Saturday: An Ottawa Story - One



Late that Saturday morning David Merrick strolled out onto his front porch, intending to finish the crossword he had started in the kitchen five minutes previous. Plopping onto the threadbare couch stationed in front of the living room window, he crossed one leg over the other and touched the semi-scalding mug of tea to his lips, observing October weather at its finest: overcast, accented by light wind blowing around the leaves that weren't rendered too heavy by the misty rain now in its second hour of falling. For most, dreary; for David, a welcome reprieve from a nearly month-long heat wave. He took in the autumn air, exhaled, and touched pen to newsprint.

At some point during their childhood, one regards Saturday morning with a sort of reverence not usually found outside the Vatican. For approximately four hours, one has no obligations, no schedule, just a limited void in which to dictate their own life as they see fit. Come high school and the first couple years of university or college, this is replaced with a sort of negative time, wherein the beleaguered student can sleep away an entire quarter of their weekend after whatever party, bender or celebration of debauchery held the previous night. But once early adulthood rolls around Saturday morning sees a return to the self-actualization of childhood: the body loosens up a little, cares slip away unnoticed, and obligations are forgotten--"forgotten" implying that such obligations exist in the first place.

In David's case, he was paying absolutely no consideration to the 1200-word story due the following evening, which as of that moment was less than a quarter written. More out of lack of interest than writer's block, the piece had gone virtually untouched the day and a half since its assignment and David honestly had a hard time remembering what exactly it was about--a renovated playhouse or theatre, something like a three-storey fire hazard. Here and now, he hardly knew and hardly cared. Here and now, all that mattered was 14-down, three letters, "brick carrier" (which he would later discover to be "hod," a word whose existence he was entirely unaware of prior to caving and flipping the page upside down to read the answers).

But that became entirely beside a newly-emerging point as a beat-up, formerly black '92 Geo Spectrum made an illegal right turn onto the one-way street and parked at a severe angle in front of David's house, tires screeching and motor running at a decibel level far too extreme for 9AM on a Saturday. In one absurd motion, the Geo's lone occupant struggled with the door, wrenched it open, half-stumbled out, shut the door, hit his side off the rear-view mirror, doubled-over whilst muttering "fuck," righted himself, opened the passenger's side door, grabbed a weatherbeaten overnight bag, shut that door, brushed himself off, shook out a kink in his neck, put on a shark-like grin and began to make his way up the steps toward David, whose brow had furrowed in the interim.

"Hey, man," Richard Costello said, jutting out his chin in an inverse nod. "How goes?"

A single thought punctuated David's consciousness: No.

"Please don't do this," David replied, the corner of one eye beginning to twitch. "Not here, not now."

"I was in the neighbourhood, thought I'd drop by," Richard went on, setting his bag down next to the couch and plopping down himself.

"You weren't in the neighbourhood. I live almost on the edge of this neighbourhood and you couldn't have been driving around here for more than fifteen seconds."

The other man cocked an eyebrow, saying, "And this makes a difference because..."

David forced a chuckle, took a swig of his tea and jabbed the mug towards the man in an accusatory fashion. "Because you're a dick, but you're also the worst kind of dick, the kind that won't be a dick in a direct fashion out of some twisted sense of politeness and so instead you use weasel phrases like 'in the neighbourhood' and 'just dropping by' in an attempt to soften the blow." At this point he paused, finished his tea, and half-set, half-slammed the empty mug on the windowsill behind him as if to accent his point. "Because you did something wrong and now you want to freeload."

Richard's shoulders sagged and pivoted away from David, crossing his arms. "I expect cynicism from a lot of people, but not from you, Dave," he grumbled. "I'm quite hurt, if you can't already tell."

"I could. Your body language is easier to read than a large-print children's book." He paused for extra consideration. "Also, cynicism doesn't factor in when something is an observable fact."

His mouth now a tight line, Richard sat down on the couch, not quite making eye contact with his friend. "Sorry... I just figured, we haven't hung out much in the past month, maybe today could be a way of making up for lost time," he muttered.

"Are you afflicted with some incurable disease?" David asked.

Richard's forehead scrunched up. "No..." he replied.

"Is this your last day of freedom before serving a long-term jail sentence?"

"I consider any jail sentence 'long term,' but no."

"So really you're just intruding on my Saturday as a means of... hanging out with me. That's what you're saying?"

"Yeah. I thought most friends do that," Richard said, more lines creasing his forehead with each passing moment.

"Maybe they do. I might have missed that class."

"Well they do. So if you don't want to extend that courtesy, then fine, I'll go somewhere else. If you do, awesome."

David pursed his lips, considering his friend's proposition. "I guess I'm not doing much of anything at the moment."

The corner of Richard's mouth began to curve upward.

"And I suppose I should get out of the house sometime today, too," he said, though after casting a glance about the front porch added, "Though I suppose I technically already am."

Richard's lips slightly parted, revealing a row of teeth.

"Eh, why the Hell not?" David murmured, offering a little shrug.

Something must have been tensing in Richard's body this entire time, as he rocketed out of the seat, pumping his arm and grunting "Yesssssssssss" between gritted teeth. Some five to seven seconds later, the last few "esses" expired and Richard relaxed his form, exhaled, and bent down to pick up his bag.

"Also, I need to freeload."


To be continued next Saturday...

1 comment:

Lisa said...

You have many talents! Don't ever stop writing. Looking forward to next week's continuation of how you deal with the freeloader!!!