Day Of The Dog

There was going to be a party. Not just any party. There was going to be a birthday party at my son’s home. It was an hours drive, deep into the suburbs north of the city. There was going to be food, fancy food created by a chef. Everyone was attending. They had been talking about it for weeks. It was a thoroughly planned party. My mother-in-law and my sister-in- law, were coming in from out of town. It was apparently a party that was not to be missed. Some of the family members were discussing gifts, text messaging photos of items they were considering purchasing for the guest of honor. Everyone was bringing a gift. My wife wanted to know what I wanted to take as a gift.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”, I stated.

“No.”, she said. “We have to take to take something.”

“Why.”, I asked her.

“Because that’s what you do for a birthday.”, she advised.

“You know”, I told her, “He doesn’t know its his birthday.”

“It doesn’t matter.”, she replied. “We have to take a gift.”

“The question really is why do we have to go at all.”, I said.

“Because its the right thing to do.”, she said. “Its his birthday.”

“You know”, I said, “you know he’s a dog, right?” Right. Everyone knew he was a dog. But he had always been my wife’s dog.

The party itself was a gala event. The living room was decorated with banners embossed with sentiments suggesting that the dog have a happy day. There were dog cupcakes, and a candle was put in one as my family burst into a rousing rendition of happy birthday for a dog who had long ago left and went to sleep in another room. He was carried out to hear the song and to eat a cupcake, and then returned to another room to go back to sleep.

The gifts were unwrapped without his presence. There was a sweater, a basketball jersey, some assorted chew toys, dog treats, and a certificate for a dog spa day.

“Someone should have got him a girl.”, I said.

“What?”, my wife asked, wondering if she heard me correctly.

“Someone should have got him a bitch.”, I said, “You know, a female dog that jumped out of a cake or something.”

“What the hell is he going to do with a bitch?”, my wife asked me. “He’s been fixed.”

“So have I.”, I reminded her. “But I’ve still got a bitch.” She smiled ever so slightly, not wanting me to know that she found it funny.

“Well”, she said, “The difference is you’ve still got your balls.”

“Really?”, I queried. “I’m pretty sure that you’ve had them for the last 25 years or so.” I went back to sit in the lounge chair only to find the birthday dog and his little sister laying down across it.

The chit chat emanating from this group was loud and diverse, There were several different conversations occurring at the same time, each one slightly louder than the other, in order that each participant in each conversation could hear and be heard. There was talk of synthetic proteins to aid in muscle building, shoulder surgery, and healthy eating. There was one conversation which raised the concern of the poor and the homeless. I was bored, and I wanted to leave. No one was speaking about music, or drugs, although my mother in law did raise the issue of now taking statins. There were no philosophical debates, and no questions regarding intelligent life in the universe. What the hell had happened to my family? The lot of them were turning into protein drinking, vegan gym rats. I had never felt so alone in my life. It was clear to me, at that moment that I must be the alien. As for intelligent life in the universe, I was certain that it wasn’t in that room on that day.

I suppose it was a good party, I mean its always great to see all of the kids and their partners together. It was nice to see the dogs too, although in all of the years I have known my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, neither of them has ever come into town for one of my birthdays, and there have been many significant ones. I have never received a gift from them either, although my wife informed me that I already had the greatest gift they could have given to anyone, and that of course, was her. I remind her that the return policy had always been very one sided, with no opportunity for a refund or at least an exchange. She let me know that she is irreplaceable, and at best, I would wind up with a a very inferior replacement. And as for the refund, well, apparently there just wasn’t enough money to cover her value. Sadly, she was right.

“This better not become an annual event.”, I told her on the long drive home. “I’m not doing this again.”

“We’ll see.”, she said. “Since we’re in the area, do you feel like grabbing a veal sandwich from Nino D’Aversa?”

“Are you buying?”, I asked.

“Do you have any money on you?”, she questioned.

“Not a dime.”, I answered. “You don’t let me have any.”

“Well.”, she told me, “That’s because you keep losing it.”

“So you’re buying then?”, I  again.

“I always do.”, she replied. “And this is why I can never be returned.”

“Ya.”, I said. “Because you have all of my money.”

“Its our money.”, she advised me. “And yes I do.”






Canadian Beaver


by Fielding Goodfellow

Every year, just before the sweltering summer heat enveloped the city, when the beaver emerge from their rural homes, and take up positions near the water’s edge, the frenzy for outdoor living permeates the collective mind of the Canadian middle class, and the pilgrimage to distant camp sites begins in earnest.

I had been seeing a woman, a bisexual, former professional escort who enjoyed such outdoor tomfoolery, and had requested that I attend a week long expedition into the wilderness with some mutual friends.  Despite my displeasure at being tossed in a canvass bag like a body found on the side of the train tracks, and the sordid tales of man eating, giant raccoons with machetes and gangster bears dressed in zoot suits carrying chain saws, the promise of as much sun, sex, and drugs as my aging mind and body could handle, I reluctantly agreed, and headed off with Wendy, Ray, and Kat to Lake Buckhorn.

We parked the cars near the boat rental and Ray, the self appointed expedition leader, rented us a boat. He was a weird little guy, with his Paul Bunyan utility belt strapped around his waist housing everything and anything he thought we might need at some point in time on our journey, but he had obviously done this sort of thing before. We headed off across the lake in search of an island paradise suitable for habitation. The clouds had lifted, and the heat from the sun was becoming intense, creating a mist on the water’s surface just ahead of us that sent an array of colored light dancing across the lake. And there, just beyond the mist, was an island. The island of all islands.

We tied up and unloaded the boat, and began the task of settling in to our new home away from home. Ray built a fire pit, while Wendy, Kat and I tackled the tents. Once completed, the 3 of us sat back and admired our handiwork as we enjoyed a hearty dose of peyote. I suspect it was the effects of the hallucinogenic, but there were swarms of black flies the size of geese, capable of carrying off a small child deep into the dense woodland that lined the shores of the lake, and there were mosquitoes wearing kamikaze helmets, as eager to drain my blood as the nurse at my doctor’s office, buzzing around like starving vampires.

