Saturday, 8 April 2017


It was as if Benjamin Black was targeted from the beginning of the school year as "The Weird & Wonderful Village Idiot" Actually, he was the first "lucky Kid" to win this ugly and sadistic title. Yes, these individuals were the cream of the crop----bullies who had had three years of practise and had honed their "craft" just like knife-sharpeners. "Hey, Benny Boy, we all hate your perverted ass and it's just a matter of time before we'll give you what you deserve. Tell your parents and teachers any of this and we'll go after your tail-wagging sister and brothers. Get it, freak? You will never see the light of day for singing like a canary. Trust me: We don't make empty threats. Faggot."

Benjamin walked the remaining two miles from the school to his home with his head bowed. He was certain that those four bullies would end up killing him. They'd already made every aspect of his life a living hell,  even going so far as breaking into Benjamin's school locker and   describe in gory, horrifying what would happen to his dog if he ate a steaming bowl of anti-freeze.  Each sentence got progressively worse until Benjamin stopped reading it and tore their 

The next morning, Benjamin couldn't get out of bed. It was a soothing action on his part: Spend the day hiding under the blankets and tuning out the nightmare that his very existence appeared to cause. However, his exasperated mother and ultra-controlling father weren't exactly overjoyed with Benjamin's choices. "Look, Bennie, I think you've been doing a lot of self-pity wallowing and it's high time that you pull yourself together and do something useful and productive. You're just extremely lazy, that's all it is. Lazy and childish."

"George, please don't talk to our son like that. It just makes everything worse.
Look, I'm as frustrated as you are, dear.  I wish Benny could shake himself out of his sluggishness, but maybe there's something or someone who could, you know, help him with his problems."

Suddenly, Benjamin sat up and discarded the covers, his face red with rage. "Why are you talking about me as if I wasn't here??!! What's the matter with you?"

Sophie, the distraught mother, wrung her hands and had no idea what to do. "We're sorry, Benny. We won't do that anymore."  She left the room.

"Speak for yourself.  I have nothing to apologise for!  Nothing."

Benjamin grabbed his knapsack, randomly stuffing clothes into it. "I'll do you both a favour. I'm out of here. And I'm not just threatening it this time Don't bother trying to find me."

"Dear, please don't do this. We'll work something out. Would you like some ice cream?"

"Bribery won't do it. I have made up my mind." Benjamin put his coat on, grasped his knapsack, slid behind his father, angrily slamming the door as hard as he could and disappeared from the world of pink living rooms and choking oppression.


Benjamin was now homeless.  Something he had feared, even though he'd grown up with a guaranteed roof over his head, good meals and a comfortable bed.  He had a small, domestic short-hair that had been thrown out of his cosy formerly doted on by because he had fleas, for God's sake. Didn't his owners know that it was possible to get rid of those itchy vermin without had had other reasons---that they were deliberately withholding food and water for the poor little guy.  

Benjamin knew that his parents would take good care of Everly (named after Don and Phil, two of the wonderful Everly Brothers, singers who ruled the pop music of  1957 and had Grammy awards for their stunning harmonies. Benjamin had wanted to take Everly with him, but he'd be just as destitute as he was and that amazing feline would once again, be a stray. existing in the wild.  Now what  will it take to get Benjamin a safe place to stay until he obtains a job and apartment. These things weren't going to be easy; but the alternative was living on the wild and filthy streets.


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Cracks In the Sidewalk Become Gaping Holes---Part One

                      Dear Neil

I realise that we haven't been in contact for a very long time and I want to apologise for that. It's just that my life has become, well, let's say complicated. The last time we were together, I was having some trouble staying on the rails, so to speak. I broke up with my boyfriend, because I was sick and tired of having him calling me a "fat cow" "a stupid, useless waste of space" and his favourite, "You're so fat that when you run, you leave holes in the sidewalks." Great guy. I hear he has another girlfriend already. I hope he's not abusive to her, but the old adage, "A tiger never changes its stripes."

Anyway, after that nightmare, I moved in with my parents again. Can you believe it?? You know that you might as well declare yourself an utter failure when that happens. I mean, I'm twenty-five years old with no job, no money and I have now set myself up for constant and unrelenting humiliation. Pathetic or what? That was three years ago and nothing has changed. Or so it would seem.

Oh, I forgot, I recently got discharged from that horrid mental hospital--you know, it's called the Gravenhurst Institute just outside the city. Note the "Grave" at the beginning of it's name. Ha. Anyway, it was a living hell, with some of the most sadistic, abusive and violent staff you can imagine--they were like Nazis. Even worse.

I'm sure I'm boring you to death, Neil. You've been so kind to me.

Love, your friend, Stacey.

Neil finished reading Stacey's letter and got an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. This complicated and tragic young woman had never been "grounded" as the expression goes. Everything was great when they were kids--she was full of energy back then and always working on something. She laughed often, made friends easily and was pretty in an off-beat way. She had long, thick black braids, like Wednesday Adams from that American comedy series, The Adams Family. Her frocks were all the same colour---black. Stacey. From head to toe. She wore bright red lipstick and rouge (usually too much) on her somewhat chubby cheeks. She had always told me that most people were shallow and there was no such thing as altruism. But then her expression would change and she'd laugh uproariously and say. "Fooled you. I'm only kidding." But was she? Really? Neil didn't think so. It seemed that Stacey's years of mental illness had seeds in her childhood. She was just very adept at hiding her pain.


That evening, Neil sat down with a cup of tea and tried distracting himself from his friend's melancholy. But surely Stacey hadn't put any cryptic messages into the words of her letter. She'd given him her phone number (unlisted) and address. Should he ring her up? Would she likely be home at all? There had been no date accompanying the letter. For all Neil knew, it could have been written several years ago. Stacey was always playing those bizarre games just to confuse anyone privy to them. Neil picked up the phone and dialed the number.  He let it ring several times and then got the answering machine.

A weak, mumbling voice rattled off a long and laconic message.  From what he could figure out, Stacey was either drunk, stoned or both: "You have reached my own castle in the sky. I doubt if anyone will listen to a long and incoherent piece of pure drivel. I decided to move across town. It's a rundown three storey walk up with blankets used as curtains. Enter at your own risk. Bye now." was either drunk, stoned or both: "You have reached my own castle in the sky. I doubt if anyone will listen to a long and incoherent piece of pure drivel. I decided to move across town. It's a rundown three storey walk up with blankets used as curtains. Enter at your own risk. Bye now."

When the long and spooky message finally ended, Neil was uneasy about asking Stacey out to a restaurant. "You choose the one you want to go to. He then left his phone number, wondering if it was a good idea to meet up with an obviously troubled woman who would talk the way she did. But she was an old friend, so Neil, fairly certain she didn't have very many dates. What with her strange, but compelling letter, he already sensed the desperation and neediness.

End Of Part One.