Ottawa Comiccon 2015 – Day Three!

It’s finally here! The thrilling conclusion to my adventure at Ottawa Comiccon 2015! Okay, maybe it wasn’t that thrilling, but it sure was fun.

Since it was Mother’s Day, before heading to the convention I decided to make pancakes for my wonderful wife, Sarah. I don’t want to brag, but they were pretty delicious.

Anywho, fairly early in the day I ran into another of my favourite cosplayers, Becky McKercher, who was dressed as Princess Bubblegum. She was accompanied by her friend Katie. Here is a picture of all of us together.

What are your intentions with those rubber gloves, Princess Bubblegum?

What are your intentions with those rubber gloves, Princess Bubblegum?

I don’t know Katie, but I think I have now been in two pictures with her at Ottawa Comiccon, which pretty much makes us best friends.

Later on, I ran into my friend Sarah again, who this time was dressed as John Constantine. Here’s a picture of her and I chillin’ like villains… or maybe, more accurately, anti-heroes.

IMG_3975

Right after this picture was taken I dropped my wife’s camera on the ground. The lens wouldn’t retract back into the camera, and I was pretty sure I broke it. But when I got home my wife was able to fix it (because, as I have said many times before on this Blog, she’s the greatest). Disaster averted!

It was on the third day of the con that I saw what may be my favourite cosplay of all time. Two parents were dressed as Lara-El and Jor-El and they dressed their baby up as Superman. Being a parent myself, I now have a newfound appreciation for parents dressing their kids up in costumes.

In terms of activities, I spent most of the day bouncing around from panel to panel. I sat in on a session where comic creators Bob Layton (Iron Man, Hercules), Mike McKone (Exiles, Fantastic Four) and Ian Churchill (Marineman, Cable) talked about some of the more controversial things that have come up in comics lately, like the Rafael Albuquerque Batgirl cover, and the Milo Manara Spider Woman cover. Their views were pretty much the same as mine: Artists should be able to create whatever they want to, but it’s up to editors to make sure that only appropriate things get put on the shelves. It doesn’t seem too complicated to me. Bob Layton went off about all the things he doesn’t like. Believe me when I tell you that it isn’t a short list.

I finished my con experience by partaking in two panels in a row. The first was a panel on writing female characters in horror. In my writing thus far, I have made a conscious effort to give my female characters (what few there are) a little depth, but I thought it would help to learn from someone who knows what they’re talking about. As a quick aside, it was in line for this session where I had the “pleasure” of speaking briefly with a guy who said he didn’t qualify for the VIP pass for the con because he showered on a regular basis. Thanks for believing in the stereotype, douche. But in his defense, it did get pretty ripe under tent when people were lining up to see celebrity Q&As. Anyway, the session on writing female characters was pretty good. It taught me to be a little more cognizant of some of the tropes that often befall female characters. And as an added bonus, I got a cheat sheet so I didn’t have to memorize everything!

The second, and final, panel I attended was about misrepresentations of minority groups in geek media. While I really wanted to learn something about groups of people I know almost nothing about, I had a difficult time understanding what the panelists were talking about. I don’t know if it’s because I was exhausted or because you needed a pre-existing knowledge in order to understand what was being discussed, but I found myself getting lost a lot of the time. In the future, I think it would be useful to explain things a little more to those of us who know very little about this sort of thing so that we can fully appreciate the topics at hand. That said, it was still very interesting.

So that is it for Ottawa Comiccon 2015! I also bought a bunch of stuff, and normally I would share pictures with you, but I am feeling way too lazy. So you’re just going to have to imagine what a bunch of Funko Pop Vinyl figures and two comic books (Marvel Zombies 5 and Challengers of the Unknown) look like. That’s it! Use your imagination!

Until next year, Ottawa Comiccon…

BAMPF!!

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Ottawa Comiccon 2015 – Day Two!

Welcome back!

The second day of Ottawa Comiccon started with a delicious breakfast that was prepared by my beautiful wife, Sarah. Nothing beats a Johnny Cake (which is basically cornbread with sausage in it). Yum yum yum! Not only did my wife make me a breakfast of champions, she fed a bunch of our friends as well! That is why Sarah is the best person in the world. I highly suggest you get your own Sarah to cook for you too.

