the party by 8o_clock1
5:30 AM, Markham
From downcast eyes, he said, “We used to crash cars just for fun”.
I went into probe mode, unashamed, just kept prodding —
What kind of cars?
How much did that cost you?
How many did you crash?
When you say us, who else do you mean?
I could tell he felt my questions dig into him like blades.
I stirred not; moved not.
It was getting silent, all eyes on him, most people were uncomfortable, although I doubt any of them knew why.
His answers were what I expected, curt, short, offering no real stories nor lives.
If you’re going to lie about something you did in the past, make sure you get your back story right.
8:45 PM, Sneaky Dee’s
Holding a glass of red wine sangria, while sucking on an alcoholic slice of orange, she lifted her shorts to show a hickey on her thigh, as she squealed in drunken delight: “I’ve been seeing this boy!”
She looked at me, apologetic, communicating to me, through furrowed eyebrows and a bitten cheek, to agree with her, that he was amazing.I rebelled, par usual, and glanced away.
10 PM, The Phoenix
In the middle of the dance floor, she gave me the cut eye and raising her hand in the air, swivelling her hips, she mouthed, “Let’s get the fuck out of here”, while still pretending to dance.
I mouthed back, “NO.”
Glare, straight through the crowd, sharp and piercing, soundlessly communicate: “WHY?!”
“It’s her birthday!”
Ten minutes later, she gave me the signal, and I left anyway.
3 AM, University of Toronto
His opening line : “I believe in opposites. That was just a side story to the public. What happened to me, in private, is much worse.”
Then a stop (a full pause) as doubt took over.
Those eyes are sizing me up and I did my best to hide my starvation to portray to him (as best as fiction could) a mouth that could conceal secrets and resist the temptation to narrativize.
So I waited in silence.
Finally, after a long, conscious soundlessness of two minutes, his voice returned to say: “I need to know that you’re not going to write about this,or fictionalize it in any form.”
Everything everyone says is a version of a version of a script they have formed in their heads, designed to impress, overestimate and overanalyze. An opening like this is an invitation to gather this as material: to be included in a slice of a chapter, or transformed into a premise.
This is his script, and it’s dying to be told.
“I promise,” I say, meaning something else, simplifying his story into a footnote, despite his intentions for it to be born as a novel.