I woke up 200 kilometers away from where the night started, just before the crack of dawn. The various vermin birds were making guttural coo noises outside the old dirty windows. The cheap rattan blinds stopped very little of the noise from the highway. I had slept for 2 hours. It was now 5:30 am. Who the fuck am I to do this? The first thought through my head was exactly that. How in the world did I consent to this? Who am I today? Surely not the same person I started out the weekend as.

Time wears on a person. That introduction of chaos to order is the definition of time. As I aged, I moved from the city where I was born, and I looked back fondly. Out of the blue, years after I left, I got a fateful call. Old high school friends. A party was being held, and I was invited. We talked for hours about old exploits and brushes with Death. Toxic nostalgia coddled my poor brain. The testosterone insanity of my youth had returned, and off home I drove.

8:30 am

Driving in Canada is a matter of remaining focused. When you ask for directions, people don't give them in measurements of distance. Time is the measure. 15 minutes to here, 3 hours to there. It is surprisingly accurate. My task was a leisurely 6 hour drive along a two lane highway, through largely hilly and rocky terrain. Lots of time to think. I reminisced about the time gone by, the heartaches and headaches of school, the weekends and nights of craziness. It all had the fine sheen of perfect memory on it. Only problem is, it wasn't all perfect.

2:00 pm

Home sweet home, sort of. My parents, as most parents do when their kids leave home, had taken up other hobbies: Camping to be precise. I was greeted at the end of my long trip with a note from Mom and some tinfoil wrapped love in the fridge. Just as well. Shouldn't mix family and business. Cold plate and cold Coke in hand, I set about tracking down the miscreants who had added fuel to my inner teenage fire, an ember I thought extinguished. In short order, I had my mission. Off to the bars we went. I made the amateur mistake of offering to drive. My rental was still cooling in the driveway, the metal pings clearly broadcast into the dark garage.

6:00 pm

After several strange reunions, we all sit in a downtown bar. The city has just passed a no smoking bylaw, and our destination was famous for its cigars. The walk in humidor sits lonely and unlit, home to a few cases of empty beer bottles. It just isn't the same. It has given up the ghost. I am sure that the owner is going to close up shop soon, and our presence does an anemic job of filling the lonely space. It is strangely appropriate. I stand with a group of strangers. They were the lines and aged faces of people I used to know, but they have all changed. I'm sure I look as alien to them. We confine our reminiscing to the past, drink our drinks hurriedly and smile insincerely. We all want to go back. The quicker minds of the bunch leave, to keep their memories of mad children howling at the moon intact. I solider on, having little else to do. The crowd thins over time, with insincere good-byes and promises to keep in touch that will expire at the door.

10:00 pm

Only the core remains. We defy time, and struggle to act like we used to. High school fury drives us, this comical group of men, yearning to be boys. They drink too much, they swear too loud, they leer too hard. I have resigned myself to be Dante on this journey. This will be my seventh Pepsi of the night. I feel the caffeine burning on the back of my eye sockets. Slowly, the stimulants and depressants have us all in sync. The volume is turned to eleven, and we head off to the tabernacle of our teenage rebellion: the stripbar on the edge of town, down near the industrial park.

11:45 pm

Drunken foolishness wears on me. Sober, I see what is happening. They get more boorish, more arrogant, more childish. The old hen-pecking comes back, this time the pissing contest is money. The same futile struggle for dominance we played a million times in the halls of school between classes. The gyrating ladies on stage smell the desperation. Easy money. I see my salvation in the tired eyes of a exotic dancer. Yes, I would love a private dance, away from these fools. I will gladly pay. The howls of approval and catcalls are met with my half smile. I have at least preserved my long lost status as ladies man. I leave on a high note, resigning the boys to the past. I don't think I'll see them again.

12:10 am

I must have looked depressed. I'm sure she has seen it before, the look of lost dreams and ruined nostalgia. In the rabble of strangers, I have faced my growing age. I have a past, long and filled with friendships that have eroded to nothingness. I feel lonely for my old self and their old company. It's gone. I breathe deeply of the girls perfume. She is the age I used to be. Lovely and unharried. Money keeps changing hands as I try in vain to fill the fresh hole in my heart. We talk. I just want an old friend. She plays the part. I know I am being played for a fool, and she slyly acknowledges what she is doing. We come to an unspoken understanding. We are friends now, old trusting friends, reunited after a long absence. We sit alone and talk like we know each other. We lie and fill in the blanks. We never say each others names. Shift end will see my friend in need of a ride home. It is worded in a manner of assumed acceptance, and I don't object. I don't go back to the gaggle of fools. I sit with the bikers waiting for their girls, and blow smoke at the new signs.

2:45 am

On the road out of town for the second time since this morning. An hour and a half back up the same highway. We trust each other to an insane level. She could pull a knife out and slit my throat. I could drive up a dark road and rape her. We both sit in the silence and trust out of pure simple human need. I understand how these girls can work the jobs they do. They need. They need money. I am slowly figuring out why I am driving in the middle of the black dark night. I need. I need an old friend. She sleeps beside me, tracksuit over the expensive underwear so recently on display. She asks if I need a place to crash after yawning for the thousandth time. I agree to her couch, not insulting us both with talk of sex. That was to be sold to strangers. We are friends.

3:37 am

We walk from the car in that early morning night, when only strange things happen. The apartment building is old, and I have slept in seedier places. It is not dirty, but modest. The hallway is lined with pale wood grain doors and the walls shimmer with many glossy coats of paint. Sounds of a respirator and an orange warning pinned to a door tell of oxygen use and old age. She unlocks her door and takes me in to her private place as though I have been in the same door a million times. The plaintive smile of thank you is all I can give. I am exhausted. Sheets and pillows are produced, a sofa bed is made, and I am tucked away, our forbidden slumber party completed in record time. A call of goodnight from down the hall and talk of going for breakfast see me to sleep. Trust, pure and simple, stupid and hopeful, sees us both to sleep.

5:45 am

I wake up. I question myself. She tells me her name is Heidi. I leave. She is resigned to the past, a fresh stranger for the pile.