“Class Reunion”
by David Nicholson



Grant is sitting in front of a large set of mail boxes. The floor is piled high with bundles of mail and he is busy sorting letters into various containers when Emily walks in. She quickly removes her jacket, grabs a handful of letters from one of the bins and goes around the corner.

Sorry I'm late.

It's all right.

They're messing around with the bus schedules again.
I either show up ten minutes early or five minutes late.
I'll stay an extra couple minutes.

Okay, no problem.

A lot of mail today?


I see the Environmental Research Council is still
subscribing to Playboy.


So what's your latest story?

You wouldn't like it, it's more of a serious one.

What kind of serious story? It wouldn't be a love story would it?

Hey, if you can't find it, writing about it is the next best thing.

Well who says I wouldn't like it? Tell me how it goes.

No, I can't I'm too shy.


Several moments of silence go by as they both sort letters.

Now you've got me spoiled. I can't sort mail
unless I'm hearing a story. If you won't tell me
that one, just make something up.

Grant looks down at the letter in his hand: Lakeview Real Estate.

Okay, not far outside the city is a very large lake.
It's away from the main highway and you have
to take a long dirt road to get to it so most people
don't even know it's there. Anyway, a couple families
live out around the lake, enjoying the country life
so close to the city. Sometimes in the summertime the
occasional group of teenagers would drive in on jeeps
and spoil the tranquility but for the most part they had the
lake to themselves.

This isn't going to be a slasher story is it?


Well it sort of sounds like it might be another Friday the 13th.
One night the teenagers come in and make a big ruckus and
the father comes out with a shotgun. The gun goes off, the teenagers
scatter, and the father isn't heard from again. At least not until
seven years later when another group of teenagers return for
a late night swim.

And you say you have no imagination!

Anyway, go on with your story.

I don't know if I should, seeing as how I was so rudely interrupted.

You're just stalling because you can't think of what to say next.

Okay, fine. Now Jake was eighteen years old. He had just
finished one year of university and was home for his
summer vacation. He didn't live that far from the university
but he liked to live on campus anyway. It gave him more
time to study.

You mean more time to party don't you.

Not everyone who went to university got drunk every night.

Everyone but you.

Fine, let's make him a typical university fool. He lived on
campus so he could get drunk every night. He went home once a
month just to make his parents happy and because he knew
they would always give him more spending money. See, you've
ruined poor Jake, he was going to be a straight A student who
loved his parents and now he's a boozing flunkie money grubber.

Just think about it, you've quadrupled your potential audience.
People like to hear about themselves.

Fine. So it's summer now and he's home. He likes canoeing around
the lake and whenever his parents are away he invites all his buddies
over and they bring their motor boats and their jet skis and they go
crazy. However, his parents come home on this particular evening. They
return early from their yearly trip to Hawaii to find the place in a
complete shambles, not to mention several naked girls sunning themselves
on the roof of the house.

Really, you don't have to go overboard.

You started it, now you're stuck with him. Now, his parents were
naturally upset and there was a big argument that evening. Perhaps
he should get a summer job, perhaps the lake would be off limits to
his friends. So he walked off in a huff and decided to go for a canoe
ride, even though it was dark outside by now. He paddled out to the
middle of the lake, watching the moon's reflection in the calm water.


Grant looks at his watch and opens up the safe. He pulls the cash register tray out and begins to count it.

Suddenly he looked at his watch and saw that it was almost
eight-thirty, time to open up. Guess we'll have to continue
the story later.


Grant is walking home. He enters his building and heads towards the line of mailboxes. He crouches down as if he's dribbling a basketball.

And he's all alone, coming down the line, no one to stop him. Then,
out of the blue comes Jamieson. He fakes to the left, fakes to the right,
he has a chance at it, he leaps, and -

Grant opens up his mailbox to find it empty.

Nothing but air.


Grant flicks on the light and throws his jacket in a corner. He clears the mess of papers off his bed and lies down, closing his eyes.


Grant is out in a canoe, rowing at night. He looks at the moon reflecting in the still water. Suddenly the canoe is struck from behind. Grant is thrown forward, nearly falling out of the canoe. His paddle falls into the water and begins to float away. He turns around to see a small row boat directly behind him. Standing up in the boat, completely motionless, is an old, ragged looking man.

God, you frightened the hell out of me. I didn't think anyone else
would be out here at night.

Not the safest of times to be out here in a canoe. You could fall in
and not a soul would ever notice until it was too late. You don't even have
a life preserver on.

