Tuesday 3 June 2014

My Friend Isn’t a Mass Murderer

The other day I was at a gathering of people that I used to work with. Some of them have since retired, some wish they were retired and the others hope they will be able to make it to retirement. It was fun seeing the people I used to know with a few more wrinkles and a touch greyer than they were the last time we had met.

I drifted around the floor visiting and doing a little catching up. It was one of the few times in my life that I actually felt like a social butterfly. I’d shake a hand, give a hug, make a joke or two, talk about the grandkids and just smile a lot. I would move to my next victim and repeat the process. I circled the floor a few times and like all good things I knew that the end was very close.

There were a few of these people that I see on a more or less regular basis. There were a few of these people that I only see at retirements and funerals. There are a few of these people I would like to see more often. There were a few of these people that seeing them once is more than enough. I am sure that I elicit the same feelings, but I can’t do anything abut how they feel anymore that they can change my feelings.

I circled the floor one more time to say goodbye to the handful of people who I cared enough to say goodbye to and who would care if I left without saying goodbye. One of the people that falls into the category of people I would like to see more often shook my hand once again and said “I’ll walk you out.”

I figured that he wanted to talk to me without the loud background buzz in the bar, which was a good idea. We got outside and he said “I want to show you my van.”

I’m not a car guy, but some people are. We crossed the road and I saw that the van was parked in the far, secluded corner of an empty Community centre parking lot. I couldn’t help but think that no one could hear me scream or cry out for help. Why does this old postie want to show me his van? I’m not very attractive. I couldn’t help but think of those people interviewed on the news saying “He was a quiet guy; we never thought that he was cutting people up in his van.” I came real close to bolting! The only thing that kept me walking to the van is that I couldn’t outrun him if I wanted to.

He started talking about his van, an ’81, and what good condition it was in when he found it. He put the key in the lock and opened the side door. I can’t say my life flashed in front of my eyes when the door opened, but I was relieved that it was just a van. It was outfitted for camping. It wasn’t covered with plastic and there were no knives hanging conveniently from hooks. There was a cooler, but when it was opened it had a bottle of vodka and some Tupperware inside.

I was offered a drink and a sample of 24 hour bread. I declined the drink, but took a piece of bread. It was delicious! We talked a little and laughed a little, and knew each other well enough not to promise to get together, well, not until the next funeral. I shook his hand once more and as I walked to my car I couldn’t help but thank God that my friend isn’t a mass murdered. 

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