Speaking of Sarahs, I ran into one of my favourite cosplayers, Sarah Boutcher, early in the day. Here is a picture of her in an awesome Winter Soldier costume, and me in a sweet Green Arrow t-shirt.

Me and the Winter Soldier

Me and the Winter Soldier

After walking around the convention floor for a while, our little group decided to head to the Wil Wheaton Q&A session. In answering a question from the audience, Wil got into some of the mental health issues he dealt with when he was younger, and how playing board games with friends helped him get through some tough times. I know what he means. Playing games with friends helped me through some tough times when I was a kid as well. Friends really are the best medicine.

The Wheat

The Wheat

Once we were done being entertained by the man who played Wesley Crusher, my group of friends and I attended the cosplay does not equal consent panel. The message is pretty simple: Just because someone is dressed up in costume, doesn’t mean you have any right to touch them, take their picture without consent, or harass them in any way. You have to treat them, you know, like any other human being. The panel also covered ways that you, as an observer of harassment, can help stop it. It’s too bad that such a thing needs to exist. While I think having this panel is a good idea, I think the only people who are likely attend are those who already agree with the message. I think it would be a better idea to run a little video or something before every celebrity Q&A in the big hall that conveys the message that cosplaying is not an invitation for harassment. That way, you reach a bigger audience, and maybe educate some people who really need it.

After even more walking around the convention floor (and not being able to acquire food due to the ridiculously long lineups at the far too few food vendors), we headed over to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Q&A session featuring Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi). While listening to both of them talk about their time on the show (and whatever else tickled their fancy… soccer for example came up a fair bit), it became clear that these two have done this sort of thing a million times, and that they have developed a great rapport with each other during that time. And what I really took away from the panel was that these two friends absolutely love each other. In the four years that this convention has existed, this may have been my favourite celebrity Q&A.

BFFs

BFFs

When the session was over, my friends and I left as fast as we could to get some food. Thankfully we beat everyone else to the makeshift food court and didn’t have to wait that long before buying our incredibly overpriced food (who doesn’t love a $7 chicken sandwich?).  Would it hurt to have some more food available?  I mean, just hire some food trucks or something.  Anyway, after eating, our little band started to dwindle, as people decided they had enough of the con. By the end it was just me and my buddy Adrian, taking in as much as we could before the day ended and we were forced to leave.

Before heading home, however, we went to what has quickly become my favourite thing to do at Ottawa Comiccon: BattleCOM! BattleCOM, for those of you not in the know, is like a stand-up comedy version of a rap battle, with a decidedly geeky twist. Nothing makes me happier than being able to judge people on their comedic talent (which I get to do at BattleCOM!). This year’s edition was as great as it’s ever been. That said, there were probably too many vibrator jokes for a room with 10 year olds, but whatever, a good time was had by all.

And that was the end of my second day at Ottawa Comiccon 2015. I was so exhausted, I was in bed and asleep before 10 PM. Do you know what was even better than getting to sleep before most young people have even gone out for the evening? My kid slept soundly the whole night. It. Was. Awesome.

What crazy adventures did I get into on my third day at the con? And more importantly, what did I spend all of my money on? You’ll just have to tune in next time to find out. Until then…

COMICCON BAMPF!!

Ottawa Comiccon 2015 – Day One!

Hello Everyone,

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to talk about what happened at this year’s Ottawa Comiccon!

There was so much cool stuff to see and do at this year’s convention that it was impossible to see and do it all. So let’s not lolly gaggle. Let’s talk about my time at Ottawa Comiccon 2015!

Day one:

Unfortunately, things did not start out on an awesome note. I decided to take the bus to the event on Friday, and based on my understanding (as well as the understanding of a bunch of other people who took the bus with me), the 99 bus was going to stop at the convention centre. Boy, were we all wrong on that one. We all ended up getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere and had to wait for a bus to come in the other direction. Luckily, a bus came fairly quickly and things got back on track.

Things went off the rails again however when in within the first hour of being at the con, I spent way more than I had budgeted for on Funko Pop Vinyl figures. Going in, I had intended to buy five specific figures, but when all was said and done, I had acquired a total of eight. By the end of the weekend, I came to terms with buying all those little guys, but at the time I felt pretty bad about myself.

