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Archive for April, 2010

The following Thursday, I stayed at the apartment. When I woke up, it was ten o’clock in the morning, and Brian was already at work. I don’t normally get up that late. I usually get up two to three hours earlier. But I had spent much of the night before talking on the phone with Mykhaylo. I hadn’t seen him since our first date, but I could still taste his kiss. No one had kissed me like that since Evan, and it gave me a warm feeling inside.

I spent the next few hours taking care of some essentials. As my clothes were spinning around in the washer, I fixed up a quick lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, along with a YooHoo. Britney had her usual President’s Choice Nutrition First Chicken and Brown Rice. By the time I had finished folding my clothes and putting them away, I was bored again. So, I did something that I had not done since moving in:

I went into Brian’s bedroom. To be more specific, it was Brian’s bedroom/office. And it was a right mess. Papers were all over the carpet; books were piled on top of each other. Stacks and stacks… Roman columns of messiness. It looked like the room had not been cleaned in the slightest in a long time.

I’m not a neat freak, but I try to keep my surroundings as clean as possible. There are days when I’m a bit lax, but I do try to keep it together. It amazes me that professors expect a lot of professionalism from their charges, yet can’t seem to employ that expectation in their offices.

So, I went to work. I collected every single piece of paper on the floor, and rather than trash them, I sorted them by date and put them in a crisp, neat pile. I vacuumed, dusted, and sprayed so much Febreze all over the place, it smelled like a rain forest. I put the books back on the shelves and tidied various bits and bobs all over the room. It looked livable within an hour.

I sat down on his bed and looked around. I was happy with the job that I had done, but something didn’t sit well with me. I liked Brian, and was grateful for him taking me in, but… I didn’t really know him. I didn’t know who he was as a person. Schedules notwithstanding, we were strangers. The only times that we interacted the most was during dinner. And even then, our conversation would be limited to the food we were eating. And even then, what came out of his lips was mostly academic in flavour. After dinner, he would slip into his office and finish work, and barely come out for the rest of the night.

I knew that, as a professor, Brian had a lot of work to do. But I wondered, what happened to the guy who comforted me all those weeks ago back at the shelter? Did his compassionate, tender side come out only during the holidays? Did he even have any dimension to begin with? I wasn’t looking to be coddled, but I wanted something more passionate. And by that, I didn’t want to fuck him. Brian is an attractive guy, but I didn’t want to take advantage of his good nature.

Brian came home around 6 PM. I was napping on the couch, and his entry woke me up. A few minutes later: “Graziano?”

I got up from the couch as Brian walked out from his room. “Brian!”

“You organized my office?” he asked.

“I’m sorry.” I was really nervous at that moment.

“No, no… it’s okay. I’m quite impressed. I can never get this shit down.” I felt relieved.

“I just got bored. I didn’t feel like going out today.”

Brian pointed to a white paper bag on the counter. “I brought some take-out.”

“Alright. I’m going to feed Britney first.”

“Okay. Graziano?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.”

“Anytime.”

I went to feed Britney her dinner. Ten minutes later, Brian and I sat down to our own: a fried chicken combo with fries and coleslaw from The Stockyards. It was a quiet dinner between us. We didn’t say anything. I liked the chicken, though. And then, after tasting the coleslaw, I simply said, “Brian, I have a question.”

“Shoot,” he replied.

“Who ARE you?”

This took him quite by surprise. “Um… I am an English teacher at the University of Toronto. What kind of question is that?”

That was not the answer that I had been looking for. “I probably should have re-phrased that better. What I mean is… I’ve been thinking. You’ve been privy to plenty of my drama. You know about the shit I went through. But I don’t know a damn thing about you. Even when I was in your class, you never let me or any of the other students in on what makes you tick.”

“What did you expect me to do?”

I was abhorred. I had asked Brian a question, and he responded extremely defensively.

“Fine. I just wanted to know who you were. Screw this; I’m not hungry. I’m going to lie down.”

I got up and stormed to my room. That was the first time I had ever left food on my plate.

