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CASINO MAGAZINE Issue 4 — Spring 2012


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House with Myself Depression Defies the Rush of Life Generations Sitting at the Airport Two Poems Guelph Sugar Funny About Them Birds Written at the Mensa Ka’wahse Thankfully Shirley Emerald City I Hate Myself Jasmine, ‘77 My Costco Almost Island Single-Use


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cover: Consumé opposite: Ursa Bed-Stuy Burn Bones Poof For Uncle Golden Afternoon Persuasion Untitled Golden Valley Vero Mountain Breakfast Post Party No. 6 back: Untitled

Casino is edited by Tim Beeler, Niko Block, Brittany Carmichael, Laurie MacInroy, Sara Maston, and Daniel Paterson.



oday at school we played Capture the Flag at recess. Jimbo’s team kept winning because he’s the best of all the boys, even better than my brother, Mark. Melissa and Kimmy are my best friends. I play with them in the afternoons and on weekends. But not last weekend because we had to go to Richmond where Daddy lives with his new girlfriend, Jolene. We don’t have to call her Mom, Mark says. We ate barbecue every night even though it was snowing Saturday. I missed Mama and got to call her both nights before bed and in the morning when I woke up. I tried playing with Mark after school today, but he doesn’t like playing with just me. He said he was playing a game called Amy Doesn’t Exist and ignored me for the rest of the afternoon. So I mostly played by myself and that’s when I play House because I can make up my own rules and no one else tells me what to do. My favourite game is House with Myself. There’s four people in my house: Adèle (that’s me because I changed my name from Amy); my husband, James; our daughter, Maria, who just turned three and a half; and our newborn son, Jameson. We live at 6725 Bank Street. (It’s the same house we used to live in before the divorce). Today, I had a fight with James because he kept going on about how we should really move to Richmond. He likes how flat it is and the pretty skies. The kids were upset, of course, because they hate it when we fight. I put them to bed early and tell James if he wants to move out there, he’ll be going on his own. What does he expect me to do with my job as a veterinarian—I could never leave my poor animals behind. James didn’t say anything, he just walked away like I wasn’t there. For dinner I made lasagna. I couldn’t keep Jameson happy, he kept crying and crying no matter how much I fed him. Then Maria spilled her milk on the floor again. Under the kitchen table, down on all fours, I wept a milky tear and wiped it away with the dirty rag. I guess this Richmond business isn’t the only


Eli Yarhi

Bed-Stuy Film photography, developed with coffee, soda ash etc.

thing on my mind these days. James is right though, we can’t make ends meet in the city anymore. This house is only getting older and smaller, the mortgage payments are too high and we’re already leveraged out with the bank. The interest rates alone are enough to sink any hope of equity. I put the baby to bed and then Maria. I let her keep her fort up so she can read to her stuffed animals. She’ll be out cold in five. I call up the girls to see if they want to do brunch tomorrow. Really I just need a cigarette. They’re in, thank God. James keeps it up with the silent treatment bullshit. He just sits there in front of the hockey game with an uninterested look on his mug. Sometimes I wonder if I could go it alone. I suppose I’ll call Mother in the morning and see what she thinks.



When Will I Die? I Need To Know Before I Commit To A Career. Probably many died across the world on October 14th, 2008. D.O.D of Richard Wade Cooey II, American Murderer. His lawyers argued he was too fat to be killed by lethal injection drugs. He had tried to escape by climbing and cut open his bulbous body on barbed wire fences. Before execution he watched TV in his cell and ate his last meal: T-Bone Steak with A1 Sauce, French Fries, Four Eggs Over Easy, Buttered Toast, Hash Browns, Pint of Rocky Road Ice Cream, Mountain Dew, and Bear Claw Pastries. And what about the girls he killed, Wendy Offredo and Dawn McCreery? And his accomplices, Clinton Dickens and Kenneth Horonetz? Dickens served life because he was seventeen. Cooey’s last words: “You haven’t paid attention to anything I’ve said in the last twenty-two and a half years,” which was his age. “Why would anyone pay attention to anything I’ve had to say now?”


