This one was just published in Descant (148, Vol 41, No 1, Spring 2010)—“The Search for Happiness” issue—in Toronto. It was also published in Best Canadian Stories last fall. Here are the opening lines. I am pretty sure several of you have heard me read from this.
I went to the hospital to visit my neighbour Geills after her suicide attempt. She explained that she had used a generic brand of garbage bag which tore inconveniently along a seam and that she had been in love with me since we met in the alley behind our houses the night the dog barked. I remembered that night for its knot of misunderstandings and embarrassments. Susan, my wife, had been asleep in the bedroom. I was working late on my dissertation in the kitchen nook, still wearing my teaching uniform, tie and a cardigan with leather patches on the elbows, my glasses smeared with powdered sugar from the donuts I habitually ate when I was working. She misinterpreted the sugar traces as evidence of a drug habit which intrigued her. She also thought my late night tie-wearing was symptomatic of a deep fetish attachment, perhaps an interesting S&M thing, she said later. For my part, when I realized it was her dog we were searching for, I began to berate her for disturbing her neighbours in the middle of the night. She began to weep, twisting her chubby little hands in the lap of her t-shirt nightie, dragging it off her shoulder and revealing the butterfly tattoo which alarmed me with its suggestiveness. In the silence that followed, we both heard the dog again, now baying woefully a block or two away.
Buy the magazine–read the rest.
I love this opening…and I’m thinking about it in terms of what you said about my most recent packet (ie. the shredding, part 5!) I think I’m beginning to understand. Now if I can just convince my brain, ears, fingers and computer to respond.
Great opening lines! I think my subscription to Descant may have expired, but I’ll buy a copy from the magazine store down the street. Looking forward to reading it!