As Ray finished with the fire pit, we secured the food, and listened to him explain the bathroom protocols. Apparently, there were no bathrooms, but there were shovels.  Ass wiping was courtesy of mother nature. Grab some leaves, and go to it. Be careful not to use poison ivy or poison oak. “But how do you know if its poison ivy or poison oak, Scout Master Ray?”, someone asked.  Some pictures were drawn in the sand identifying the leaves we were to avoid at all costs. Despite the effects of the hallucinogenics, I was acutely reminded as to why I did not participate in these kind of outdoor activities.

“So, nobody brought toilet paper?”, Kat asked. No they did not, we were informed. And so, with the toileting issue explained in more detail than I cared for, Ray and I went out in the boat to try and catch some fish. It was hot as hell out there on the lake in the blazing sun. The fish seemed reluctant to participate in our adventure, and  Ray popped opened the cooler and passed me a beer. In the time it took me to finish one, he had downed 5 or 6. He was a notorious drinker and had been known to empty a 12 pack on his own. “I think I’ve got something.”, Ray shouted as he grabbed hold of his fishing rod.

“Most likely liver disease.”, I proposed, as he struggled to reel in what he believed was one incredibly large fish. The battle waged for several minutes, back and forth, man versus fish. There was an inordinate amount of grunting and groaning, and when it was over, the drunken scout master had caught one hell of a big turtle. Tired, hot and unsuccessful in our attempts at outsmarting the fish, we headed back to the sanctuary of our island paradise.

Kat had managed to get a fire going, and adequately assessing our ability to catch some fish, had put hotdogs on the grill. I made a pot of mushroom tea, and we sat around the campfire, watching the flaming chorus line resurrect West Side Story. Kat brought out her guitar, and sat down on a rock near the fire pit and began one of those Kumbaya events, playing renditions of ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ and ‘Blowing In The Wind’. Despite my almost uncontrollable urge to toss that fucking guitar into the fire, I drank another cup of tea and set my focus on the fire chorus as they belted out ‘The Jet Song’.

I woke in the morning to find Ray, somewhat hung over, slaving over the fire, making bacon and eggs for us all. It was eerily quiet on the lake, and I thought I heard banjo music off in the distance. “I have to go to the marina.”, he told me. “I found some animal tracks around the food. We’ll have to get it off the ground and up in a tree. I need to get some rope.”

“Won’t the animals just climb the tree?”, I asked.

“Bears don’t climb.”, he answered.

“There are bears on this island?”, I asked him.

“I don’t know.”, he replied. “And I don’t want to find out. So we’ll put the food in the trees.” Ray left us to clean up after breakfast and disappeared on the lake, while I heated up the mushroom tea. Wendy, Kat and I sat by the water’s edge, totally messed up, watching the clouds turn into caricature’s of semi famous British rock stars. It had become hot and Kat pulled her top off, revealing two of the most  incredible breasts I had ever been fortunate enough to meet.

“I hope you don’t mind.”, she said, “but I’m so fucking hot. And besides, its no big deal. They’re only boobs.” As an outside observer, I can attest to the fact that, despite being just boobs, they were indeed a big deal.

“You’ve got great tits.”, Wendy stated as she pulled off her top as well. Not to be outdone, I removed my tee shirt. Kat & Wendy decided to strip and jump into the water. “Why don’t you come in and join us?”, Wendy asked as she and Kat stood in the water and began fondling each other’s breasts.

“You have no idea how much I would like to.”, I replied. “But there are turtles in there that could quite possibly cause irreparable damage. So, I think I’m going to have to pass.”

As I sat there, surrounded by the titty sisters, watching the girl on girl action unfolding, I was not the only one who realized that I was now fully locked and loaded.

“Someone’s excited.”, Kat stated, as she stared at bulge in my shorts evident from the water.

“Oh, he’s always excited.”, Wendy replied. “I think he needs a hand.”

“I’m sure we can offer more than just a hand.”, Kat answered.

They emerged from the lake, beautifully naked, moving in slow motion, as if time had stopped. Every step caused their breasts to heave, ever so slightly, and the water dripping down from their chests was following the curves of their bodies, and running down their thighs. As they arrived at my single gun salute they wasted no time in getting me naked, and we were rolling around on the towels we had placed on the beach like high school freshmen. Wendy’s talents were devastatingly exquisite, and Kat, well, she brought a whole new dimension to our sexcapades.

It started raining late that afternoon, and the temperature dropped significantly. I was cold and I was wet, and I fucking hated camping. When I woke the following morning, it was still cold, it was still raining, and I still hated camping. I had enough. I informed the others that I would be leaving, and Ray had agreed to take me back to where we left the cars. Wendy and I packed up our stuff, and in the driving rain, we headed out back across the lake. Wendy and Kat sat huddled under a tarp as we made the daring trip back to civilization, while I continued to absorb the brunt of the storm. The lake was choppy, and the small boat struggled to remain on course and conquer the swells. When we finally arrived at the car, I had had it. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”, I said.

“I think we should stop at that small hotel on the highway we saw when we came in.”, Wendy said. “I could really use a shower. And a bathroom.”

“Why not.”, I replied. “We’ve got nowhere else to go.”

“Thanks for giving it a shot.”, she said. “I appreciate it.”

“I only came for the sex.”, I reminded her.

“I know.”, she replied. “I hope it was worth it.”

“So far.”, I told her. “We’ll see what happens at the hotel. We’ve got 5 more days to go, and I’ve got enough mushrooms here to last twice that long.”

“So, what are you waiting for?”, she asked. “Let’s go get totally fucked.” And we did. Over and over again.

I never saw Ray and Kat again, which was a shame, really, I mean she was wonderfully fearless. I stopped seeing Wendy sometime that fall. To be honest, I don’t think I ever really had feelings for her. She was just a wonderful diversion in an attempt to expand my hedonistic boundaries. As for camping, well, I have not been since those 2 days I spent on Lake Buckhorn stalking wild Canadian Beaver.