That said, I cheered up immediately when my wife and son arrived. My kid loves people watching, and there is no better place on Earth to people watch than at a comic book convention. I’m always impressed with how my son handles being in big crowds. He never fusses or cries or panics or anything like that (knock on wood). He usually just smiles and looks around. The funniest moment was when we decided to take a picture with some of the members of the 501st Legion. A Wookie tried to give my son a high five, and my kid tried to back away as far as he could while grinning from ear to ear. It made both my wife and I laugh out loud. Anyway, here is our new family portrait.

IMG_3954

Awesome, right?

Anywho, after a while my family decided to head back home and leave me to my own devices. After bouncing around looking at the wares of numerous vendors, I went to the Malcolm McDowell Q&A and listened to an absolute legend talk about his time in Hollywood. Sometimes these panels can be rather dry, with the celebrities answering questions with one cliché after the next. Mr. McDowell on the other hand was very engaging.

As interesting as Malcolm McDowell was, I am a big comic book nerd at heart, so just before the session ended I headed to a panel on the difference between comics now and in the past. This panel was initially supposed to be led by Ty Templeton, but because of his recent health issues (I’m guessing, I could be wrong) he was unable to attend the event. In his place, we had Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy (both of whom are amazing artists who worked on one of my personal favourite books, Swamp Thing) talking about how they have seen themselves and the business change over time. They did a pretty good job in my opinion, especially since they didn’t appear to have anything to work from ahead of time. I always like listening to comic book creators talk about their experience, and what they like and dislike about the comic book industry. I won’t get into what they said they didn’t like about the way things are going in the world of comics and related entertainment, but I will say that it was hard to disagree with them.

The last thing I did on day one of the convention was watch the Crystal Basement Improv group perform. I saw these folks perform last year and they were just as good this year as they were last. But like all improv troupes, when they are playing a game that requires members of the audience to yell things out in the middle of a skit, they are at the mercy of a crowd who may or may not have the sense of timing it takes to know when it’s a good time to jump in and when it’s a good time to shut up. And this particular crowd didn’t know when to shut up. Regardless, the troupe did a fine job of taking their cues from the audience when need be, and ignoring those times when it didn’t make any sense. As great as the improv was, I had the “pleasure” of sitting next to someone who must have had some sort of plague, because he wouldn’t stop coughing the whole time. I’m looking forward to my plague symptoms showing up at some point in the near future.

Shortly after watching improv, I started to make my way home. I took a bus from the convention to a major hub near my home, where I proceeded to wait for a ridiculously long time for a bus to take me home. I waited so long that I decided to walk the rest of the way. Of course, as soon as I got far enough away from the stop, I saw the bus I had waited for zoom past me. I was so annoyed (and tired) that I decided to stop at McDonald’s for dinner.

It was there in the house of the golden arches where I witnessed something that really bummed me out. A mother was at the counter ordering a Happy Meal for her kid. The clerk asked “Is it for a boy or a girl?” The mother replied it was for her daughter, and the clerk handed her a princess toy or some such shit. I mean, what if the kid wanted the Transformer toy instead? Shouldn’t the guy behind the counter just have asked what toy they wanted, instead of the gender of the child? Ugh. It still bums me out just thinking about it.

And that was it for my first day at Ottawa Comiccon 2015! It wasn’t smiles and rainbows the whole day, but the convention itself was still pretty great. I’ll write about days two and three of the con in the next little while, but until then:

COMICCON BAMPF!

It’s a good time to be a Batman fan

Hey there, folks!

So, did you see it? Did you? You know what I’m talking about, right? I am of course talking about the amazing trailer that was released last week for the upcoming Batman v Superman movie! You must have seen it by now. Everyone I know is talking about it (because I make them).  In case you’ve been living under a rock, here is the trailer:

Pretty dope, right? I mean, you don’t get any sense of what the plot of the movie will be, but whatever. You see Superman, you see Batman, and, most importantly, you see Batman in the armor suit that he wears in the Dark Knight Returns. It. Is. The. Shit.

Now, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, so I worry about what he’ll do with Batman v Superman.  But it’s okay. To make me happy, this movie only needs one thing. All it needs is one scene where Batman punches Superman right in his stupid handsome face.  I am almost positive I’ll get to see that, so this movie has pretty much already won me over.