David Bellemare Burn Oil on canvas



t’s cold in the backseat and the police are being rude. They ask me my name and I tell them it‘s Raymond. They ask me what my friends name is and I tell them it‘s Trevor. They ask me what’s in the bag and I say it’s weed. It’s black, Officer Jameson says. It’s roaches, I say, from joints. The rain taps against the roof of the car like drumming fingers. The cuffs are too tight, the metal is cold, my socks are wet and my bangs are in my eyes. Officer Jameson leans in, almost maternally, and does up my seatbelt. He smells like rain and cigarettes. Officer Turner chuckles and tells me the condom in my wallet is expired. He has everything in my pockets spread out on the hood of the cruiser. Officer Jameson laughs and shakes his head as he closes the door. The world doesn’t need any more idiots, Raymond. Two cops walk over from the cruiser that’s holding Trevor. They chat amiably together, stamping their boots and blowing into their hands. With their rain hoods up they look like fishermen gesticulating and comparing the size of their catch. The rain patter on the hood intensifies, the windows are fogging. I catch Trevor’s attention in the other cruiser but the glass is too blurry for communication. I want to ask him why he didn’t run like I did. I want to ask him if his cops are as mean as mine are. He shakes his head like a wet dog and slumps awkwardly in his seat. Soon even his visage is lost in the metallic hue of the streetlights. I kick my boots against the seat in front of me, trying to get the water out. I hear two doors slam, an engine rev, and a car pull away. Jameson and Turner get in the cruiser. Turner fiddles with his keys and Jameson looks back at me. How are those cuffs, he asks. A little tight, I say.


Emily Smit-Dicks Bones Collage

Turner puts the key into the ignition. They’re supposed to be tight, he says, that’s why they’re called handcuffs. At the station I am processed by Sergeant O’Malley. His desk is an opposing monolith of mahogany supported by an elevated dais. The ventilation duct is trying to suck up the lone tuft of hair on the apex of his head. He adjusts his spectacles and leans forward to address me. Raymond Leonard, he says. I nod my head and look down. I can see his reflection in the rain puddle forming around my boots. Jameson steps up and arrays the evidence on Sergeant O’Malley’s desk. The Sergeant holds up my baggy to the light and squints and sighs. Roaches, he says. You kids and your damned roaches. He turns to Officer Jameson. You know what the kids do with these? Jameson shrugs. Smoke them, I suppose. What they do, O’Malley says, is save them. They save enough roaches to roll into a roach joint, and then they save the roaches from the roach joint and roll them into a joint. The Sergeant spreads out his hands. Ad infinitum! Whatever happened to collecting stamps and baseball cards? No one answers him so he puffs his cheeks disdainfully and leans back in his seat, disap-


pearing from my view. The leaders of tomorrow, eh? he says. All I can see of him is a bald dome and his lone tuft, planted like a flag on a barren hill. Jameson shrugs again and pats my shoulder. A clerk walks over and they whisper and Jameson signs off on a few papers. Coming back he nudges me towards the door. My boots squeak on the linoleum floor. I try to adjust the seat but it’s bolted to the table and the table is bolted to the ground. I lean my head against the vomit-green wall and see a faint scratching, probably from a fingernail, that reads “Fuck Suzy.” I wonder if it’s a lament or a suggestion. After a while Jameson pushes open the door. He drops a grey box on the table. Put your belt and laces in there, he says. I open my mouth to speak but he raises his hand, I know I know kid, spare me the usual objections. It’s just protocol. He disappears back into the florescent glare of the main office. When he returns the belt and laces are in the box. You want some water? he asks. I look down, my hair dripping down onto my lap, and back up to him. I’m okay on the water, I say. Jameson shrugs and crosses his arms. If you don’t like being wet, don’t get arrested in the rain he says. I thank him for the advice. He chuckles and picks up the box. You know, you remind me a bit of myself as a kid, but soggier. He closes the door behind him. Trevor and I are pushed out into the morning. A cold breeze sways the dead trees and blows the leaves around my boots. The sun is a dull throb on the horizon. My mother is standing by the Subaru in her overcoat and slippers. My father stays in the car, his head peeking out over the seat, his knuckles white on the steering wheel. Trevor’s parents ignore me as they usher him into their Volkswagen. With one hand I hold up my pants, with the other I clutch my belt and laces. With each step the lip of my boot flops back and forth. When I’m in the car I take off my boots and socks and warm my toes with my hands. My father looks straight ahead, my mother watches me in the mirror. I look out the window and see Trevor staring back at me, but the morning mist has fogged the glass and I can’t make out his face. My father turns the key and we back out of the parking lot. On the way home we pass by Anatolia’s Greek Diner. The red paint is still on the wall. The F the U the C and the K, but I only finished half the Y.




imagine the woman on the intercom saying very truthful things. Insight is given about me, maternally: “Do you remember that time you did something? And they didn’t think it was funny?” And a little cavalcade of all those times comes out. “And now that you feel a little sick about that time you did that thing, consider eating McDonald’s, which has gravol hidden inside it.” That’s true. “And remember the diseases you might have, which are unverified, and possibly all there at once! Little parasites dancing around in your body.” Which is a bit prickly, willfully. Like the peeling of band aids from where my skin had absorbed them in a feat of sudden human evolution. Really the problem is for thinking so loudly, and also for slouching. And for the feeling that you have to just keep on digesting that long yell—the kind that you make in a day on a cliff.


