Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Memory Hurts to Write

D invited me to be his date for a wedding. I knew him from the strip club. I knew he had a crush on me. I was late but I made it to a beautiful hall in the middle of the worst part of Rexdale. There were more strip clubs in that area than Tim Hortons’ or McDonalds’ put together.

The bride was a stripper but I didn’t know her. I think she was Russian. She was marrying a black guy. I asked if she was going to give up stripping after she got married but no one seemed to know.

It was during the groom’s speech to his new wife that the strung-out heroin addict sitting at the last table at the back started throwing her food across the room towards the podium. I really didn’t blame her at first. We were served some tuna dish called a “stuffed tomato” that smelled like cat food. D ate mine. I noticed the food flying noiselessly through the air in the respectful silence but continued to sit quietly like everyone else. Ironically, she had a really good arm. She started with the meat and was on her third parisienne potato before someone restrained her. In the end she had to be carried out of there.

Apparently a fight broke out with a Pakistani wedding party out in the parking lot when they were trying to extract the girl. I know this because one of the guys at our table came back in with a tiny spot of blood on the collar of his cheap dress shirt. He hadn’t noticed until I pointed it out; but it was all I could look at.

I followed the girl who had eaten the least at our table to the bathroom. After she was finished snorting coke in the stall I asked if she had a pick-me-up for me, anything I could buy. I was really surprised and angry when she acted like she didn’t know what I was talking about. I asked her a couple of times because I really couldn’t believe it.

D and I danced a little but I told him I wanted to get high so we left right after the bride threw the bouquet. We headed to one of the clubs he worked and got for free off the manager. It was the best coke I’ve ever done.

Just as we were rushing D got a call from his co-worker and best friend. His girlfriend had just had a baby six days ago and something was wrong with him. The baby was in emergency surgery downtown and could D come down? Driving down there and finding the right elevator was nuts. I never want to live through that again.

We came down some kind of darkened hallway. Instinctively I knew that this room was for parents of sick babies. It was really quiet with couches and the lights off. The sense of terror and apprehension was so thick it momentarily overwhelmed my high. The couple was sitting on one of the couches in the silence and for a few short moments we were silent too. Then the mother mumbled something about blaming herself and I began to speak.

I didn’t know what to say and I was aware how dangerous this was but I felt powerful and I knew immediately that I was hypnotizing her with the sound of my voice. I said not to torture herself; that she hadn’t known how sick the baby was. That she caught it in time. That she did the best she could. That everything was going to be okay. I hope to God that everything else I said was along those lines.

It seemed to take a long time, with her mumbling how she was responsible and my voice clear and fluid like water talking her down and the men still as statues. They were not there for me, only she and I together. I hope to God she just needed noise to keep her mind from racing. If not, this is my public apology to her. If she knew I was high, that night or anytime after, I am heartily sorry and terribly ashamed.

The doctor came out. He was young and gorgeous and eager to share his good news. Everything was going to be alright. The room became filled with air again and Dave and I were dismissed, surfacing on the street as dawn arrived and went home.

Six months later I ran into one of the girls I had met at the wedding working the same club. I mentioned the scene with heroin addict for lack of something better to talk about. Her face didn’t convey any emotion as she told me that the addict’s pimp had doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. The poor soul hadn’t survived her injuries.

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