I’m curious how it’ll all go down.  I believe this movie is supposed to lead to the Justice League, which means that at some point the Dark Knight and Big Blue will have to put aside their differences and start working together. Maybe they’ll start by fighting each other, only to realize there is a bigger threat. Like… I dunno… Braniac.  That would be awesome.

Anyway, the trailer wasn’t the only Batman-related movie news that came out recently.  We also got to see our first full look at Jared Leto as the Joker.  Again, allow me to remove the rock you’ve been living under.

joker

I dig this look a lot. It reminds me of this:

joker 2

There ain’t nothing cooler than a Joker with tattoos.  That said, I don’t know how I feel about the tattoo on Joker’s forehead. It’s seems a little… distracting. I’m also not a big fan of the silver teeth.  I just think that the most distinctive feature on the Joker’s face should be his smile, not the teeth behind the smile. Regardless, I think he looks pretty cool.

I also think it’s neat that this version of the Joker will be introduced in the Suicide Squad movie, rather than in a Batman flick.  My guess is they wanted to give people a reason to go see a movie about a team no one outside of comic book fans (or fans of the Arrow TV show) have ever heard of.  Good thinking, Warner Bros. Good thinking.

And if that’s not enough Batman-related news for you, there was also an announcement this past week that Frank Miller is going to do another sequel to the Dark Knight Returns called “The Master Race”.  Here is the promo art:

DKIII

I mean, c’mon! What is not to love about that! Looks like we’re going to have even more Batman-punching-Superman action! What’s even better is that Miller is working with Brian Azzarello, who, among many other things, wrote the Joker graphic novel, and absolutely crushed it on Wonder Woman. This dude is the real deal, and him working with Frank Miller means that this book has the potential to be one of the greatest Batman stories of all time.  I am hella excited for this to come out.

Well, that’s all the Batman stuff I have to talk about right now. As you can see, it is clearly a good time to be a Batman fan.

Until next time…

BATMAN-BAMPF!

A quick story about the time I met Jesus

Hello, friends!

Welcome to yet another post on Chris Lackie – The Blog!

I haven’t posted anything in a while, so I thought I would take a moment and tell you a quick little story about the time I met the world’s most well known carpenter. Sorry, I’m not talking about Nick Offerman. Although it would be really cool to meet him. No, I am of course talking about Jesus Christ.

Now, I didn’t meet Mr. Christ in a church, or in a dream, or on a piece of toast. No, I met him where you would most expect to meet the son of God: On a city bus.

It was just before Christmas in 2008. I had just finished work for the day and was heading home. As I recall, I was especially bushed. I don’t know about you, but I always feel more tired than usual when I’m leaving work at 5:00 PM and it’s already been dark for two hours.

I’m embarrassed to say that when I met him (or Him, rather) I initially didn’t realize I was in the presence of one of the Holy Trinity. You would think that it would have been obvious, seeing as I was conversing with someone who has one of the most recognizable faces in the world, but as it turns out He really does work in mysterious ways.

So there I am on the bus, minding my own business, when an older woman with deep creases around her mouth and eyes, and a thick mane of black and silver hair said to me, “Excuse me, sir. Can I give you a Christmas present?”

“Sure,” I smiled. Nothing gets rid of the winter blues like a gift.

“Here you go,” the older woman said as she handed me a card in a white envelope, and three green candles.

“Thank you,” I replied. At the next stop the woman gave me a quick smile and proceeded to get off the bus. The grin I had developed remained on my face for the rest of my trip back home. When I got back to my apartment I opened up the card the nice woman gave to me. The front of the card featured a great big picture of Santa Claus. I opened the card, and it said:

Dear Friend,

Merry Christmas! Let’s get together!

Love, Jesus

Crazy, right? Jesus gave me a Christmas card! I mean, it’s kind of weird that it had a picture of Santa on it (I didn’t think He would be into that sort of thing), but whatever, it’s cool! And, it made me feel a little bit happier than I would have been otherwise.

And thus went my brief encounter with the Almighty. There was no miracle to be had. Only a simple act of kindness.

BAMPF!

The Drowning, Man – Conclusion

Read The Drowning, Man – Part 1 Here!

Read The Drowning, Man – Part 2 Here!

