Dear Ms. Leslie Sodium:
I'm a dick. This is something you
already know, but something I have just only obviously just found out. I’m so
sorry. I know I am now a dick because here I am, tossed out on the street, with
the few clothes and possessions you managed to throw out the window at me as I
left. (A cliché right out of a Whitesnake video, sure, but I think we both realize
that creativity has never exactly been your strong suit.)
Dearest Leslie, I am so sorry for
the things I have done wrong, all the names I’ve called you, all the things
I’ve criticized about you. As you tossed me out of your apartment and, you
believed, your life, I heard and registered and filed away all the
things you said. You know, all of those insane things you accused me of. Being
dramatic. Hyper. Paranoid. Abusive. Crazy with a capital K. I have all the
things you’ve said catalogued in my head, and placed them in my heart – a heart
now broken and shattered into a million, billion tiny little pieces at the loss
of a jewel like yourself. I don’t know how I could go on without you. I know I
haven’t been the best boyfriend, but you must give me another chance. I am your
one and only. Even that dumb waiter you’ve been hoping to score a rebound from
over at that restaurant on Kathleen Street is not your true, kindred spirit,
I know you know this. Deep down, in
the tiniest recesses of your pretty little heart.
I also know this for at least one
very good reason. Yes, and a very good reason it is, of which I will get to in
I do wish to say though, Leslie, I
am not begging on my hands and knees here. Oh, I know this is a letter
expressing my desire to reconcile with you, and I suppose it is tradition, it
is custom, to be a little more regretful and remorseful that I’m currently
expressing to you right now.
You see, dearest Ms. Sodium, I
don’t need to apologize to you. Not now, nor ever. Not even after the misery of
being humiliated in front of your neighbours in your apartment building. Don’t
get me wrong. I am NOT angry or anything – even though that old witch who lives
across the hall called me a scumbag as she chased after me with that broom of
hers. Getting poked near the eye with the business end of her broom was no fun,
either; I can assure you that. You’re lucky I’m not angry enough to go back
over there and break her arms from her sockets – but then I’d truly be remorseless,
and I don’t need you to confirm that all the things you say about me are,
indeed, true. Anyhow. This is all beside the point.
I don’t need to say I’m sorry,
because … well … remember that special power you said I had? That special power
to be a dick at every inopportune moment? I think you were only half-right. I
do have a special power, but I have been keeping it from you.
I know you’ve suspected that there
was something about me that was mysterious and enigmatic – this is what
attracted you to me in the first place, though you perhaps didn’t know it.
Well, I do have a power I’ve been hiding form you. It is kind of like a “super
power,” not unlike how we described the United States or Russia during the ‘80s
or the ability of a comic book hero to see through women’s clothing. I’ve been
keeping it from you, since I always knew that you wouldn’t be able to handle
the truth, that the events that just happened in the recent past would have
happened a lot sooner if you knew. I couldn’t take it that early into our
relationship – I’m barely dealing with our separation as it is right now. This
is why I didn’t tell you.
But, now … now things are clearly
different. I can see it so vividly. Yes, I can see how it is all going to play
out, like someone showing me their cards in a poker game, and it is something
that excites me terribly. The clarity of this vision is, in fact, startling.
This is why I'm going to tell you something I haven't even told members of my
own family. I feel I can tell you this now without any remorse or fear
whatsoever. Yes, babe, it is finally true. The wait is over. I just have to say
that …, well … :
I have the powers of extra-sensory
perception. This is commonly known as ESP.
No, really. I'm dead serious.
I have ESP.
I know you're laughing as you read
this and think that I'm a kook – but that's an easy one to dispel. Here, I'll
prove it to you a number of ways.
This morning, you burned your hands
while making a ham and cheese omelet on the stove. It was your right hand. It
came down on the side of the frying pan when you were about to flip the omelet
over. At this precise moment, I awoke with a dazed start in the men’s homeless
shelter where I now spend my days and lonely nights. It flared like Christ
Almighty, that pain, let me tell you. I realized rather quickly, however, that
it was your pain from a stovetop many miles away, halfway across town. It was
so hurtful that I yelped, and had to kiss my own palm to make it feel better.
How humiliating! In front of all those other men!