Justin Bhatia Poof Watercolour and ink

TWO POEMS Nicholas Cameron DOWN It was at dawn, red, when it descended, We’d already occupied, emptied the street. They ran out the gutted factory, Screams fermenting the ground and arms linked like on Broadway. I made the pops and saw the pings Purple, crimson ovals above the heart. He mounded himself on top, Legs wrapped, broken around her With pupils glaring, limp and four gossip-like gasps. She looked up, down at me. Screaming tribal hexes, hyperboles Her very words muffled by his coat. I sewed a bullet to her teeth and Left her to forget the rest.

UP I’ve woken to the humming of your side for the past four weeks and forgotten about that place where I pay rent, those people and the plants I once swore hell or high water to water. Up since six and at one, you’ll wake and remember crashing sleeping with broken glasses, face-up like some dead white man’s crypt and a dry crust of saliva around your mouth like frost. We’ll lie in bed, forget the possibility of brunch, And debate who won the race home, in what order and how to pronounce “hostel.” You’ll crack your fingers into precision and That will be that, in quotes.


GUELPH Kate-Christine Miller


ine sinks slowly and commitedly into my baby blue silk dress, which Bernice begged me to put on. I laugh and belch falling onto the bed as Andrea fetches a wet cloth. My head felt warm and heavy. Scribbled on a sloppy diagonal across her bedroom ceiling, “My Roof is a Sun Destroyer.” I don’t move as Andrea scrubs away with club soda and baking powder: fizzling domestic magic. I am too drunk to clean myself up, and I know that the way to get her to take care of me without resenting it is to play as helpless as possible. Bernice got the photo she wanted: deep purple wine, white sheets, baby-boy blue, my wild smile. What feels like an hour, but is more likely ten minutes, passes and Bernice is playing her Janis Joplin record and performing, knocking over piles of clothes and lamps. Her boyfriend is telling her it’s time to go to bed. The conversation gets angular and Andrea has already left. I stand up and feel blood rush to my legs. I crawl up the stairs, stumbling over the cats we’ve taken in and laughing to myself then rip off the dress and climb into bed naked with my Ipod. I cue up a sentimental playlist and fall asleep singing. Huge house in a college town, which we managed to fill with second hand must-haves, including an entire spool rack from an abandoned thread store. It doesn’t fit through the door and sits in our driveway for the whole year we are tenants. For two weeks meat was left out on the back picnic table and became infested with maggots. We discovered it when we decided to have a backyard beer since the neighbors were getting tired of our smoking and bitching on the front porch every night. The smell overtook us and we were at each other’s throats. The only male roommate griping about how girls are supposed to be clean, me just trying to look as put-out and sad as possible. I remark that I am a vegetarian about seven times. Once the last steaming heavy green porkchop hits the bottom


Sara Maston For Uncle Oil on board

of the garbage bin I am in the shower massaging sandalwood into my every pore. None of us ate or left our rooms that night. Bernice gets home from work and can’t believe we didn’t take a picture. Hungover mornings Bernice would watch the lawn seriously with a coffee, I’d lay on the dirty wooden slats bawling over non-specific depression and boys. Andrea would come out onto the porch, “ok drunkies I made you eggs.” Bernice has at least seven thousand books. Piled all over each other, on the bed, under the bed, on the window sill. In carefully curated order like “Being and Nothingness” next to “Politics and Art.” Andrea always has to ask something: “Who puts the broken eggshells back in the carton?” “Who just leaves teabags in the sink and not the garbage?” “Bernice why on earth do you have this Ken Danby book, that’s ridiculous” “What! Ken Danby is amazing! Look at this Wayne Gretzky painting, so good!” my shaking head, her satisfaction. I was happy to be only an object. Bernice: secret artist, historian, writer, pet lover. Me: drunk girl in blue silk dress on bed.


America Blasco Golden Afternoon C-print photograph

SUGAR Eric Andrew-Gee Pounded in, simply, like brown sugar. It was important To remember. The white hand fading to blue Under St. Ward’s clinical lights. Now what she says is tied elaborately, a ribbon Knotted to its own logic. A deliberate blue. Before it was approved of, she taught us about women and Seminoles and Pinkertons and negroes. A mind ahead of its time, which, as we learned, dissolves. She would be unlike her mother, on her back in St. Ward’s. Never, never let yourself march. Simply march. Thinned in her memory to half a phrase. Her eyes were like ponds in summer. Her mouth was sticky. She refused to cook As a young wife, and then became adept At soufflés and Provencal sweets, a real woman. And now as simple and distant as her mother. Dying The same way. Frail and childish, singing childhood songs. Having believed this was one of the things You could resist, with whatever was meant by smarts and lots Of American Jewish novelists training you in sarcasm. But the truth is split open like a bitten Tongue, and in pours brown sugar— Terror and simplicity, under the same lights Of the same foam green ward, under un-creased sheets. Nieces visiting, reminding you of your recipes, and the way You wrapped presents.




