SATURDAY, 28TH NOVEMBER, 2009
I love ice skating. I have over 200 pounds of solid muscle on me, and if I were skating on thin ice, I’d fall through. But I still love skating. For me, it’s a freeing experience. Even as I’ve grown up, I’ve never lost the carefree joy of going around a rink for ninety minutes. I always look forward to when the rinks would open up, and I’m always sad when the season is over.
I never had formal lessons. Despite my family’s relative wealth, they could only afford to put two of their kids into classes. Guess who got the short end of the stick? Despite that, I taught myself how to skate through watching how other people did it at ice rinks, watching figure skaters and speed skaters and ice hockey players on television, and reading books. I like to watch speed skating in part because the male skaters tend to have big, round asses, and their spandex outfits accentuate them to near pornographic levels. You don’t see that in short track, though. South Koreans aren’t known for having booty. I like figure skating, but I wish that people took more chances with choreography and music and skating moves. One gets sick of Carmen and Scheherazade. I do like Johnny Weir, though, despite his fetish for all things Russian.
Friday was the first time in weeks that I didn’t see Claire. She called me on the morning of and told me that she wouldn’t be able to see me. Something important had come up, though she didn’t elaborate on the subject. I figured that she was up to something with her private investigator, or a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t think about it much that day. I just worked out and ended the night snug in Mykhaylo’s arms. It was the first time that he came over to the apartment.
Anyway, Brandon and I went out the following night: the last Saturday in November. It was the first time that we had done anything recreational outside of the apartment together. And we went to the ice rink at Nathan Phillips Square, right in front of City Hall. When we got there, there were so many people and there was so much excitement in the air. People had been waiting weeks for the rink to open, and when it did, people didn’t wait. To me, the first night of skating at the Square is analogous to the day after American Thanksgiving: the start of the Christmas season.
As we waited for the next session of leisure skating to begin, Brandon and I put on our skates. His pair was jet black with silver laces, and mine was blue and white with red laces. After that, Brandon poured us some hot cocoa with marshmallows from his Thermos.
“Where’s Mykhaylo?” Brandon asked.
“He’s in Mississauga, visiting relatives,” I said. “Isn’t this exciting, though?”
“Yeah. I haven’t skated in a while, though. I may need some practice.”
“When was the last time?”
“I don’t remember. Every year, I make a resolution to go skating again, and I never follow through on it.” He handed me a cup of hot cocoa, with two giant marshmallows bobbing at the top. “Speaking of which, have you made your resolutions?”
“We haven’t even reached Christmas yet, Brandon!”
“Come on. You must have something you want to accomplish.”
I sipped my cocoa, which was quite good. “I haven’t made any New Year’s Resolutions since 2004. Since then, I’ve never seen the point. I figured, what’s the point of resolving to make your life better, when it gets worse with the passing of time?”
“Graziano, let me ask you this: Has your life gotten worse?”
“Yeah.” I took another sip. “At least, it was getting worse until you came back into my life. I know that this is going to sound ridiculous, but I feel that every day, things are slowly but surely improving.”
“It’s not ridiculous. I’m glad things are improving.”
We tapped our plastic mugs together and finished the cocoa. Soon, the next session opened up, and we were soon on the ice. Brandon suddenly slipped his hand into mine. He appeared nervous.
“It’s okay, Brandon,” I said. “I got you.”
He smiled back at me. “Thanks.”
For the next forty-five minutes, we skated clockwise around the rink, along with singles and couples and families of every configuration. As we skated, they played Christmas songs on the P.A., with contemporary pop hits thrown in for good measure. Brandon held my hand for the first fifteen minutes. It didn’t feel strange at all. On the contrary; I felt that he was guiding me as much as I was guiding him, and it felt good. Eventually, we decided to take a breather, and sat on one of the nearby benches.
We watched as everyone glided around, or at least tried to stay upright. There were a few falls and a few cries. Nonetheless, Brandon and I were having a good time. I even found myself snuggling up against him. And then, he put his arm around me and drew me in closer. I could smell the Davidoff Cool Water scent that he had put on, and it smelled good. Now, I must tell you, there was not one sexual thought going through my brain at that moment, other than that of me and Mykhaylo back in cottage country, making love on a warm bed with a crackling fire in front of us. But I simply enjoyed being with Brandon. It felt like a father gently holding his son. Joseph never did that to me. But Brandon did, and it felt good.
