• Malu Baumgarten

Johnny Skai - The Fall

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

The Story of Johnny Skai - episode 1


Johnny walked slowly up Yonge street to the parkette next to the Yorkminster Baptist Church. At the corner of Yonge and Heath, he stopped for a moment to negotiate the curb. The contraption’s wheels spun for traction causing a small car line up to form until it finally climbed the sidewalk. Johnny’s package fell, and a guy walking behind lifted it from the ground and politely handed it to him. There was a short conversation: “Thank you very much” “Oh, never mind!”. At the playground, he didn't go onto the grass but preferred to stay aside, near the tables where the homeless and others who had no place to enjoy their food sat sparsely. Good thing I don’t have to find a bench, he thought. Johnny was already seated. He looked at his swollen feet in Birkenstocks. Giant baby feet. Out of the package, he took a veggie burger with iceberg lettuce salad and Italian dressing packed in a plastic pouch. Instead of pulling out the disposable napkins and cutlery, he paused for a moment to pick up a small, rectangular plastic box divided into five compartments. He opened one of the hatches, poured the pills into his hand, brought them to his mouth, then leaned hard on the handlebars to reach the water bottle in the scooter basket, and drank slowly to wash the drugs down. As the alarm rang on the phone, announcing two in the afternoon, he ran a finger over the screen, and said to himself, or to the phone - "I've already taken the two o’clock."

He ate the sandwich observing the squirrels and pigeons in the park. He held his phone distractedly, or so it appeared, but he did not miss the two teenage girls skipping down the street, in shorts and coloured hair. Click. Or the young homeless man, hooded, pushing a bicycle and carrying a huge backpack. Click, and the couple exchanging wet kisses, click. 

He took his time to edit the photos on the smartphone and then started the way home mid-afternoon, slowly back down Yonge, careful at climbing up and down sidewalks. The scooter glided down the street, with him tall and hunched on his seat, the Roman nose prominent in his handsome face, framed by hair that would be curly if allowed to grow. He wore thick black-rimmed glasses around his soft dark eyes, for an air of distinction, he had told his partner. South of St. Clair Avenue, the street was semi-closed for city work, with barriers, metal and large pipes to be buried. “In Toronto, the year has only two seasons: winter and construction,” goes the saying. The scooter capsized at the corner of Yonge and Pleasant Boulevard, defeated by the slight slope of the sidewalk and a loose pebble on the ground. He fell without a sound, his thin bones on the street’s concrete, his belongings poured out of the basket and littered on the ground. A small crowd of passers-by formed and lifted his body from the street and back on to the scooter, a child left her mother’s hand, gathered his things and made him check that nothing was missing.  His thanks mixed with humiliation, Johnny restarted home slowly, feeling now the weight of the day, the fatigue that took over his entire body. Damn body, he muttered to himself, damn legs that won't walk, damn multiple sclerosis.



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