Page 68 - June 2021 Litterateur
P. 68

Burning Hunger

                   “What the Leafs need,” the oldest one says with a sense of authority, “is a power forward with some
                   “What they need,” says the younger one, eager to prove himself right, “is a number one defenseman
                  not on the downside.”
                   Andrew has waited as long as he could, but now it is time to say his piece. “What they need is, a goalie
                  who can make a save in the shootout.”Then, to make sure the argument was won, “Three more beers
                  and three shots please!”
                   “Yes sir.”
                   “You are the man, Andrew!”
                   “You are the king,” an unfortunate play on words which nearly halted the banter.
                   “Actually, I prefer to think of myself as a king among men,” was Andrew’s retort, met by garrulous yet
                  mirthless laughter.
                   It is so much easier, though much less meaningful, when the names of “the boys” change every
                  week.No expectations, no promises of future fealty or companionship required, no one has to

                  remember anyone’s birthday.
                   Everyone can be themselves, as long as they are not truly themselves. A composite of the perception
                  of who the other two might really be, the image of the guy at the office you all want to be, your funny
                  younger brother, and the hero of your former high school’s football team. You can have the best hours
                  of your week like this, and you can reliably have them every week. You can even almost let your guard
                   Until it is time to go back to the burning hunger.


                   Andrew leaves The Rex when the band comes on, his burning hunger numbed if not sated by the
                  alcohol and the company. He would have liked to listen to some jazz, just to hear something different,
                  but he knew if he stayed at the bar for another hour or two, he would never make it to work the next

                   He realizes he forgot to go to the washroom before leaving as soon as he steps into an icy
                  puddle.However, he wants to make sure he gets the eastbound streetcar for the long ride home, and
                  knows he would never catch the next one if he went back inside.

                   The streetcar is packed, although past rush hour, and Andrew stands in a crowd of excited couples,
                  their evening just begun. At University, many get off, bumping Andrew’s elbow or kicking his leg
                  without apology.They are replaced by young families going home from who knows where, although
                  apparently the same place.These are louder and more excited and even less concerned about Andrew’s
                  personal space than the previous crowd.
                   Andrew feels, even thinks, these people have planned to make him miserable, or at least remind him of
                  his loneliness, a sadness which turns his burning hunger into even more inaction, more self-pity.
                  By Yonge Street the car is half empty, so Andrew sits down, leans his head against the
                  window.Through Riverdale, through Leslieville, he looks at everyone and everything which passes by,
                  but sees nothing.He dozes off near Coxwell, for a few moments of the peace he rarely experiences
                  during the night.
                   He sees and is part of a light so bright, so warm, he feels nurtured and loved, forgets his selfish self-
                  hating bitterness, embraces the unknown blessings which are to come.

                   “Next stop, Neville Park Boulevard,” announces the falsely soothing automated voice.
                   “Last stop, sunshine,” admonishes the street car driver. “Wakey-wakey.”
                   “S-sorry,” Andrew gets himself together.
                   “Are you okay, buddy?”
                   “Well, I’m home.”
                                                                                       Pat Connors, Canada

                   Litterateur                                                                                            68

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