The beast is chained in my father's, now my, basement. The basement hasn't changed much since I was a child, still unfinished with concrete floors and exposed  pipes. The soundproofing along the ceiling, that is new, mind. As are the chains.

The beast, with its skin that tastes of sour milk, should disgust me. Repulse me. Not excite me.

As I kneel before it, its hands on my shoulders, I pray that this is not the reason my father had it chained up here.


Say yes

There aren't many rules to improv. However, when someone asks you something or alludes to a reality in the scene, saying no will stop the narrative dead.

Do you want to go get married on the moon?



Are those tickets to Vegas in your hand?


Where do you go from there? Who knows? The scene has died. Even if you go somewhere else, the scene has lost momentum. The rule is, therefore, say yes. When you say yes, you might not know where things are going, but you do at least know they are going somewhere.

Those learning improv might even play a little game to learn the rule. It's a game for two and one of the players must always say yes. The trick for the other person is to ask questions such that a narrative is formed and, for comedy, ask questions that they really don't want to say yes to.

Do you think we're going to die here?


Does that scare you?


Would you like me to hold you?



Hmmm... that might be a bit dangerous in this situation, should I maybe just give you a kiss instead?




It's freezing cold today. I know this because I just got home from the gym. I'm hungry. Covered in sweat. I stink. Checking my phone, I notice a text from someone I'd spoken to online but never met in person. She asks if I want to go to a noisy bar with her and watch the hockey game that starts in an hour.


Nothing there

Reaching into your pocket as you board the bus is not the time when you want to notice that there's nothing there. That your bus pass and that five dollars you had with you, just in case, are gone.

You feel like an asshole, of course, because your first thought is that one of the people at the shelter you were volunteering at was responsible. Because they are all thieves, aren't they, you miserable bigot, you tell yourself.

Later, you'll wonder if it really was prejudice or not. After all, other than the five minute walk to and from the bus, your entire day was spent with them. Who else could it have been?

If this were some poorly written after school special, I'd tell you that the saddest part is the trust I had placed in them was broken. That I wouldn't be able to look at the shelter the same way again. But that isn't it. That isn't the saddest part. The saddest part is that someone stole thirty dollars from me, the five dollar bill and the cost to replace the bus pass, but they only got five. The bus pass is non-transferable.


We walked together down the path

When I was too young to know that smoking was dangerous, condoms existed, and guns killed people, my father and I were walking through the woods. We were on a camping trip, and, as was his custom when camping, he had some chewing tobacco tucked into his cheek, spitting every now and then onto the path we walked.

He called chewing tobacco chaw, and on this particular walk, I asked him if I could have some. If I could try some chaw. He said to me, he said sure, he said, just don't swallow it. And he gave me a couple of sticky leaves from the pouch. I wanted more, but I didn't ask, figuring I could always sneak more later if I wanted.

I put it in my mouth and started to chew. My father, he says, "don't chew, just stuff it into your cheek and let it sit there. Just keep it there and spit the saliva out every once in a while. Do not swallow the saliva."

Prior to this, all I knew about chewing tobacco I learnt from Big League Chew chewing gum. Grape flavoured gum that came in a pouch that looked like a chewing tobacco pouch and had an image of a baseball player on it.

We walked together down the path, the two of us spitting every now and again, and the headache formed. The dizziness started. And when we walked out from under the forest canopy into the sunlight, the sweat streamed from my scalp and I threw up the eggs I had had for breakfast that morning.

I did not sneak any chaw later.



When I dropped my third class to put me at two, I also switched my Wednesday schedule to Thursday. Same class. Same teacher. Same time slot. Just spacing out my week to maximize my time between courses.

Walking in from the east hall, I see, coming from the west hall, Audray.

How odd. She only has classes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Why is she here today?

She informs me that she only has classes on Wednesday and Thursday.

"Do we sit next to each other?"

"I think it would be weird if we didn't."