very morning she woke up to find she had forgotten to run the dishwasher the night before. She took out a couple of mugs and a bowl, and ran tap water over them. She closed her eyes to savour the feeling of warm water running through her fingers. He stood in the hallway watching the sun pour through the window and onto her face. She looked like she was in a movie except that her hair was greasy. He grabbed her waist from behind and whispered something in her ear. She giggled. She only heard the words once he was out of reach, by the stove pouring a cup of coffee. “I don’t get it.” “Don’t worry about it,” he said and poured her a mug full. “I was so excited about the dishwasher when we moved in. It’s funny I can’t remember to use it.” He sat down with the newspaper and stirred his coffee. “Funny,” he said without looking up from what he was reading. She got some blackberries out from the fridge and returned to her square of sunlight. She rinsed the berries under tap water and ate them one by one standing at the counter. “When you close your eyes and look right at the sun does it turn red for you?” she asked. “More birds fall from the sky,” he read out from the paper. She nodded and put another blackberry in her mouth, pressing it into the roof of her mouth, tasting the juice as it ran down the back of her throat. She realized what he’d said that she hadn’t heard eight seconds ago. “What about birds?” Her eyes were still closed. “It says another 500 birds dropped dead from the sky, this time in Louisiana.” “It’s like an orangey-red when I look right at it with my eyes closed.” She opened her eyes and added, “Imagine that. Imagine if one fell on your head.” A cell phone rang from the bedroom. He went to answer


Jeffrey Torgerson

From the series Persuasion Digital Print

it. She poured herself a cup of coffee and went out onto the balcony that overlooked a cement lot strewn with weeds and plastic furniture, and bookended by two low-rise buildings the same as theirs but a little different. “Nice weather we’re having eh?” The voice came from the next balcony over. Standing there was a man with a silver ponytail and a pot belly peeking out from a half-unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. “Oh hi Tim.” “It’s Ted.” “Oh sorry. Ted. Did you hear about those birds?” “What?” “Ray, my boyfriend, Ray,” she pointed to the door into the house, “told me that hundreds of dead birds fell from the sky.” “Where?” “I forget where he said. Not here though. You could look it up online. Ray read it in the newspaper. It’s funny he still gets the paper.” “Funny ‘bout them birds too.” “Sure is.” “Probably something to do with global warming.” “Yeah maybe.” When she went back inside, Ted stayed out on his balcony and shut his eyes, picturing her putting the mug in the sink and moving from the kitchen to the bathroom, standing in front of the mirror as she untied her hair. Then turning on the water, checking the temperature before she started undoing her robe, then sitting down on the toilet taking her socks off one by one, and finally her naked body. He remembered the curve of her calves and her bony knees. The rest he filled in with his imagination. He watched a droplet roll down her spine, past each protruded vertebra. She never put her mug in the sink. Instead, she poured herself another cup of coffee and found Ray in the front room. “Chris is here,” Ray said. “Where?” “Just in the bathroom.” “Oh.” “What were you doing out there?”


“Talking to the neighbour.” “He’s gonna write a story about those birds.” “How do you know?” “What?” “How did you know I told Tim—I mean Ted—about those birds.” “Who? No, Chris. Chris is going to write about it.” Chris moved from the hallway to a chair on the other side of the room. “Hi Clare. How are ya?” “Want some coffee Chris?” Ray asked. “Thanks.” Ray went into the kitchen. Chris leaned as far back as he could in his chair. He took a pair of sunglasses out from his breast pocket and put them on. “You want to hear my first sentence?” Clare nodded. Chris ceremoniously took a black moleskin out of the same breast pocket and recited from it, “One morning in the month of May a young woman with her arms full of groceries might have been seen on the flowery sidewalks of Baton Rouge when they first began to fall.” Ray stood in the hall with two steaming mugs. “That’s a little different. Might have been. I like that.” “What’s going to come next?” Clare asked. “The word flowery is still bothering me. I won’t be able to write anything else until it hits the mark.”


lare woke up and realized she had forgotten to run the dishwasher. Ray found her washing two mugs by hand. “Anything to eat?” he asked. “Just coffee. I’ll go to the store in a bit.” Ray sat down with the newspaper and stirred his coffee. He read out the headlines. Clare lingered by the window. She couldn’t hear him over the hum of the dishwasher. From the stairwell, Clare spotted a Hawaiian shirt by the mailboxes in the front foyer. “Hi Ted—I mean Tim.” “It’s Ted.”