Well this is my first time out here at night, I normally don't do this.
If you'll just excuse me, I've got to track down my paddle.
Otherwise you'll have to tow me back in.

That won't be necessary.

The row boat turns and heads off in the direction of the floating oar, disappearing into the darkness. All the time, the man remained motionless. There were no oars and he could not see or hear an engine. Several moments of silence pass as Grant strains to see the row boat. A cloud passes over the moon and everything goes dark.

I'm sorry, but I could not find your paddle. I suppose I will
have to take you in.

Grant is surprised to see the man and the boat directly beside him. The man finally moves. He bends over and hands a rope to Grant.

Hold on to this.

The man turns his back on Grant and the row boat quietly drifts away. Grant ties the rope to the front of the canoe and they both begin to travel off in the darkness.

Excuse me, I live up by the north end of the lake. I'm over
that way.

He points in the opposite direction but the old man doesn't seem to hear him and continues in silence towards the center of the lake.


Grant is standing behind the counter. A customer approaches and hands him a card. Grant looks at the parcel notice and goes to the back room and scans the shelf. After several moments he returns and scan through a log book.

I'm afraid that parcel was returned six days ago.

What do you mean returned? Where is it?

It's on it's way back to whoever sent it to you. New York I believe.

Well why the hell did you return it?

We only hold a parcel for 15 days, that's policy.

Well Jesus Christ, I need that parcel. You're just going to have to get it
back for me.

I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about it. You'll have to get in touch with
whoever sent it to you.

Listen, I don't care about that. I can't use the parcel next week, I need it right

Well sir, if it was that important to you, you should check your mail more than once
a month.

I want to talk to the manager.

The manager of the store or the manager of the postal outlet?

The manager of the beauty salon stupid. The damn post office of course.

That would be me.

Oh f**k! Just what we need, no wonder the whole country is going straight to
f**king hell.

Sir, if you keep using profanity like that I'm going to have to ask you to leave.

I'll talk whatever God damn way I feel.

Not in this store. Would you like me to call security?

What is your name?

Grant points to his name tag.

I'm going to have your job for this. Make no mistake, I'll see to it.

Have a nice day.

Grant walks into the back room and bangs his head against the cabinet. He sits down and looks at his hands and sees them shaking.

You gave him what he deserved.

Yeah. I guess so. I can't take much more of this. The whole world is full of
psychos. I need to get out of here. I wish he would get me
fired, save me the trouble of convincing myself to quit.


Grant opens his mailbox to find two letters. He begins to open one as he enters his apartment.

Dear sir: thank you for your interest in our company. However,
we are not presently accepting new talent. Good luck.

Grant sighs and tacks the letter up to the bulletin board next to several others. He then opens the other letter.

Can you believe it? It's been ten years since we all graduated
from the illustrious NCHS and all went our separate ways. My
how time flies. Aren't you curious to find out how we've all
turned out? At five o' clock on July 5th, we will all meet on the
crumbly front steps of our old school. Hope to see you there.

He flips the letter over and skims some more, then tosses it to one side. He sits in silence for a moment and then roots through his closet, pulling out a yearbook. He opens it and glances at his graduation picture. He looks over the other pictures, then runs his hand over a picture of one girl. He slams the book shut.


Grant and Emily are sorting the mail again.

Well at least you enjoyed high school. Personally, I'd never go
to my reunion. I hated all my teachers, hated all my classmates.
I'd probably just go back to drop a bomb on the whole place.

It can't be all that bad.

You talk about your high school days all the time. Ever hear me
say anything about mine? No, because I don't even want to think
about it.

It's too far to go anyways. The whole other side of the country.
A whole different world. It would cost a fortune just to go down
and back.

Excuses. Come on, why don't you want to go?

Look at me. It's been ten whole years and look how little I've
done with my life. I go to the opposite side of the country to
become the manager of a wee little postal outlet.

But that's not your real job. You're a writer. You've written a
whole lot of stuff.

Yeah, and they've been gathering dust for years. I haven't even
written anything in the last year, I'm turning into just a salesman,
trying to pawn off old scripts. I haven't made a single cent off
anything I've written.

That's just because you haven't tried hard enough.

The story of my life. I come all the way out here to be a great
film maker and I find that I can relate to the customers here
better than half of them. It's my life's desire and I have the feeling
that I'm just not cut out for it. Like a blind man who wants to
become a photographer. My life is still a mess, I'm not ready to
face them yet.

