Herbert Squires by Hugh Dufour
Herbert Squires by Hugh Dufour
We joins the queue of the methadone clinic at By Market. The man wears a leather jacket, baggy jeans, a blue denim shirt and large tortoiseshell sunglasses. Looks like a fuckin pimp. Introducing me self as Maurice, we begins talking with him by offering a $50 reward for some lost mutt named Harper that never even existed. Bastards. Yee all know something. Something we needs. But yee won’t give it to us, will yee? We’ll gets it if we has to squeeze the right truth out of you all. We is going to make you pay, bastards. Bunch of crackheads. The man is shaking from withdrawal and we tells him where he can finds drugs. Piece of shit. Yee can’t even think straight.
This is what you’ve come down to.
Pleading with finished scumbags.
Crackhead promises to show up later that night in Somerset. Better show up asshole. Or we’re after smoking your right sorry asses. My descendant meets us for a coffee.
—I want you to stop it, the descendant says. You’re ruinin our lives.
—Mind your own business, we says back. Shut your fucking trap.
He’s still too young to know what’s right. That’s what he needs. If we’re too soft with this one, he lets himself go. If we had been tough with all the kids, they’d all be better off. The street would have swallowed him. St-Michel druggies would have gotten him. And the youngest would still be alive…
—You didn’t even say by to Lisa when she left for Manitoba, the descendant says.
—Don’t say that. I fuckin care. We is aware I’m swearing more than usual. It’s the descendant, with his weak eyes and pleading attitude. He brings that out in us.
—All you care is about yourself, he says. You think you’re a star. You’re just a stupid old man who thinks he’s a star. That friggin stunt you woulda pulled at the Senators’ game last week? You transforming our suffering into a sideshow. It’s digustin.
—Shut up. Shut up you two-timin scion. Shut your filthy mouth.
—You want attention. That’s why Mudder’s left you. She just wants peace and quiet. The journalists are houndin her after that stupid stunt. Stop doin what your doin. Leave her alone.
—I fuckin do what I want. No faggy son is gonna tell me what I do with my fuckin life.
—Suit yourself, the descendant says and gets up and leaves, right pissed off.
Well, if we wasn’t there, nobody would be lookin for justice. We wants justice. You all want your right cushy lives. We wants the truth. It’s not easy doing the right thing. Still, we loves that son. Effeminate, but smart. Smarter than me or her.
We heads then to Somerset. When I gets there, there’s a man we doesn’t know who’s obviously waiting for us. His name is Momo.
—Heard your lookin for your son’s killer, Momo says.
Scary son-of-a-bitch. What does he want? We’ll knock his front teeth out if he gets cute with us.
—What’s it to you? I says.
—I got something for you, Momo says.
I’m sure you do, smack-head.
—Where’s the other guy, b’y?
—Sent for me.
Something about his attitude that says he knows something.
Trust your intuition.
Wished they would see what we is doing. Nobody understands what we is going through. Nobody. Right hard to do this. Suffering day in day out to do the right thing. Ye have to be tough. Right tough.
We follows him into the crapper. The stink is right pungent, the light, gelid. Grease covers the yellow ceramic floor like ice when we was a kid in high school. Why is the light so bright?The man turns around, too late for us to sees the fist coming. We feels a tooth going. Blood spurts. We falls to our knees. Momo thrusts me head down into the toilet bowl. We struggles, trying to grab his ankles, but it’s not happenin. Momo pulls us out of the toilet bowl and we feels the brown water dripping down our face and bubbles around our mouth.
—If you keep investigating, Momo says, I’ll kill you. Give it up.
We is pulled away from the toilet bowl. We is thrown out of the stall, hitting the cracked ceramic floor, me head knocking the hard, urine-scented surface. Feels a drip on our face. Somebody’s pissing on us. We sees a blade flashing.
Don’t do anything.
He’s a killer.
Let them know you’re down.
Don’t fight back.
Urine splashes on me face.This guy gives us the diddies. We passes out. When we opens our eyes, we’re on our back staring up at the green neon lighting on the ceiling and a gabardine-covered man. We has an acid taste in our mouth. Smells like piss.
The man, he helps us up.
—You okay, Old-timer? the man says.
—Yeah, fine. Thanks.
