Semi-Fiction

Quicker Than a Streetcar Can Say Surprise

Content note: this piece contains references to the COVID-19 pandemic.


I miss sitting somewhere in public and writing even though I never did that. I want to go to Fran’s All Night Diner at some ridiculous hour and eat greasy food and pull out my notebook and write about it. I’ll ask if they have decaf and they’ll have to put on a pot and I’ll feel bad, but don’t worry, I’ll drink a lot. The refills are endless. I’ll get through the whole pot. They’ll ask if they should put on another and I’ll say, no, that’s alright, thanks, it’s time to go visit my brother. And they’ll say their shift isn’t up yet. And I’ll say, no, not you, silly, me. It’s time for me to go visit my brother. And they’ll say, oh, yeah, isn’t that that guy who works at the café? Yeah, that’s the one. I’ll get the bill, please. Oh, certainly…You know, I’ve never visited my brother before because of the pandemic. What pandemic? Oh, have we forgotten already? Thank goodness.

Then I’ll be up and outta there, quicker than a streetcar can say surprise. I’ll be crossing that old town at lightning speed just to see the only other redhead for miles. Now that can’t be right, we use kilometres in Canada, but you know what I mean.

I’ll cross that old town and be haunted by its memories, but hey, at least I’ll be there without the fear of catching my death and spreading it. No one will look directly at me because they’ll know I’m not from around there, and I won’t mind one bit. I’ll keep quiet, and we’ll all agree that it’s better they don’t look. But you wait, just wait until I get to my brother’s place because then, I’ll talk. They’ll all talk. Not about anything specific, not about anything that matters, just the kind of talk you use to make everyone feel better. You know the kind. You use it all the time.

I’ll get to my brother’s place, and I won’t have the door code, so he’ll have to buzz me in. The building he lives in is 83 floors tall. It rivals the CN Tower. No, it doesn’t, don’t make me laugh, but the CN Tower is right next door. He’ll buzz me in from above, and I’ll walk into a lobby I’ve never seen. It’ll be unremarkable. Elevator doors will open, and my brother will step out. Where’s the red hair? I’ll wonder. It’ll be dark blue, but he’ll still be my brother.

Would you like some coffee? He’ll ask.

He brings his work home with him (quite literally).

Would you mind putting on a pot of decaf?