The following story is part of a new feature, the serialization of our columnist Wayne Weedon’s fictional work, Vectors. Wayne is a brilliant writer whose style consists of simple declarative statements that stick in your mind as he leads you through an intricate web of circumstances to reach the lesson he set out to teach.
Chapter 5: The Runaway
When I offered my body to Mr. Graham, I was shocked at how he turned on me, accusing me of using sympathy as a way of getting what I wanted, and telling me sympathy is selfish arrogance in disguise. He told me, sympathy, is giving a man a fish, while empathy is teaching a man how to fish; sympathy is coddling me because I’m unable to do maths, empathy is showing me how I can learn to do maths. Well, he did prove that point, I’ll grant him that.
Mr. Graham compared me to a child whose diet consists of nothing but candy and sweets, telling me, all I want is fun and games, stating, love to me is nothing but lust. A true loving relationship, he says, is a co-operative arrangement based on mutual interests, desires, and goals; two people working together to accomplish agreed upon objectives. He mentioned Tempest Tost, where Hector and Roger got what they asked for in life by planning and using common sense. However, because each had been selfish, with no concern for others, neither one ever got any satisfaction, despite reaching their goals.
The sound of Mr. Graham leaving the apartment startled me back to reality. This would give me a chance to go for a walk so I could gather my thoughts. I put on my coat and followed him out the door. When I stepped on to the street, I could see him walking away. I went in the opposite direction.
As I trudged along, I could feel myself calming down. I realised I would have to go back to the apartment, but, I decided, I would wait until after Mr. Graham went to bed before sneaking back in. I came to a familiar greenspace tucked into a corner by the theatre school. I sat on the one bench, where, in warm weather, I had sometimes gone to read. Maurice, an older man who tends to the garden, would sometimes strike up a conversation with me.
Large flakes of snow began to fall. Trying to keep warm, I pulled my legs up onto the bench. Tears began rolling down my cheeks as I fretted over my situation. It would be a few hours before Mr. Graham went to sleep. Despite crying and shivering in the cold, I fell asleep.
“Wake up, wake up, you can’t stay here.” Someone was nudging me. I opened my eyes to see Maurice. He smiled as he spoke, “Come now. This is no place for you to sit by yourself. Druggies come in here sometimes.”
I felt cold and as stiff as a board as I tried to stand. My legs seemed to be dead. Maurice took off his overcoat and wrapped it around me as he asked, “You want I should walk you home?”
I didn’t answer as he took hold and supported me as I awkwardly tried to get my circulation back. “Where do you live? I’ll see you get home safely.”
I mumbled, “Saint Mathews, just off Beverley, in that brownish brick apartment.”
By the time we came up to Mr. Graham’s apartment, my muscles had loosened up, Maurice, however, continued to support me as he asked, “My friend, Leigh Graham, lives here, do you know him?”
As I put my hand in my pocket, I realised I had left in such a huff, I had forgotten my key.
I looked up at Maurice, “I forgot my key. I’ll need to wake up your friend, I live with him.”
Maurice put his hand out and pressed the button for Mr. Graham’s apartment. As we heard the lock click, Maurice pulled the door open for me. I turned to Maurice, “I’ll be okay from here. Thank-you.”
Maurice didn’t seem to hear me, he continued to support me. I looked up to see Mr. Graham standing in the hallway. He called out, “Maurice, my friend. What have you got there?”
I have never felt so ashamed and embarrassed in my whole life. I jerked myself free and silently slipped behind Mr. Graham and into the washroom. The mirror revealed what a state I was in. My face was streaked with dirt and dried tears. My eyes were red and swollen and my hair was a rat’s nest. I hung my head in shame while the tears fell uncontrollably. Eventually, I washed up as well as I could in the small sink and went straight into the bedroom. As soon I was in bed, I fell fast asleep. How long the two men stayed up and talked in the kitchen, I do not know.
I had a very poor sleep, and by the time morning came, I had made up my mind, I had no choice but to move out as quickly as possible. If I could have thought of some place to go, I would not have had breakfast. I avoided even looking at him while I ate. He, however, would not leave well enough alone. He insisted on discussing what he called “the elephant in the room”. He began by telling me everything in life has a price and if we had had sex, we would both have to pay the price. He then brought up this Robertson Davies fellow by telling me this guy stated, a good marriage is not a fairy-tale relationship where people are blinded by romance. Marriage should be a rational decision and not taken lightly. Mr. Graham stressed how sex is an animal impulse to assure procreation. When we have sex, our bodies produce dopamine, which provides us with pleasure and a sense of well-being.
Not content with needling me throughout breakfast, after I got dressed, Mr. Graham continued with his lecture. Children, he claimed, do what their bodies ask; they eat when they feel like it, sleep when they feel like it, play when they feel like it, and they also learn to manipulate other people to give them what they want. He said most people never reach a point where they stop doing what they want, and start doing what is good for them, and good for others. He carried on by stating, people are trained, every time they walk by a candy dish, they must take a piece of candy. He told me sex, to me, was just taking candy whenever it happened to come by. Growing up consists of controlling one’s bodily desires. If we don’t learn this, we end up being very fat, unhealthy, and unhappy.
I tried not to listen. I had made up my mind. I was going to move out and I wished he would just shut up.
(Continued next month: Chapter 6, Family Revisited)