An hour had passed before Brian made contact with me again. I was on my bed, holding a pillow against me and staring at the evening sky through my window. Brian sat tentatively by the edge of my bed.

“Graziano? Are you okay?” he asked.

I sat up. “Sort of.”

“I’m sorry for being so bitchy with you.”

I nodded. “Apology accepted.”

“You’re right. I haven’t been as forthcoming with myself as you have. ”

“Okay. What’s the reason?”

Brian got up and paced around the room for a few moments. He looked nervous. “This is going to come as a shock to you, but… I’ve never told this to anyone since I was 18. The truth is, you and I share a lot more than you think.”

“How much?” I could tell something was up. Brian then sat firmly down on my bed, and we were face to face with each other. Brian’s nervousness soon shot up, and he took a few heavy breaths in. A minute later, he began:

“I was born and raised in Regina. I loved living there; it was safe to roam about, a great sense of community, it was paradise… but home was hell. My father was a cop, and my mother was a secretary for our church. My father drank and beat the shit out of everyone. My mother screwed everything and anything that moved.”

“What church?”

“Lutheran. I had an older brother and younger sister. He still lives in Regina, but my sister is somewhere in Nova Scotia. My parents treated them like royalty. They wanted for nothing. And I got shit.”

“Did you get beat up?”

“Every day. There were times that I didn’t come home after school. I would hide out in various places; the library, the park, the movies. When I did come home, my parents would almost immediately beat the shit out of me.”

“Did you have anyone?” This was beginning to scare me.

“That’s where you and me differ. You at least had your grandparents on your side. I never knew mine. They died before I was born. And forget cousins or uncles or aunts… they all hated me.”

I didn’t know what to think at that point, other than that this was not easy for Brian to say. And it wasn’t easy for me to hear.

“How did you escape?” I asked.

Brian breathed in and out. “On my 18th birthday, my father beat me up. I didn’t even get a birthday cake or a party. That night, I… I took all the money that I had saved up at that point. It was $750.32. I packed everything that I owned in two large suitcases. As my parents slept, I sneaked out the front door, got into my car, and… I never saw them again. I just headed onto the Trans Canada Highway and drove. I had no idea where I was going. By the time I finally stopped, I was in St. John’s. I found myself at Cape Spear, scared, crying, and so close to just jumping into the ocean.”

Brian got up and walked to the window. “My car broke down that day,” he continued. “I could not replace it. The cold had warped it something awful. Even with the money that I had, I couldn’t pay to have it fixed. And I didn’t know anyone in all of Atlantic Canada. So, I took the next ferry out from Argentia and I landed in North Sydney. I hitchhiked, took buses, and walked long distances until I ended up in Quebec City. From there, I stowed away on a train and ended up here in Toronto.”

He sat back down, shaking his head. “I didn’t know a soul here. For the next six months, I slept in abandoned buildings, in subway tunnels, and even in parks. I didn’t want to check myself into a shelter, or for that matter live with anyone else, because I was scared of anyone trying to get in touch with me. One day, some cops found me along the Don River, crying. One thing led to another, and I was in a shelter. I met some wonderful people there, and slowly but surely, they helped me rebuild my life.”

I moved closer to him. “Have you spoken to your family?” I asked.

“Not in years,” he said. “I was so determined to make a brand new start that I practically erased those memories from my memory. I just concentrated on my future. I went to college, graduated, and now, almost twenty years later, I’m a professor. I even won the lottery a few years back.”

“What?” I exclaimed.

Brian smiled. “How else do you think I could afford this apartment?” he asked.

I nodded in agreement. “How much?”

“Let’s just say that had I not won, I would be living in a cramped apartment. Educators don’t make that much, you know.”

He took my hand. It was a gentle grip. “I’m sorry that I haven’t been as forthcoming as I should. I’m also sorry that I don’t spend as much time with you as you like. I want you to know that I love having you here. You’re one of the most amazing people that I’ve met in my entire life. ”

I gave him a smile, and hugged him. He hugged back and kissed me on the cheek. I liked that kiss.

“I still have your papers,” Brian said. “You want to have a look at them?”