The Crazy, Old Woman


Every time she came to visit, my brothers and I would hide out in the basement, barricaded behind boxes and musty suitcases, terrified that crazy Aunt Fay would somehow find us. For years we lived in fear that during one of her monthly visits to our home my grandmother’s spinster sister would find us. She was kind enough, always bringing us candy and gifts, but she smelled weird. Everything she touched carried the scent. It made me want to throw up. Years later, I was able to identify the pungent aroma as moth balls.

I was asked to go to her home and transport her to a medical appointment. She was ailing, and I suppose that my sense of obligation got the best of me, and I agreed to go. I had planned that she would meet me outside, and then I would assist her into the back seat of the car, purely for safety reasons, and whisk her to the doctor’s, windows open in order to avoid the toxic fallout that regularly seeped out from her pores and enveloped everyone within a 100 foot radius. But, as often happens, the best laid plans get all mucked up.

I arrived and had to go into the house to assist her in getting ready. The entire house was filled with the stench of poison. There were moth balls everywhere, strategically placed in every cupboard, closet and drawer. They were placed in candy dishes and ashtrays scattered about the house, and left loose atop the television and hi-fi. Aunt Fay loved music, and as I rummaged through her collection of assorted alphabetized jazz albums, I found moth balls hidden every few letters. It appeared that this crazy old woman was anticipating some kind of invasion from The Moth People. If she was right, she was clearly well prepared. On the other hand, if she was wrong, then clearly, she was out of her mind.

By the time I got her into the car, after politely refusing her repeated offerings of candies from the mothball laden dishes, I was beginning to experience the effects of exposure to the toxic fumes. I was stomach sick, and my eyes were burning, but it seemed to have no effect on Aunt Fay, who by the way, insisted on sitting in the front seat, claiming she became car sick riding in the back, all the way to the doctor’s office.

She spoke to me about her life and though I have no idea if what she told me was true or just the ramblings of a crazy, old woman, it was an interesting life. She was born in Russia and just as the Bolsheviks mounted their horses, the family fled, and settled in North America. She was a secretary by trade but would  frequent jazz clubs where she appeared as a singer, and claimed to have known Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. She told me that she also painted, had met a man, got engaged, but unfortunately, he was killed fighting the Nazis in France. And yet, despite her talents and celebrity acquaintances, she had no money, and no current friends to speak of. I felt sorry for her in a way, but I couldn’t be certain that the sympathy was real, and not just the effects of the brain disease I was sure I had developed from inhaling the scent that emanated from her clothing.

Following the appointment, of which she didn’t speak during the ride home, I dropped her off, and we went our separate ways. I didn’t see her again until 6 months later. She had passed away, and at her funeral my brothers and I were asked to be pallbearers. I swear I could smell the moth balls rising up through the sealed casket, burning holes in my head. We all suspected that she died from toxic poisoning, but apparently it was an aneurysm. Interestingly enough, and I suppose it was after I took her to the doctor, she had bequeathed me her jazz albums. It was pretty cool, actually. I still have them all, and on occasion I do listen to those old recordings. I am particularly fond of the 1957 Verve Records recording of Billie Holiday’s ‘Songs For Distingue Lovers’ which, to my surprised is autographed by Ms. Holiday. Or perhaps not. I have often considered the possibility that this crazy, old woman forged the signature herself. It doesn’t really matter though. In the end, she turned out to be okay.


Things Never Said


I never really knew him well, even though he was always there. I suspect that he didn’t know me either. It wasn’t for lack of trying on his part, but in retrospect I don’t believe that I was able to accept what he had to offer me. I just wasn’t ready. I do know that he was a good man, a strong man, and a loving father.

I drifted apart from him sometime during my adolescent years, when rampant sex and substance abuse permeated my life, engulfing me in a protective bubble that kept everyone else out. He asked me many times what the hell was going on, but I just didn’t know what to say, or rather how to tell him the truth. Lies were strewn about like blankets on a cold man, designed to tell him what I believed he wanted to hear. And then there was another lie, and another, and on and on. The rift grew deeper and deeper, and it became increasingly easier to remove myself completely from his world. we just stopped speaking, although I can’t be sure how long ago it began.

Many years later, I received a call from one of my brothers. “Dad is in the hospital. Its not good. If you want to see him before he’s gone, I suggest you get down here now.”

The drive down to the hospital was filled with regrets and guilt. I was stopped in the hospital hallway by a brother who informed me that he was gone. I went into the room and sat in a chair, just looking at him, trying to figure out what I was feeling. I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I just sat there in silence. The funeral was no different. I seemed to be empty.  I didn’t even cry.  I felt nothing, and said nothing.

It’s been 15 years since he passed, and I finally figured out what I wanted to tell him. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we weren’t closer. I’m sorry that we didn’t try harder to understand one another, and I’m sorry if I caused you any pain. I want you to know however, that it is because of you, because of the things that you taught me, that I have been able to devout my life to helping others, and to take care of my family. What you showed me in everything you did, kept me from giving up. There were many times, when I felt despair, that I asked myself what would you have done. You taught me kindness, and you taught me to get through adversity. None of what happened between us is anybody’s fault. Shit just happens. Know that I now understand. I understand that I love you, and that often times life twists and turns on itself and leads us down roads no one has been before. I’m sorry it took me so long to sort all of this out, but I wanted you to know that I’m okay, and I wanted to thank you for teaching me what I needed to know about life, about myself, and about being a husband and a father. Nothing else really matters. And now, maybe, we can both get some rest.

Lost With A Moral Compass


by Fielding Goodfellow

Following my expulsion from a private, religious school which my parents truly believed would set me on a clear and direct path to a cabana on a pristine beach in the after life, I entered high school as a free man, and left as one incredibly fucked up high school graduate. Over the course of four years, I am almost certain that I was wasted every day. As a result, most of my high school memories have dissipated, much like a fog bank settling over the shore line.

While the regular cast of thousands roamed the bleak, concrete hallways, engaging in self deprecating mating rituals with assorted cheerleaders in short skirts and knee high socks, who brushed them off with a flip of their hair and a turn of their head, I was  engaged in a psychedelic lunch break with draft dodger turned English teacher and drug dealer, Mr. N., or some bizarre sex ritual in the back of a Jeep Wrangler with Madame S., the French teacher who I am certain worked part time as a stripper at The Algonquin Tavern.

