Set and Setting by Mike Sauve

April 5, 2013 Comments Off on Set and Setting by Mike Sauve

Speedy Sam Pocks and I had had a terrible fight the night before.  He doesn’t seem to remember.  He’s rolling a joint.  It seems like a peace offering, but again, it’s not clear he remembers.  The fight was mixed with humour.  We took turns saying cruel things, and then took turns saying something funny in response to the cruelty to show how cavalier we were about each other’s feelings, and how immune to personal criticism we were.  We’d laugh and then scowl.  Or we’d laugh and then lean menacingly in the direction of the other like big danger was on the horizon.  Then a joke would break the tension, and we’d start all over again. The details of the jokes and condemnations are lost to history.  My memory is hazy.  On the wall, there’s a damn picture of me playing a trombone with two other members of some horn section. I do not play the trombone or any kind of wind instrument, so who even knows what was happening there or what that must have sounded like.

We’re watching  a comedy routine, more like a cabaret, that isn’t particularly funny, and I notice nearly everyone has left for the backroom but me.  I’m encouraged to participate in the cabaret, but add little.

S.S. Pocks is friends with a lot of pretty Chinese girls, and one of them makes an abrupt offer for me to move in with her —  platonically, with like separate bedrooms — for $900 a month.  The landlord, who is her friend and also at the bar, is telling me that I can move in on the first of the month.

On my way home to my parents’ house, I often hop a fence, but this time the owners of the house abutting my old house are wagging fingers at me.  There are deer in the backyard of my parents’ house.  Also a wolf.  A baby deer keeps running up to me, which scares me because I’m afraid the mother will attack.  I see an old neighbour.  I want to wave, but the wolf is chewing at my hand in a playful and curious way I don’t like one bit.

I meet Christine, the pretty friend of S.S. Pocks, at her building.  She shows me what is called the Wellness Wing, which is really a health club of sorts. The landlord guy is demonstrating proper kettle bell techniques to a group of pretty young girls. I think he’s a cult-leader. Over by the treadmills, I overhear a whisper of dissent.  The guy who folds the towels is complaining  that the towels always have hair on them, because when the towels are collected, they all go in the same washing machine, and so the hair really has nowhere to go except onto the other towels.  His real beef is that there is no process that allows him to register this complaint in a way that will resolve it.

Some middle-aged women, lying on poolchairs by the pool, who have taken good care of themselves, are trying to give me some advice.  They are not fond of my negativity.  A guy in the vicinity tries to explain that everyone has negative thoughts, and that to repress one’s darker instincts is unhealthy.  But they are too deep in it to get back to where I am.

“All hail the prince of Set,” one of the women says, and I run from the place, crossing myself and desperately reciting the 23rd psalm.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to exist among people.

© 2012 Mike Sauve

Mike Sauve has written non-fiction for TheNationalPost, The Toronto International Film Festival Group, ExclaimMagazine and other publications.  His online fiction has appeared everywhere from Feathertale,Monkeybicycle,and McSweeneys to university journals of moderate renown.  Stories have also appeared in print in M-Brane, Criminal Class Review, Filling Station, and elsewhere.

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