“Sure.”

We then spent the next two hours eating what was left of the fried chicken combo, and looking over the old papers that I had submitted to him years earlier. Poems, short stories, critiques of other people’s short stories and poems… it was great to go down memory lane with Brian. And even when he retired for the night to catch up on some work, I was not annoyed at all. I felt that we had a major breakthrough that night.

And he had told me that he won $20 million in the Lotto 6/49 five years ago. The money was impressive enough, but what impressed me more is that he still kept his job at the University of Toronto and his relatively paltry salary.

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Hey, readers. This is a quick update on what I have been doing:

I recently took a part-time job as a pub trivia question writer. You’ve probably been to pubs, and they have trivia nights wherein you answer fun questions about, well, anything, and you get prizes and shit. Add alcohol and you have a grand night out. Well, chances are that, in the not-too-distant future, that you will attend a trivia night at your local watering hole, and if the event is sponsored by Brainstormer, a few of the questions will have come from yours truly.

The pay is $1 a question, and I have submitted 130 so far. It’s not a lucrative gig, but it should put a few dollars in my wallet. And in this economy, that’s saying something.

I’m also working on poetry. I’ve been writing poems for over five years now, and I plan on creating a website where my bad poetry will be on display for the world to see. Expect to see that by the end of this year.

And as for this blog novel? I created a fan page on Facebook. Check it out if you have the time. And I am working on the next few chapters, so have some patience.

That’s all for now. 🙂

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It was Monday afternoon. I was on my way to GoodLife Fitness, and I had just stopped at Yonge Dundas Square. My laces had come undone, and I stopped to tie them back up again.

“Graziano?” I heard a voice call out to me. It had a light, Portuguese accent. I didn’t recognize the voice. And then I saw someone from the pages of Victoria’s Secret scamper up to me: the same height as I am (just under 6 feet), a perfect hourglass figure, and lots of bouncy, chestnut-brown hair.

“Do I know you?” I asked her.

“We’ve never met, but I know you.” She was wearing a khaki coat, and looked rather uncomfortable in it.

“How?”

“Your father is Joseph Buonfiglio, right?”

“Yeah…” I had a strange feeling about this conversation.

“My name is Aparecida Vasconcelhos… I’m your father’s girlfriend.”

My feet were pointing in the opposite direction, but I couldn’t move.

“What do you want from me?” I asked.

“I’d like to talk to you.”

“Well, I don’t.”

“At least listen, because this is really important.”

I looked around Yonge-Dundas Square. As usual, there were a lot of people, and there was still a lot of space. But I didn’t feel comfortable in this situation.

“I have a show to do in an hour. Perhaps we could talk there?”

What show?

Aparecida, a woman who I had never met in my life, escorted me to… Brass Rail Tavern, a strip club. I had never even been in a strip club (heterosexual or otherwise) in my life. That’s not exactly my scene. Actually, she didn’t escort me. She whisked me.

Before I knew it, I was in her dressing room. She was the only one there. In her dressing room were plenty of bikinis, glitter, wigs, extensions, stiletto shoes with five-inch heels that no one, not even a stripper, should ever wear lest they wind up in the hospital.

“Coke?” she offered.

“Diet, if you have it,” I asked, still unsure of what I had gotten myself into.

Aparecida opened a mini-fridge and tossed me a cold can of Diet Coke, and then she took off her coat. She was wearing her work clothes underneath: a thong bikini, pasties, and nothing else.

I sipped the pop, and looked at the door. There were several names on it: Melanie Globes, Dusty Diamonds, Temptation Island (what a ridiculous name), and Honeysuckle Proxy. I knew that Aparecida wouldn’t dare use her given name as a professional one, so I asked, “Which one are you?”

“Pardon?” She was looking through her shoe collection.

“Melanie, Dusty, Temptation, Honeysuckle…”

“Melanie Globes. That’s my stage name.”

Well, that cleared that up. Melanie produced a set of black stiletto pumps that just screamed “WHORE”, and slid them on. “What do you think?”