I suppose it was just my good fortune to have entered the corridor at the exact moment head cheerleader and dating expert Marilyn Garland, bent over and displayed her upper middle class, wonder bread ass to Fitzroy Simmons, a science nerds who had stopped to gawk. “You can keep looking.”, she said, “but you’re never gonna get this.” After a cursory glance, it occurred to me that nobody around wanted to get that.

“Don’t flatter yourself.”, I told her as I walked by. “No one wants that pasty white, bony ass. Put it away.” Fitzroy laughed. Marilyn stormed off with her band of mindless, professional virgins who I have been led to believe went on to find success as frigid wives of suburban accountants, and I was once again in the office of school Vice-Principal, Mr. Brackett.

It was the usual exchange of ideas, one that we seemed to continually rehearse. Mr. Brackett sat behind his desk, tapping his hand with a yard stick, pointing out that I was  disrespectful, immoral, and destined for a lifetime of failure. I disagreed, and expressed my concern that he was ignorant, belittling, and an asshole. I was suspended for three days, and the customary call to my parents was made. As I went to retrieve my belongings from my locker, I ran into Madame S., and I told her what had happened. “You’re just so adorable.”, she told me. “Let me give you a ride home.” I met her at the Jeep. “You drive.”, she said as she tossed me the keys. Now, if you have never had a blow job while driving a manual transmission Jeep with the top down, I suggest you try it at least once. It was wonderfully fulfilling.

My father’s only concern was that he had been called by the school. It didn’t matter to him what I had or had not done. He really didn’t care. He just did not want to be called. “I don’t understand why you keep getting caught.”, he said.

“I don’t get caught.”, I informed him. “I just choose not to run away.”

“Well”, he advised, “that’s getting caught.”

“Not really.”, I replied. “That’s surrendering. I am trying to make a point.”

“Which is?”, he asked.

“That I am right, and they are full of shit.”, I told him. We never understood each other. He neither shared my sense of justice or responsibility. The battle was fought over many years, with his frequent reminders that he just didn’t understand me. I let him know that it was alright, I wasn’t really looking for understanding, anyway. What I was really seeking was the freedom to think my own thoughts, and to live my own life. His only request was that I lived a moral life.

Many years later, following a night out, when the paranoid delusions invade the deepest recesses of my thoughts as I attempt to sleep, I realized that I had very matter of factly pissed away most of my life. Wallowing in the effects of years and years of uninhibited hallucinogenic consumption and random acts of various erotic mayhem, I realized that I was plagued with a sense of melancholy. I had discovered, much to my father’s chagrin that morality is a sham. Behind a facade of transparency, it has been driven into the shadows under a veil of secrecy and deceit. It manifests itself as the law of the land, but in reality it is merely the masturbatory fantasies of those who sit on the far right. I have participated in enough protests to have discovered that those liberal, left wing social democrats who take to the streets and gather in the squares to voice their disapproval, wind up being corralled like cattle and detained in the name of decency and public safety. I have come to understand that morality is a word used to dupe us into conformity. It is used to stifle self expression, and entice the masses to join in and march in the great military parades. Morality is insanely immoral.

We are, after all, human beings with the freedom of choice. So whose morality are we being asked to accept? Morality does not stop us from hurting others, but in fact encourages it, provided those we wish to harm are without morals. It is not morality that should prevade our existence, but responsibility. Responsibility to ourselves, and to our fellow man. We all have a responsibility to take care of each other, that is the essence of being human. Morality gives us the option to fuck up those who are less fortunate and marginalized, once we convince ourselves that they are immoral. The white shirt, suit and tie bufoons who reign supreme by virtue of their ability to make promises that they have no intention to keep, dictate what is moral as they shove the poor and destitute deeper into the holes that have been dug in an attempt to bury all of the unwanted refuse this society has created.

Where is the responsibility we have towards our fellow man? Where is the sense of duty to help those in need? These qualities, an integral part of what makes us human beings has been relegated to land fills across the planet in order that the rich and powerful may continue to be rich and powerful. I  don’t profess to have all of the answers, but I do know that I do not screw others because it is immoral, but rather because I have an obligation to help, not hinder, to enlighten, not confuse. I don’t want what others have, nor do I need it, but the constraints of morality force even the meekest of men to become sinners. The new found morality will not lead to happiness, or peace of mind. Happiness will be found in doing what you love, and being who you really are, without seeking acceptance from anyone other than yourself. Those who expound morality are immoral.

I regret nothing, although there are times when I wish I could have said something a little more appropriate than “Go to hell, you fucking whore.”, at the settlement hearing with my first wife, but it was said and done. I have tried to spend my life as a champion of the underdog, the guardian of those who are unable to help themselves. When no one wanted to hang out with Fitzroy Simmons, who was taunted, teased and bullied his entire academic life, I looked out for him, and offered my friendship. Madame S., well, she needed to feel love, and I desperately wanted to be the one to give it to her. My refusal to knuckle under to the intimidation tactics of Mr. Brackett served to demonstrate to others that authority exists only because we give it permission to.

I went on, after University, to work with children and adolescents with mental health and behavioral issues, guiding them to a life of self reliance and self acceptance. Not bad for a disrespectful, immoral, failure. Recognize your responsibility and your duty to give back, and stop listening to the moral right. They’re all just fucktards.



by Solomon Tate

Richard Brand was not a bad kid. He was the product of shitty parenting, and an environment that bordered on destitute. He grew up angry, anxious, and alone, displaying oppositional and defiant behaviors. I met him in 1990, after he had been in a multitude of residential programs with negligible success in helping him get his life in order. He had incurred several criminal charges for assault and petty theft, and had received a couple of years probation.

