This One's for Munro

This One’s for Munro

I dropped in to the Youth Centre coffee house to hobnob with the travellers passing through to Toronto.  If I had the moxie, I might strum a guitar, but I sat listening to others. Moments of elation and depression passed as I thought of my whole life stretching in front of me.  Adventure, that’s what I wanted. 

The hostel was in the old armoury.  Upstairs we played chess and music.  Downstairs, the cadets shot off their guns for a few hours in the evening.

In came my friend Monroe, dashing in a grey cloak and denim pants, striding, swinging a cherry wood staff.   He ushered in a pretty girl, Erika Stevens, such thin arms and deep eyes.  I ached to buy her a milk shake. 

“Hang onto this!” Munro said, tossing the staff.

I grabbed it instantly, tuned into his swagger and his throw.

He was like no one else in town, that’s why everyone was attracted to him.  He didn’t care what anyone thought.
 He dressed how he wanted, did what he wanted.  His voice rang out with conviction. 

“You’ve got a lot of potential, man,” I told Munro, and he grinned and a long pause moved between us and then he said “yes, but no goals, man.  No goals,” and the pretty girl giggled, awash in his confidence and voice.

I smelled the wine on his breath, and he told the girl “we could drive down to the baseball field, drink under the midnight moon,” She wanted to possess the way he sounded, to live in that certainty.   “Anything we want to do, we can,” he told her.  “The night is for the taking.”

He was taking drugs then, too, uppers and benzos, as well as alcohol, “you can choose your mood,” he told me.  He kept a bottle of wine in his school locker.   “Why be so sad?  You seem so gloomy all the time, Jackson.”

I felt depressed very often, yet I didn’t want to be out of control.  It was tempting. I could be as free as Munro.  Yet I only watched and dreamed as he took Erika Stevens.  I wanted to change what I felt on the inside, in order to act with confidence and certainty on the outside.   I remained an observer.  “Too scared to make a move, I guess,” I told myself.

Munro and Erika continued downstairs to the shooting gallery, all wrapped in Munro’s cloak.  I’d been to the basement, target practicing on occasion, but it was too loud and repetitive and most of all no windows so you smelled the shots.   I was happy with space around me, nothing hemming me in.  I went outside for a while and talked to a dog panting under the birch trees.

I slouched back in, picked guitar quietly from the corner, and watched backpackers come and go.  Munro emerged from the basement, the girl’s arms around his waist.   “Let’s see that instrument,” he said, taking it from me, and he played a song  he called “Broken Dog,” all about a street musician who wouldn’t play the music company’s game.  Every word sounded true, as if Monroe experienced the events of the song as he sang it. 

“Did you just make that up?” I asked.

“Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a few hours,” he smiled.   “Don’t play anyone’s game, man.”

“You got it,” I said.  “As soon as I graduate, I’m out of this town.”

I couldn’t get Munro out of my mind for weeks, that grey cloak, that pretty girl, and that music pouring from his mind into his voice and fingers.   I wanted to be like him, natural, charismatic, living for the moment.  I wouldn’t play anyone’s game.

I moved to Toronto after high school, and never returned.  Munro passed away two years later from a drug overdose, in the same town he was born in.

Harrison Kim

I live and write out of Victoria, Canada with my spouse and editor Sera T., and am on the second year of a five-year writing plan.  Over the past year, my stories have been published in Blue Lake Review, Hobart Pulp, Liquid Imagination, Horror Zine, Storgy, Piker Press, Spadina Literary Review, The Blue Nib, Literally Stories, Bewildering Stories, and others


  1. Glad this one is out there I feel a real affinity for it.

    1. Thanks, Karl H. Its partly based on personal experience....

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