Season of the Trent

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                Wake up. There’s a noise my body’s making, not exactly the harbinger of doom; still, I have to wonder about the uncontrolled emissions as I, Trent Lewin, become a potent source of greenhouse gas – but I figure as I crawl downstairs and make coffee that the planet’s got it coming. Saucy bitch, what has she ever done for me?

                First sip. Shit. Second sip. Shittier. And that’s how it goes. Coffee never gets better, only worse. It’s the perfect first sip drink, but the rest is garbage. So that’s where I put it and as I get through the door and slap some gel in my hair, it’s mission critical that we as human beings find a better quality of coffee this morning.

                End of the street, and there’s Mr. Robles diving into the road to stop me. I want to poke his eyes. Punch his penis.

                “Mr. Lewin, have you heard? The refugees are coming!”

                “Fuck off, Robles,” I tell him, but politely.

                “Will you join the effort of the street in sponsoring a family?”

                “Why, are they bringing me coffee?” I ask.

                “Excuse me?”

                “You heard me.” Yeah, you did. You all heard me. Here, I’m going to throw you a bone; it’s called a semi-colon, and some of us still use them. I want to hit Robles with one, make him swallow it until it slices him open from the inside. But no, he just stands there and leers, asks for money for some godforsaken family from whoknowswhere. I hit the gas; he holds on. Around the corner I go, Robles losing his bathrobe in the cool cool Canadian jelly that is our winter.

                “Fuck off Robles!”

                “Never! Help us sponsor the immigrants!”

                “Foreigners suck!” I tell him, and that’s like a thunderclap, the type of sentiment that brings out all the neighbors at once, as though they just heard something that’s unconscionable. They’re at the edge of their driveways, staring at me, either that or at Robles’ stringy ass. But there they are, a million zombie winterized Canadians pointing at me like I’m the criminal, just because it’s early and I’m a little tired and the coffee this morning tasted like the aged guts of a septic tank, and because of that I happened to spit out the sentiment everyone’s thinking anyway.

                I push Robles off the car and screech around the corner. Life ages five minutes before I get to the coffee shop. I’m sweating. I’m disgusting. I’m Trent Lewin, esquire, lord of the rocky edge, prince of the thin line, and I’m here in the queue waving my money, asking for relief – relief from this cold, this weight, this interminable isolation that makes me feel alone in a coffee shop full of people.

                “Venti. Bold. No room.”

                “Sorry, sir, we’re out of coffee.”

                I always wanted to marry a barista. Some tall Israeli with black hair, fresh out of college and trying to find her way in the world. Used to be that I’d walk into these shops on the off chance that she’d be there, behind the counter, oh so receptive to my North American vibration, like I’m some kind of string that she could pluck with European sensibilities until our music made a legion of mixed race automatons that would ultimately homogenize the world into a single colour – the shade of off-brown, or very murky white. The colour of coffee.

                “What do you mean?” I ask the short plump balding white thing behind the counter.

                “Haven’t you heard?” she asks with a big smile. “We donated all our coffee to help the Syrian refugees.”

                “What.”

                “No, it’s true,” she says. “All gone, to help welcome them to the country. However, I can certainly offer you a tea or other beverage based on filling a cup with hot water.”

                And this is the time we live in. This is it – the season of the Trent – the diminishing period of time in which I have a moment to myself, the indulgent phase where I sip a hot drink containing a legalized drug, on the off chance that invaders from a faraway country will not interrupt my routine. That’s the stuff of it – routine. A glorious, curvy word that I’d sleep with if only I could, the type of word that I will caress if only she lets me, that I would join to me if only she weren’t inanimate. But in the meantime, all I can do is push the sugary confections on the coffee shop counter to the floor, and overturn a few chairs on the way out.

                At work, the phone rings. “Trenty! It is I, Umba from Strasbourg! Congratulations!”

                “For what?”

                “The refugees, Trenty! You Canadians have been most generous for taking so many! This is really very humanitarian, and so I offer my gracious thanks.”

                “Why, are you Syrian?”

                Nervous laugh. “No Trenty, but we are all human, correct?”

                “They took my coffee, Umba. My coffee.”

                “Surely a small price to pay?”

                I tell him it’s not the size of the price that’s the issue. If we pay enough for things, however small that price, the bill only mounts up. It only mounts up! I’m on my desk, two feet from the ceiling, screaming about the dangers inherent to uncontrolled mounting. I want coffee. I want something. I want. I do want, and I do need, and my thickening creamy wellspring of soul is getting plugged there at the bottom – in that deep dark hole – with the inevitable viscosity that comes with this gunk, this unholy shit that springs from obligations other people are making for me. I hate them, I tell Umba. Hate that they’re here. That they exist. That they were born. That they’re intruding. That they’re taking away – subtracting. Doing math on my pleasantries, on my comforts. That beyond that, they’re taking away my ability to complain about anything, because in the face of a raft ride across a godforsaken stretch of salt water (no food, no liquids, no security, no harmony, no music – and no coffee), what in the face of that is the great malady that afflicts the esteemed Trent Lewin, in this the season of his great comfort? Name it. Name one. Name two. Name more. Make a list. Scribble it in the skin of your arm, with the sharpest thing you own, and maybe that will remind you of what is actually important.