And then, I saw HER. Sissy Vandenbroucke was back. She had a long red coat and a black beret. I sat upright, in mortification. It wasn’t just that she was in the same place as me; she had left the rink and was walking towards me! My heart began to pound at a high level.
“Oh, shit!” were the only words that I could form at that moment.
“Graziano? What’s wrong?” Brandon asked.
I didn’t give him a response. I simply got up and walked hurriedly towards City Hall. Brandon caught up with me after a minute.
“Could you tell me what’s going on?”
“Sissy Vandenbroucke!” I exclaimed. “She’s HERE.”
I had told him about Sissy in a previous conversation. “Okay,” he said. “Calm down. I’m sure that there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Well, well, well…”
I turned to my right, and there stood Sissy in her devilish finery, quite ironic for a self-professed Christian.
“Go away!” I exclaimed.
“I don’t think so,” Sissy snapped.
“Seriously, lady, go away,” Brandon said, trying to pacify the situation as best as he can.
“Shut your mouth, faggot,” she retorted.
While Brandon remained stoic, I suddenly shifted from outright fear to outright outrage. It’s bad enough that people call me names, but when someone uses “faggot” towards other people, I take issue. “What did you say?”
“Faggot!” she screamed. “Faggot, faggot, faggot, faggot, faggot!”
“Don’t you dare call him that!” I roared, defending Brandon.
“What’s it to you, faggot?” she asked me.
“Seriously, is that the best you can do, Reverend Hot-pants?”
And then, she slapped me clear across the face. I fell back towards the steps leading to City Hall, and only Brandon pulling me forward was enough to save me from bashing my head in. Sissy then began wagging her finger at me. I could feel her rage.
“You don’t want to mess with me, Graziano Buonfiglio,” she sneered. “I’m more powerful than you could imagine. I run a church with five thousand faithful; nay, PIOUS congregants. I could hire any of them to kick your repugnant, heathen ass and no one would be any the wiser. And yeah, I sleep around. I’ve banged more than a few of my flock. I’ve earned that right, buddy. I can do whatever I damn well please because I have Jesus Christ on my side.”
Oh, this bitch had gone completely off the deep end. “No one gives a fucking damn about you, paisano,” she continued. “No one. Not your mama, not your daddy, not your sister, not anyone in this city, not anyone in this province, not anyone in this country, not anyone in the Western Hemisphere, not anyone on the planet, and NOT ANYONE IN THIS OR ANY GALAXY! The best thing that you can do for everyone is to just fuck off and die. And when you do, I will personally lead a piss and dance on your grave en masse. You want to know why? Because you, Graziano Buonfiglio, are nothing but a rotten, heathen, stupid waste of space.”
A small crowd had initially gathered around us, but it was getting bigger and bigger. I saw them whip out cameras, like they were expecting something to go down in hopes of it living in infamy on YouTube, unless TPTB had it removed.
“Are you done?” I responded.
“Not in the slightest,” she said.
And then, I slapped her so hard that she fell on the ground almost instantly. “Well, you are now.”
This time, as she got up, she was no longer the hard-as-nails Christian bully who had been an intermittent but always profound presence in my life. She was a monster about to be destroyed, and I was the one who would do it.
“Listen, bitch!” I exclaimed. “You have been harassing me for far too long. You have no right to treat me like shit. You cannot get away with things just because you’re white, female, heterosexual, and Christian. It’s bad enough that there’s a Sarah Palin in this world. I have had to put up with shit every day of my life: from my so-called family, from people at school, from people I’ve worked with, from random people on the street, from whores for Jesus like you, from the federal government of Canada all the way down to the City of Toronto, FROM EVERYONE!!!”
“Graziano, stop it!” Brandon said, trying to calm me down.
“NO!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. “NO! NO! NO! I’ve had it, Brandon! I’ve had it up to here with people trying to bring me down, especially people like Sissy Vandenbroucke the Saviour Slut! I want to be happy, okay? I want to have a good life. I cannot have a good life as long as THIS CHRISTIAN BITCH and MY FUCKING WOP FAMILY want nothing more than to see me suffer in private and in public!”
“Oh my God, did he just say wop?” I heard some woman ask among the murmurs. Sissy had by then found the strength to stand up.
“Yeah, I said wop. I’m Italian, but I’m not a wop. My family is. My mother is an alcoholic bitch from hell! My father is a crooked lawyer who bangs women left, right, and sideways! My sister is a conceited cunt who leaves her daughter at home and parties with the best of them! They’ve beaten me up, they’ve called me names, and they’ve prevented other people from reaching out to me! I have done nothing but try to be a good person, and my reward is 28 fucking years of PAIN! 28 years of DISAPPOINTMENT! 28 years of BEING CONSIDERED LESS THAN! I WON’T HAVE IT ANYMORE! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!”
