In lieu of anything pleasant to hang on to, I'm embracing the new identity bestowed upon me, or, more accurately, hurled at me by a known suspect on an unfamiliar sidewalk.
"You're like somebody's creepy Russian aunt," he says. An interminable lifetime spent gleaning glittery flecks from the dross that passes for social intercourse here helps me spot the compliment buried in that curious epithet.
To describe the source of this combination of dis and respect is a challenge. He is a creation of his own imagination who, since he insisted I notice his teenaged self way back in the era of the Golden Circle saloon, has exerted over me the unique power to fascinate.
Head Drinker and I'm Not From Nova Scotia were sure I had put a spell on this breathtaking boy, but it was the other way around.
The unsuspecting schoolmarm was swept off her broken chair by a baby-faced sorcerer who claimed to have been ejected from several high schools for extracurricular activities with instructors. The bar whisky I drank was called Teacher's. I never stood a chance.
The next time I saw him, I could not help becoming engrossed in his ever-changing self-presentation.
I only trust visual language, and have always expressed myself through costume. Rarely have I met anyone else who understands and exploits the value of disguise as does the The Kid: sugar-water to mohawk his hair, the spikes reading like exclamation points around his native good looks; a kilt nicked from a girlfriend and worn with striding bravado through his "barrio bravo," as Mexicans call a tough neighbourhood; sleeves he'd fashioned from stockings; and a touch of eyeliner. Then, suddenly, he is someone else, a pattern shaved or dyed in his do, eyebrows modified. Only the impenetrable black eyes are the same, roving the world for prospects.
My fascination with this mythological being - Narcissus he admits to - caused me to foolishly extend credit. I thought it was all an act. There's no way he believes those outrageously vain compliments he pays himself. Tragically, it seems he does. And he lies. Constantly. I know that.
He has a very quick and twisty mind. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to outsmart him. It's like a battle of the tricksters. Simple tricks can work best - but only once. "I'm coming back" was The Kid's way of escaping without being forced to speak to me.
Watching The Kid operate was part of the fascination, and I know my presence heightened his performance. Many lines were delivered not to me, but for my ears. Seductions were conducted under my nose, sometimes with my support. I don't know if someone who cares only for himself feels anything for anyone else, but clever dialogue made it clear he remembered me. If I somehow ever got between him and what he wanted, he could snap, his veneer resembling my late Rottweiler friend when his meat was threatened.
The main point is, The Kid is a magic person - and so am I. He can make himself invisible. I can appear from nowhere. Unfortunately, he does not enjoy the game as I do. Only once has he materialized.
It was past last call on the street. The person I was with had disappeared with a man I'd chatted up for her. I was in a bit of a daze trying to light a rollie stub when the lad was suddenly at my side. He let me be happy to see him and proceeded to say loudly, "I am going to give you a call. Will you be in tomorrow?"
It was so theatrical, I half-expected his posse to echo the words like a Greek chorus. He used my name several times. For that I got points. "Don't call me that on the street," I told The Kid, who grew up there.
Another night I spied him in The Blue Moon and dared walk in amongst all his little friends and ask, "Did you get my e-mail?" Flustered him. Too bad he's so full of himself and preoccupied with being cool. I just want to play. The two seven-year-olds who teased me and became my bike gang one Sunday recognized that.
On what no one knew would be the last night of The Blue Moon, which was closed down for our own good, The Kid came in with tasteful magenta temples. The best defence is a good offence, they say. He accused me of being bitter. "Maybe, but what's that got to do with you?" Threw him.
Of course, he's always talking about himself. It was impossible to converse, like trying to play Scrabble with someone who only makes words you can't add on to.
Then some Saturday night a while ago, I couldn't find my toque and tied a Bob Marley scarf on my cold head. Ended up sitting with a pair of young scarfheads, one very scary, the other a West Indian with an easy laugh full of pretty teeth. Up walks the The Kid.
He claims to be a witch but can see in me the successful emulation of my favourite storybook character, Baba Yaga, who has metal teeth and lives in a house built on legs like a chicken's. "You're like somebody's creepy Russian aunt" was The Kid's way of paying me a tribute, acknowledging that I have powers.
Then he indicated the distance people need to keep from me. "You never shoulda got so close," I said. He looked startled. He likes to keep truth at a distance, too. Survival is a matter of making believe.