Kendra Bramson Bowes Untitled Pen & ink on paper

“Oh sorry Ted.” “Isawadeadbirdyesterdayandthoughtofyou.” “What?” He said it slower this time, “I saw a dead bird yesterday and thought of you.” “Oh. Funny.” Clare tried to smile before she ducked out the door and onto the street. When she got back from the store, she found Chris and Ray in the front room.


“You want to hear my first sentence Clare?” “I already did.” “No, it wasn’t quite right before. I’ve been working on it.” He held his moleskin in front of his nose like a script. “One morning in May a young woman with a paper bag full of groceries might have been seen on the flower-strewn sidewalks of Baton Rouge when they first began to fall.” Ray nodded vigorously. “Flower-strewn. That’s a lot better.” Chris put his notebook down on the coffee table and stared at it. “It’s still not quite right.”


he next morning Clare ran a mug under tap water. She poured herself a cup of coffee, and sat down to do the crossword. It was the one square she felt was hers in Ray’s paper. She heard Ray come up behind her. Without turning around, she asked him, “What’s a four-letter word for interruption.” “Stop.” “No, it has to end with a T.” “What is that?” “R-e-t-r-i-e-v-e-r, Retriever. I know that one is right for sure so the across has to end with a T.” “No that noise.” Clare cocked her heard. “Do you hear that scratching? It’s coming from out there.” Ray opened the door to find Ted in a blue and orange Hawaiian print shirt standing in the hall. “Was that you making that noise?” “Here.” Ted pushed an enveloped out at Ray. “It’s for Clare. It was in my mailbox.” “Thanks.” Ray slowly took it from him. “Thanks,” he repeated and shut the door. “Who knocks like that? Like a cat scratching at the door. Everything about him is a little funny.” Clare smiled. “He’s harmless.” “I’m not so sure. I’ve seen the way he looks at you.” “Ray. Gross.” “I’m serious. And look at this. It’s obviously junk mail. He just wanted an excuse to talk to you.” “He was just being neighbourly.”


“He wants to sink those gummy jaws of his into you.” “Ray!” “One day he’s going to slip getting out of the bath. And no one will find his body for days and we’re going to be the first ones to smell it.” “Stop it Ray. What if he can hear you?” Clare had a big grin on her face. “So what.” “What was that?” Clare looked toward the door. That was a real knock. Her smile faded a little. “It’s probably Chris. He said he was going to stop by.” Chris wasn’t wearing his sunglasses. Clare noticed he was smiling so wide his eyes crinkled at the corners. “I finished it!” “The sentence?” Clare asked. “No, the story.” “Let’s hear it then.” Ray patted the other man on the back as they moved into the front room to sit down. Chris began reciting from his moleskin, “One May morning, a young woman with a paper bag full of groceries might have been seen on the flower-strewn streets of Baton Rouge when they first began to fall. That morning, he first found her squatting on the chair, its wicker pattern pressing into the balls of her feet. She smelled like coffee and cigarettes and clean laundry. He made his footsteps as undetectable as possible, determined to sneak up behind her and get a whiff before she noticed him. She always noticed him. She’d cock her head like a dumb puppy. Then he’d whisper something in her ear….” As Clare listened to Chris’s story, she gazed out the window at a flock of birds in late morning sun. It appeared to her— though at that distance she could only make out black specks— that one of them dropped from the sky mid-flight. “…They stood together at the window, their fingers interlocked, as they watched the sky turn black with fall birds.” Chris finished and looked up for approval. Clare started laughing hysterically. She couldn’t control herself. “What is it?” Chris had hoped that his story might bring her to tears, but he never imagined this would happen. Ray started laughing too.



I met a dreamy German man, and when I asked him how he was the metaphysical heft of it all completely crushed his mind. certain people do seem less than the sum of their parts, and others seem like more, etc. but a neatened scheme never fit anything. We could still remember then what it meant to be so among things. I was looking for a perfect place that needed me to give it shape. now the day evens out to an orangey black, and this place is still no one’s fault.


Rachel Woroner

From the series Golden Valley Photography

KA’WAHSE Michael Lee-Murphy

To exude salt and metal at the corners and seeing to see and to know and how in tears and coins of the cracks between them The cold, turning to grit, a bloodletting. No rhyme but oblivion, under pink neon: our thaw in decay the coffee with blood black digits and bent neck of no nerve Razor sharp canyon prospectors sifting the formica in which lightening rods and steeples and faces search skyward and only so a thousand tiny mouths bubbling down the face over the thin paint veneer of next week



What if it were a fire alarm, And the CO imminently invisible? What if the inner bell opened its circuit to dispel the heat, the building ready to give out, too? What if we hadn’t engulfed the distress, she released the tension hoping, to be iced by the haughty response: “No, I think it’s just the truck outside.” A stronger extinguisher, please: One that tackles temperature, oxygen, and fuel—next time.


