Todd and I have finally arrived in my hometown of Toronto where I am to approach my wife whom I abandoned eighteen months ago, pregnant. As soon as we were off the bus, I bolted. I ran like the past was a tidal wave about to devour me. I could hear Todd trying to catch up.
TODD: Eric, please. Not like this. Not like this.
I couldn't hear him anymore. I couldn't hear anything anymore. I collapsed, passing out. When I awoke, a uniformed, female police officer with broad shoulders was shaking me.
FEMALE OFFICER: Sir... sir... are you okay?
I nodded, and looked up. I was in the middle of the city center's skating rink with children and adults skating around me, trying to avoid me.
FEMALE OFFICER: Do you know where you are?
I shook my head.
FEMALE OFFICER: Sir, can you talk?
I couldn't at the moment. I was remembering why I was back in the city and quite upset.
FEMALE OFFICER: What is your name?
I was so upset that I didn't know who I was anymore. Tears came to my eyes.
The female officer grabbed her CB radio clipped near her shoulder.
FEMALE OFFICER (into her radio): Bobby, we've got a John Doe at Nathan Phillips Square.
John Doe! What was she talking about?
FEMALE OFFICER (into her radio): He's responsive but appears to be mute.
I looked up at her, wide-eyed.
FEMALE OFFICER: Sir, don't be scared. I can help you.
She lifted me to my feet and helped me back to her police cruiser.
We were soon at her police station where I was given breakfast, an extra sweater, and patted on the back for the rest of the day. I became the station mascot, and Martha, the officer who rescued me, came to check in on me at regular intervals, bringing me treats like hot chocolate and pumpkin scones. As officers wrote reports at their desks, I made them laugh by performing pantomime and hugging them from behind when they were frustrated and angry. I performed cartwheels and somersaults and everyone applauded. It was a magnificent day.
One hour later, nausea overtook me from eating too many doughnuts and I threw up on everything: all the desks, all the reports, and some officers. Everyone took turns rubbing my back until I fell asleep in the corner. When I awoke, the entire station was staring down at me, with love in their eyes.
Martha found and brought Todd in at noon, and he pretended to be mute too. Everyone called him John Doe 2 and we piggybacked one another while running circles around the room. We shoved each other playfully into furniture, and everyone petted us and cuddled with us, and Martha asked the chief if they could keep us, and he said as long as no one came in to claim us.
But then Todd spoke.
TODD: Eric, we need to go. The time's come for you to see your wife and child.
ME: Shut up Todd!
But it was too late.
MARTHA: You can talk?
Martha had tears in her eyes. Everyone in the station grew quiet.
MARTHA: You betrayed us.
ME: Martha, I can explain.
MARTHA: We were going to build you guys a little house by my desk...
ME (disappointed): Frig!
MARTHA: and get you guys chew toys...
ME: This sucks!
MARTHA: Get out.
ME: Please Martha. We don't have to talk again.
All the officers now also had tears in their eyes, including the chief.
ANOTHER OFFICER: Just go!
THE CHIEF: Get out of here!
I walked out at a snail's pace, attempting to give everyone enough time to change their minds.
Soon everyone was telling us to leave, shouting things like, "scram", "just get out", and "my gun's pointed right at your head".
Outside, Todd turned to me.
TODD: You're ready. You're ready now to see your wife and child. You've grown so much.
ME: We had a good life in there and you blew it. You owe me a chew toy.
TODD: We couldn't live in a box with newspaper forever. I found your wife's new address. We're heading there now.
ME: Not before I get a bowl of water and some Alpo.