He claimed that he was misunderstood. He believed that his thoughts and ideas were  unappreciated and his existence unacknowledged. He was sure that he was on his own to find his way through a world that had nothing to offer him. It was difficult to reach him, but over time, he seemed to develop trust in those who were working with him. He began to do well in school, and joined the junior basketball team, where he excelled. He developed friendships with his teammates, and seemed to be moving toward making the changes that would lead him to a better life.

An altercation with a school administrator forced him to change schools at the insistence of the school board. He gave up his friends, and his basketball, and transferred to the behavioral program. Once again, Richard found himself alone and angry. His relationships with his service providers worsened. He became abusive and threatening. Sadly, he was discharged from the only program in which he had done well, returning to the residential centres that had failed him.

I lost touch with him over the years. And then, one day, he appeared on the 6 o’clock news. He was now 22 years old, and had been charged with 1st degree murder in the death of a 29 year old man. As the story unfolded, it seems that Richard had found acceptance in one of the many street gangs that proliferated the city, and there was a matter of an unpaid debt that needed to be collected, one way or another. Richard and another young man were sent to collect payment. In the ensuing discussion about the debt, Richard pulled out a gun, and shot the man in the head. Twice. Following an investigation that included eyewitness accounts, he was apprehended and placed under arrest.

The trial was brief, with a guilty verdict as the outcome. I sat in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing. Richard saw me, but had difficulty making eye contact. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with no chance of parole for 25 years. He was to serve his time at Collins Bay Federal Penitentiary. As he was escorted out of the courtroom in shackles, he turned to look at me, and I swear I saw him mouth the words “Thank you”.

It was the last time I saw him. Several years later, I was informed that Richard Brand had died in Collins Bay. He was stabbed to death by a fellow inmate in the shower. His grandmother claimed the body, and he was interred in the family plot in a cemetery in Jamaica. Failed by a system that consistently breeds fear and anger, and a society that is built upon the alienation of the marginalized, Richard Brand disappeared, a lost and tortured soul, as if he never even existed. Sadly, he will not be the last.



Space Cowboy

by Solomon Tate

There are moments when I have found myself traveling  through space and time, much like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, usually as a result of any one of a number of hallucinogenics I have dabbled in. While laying on the couch in the melancholic office of the maudlin and mundane Freudian psychotherapist, Dr. Herbert Needleman, I found myself once again laying on the beach in St. Kitts with Serena, and I was certain that the good doctor wasn’t even aware that I was gone. Freudians rarely noticed that kind of thing.

I have seen much of the universe this way, bouncing around the cosmos, without warning, travelling into the past or into the future, but it is always, unmistakably in my present, and without the customary flying monkeys, dragons, and munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. Its always spontaneous and often occurs at inopportune moments, but in St. Kitts, the all inclusive resort offered free cigarettes and free booze. As a smoker and a drinker teetering on the edge of alcoholism, this was indeed paradise. The sky was always as clear and as blue as any I had seen. The beach was white sand, with water that seemed to glisten in the sunlight, casting dancing beams across the shore line. Serena was tanned and bikinied, and I reached over and touched her on the shoulder. “Well, I see you’ve decided to come back again.”, she said as she turned on her side to look at me.

“You’re impossible to resist.”, I answered. “By the way its one hell of a view from back here.”

I had been coming to St. Kitts regularly, about 3 or 4 times a year, for about 7 years. Sometimes for a month or so, and other times, less than 24 hours. It was impossible to predict. It was just like that. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but space and time jumping do not adhere to the usual laws of physics. It is not constant, but it never rests.  It is random, and it is impossible to control.  This spiraling across time and space has bounced me in and out of the bed of Juniper, the barkeep at The Spaced Out Tavern in the trading outpost on Delivyn’s Planet, and Fiona, the wild and wooly Celtic sheep hereder in 17th century Scotland who, I suspect, is my wife.

“How long are you staying for this time?”, Serena asked.

“I don’t know.”, I told her. “I never know.”

I had been seeing Dr. Needleman for years, delving deep into my psyche to try to uncover just what all of this bouncing through the cosmos was about. The Freudian was certain it was a suppressed childhood event of such magnitude that I was attempting to completely dissociate from reality, but I was almost sure it was the years and years of mucking around with my brain, but either way, I just wanted to be able to stay in one place.

“You are going to have to face the fact that you have created this situation entirely in your subconscious.”, he told me. “It exists only in your mind.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m imagining all of this?”, I asked. The Doctor said nothing, and as I turned to look at him I found myself sitting at The Spaced Out Tavern, staring into the eyes of Juniper as she poured me another shot of  whiskey.

“So, how long do I get to have you for this time?”, she asked.

“I’m not sure,”, I answered. “Its really not up to me.” And that’s just how it was, every time, everywhere. There was never any certainty to anything. It was impossible to make plans. It was impossible to have a life.

“Hopefully you can stay long enough to get me off this time.”, she said. “You kind of left before the mission was completed last time you were here.” Shortly after successfully completing the mission, and just as suddenly as I had left, I was back in Dr. Needleman’s office. The trips had always left me tired and drained and often with a headache, but now they were simply beginning to wear me down. It was becoming far too complicated to juggle all of these meaningless pieces of existence, trying to put them together like a jigsaw puzzle in order to create a life.

“Would you be interested in trying hypnotherapy?”, he Doctor asked. “The other option is pharmacological intervention.” Neither of the options presented appealed to me. I was not about to embark on a trial of brain eating pharmaceuticals, I mean, I’m sure it was pharmacological intervention that created all of this shit. Hypnotherapy seemed equally unappealing. I was, at this point in time, unwilling to relinquish control of my thoughts, or to be turned into a chicken.

It was cold in The Highlands. I stood on the ridge and watched Fiona tending to the sheep in the glen. She looked up, waved and ran towards me. She threw her arms around me. “I am so glad you are here, my husband.”, she said. “I have missed you.”

“I’m here now.”, I told her.

“But for how long?”, she asked.

“I don’t know, Fiona.”, I replied. “I just don’t know.” We spent the afternoon in bed, as the sheep bleated outside. We drank and laughed, and watched the sun set behind the cliffs.

“I am carrying your child.”, she blurted out. “And I’m sure that its a son.”