We pulls down our zip and pee in the urinal, aiming and hitting the pink sanitary cake.
—You’re bleeding, the man says.
—I’ll be alright.
Guy is okay.
Don’t lash out at him.
How long was we out? Smells the piss off us. Then we sends out another jet, this time more powerful, hitting directly the pink cake in the other urinal. We needs to wash this piss off us, but we’ll wait till the b’y’s gone.
We flashes a thumbs up at the man. Smiles. The man nods his head, unsure, then leaves. The urine on my cut stings, so we washes our pecker with soap.
We pulls up our zip, heads over to the sink. We needs to rest. Wish we had a friend to go grab a beer with, but there’s none left.
You’ve giving up everything.
You’re on your own.
This mission of yours has eaten everything up.
We puts out the cigarette on the grimy washroom floor. We turns around, stares at the self in the aged mirror losing its silver, touch up the pomaded hair hat always looks like it’s wet, caresses us burnished cheeks. We still looks good, and we could passes for fifty, even younger. It’s the sex we misses. As a young man, it was right easy. Just grabbin us some skin would be nice tonight. Or just a cold, hard fuck. We spits in the sink and leaves.
You just keep going.
Your actions define you.
Keep searching until you find your answers.
Outside, the sun is settin. It’s hot and humid. We can hears the birds singin and the crickets shoutin. If we lived on Mars, we’d be at peace. But then we wouldn’t know who killed him. Why does we thinks we’d be happier on another world? Geez, we’d like a beer now. Skin. We heads to the Sheraton hotel lobby. We’re gutfounded. We decides to order a spicy pad thai and a nice, cold Molson Ex.
When you have no friends left, the loneliness digs deep.
Something about your descendant’s attitude.
We has never felt sympathy from the descendant before. Maybe we’re getting soft. We’s getting old. Tired of this. Need to breathe. Slow down. Take it easy. We is gettin shivers. We gets to thinking we wishes we could live in a house somewhere on Prince Edward Island. The brew is soft and cold and warm on the insides. Feels good. Right does. We feels something inside opening up. We grabs the phone and resists the urge to calls up the ex-wife.
Resist the urge.
We plays around with the beer mug, staring at the patrons coming in. Here’s a young man and his wife, both exhausted by the blond child she clutches in her arms. They’ll find out what family life is like. No breaks. Work. Non-stop. With no reward. Text message last week. How are you?
Your wife still remembers you and that feels good, doesn’t it?
Strange how you never quite leave the woman who’s given you children.
We thinks about my daughter, who’s a nurse and lives in Churchill with the polar bears. We wonders if she’s havin’ a time. We orders another beer. A right skinny ducky sits beside us. She orders herself a Sleeman’s.
—I’ve seen ye before, the ducky says.
We takes a sip of me beer. She looks like she’s a hundred years old, even though she’s after her thirtieth birthday, no more.
—Ye in the news? the ducky says.
We smiles and then tell ourselves we’re after telling our story.
Give yourself a break.
—Not in the news at all, we says.
—I come here often, the ducky says. Ye must have seen me.
Yes, we has seen her. We’ve often wondered if she was a prostitute. Maybe she is.
—Where y’longs to? we says, recognizing the accent.
—Port au Port Peninsula, the ducky says.
—Eh b’y, we says, forcing the accent. —Imagine the coincidence. From Newfoundland to here. Now ye’s here in Ottawa?
—Ye knows yourself, the ducky says, winking.
She moves in closer. We can smells her cologne: ginger, lavender. Me face…did we washes it? Stink of piss off my face. We can still smells it. Scary woman.
You’re not too sure about this, are you?
You love those gleaming eyes, don’t you?
—Here’s my story, the ducky says. I’m dying of cancer. The only thing I can think of right now is, I want to get laid. Well, obviously, she’s desperate. That’s why she’s sitting here. Why me? Are we that obviously starvin ? In any case, she’s a maimed one. She stinks of fear. This is not good. We needs to get away. If there’s one thing we can’t stand, it’s the stink of fear.
Somebody more vulnerable than you.
Why don’t you feel empathy?
The ducky takes another drink and looks away. She closes her eyes and hums to the music playing.
