Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Have I always been a bad person?

I received Ruddy Ruddy mail #5 today -- an Imodium sample, appropriately enough, since I spent a good part of today wondering what beatniks called diarrhea (my best guess: "dropping a loose deuce"). Along with my fraudulent Ruddy Ruddy mail, I got my voter registration for the upcoming Ontario election. I think we know what must be done next.

Today I was asked -- probably after saying something offensive that slips my mind right now -- "Have you always been a bad person?"

"No," I said. Then after thinking about it for a while, "Only since Thanksgiving, 1995."

When I was a kid, there was a big kid in my neighborhood named Derek Schinkel. I didn't know him all too well; I only really ran into him when everybody went sledding on Laurier Hill on our GT Snowracers. He seemed like a bit of a dick -- kind of like one of the Beagle Boys from the Scrooge McDuck comics, actually -- but I didn't really have much contact with him.

Years later, I heard that he had been walking on the Stewart Blvd. overpass over the 401, having a horrible drunken fight with his girlfriend. According to the story, he decided to prove his love for her by the foolhardy stunt of climbing up on the railing along the side of the overpass and walking along it as if it were a balance beam. Partway through, Derek Schinkel fell, plummeting twenty or thirty feet and slamming into the rock cut along the side of the highway. His girlfriend rushed down to the rock cut and held his bloody body in her arms as he died. (Rumor has it that she was seen lugging a heavy bag at his funeral, and wouldn't allow anyone to see what was in it. Finally, someone got a peek while she was otherwise occupied. It was full of blood-covered rocks.)

A couple of years later, on the Thanksgiving weekend, 1995, I was headed home from school to Brockville for the holidays. In a huge coincidence, I ran right into my old friend Barry (who was en route from Montreal to Whitby) at the Kingston bus terminal, and much hearty back-slapping ensued. "So where does the bus stop in Brockville, anyway? Barry asked.

"At Stewart and the 401," I told him. "You know ... the Derek Schinkel Memorial Drop-off Point."

It was then that I knew I was a bad person. But on the bright side, if I'm going to be a supervillain, at least I have an origin story. Look for the comic-book adaptation in the upcoming Two-Fisted Tales of Peter Lynn #1.

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