Jack is utterly alone. The "show-cause" hearing is over and now he is on the street outside the courthouse
in downtown Ottawa
. He's never been to Ottawa before. Disoriented and confused, he heads across the street to the first unlocked door he can find. It is bitterly cold out, the middle of winter
, although the sun is shining and it fills his heart with joy to be free and outdoors on such a beautiful day. The small office behind the door belongs to the NAC
(National Arts Council
). In addition to offering warmth, he has a deluded thought that someone will notice him and rescue him from the loneliness, confusion and rising panic. But no one cares, he just sits there, ignored, until a strange urge
to keep moving grips him and he leaves.
He crosses Elgin Street, goes north two blocks and heads east along Sparks Street. There's a port-o-potty a couple of blocks down at a now quiet construction site. The oatmeal he had for breakfast at the jail has been partially digested and the impulse to defecate compels him into the smelly box. He sits for a while and wonders why he is here and where can he go. He focuses what is left of his concentration on the job at hand, remembers why he is there and finishes up his business.
Coming back out onto the street, he notices a large building to the north with a majestic spire in the center. He thinks, "A church, they'll help me there." So he heads up the hill towards an entrance, left of the spire, in the front of the building. There's a man at a desk just inside the door and an empty chair to the left. The man looks like death dressed in black wearing a cape and a hat. He wants help but is to scared to ask. So, he just sits on the hard leather-covered chair for a while as people come and go. Time stops. Paralysed by the dread of the cold and the fear to approach, he sits frozen in time. In the real world, time passes and the wheels are set in motion. A policeman arrives and escorts him outside to the backseat of a waiting cruiser. He doesn't resist. He hasn't the strength or the will to resist. He is catatonically withdrawn into a world of his own. Eventually, the policeman and his partner conclude he is just some lonely street person and does not pose a threat to national security, so, they let him go. You see it wasn't a church after all. It was the Parliament Buildings.
He travels back down the hill to Sparks Street, retracing his steps trying to figure out what just happened and what went wrong. He approaches another police cruiser parked on Sparks Street. He has an instinct that the police will help him despite his recent arrest and abuse at the hands of the police. Wordlessly, he hands a couple of tattered papers through the squad car window to the officer sitting in the driver's seat. It was his restraining order, directions to the "Shepherds of Good Hope" hostel and the court order releasing him back into the world. As he passes the paper in, a plane flies overhead and Jack drops them on the floor. He looks up at the noise and the sun shines in his eyes. For an instant, he is frozen in time. It was as if a nuclear bomb had been dropped and he was caught in the timeless brilliance of the explosion. Finally, he looks down and sees the officer's lips move and asks "Huh?" The officer slowly repeats what he said: "You'd better go to the hostel. It's that-a-way." He just looks at the officer with wide eyes and open mouth. And then he passes out.
He regains consciousness in the ambulance. It delivers him to a hospital somewhere near a forest. At least that's the impression he gets. There is some renovation going on in the dusty waiting room and he wanders around the emergency ward not quite sure why he's here or what to do. He approaches the nurse stating he is feeling strange and that strange things are happening to him. The nurse just smiles politely and says the doctor will see him soon. After a while he is directed into an examination room. The nurse leaves and he is left alone again. Wild thoughts race through his mind. Ok, examining room. Should he remove his clothes? Wait. He didn't want to remove his clothes. Ah, it's ok; no one has actually asked him to remove his clothes. What should he do? He fumbles with the buttons on his flannel shirt, unbuttoning and buttoning them. Finally, the doctor arrives. He tells the doctor that he feels strange. The doctor looks for obvious injuries and then he leaves, stating as he goes that nothing looks wrong and he can go. Great, just great. Go where?
Our confused friend leaves the examination room and goes down the hall to where some patients are watching TV. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is on. He stands there watching in fascination recognizing the characters but not the episode. Then the weirdest thing happens. Picard begins to morph. First, little red horns appear on his head. Then his face turns red as if some child has scribbled over it with a red crayon. It's too much. He moves towards the TV, the fear making it as if his feet were walking through mud. He reaches the TV, turns around and, in slow motion, bends over pushing the on/off button with his butt.
There are howls of protest from the patients so he quickens his pace and heads back to the nurse's station. He mumbles something about going to the "Shepherds of Good Hope" and the nurse arranges to pay the $14.95 for a taxi to take him back downtown.
He waits outside in the frigid night air for the taxi to arrive. He gets in and reads the address of the hostel from the direction he has managed to hold on to all this time. As the taxi moves away from the hospital, he casually mentions that he would really like a ride to his apartment in Montreal (some two hours away). The taxi drive says: "Sure. I can take you there." Thinking he can screw this nut out of the $200 fare it would cost. But the jokes on him, Jack thinks to himself, because he is flat broke. He is so broke that he does not even have a wallet to put money in. So he laughs it off and says: "No, you better go downtown."
Upon arriving at the hostel, he enters through the double glass door, looks around the lobby and moves to the wicket to the left. He receives a meal ticket with instruction not to lose it (which he promptly loses) and a bed assignment, which is on the third floor. Exhausted, he heads for the dorm style bedroom. He lies down and is unconscious again. He awakes and it is still dark. He hasn't had a shower since being sent to jail. So he goes to the large locker room bathroom beside the stairs and removes the second hand jeans and flannel shirt allotted to him at the jail. He has a brief encounter with the water and quickly gets dressed again. A small blessing that the place remained empty for the duration.
He walks down the back stairs to the main floor where there is a security guard and a decrepit old guy sitting in the lobby. He sits next to the guard but the guard is immediately uncomfortable by his proximity. He tries a variety of verbal and non-verbal language to make the guard more at ease but it only heightens his discomfort. So he moves on. Back to the wicket to ask for a needle and thread to mead his torn overcoat. It is the only personal possession that he retained from his earlier ordeal with the police. He has an overwhelming need to fix it. He goes back upstairs to sit on his bed and after a few attempts to repair the large tear, he gives up, loses the needle and goes back down stairs. He approaches the wicket and reports the missing needle, where, the person behind the glass sighs and states: "That wasn't to bright now was it."
So, he goes back to the lobby and tries to comfort the old guy sitting there. Eventually, he put the overcoat around the old guy's shoulders and quietly says: "You look like you need this more than me."
"Sleep, I've got to get some sleep. So tired." He thinks to himself. And he climbs the stairs again only to get disoriented half way up and stops at the second floor. He walks down one hallway and turns left into another hallway as if it was the way to his bed on the third floor. He arrives at the entrance to what he thinks is his bedroom but the way is blocked by two large shadowy figures. Confused and a little frightened, he backs away and goes back the way he came, past the first hallway and comes to a room with a bed that no one was guarding. He lies down and is unconscious again.
He awakes with a fright. He runs out of the room. They're after him. He frantically runs up and down the corridor looking for escape. The feeling intensifies. Oh God, there going to get me. There is no escape. He doesn't see the window but he knows it's there. If I can only get up enough speed I can escape that way. He starts at the opposite end of the hallway. Running as fast as he can, his world collapses to a single tight beam of light aimed directly out the window. He imagines his head is a single needle sharp point. There is no hesitation, no thought, only action.
There is a loud crashing sound of broken glass then silence. Floating free in the darkness. This is the way an angel feels. And then pain. He lands face down, arms out-stretched to break his fall. He's free. He has escaped. He stands to move on but his legs buckle from the pain in his left ankle, which has been deeply lacerated, causing him to black out. But he falls a happy man. The last thought going through his mind was that he had finally won. Poor deluded bastard.