At first I was mad at you for
making me feel this pain. Then I was happy that you were feeling any sort of
pain at all. After the stinging abated and my pride felt somehow regained,
though, I felt something I can only describe as being akin to sorrow. It was a
rather odd sensation. You see, I now knew you had experienced something awful
and horrible, and I was sorry that I couldn’t be there by your side to save you
from yourself. I felt guilty, and ashamed. I knew that the kiss to my hand was
pathetic because it was non-transferable. I couldn’t kiss away both my pain and
your pain at the same time.
This was selfish of me.
As you can see, I now realize that
I am a dick. This is what I’ve inflicted on you, the pain of my presence. This
I now know. That said, I know you carry a pain of your own. A burden, a kind of
guilt from your past you cannot part with.
Remember when you told me that I'd
never find out the deep dark secret of the Sodium family? Well, I knew what
your little secret was from the moment I met you. I have another super power,
something I also didn’t tell you before.
I can read minds. Including yours.
Shush now, Leslie. I can hear you
thinking. I know you think I’m a psycho, even more so than before. I can assure
you, however, that I can really read your mind. We should probably get
onto better things than arguing about the truth of my assertions. As you will
see in a matter of moments, I’m telling the truth.
Now, let me tell you first and
foremost that this secret has not inhibited my love for you in the least little
bit. I will still follow you to whatever end of the earth you may find
yourself, and be your beacon in the fog. But that is all beside the point by
now. What is done is done, and what has yet to be done will – I am hopeful – play
out exactly the way I intend it to.
I know that immediately after you
finish reading this the first time, out of seventeen times in total, you'll
think that I must have gotten a private eye to follow you or your relatives
around. You'll think that I'm a creep, that I'm no good. You'll think that I'm
only out to embarrass you and the good members of the Sodium family. You will
also briefly entertain the thought of strangling me. You will be in near tears.
I can only tell you, babe, my
intentions are entirely noble in re-telling you this deep, dark secret you
still cannot bear to tell even little ol’ pathetic me. You will know,
eventually, that I love you just the way you and your mixed-up family are. How
do I know this?
I think you already know, you know.
Anyhow, it is here that I must
begin the painful process of relaying to you the awful story of your deep dark
hidden family secret, one that you are obviously already well aware of having
lived it. It begins in a child's bedroom during an overcast Saturday about 30
years ago, back in the age of the Cold War, when the MX missiles could start
flying at any moment's notice. To be more specific about the bedroom, it was
Yes, your brother's. Oh, I know you
will shake your head and protest at this point that you don't have a brother,
but let's pretend for a while, shall we? There's no point in keeping up this
charade any longer.
Your “brother's” friend Jeremy had
been over that day to watch a WrestleMania video on the TV in the living room.
(Well, watch being a rather loose term. Most of the time, he was practicing
wrestling moves on your sibling. To be more precise, Jeremy was playing Andre
the Giant to your brother's Hulk Hogan. This I know with absolute, exact
certainty. One thing young Jeremy didn't know at the time, but something you
found out much later on: he was gay. Granted, perhaps the incident leading up
to the rather sad event that happened on this not-so-innocent afternoon also put
some ideas his head about which gender he would be attracted to. However, since
you don't know, then I don't know, and this last sentiment would become mere
speculation on my part anyway.)
I believe your father was off
playing rec-league baseball and your mother was doing the wash at a nearby
laundry because the dryer was on the fritz. You were in your bedroom upstairs
in the house, reading a book. Your favourite book. Bridge to Terabitha,
that melodramatic four-hanky weepie. God, I’ve always hated that book, even as
a kid. Always forced to read it by teachers in grade school, it seems. Anyhow,
you were directly disobeying your mother, who told you to look after your
brother and Jeremy, who were prone to knocking over pictures and, worse, the
lamp in the living room while they practiced body-slams on each other. (Thank
God nothing got broken there, or you would have been practically filleted by
your mom and dad, considering what happened later on.) You hated watching your
brother, who was older than you by a couple of years and should have known
better than to be hyper. But, at least, you figured they'd be less of a bother
now that they'd gotten all their pent-up male aggression out on each other.
You were precisely 47 pages deep
into the novel when you heard it: the slam of a dresser drawer followed by a
giggle emanating from your brother's room where he and his friend were now
playing the board game known as Trouble – or so you'd believed.
