the furnace kicks in after the children leave the house to walk uptown along the crumbling grey side walk in the rain dripping from the trees to the new mall through the wet february weather and you sit uncomfortably on the three legged barstool that you stained mahogany because you didnt have any pine in the white kitchen you remodeled yourself with materials you scrounged from work and you look up at the bare branches of the walnut tree above the garage through the kitchen window and footsteps come slowly down the stairs from the bedroom where you had spent most of the night in a wet dream and walk across the floor and out the side door after pleasantly muttering something about being back in three or four hours then the door closes while the family cat sits on the square floor tiles licking his paws and his ass as the engine of an automobile maybe yours starts up and the sound disappears just after you look up at the cat whos looking out the window and you look out the window again at the cold sky and down at your empty cup sitting on the counter top that you paid five hundred dollars for and bubbles are showing and the glue is coming apart over at the double sink and its not long before the blood pounding in your right ear and the traffic on the outside of your red brick mortgaged to the hilt house is all that you hear until the furnace shuts off and the refrigerator grinds to a halt but the furnace blower stays on for a while drying the air in the house sealed up for the winter where the philodendron that sits on the microwave lacks one of the essential elements of photosynthesis namely water to help it regain its turgidity and pull its leaves away from the cold glass which reminds you of the plants leaning against the glass at the greenhouse of the president of the local university where you once worked when you were working instead of having to wait around from week to week for the unemployment cheque to arrive and you bite your tongue because you were drifting off and it really hurts like the time you drove a nail through your finger last summer when you were up shingling the roof of your two story home as that female university student in the house next door lay naked on her second level bedroom floor for the longest time doing exercises and playing with herself because she knew you were looking at her breasts as you banged the hammer in time to her sit-ups and banged the nail through your finger into the roof hurt like the dickens so you drink cold water to numb the pain in your tongue and as you look up a few flakes of wet snow begin to fall on the garage and you wonder if the children have on their boots not that they forget but alot of the time they just dont think but theyre good kids in the long run like the cat whos purring so loud youd think he was right on top of your ear and he jumps in your lap but you dont make room for him so he has to suffer love on a small space looking at you with eyes so innocent they could have been the eyes of your first girlfriend when you were out on a date and she wanted you to kiss her but doesn't say anything and her panties are full of dew drops and she doesnt know why and you want to kiss her but its your first time and she just looks up at you like the cat does and smiles the most beautiful smile in the world before closing her eyes and you wonder where she is now and what shes doing and whos kissing her and does she still purr like the cat in your lap who stops and looks up because he thinks he hears something but its nothing and you push him gently off and the snow is falling faster out the window and its only been sixteen minutes since everyone left the house but it seems like an hour because theres very little sun light now in february unlike the february you spent three weeks of in the summer of 72 or 82 but it doesnt really matter when it was because it was so hot and so sunny in the small town of ocho rios jamaica where the ocean water was crystal clear down to sixty five feet where someone you worked with told you her and her boyfriend from saskatoon had made love that deep on the ocean floor in the same harbor years before and she had told you this one day at work when the two of you were alone in the red pick up truck driving along the highway at sixty miles per hour on your way out of town to a job and she wanted to know if you had any juicy stories as well because she loves to gossip and she loves to listen and she was thinking about him and missed him she said as you told her your steamiest tale while she closed her eyes and relaxed her legs rubbing her hand on the wet crotch of her jeans and then felt embarrassed because she didn't want you to get the wrong idea and asked you to stop talking but you were already doing ninety miles an hour in a fifty minutes is that how much time has passed since everyone left and youve been sitting on the same stool without moving and your bum is getting numb so you get up slowly and slide along the hardwood to the front door and pick up the mail you didnt even hear being placed in the mail slot at sometime in the day by the mail man from postal depot b located just down the road from where you live across the river from the regional art gallery where you were involved in a fist fight last saturday night when you went by to see some old friends who worked security there and just as you arrived at sixteen minutes after midnight you had to help break up a fight between rival gangs from the university chinese club who had rented the community gallery and would be losing their deposit because of all of the broken artwork but the management doesnt care as long as they get their money and the insurance will pay for everything just like it paid for your new car after the wife went through a stop sign and was pushed up against the trunk of a one hundred and fifty year old acid rain damaged sugar maple that didnt budge one inch at the time of impact and it was a good thing she had her seat belt on because she wouldnt be around to walk out the door fifty five minutes ago to go to classes at the university where shes working on her doctorate and the only one in the family working right now and lets you know about it in plain english... get a job... she says everyday and you couldnt agree with her more for youve spent most of the morning going over the classified section of the two daily papers that you buy regularly from the wastside variety just north of the river where the second most beautiful woman in the world works and she smiles that almond eyed smile that makes you think she knows everyone who enters the store is like family and she knows your name and the name of the next customer and the next but you cant remember hers because youve got a terrible memory for names but not for faces and youll remember her face in your dreams at night in bed when youre not dreaming of the wife and how much shes meant to you through all the trials and tribulations of a twenty year marriage that really has had its ups and down ins and outs and you feel like trading her in sometimes and other times you wouldnt trade her in for the second most beautiful woman in the world because shes worked so hard at getting where she is now and you know that she still loves you after all these years because her bartholin gland would fill to the brim at your slightest touch when shes had a hard day and wants you to hold her like the day you did in the summer of some summer somewhere in your past when you made love in a warm rainstorm on the edge of a moss covered cliff three hundred feet above the ground on a ledge somewhere in the british columbia mountains where you went on your honeymoon and woke the next morning on the sun warmed wet rocks watching a baby deer lick the sweat off her back and she thought it was you but the owls are not what they seem as they fly overhead searching for the white lodge and you lay there in love for the first time in your life with the clouds above and the sun bursts on you like a giant hangover from some day last week after you had been for your fourteenth rejected job interview down at the something or other place which isnt important now because you didnt get the damn job anyway and you rest your head in your hands and lean on your five hundred dollar bubbling counter top and you burst into tears when you were thinking about the death of your father the year before and you miss him because he cant say i love you when hes gone like the roll of scott towels you reach for to wipe your eyes and blow that enormous hunk of mucous from your nose and scrape the hard buggers from the rim like youve been doing all your life and everyone youve ever worked with when you were working and not on unemployment knows your name is really wilson pickit and youve never once wondered who had to clean under all the tables and chairs and window sills that youve ever passed by when your nose was plugged like the kitchen sink was yesterday when it overflowed and leaked into your office in the basement and ruined your autographed first edition copies of all the books by gabriel garcia-marquez who is the greatest writer of our time whom youd met at a literary reading at the central library last year because everyone believes if it doesn't take place at the central library dont go which wasnt even camparable to the one at harborfront and he came over to your house with his translator and a few other local writers because you were having a reception for him and he signed all your copies of his books and said he would use both your daughters names in his next novel because he had never met young women who were six feet tall in his country the sun is so hot it pushes them down he said not like here where they seem to stretch up to the sun which hasnt come out of the clouds all day as you look up from the ten thousandth classified column and out the kitchen window over the top of the garage past the bedroom of the naked student through the gaps in the leafless trees down the grey wet street past the bicycle bridge that crosses the green river and along the asphalt pathway that wanders aimlessly into the jobless city and up into the grey sky where the voices of all lost souls gather like human dust in the tears of god seventy two minutes after the house was empty of family and all that you hear is the furnace kicking in and the cat heard the gun go off but all you heard was the click of the hammer..