In act four of The Tempestuous, Gretel slaps the male protagonist for his advances and darts through a series of passages, ultimately finding herself cornered as the impassioned Slate approaches, his cheek still red from the sting.
I chase her into the bedroom and pull her onto the bed. She’s underneath me. Finally, she submits.
The curtain drops.
My wife slowly sinks and rises like the ebb and flow of the tide. I suddenly realize she is New York, cool and panting in the night breeze.
My shoes click on the pavement and I step around my fellow pedestrians as neatly as a motorbike slides in-and-out through traffic.
In front of me a warning light flashes red on the crossing indicator. I am reminded of a pivotal scene in The Consumptive–the hero is forced to dodge through car traffic in order to escape his enemies pursuing him through the crowd.
I pause a few moments. The hand ceases flashing. It’s a solid red. My enemies are almost upon me. They’re smiling. One of them has a pistol pointing out of his left jacket pocket, another a knife edged with an exotic poison.
The cars have just begun to move across the intersection when I plunge my self through it, putting my hand out to slow vehicles and slipping through, half-tumbling through gaps and waving my briefcase wildly, like a baton.
I have never been to New York, but I see it sometimes out of the corner of my eye. It flashes like a heat mirage. Through repetition its images have been ingrained in my psyche, for me and for millions of others. For me Toronto becomes New York, Egypt, Paris; as do all cities, persons, and things.
On my way home I come to the edge of the bay. The lake is grey and desolate. My briefcase is heavy and my legs tired. I undo my tie knot and watch as the sun’s red light drops towards and then beneath the horizon. Out of the red of the sunset I expect to see raven-black helicopters bristling with weapons. The soldiers we know dropping to their knees–in surrender–at the end of the war movie Squad. I sit down near my briefcase and cry, my feet hanging over the dock.
I hear the rough growl of an old, struggling engine. Behind me a cube van rolls to a stop. A white, pockmarked door slides open. Men in ski masks and dark, heavy coats stream out, rushing to the end of the dock. Before I can react a man picks up my briefcase and two others grab me by either arm. I am pulled into the van and gagged, my arms and legs held flat to the ground. My pockets are searched and one of the men pulls out a long knife.
I slip their gag and spit into the faces of my captors, as the martyr Kirke does in Red City when he’s captured by the pinstriped Moors.