Remember Trouble? It was that game
with dice in the popper in the center of the game board and those little pegs
that you move around, kinda like a children's version of Bridge without the
cards. I always liked it myself ... uh, when I was a kid. Yes. As a child.
Anyhow, when you yelled at your
brother from your bed, "What on earth are you two doing in
there?" and they didn't answer not only that time but the next three times
that you asked, you flung your book aside and tromped over to your brother's
room. You uttered death threats, as I recall.
Then, when you threw open the door
to their room, you saw something that ... well .. I know you haven't exactly
In this room, there were two young
boys looking at you in a sudden state of shock. Your brother, however, was
leaning his lower body into an open drawer, the one he normally kept his pajamas
in – pajamas featuring superheros like Batman and Superman that were now on the
bed. An uncapped jar of Vaseline was on top of this dresser drawer, which, as
you recall in your memories, was made of faux cherry wood. The edge of the open
drawer was smeared in it. The room smelled of Aloe Vera.
And then you said:
"What is your ... your thing
doing in that drawer?"
At the sound of your voice, your
brother finally reacted. He accidentally pushed forward on the drawer with his
And then slammed the drawer
completely shut on … .
I know that you will never forget
the surprise on your brother's face. You will never forget the huge O-ring his
mouth made, how his eyes bugled and how pale he suddenly looked. You remember
that no sound – nothing at all – came out of his mouth. At least, not in the
beginning. When a sound did finally emit from his tender vocal cords
mere moments later, it sounded like a mournful hound dog dying a very painful
death. And that's when you looked to Jeremy, who was waving his hands
frantically at you, frantically already trying to distance himself from this
sudden, unexpected turn of events.
"Look, I had nothing to do
with this," he said. "This was totally your brother's idea."
You were skeptical. The slant of
your eyes and your crossed arms betrayed this, as they always tend to do.
(Don’t deny it, Leslie! I know you oh far too well!)
"Your brother said he wanted
to show me something that'd feel good," Jeremy said.
Obviously, what had happened to
your brother caused him to feel anything but good. He started banging his fists
on the top of the dresser, enough so to make a plastic Transformer fall off the
dresser. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it was Starscream was it not?
"Oh, God!" he cried,
tears now gushing from his all too young eyes like a fountain. "Call an
ambulance! Puh-please! It. fuckin'. HURTS!"
You looked at Jeremy. "What
the hell are we supposed to do?" you asked.
"Maybe open the drawer, first
of all," he offered, cracking a sly grin.
Now, at this point you'd decided
you’d pretty much seen all you wanted to see as a young girl. You certainly did
not want to hang around long enough to see your brother delicately pull his
now-puffy and swollen lack of manhood that had, unknown to anyone in the room,
turned purple and was hanging by a single thread. You were quite mortified. You
also didn't know what to do. This was, how should we say, beyond your
capabilities as not only a babysitter, but as a sister.
Leslie, I know how you handled this
situation, and there is no need to be ashamed. You ran out of the room, back
into your room and closed the door. You returned to your book. It was an easy
You began reading your book again,
trying and failing to concentrate. (Granted, it was hard considering all the
screaming and yelling going on down the hall thanks to your brother's torment.)
You were trying hard not to laugh, even though the situation was probably quite
dire. Naturally, you eventually started wondering what the hell you were going
to do. Should you call the Laundromat, and tell them to tell your mom there'd
been an accident involving your pathetic brother? Should you call the hospital
and report a medical emergency? Or should you lay low and pretend you hadn't
Part of you really wanted
tattle on your brother, obviously, but getting him into trouble meant that
you'd be in trouble too. You, after all, had been put in charge by your mother
and had been supposed to look after him. But, now, there was the delicate issue
of how you'd go about telling an adult that your brother was currently in
crippling pain because he managed to slam his penis into a drawer. Would you
not be somehow held responsible?
I know this was what you were now
thinking: How could you get yourself out of the corner you’d painted yourself
into? If you told, you’d be exposed as a moron. If you did nothing, you’d be
labeled insensitive for not feeling your brother’s pain, and doing something to
help him. But, at the same time, how could you truly, completely, feel his
pain? You were but a burgeoning young woman, without any knowledge or hint of
how painful physical damage to a male’s more tender regions could be.