“Aparecida, you didn’t drag me here to be your Queer Eye for the Straight Gal, did you?”

“Well, you’re gay, right?”

“Yeah, but not all gay men know about women’s fashions. Though… I don’t know why they make shoes like that. You’re already tall. You could be stomping the catwalks of Milan right now. Why are you stripping?”

“Do you have a problem with it?”

“No, but still…”

Aparecida sat down in front of her mirror. “You know, you could be a stripper too. Have you heard of Remington’s?”

I nodded. I had never stepped foot in that place, though.

“I know a few people there. I could put in a good word for you. You have a fantastic body. You could make a lot of money.”

I had never considered a job in the sex industry before. I didn’t mind that Mykhaylo had done porn in Hungary, but I never saw myself even as a model.

“Okay,” I said. “What about my father?”

Aparecida sighed. “I’ve been dating him for the past six months. We met on the main stage.”

“What do you see in him?”

“He pays well.”

I rolled my eyes. “He’s a lawyer. He’s supposed to pay well.”

“Well, it’s not like we have sex or anything.”

This surprised me. “You haven’t slept with my dad?”

She shook her head, and began applying makeup. “Company policy. They can wine and dine me all they want, but I don’t put out. The most that we’ve ever done is just groping each other in his car.”

“So… basically my father is having an emotional affair with you.”

“You could say that.”

“And this doesn’t bother you?”

Aparecida applied some balm to her lips, and then put on a coat of lipstick.

“You know, they make lipstick with balm in it,” I said.

“I can’t afford that shit. Besides, I’m not the only person that your father has been banging… right now, anyway.”

“What?” I was shocked.

“You didn’t hear this from me, but your father currently has 10 lovers. All of them in the upper crust of society. I’m loath to name names, but basically they’re married to some of the most powerful men in Canada.”

I shook my head in disgust. I’m a very sexual person, and I would never cheat on my partner. I was faithful to Ryan the whole time we were together.

“But that’s not really why I brought you here,” Aparecida said, smacking her lips.

“I’ve been waiting for a few minutes.”

Aparecida sighed. “I went over to your parents’ house a few nights ago. They weren’t there, though. Anyway, I walked around… and it disturbed me.”

“How?”

She produced a set of photos from her dresser drawer. “Have a look.”

I took the photos and leafed through them carefully. In one photo, my bedroom had been converted into not a mere guest room, but a veritable palace of fucking. There was red velvet and candles and a whole bunch of romantic shit all over. Not one scrap of my existence was present.

In another photo, there were bottles of wine strewn all over the kitchen counter. No surprise there. And then, a series of photos… of photos with me either cut out of the picture or completely obliterated. They had virtually purged the house of anything and everything that had anything to do with me.

“I’m sorry, Graziano,” Aparecida said.

I placed the photos back on the dresser and let out a “GODDAMNIT!” At that moment, a black security guard appeared in the doorway. He had been nearby all the time.

“Joey, it’s okay,” Aparecida assured him.

“All right. You have five minutes,” he said.

I sat back in my chair and tried to calm down. “By the by, what do you do when you’re not stripping?”

“I used to be a model back in Brazil,” Aparecida said. “I was on the path to becoming the next Gisele Bundchen. But then my parents died. I put on weight. My agency fired me. So, on my 18th birthday, I took everything I had and moved to Toronto. I’m a medical student at George Brown College. I’m basically stripping to keep a few bucks under my belt.”

“Do you like stripping?”

She nodded. “It’s not the most glamorous thing in the world, but I have a sense of empowerment. Plus, I’ve lost a lot of weight pole-dancing.”

I stood up from my chair, ready to go. “I have to go work-out.”

“Graziano,” Aparecida said, standing up. “I just want you to know that you’re a wonderful guy. I am so sorry that your family put you through that shit all these years.”

I nodded in agreement. “Thanks.”

“Joey will see you out.”

She extended her hand, and I shook it. After that, I left the dressing room and Joey escorted me to the back door.

“Make sure nothing bad happens to her, Joey,” I said.

“Sure thing,” he replied.

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