                Or this. These words. “I hate these immigrants.”

                “You can’t say that, Trenty!” barks Umba, as though all Strasbourg needs to hear it.

                “Since when? Racism is okay now, Umba. It’s been brought back. We took it around the circle, out of the fifties and into the mainstream. It’s okay again. It really is.”

                “Cannot be, Trenty. Cannot be.”

                “Just look around, Umba. Look high and look low. And make sure you look behind you too. Just turn your head and see who’s there. It might not be the person you expect. So you have to be careful. We have to be careful. We have to protect ourselves.”

                “What are you going to do, Trenty?”

                “What’s necessary. What’s right.”

                And I’m in the car. At the hardware store. The co-op. A mega-store. A mini-mart. In drive-throughs. And stores that provide shoes. It’s all so easy. So exact and precise, the ticking of items off the list. In a parking lot, I take off my clothes and light a fire made of genuine bamboo wicker baskets; they go up like a sun, and suddenly there’s heat on my freezing skin as I dance around the fire, pumping my hands in the air while mixing things into the aluminum pot set over the flames. I’m a witch – I’m the witch of winter, a haggard aching crone made of wrinkles and craft beer detritus that fizzes over my skin.

                “For Jesus!” I scream, because that seems appropriate. “Praise be Jesus!” And then some other words, and the singing, the chanting. And the pot boils, like it’s alive, as though I’m making a living organism. It’s lava, baby. Bubbling, oozing crude essence of the earth that I, Trent Lewin, cap with a  heavy lid and throw into the back of the car.

                The church is at the end of a tall hill. Praise be Jesus! This is a Christian place, a place for me, Trent Lewin, who has never actually been here before but knows he belongs because he was born into this right, and more importantly, into this country. Naked, carrying my pot, I climb the stairs as though I’m ascending – as though this is an early trip to Heaven, just to check the place out, to meet the neighbors, to figure out what colour to paint the mansion. The doors burst open to admit me, and four hundred eyes turn to stare, these dark eyes, these invariant orbs of duplicity and threat.

                And this is what I see: the families, the children, the older people, the destitute, the starving, the unhomed, the unearthed, the inhumane-d, the sacrileged, the plain simple otherworldly because that is the truth, they are from somewhere else too far to understand or even to consider. But that is not what I see. I see an inconvenience, possibly a threat, and thus I see the recipients of my pot, which I put in the middle of the church and crimp tight. Then I light it up, and get ready to run.

                “Son, what are you doing?” asks a priest.

                “I’m not your fucking son!”

                “Are you here to help these people?” he says.

                “Are they here to help me? Well, are they?”

                “What help do you need?”

                “Coffee. I need coffee.”

                The church is quiet. But that’s not what I hear. I hear my heart murmuring, like it’s had enough, like it’s fed up with me for some reason. People are looking at me, naked and shining in the candle light. Someone hands me a cup, and before I think about it, I bring it to my lips and drink. The coffee within shines black but tastes like glory. I take another sip and it’s better still. I channel it down my throat, feeling the inkiness of the stuff as it guts me. “More,” I say, and the cup is full again, and then it’s drained. Full again. Drained. That’s me, that’s just me – drained and then full again, all the time, every moment it seems. And here I am, naked in the church as my pot sits between the pews and bubbles.

                “What did you bring us, my son?” asks the priest.

                Praise Jesus! “It’s a bomb. I was going to get rid of these people.”

                The Priest shakes his head. “No you weren’t.”

                “I hate them, these foreigners.” He shakes his head again. “Okay, well, I don’t want them here. They’re making my life difficult.”

                The Priest leans down and samples a bit of the liquid bubbling around the lid of the pot. “It’s kawag, Syrian food. You made a stew.”

                “No I didn’t. I didn’t.”

                “Yes you did,” he says, opening the lid and beckoning people over to eat my bomb. And that’s what they do – they eat the explosive device I created to kill them all. And they like it. Some come over and hug me, glowing and naked though I might be.

                “This isn’t happening. It’s a dream,” I tell the priest. “All I wanted was coffee.”

                “And you received it.”

                “I often ingest it anally.”

                This doesn’t surprise him. He calls over an older Syrian guy whose only word is “pie”, and for the next hour he sets up an apparatus made of tubes and rubber perched off the edge of a pew and stabilized on a stack of bibles. They cool the coffee first. They let it be calm. Quiescent. Then that old Syrian guy says “pie” and lets the liquid slip into a funnel, where it floods the plastic tubing like blood in reverse. This is the stuff we’re made of, we who are big bags of chemicals and in desperate need of more. He helps me hang upside down as the coffee finally reaches me.

                “Squeeze,” I tell him, making a hand gesture.

                “Squeeze?” he asks, then understands. He squeezes a rubber bladder, injecting pressure into the line, and suddenly I get it: the holiness of this place, the big deal, why it’s important to be a  church-going fellow.

                “Squeeze,” says the Syrian. “Pie.”