I also know – thanks to my
incredible ESP powers – that you believed that if you did nothing, you, too,
would suffer at some undetermined point down the road. Perhaps you'd fall off a
log in the bush some day and die, just like your namesake in Bridge? God
only knows the thought crossed you mind. (Well … OK, that’s not true. I
certainly knew, but I don’t want to appear too cocky here.)
Despite all of the pent-up guilt
churning away inside you, you did nothing. You didn’t act. You couldn’t have
cared less about your brother, at least not that day.
But you weren’t allowed to not care
for long. Jeremy knocked at your door.
"What is it?" you
"Your brother," Jeremy
began behind the door. "I think your brother's pretty messed up."
"You know where the bandages
are?" asked Jeremy, totally ignoring you. At the same time, you could
detect that he wasn’t exactly being charitable in his quest for Band-aids. You
sensed that Jeremy was secretly getting a kick out of the situation, your
brother’s throbbing pain. Was it the way he now talked to you, the slight
boyish giggles he was barely trying to suppress behind the door? There was
something there, something that now suggested to you that your brother’s friend
now seemingly had a real good story to tell around school, in the locker room.
"I mean, the ones like mummy
wrap,” continued Jeremy. “Tension bandages, or whatever they’re called."
"We have none," you said,
There was a silence at the other
end of the door for a second. You weren’t sure if it were laughter, or
something else altogether. You then heard Jeremy ask in a muffled voice if
there were any bandages to another person in the hall – naturally, your
brother. Your brother said something under his breath about you that wasn’t all
that nice, in fact it was a curse. Being the decent guy that I am – you will
come to know this someday, I swear – I won’t repeat the things he said. You
already know, anyhow.
"I don’t think your bro finds
this all that funny," suggested Jeremy, still trying to suppress his
laughter, as he now opened your bedroom door wide open. Just behind
Jeremy, you could see your brother on the landing of the stairwell leading to
the main floor. His corduroys were still around his thighs, his hands covering
his aching you-know-what.
"C'mon, Leslie," said
Jeremy. "I think this is pretty serious."
“JESUS CHRIST!” your brother yelped
down the hall. “P-PHONE THE GODDAMN DOCTOR!”
“Faker!” you yelled back,
trying not to break out into giggles. Then, you turned to Jeremy, all
serious-like, “Look, I’m not doing anything until Mom comes home. You can
explain this whole mess to her. I’m just not getting involved.”
Funny how coincidence sometimes
bites you on the ass, huh? As soon as you said this, a car slid into the
driveway outside your window, followed by the honk of a car horn. That was your
mom’s signal to help her unload groceries – or, on this day, laundry – out of
the car. It was as though just saying her name had conjured her up out of thin
air somehow to come in and save the day. Later, you’d reflect upon this
incident and wonder, Christ, how did she know there was tomfoolery going on?
She must have known, after all. It was like a sixth sense or something, the
timing of her arrival.
For a split second, Jeremy froze at
the sound of the horn as you yourself reeled at the sound and wondered how the
hell you were going to get out of this one.
“That’s your mom, isn’t it?” said
You didn’t answer. You didn’t have
to. He knew. He could just tell. He could smell the sudden whiff of fear, a
certain lack of confidence, radiating off you now that you were no longer the
boss of the situation.
“Uh, I think I should probably go
now,” he said.
And that was that. He shot off,
racing downstairs and out the front door, leaving your brother to cope with his
pain on his own. You huffed and threw down your book, then raced after him
towards the door. Jeremy raced outside, and then down the street in the
opposite direction from the driveway. By the time you got to the sidewalk, two
things had happened. A) Your mother had seen you and B) Jeremy, being a boy and
a better runner (I hate to say), was practically halfway to the corner by that
point. You called after him, but it was no use.
“Leslie, quit chasing your
brother’s friends and come help me with the clothes,” your mother yelled.
You were about to yell back that
you weren’t, that you were running to somehow bring Jeremy back to the scene of
the crime and make him claim responsibility – or at least tell the truth –
about the horrible things your mom was about to find out for herself. But then,
out of the corner of your eye, you saw your mother drop the laundry basket full
of fresh linens that she was carrying and turned your head in time to watch it
roll over onto the ground in the grass.
It was too late.
Your mother already knew.
Your mom screamed loud enough to
make the pit of your stomach disappear. This was it, you thought. This
was the part of the story where you were about to be exposed as a fraud. A
fraud who couldn’t look after your brother properly.