Yuli Sato Vero Inkjet print



could give you a prescription for Sotalex.” The doctor’s office looked over-exposed; the light coming in from outside was so bright, plus the fluorescent overheads. “Most of my patients have responded well to it.” Rachel pointed at the window. “Could I—could I draw the blinds?” she asked. “Of course, yeah,” he said as he did it himself. By the time she returned to the five-storey parking lot it had been one hour and fifty-eight minutes since she arrived. But the machine didn’t register her slip until she swiped it for the eleventh time, so it charged her an extra five dollars, and there was no one to complain to. She pulled over on her way back to the condo and called her sister. No answer; she was probably at work. Kay was five years older, already had two boys, stayed on top of the trends in business attire and had her highlights touched up on a biweekly basis. She had also insisted on their father’s commitment to a home in Oakville three years ago when he started to show signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Which Rachel was opposed to. Their mother, who hadn’t lived in Toronto for fifteen years at that point, made a point of staying out of it. So that was that. But lately she had been spending more time with Kay. She had become someone who would feel her tummy and say that, yes, she could also feel it moving. It was in fact there. When she got to the condo she stood in the door to the baby’s room: an empty crib, a white dresser and a rotating projector lamp with animal shapes cut out from its sides. And a tenth-storey view of eight other aquamarine glass condos on the lakefront, and then the financial district. It needed posters, or something. She spent most of the rest of the afternoon at her laptop, researching Sotalex.


Neil Corcoran Mountain Breakfast Collage


athan’s flight came in from Guangzhou about an hour before sunset. It felt like years had passed every time he returned to Toronto. The airport did not look the same as when he left. When is she even due, he thought. He could not remember anymore. Though it was better than the time that he felt like he had swallowed a fist-sized ball of metal and nearly vomited in the men’s washroom before meeting Rachel in the atrium.


“So,” she had said in the car. “How was it?” “How was what?” “Your trip, ya dummy.” “It was fine.” “Yeah? Was the flight okay?” “Yes, it was fine,” he had said, and they stopped talking for the rest of the drive. Or the time he stepped off the plane and no one was there to meet him. Rachel was staying with Kay that night, and he knew he would not be able to sleep if he went home, so he sat at the airport bar until he felt drunk enough to fall asleep in the cab, which he did. This time it was not dark yet; they had dinner plans, and when he got there they kissed on the lips at the condo’s doorway and then drove to a restaurant. “So how have you been,” he asked. “Been good,” she said, “though I’m still having these palpitations.” She put her hand to her chest. “Have you seen someone about that yet?” “Yes, I got a prescription today for a drug called Sotalex,” she said. “But—” she shrugged. “What?” “It seems dicey. I’m not sure I want to go through with it. This is really driving me crazy though.” “Why don’t you just try it.” “Because I don’t want to. I’m not sure it’s safe, Nathan.” They ordered their meals, and then both started glancing around the restaurant. Eventually he turned to his smartphone. “Would you stop that,” she said. “We’re out to dinner right now.” “Why,” he said. “It’s not like we’re talking.” Nathan’s driving on the way back set Rachel on edge. He was stopping too hard and accelerating too fast. A cabbie at King and Spadina honked at them as Nathan cut him off. “Nate, would you—” “What,” he said. “No, it’s fine. Just—it’s fine.” “Okay,” he said, exhaling through his nose. “Good.”


Julian Stamboulieh Post Party Inkjet print

I HATE MYSELF Guillaume Morissette

a purpose is a person but backwards; if there’s a place where I belong I have already ruined it. as a kid I ruined my purpose, which was to prevent bad things from happening to dogs in movies. one time on screen a dog died and it was my fault; I couldn’t help the dog with oreos or my ant farm, so I cried a little, I thought, “maybe the butterfly effect will make it right,” but it didn’t, because the butterfly effect is all or nothing, either the butterfly flaps its wings and later somehow a hurricane forms or it doesn’t and instead the butterfly just stands there thinking about a self-defeating life philosophy that says, “you can never love a person, you can only tolerate a person.” I still feel bad a little about the dog dying in that movie when I was a kid; it’s kind of a backward feeling.


JASMINE, ‘77 Tamkinat Mirza

“I used to sew my own dresses, at twenty, you know.” It stemmed from a lack of most entertainment: A curfew before sunset doesn’t leave much time to mingle. Intricate stitch-formation, needle-coordination: Ever-intriguing complexity which has taken ahold of my consciousness. Designs mentally mulled, I execute without sketching Defying drawing, disregarding prototype, I construct for I, myself. Buttonhole, blanket, overcast, As well as the utilitarian running stitch, Combinations for custom clothing. Sunsets flow into sunrises, Quiet dawn is assaulted with the grinding whir Of my antique eggshell Singer, As it vibrates on a cracked teak stand, four feet by two.