“Alright,”, I told Dr. Needleman. “Let’s try the hypnotherapy. But you’re not going to turn me into a chicken, right?”

“Right.”, he said. “No chicken.” I don’t remember much of what happened then in that office. I began to feel drowsy and more relaxed than I had ever been, and then nothing. I remember hearing Needleman speak to me, but I have no idea what he was saying. I felt like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a warm, fleeced lined hole. The further down I went, the warmer and more comforting I felt.

Juniper was waiting at the bedroom door when I returned, naked, with a bottle of whiskey in her hand. “I’m ready.”, she said. She was beautiful. They were all beautiful. When I bounced back to Dr. Needleman’s office, he was still talking, but I was no longer enveloped in the warm fleece that had seemed so comforting.

“It didn’t work.”, I told him. “I have been to see Juniper.”

“Ah, the space girl.”, he replied. I sat up on the couch and was struck with the realization that this really wasn’t all that bad. I got to travel and see things I never thought that I would see. I was involved with very beautiful women, one of whom was bearing my child. I was living a life, although it seemed fractured and incomplete when examined as separate, partial lives, but as a whole, it was a pretty damn good gig. The secret, it seems is in acceptance. Happiness, peace and contentment are found in wanting what you have, not when you have what you want. and not in having what you want. Its all just the perception of things.

I continue to traverse the universe with no particular destination. I go wherever the universe sends me. Fiona and I have a son, a strong boy who is growing up to be a good man  who looks after his mother when I am not around. Serena and I continue to smoke and drink to excess at the all inclusive resort where we live, enjoying the sun and the sea. Juniper purchased The Spaced Out Tavern, and has brought in extra terrestrial exotic dancers which has increased the sale of alcohol threefold. Everything, I believe, is as it is supposed to be. I will continue to be a space cowboy until such time as the universe decides that enough is enough. Yipee ki-yay.













Remembering Charlie Garrick

by Solomon Tate

“I guess it hasn’t really been that bad.”, Garrick said to Dr. Perlmuter, the cardigan clad Psychotherapist who bore a striking resemblance to Tim Curry. “I mean there have been many potholes, and a whole lot of wrong turns, but it’s really been pretty good.”

“So why are you here?”, the doctor asked.

“Well, out there may be okay”, Garrick answered. “But the shit in my head freaks me out.”

“Well, we’ll have to pick it up right there next time.”, he said matter of factly, “I’m afraid we’re out of time.”

The good doctor was right. They were out of time. Two hours and seventeen minutes later Garrick stepped in front of a train at the St. Patrick subway station, ending the life of a good man.

Charlie Garrick was 54 years old. He spent 30 years as a reporter for a group of small, community newspapers. He had written a book, but came to the realization that he could say everything he needed to say in 2 or 3 sentences. ‘The Decline of Modern Culture’, which he wrote in 1998, consisted of 250 pages, of which 249 pages were left blank. On the 2nd page Charlie wrote “The tyrannical web of deceit that has circumvented the universe has been left to run amok, unattended for far too long. Stop the fucking lying”. He was right about it,I mean  he really didn’t need more than 2 or 3 sentences to say what he needed to say. ‘Stop the fucking lying.’, pretty much said it all.

Charlie Garrick was my friend. We served two tours of duty together in rehab, during which neither one of us could muster the courage to achieve any measure of success. During our conversations, usually held over a couple of pitchers of beer and numerous tequila shots, he spoke lovingly about his children, and passionately about Taoism. Charlie believed that life just is. Nothing more needs to be done. If we could all accept our lives, commune with nature, and seek and want nothing, all of the world’s problems would cease to exist. I don’t really understand much of it myself, but he was certain it was right. “Be like a river.”, he said. “All it ever is is a river. It flows, and nothing more. And in doing nothing but being a river, it carves through solid rock, creating valleys, and massive canyons. Pretty impressive for doing nothing.”

We sat at The Brunswick House one afternoon, many years ago contemplating life’s purpose, as 2 incredibly naive young men were prone to do. I was a psychology major, infatuated with opportunities to delve into the psyche’s of troubled souls, and help them change to live more fulfilling and positive lives. Garrick, reluctantly chose his major in his 3rd year. He opted for a combined major in history & English. He stated that since man was destined to repeat the past, someone should know what the hell had really happened, and be able to write about the dangers of repetition.

Although  customary in these instances, Charlie left no note, leaving the usual culprits to ask why. All that they could do was to ponder circumstance and speculate in an attempt to rationalize what had transpired. I’m not sure if even Charlie knew why. More important and  certainly more relevant is  how  no one noticed the anguish and desperation that was consuming Charlie. He had friends, and family and it just didn’t make any sense. It never did. Something was eating away at him, from the inside out, and it had probably been going on for years and years.

I hadn’t spoken to Charlie in a few years, and I suppose that should have been some sort of warning that things weren’t right. But we always assume the best, I suppose. People get busy, and their lives twist and turn like a river, taking them where ever the river leads. It wasn’t unusual for Charlie to disappear, but he was pretty consistent in letting us know that he was okay. There was always some kind of smoke signal, a letter or a telegram, and more recently, a text message or an email, simply stating ‘All is well. Glad you’re not here’. But there had been nothing over the last few years.

Charlie had once told me about the time he headed north and spent 2 weeks alone in the wilderness. He said that when one removes himself from the human race, even if only for a short time, it becomes evident that you never really belonged, and no longer wish to be a member. Isolation was liberating, and in isolation, he was able to truly know himself, and to become himself.

But even in his reluctance to be a part of humanity, Charlie Garrick was always there for me, and scores of others. When my wife became ill, Charlie was there, and when my first daughter was born with a disability that required her to undergo 11 surgeries in 7 years, Charlie sat with me at that hospital every single time. He was a loving and caring man who always seemed to put others before himself. Sadly, most people didn’t notice as Charlie acted within the realm of silence and anonymity. He hated the recognition and notoriety that often went hand in hand with doing the right thing so much, that he had refused to attend 3 separate award events in his honor. Few people knew that he sat on several committees that dealt with social issues, or that he taught a creative writing course for marginalized youth in the city core. And that’s how he wanted it. He did what he did, like a river, doing nothing more that just being, and he carved a life of good deeds, touching so many.