“Sheldon, what happened to your …
!” your mother cried, unable to finish the sentence.
You looked behind you, dear Leslie,
only to see your brother as he hobbled outside of the house, pants still around
his knees, as he clutched his tender spot. He then collapsed, just like the
folded laundry now sprawled over the lawn. A moment seared on your memory like
a Polaroid photograph that has yet to fade, even with the space of years,
decades even, between then and now. Even today, when you smell fabric softener
in the laundry room of the apartment building we both lived in together (and
will live in together yet again), you think of your brother lying there, hands
red with blood, face cramping with pain, eyes closed, as he moaned like a hound
dog and rocked back and forth on the ground.
A lot of events happened
immediately after this freeze-frame, but I think it would be redundant to go
over them in the tiniest, precise details. I think we’d be better off skipping
past much of the interrogation (which would be merely a retelling of everything
that has just occurred, anyhow) to the truly important bit. Let’s now proceed
to an image of you sitting in the hospital waiting alongside your mother and,
now, your father, waiting for word of your brother’s impending fate.
You sat on a bench firmly wedged
between your parents, unable to move your head for fear that it might
accidentally catch your father’s or your mother’s stern, anxious gaze. None of
you spoke, and as the minutes ticked into hours, you had to swallow your spit
precisely twenty-two times in an effort to prevent yourself from clearing your
throat, and thus calling attention to yourself. It was as though you all were
afraid to be seen, as though make a single squeak would start you down the
slippery slope to explaining this perverse and strange sequence of unfortunate
events to your folks once again inside an echo chamber where all of the
orderlies, patients, doctors and nurses in this particular wing of the building
could hear. Having this incredulous story claimed by someone other than
yourself and then retold again and again to other people exponentially, even at
your tender young age, was something you didn’t want to happen. It was already
too embarrassing! So you kept shut like a clam, and did your best to refuse to
be seen, as though you were an invisible woman, as though you had your own
Eventually, after a wait as long as
it was painful, a doctor came up to great the three of you.
“I’m afraid I have bad news,” he
told you, your father and your mother, looking the three of you straight in the
As it would turn out, it was pretty
bad news indeed.
“There is no hope,” said the
doctor, as though he were reading from cue cards. Your mother gulped. Your
father squeezed your hand suddenly, and much too hard. You, on the other hand,
barely noticed. You became to sweat and wished you could become a ghost, a
person who could float above this looming situation and out the main doors,
away from all this madness and personal responsibility. The doctor, presently
having your collective attention, paused for dramatic effect, flipped a few
pages in his flipchart then stared all the members of your family individually
in the eye and said:
“I think we’re going to have to
Oh, I know your shame, Leslie. I
know your deep, dark, grave secret – the turning point in your life. The place
where normality became the ‘new normal’ and your so-called life was yanked
right out from underneath you. I know that after the gender switch, after your
little brother Sheldon officially became your little sister Shelley, life in
the Sodium household was never the same. You could no longer bear to have
dinner, seated across the table from the hideous monstrosity wanting your
mother to pass the peas, please, because it was like looking into a mirror. You
were forced to see your failure directly across from you, the live you’d
managed to screw up because you hadn’t been responsible enough to keep your
brother (he, she, it?) from fooling around with your
yet-to-discover-his-true-sexual-identity best friend one weekend afternoon.
This is where you discovered your attention for trashy late-afternoon soap
operas and dinners on the TV tray in the basement, where you could hide from
the monster you’d created upstairs. Oh, how I know the pain. I see it in all of
your 320 pounds, you poor sweet thing!
Your aunts and uncles and nephews
and nieces would, naturally, all be paraded into the household at various times
throughout the days, weeks, months and years following the strange and vicious
accident. You remember these occasions all too well: all the cakes, ice cream,
sodas, and gifts to celebrate your brother’s new manhood, to celebrate the fact
that even though things were bad, they somehow weren’t even worse. You stayed
alone, up in your bedroom, your cave, your dungeon, re-reading Bridge to
Terabithia, trying to piece together a fantasy world in which the events
which led to your brother’s castration never happened.
In your room, the book’s female
character never died – you stopped reading before you could get to that part.
