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Tim drives. The little red E on the dashboard flashes. His old neighbourhood shimmers and shines around him, spreading squares of grassy front yard waking up to the sun’s truth-telling promise: spring brings summer, weather is inevitable. It doesn’t lie, Tim thinks, not like—
The doorbell rings. It’s 7:30 in the morning. June shifts into Norm and sighs. Her head is on his shoulder. Her legs are wrapped around his. It’s her second true sleep in weeks.
A fist pounds against the door. Then the doorbell, ringing again.
June stirs. Norm?
A muffled yell—Open up! OPP!
Wasn’t that amazing? Jared is saying. Wasn’t that just…so freakin’ cool? The four others in the room—also college kids from Jared’s local branch plant university—all nod and agree and talk among each other about how cool and awesome and freakin’ it was. Susan considers Jared, sitting erect in her father’s favourite armchair. He has not-quite shoulder length straight black hair. He’s wearing scuffed leather boots and a jean jacket. His eyes are hazel, bright with the thrill of having been out in the world, having actually done something. He reminds her of young Susan, fifteen years ago.
When Tim wakes up he’s back on his back. The ground underneath is cold and hard. He rubs his eyes against the soft, filtered light. It’s late afternoon, he guesses. He remembers leaving his father’s place. He remembers moving automatically, inexorably, back to the woods, back to his woods. He climbed the tree. He smoked another joint. And then another. The black night going bleary. Flattened cut-outs of the house, the backyard, the hole in the ground…all of it swirling around him like a cheesy dream sequence in one of those old black and white movies Carly likes to watch, special effects made with glue and scissors, orbiting mobiles, the scenes so long Tim wants to shout at the screen, yeah, yeah, we get it already.
Nighttime. Tim feels like he’s the only one on foot in all of Wississauga. He pulls up the zipper of his thin jacket. Army surplus, its drab green lends him a menacing don’t-screw-with-me vibe, helpful for dealing with the rich kids, the hockey and football types who think they can intimidate him into discount dime bags. He bought it after Clay pressed him into service. Welcome to the team, Clay said unctuously, slapping him on the back. He hasn’t told Carly he’s been promoted to dealing pot in the alley behind the bar during breaks and after work. She’ll be pissed. She’s right. It’s a bad idea. But he said yes anyway. What else was he going to do? He already owed Clay a few grand by then. The situation, Clay said, speaking in that slow careful way of his, is becoming untenable. Tim hadn’t actually known what the word meant at the time. But he’d gotten the idea.
June parks in the driveway. As she gets out of the car it suddenly occurs to her that she didn’t actually accomplish the one thing she left home to do. There are no groceries to haul into the kitchen. No reusable bags bulging with organics to virtuously heft over to their gleaming new stainless steel refrigerator with French doors and a digital thermostat. No cases of Lime Perrier, Coke Zero, and Diet Green Tea Ginger Ale to lug to the basement, no frozen shrimp and T-bone steaks to store in the freezer chest for spontaneous you-should-stay! quick defrost barbecues. There’s nothing for supper, June thinks absently.
In the fall of 1994 we had been in our new offices in the Lee Building at the intersection of Main & Broadway for close to three years. The old office was above Guys & Dolls Billiards, across the street, and was sort of funky. But the new premises were more impressive. Cleaner and seemingly more organized.
You don’t work for a literary magazine for the money. You work for a literary magazine for the fringe benefits. And one of the advantages of working for a magazine like subTerrain is getting to attend a professional development symposium—you know, for free.
Before Vancouver’s Main Street became a Portlandia branch plant there really wasn’t much reason to spend any time on its sidewalks. There were no single-origin coffee shops, craft-beer meccas or faux rec-room restaurants. With the noble exception of Neptoon records, and a couple of places along Antiques Row, it wasn’t much of a shopping destination either. No shops trumpeting local designers, organic materials, locally sourced handicrafts and oddball wares. Twee was pretty much absent on Main back then. Irony too.