“I saw him a few weeks ago,” I said to my friend, Sam. “We went for a stroll in my neighborhood. He talked about hitting Italy with Susan this summer. He’d been brushing up on his Italian. And he looked good. Then I talked to him a week later and he sounded bizarre.”
“You said that before—I still don’t know exactly what you mean.”
“He sounded strange, Sam, not himself—talking some weird shit about people watching him, staking out his house.”
We approached a rest station near Coburg next to a Honda dealership with a red inflatable tube man flailing away like an hysteric. Sam pulled off the highway. “Damn prostate,” he said. “Can’t go an hour without a whiz.” We parked in the lot beside a black vintage Cadillac with a barking white dog in the backseat that gave me a start. The dog had terrible bloodshot eyes. I accompanied Sam into the beige brick edifice that featured several fast food kiosks as well as latrines. “I still can’t believe it,” Sam said. “He was always the adult among us, you know.”
“Thought I was the hothead.”
“Dude. Look at my dash.”
Cracks spiderwebbed the glass covering Sam’s speedometer. “We all have our moments,” I said. “You mentioned meds.”
“His son Daniel told my wife that he suspected Michael had stopped taking his bipolar medication about a month ago. Go figure.”
Despite knowing Michael since university, he’d never mentioned being bipolar. It explained his occasional moodiness, but who isn’t moody now and then? Sam changed lanes and accelerated past a slow-moving transport truck hauling pigs. I tried not to look; it disturbed me.
We entered the washrooms, stood at the reeking urinals, and relieved ourselves. The first time I met Michael, I found him overbearing. But he was smart and funny and grew on me. Above my urinal, someone had drawn a knobby cock-and-balls with a black Sharpie. Beside it was written a telephone number. The picture Michael had painted of marital harmony belied the truth. “You and Donna saw them more than I did after my divorce. Were they fighting?”
“On the contrary, they were all smiles and hugs. Everything was cool.” He glanced at me. “Donna’s spooked, man. You know, she made me sleep on the couch the other night.”
I shook off. “This is so fucked up.”
We grabbed coffees at the Starbucks kiosk—manned by a guy with face tattoos—and returned to the car. The dog in the black Cadillac raged when he saw us. Fucker put my nerves on edge.
“What are you going to say to Michael?” Sam asked.
I shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
Sam didn’t start the car immediately. We sat in silence for a long moment, a silence heavy with dread. How fucked up were things? We were headed to Quinty Detention, a couple of hours away from Toronto. Our good friend Michael was there, awaiting trial for murdering his wife, Susan. Yeah, exactly.
Salvatore Difalco lives in Toronto Canada. Recent work appears in Brilliant Flash Fiction, Right Hand Pointing, and Cafe Irreal.
Photo – Salvatore Difalco
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