Instead, you’d go back and re-reading from the start, creating your own
narrative in doing so, a continuous feedback loop in which disaster never
loomed large, where everything wound up being perfectly normal. It was a
distraction from what was going on around you, including all the things that
were going on at home and at school.
Ah, school. I dearly know,
boo-bear, that your sister was treated like a God (or, perhaps, a Goddess) at
school. People took pity on her for the horrible disfiguring accident he/she’d
endured rather than treat her as the freak of nature you felt he/she really
was. In fact, Shelley became the subject of everyone’s conservation from the
moment of the emergency surgery. She became an instant celebrity. The boys
crowded around her at the lunch table, wanting to know what it was like to
suddenly lose a penis. And when that topic of fascination had run its course,
well they began to treat her as though she were just one of them, didn’t they?
(Which, in a way, she kind of already was, if it wasn’t for the girly skirts
she occasionally wore, if only to just to piss you off.) Not only would she
gradually become the hottest date in town, she was the type of girl who didn’t
think twice about joining in the occasional game of scrimmage. She was
everything that a man wanted, and you resented her for that, didn’t you?
Meanwhile, all the girls at school
– even the stinky ones who lived in all of the weirdest places in town – took
to her like flies to maple syrup, all wanting to be the first to show her,
educate her, in the ways of being a woman. For whatever reason, they all ganged
up and formed a new clique, the “Everyone Against Leslie, That Mean Bitch”
group. They shunned you from the process of showing your own brother the ropes
of becoming a woman, Leslie, and I know how painful that must have been. While
they were busy demonstrating to your new sister how to apply foundation in the
girls’ bathroom, they made sure that you were barred from entering on the
grounds that you weren’t “healthy” for Shelley, despite the fact that the two
of you already shared a home under the same roof. I know that they made her a
pair of breasts out of paper mache to wear under her shirt so that your sister
could complete her transformation fully, well before the hormonal drugs had
their opportunity to kick in. I know how that humiliated you. Hell, even Eva
Klumb, the school’s brace face, wanted nothing to do with you.
How unfair, Leslie! How unfair!
Nobody had ever lashed out this badly at you before. (Well, until I came along
at least!). Oh, how awful those years immediately after your sister was “born”
must have been!
Still, I don’t feel too much
sympathy for you, either, you horrible, wretched woman. After all, you did
absolutely nothing to stick up and defend yourself during such moments.
Whenever you walked home from school – alone, stinking and very afraid – you
usually passed old ladies on the sidewalk. What pains me is that you would do
nothing but cringe whenever you heard them whisper to each other stuff as they
passed you by like, “There’s that Sodium girl who made her brother lose his
penis.” (Its almost universal reply was deeply as cutting: “She should walk as
though she were more ashamed!”) You always shirked like a precious wallflower
away from such a puny threat. I know that you really should have decked them
Leslie, then clobbered them with their own purses, and spat on them, and kicked
their heads against the curb. I know I would have. And I know that you know I
would have. You know?
Despite being called names on the
street and despite all the affection dished out upon your newfound sister at
your expense, a sister you felt you had a personal role in creating, I know it
was hardest for you to be alone, without your book, Bridge To Terabithia.
This book is still quite dear to you, as I know, as it is the only book you’ve
owned or read since the terrible, unfortunate accident. It’s a book you place
yourself in again and again to find solace, some comfort over your dramatic,
unfortunate situation. (Well, the first two-thirds at least.) In some ways, my
lovey-dovey, you have not grown up since that fateful day, the day your brother
lost his manhood in your presence. In another way, that book is your connection
to the past in the same way that this letter is my connection to you.
In any event, I think I’m starting
to ramble and I probably should just get to the damn point. Here's what I know
about you, dearest Leslie: I know that you think that if anyone you know as an
adult knew of your brother/sister's shame, and your accidental and completely
innocent role in it, that it would be impossible for you to take you seriously.
To put it another way, you feel that you would be written off as a cruel and
malicious man-hater for your lack of action in helping your brother/sister lose
his identity. I don't know who puts such ideas in your head, but there it is.
I also know that this is precisely
what has prevented you from getting too close to anyone of the opposite and
not-so-fairer sex in the past. In fact, I know that the only reason you've let
me get this close to you by allowing me to move in with you is because of my
natural aura of mystery. (Without my ESP powers, I know I would be nothing to
you. I’d be a mere babble you’d cast away because I was simply too easy to
figure out, no?)
