I'm Going to Die (or Pink Ninja Strike!)

by Rob McLarty on April 10, 2015

I walk out my front door. The sun shines through the branches of the birch tree that covers the front of the house from the front lawn and blasts my eyes with unspeakable radiance. It almost hurts, but that's the Giver of life up there, touching my face with warmth. What more can you ask from love?

What was I doing? Oh yeah, the commute to work. Bummer.

I guess I'll turn on some tunes and hopefully the music will block out enough of the turbulence of the city that I can concentrate on some reading on the TTC. It's in here somewhere. I reach into my right pocket and pull out the tangled wires of my walkman's earphones.

How do they always get so knotted? All I did was put them in my pocket, and now look at them! Tangled and weaved-through seven-fold. There must be some sort of humuncular walkman devil living in my pocket who fucks my wires up this much.

Anyway, they're in my ears now and I'm listening to Soul Coughing Rolling. I walk down the street, across Shuter, through the Moss Park apartments, and wait for the street car on Queen.

Man, I wish I had a cigarette. Why did I decide to quit smoking again? Oh yeah, cuz I'll live longer or something. This morning shit just isn't doing it for me. Where's my token? I hope they don't catch me this time. This token's got a bit of a dent in it. Carl's friend didn't do a very good job on this one. Maybe if I put it in facing up, the driver won't notice. Why would he even be looking anyway? It's rush hour and tons of people are going to be putting their money in at the same time. My fake token will probably just be lost in the shuffle.

Why am I worrying so much? Because I believe that what I'm doing is wrong? But I can't afford real tokens, so what's a poor student to do? I guess it's justified... somehow. I guess I just don't like the 'sneaky' feeling of the whole thing. Like Monique said though, no one's going to suspect a well-dressed white boy with glasses as long as I look the driver right in the eyes when I ask for my transfer :-)

#

What's that guy reading? I can't quite see. The cover's got some kind of abstract painting on it. Oh, he's turning the page, maybe he'll tilt the book u—there it is: Camus's The Outsider. I read that once didn't I? I can't remember now. Something French... something European. I guess from the title, it must have had something to do with being a black sheep outcast from the norm of society. I guess the specifics don't really matter. I'm already an outsider myself. Who else on this streetcar spends their nights playing with multi-coloured goo and spreading it all over various fabrics to hang on walls? I wonder if there's anybody else here that doesn't have a TV. Probably; this is Toronto. But do they reorganize their psychology books into fictional stories with white-out and black marker? Eh? Eh? Maybe I'm just crazy. Whatever.

Ugh. There's soooo many people on the street car at eight in the morning. I'm not used to this crowding and pushing and shoving. The driver wants everyone to squish to the back some more. I don't think he can see that the people at the back can barely breath cuz they've been squished so much. The streetcar seems sort of sluggish and comes to a slow rolling stop. Must be the weight. There's a lot of people on here at the same time. Do drivers get trained to handle varying weight distributions when they learn how to drive these things? I guess there's not too much else to know cuz they don't have to steer or anything.

Yonge and Queen. This is my stop. Now I gotta figure out how to cram my way over towards the door so I'll actually make it off. Man, the car's stopped, how the hell am I going to get off this boat? Some people up ahead are leaving too, maybe they'll make some room. Huh. The people in front of me are leaving too. Wow. Almost everybody on the street car just got off. Popular stop.

Down the side walk, into the bank lobby, down the escalator, through 'the path' to the subway station, I go. I show the guy my transfer. I bump in front of the lady who can't find her exact change. I drop off some of the change that lady probably needed into the violin guy's case. I throw my transfer in the recycling bin. I walk down the platform to the ¾ mark so that I'm at the right spot for the escalator at Eglinton station. I stop. I turn around. I look to see if the subway's coming. I pull out one of my books (I guess I'll read some more of this Buddhist book). I find my pen. I circle and underline stuff. I write random thoughts in the margins while trying to balance the book with my non-writing hand. I hold down the pages as the subway passes by. I mark my page. I board the train. I find a seat. I sit down and read some more.

It's funny how everyone on the subway tries their best not to interfere with each other. Don't they get packed like sardines on the subway in Japan? I mean, like everyone has pretty much got zero personal space there. But over here we all try to strenuously maintain a certain sense of breathing room and not to bother each other (we're so polite). Everyone is staring off in different criss-crossing directions so that nobody's eyes meet in that most horrible of horrors: knowing that someone else in the world realizes you exist! Well. We just won't talk about it anymore: we just want to get to where we're going as quickly as possible, bumping into as few other existences as we can manage. It's serious work cuz nobody is smiling, and they're all concentrating really hard. Whatever. I return to my reading.