It’s all in the way
Her hips sway
My buddy says, take her home
Then she opens her blinders and stares us down.
Sometimes, you just have to blow it all to pieces. Sometimes you have to say, What the fuck?
You’re getting philosophical.
Getting tired, are we?
—So, what’s ye name? we says.
—Nice to meet ye Lizzie.
We tells her ours.
—I’ve rented a room, Herbert Squires.
—Whatever for? We knows we shouldn’t ask, but we can’t help ourselves. I guess we wants to see how she reacts.
—Ye can do what ye want to me. Whichever fashion ye fancy. Any damn thing.
Is it any different if you make love on another planet? On Mars? Does it feel different? She probably thinks we’s stupid. Would Elon Musk live there?
Her skin is like parchment. Will we be able to get it up?
She’s nice, and you don’t know how to react to that, don’t you?
She’s dying, and that touches you.
Still, we could fucks her like an object. Like a thing. Sweet taste of exploitation. Of using someone. Discarding them. The only way. Her breath smells like sick. Doesn’t she smell the piss off me? Is my cut bleeding?
—How long do you have, Lizzie?
—Don’t wanna talk about dat. She looks down, and her eyes furrow.
—Ye knows yourself, we says.
Then we heads for the hotel. What’s after us? How will we gets an erection? Fuck man. If you can’t get it up, just leave.
She’s probably the first human being you’ve encountered in a long time.
Somebody weaker than you.
Spit on her and leave, we thinks. She’s worth right nothing. Just a piece of skin. Waiting to die. She said so herself. Smell of unworthiness. What’s her sick body like under the baggy chinos and army jacket?
You want to take care of her.
We enters the scuzzy Spanish colonial hallway. Does we need this fuck that badly?
Yes, you do.
The ducky leads us through a corridor drenched with a soapy smell, and we trudges on the floor painted with a weird pitcher style that gives ye the impression of walking over Niagara Falls. It’s almost beautiful, this place. Like some West Coast fishing village in Port au Port Peninsula. She turns back. She smiles. She looks like a cadaver forced into a smile. Coy, like, even though she’s diseased and dyin and all that. Cancer of what? She takes out a key and opens the door and we trembles and we sees her smile again in the dark, which is right pretty.
—G’wan b’y, she says.
Then she jumps up and down as she throws us on the sloshing water-bed.We won’t be able to go through with this. We tries to imagine her spread-eagled. Fuckin her senseless. And then, what has we got to lose?
—We needs a stiff drink, Lizzie.
—No, ye don’t.
She pulls off me shirt and unbuttons the waistcoat and unzips the right sticky cotton slacks, and that side of her sickly-looking face is right flushed with the heat. She’s havin a time playing with me balls.
There’s a song playing outside. Can’t recognize.
I took I took
And had me fun
But she gave and she gave
Right into me grave
The ducky slides her tongue over our gums, and we stumbles towards the bed, and we’re blinded by the glare of a tungsten bulb as me head hits the right dirty pillow and her lithe body shakes over ours. Christ, we is hard. Jesus fucking Christ. Our right moist skins slides, and her parchment stomach slaps right hard against ours. Dry lips. Dry skin. Like a lizard. Yeah she’s pantin. Her eyes. Wide open.
You’ve never seen anybody happier.
You’re giving something to someone.
Her diseased body is a gift to you.
We shoots our load and she screams, like she’s never been fucked properly. The bed trembles. Sick Lizzy gets up, perches on the side of the bunk, turns on the light and fumbles through the pocket of her aqua jacket. —Amazing how death makes it so good, she says. Her right crooked fingers grasp at a cigarette, lights it. She looks like an angel who’s been rescued from hell. —Your cock is right good. She turns around and glares at us.
Bright violet eyes.
Should we tells her about me son? How he was stabbed forty times in the gas station? How the police never found the killers? How we’ve been looking for them on our own ever since? Then she pulls away, opens the greasy, thick curtains, and we sees the red flashing light coming in from the funeral parlor across the street. Her purplish breasts sagging, her dry chapped lips, her smile baring wet, shiny teeth. No fuckin beauty there, b’y. We senses an incredible sick to our belly and we wants to puke. —I will fuck as long as I can, she says. Is her story even true? Is she really dying? Looks sick. With that yellow, waxy skin. Lizzie stretches out her hand and touches me face. She pulls at her cigarette. Like an emaciated puppet. Yet the light hits her jaw perfectly. Sweat on her chest.