Anyhow, babe, despite the fact that
you're now entertaining the notion of getting a restraining order slapped on
me, to prevent me from moving even closer to your heart and to enable you to
spend more time with your precious book, I can tell you that your little
willy-worries are all for naught. You see, my sincere, sweet Leslie, I love you
completely and unconditionally. My love for you is so pure, that it illuminates
whatever room the two of us may find ourselves in.
And this is precisely what really
freaks you out about me – my unwavering loyalty, admiration and affection
for you. Tell me the truth, Leslie. That’s what it is, isn’t it? (Don’t forget
that I know your final answer, so be sure to answer very, very carefully.) Even
though it may hurt, I know deep down that that whole story you concocted about
me being a tyrant, a complete fascist dictator who humiliates you in public is
but a means to get me out of your life before things really get much too
serious. You don't need to say another word out loud in denial – even though I
know you are doing exactly this as you read this. I can already see your
lips move and your tongue wag as you read over the contents of this missive.
(Sometimes, my ESP and mind-reading powers are more of a curse than a blessing,
as I already know all of the nasty things that you will say about me here. By
the way, darling, you should know by now that it hurts me very dearly to be
called a bastard, and I know when and where you’ve called me that.)
So there it is: the awful truth
revealed. I know it stings, darling, but I also know that getting this out into
the open now will speed along the process of reconciliation. You needed to hear
the truth you were keeping from others, from yourself, hideously cooped in a
bottle all of these years. Accepting your past is the only way you will defeat
However, having said this, I must also
now bid adieu. I must say it was nice knowing you. Not because I am some
kind of tyrant, as you obviously and painfully say I am. Oh no. It is because
my extra-sensory talents are now telling me that the only way you will want me
back is if I wash my hands clean of this whole sordid affair.
I know this will sound so ironic,
Leslie, but it is so completely obvious that the moment any man seeking any
sort of natural bonding with you pursues you too greatly, you flip out and completely
extract yourself from his life. (OK, this is where I got a little extra outside
information from a private dick about your few ex-boyfriends – and I know you
have had so few in your life that I can count them on half of one hand.) But
... please Leslie! ... do not think any ill of me for doing so, as I know you
are so wretchedly RIGHT NOW! I only wrote this letter because I care about you,
because I want to remain by your side. I wouldn't want you to break my heart
for real by doing something stupid like … well … it would be foolish for me to
say and plant a silly idea into your head that you very likely would follow.
Anyhow, above all else that I have
written here, do know this:
I know your dirty secret, and have
found it to not be so dirty after all. I still love you from the bottomless
well of emotion that is my heart. My love is all around you like surround sound
in a home theatre system. I wish it upon you, Leslie, that one day you will
know this to be true. So true, in fact, that you will feel compelled to throw
it up on a theatre marquee and display it to the world: that you’ve let me back
into your heart. This day will come very, very soon – but not too soon
(as I wouldn’t want you to leave me for real because I got too close to you in
this fragile, vulnerable state you’re in!)
When this day finally arrives, it
will be a very special day indeed. I can only say that I think you will agree,
and will be pleasantly surprised. And I guess that’s all I can say, even though
I wish I could tell you more.
Well, sweet Leslie, I think it is
nearly time to go. I’m getting the rather uneasy sense that one of the men here
wants his pen back so he can use it to barter some Listerine on the street.
Just remember: follow your heart, take it were it leads you, and, if all goes
according to plan, you will arrive here at 453 Paterson Place some time within
the next week or so to reconcile our love and renew our commensurate
relationship. Believe me, I can hardly wait. And, if I know you like I have
already demonstrated I have, so will you, babe. So will you!
Always and forever,
Now until the end of time,
Your past, present and future
omnipotent and omnipresent sweetheart
Zachary Houle is a Pushcart Prize nominee for my fiction and the recipient of a $4,000 arts grant from the City of Ottawa for emerging artists. His fiction and poetry has been published in Pindeldyboz, Word Riot, Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure, Thieves Jargon, the Danforth Review, Broken Pencil, Midnight Mind, Kiss Machine, and others. He is also the associate editor in the music reviews section of PopMatters.com, a web site that receives one million unique visitors a month. He also writes music and book reviews, and the occasional feature, for said site.