Read The Drowning, Man – Part 3 Here!

Read The Drowning, Man – Part 4 Here!

Holy poop, I thought to myself. There I was in front of the man who tried to drown me in the very lake that we were standing next to. It was dark and there was no one around. The air smelled damp from the rain that had just ceased. There was nothing stopping him from finishing what he started. But first, I wanted to know why.

“Why?” I screamed, half hoping that someone else would hear and come running to my aid. “Why are you doing this?”

“Why?” Rod mocked. “Well, you said it yourself. You are the world’s biggest asshole and you shit all over everyone you meet. You don’t deserve to live.”

I couldn’t argue that point, but I wasn’t going to lie down and take it. “Maybe not,” I said. “But who are you to carry out my sentence? I may be unworthy of life, but who are you to deem yourself as executioner?”

“I am the one who hears all. I am the one who sees all. I am the one who knows all. I. Am. All.”

“That makes you sound pretty high and mighty, Rod,” I told him.

Rod’s lip curled. “Why do you keep calling me that?”

“What? Rod?” I asked. “That’s your name, isn’t it?” The person who I thought was named Rod shook his head. “Oh, well, it’s something like that, right?” I guessed. “It’s, like, Rod or Claude or Maude or G…”

Then it hit me like a brick wall. My brain started putting everything together. The comfort and and help he provided me in my time of need… Hearing, seeing, knowing and being all… Rendering the ultimate judgement… Not to mention getting on my nerves at the drop of a hat.

I whispered to the person in front of me. “Are you… God?”

The man looked at me like I was a complete idiot. “My name is Craig.”

“Oh,” I said, feeling a little let down. “That was a little anticlimactic.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” said the man who was not God.

“No worries,” I told Craig. “Anyway, I believe you were going to kill me or something?”

“Kill you?” Craig sounded taken aback. “Oh no, I have no intention of killing you.”

Now I was confused. “So then what the serious fuck, Craig? Isn’t that what all this is about? Isn’t that why you brought me back here? To finish what you started?”

“Yes,” he said. “I brought you back here to finish what I started, but what I have started does not end in your death.”

This fucking guy, I thought to myself. Now I was getting pissed off. “So, tying me up, dumping me in a lake and leaving me to die wasn’t meant to kill me? Gee, I guess I read that situation wrong.”

Craig’s comforting eyes returned. “The purpose of this little exercise was to make you think about your actions and how they affect others.” An empathetic smile appeared on his face. “In that regard, I think today was a success, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yes,” I told him. That much was true. I had definitely thought about my actions and their consequences more that day than I had at any other point in my life.

“And how did today make you feel?” he asked.

“Like shit,” I replied as I looked down at my feet and the slick ground. I raised my head back up when Craig put his left hand on my right shoulder.

“Yes,” he said. “Developing a conscious tends to feel a bit awful.”

My nerves were shot. I was exhausted and I just wanted to go home. “Alright, enough of this,” I said as I smacked his hand off of me. “What’s the end game here? You wanted me to think about how shitty I am to other people, and I did. You wanted me to feel bad about how shitty I am to other people, and I do. Mission accomplished. What I still don’t understand is why you? Why did you decide to teach me this lesson today?”

Craig’s eyes changed. Where I previously saw comfort was now replaced with what appeared to be sadness. A little light bulb went off in my head. “I did something to you, didn’t I?” I asked. “I did something and I don’t even recognize you. Ugh, I am the worst! Look, whatever I did to you, I’m sorry, okay? I am so, so sorry.”  Tears were welling up inside me. It wasn’t long before I could feel a couple of them rolling down my cheeks. “Please forgive me.”

Craig smiled. “I have nothing to forgive you for, Chris,” he replied. “You have not wronged me.”

“Then why, God damn it?!” I screamed, more tears forcing their way out. “Why did you do this to me?”

“Honestly?” Craig continued to smile. “Because I like fucking with people. And you, sir, needed to be fucked with.”

I really didn’t know what to say. Even after everything I had gone though that day, all I could think about at that moment was the fact that Craig was still wearing a full tuxedo. “And why are you wearing a tux, again?” I asked as I tried to wipe the tears off my face.

“Because when I’m fucking with people, I like to wear a tux,” he responded.