Still screaming life.
Sick Lizzie lets herself falls to the bed, getting into that right moony pose of hers, her naked body glimmering with shiny sweat, and sucks on her cigarette. Her pallid, elegant face expressing nothin and her silence like a dark, deep, bottomless well.
We stares at her and we can’t takes your eyes off her. Outside, we can hears the thunder roll. Through the open window, the crashing rain pours in, drenching the sea-coloured carpet. We gets up, heads out to the balcony and into the raging storm.
Her almond eyes.
The wet stuff is glacial on our face.
—I want ye to do something for us, she calls out.
We walks back into the room.
—I want you to tie me up and pee on me.
—Pee on ye?
What’s this with piss today? Do we still smell of piss? Has she smelled it?
—Why would I do that? we says.
—Because I want ye to.
—Sorry, I can’t do that.
—Please, the skinny ducky says, looking like a sunset on St John’s harbor.
This is crazy. She wants us to pee on her. Fucking Christ. That’s our limit. Reminds us of that time. When the neighbourhood boys tied us down and took a piss at us.
—I’m dying, she says. All these things I want to do before I die…
—Peeing on you? That’s a wish you have?
She nods. —You’re a kind nice feller.
—I can’t. I’m sorry.
—Just ties us up, then. And fuck us good.
—I don’t know if I can do it again.
—Then tie me up, she says.
Just do it.
You want to please her, don’t you?
Performance is reality.
Don’t let yourself be defined by the past.
You gone off your rocker, Herbert-b’y? What’s going on with us? Haven’t had a lay in five years and now we is all into this kinky stuff. We is losing our mind.
—There’s some string in my bag, the ducky says.
—You’ve thought of everything.
Inside the bag, there’s a lipstick case, a bible, some string. We caresses the cross on our chest. Christian. Jes likes us. Sick Lizzie stretches out and we notices hair under the armpits. We hadn’t seen that and notices for the first time there’s a stench, like vinegar, coming from her. We is hard again. What’s going on? We is not peeing. We is not peeing on this fuckin hag, like those kids did to ye. We fastens her left wrist into what we thinks is a double-knot, although it feels right wobbly. We should get on the go and leaves her here like the whore she is.
She can save you.
You feel that, don’t you?
Then we attacks the other wrist and both ankles. The brass rails of the bed shine like froth on the sea, because of the neon light coming from outside.
—Get to work, the ducky says.
We’re standing over the bed, holding our stiff cock with the left hand. She looks at us all right vulnerable. All spread out.
Like a beautiful stork about to right cry.
Like a Flamingo about to take off.
—Please, the ducky says. Pee. Soil us.
We can’t. We feels like we’re soiling something fragile. Something tender. We thinks of our son. Murdered by four men, each taking turns stabbing him. Cutting off the back of his legs so he couldn’t run away. Sixteen years ago.
This woman’s legs.
The more we looks at her, the more we thinks of the Shoebill Stork we saw at the zoo. Long, thin, with a stare that’s penetrating and cold. She has that stare. She has that beauty of the Shoebill Stork. My son. Fragile. Never took care of him. We never were there for him. We was always at work. Didn’t even know he worked in that gas station when he was killed. Is that why?
Your son was a Shoebill Stork, like this girl dying of cancer.
—Piss on me, the ducky says.
There’s a trickle coming. Tears well up in our eyes.
The same thing.
The jet is warm and powerful on her yellow tummy. She smiles. Then we falls to our knees. Lies on her. The urine squishing on me soft belly. Warm. Pungent. We cries. She takes our head and caresses it. We doesn’t mind the urine between the ducky and me.
Let go, just let go.
You have a disease too.
It’s called regret.
—Are ye the man at the hockey game? the ducky says.
—Then tell me everything. From the beginning.
We can feel the tears, the pee. We’re lying beside her. Like a baby. It smells. The stench is acrid, overpowering.
The fan overhead feels cool against our wet asses.
Then the tears just keep coming, mingling with the urine.
Copyright Hugh Dufour 2019