And now that he’s gone, I regret for not being a better friend. I regret that I was not there for him when he needed someone. I feel guilt that I didn’t take the time to find out what the hell was going on so that I could at least try to help. I will miss him. I will miss the way he argued with the server at Szechuan Palace that Peking Duck is really only a chicken that swims and flies. I will miss the way  beer came streaming out of his nose like a fountain when he laughed. Most of all, though, I will miss his friendship. I will miss the commitment and dedication he devoted to being my friend. I will miss Charlie Garrick.

In Search Of Spock


by Solomon Tate

There was a guy busking near Yonge & Dundas at a time when the city frowned upon such artistic endeavors, and I stopped to listen with Farberman and Goodfellow. “He’s actually pretty good.”, I said.

“Not bad.”, Goodfellow agreed. “But what the hell is he singing about? Its inane and cursory, not to mention somewhat derivative.”

“Why do you always have to do that?”, Farberman asked Goodfellow. “Why do you always have to fling words around that no regular person ever says?”

“Because”, Goodfellow replied. “I am not regular.” It was true, Goodfellow always enjoyed speaking as if he were a Rhodes Scholar. The truth is, he barely squeaked through University. But to his credit, he was an exceptionally perceptive writer.

“You’re not normal, either.”, Farberman quipped.

Goodfellow was right though, the lyric and concept of the songs were flat and uninspiring. There were times when I missed playing. I hadn’t been involved in a project since the demise of The Habits, and I had this recurring sense that my existence had become something like Canadian Whiskey with the alcohol removed. Goodfellow, Farberman and I headed off for a night of degradation and debauchery that only the mind of Fielding Goodfellow could envision. We hit Filmore’s and The Brass Rail, notable titty bars, and wound up at Larry’s, a dive bar that catered to the disreputable, dissatisfied, and disenfranchised pseudo anarchists that had sprung up across the city like weeds in a garden. Some all girl punk band, Pussy Riot, who Goodfellow seemed to know were playing, and he guaranteed a good time for all.

Fielding Goodfellow was many things, but he was never ever wrong about what constituted a good time. We wound up partying with the band through most of the night, getting wasted and getting laid. Even Farberman seemed to enjoy himself, although there were several occasions in which he freaked out over the giant ducks doing calisthenics in the room.  Farberman hated ducks, although we once shared the Peking Duck at Szechuan Palace, and he seemed to like it.

A few days later, after returning from one of  Goodfellow’s peyote induced parallel universes filled with Spanish speaking lizard people, Farberman’s dog went missing. This was really nothing new, I mean every year we went through the same thing. The dog somehow got out of the yard and went out looking for a canine call girl. Farberman searched frantically for the animal, and each year he returned unsuccessful to find Spock, the Labrador, laying across the front porch of his parents’ house, smoking a cigarette. But this time Farberman said it was different. All of Spock’s toys, his water and food bowls and his leash were gone as well. “Are you suggesting that your dog has run away from home?”, Goodfellow asked with his patented brand of psycho-sarcasm.

“All of the evidence seems to support that theory.”, Farberman replied.

“You’re out of your fucking mind.”, Goodfellow told him. I was siding with Goodfellow on this one. It seemed unlikely that the dog could have packed up all of his belongings and hit the road.

“What would he need the leash for?”, I asked.

“I have to try to find him.”, Farberman said. And with that, Goodfellow, Farberman and I set off in search of Spock. We started at the Farberman house, and found that indeed all of the dog’s belongings were gone, from the bowls to the food and even the toys. All of it was gone. It was as if there had never been a dog here. Goodfellow proposed a theory that Spock was a victim of alien abduction, which Farberman quickly refuted as unfounded and obtuse. So, we wandered the neighborhood, checking backyards, alleyways, and the ravine that ran through the area, without any measure of success, and wound up sitting down in the middle of a park that Spock was particularly fond of.

“Have you asked your parents anything about this?”, I asked.

“They’re the ones who told me that Spock was gone.”, Farberman replied.

“Maybe they meant that he had died.”, Goodfellow blurted out as he and I dropped a hit of purple haze. Farberman sat motionless, deep in thought.

“I have to go talk to my parents.”, he stated, as he got up and headed out of the park. Goodfellow and I remained at the park for a while, waiting for the longest train we had ever seen pass by. When we caught up with Farberman, he was quite distraught. Spock was gone. Really gone. He had died. He was old, and well, shit happens. It was sad though, I mean, he had that dog for 18 years, that’s like 126 in Spock years. Farberman just wanted to be alone, so Goodfellow and I, still reeling from the haze, went back to the park with the train.

It was Goodfellow, surprisingly enough who came up with the plan for the memorial service. He thought that it might make Farberman feel better. “Put some closure to it.”, he said. With the help of Farberman’s parents, we tracked down Spock’s body at the Veterinarian, and recovered it for burial. Even though the Farbermans had paid for cremation, Goodfellow secured the remains by trading some of his sacred hallucinogenics with a veterinarian assistant. “It seems like the least we can do for the scientist. He’s not a bad guy.”, Goodfellow said. “He just needs to loosen the fuck up.” This too was true. Farberman was without a doubt the most sober, solemn and resolute person I knew.

