises fresh coffee. That’s Hitomi in the kitchen, I stay in bed until she’s poured her first cup before heading down in my sweatpants and T-shirt. She’s standing at the open fridge deciding what her lunch might be while I fill my favourite mug and shuffle into the living room, careful not to spill. Remote in hand, should I watch CBC or switch to CP24, meaning do I want to feel depressed from world events or just Toronto murders. Whatever I choose, even if I go straight to Turner Classic Movies, I have to keep the volume down to a level I can’t quite hear so that Hitomi can listen to her evening news from Japan on her iPad while she finishes off yet another container of yogurt.

When Hitomi goes back upstairs to get ready for work, I return to the kitchen for my small glass of orange juice to wash down my morning pills, trusting they’ll keep my high blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Weekday breakfasts are either cold cereal with milk and yogurt, and maybe sliced banana or blueberries if Hitomi has left any, or my speciality, toasted fried egg sandwich, but only if there’s ham and cheese in the fridge. She’s out the door by nine, leaving me to fill up the next few hours with the same daily routine; take a dump if the coffee has worked its magic, then shower and get dressed, shaving optional and unlikely. Then back down to my easy chair in the living room, having already decided my body isn’t up to doing the exercises my conscience tells me I should be following through on. Nobody’s perfect, I remind myself.

Social media eats up the rest of the morning; Email, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, in that order. If there aren’t enough likes for what I’ve already posted, I’ll google a few other sites and find something that I know will provoke a reaction from my followers, or leave a passive-aggressive comment on one of their pages. Lately I’ve also been watching the old Andy Griffith shows, just to take me back to a time that never was. Floyd the barber always brings on a smile, and at least momentarily helps me forget the latest covid stats.

Lunch is leftovers or something frozen from the freezer, the dishes get done, and then on to my favourite part of the day, my afternoon nap! What makes it special is that Yuki, our white cat, follows me up, knowing there’s a sweat-stained plaid shirt laid out for her on the bed beside me. If I had to be frozen in time, it would that moment, her fuzzy white paws wrapped around my hand pressed against her soft warm belly. There’s never a set time limit for the nap, except on Monday when I have to go grocery shopping, but by three I start to feel a little guilty about not having done anything with the day. That’s when I turn on my iPod and listen to the latest episode of Slate, Bill Maher, Sam Harris, CanadaLand, or any of the other fifty odd podcasts I subscribe to. It counts as doing something.

By four or so I’m back in the kitchen searching for what might turn into a supper, knowing Hitomi will be home by 5:30 with what’s usually a much better idea. We time it so that the food is ready for the start of Coronation Street, and that’s always followed by Jeopardy, after which I do the clean up. Tired after a hard day at work, made more challenging having to wear an N95 mask all day, Hitomi usually heads to bed by nine, while I spend the rest of the evening watching shows I’m not interested in, or searching without success for something good on Netflix. At eleven it’s time to get depressed again, only now it’s with Lisa LaFlamme on CTV. On most nights I try to read a few pages of whatever book is by the bedside, then express a silent gratitude for all the horror I’m not experiencing firsthand, and which at worst will only reach me in my dreams. I don’t expect tomorrow will be much different, and that’s okay with me.

Ken Bole

CW Assignment #1