Thursday, February 21, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Return to Guelph

Back in Guelph my best friend welcomed me with open arms. She was hurt when I told her I had only waved from the highway as I bee-lined for Ottawa. Her mouth fell open when I told her of my past weekend with Dragosani. With a son the same age she was totally against it. But she had been there to help me get away from The Beater and she had known me for a long time. She just didn’t understand or like my reasons for visiting either Ayns or D. The great thing about her – it didn’t change our friendship at all.

She ran a day care out of her home and while kids howled and played around us – we sat at the kitchen table chatting and drinking tea. We didn’t need to ‘holiday’ in the usual sense of the word, we were happy just visiting. Sometimes I took a break from the kids and drove around my old haunts. I went and looked at all the places I had lived and the house I had owned. I drove past my old stores and marveled at what had taken their places. I still couldn’t understand why the woman bought my business and then never reopened it after we did inventory.

One of the biggest changes to my past was the hotel. My old boss had sold to a large hotel chain and opened a bowling alley on the outskirts of the city. The old hotel had been remodeled and the strip joint was now just a memory. I took some time and wandered about the hotel marveling at the chandeliers and new carpeting. The new owners had restructured the entire site and its appearance stunned me. Gone was the smell of stale beer and puke and what enveloped me now was the smell of new furniture and wallpaper paste. When I was asked if I needed help, I stammered that I had once worked in the old hotel. The woman behind the reception desk just smiled sympathetically and looked through me. I knew it was time to move on.

I found my old boss and manager at the bowling alley enjoying their new life. They had tales of many of the other old employees and before I left I arranged to meet my boss later that night for a drink at his favorite bar. As we sat at the bar and reminisced, I finally told him the truth about The Beater. Tears rolled down his face as he stared into his glass and pressed his lips tight together.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked me so quietly that I almost didn’t hear him.

“I didn’t tell anyone.”

“But I could have done something about it! In fact, I could have done several things about it. I guarantee you that if I had known – that bastard wouldn’t have been able to hurt anyone ever again.”

We must have been quite the sight as we sat at that bar, our chins in one hand, our shoulders touching as we leaned against each other, and both of us lost in our memories. A wave of guilt washed over me as I watched the tears running down his face.

“I was always a little in love with you,” he said as he shook his head and swiped at the wetness. “I never understood what you saw in him or why you kept going back each time you had a huge fight.”

“I wonder why I did too,” I said and downed my drink. “Thank God I finally did though. I might be dead otherwise.” Later, as I tried to get to sleep, I thought about my old boss. He had always treated me special, but I had assumed it was because I made so much money for the hotel. I hadn’t known.

As the end of the week rushed towards us, I started making plans for the long drive home again. I had many options open to me, but I only considered one of them. With the car packed and the usual tears, I waved good-bye to my best friend and turned my car towards Ottawa for one last weekend.

17 comments:

Living the Dream said...

roll on the weekend, that's what I say!! Phew, I'm glad I got into this blog,though you are making me quite exhausted and my blood is at boiling point. Oh dear, I have just looked across the room at hubby with his mouth dropped open sleeping on the sofa, not quite the same image!! :-)
Love it. Can't wait for the next installment.
Luv Hazel
xx

softinthehead said...

OMG he must be quite something, all the way back to Ottawa! I know that journey and admire your stamina!! I am trying to remember that "feeling" but it was so long ago!!

Amy said...

Cool adventure. You sure know how to leave us hanging.

Beckie said...

As usual - I am waiting for more.

Sweet Irene said...

Yup, you do make some choices, don't you? I don't know, Aims. You try to find happiness by seeking it in the arms of a man, but it seems that you never find the happiness inside yourself. Or is that part still coming up?

dawn said...

It is always amazing to me when one finds out after the fact how someone else felt and they made the choice to not let it be known. There were times I was suspicious, there were times I suspected and found out as well. It is really a mystery, and those choices by others can have a huge effect on not only his or her life, but those around them.

I Beatrice said...

I have just been going back to look at some of my own early instalments, and the comments associated with them - and I see that you did not spare me when it seemed to you I was losing my way by allowing real events to intrude on the story...

I am emboldened by this to say that I had feared you were losing your own way somewhat - and am relieved by the reminder of 'the beater' to keep us firmly in sympathy with Ani's progress. Without that, I for one had begun to think that this was a rather different sort of story you were telling...

But then I'm very much more preoccupied with technicalities than most of your readers are; so feel free to disagree - or ignore - me if you wish!

david mcmahon said...

Waiting for the next instalment.

You boss sounds like a very compassionate, caring human being.

Canadian flake said...

OMG I totally can't wait to read what happened next...this story is amazing and you are a truly gifted writer...I am glad I popped in..you TOTALLY have me hooked...

Joy T. said...

And back to Ottawa you go! Love it. Can't wait to read more. This weekend! :o)

Breezy said...

Isn't it strange to find out you didn't see what was right in front of your nose! But now for the next weekend!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

You certainly do have a knack for the cliffhanger, aims!

Stinking Billy said...

aims, as ever, fascinating!

Popkins said...

GOSH,Aims...if only the owner had stepped forward. I agree with one of the other notes....people who never reveal their feelings at the time. But reckon you had to go through what you went through. However, wonder how that would have changed things.Anyhoo...

I'd be on my way back to Dragosoni though my own self....diapers and all.....

Retiredandcrazy said...

Sounds like when I first met my husban

Retiredandcrazy said...

Sounds like when I first met my husband

aims said...

Hazel - You made me laugh...

SITH - He was - indeed he was..

Amy - It really was quite the adventure.

Beckie - as usual

Irene - Still coming up.

Dawn - yes - the boss surprised me - but then again - he was married.

Dearest B - Ignore you?! Never! I knew you would be on to the technicalities..and I am glad that you can see there is always something behind the words I have written. I haven't lost track of my theme of abuse here - just filling in the details. I hope you can bear with me as I continue the tale.

David - He surprised me very much. In fact, years later, I still am amazed.

CF - Well thank you! I'm glad you popped in too!

Joy - I know exactly what you mean girl!

Breezy - he was good at concealing it - that's for sure!

RC - well you see - there is this thing about posting something too long - and so I have learned to cut it off at (I hope) just the right amount of words. However - saying this - there is the problem when I go back to writing The Wailings that I don't keep doing this. I found that hard to do once I started blogging.

Billy - The story does continue for some time - do you think you can stand it?

Popkins - I know how you feel about Dragosani... :)

RetiredandCrazy - OH?? Do you have a story to tell us then?