That's rather shallow isn't it? Do you think they're ready? Do
you want to wait until your life's in perfect order so you can
show off? That sounds more like something I'd do.

But I was top of the class. The big brain. Everyone knew I'd
go places. Besides, Kim won't even be there.

A-ha, we finally find the root of the problem. She's the one
you chased after for your last four years of school.

I wasn't chasing after her.

Then what would you call it?

I just had a very big crush on her and she didn't share my feelings.
Anyways, I remember in grade twelve she told me she'd
never go to our class reunion.

And what did you say?

I told her that she had to go. It's the kind of thing you can't skip.

Emily smiles.


Grant opens his mailbox and sees nothing. He reaches his hand inside to make sure there's nothing there. He goes inside and hears the phone ringing.


Is this Grant?

Yes it is.

Oh my God! Do you recognize me? How've you been?

Andrew? How are you?

I got the number from your folks. I had no idea where you were. Guess where I'm calling from.

No idea.

I'll give you a hint, it's not long distance.

No. You're serious? You've been up here and I didn't even know?

Been here for two years. God, how are things?

They're going fine. I'm still doing some writing. Just working
managing a postal outlet up in the north end to help pay the
rent. How about you?

Don't ask. A little bit of everything. I'm working with a security
firm right now, they've got me on some wild assignments.
Listen, are you busy tonight?


It couldn't work out any better. I've got a company car. We
can drive down. And as long as we run a few errands
along the way, they'll pay for the gas. But we'd have to leave
a little early.

So you're definitely going?

And so are you.


Emily and Grant are sorting mail.

Suddenly, out of the water come hundreds of dead, decaying
bodies. To his horror, he realizes that they are his friends that
had been partying with him that day. He notices some of his
father's tools: his hammer, his axe; protruding from their skulls.
He screams. Just then, he notices that one of them is still
alive, climbing aboard his canoe. But to his horror, he notices
a blow torch shoved right through his neck. His former friend
reaches out to him, groaning "it's all your fault, all your fault".

What have you done to my story?

Well I figured if you wouldn't finish it, I would.

Listen you sicko, that is not what happens.

Then you'd better continue it yourself. Or is your brain preoccupied
with something else?

The class reunion of course. Andrew seems to have everything
figured out. He's thrown out every single excuse I had for not
going. Now all I'm left with are the simple facts of why I don't
want to go. And of course the worst thing is that part of me
actually does want to go. I've got a traitor in my midst. None
of it makes sense.

Then just do it and see what happens. Who cares if its right or wrong.

Perhaps. But I have been doing some thinking about things. If
I do go, it might be just a one way trip. I'm tired of all this nonsense.
I'm tired of feeling so lonely. I haven't seen my parents in nearly two
years. All this thought of going home is just making me homesick.
Maybe I'd get out there for a couple weeks and realize how wrong
I am, but it can't be any worse than I feel here. Besides, I've had
enough of city life. All this talk about a guy and his canoe makes
me miss canoeing back home, diving off the bridge, skinny dipping
up at the waterfalls.

And you'll just desert everyone here?

I know about five people here. And I only like two of them.
But hey, I think you're ready to take over here anyway.

So you've really decided?

I guess so. Its weird, I wonder if we spend our entire adult life
trying to recapture that so-called magic of our childhood. It's like
evryone from that time has cast a magical spell over me. They
knew me back when I didn't know myself. Maybe it's all just an
illusion. Have you ever rewatched an old movie or gone back to
an amusement park that you loved as a kid and found yourself

Emily nods her head.

Ever wonder if the same thing's true about everything else?
People say that you'll never have friends like the ones you had
in your childhood, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the
quality of your friends. Take Andrew, he was one of my best friends
in high school and still is a good friend. If I met him now for the
first time I'd shrug him off. But he has a certain power over me
and perhaps I have the same over him. All the shared memories we
have. If I closed the book on him I'd feel as if I were closing the book
on part of myself. Maybe it's the fact that all these completely different
people were just thrown together in one classroom for so many years.
They are probably the people who've made me who I am.

And does Kim figure into any of this? Is part of you still hoping
that she'll be there?