I felt a red hot rage burning up inside of me. I was already getting angry, but for some reason Craig wearing a penguin suit while he messed with me really made me mad. “I’m inclined to drag you into that lake and drown you,” I growled, trying to sound intimidating.

“Good luck with that,” he laughed. Then he put his hand on my shoulder again. “Anyway, Chris, I hope you learned a lesson from all this.”

“Don’t take rides from strangers? Yeah, I got it.”

“No,” he said. “The lesson is that you should endeavour to be a better person so that, in time, you will become the best person you can be.”

That’s a nice sentiment, I thought. Tying me up and leaving me to drown was a weird way to go about conveying that sentiment, but it’s nice nonetheless. Then Craig spoke again. “Also, and maybe more importantly, you shouldn’t be so rude and crass all the time.”

You have got to be fucking kidding me. I stood there with my mouth agape. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This is why this fool decided to put me in a situation where my death was a realistic possibility?

“Rude and crass?” I slapped his hand off of me as hard as I could. “Rude and crass? You did all this because I’m rude and crass!”

“Yes,” he said, calmly. “And my psychiatrist thinks I may have some kind of mental disorder.”

“Well that makes sense,” I told him.

“I’m also a ghost. Goodbye,” he said as he began to fade away.

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard or what I was seeing. Craig was simply vanishing before my eyes.

“Wait!” I called out. “This doesn’t make sense. You touched my shoulder. You slapped my face. You interacted with all those other people. Shouldn’t you have just passed right through me? And shouldn’t I have been the only one who could see you?”

As he continued to dissipate into the moonlit night, the man who I thought was named Rod, but was actually a ghost named Craig, gave me one more warm, comforting smile before conveying his final words to me. “That’s not how ghosts work, stupid.”

And with that, the man who tried to drown me in order to teach me a lesson about being a better person was gone, vanished into the night.

“I totally knew he was a ghost,” I said out loud to no one. I stood there for a while trying to process everything that had happened. But then something else occurred to me. “Wait,” I said out loud to no one again. “Ghosts wear tuxedos and have psychiatrists? Crazy.”

After a few more moments of standing by myself next to the lake, noticing the moonlight glittering off the small ripples on its surface, I walked home.

The walk back home was pretty uneventful. The first thing I did when I got back to my apartment was head to the bathroom (because I really had to pee), but after that I found the Milky Way that had inspired me to keep living that day. It was sitting on my nightstand, right where I left it. I picked it up and held it between my thumb and forefinger.

“Thank you,” I said just before I ripped it open and consumed it in three bites. It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten. Even though it had that white stuff on it that old chocolate bars get sometimes.

After all that, my adventure was over.

You may be wondering if I actually learned anything from my little ordeal. Well, I’d like to think so, even though everything that happened to me was caused by a nut job of a spectre. Since then, I try to think about how my actions will impact others, and I try to choose my words more carefully before I say them (although I’m still working on that part). All that to say, every day I just try to be a little better than I was the day before.

So, I know what you’re thinking. You want to know why I’m telling you all this. I mean, no part of this story really painted me in a positive light. Well, the truth is I wanted to convey something to you. One little lesson that I think everyone should know. And that lesson is this: Be considerate of other people’s feelings. Because if you don’t, a mentally unstable ghost will try to kill you by tying you up and dumping you in a lake.

And one final thought that just occurred to me: If I was right about Craig being a ghost…

What else was I right about?

The End.

SPOOKY-BAMPF!

The Drowning, Man – Part 4

Read The Drowning, Man – Part 1 Here!

Read The Drowning, Man – Part 2 Here!

Read The Drowning, Man – Part 3 Here!

My new companion, Rod, and I were on our way back to Waterloo to see my ex-girlfriend, whom I strongly believed tied me up and tried to drown me in Waterloo Park earlier that day. Having already questioned my mortal enemy, Jin, and my former best friend, Lawrence (whose mom I had banged), I knew in my gut that it had to be her. The thought of seeing her again terrified me, but if I didn’t confront her I knew I would be living in fear for the rest of my life.

I directed Rod to drive us to the King Street Trio; a quaint little open concept restaurant in an old, what some may call historic, building located on, funnily enough, King Street. When we arrived, the sun had completely set and it had started to drizzle. Great, I thought as I felt the rain sprinkling my face. Now I’m all damp again.