Goodfellow went all out for the service. he had invited several people to attend, and participate. He managed to obtain a small, headstone prop from a theatre company, and had SPOCK carved into it. We arrived at the park the deceased loved so much. Farberman was in awe of what he was witnessing. The girls from Pussy Galore were there, singing a somewhat punked up version of The Beach Boys ‘Forever’,  but it was nicely done. Spock was laid to rest in his favorite park, with a headstone to mark his final resting place. Goodfellow had retrieved his leash from the vet as well, and gave this to Farberman, as balloons were released into a clear blue sky. I swear I saw Farberman cry, but I suppose he needed to. When the service was over, everyone left, leaving me and Goodfellow to stand silently with our friend. Goodfellow had outdone himself, and I was surprised at just how thoughtful this usually arrogant ass was. It seemed that he was not as big of a prick as he wanted us to believe. He did indeed have feelings, and he cared. I never really looked at him in quite the same way. We stayed friends for many years, until our paths veered off in different directions. He still writes, ventures through time and space, and occasionally sends me coded messages of his whereabouts, which I have never been able to decipher. I am certain however, that he is totally wasted at the time, and most likely sitting in his living room. Farberman went on to work in government supported research, until his disappearance years later. And me, well, I wrote some books, some short stories, and taught creative writing. That singular event brought the three of us closer than we had ever been. Even Farberman and Goodfellow developed a new found respect for each other. And I have decided that when my time comes, I would like to go out like Spock. Old and tired, with friends singing on a clear, sunny day. Just be sure that Goodfellow doesn’t bring any lizards or ducks. It will scare the crap out of Farberman.








by Fielding Goodfellow

It was 1978. I found myself sitting at Fran’s, following a  screening of The Planet Of The Apes while on peyote. I was unable to sleep, confused by what was merely a by product of the hallucinogenic, and what was not. Giant apes that spoke and rode on horses was a little too much for my friend Tate, and he had been taken to hospital and held  for what they suspected was a psychotic break, but turned out to be nothing more than a bad trip. I had just taken a seat as 10cc’s  ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ began playing on the radio. Joey  was on the other side of the counter. I had known her for almost 3 years. She was insanely beautiful, with dark eyes and a Joan Jett haircut. As she gyrated to the rhythm I sat there mesmerized, watching her move her hips.  She was a part time waitress, an aspiring photographer, and she fronted a local, all female rock band called Pussy Galore. Judging by what her spandex tights were revealing, I could see that it made perfect sense.

I felt kind of bad for Tate, freaking himself out like that, but mind was on Joey. I thought about jumping over the counter and taking her right there and then more than once. She told me that her band had a gig coming up, and asked if I would come down and see them play and write an article for them. Pussy Galore was in need of a publicist, and seeing this as an opportunity to get into Joey’s spandex tights, I accepted the invitation. The show was at Larry’s Hideaway, a downtown bar one step below skid row where, for a two dollar cover charge, you could get cheap watered down beer, and a chance at contracting any one of the myriad of  diseases that were living on the tables and chairs. Still, it was one of my favorite places in the city. In a world filled with socio-political unrest, it was a haven for the freaks and the outsiders.

There was a small crowd at the club that night, with a handful of failed AA members, and a small group of punkers who had recently shared both a needle and the lone girl in their group. I spotted Joey off to the side of the stage, and headed over. “Let me take you backstage and introduce you to the other Pussys.”, she said.

“Well”, I replied. “I’d certainly like to meet as many as I can.” When I got backstage, I found 4 women of incredible beauty in various states of undress, clarifying beyond a shadow of a doubt why this band had chosen the name Pussy Galore.

Their performance was inspired. They appeared on stage braless, in see through tops, and g strings and, despite their lack of any real talent, they had driven the crowd into a frenzy.   When Joey removed her top and squeezed her tits as the Pussys banged out ‘Suck On These’, mayhem erupted. Tables and chairs were kicked over, and glasses were thrown at the walls. I was pretty sure it was due to Joey’s boobs and not the music, but the Pussys certainly had the attention of the audience. I sat with the girls in the dressing room following the show, discussing what I would write as we got wasted on peyote.  I tried desperately to look at their faces while we spoke, but I was unsuccessful. We agreed to meet at Joey’s apartment in a few days to map out a promotional strategy for the band.

In the days before the band meeting I went to check on Tate. I found him with Farberman, a science nerd who had been Tate’s college roommate. Farberman was an ass, a narrow minded little man with aspirations of changing the world one experiment at a time. Tate was doing better, a little disoriented, but generally well. I liked Tate. He just needed to have that stick up his ass surgically removed, but he was alright. It was good to hear, as I suspected that world could always use another mediocre writer who was hanging from the edge so precariously.

The meeting with the band went as well as could be expected, and we agreed to move forward with a plan to promote and exploit their sexuality. Perhaps it was the drugs, but the girls had no problem with posing nude, and I had no problem with accepting the job of taking the photos, after all, I was the official publicist. When these 4 women were completely naked together and started posing, their inner bi-sexuality was simultaneously triggered. I found myself shooting various shots of girl on girl action that would have caused a lesser man’s brain to explode and ooze out of his ears. There I was, with a camera in my hand, and an erection in my pants, and all I could think about was banging Joey as I watched her become more and more aroused by the drummer’s touch. When the girls were done and, I assume, the effects of the drugs had worn off, they wanted to go get something to at. three of them dressed, while Joey and I stayed behind. “So do you think you’ll be able to help us?”, she asked, still naked.

“Well, I certainly like trying.”, I replied.

“Let’s see if I can help you with your problem.”, she said as she took my hand and led me into the bedroom. Shortly after, Pussy Galore disbanded. The guitarist and bass player took off to some island in the Caribbean after discovering that they were in love with each other. I have no idea what became of the drummer, but I heard that she had joined a metal band who went on to have a moderately successful career. Joey continued to work at Fran’s for about another year or so, and finished her photography course. She moved to England and failed in her attempts at achieving her dreams. She died of a drug overdose in a hotel room occupied by a member of a semi-famous rock star. It was sad , really.

Larry’s Hideaway was torn down to expand Allen’s Gardens, a favorite for dog owners who refuse to clean up after their animal, the homeless, and other marginalized members of the community. Farberman went on to work for the government in a top secret installation that was involved in experimenting with weird ass weapons systems. And Tate, well he became a writer and a college professor of creative writing, as well as an alcoholic. I have heard that he has been clean for many, many years now. Every now and then I look back at those days, hanging out a Fran’s with Joey, getting wasted with Tate, and hanging out at the Roxy for the Friday midnight movie madness with fondness and hilarity.





and other than Carl The Crasher, who had earned his name by attending every Bar Mitzvah in the city since 1968  without every being invited, no one ,  else was around