Probably. I don't even know where I stand with all that. It's been
so long. There was that whole thing with Janet a few years ago.
That sort of muddied up the waters. I think back on the early days
with Kim at the prom and I'm not sure if I'm seeing her or Janet.
They both left a few holes in my heart. I think we all like to return
to our beginnings because everything was pure then. You don't
remember the fourth time you went on a roller coaster but you
remember the first. Something has to be pretty incredible to push
it out of the way. Your first date and you save the napkins and the
fortunes and you keep a collection of them. Then you break up
and the fortunes get tossed aside. You take someone new out and
you leave your fortunes behind on the table.

That's a very depressing view of life. Your childhood sucks
and everything just goes downhill from there.

I don't think it has to be. It's just that we put so much effort into
the first time around that we don't feel like going through it all
over again. Sometimes I feel as if falling in love is a race against
time. You have to find the right person before the world outside
makes you harsh an uncaring. Like these natives that run barefoot
through the woods and build up so much callous that they can walk
over hot coals. Great if that's what you want to do all your life, but
someone could run their fingers over their calloused feet and
they'll never even notice. Working at a place like this certainly
doesn't help any. All this job has done is made me paranoid of
everyone. I feel like there's no hope, that the world is filled with
senseless people. But all it really takes is one person, that's all.

And do you think Kim might be that one?

It's hard to say. It's been ten years, a lot happens. I'm searching
for the Kim I knew thirteen years ago. More of an idea than a
person. Though my standards seem to drop the more that I work
here. Anyone who doesn't scream and yell at me seems special.
As far as Kim goes, shes probably married with three kids. It's
weird, when we left, part of me hoped that someone would break
her heart. Not so that she'd be hurt, but so she'd understand how I
felt. I was so foolish. God that was all so long ago. More happened
in my life between the age of 16 and 18 than from 18 to 28. Crazy,
isn't it. I don't think the whole point of going back is to find love, but
simply to find myself. I think I left part of me back on the front steps
of that old high school. I need to go back and find it. In the last few
years I've started out as a cashier and climbed to the top of a very
small ladder. I want to step down and find some other ladder, even
if it means starting from the bottom rung again.

So what kind of job will you be looking for?

I don't even know if I want a job.

Who does?

It's just that I want to do something worthwhile. This isn't. When
I got here I told myself it would be temporary. I'd work here to
make my survival money and I'd spend all my free moments writing
and discovering life. But work takes up so much time and when I
go home I just feel like sleeping or sitting in front of the tv. And
time keeps on ticking by. The lovely manager here even had me
believing that it would be so exciting to rise up the ladder. From
here, I can go on to looking after several post offices and then the
sky's the limit. What a laugh. Time keeps on ticking by. Every once
in a while something like this comes along and opens up my eyes
and I start living again. But before long I just sink back into the
quicksand, going in deeper and deeper each time. I've just got to
leave now or I'll be here for another twenty years. I want to do
some more writing. There's nothing to inspire me around here.

So how much longer?

Why procrastinate? I might as well give my notice today.


Grant is sitting in the middle of a pile of boxes and scattered odds and ends. He picks up the phone and calls Andrew.

How much trunk space does your company car have?


Emily is helping Grant tape up some large boxes.

The big race. I'll mail all my stuff home and try to get there
before it does. Otherwise Mom and Dad will know I'm coming.

You didn't tell them?

One of my favorite tactics, the element of surprise.

But they must know about the reunion.

Oh yeah, they're probably hoping I'll come down. I'm surprised
they haven't called yet. I don't know, as soon as I tell them, I know
it's definite, I have to go. But this way, I can get a mile from home
and still change my mind.

And do what? You've already quit here. Besides, all your
baggage will arrive a couple days later.

You're right. So much for that theory. Maybe it's that I know
they'll make a big fuss over everything. Redo my room, tell
everyone. If I go back I want to just slip into town unnoticed,
I don't want any publicity.

Because youre returning in defeat?

Perhaps. I'm one of those guys who craves attention and then
runs and hides whenever I get any. Don't most people outgrow
that by age five or so? Oh well, I'd better get these sent off.

Just remenber, you have to keep in touch. After all, I have to
find out what happens to poor Jake, out in the middle of a lake,
who knows what will happen.

Well I am sure whatever happens, it will be better than the
fate that you were trying to give him. A guy with a blow
torch through his neck? Where did that one come from?


Grant is examining the interior of the car. Andrew comes up and hands a paper through the window.

I just need you to sign this. It just covers them insurance-wise
if we have an accident or anything while you're driving.

While I'm driving? I haven't driven in two years.

Well you don't expect me to drive across the whole country
myself. I sleep while you drive.

Andrew takes the paper and Grant continues examining the car. He is checking out the radar detector when Andrew climbs in.