I exerted all of my bodily strength at that point, screaming so loud that you could hear me in and then I collapsed onto the cold ground, and into a tearful fit. The whole of Nathan Phillips Square was eerily silent. All eyes, and there were thousands of pairs of them, were fixed on me. I had never in my life been this ANGRY and UPSET. Even by my standards, this was beyond extreme. I had taken my frustrations out into the world, and thousands of people who were just out for a night of ice skating had to bear witness.
Brandon bent down and held me in his arms. As he stroked my hair, he whispered softly, “It’s okay, buddy. Let it out.” I howled in pain and agony.
“Bitch, please!” Sissy exclaimed.
“Shut the fuck up, bitch” some guy in the crowd said.
“WHO said that?!” Sissy steely glared at everyone in the crowd, which was getting bigger and bigger. “WHO the hell told me to shut the fuck up?!”
Suddenly, I heard someone exclaim, “SOMEONE STOP HER!” And then, I felt a sudden pain in my stomach. A sharp pain. And then a loud gasp from the crowd. When I looked up, I saw that Sissy had kicked me in the stomach… as I was crying.
That was enough. I summoned some super-human strength, and before you know it, I was whooping Sissy’s ass. We punched, we pulled, we kicked, we screamed, we slapped, and as we were doing this, I could hear the crowd cheer… for me.
“KICK THAT BITCH’S ASS!”
“YOU GO, BOY!”
“KILL THE BITCH!”
And a lot of those voices were from women.
Five minutes into our fight, the police showed up and pried us apart. It wasn’t long before something strange happened: they handcuffed me, and they let Sissy off with a warning. I was irate, and so were Brandon and most of the crowd. They booed as the cops dragged me to an awaiting car. As they drove me off to the police station, and as I saw Brandon’s worried face fade into the night, I broke down in tears again.
After processing me, they threw me into a solitary cell and I screamed and hollered all night long. Worse, they held me without bail. No one told me to shut up, though. It’s as if they wanted me to scream, so they could be satisfied that they took down an alleged brute. I had never been in jail before, and it felt like the bullies were at it again. Only this time, the number of bullies had expanded to include the Toronto Police Service.
SUNDAY, 29TH NOVEMBER, 2009
I woke up Sunday morning, still wearing my clothes from last night, and with my eyes and skin red and sore. As I sat up in my cot, a female police officer approached the cell. “We’re releasing you,” she said.
“I beg your pardon?” I responded.
“We’re releasing you,” she repeated. “Someone posted a video on YouTube, proving that you weren’t the instigator.”
She opened the gate and led me out. I was relieved that people actually captured the event. “What about Sissy?” I asked.
“We’re charging her with assault,” the officer said, much to my relief. “You’re a very lucky young man. Just try to keep yourself out of trouble, okay?”
“I’ll try,” I said.
After I was formally released from jail, I walked home. When I got back to the apartment, I noticed that Mykhaylo and Brandon were waiting for me in the living room. I didn’t know what to say to them. I had felt empowered that night, but now I felt that I had failed them both. They both wanted the best from me, and the best I could do was beating up a bully in front of City Hall. I looked at them for a few moments, and then I tearfully walked to my bedroom.
I collapsed onto my bed, crying again. Brandon and Mykhaylo entered the room and silently kept vigil over me. Britney jumped on my bed and snuggled against my chest. After about an hour, I stopped crying and sat up. Mykhaylo and Brandon hugged me, and Britney jumped into my arms and licked my face. After those heartwarming moments, Mykhaylo broke the silence with:
“I saw the video. I thought you were spectacular.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. The rest of the day went a lot better. The three of us went out for brunch at Le Petit Dejeuner on King Street East, and as we feasted on scrambled eggs, bacon, and omelettes, we chatted about everything and anything. It was a welcome respite after the previous 12 hours or so in hell. During brunch, Mykhaylo showed me the YouTube video on his laptop. Watching it was very unnerving, to say the least. I noticed that before she kicked me, Sissy had wiped her pumps. The video already had about a thousand views. Strangely enough, the bitch didn’t leave a mark. Having a six pack saved me that night.
On the way back, I heard on the radio that they arrested Cecilia “Sissy” Vandenbroucke for assault… and embezzlement and larceny, to name a few charges. Hallelujah.