Beast Leave

I’ve just unpacked the face when life begins

Yaser Safi, Clown. 2014, Acrylic on Canvas. 51 × 43". Courtesy of the artist.

It’s Parm’s idea that I should build a beast.

Parm’s my best friend. No, we’ve never had sex. We’ve been tight since college and there’s been times in our friendship when we actually talked on the phone every single daywe’re that tight. Parm’s totally attractive. I would say she and I are in the same league, attraction-wise, and most people who know us don’t believe us when we say we’ve never done it. Why not? they ask. We usually joke that it’s because she’s brown and I’m white and her folks would freakand you know what? That’s pretty much the truth. I mean, Parm’s parents love me, don’t get me wrong, but it would have been a different thing altogether if we’d started going out at any point. Mom and Pop Dhaliwal are old-school like that.

So I guess racism kept us apart, and in this case I gotta say Go racism, ’cause Parm’s my best friend and I seriously wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve never even really fantasized about herat least, not since she had her first kid, which was almost four years ago, one year after she married a good brown boy. I was at her wedding of course and that was a weird day. No disrespect to Vik, but Parm could do way better. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t on board re: Vik for a long time. But whatever. It’s Parm’s choice and ultimately I respect that.

So anyway, there I am one day, standing in my kitchen, bitching on the phone to Parm. Bitching about my job. As always.

Parm says, “It’s really unpleasant to listen to you talk about work. It’s like pure negativity.”

Parm can say stuff to me where I’d get super defensive if anyone else said it, but with her I take it in stride.

I go, “I barely ever talk about work.”

Parm has this way of pronouncing my name when she’s annoyed at me, as if it had four syllables. Wes-uh-ley-uh!

Then she’s like, You always talk about work, and I’m like, No, I don’t, and she’s like, Oh yes, you do. And you’re always bitching away. Bitch, bitch, bitchy, bitch, bitch.

“Do I really complain about work that much?”

She doesn’t even answer, which means yes. I can hear her smirk. I swear to God I can hear it, like this tiny moist click. I know exactly what her face is doing right now.

“Take some time off.”

“I do take time off.”

“Take more time off.”

“How can I take more time off? I’m maxed out for vacation.”

“So make a beast.”

I’m like, really? She’s like, yeah.

“I don’t know, Parm. Doesn’t that seem super self-indulgent? I feel like it’s the wrong reason to bring a living thing into the world, just ’cause you want time off work.”

“Wesley.” I hear the moist click. “That’s practically the main reason I had the boys.”

Which sounds really horrible, and I tell her that.

Parm says, “Obviously your motivation changes as you go. But I’m saying at first.”

I can’t tell if she’s kidding or not, which usually means she half is and half isn’t. She keeps going, saying there’s no shame in it, that sometimes you just need a major life change to sort of restart your self-image. Parm can be very convincing when she knows she’s right.

So then and there I decide to build a beast.

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