Did I ever tell you about the time someone tried to drown me?
Man, that’s a crazy story. I should tell you about it some time.
Anyway, so I was changing my kid’s diaper the other day, and I realized…
Hehe. Just kidding. Here’s the story.
It all happened one day in the early spring of 2007. I was in Waterloo, Ontario, finishing my final semester at Wilfrid Laurier University. It was around this time that I had begun planning for my big move to Hamilton so that I could attend grad school at McMaster. It was an exciting time in my life. Too bad all the good times had to take a pause while I suffered through what turned out to be the worst day of my life.
One moment I was sleeping, and the next I found myself wrapped up in a wet sheet. This can’t be good, I thought to myself before I realized how bad it really was. I tried to breath, but got nothing but a mouthful of dirty water. I tried to pull the sheet off, only to realize my hands were tied together with nylon rope. I struggled to pull free, but the rope just dug deeper into the back of my hands and wrists. My legs were equally useless, as my ankles were also tied above my running shoes. Even as my brain started to process what was happening to me, I didn’t start freaking out until I felt myself sinking.
I started to panic. Then it really hit me. Oh my God, I thought. I am drowning and I am about to die. After a few more seconds of thrashing I started to settle down. I was exhausted and I didn’t want to fight anymore. The motion of the water washed the tension out of my muscles, and the world around me was getting darker. I would be at peace in my eternal sleep.
But then there was a flash. A spark in my mind that was clear as day. There was something I was missing. Something that I had waiting for me. Something I had to live for.
I had a Milky Way back at my apartment. I couldn’t let that go to waste.
I used all my remaining strength to push apart my hands, giving them enough room to slip out of the ropes that bound them. I managed to rip off the sheet that cocooned me, and dolphin-kicked my way to the water’s surface. The sun was bright and the wind was cold. I took three huge gasps of air, all the while continuing to tread water. Once I got my breathing under control, I swam towards the piece of land that appeared to be closest to me, my ankles still tied together. Once I made it to the deserted beach, I dragged myself through the sand and coughed up what felt like my lung. Once my chest relaxed I decided to give the rest of my body a break too, so I laid down on my stomach for a few moments. Afterwards, it took me a couple more minutes to pull the rope off my ankles. I studied the long piece of nylon, hoping it would give me some sort of clue as to how I ended up in the water. When I realized that it was of no use to me, I tossed it back towards the water. The rope didn’t make it far, as the wind picked up and pushed it back towards me. I let the length of rope sit in the sand a few yards away from where I sat. I then stood up and took a look around to see if I could figure out which body of water had almost taken my life.
That’s Silver Lake, I thought. I’m in Waterloo Park. What am I doing here?
I made my way through the park’s petting zoo and up a small grassy incline towards the street. I stood on the sidewalk, feeling a bit of a chill from the wind that was blowing through my soaking wet blue jeans and faded black t-shirt. I stood there for a moment, trying to process what had just happened to me. Did I really just almost drown? Did I really just pull myself out of a lake in the middle of a public park? Did that emu I walked past really laugh at me? And the most important question of all: What do I do now?
All that thinking made my brain hurt. It hurt a lot more when a dark blue Mercury Sable with a rusty driver side door and squeaky brakes pulled up in front of me.
Oh, what fresh hell is this now, I thought to myself as the driver rolled down his window. The face of the man looking up at me was clean shaven with a pointed chin and featured wrinkles around his mouth and eyes, making him look older.
“You look like you could use some help,” the stranger offered.
He also had pale blue eyes, which I found oddly comforting. But not so comforting that I wasn’t immediately a jerk to him. “What gave it away?” I mocked. “Was it the someone-just-tried-to-kill-me look in my eyes, or the fact I’m standing by the side of the road looking like I just crawled out of that lake over there? Which, by the way, I just did.”
The stranger responded in a much kinder fashion. “Um… The first one, I think. Why don’t you hop in and I’ll take you where you need to go?”
Now, my mother always told me to not get into cars with strangers, but I was scared, cold and didn’t know what else to do. So I nodded, walked around to the passenger side, opened the door, which happened to have no rust at all, and got in. My new friend started asking questions as soon as he pulled away from the curb. “Why are you all wet?”, he asked.
“I just told you,” I replied. “I pulled myself out of the lake.”
“You went swimming in the lake?” my clueless saviour asked. “I don’t think you’re supposed to do that in the park. And why would you go in with your clothes on?”