Don't you love it? This guy even detects radar detector detectors.
This one's for city driving, this is the setting for the main highways.
I'll give you a hundred bucks for every car that passes us if you
give me 50 cents for every car I pass.


They leave an exit ramp and head out on the main highway. Grant looks back at the "You are now entering" sign.

It feels weird.


Leaving. A couple weeks ago I seemed to be content with
spending the rest of my life just rotting away here. The last
number of years have been strictly monotone. Downs perhaps,
but no ups. Maybe it is better to try some foolish things. It's
better to do something wrong and make a mistake than never
doing anything at all. I just feel like I'm really alive right now.

You haven't seen anything yet. Are you kidding? We're off on
a grand cross country adventure. No more slacking off here.
No sleeping at the wheel. I'll show you what feeling alive is.

Andrew presses a button and all the windows go down as he speeds up.


Grant is driving. Andrew is rooting through a bag of take out food and hands some to Grant.

So, besides work, what have you been up to these last few years?

How do you mean? You mean like girls?

Yeah. Are you still single?

Sort of.

That says a lot about you.

Well there's this long haired brunette in my tae-kwan-do class
who's a real number. We've been seeing each other off and on
for a few months. There's this other one, Gisele, in Toronto. She
can be a pain at times but man, is she good in bed. I'll introduce
you to her.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You've always figured that two
half relationships are as good as one real one.

Don't get me wrong, I don't sleep around. I'm not stupid.

What are you, binogamous?

It's not like they don't know. I tell them everything.

Why does that somehow make things even worse?

Come on, I travel alot. I don't have the kind of lifestyle where I
can settle down. Would you rather I went for hookers? I
certainly know enough of them. It's part of my job.

I don't even want to ask.

It's better that you don't, its sort of classified.

I think I need to take you out backpacking in the woods when
we get home. A week of tenting in the middle of nowhere might
do the trick.

Oh oh, speaking of that, I've got to show you something.

Andrew crawls into the back seat and begins rooting through some bags. He pulls out a large black case.

Check this out. I picked them up when I was in Kentucky last
winter. Don't ask. Night vision binoculars. Take these out in the
woods and you'll see everything. You'd have no idea how many
creatures go past your tent while you're sleeping. Of course they're
much more interesting to use on apartment buildings. I would've
gotten the goggles but they were too expensive. Can you imagine,
shut off your headlights and drive in the dark? Of course you're
screwed if another car comes along, he'd blind you.

For some reason, I don't think my life is quite as interesting as
yours right now.

It sounds good, but its pretty dull. Surveillance is mostly just
sitting around in a cold car with five thermos full of coffee.
Ten hours of nothing for the sake of a couple minutes of action.
But you'll see what I mean in a few days. I need some sleep.
Wake me up if we're having an accident. Tell me more of that
story, that should help me get to sleep.

Gee, thanks.

Andrew laughs to himself.

Jake gives the rope a quick tug to get the man's attention but the
line doesn't budge. He yells out to the man but the man doesn't
appear to hear him. He considers jumping into the water but he
can no longer see land. He sits down and tries to think of an idea.
A cold wind blows across the lake and the man begins to speak again.

Grant lowers the window slightly and begins speaking in a deep voice.

You said that this was your first time canoeing out here at night,
but it is not. Fifteen years ago you had been out here. Fifteen
years ago this very night. Think back, you must remember. A
foolish boy snuck out of the house to take the canoe across
the lake. But he dropped his oar overboard and then fell in
trying to retrieve it. The poor boy couldn't swim. You do
remember, don't you. Indeed, oh so long ago. And it was I
who pulled you out. It was I who saved your life so many
years ago.

Andrew closes the window and sits up in his seat.

This is a really comforting bedtime story.

They are both startled by the phone ringing.

DRW Securities Limited, Andrew Wells speaking. Oh hi James.
No, I can't tonight, I'm heading to Nova Scotia. No, I'm not. It'll
be a couple weeks. No, Ralph says I might be able to leave the
car with Russell in Saint John and fly back if I have to. Hey, as
long as I'm not footing the bill, who cares. No James, really, it's
no big deal. Nope, I'll handle it. See ya. Stupid fool. He's
absolutely helpless without me.

And that's it so far. I still don't know where this one is headed (besides cross country). Yet again we have a story that seems to focus on memories of a girl from high school. Is anyone noticing a pattern here. Anyways, if you have any comments, please send them on over to me.