LEONARD COHEN EYEZ
I was standing beneath the Leonard Cohen mural on Crescent Street when I got the call from Michael. He said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I said, “What the fuck?” He said, “I’m sorry.” I said, “Michael, I don’t understand. Everything’s been going great.” He said, “I feel like we can’t even talk anymore. Every conversation we’ve had for the past three months has been about the fucking Subaru.” I said, “But the 2021 Subaru Forester is amazingly capable, versatile and practical for all road and weather conditions.” And then he said, “This is what I’m talking about, Laurie.”
I tried to make him understand: The roomy interior, the top-of-the-line safety features, the adaptive LED headlamps. He said, “Laurie, please. I know your dad’s death was hard on you, but — God, you didn’t even like cars before this happened.”
With the patience of a schoolteacher, I persisted in my explanation. I said “Listen, baby. The 2021 Subaru Forester’s chassis is ironclad, rock-solid. And its double-wishbone suspension system is top-of-the-line. What more do you want from me?” Michael said, “You’re breaking my heart right now. Get help.” Then the call cut to a dead line.
I glanced down at my phone, bewildered. Briefly, I considered calling him back to revive the argument, but I didn’t think Michael would put me through: his tone had been deeply, richly final. So I lifted my face away from the screen, shaking my head.
As my eyes met the skyline, the old man on high trapped my gaze in his; wistful, playful. (After Leonard Cohen’s death, two separate, competing murals of his face were erected on Montreal buildings; one on Crescent Street, one in the Plateau. The Crescent Cohen smiled. The one in the Plateau did not.)
To me, the smiling Cohen seemed to say, Hey, kiddo.
Hi, Leonard Cohen.
Fuck him anyways. You were always too good for him.
Do you think so?
I know so.
I don’t know, Leonard. I’ve got this horrible feeling in my chest, like maybe —
Hey, relax. Relax. Why don’t you go for a drive?
His suggestion had the balmy taste of pure, undilute Xanax. So I walked four blocks to the parking garage where my car was sleeping. The Montreal air had some bite to it, some teeth; by the time I reached my destination, I was rashed with puckered, painful gooseflesh and shivering head to toe. But as I took the elevator down into the bowels of the city, I was comforted by the thought that I would soon be in the presence of true greatness.
My 2021 Subaru Forester glittered like a jewel in the garage’s belly. Nothing could taint her beauty: not the muddy gray of her concrete cell, not the greasy yellow fluorescents up above, not the dust nor the McDonalds wrappers nor the cigarette butts that gathered at her feet.
I’d ordered her in Crystal Black Silica. She had the look of polished obsidian, slick-black, powerblack; she radiated supreme authority over life itself. I put myself on all fours and crawled towards her, my sickly little heart expanding to full size in my chest. How gorgeous she was. How imperial.
I ran my tongue up the car door, lascivious, thinking of how the SUBARU BOXER® engine would purr at my command. I thought of the Subaru’s Symmetrical Full-Time AWD, her ultra-refined X-MODE® features, her all-road/all-weather performance. Her stability, her precision. She was engineered for excellence — unlike Michael, Michael-with-the-blonde-hair-and-green-eyes, who I had met at a Trixie Mattel concert in 2019, who had a wonky-toothed smile but warm eyes, who once called me darling. Michael was not engineered for excellence. He was not engineered at all.
I lifted myself into the front seat, sliding all over the leather interior; I rocked my freezing cold body against the wheel, and let the tears alchemize into forty-thousand dollar ecstasy.
Later, I heard about a five-alarm fire that erupted in an abandoned condominium projected on St-Dominique Street. (By then, I was sleeping in the Subaru.) The fire occurred in the early morning, and according to local authorities, it would be almost impossible to determine the cause: the fire had razed almost everything.
But I knew the cause. It was the old man. The condo project in question was only a block away from the Plateau Leonard Cohen mural: it stood directly beneath his stentatorian, paternalistic, unsmiling eyes.
There is no surviving such a gaze.
Inevitably, inexorably — we are all obliterated by its majesty.
Kim Poirier is a Montreal native, undergraduate student, and overall poor person. She was the 2021 recipient of the Dawson College SPACE Award for Short Fiction, and her stories about the grotesquerie/absurdity/splendor of the MTL gutter have been featured in OFIC Magazine, Oranges Journal, and others. She doesn’t has a cat, but she’s been thinking of getting one. Follow Kim on twitter @foxflowering