I was already getting frustrated with my new companion. “I wasn’t swimming. Someone threw me in there. They bound my hands and everything.”
Finally the light bulb went on in the driver’s head. “Wait, so someone really tried to kill you? That’s… messed up.”
“No duh,” I half-heartedly responded. Despite the fact that this person was trying to help me, I couldn’t find it in myself to be polite. But even in the face of my rudeness, the man who picked me up continued to show concern.
“What happened?” he asked. Given he actually seemed to care, I decided to fill him in on what I knew.
“I can’t remember,” I said. “I was at home studying for my film studies midterm by, you know, watching Van Wilder, and I got to the scene where Ryan Reynolds and his friends jerk his dog off, and the next thing I know I’m drowning with a sheet wrapped around me.” I pondered something for a moment before I spoke again. “You know, something just occurred to me.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that?” asked my companion.
I thought about it for another second before responding. “Maybe I’m a ghost.”
“What?” My new friend seemed to think that was a little ridiculous, so I laid out my arguments.
“Think about it,” I said. “I just managed to slip out of the rope that bound my hands, found my way out of a wet sheet, and then somehow managed to find the strength to swim to the surface of the lake with my feet tied together.”
“You’re a very lucky man,” the driver posited.
“That’s the thing,” I countered. “I’m not. What I just described is impossible. I don’t know how to slip out of knots, and I can barely swim.”
The person sitting next to me in the car could sense I was getting agitated, so he tried to reassure me. “Listen. What’s your name?” my new friend asked.
“Chris,” I answered.
“I don’t think you’re a ghost, Chris,” he said, but it was no use. I was in complete crazy mode.
“Well, maybe you’re a ghost and you’re supposed to help me transition into ghosthood!” I shouted more loudly than I should have.
At that moment, the driver reached over and slapped me across the face.
“Ow!” I screeched as I was brought back to Earth. “Why did you do that?”
“To put your mind at ease,” he said with a friendly smile. “If you were a ghost, could I have slapped you in the face?”
As much as I wanted to believe that I was living in a ghost world, my companion’s logic made sense. “No, I guess not,” I replied.
“Good then. So, where do you want to go?” he asked.
“Just take me home,” I told him. I just wanted to go to bed and pretend that this whole experience didn’t happen. “Head up here to the lights and hang a left. We’re not too far from it.” After giving my new friend directions to my place, I thought it would be a kind gesture to ask a little bit about him. “But enough about me. What’s your story? You always been a good Samaritan?”
“No, I wouldn’t say that,” he began. “But, you’re probably wondering why I’m wearing a tuxedo.” To be honest, I hadn’t noticed, but it seemed rude to say otherwise so I kept my mouth shut while he continued. “Well you see, I was actually supposed to get married today, but in the middle of the ceremony my bride-to-be decided that she ‘wasn’t feeling it’ and then she…”
It was around this point where I stopped paying attention to my new friend. I had more important things to think about than whatever his deal was. But that didn’t stop him from telling his story.
“…and then she told me that she never truly loved me and that she never really thought of me as a man…”
Why the hell did someone dump me in the lake, I thought to myself. Whoever did this must be crazy. There is no way I deserved this. I mean… I’m so damned loveable.
“…and then my mother told me that I was adopted…”
It was driving me insane. The Milky Way I had at home would have to wait. I had a mystery to solve, and I had a pretty good idea where to start.
“…and then I found a lump on my–”
“Hey, shut up for a second,” I interrupted. “Can you turn right up here?”
I seemed to catch my companion a little off guard. “Uh, yeah I guess. Why?”
This was important, so I made sure to lock eyes with the driver before I responded. It took a while because he had this crazy notion that he should look at the road instead of me. “Because I need to find the person who tried to kill me.”
The driver seemed a little confused. “Oh, well, I was just going to drive you home, but if you want me to help I guess I can tag along for a while. Where are we going?”
Again, I made sure to lock eyes with my new friend, which didn’t take as long this time around. “To confront my worst enemy. Obviously.”
“Oh sure, of course,” he responded, clearly understanding what I was talking about. “My name is Rod, by the way,” I think he said. I was too focused on my new goal to really care.
I was going to find the person who tried to kill me. I was going to find out why they tried to kill me. I was going to have my revenge.
And then I was going to have my Milky Way.
To be continued.