Notre-Dame-de-Grâce park, lit only by dimmed orange lights, reminded me of a handful of horror movies. I half-expected a knife wielding maniac to jump out from behind a tree and gut me, or for a barrage of zombies to run me down, rip me to shreds and eat my innards. But there were no maniacs or zombies, only Max and me standing alone in the park.
The evening was surprisingly warm for a Halloween night, and from where we stood we could see a handful of disguised children running from house to house, hoping to get as much candy as they could. We also saw a house with dozens of parked cars on the lawn, loud thumping music coming from inside. I’d almost ended up at such a party that night, but my friend Steve, the only person I knew in Montreal, ended up calling me last minute and telling me he wouldn’t show up.
“Its the flu thing,” he’d said over the phone.
I wasn’t convinced, but had myself been stricken by weird abdominal pains during the past couple of days. It seemed as though my body wasn’t yet used to Montreal’s water, so I figured I could use the rest. Now, standing outside such a party, I couldn’t help but sigh as I thought about how I would probably end the evening like many others: passing out on the couch, a cable network movie playing in the background.
I had no idea how wrong I was.
Suddenly, Max startled me with a bark and I turned to find he was looking down the hill at Dracula and an Alien. So things didn’t get out of control, I got Max to sit before the kids got too close. Not that he’s bad around children, though he does like to jump up on them to see if they have any food and I didn’t want some crazy mother thinking my dog attacked her kids.
Dracula and the Alien pulled their masks up, transforming into two young boys. They asked if they could say hello to Max, to which I replied that they first had to let him sniff their hands. They were confused, asked why, and I quickly went through how dogs great each other. To this day I’m still amazed at how many people, including a surprising number of dog owners, are completely clueless when it comes to dog behaviour. The boys giggled as Max’s thick wet tongue licked their hands.
“What do you think you are doing?!” A female voice shouted from the side of the road, making all four of us jump.
“Ah shit,” the boy who had been Dracula muttered.
Max and I looked up to find a stout, short-haired woman wobbling up the hill towards us. She held a bag in one hand, and the other was flapping in the air pointing at both the boys and then the sky. Each step she took looked difficult, with her legs barely capable of supporting her own weight, and her body swaying, almost hypnotic-like, from side to side. As she got closer she began cursing at the kids, quoting what I assumed where bible verses, and then accusing the boys of satanism. In other words, she was a real nut case.
“For fuck’s sake relax will you?” I shouted back. ”They’re just kids.”
The fat woman obviously did not expect me to open my mouth and paused, trying to figure out where I fit into the picture. She soon deduced that I was a card carrying member of a satanist cult, and spent the last excruciating minute of her heroic climb up the gentle slope calling me things I’d never even heard before. Before she got too close, I grabbed Max and walked away, uttering a quick “Fuck You!” as I left. It was a good thing too, because Max would have probably gone for the jugular. Again, people don’t understand dogs.
I walked Max back to the apartment then came back down to get myself some take out and a movie. I figured, since it was Halloween, that I would treat myself and pass out in front of a rented movie instead of one playing on cable. As I exited the lobby, two cop cars raced down the street, lights flashing and sirens wailing. I guess Halloween really does bring out the crazies.
I headed past the park, aiming for a sub and movie place down the street. I tried to scan the park to see if the crazy lady was still there, but there were no sings of her, Dracula or the Alien. Poor kids, its tough enough growing up in this fucked up world, it doesn’t help to have a self-proclaimed evangelical nut as a mother.
I got to the end of the park and stood, waiting for the crosswalk signal to change. I began thinking about what movie I would pick up and instinctively reached down, looking for my wallet. I sighed as I grasped at empty pockets: I’d forgotten my wallet at home.
I turned around and began jogging back the way I came. I had made it halfway accross the park when the sirens and lights appeared. At first I though the police were chasing after someone else so I kept jogging. I finally realized something wasn’t right when a cop car spun around and stopped right in front of me, shining a large spot light in my eyes.
“Stop right there!” A voice said over a bull horn.
I stopped in my tracks, confused at what was happening. The officer came out of his car, gun in hand. I saw him duck in and out of the car, talking to the person in the passenger seat. The bright spot light blinded me, but when I moved my hand in front of it, I could see a large round figure sitting in the car and waving its hands at me.
I then knew exactly what was going on: the crazy bitch had called the cops on me.