So the Buddha realized that there's good and bad karma in the world that's linked to human intentionality. Huh. Oh wait, I'm at Eglinton. I gotta get off quick before the doors shut! Phew. That was close.

Up the stairs, I go through the doors. I walk down the bus platform. I stop at '100 Flemingdon Park.' I wish I grabbed some pizza back at the place across from the Cinnabon. But I shouldn't be spending money: I've got to save as much as I can for school. But a pizza would be really good. Mmmmm. Pizza. And Mountain Dew. Yeah, that would good right now. I'm so hungry :(

It smells like stale air here in this bus terminal thing they've got going on underneath Yonge and Eglinton. It's all dark. Lots of grey cement. They sprayed that fuzzy insulation stuff all over the ceiling. I wish the ceiling was the floor so that I could lie down and rest on it. But that stuff's probably toxic or something, so I don't really want to lie down on it. Here comes my ride.

I bus it down to Don Mills, right on Wynford, and off the bus and to the office building for the Franchise Brand Corporation (I'm not kidding, this is what they actually named their company). It's warm today, a nice breeze. I wish I could just walk over to that tree over their and sit down in the soft grass and finish reading my book. I shudder. But I need money to go back to school. I've gotta face the music.

I walk up the steps, through the front doors. I say hi to the receptionist. I nod at Jack. I greet Shirley. I wave at Dianna. I smile at Barnaby. I give a thumbs-up to Stan. More nodding in the general direction of the customer service people. Some more smiling to the quote specialists. And I make it to my desk in the far corner. Hi to Theresa behind me. Hello to Chrisa in front of me. What's Up to the operations director. I breathe. I pull out my notebook. I put on my headset. I login to my computer. And now I can ignore them all and do my 'work.'

I check my email. I write some ideas down that I had on the bus. I check out Slashdot and Arts and Letters Daily. I fix one of my paintings that fell off my cubicle wall. I drink some coffee. I call one of the appraisers who works for us and ask him what the weather's like in British Columbia. I wish I was skiing.

Maybe I'll write some more ideas down for my sci-fi story about the conscious robot. Should I have him die in a blackhole so that he can be the only conscious mind rigorous enough to actually survive the time dilating ordeal? Or should his society kill him and create a mood of sorrow like the death of Socrates? Hmmm. Break time. I should go get something to eat finally.

I logoff the phone. I take off my headset. I grab some change. I walk down the hall, down the stairs, into the cafeteria. Hey Miguel! What's happening? He's going to tell me about his latest love affair with one of the girls in the building. He's such a lady's man. Yes I'm still going out with Alisha. Yes I don't care about the other girls anymore. Yes, go for it man; you only live once. I'll have roast beef, tomato, lettuce, swiss, and pickles on brown bread. And a little mayonnaise. I'll live dangerously today ;-)

Should I have chocolate milk or orange juice? The OJ would wake me up and give me more quick energy. But if I don't drink some milk now, I might not drink any later, and I won't have that food group covered for today. I guess it's the milk then. Yes, I got roast beef and cheese on toast. And a milk. Four fifty eh? Let me see. I gotta get rid of some of this change; it's filling up my pocket. Twenty five, thirty, thirty five, forty, fifty. There you go. The cashier gives me a grin. I take my sandwich and run.

Back up stairs I chow down while I wait for people to call in and yell at me. Why don't we have your appraisal done? Because the appraiser is overworked and can't handle the spring market's demands? Don't yell at me, it's not my fault. Nor is it my problem. What do I care? Thank you for calling FBC. Smile. Shudder. The day's almost over. How many hours are left? Mannnnnn. That's so far away. I wonder what Jesse and Karen are doing today?

Karen said she wanted to go to Kensington to visit the cheese store. I wish I was with her. I love cheese. Oh great, a technical call. Yes, save your attachment. It's the button with the picture of the paper clip on it. Save it on your desktop because you probably won't be able to find the file anywhere else on your computer. I'm sorry you don't know how to use your computer. Maybe you should learn. I don't need you being angry with me: you're the one who's ignorant. I'm sorry if I can't be there to hold your hand all the time. Yes, just upload your file to us now, that's all I care about. Thank you calling FBC. Please stop talking to me now so I can go back to thinking. I breathe.

Five o'clock. I sign my tracking sheet, put my notebook away, log off my computer, pack up my bag, and leave as fast as I can. The work day's over. Thank God! Now if only the bus would hurry up so I can get away from this place as fast as possible. It's such a nice day. And I spent it all inside with stuffy computer ridden air-conditioning...