                “Squeeze,” I tell him. “And pie. And thanks buddy.”

                “And pie,” he says, and when he smiles, there aren’t many teeth back there to see, and what teeth there are have rotted down to nothing; but he pats my bottom anyway, and as the choir starts a song for the refugees, my mind shoots through the heavens, in this, the season of the Trent.

67 thoughts on “Season of the Trent

  1. “Mr. Lewin, have you heard? The refugees are coming!”

    “Fuck off, Robles,” I tell him, but politely.

    It’s so good to have you back Trent. And don’t even think about telling me to…

  2. At least you got your coffee. I think that was the point, right? In the end, there is enough time, resources, everything, for us all to get what we need?
    Or, maybe there was no point except to make us feel and in so doing also think. Consider the why of the revulsion. Consider our own thoughts, actions and true needs in this, the season of Trent. The season of Matticus. The season of truths we want to ignore…

  3. The repetition of “Fuck off, Robles.” had me giggling.

    I’m glad to see you again, Trent; I always feel like you go too long before telling us something we need to hear. This one, my heart was determined to believe you were good, that even though you were proclaiming resentment, you’d somehow be doing good.

    Pie.

  4. Well, two things here. First, you are still raging hard, but you seem to be doing it more calmly in this one, if I may say so. A controlled, calm rage, but still very ragey. Second, it’s nuts. Completely nuts.

    Actually, one more thing. I love it.

  5. Your words make me want coffee. I haven’t had it in months which seems like forever. Wish I could say the same about alcohol. I love the rant in the undertow.

  6. Sometimes I feel so discouraged, disappointed, and hopeless when I step out into the world. Because of the ignorant, the mean, the selfish, the ordinary, the non-thinking, the judgmental, the unfunny, the unauthentic, the boring, the Ugg-wearing, the Paleo diet following, the shitty and the just plain dumb. And then there is you. And you make it all ok again.

    • I love it when I hear from you Fay. I feel that you’re now going to call me a soulless ditch pig, but you know, I’d take it. I really really would just take it. I am going to Paleo the shit out of my next post, but that’s nothing compared to the comment I’m going to drop on you if you post something…

      Thank you for being around, Fay. I mean it.

  7. There were so many wonderful phrases here, I can’t even begin to quote them all. But a few of my favorites –

    “Here, I’m going to throw you a bone; it’s called a semi-colon, and some of us still use them.”

    “Doing math on my pleasantries, on my comforts.”

    “This is a Christian place, a place for me, Trent Lewin, who has never actually been here before but knows he belongs because he was born into this right, and more importantly, into this country.”

    I’m guilty of a lot of the things you bring up – of thinking of people as “subtractions”, of complaining about nothing, of needing my coffee, of thinking “us” and “them”, of living in my own selfish bubble that revolves around “wants” rather than “needs”, of being petty and suspicious and entitled. I’m a horrible human being, but I’m working to be better.

  8. As I sit here drinking my own noxious brew, watching the all too rare white rain descend from the heavens over the southern sky…I read your piece with confident comradery, knowing I’d find you in the end, doing something uniquely Trent-ish…i.e.) hanging upside down, intracolonously receiving what we so desperately needed…a lesson in the importance of being. Being selfish. Being intractable. Being aware. Being true. Being judgmental. Being judged. Being schooled. Being kind. Being human….Trent-fully Human. Which is to say…even your grizzly exterior cannot hide the soft inner-belly of which you invite us to gnaw on, so that we may taste the inconvenient truth of being imperfectly human…but trying. This is me…raising my cuppa joe…waiting my turn at the pot o’ stew…thinking. In the right climate, thoughts are actions in the making. Just as water at the right temperature is snow. These invading flakes that show us billions of individuals that can look the same, are each, definitely and exactly, unique. Kind of like us 🙂
    (sorry…guess I need to go brew more and spew less)

    • Being human is what we need, to acknowledge it, to admit, and to live it. I’m all soft, to tell the truth SB, and you of all people are most welcome at the table to partake of stew… come over, okay?

      • Would love to…provided we are not snowed in…yikes, the south is gonna be buried!!! Pray for these poor lost souls NB, for they know not what to do when the snow flies!

  9. Should I remove my shoes before I come in here and pay homage to “The Trent?” Looks like you definitely are in season! Heard you had pie, but there’s probably none left for me. Darn. Would have gone well with my coffee. 😉
    Can always tell you’re going to rage from the first two words – “wake up.” And what a prolific rage it was. Loved it, Trent.

  10. Saucy Bitch is going to be my new drag name. Thanks for that.

    You laugh but coffee enemas are all the rage in the Big Apple.

    This is a fever dream. Someone in a conservative think tank is going to link to this and sell it as policy.

  11. I’m far too annoyed at the moment to read this. Somehow, through the mighty power of WordPress, I lost my “follow” of your blog. Didn’t realize it until I was poking around on the stats page, which showed that you’re one of the most frequent commenters on my blog and it suggested I should “follow” you. WTF??? I’ve been following you for several years now. So, I clicked on the button to follow you and then typed in your URL and here you have two posts I’ve missed.

    F’in WP.

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