I saw her as soon as we got through the front door. Long blond hair flowed gently down her back. Her curves were highlighted by the little black dress she was wearing. The red, open-toed heels she wore added three inches to her already tall frame. Her blue eyes and bright smile flirted with a couple male patrons who were in the process of paying their bill. She looked beautiful and happy.

Then she turned and saw me.

She immediately charged at me, much faster than I would have expected someone wearing those shoes could. As she got to me, I tried to put on a brave face by acting normal. “Hey Laura, how are things?” I said.

Then she punched me in the face.

The next thing I knew I was looking up at the wood paneling and industrial piping that covered the restaurant’s ceiling. I rubbed my jaw as I got back to my feet. “You call that a punch?” I asked, trying not to sound like an 18-wheeler just hit me in the face. I noticed that Laura wasn’t in the immediate vicinity anymore. “Laura?”

“You’ve been out for 20 minutes,” a voice from behind me said. It was Rod, who was now sitting at a table. “People have literally stepped over you to get seated.”

“What?” I asked, still rubbing my jaw. “I’ve been unconscious for 20 minutes and you didn’t do anything?”

Rod smiled his warm, comforting smile. “Of course I did. I had a salad,” he said as he motioned to the empty plate in front of him. I was not particularly pleased with my new friend, especially since I was starving and he didn’t bother to save me any of his food. But at least he saved me the trouble of calling Laura back over. “He’s up now, Laura.”

Laura returned, looking a little less furious than she did right before she knocked me the fuck out, but still pissed enough that I thought she might slug me again. I could hear the venom in each word she spit out at me. “What are you doing here, Chris?”

I was certainly afraid of getting my bell rung, or worse, but I had to know. “I want to know why you tried to kill me.”

“Please,” Laura snarled. “You’re a big boy. You can handle a little punch to the face.”

“No, not that,” I shot back. “I want to know why you tried to drown me in the park. I know things didn’t turn out well, but surely trying to kill me was a little, well, overkill.”

Laura looked at me like I was speaking another language. “What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t try to kill you. What, you think I’m some lost little girl who can’t live without you? And that if I can’t have you, no one else can either? Is that what you think of me!?”

I had to consider my answer to this carefully. It could be a trap of some kind. I had to tread lightly. “Um. Yes?”

And then I was on my back, looking at the ceiling again.

Rod leaned over into my line of sight. “You got knocked out. Again.

“How long?” I asked, still lying on the crusty restaurant floor.

“Not long,” he replied, his warm eyes trying to comfort me. “You took it much better this time.”

I rubbed my head as I sat up. When I made it to my feet I noticed that Laura was now sitting at a nearby table. I slumped myself into a chair to join her. My new friend did the same. Laura began speaking to Rod at once. “So, new guy who is for some reason wearing a tuxedo and is by default a better man than Chris, I’m guessing he told you that we used to date. Did he tell you how he ended it?”

“No,” Rod replied.

Here it comes, I thought. The thing I dreaded most about coming here. “Laura-”

“So,” she said to Rod, “Chris sends me an email saying he wants to get together one night. Not just any night mind you, it was my birthday. Says he’s got a big surprise for me. Now, I think, being the naive person that I am, that maybe he’s going to bring me dinner from my favourite restaurant, or maybe he got a little present for me, or some flowers. But more importantly, what I really want, and what I genuinely believe at that point in time is that, after almost a year of dating, he is finally going to tell me that he loves me. That’s all I really wanted. I loved him, but I didn’t have the courage to say it out loud. I thought that if he said it first, it would be easier for me to say. So there I was, in my apartment, anxiously waiting for him to come over, and what happens when he does? He smiles, takes my hand, brings me over to the couch, sits me down, locks eyes with me and says, ‘I don’t know how to do this, so I’m just going to come out and say it. Laura, I-”

“-want to bone your sister,” I finished for her, sheepishly.

There was an awkward pause for a moment before Rod looked at me. “That’s a joke, right?”

I looked away and sighed, giving away that it was certainly not meant as a jest. If it wasn’t obvious, Laura hammered the point home. “It’s my goddamn birthday and he tells me he has a surprise for me, and then this asshole blurts out that he wants to hook up with my sister? I mean can you believe that shit?”