MY COSTCO Cory Carson


washed out Costco membership is one of the few cards I hold in my wallet. Stuffed behind my bus pass—even my health care—it rarely sees the light of day. Yet in terms of sentiment, perhaps trumps even my weathered pictures. I first received it at the age of 18, and have used it rarely since then. So why keep it? Some of my earliest memories are of Costco. You could say the wholesaler was more than just a store to my post-Catholic family. Although we didn’t shop on Sundays, our experiences retained the air of a religious service. There were sermons on saving and a Communion of hot dogs and coke. To a child, the store was nothing short of a miracle. With their old-fashioned cashiering system of pneumatic tubes, even the method of payment seemed divine: our donations stuffed in a plastic canister and vacuumed skyward to an invisible Vatican. There was also the emphasis on family values. Nothing brought out the team spirit at home like unloading the week’s haul. Forming a human chain from the hatchback to the pantry, we moved our supplies with military precision. There were also mysteries difficult to explain without faith. For example, a large hot dog could be had for an unbelievable $2, (the price has not changed since 1985,) but could not be ordered without a soda. The two formed a package deal that foiled even the most assertive shoppers (“Why can’t I just have the hot dog?”). Newcomers were easily distinguished from the flock by their perplexity at this enigma, while the regulars in line would shake their heads knowingly: do not ask what cannot be explained. Costco also had its dark elements. Beneath the store’s democratic promise of direct pricing lurked Dickensian realities. We were Business members—distinct from the masses of Gold Stars crowding the cereal aisle, who had to pay for the privilege of shopping. The generally sanguine mood was often interrupted by brushes at check out that brought the ugliness of this division to bear. My parents’ attempt to protect me from these


iniquities were unsuccessful: caught in line behind a member who had not paid his annual fee, we watched in silence as he was forced to restack each of his gigantic articles back on their proper pallets. The situation was clear: chivalry and scorn for the Gold Stars; envy and admiration for the Executives. A frequently repeated moral held that with enough hard work and determination, we could one day join the ranks of the Hughes and Carmichaels. Among the perks these patrons enjoyed was an annual return on their expenditure. If we happened upon this pedigree in the meat section, the etiquette was clear: acknowledge their superior bounty, but never compliment. “They know,” mother explained after I stunned a family of development moguls by loudly remarking on the variety of muffins in their cart. Mr. Carmichael stopped chatting long enough on his bluetooth to shudder visibly. A hard but important lesson. I am not sure when going to Costco lost its appeal, but overindulgence was certainly a factor. A steady stream of appliances, clothes, literature, and taquitos kept us returning. We went not only for all our household needs, but sometimes, it seemed, for no reason at all: “Why are we going to Costco again?” “Just to do some window shopping.” “But Costco doesn’t have any windows!” It was true—except for the giant skylight in the middle of each store, designed to reduce lighting costs. After being radicalized at university, I was no longer a happy shopper, helping to keep the kitchen stocked. Instead, I was lost in the supermarket. Our weekend trips to restock the pantry were punctuated by my censure of bulk culture. My stance has since softened. But I still blush with embarrassment when I recall my final act of rebellion. Frustrated at my mother’s buying a year’s worth of perogies when we only needed a dozen, a struggle broke out between my us that lead to a deluge of canned fruit inundating the depot. A sample lady slipped in the nectar, reigniting her sciatica. We spent hours with the blinds closed in the back office. A proposition was tendered, but despite my mother’s tears and pleas for reason, I refused to repent. The manager had no choice. I was politely barred me from Costco Burnaby #302 and its network of 500 global locations. They let me keep the card.


Amanda Craig No. 6 Oil on wood


Terry could make a four-course meal with quarters she found on the bus ride home and she, with a deep breath like the sweeping of brooms, was frustrated only that as a child she couldn’t see past the very center of a lightbulb. And little did she know that there at the center was the memory of a family of four driving unhurriedly down the sliding neck of whichever peninsula, the road narrowing as they drove until the mirrors of the passing cars kissed as they crawled past one another narrowed until the water lapped at their tires and the road was forced into a single lane and you were only able to proceed by holding on to the hope that wherever it was that you were going was a place from which no one was coming back.


