It was late. Well past the whiching hour. By which I mean the hour by which I should have been asleep for I need all the help I can with beauty. The balmy waves of heat rose almost visibly from the asphalt, stored up during the day to be released anew, crinkling and shimmering in the pale halo of street lamp incandescence. I could feel its gentle, sweltering caress across my bony shoulders, holding me in its soft, yet fiery grasp, enveloping me, the overwhelming sensations making me perspire. I luxuriated in its hold. Dizzying. Every fibre engaged, on edge. The two of us in that dance of ages. Alive.
I know you’re wondering how I found myself here, heading towards the train tracks.
At this hour.
The backstory: a friend had messaged just moments ago saying they were in town and nearby, and would I like to meet up for a quick drink. Though it appeared to be a work night, I was booked off the next morning. So I said yes. A rare feat of spontaneity. Perhaps this will be a sign of things to come?
Within moments of confirming the location of our meet, a mere 18 minute walk away, I had put on pants. And a shirt, my collar turned to the heat and humidity instead of the cold and damp. Dressed to face the world, I strode confidently out the door and into the Toronto wild. The route with the shortest distance was a straight line – as the crow flies. Because I’m not a crow, that was not an option for me. I had to follow the road most taken. Which is what led to me to the back roads. Towards the train tracks.
And I walked through narrow, cobblestoneless streets. With the ever present heat as my company.
There was only the sound of silence around.
Until that too was broken. Shattered.
A voice in the darkness.
I froze. Adrenaline surged through me. My heart, its thunderous pulsing felt against my rib cage. Its pace quickened. My sympathetic response heightened, due to the isolation, the stillness around. I could feel the small hairs on the back of my neck rise, the little arrector pili tugging away, responding to the stimuli. I could feel the long hairs on my legs attempt the same erection but unable to overcome their own weight, so they remained at ease. The even longer hairs on my head couldn’t move as they were tightly coiled in a serpentine bun fixed sexily on the top of my head. My hands balled into tight, defensive fists, my bladder letting me know it too was ready to release if the need arose. Fight or flight engaged, alas there was only one option for me where I stood.
I cocked my head to the right, tilting my left ear towards the source. My stronger ear. I wasn’t mistaken. It was a little voice. A young voice. Too young to have developed the timbre to enable stratified identification but with a pitch that enabled almost instantaneous location identification. A voice of four or five years of age. My eyes, having been potentiated by adrenaline quickly adjusted to the new field of vision. I could see a little silhouette up high in a tiny second story window, backlit by faint light.
I had initially heard distress. But in that same moment, echoic hearing clarified everything for me. There was no danger. I was safe.
The voice was calling to me. Entreating me to respond.
“Hi Mr Poopy Head.”
My head tilted to the left.
“Bye Mr Poopy Head.”
I was compelled. Voiceless, an automaton with no agency, no control, no self respect. My right hand sliced through the thick, soupy atmosphere, and waved. It would have made the Queen proud.
Hello and Goodby.