I’ll tell ya a story I don’t think I’ve told before. If I have, I suppose as a passing glance, but I have meant to go back.
Not sure why, not a big secret, but it has to do with why I decided to go back with Tim that day in November 2010. After I left, I thought, him, there, them, all of it, by taxi in the misty dawn light, and the long, long bus ride from Owen Sound, stopping at every random hamlet and out in the middle of nowhere crossroads that came along, going home with my tail tucked between my legs, angry, sad, scared, confused, used, destitute, and so much totally done with Tim and all the lies and the things he took, and all the nasty no good shyte he pulled.
He’d buried himself in deep, like a tick. He trapped me with his kindness, for washing my mouldy dishes that had sat in the kitchen for… I do not honestly know how long.
I wrote lists on that long 5-hour bus ride, wrote words and words and more words, all the things he had done that I wanted to remember, so he couldn’t drag me back into his messed up lying all the time, cocaine highs and depressive entangled downs as he schemed us around whatever nonsense, or other he’d pulled, I needed to remind myself, to dig him out bit by bit.
Trapped in his lies, trapped in the hollow wind of his gas lighting me into thinking somehow, someway, this half delusional reality he, we, us, this land of never having to take responsibility for my actions Peter Pan land by the lake in the pretty little cottage surrounded by a lovely garden, it had to end.
He didn’t just trap me, he trapped himself. Years ago, and far away. Eventually I learned this part he tried to hide, his lies betrayed his vulnerability to the lies he lied about lying about.
And it had to end. Or maybe I would end. Or a part of me would end.
And end with a bang and a sore bum, not a whimper.
Which it did.
But, the end, well, it was not how either of us imagined it, but so it goes.
I tried to leave, I tried. I was ashamed. I was angry. I was betrayed. I was seething.
It hurts to be snagged off the street for something you didn’t know you did right downtown, like really small town Ontario downtown, people across the street at the only store, gaucking, just like back in Dodge, and by the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police).
See, my lil’Tim had had me write cheques to pay for groceries, and told me his dad was dropping cash in my account, so it was fine. And, I believed him. He said he had an inheritance, and he just called his dad, and he could deposit the cash.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. I learned. That was a lie. I learned from his dad. A lie. He lied. A lie about a lie about a lie.
He had no inheritance, his dad was giving him nothing, and somewhere in my brain I felt this fog lift.
I had never, ever in any way shape or form life have been in trouble with the police. I’m just not a risk taker, and risk when I take it, generally does not involve breaking the law. Consequence for me has been baked in since as far back as I could remember. Growing up in a village where everyone knows your name helps, with generations of your family upstanding citizens, I was not keen on that sort of notoriety.
Being a reserved introvert who cherishes solitude, it was horrifying.
Oh, but Tim liked his grand gestures, they hid his ordinariness he was so keen to disguise. He thrived on big gestures, and always being right, being best, being on, being cool, being the guy who always knows the score and rarely gets himself caught. He thought.
His superpower was making those around him believe his bullshyte in order to get what he wanted.
At some point I was what he wanted, or a means to an end. I admit, even now, I don’t really do not know which.
He dragged me along, I let him drag me, some of the way. Sure.
I was a be-raggled sad pub fixture in this village by a lake I found when I moved to Mississauga after mom died. Not escaping so much as going on an adventure so to mend my heart. A new direction, new experiences, but never intending I would stay forever, just for a change, a new beginning.
And, I was right, it did give me all those things.
Until I started to suffocate from all the people, everywhere, always, like living on the edge of an anthill. It was impossible to get away from people living anywhere in the Greater Toronto area, its fast and crammed and blawdy almost toppled me.
When Tim found me I had become a bit of pub rat, knowing everyone and everyone knew my name, what I drank and had my Guinness on the pour almost as I sat me bum down after work. And one more, and another, and that friend buys a shot, and they leave, and he comes in, and so on, and so forth, for months on end.
So many stories of that time, and I did love it, but it almost killed me.
In the end I was so lonely, and a real heartbroken pub wench.
I left after the arrest, which nothing came of, but I left right the next day and intended to never go back to his little cottage by a lake.
Why I did still kind of haunts me. Not spooky haunt, but something… else.
I was home, back in Dodge, and I’d been on the phone with my sister, after just getting off the phone with Tim, and I heard Gizmo. Gizmo I had taken up there when I’d escaped the big bad city. She was nineteen, sneaking up on twenty that next February, and blind as a bat.
Tim would never have hurt her, he was kind to animals. Always. But, I’d had Gizmo since she was just little, her and her brother Shoe, until Shoe died at 17, and then it was just her and I.
Maybe his death did it, really. I grieved for my Shoe Monster as one would a child, almost. He was my familiar, and I had never had a cat quite like him. He was special. I grieved, and grieved.
So, I couldn’t just leave her. I felt so horrible. I couldn’t move her again, that long drive would kill her.
So talking to my sister, and maybe it was my imagination, but as she was talking, saying I don’t know what, I heard Gizmo mew on the phone, and again, and just a little quieter. So I asked Lex if she could hear a cat, and she stopped mid-word and said… no. Why?
Well, there you go. That’s why I returned to Tim.
I told myself it was her calling me to return, to let her die in peace, at this lovely spot, this cottage by a lake.
So I did.
And winter came, and Christmas came and went, and the day she turned 20, she died, on Valentines.
But, by then I was imbedded again.
Tim started having symptoms of the Pancreatic Cancer late winter/early spring, I now know in hindsight. He had pain, abdominal pain, but they could not find out why, and it was in and out and in and out of the hospital, tests, more tests, MRI, Cat-Scan.
Wasn’t until that September that they finally found the tumour, hidden behind all his guts, poking just over, a specialist at University Hospital here in London, Dr. McAllister. He found it on a film they had taken in the Spring, as they’d sent his records down for him to have a look.
And, so, I stayed.
The doula of death, I guess this is when I began to see this pattern to my life, with one after the other, I bared witness, stood by. So, there it was again, rising from my self, ignoring what had been before, I just held his hand and walked with him, scared bird that he was. Once even joked about it, and said “well dear, you choose me well, eh? Plenty of experience with this part, the end is my superpower”. He didn’t like that one bit.
Oh, but we all knew his end was well-nigh, whispering its coming in his ear, and much as he could wiggle is wee arse out of all the other stunts, this one was not letting him escape. I could see it plain as day in his waxen pallor, in his gaunt cheeks, dark ringed eyes.
So, I sat with him, held him up, fed him, and loved him. Certainly. I did. He was difficult, he was sad, he raged raged against the dying of the light. But it did no good, and so I asked him, after hunting all day for some examples of styles, I asked him which haircut would look best on me, you know, for after he died. Yeah, he didn’t like that.
Peck on his head, and lay there beside him in bed, watching the evening news.
I still have the pictures, actually. When I am scrolling through my photo gallery, and come across them, they… make me think. But, I didn’t do it, couldn’t cut my hair.
I stayed right till the end, watched as he took his last fluttering breath, all of us watching him die, his dad and sister and I by his side.
I was free of him, and I cried, for him.
And, I don’t know, maybe that is how it had to be, he and I, till the bitter end. And I still don’t really know why.