In typical me fashion, I tried to break up the tension with a little joke. “I don’t know why you’re so upset. I mean, you technically were surprised, right?”

I raised my hands up in anticipation of another right cross, but it turned out my defensive posture was unnecessary. Laura just sat there with her perfect hair, her perfect face and her perfect smile. And she cried.

My heart broke a little. “Laura, I am so sorry. That night, I was trying to use humour to diffuse what I expected to be a difficult conversation. I… I should have chosen my words better.”

“I don’t care about the words, you idiot,” she managed to get out through her tears. “I care about the fact that at a time when I loved you with all my heart, all my soul, you were thinking about how great it would be to be with my sister. My sister for Christ’s sake! It still bothers me. Even after all this time.”

I really didn’t know what to say to that, but my impulse to say something led me to spurting out something asinine. “If it makes you feel any better, I never did try to pursue anything with your sister.”

“Oh wonderful,” she said, the hate returning to her speech. “What a great person you are. All is forgiven. Please leave.”

Her right hand sat on the table. I reached out to take it. “Laura-”

She pulled away and yelled in my face, “I said! Fuck! Off!”

I glanced around and noticed that everyone in the restaurant was now looking at us. Even Rod started judging me. “You know, I don’t use this type of language much, but I think it may be appropriate in this case. You’re a real dick, Chris, you know that?”

I did know that. “Yeah. Yeah, I know. C’mon, let’s go. I’ve done enough damage here for one day. Good bye, Laura.”

“Eat shit and die,” she spat.

I turned back towards Laura as we exited the building. It was obvious that she was still upset, but she was doing her best to pull herself together and get back to work. Watching her in that moment broke my heart just a little bit more.

“That was bad,” Rod offered as we made our way back to his car, which was now slick from the rain.

“Yes, it really was,” I replied. “I should have let myself drown.”

“Why do you say that?” Rod asked.

“Are you serious?” I said in disbelief. “Did you see what just happened in there? Did you hear what I did? And were you paying attention to the other people we confronted today? Jin is a good guy and I treat him like garbage. Lawrence was my best friend and I chewed him out because he was passionate about something, never mind the fact that I slept with his mother. Let’s face it. I am the world’s biggest asshole and I shit all over everyone I meet. I don’t deserve to live.”

Rod gave me a faint, pitiful grin that bordered on a grimace. “Get in the car, Chris. I’ll take you home.”

We drove in silence while we made our way towards my apartment. I was too busy watching the rain streak across the passenger window and feeling sorry for myself to notice ahead of time when we were coming up to my street. “Oh, hey man,” I said to Rod. “We just passed my place.”

“I know,” he replied.

“You know?”

“I want to show you something,” he said, his face lacking expression.

I got more and more nervous with each street we passed. My stomach tied itself into a giant knot when I realized he was taking me back to the spot by the lake where he picked me up earlier that day. “What are we doing here?” I asked.

“Get out of the car,” instructed Rod, his voice completely devoid of emotion. We both exited the vehicle and my companion started walking down towards the lake. I followed, but not because I wanted to. No, what I really wanted to do was run like hell the other way. I followed because I felt an overwhelming urge to do so. Like I was a dog on a leash and my owner was dragging me behind him.

When I arrived at the shore, the rain had stopped and Rod was facing the water. I finally got my nerve up to say something as I approached him. “What is this?”

“Ah. There it is,” he replied, not bothering to turn and face me. “It took an entire day of me driving you around place to place, but I finally got it.”

I was confused. “Got what?”

“Your attention,” he said as he turned towards me, his calm blue eyes now lost in the darkness. “You have been so focused on yourself you have barely even noticed me. You haven’t noticed what I am.”

“And what are you?” I asked, trying not to sound afraid.

“Do you think it’s a coincidence that I was here the moment you pulled yourself out of the water? Do you think that I am just a good Samaritan who happened upon a man in need of assistance? No, Chris. I found you because I was already here.”

“What are you saying?” I asked, not able to keep my voice from wavering.

Rod moved towards me. When he was close enough I could see that his eyes had been replaced with empty black holes. “What I’m saying, Chris, is that I’m the one who tried to kill you. And it’s time to finish what I started.”

To be continued.