The guy who drives this bus never checks. My token will be ok with him. Transfer please. Thank you. I turn my music on. I sit down. I close my eyes. I rest until I get to the subway. Whoa! I'm already there. I guess I should get up and walk to the subway train now. I walk along the platform, through the doors, down the stairs, and onto the subway. I sit down. I close my eyes. I rest until I get to Queen station. Whoa! I'm already there. I get off the subway, walk up the stairs, and into the street. I wait.

I wait.

I wait.

Three streetcars have already gone the other way, and none have passed my way. Why does this always happen? They're always going the opposite direction that I want to go. And then when it finally comes my way, they're all backed up, three bunched together. The TTC needs better management or something (not that more managers are going to make things better, but organization anyway). Should they all be computerized? I don't know, I'm tired and I just want to get home.

I can board on the back of the streetcar on Queen right? They have that POP thing as long as you have a transfer or a pass. The back doors are open. I don't want to stand in the lineup at the front. Here I go. I'm on. No one saw me. I do have a transfer in my hand. See? This is my proof of purchase. I'm not just getting a free ride. Ok, I've made my presence known and the tribe of the streetcar has accepted me as one of their own. Now I can relax and lookout for my stop. Church. Jarvis. Sherbourne. Ontario. That's me. Off I go.

So I'm swinging my arms back and forth and moving my shoulders to the beat of my music. Do I look like I'm walking normally? Maybe it's too forced. Does anyone care? Why do I care so much how I look when I'm walking?

There's the cross walk thing. I'll push the button after this car passes by to start the yellow lights flashing to halt all the traffic in order to cross safely. Naturally the next car comes to a screeching stop as soon as I look at him (before I even press the button). Doesn't he understand that I was just waiting for him to pass by? He gives me a dirty look. What the hell man? I guess I'm crossing now!

The girl in front of me turns around the same corner that I take to get home. We both walk through the pathway between the Moss Park apartments. She walking just ahead of me at almost the same speed. If I walk at my 'normal' speed I'll probably just catch right up to her and be right beside her. That would be awkward. I'll just hang back. I wonder if she thinks I'm stalking her or something because she's taking all the same directions that I'm taking and I'm seemingly following her. She's quickened her pace. So now I can walk normally. But now that I'm staying with her, I'm sure that she thinks I'm stalking her. I just want to get home; doesn't she understand that? Are all guys who walk behind girls potential stalkers? I don't know. We get to Shuter and go through the other cross walk. She turns left and I go straight. At least now I don't have to worry about that girl thinking that I'm possibly stalking her and I can enjoy the rest of the walk home.

I go up the porch. I find my keys. I open the door. Hey everyone! They're all stoned on the couch watching Kill Bill 2 that they downloaded last night. I just want to finish my book. They probably think I'm ignoring them, but stoners are paranoid that way. Anyway, I think I'll try out my new book on Husserl that I picked up the other day. He seems like a cool guy. Phenomenology's a lot like Buddhism imho. Sixty minutes of reading about the separation of objects from the ideal consciousness and I'm ready to wind down.

I'll check my email and write to some friends and then I'll rest. Huh, Octavia thinks twenty degrees is freezing cold now that she's been corrupted by New Zealand's climate. Poor girl. We just had more freezing rain the other day. Hey Octavia! Put on a jacket! I have to yell in my email because she's so far away, on the other side of the world.

Adrian's got some new artwork up on his site. Cool. Looks like he's been busy all summer doing freelance work. Lucky bastard. I guess I could have done that if I took the risk. But I really wanted to go back to school, so I choose the safe cushy job working in an office building, bored out of my mind and doing nothing creative. Only three months left and then I'm a free thinker again. I can't wait. Literally. My job is driving me insane.

Bedtime.

I drop all my clothes. I turn off the lights. I curl up into bed. I set my alarm. And I dream about a day when I don't have to do anything but write and paint and read and think. I'll be a professor some day...

#

Uhhh. What's that noise? What time is it? Four-fifty-five? At least I've got two more hours before I need to wake up. I can relax some more. Crash. What the hell was that!? There's a sharp stabbing pain in my eye. I can't see. I've got some pointy piece of metal sticking out of my head. I open my other eye to survey the room. There're people down here dressed in pink coveralls!

They say they've come for the wasabi. I tell them I don't have any wasabi: this must be some kind of mistake. They tell me that because I've seen them I can't live to tell the authorities. I guess that's it. Five o'clock. The end.


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