SINGLE -USE Matthew Justin James


he lights flicker on as a fluorescent glow casts its spell over the room like the opposite of a shadow. I step into the space towards the bathroom and open the hollow door to start my general inspection: corner shower, sliding glass, individually wrapped soap along with single-use shampoo & conditioner. I leave the light on as I further investigate the rest of the space. The typical floral pattern comforter lies on each of the two single beds, and on the wall, a matching still life. The room has the typical array of hotel supply as I may be the typical sort of client. This may even be a typical circumstance for a visitor to take a room. But this is not typical for me. In fact, this sort of thing only happens once. Only once does your mother die. I stand to the side of one of the beds. I stand there and stare heavily. Picking the one furthest from the door I sit down, slip my feet out of my loafers and squeeze my swollen jet-lagged feet. I am startled by a sudden ring. Leaning onto my side, I reach for the phone. “Hello?” “Listen David, there are some things that you have to know before I tell you what state I am in.” This is my sister. This is all that I am left with. “First, I cannot begin to tell you all the issues regarding the hospital and the way they treated Mother. Secondly—” “Samantha, I just arrived…I am here now. I need to get some rest. I love you and I am here. I will call you back once I have had a chance to lie down.” “Well, too little too late. I would like some rest too but you know what? I haven’t had any. I have had to take care of our mother for so long, and now she is dead.” “I know, I want to help, but right now I can’t even keep my eyes open. Sam, please.” “Well, just know the clock is ticking.” I hang up, and a thin film of sadness covers me as I now realize how sorry I am for my sister. The way she is, it’s not her fault.


She was born into this, I have to be there for her. I begin to stare at the blank television. I notice the distorted reflection of the room that I am a part of, I observe how my counterpart contorts with every subtle gesture. I start to listen to the silence, the sort of tonal action of empty space, that ominous hum that fills a hotel room and tells you how alone you are. The emptiness fills me as I come to remember how I felt as a child, how I couldn’t understand how other families made everything “okay.” Was everything just a comfortable tug of war? My sister was born almost a decade after me, so by the time she was of a conscious age, I had already moved out on my own. I think that my parents knew that they were not fit to rear children after their experiences with me and once my sister was old enough, they placed her in a boarding school and decided it was time to separate. Once finished with her schooling abroad, she pretty much drifted around for a while until she came home. Then she never left; she just attached herself to Mom and stayed there in an effort to grab ahold of some form of a mother-daughter relationship.


rise up and start to fumble at the window for a latch I can’t seem to find. I also can’t seem to find a breath. Suddenly I am moving so quickly towards and out the door, as if through the thinnest water. Before I even think of going to the emergency stairwell and up to the roof, there I am. I push open the emergency exit and the breeze hydrates me like a drink of water in the middle of some hung-over dream. I take in a deep breath and find that I am not able to hold this content moment, I am coupled again with this great pressure, like the pressure of a belt cinched tightly around my throat. Rain starts falling and it lands warm to the touch. As I move forward the breeze blows slowly over my face while the gravel crunches under my feet and all of a sudden I realize I am at the edge of the building. I look down, seeing the cars travel about twenty stories below. I watch as if on the edge of the highest diving board above an olympic pool, and taken off guard by the surreality of it all, I fall slowly backwards onto the gravel covered roof. I lie there with the warm rain falling and the drops start to get thicker and heavier. I hear that strange sound that the phone makes, and it


continues until my eyes open and I am suddenly awake on the bed, covered in sweat. I lean over and answer the phone. “Hello?” “David! It’s Julia.” “Julia.” “Did I wake you?” “I was just dreaming... I feel like this never ends.” “Baby, I wish I was there.” “I know…what time is it?” “Well, it’s 8 a.m. here, so... it must be late. I’m sorry to wake you, I just can’t stop wondering how you’re doing.” “I’m okay…Samantha called.” “Everything will be alright.” “Will it? I can’t be there for her. I can’t, I... I haven’t’ “Baby, you do what you can.” “That’s just the point, I can do so much more.” “You’re tired. Get some sleep.” “Yeah,” I say, “I’ll do what I can.” I hang up the phone and my mind takes me back to the last time I remember my family being “together.” I had just arrived from the bus station with my ticket. Samantha was home for Christmas and I knew this was the best time to tell them that I was leaving. I wanted to tell them everything, but I didn’t. They pretended to care but we all knew they were more interested in the argument they were having. It’s now, as I lay here on this bed covered in sweat and still half in a dream, that I remember the look in Samantha’s eyes. A blank stare that I played off as youthful misunderstanding. Now I comprehend what it was, she was being left to fend for herself and already her empty, hungry soul was growing beneath those cool blue eyes. I start to cry, as I did that very night I Ieft; which is the last time I can remember crying. I did this to her, I left her with this silent drone; this hum that speaks all that one needs to hear without saying a single word.


Thanks to the Fine Arts Student Alliance of Concordia


CASINO is a literary and visual arts magazine based out of but not limited to Montreal.