Mask

“What do you think Conrad Black is doing right now?”
We are sitting at a sidewalk table in the stream of tourists. They are tanned or burnt and have the slow swagger of people on holiday, the slap of flip-flops. Women in bikinis with sarongs knotted between their breasts, winks of arse cheek. A young mother unwedges a stroller wheel from the loose brickwork of the lane.

Old women with girlishly yellow hair and fierce lipstick, or zinc noses, age-spotted, wattling underarms. Old men too, with khaki cargo shorts, gronky waterproof watches that display thirty things in addition to the time.

Canadian StudiesSummer Reading 2010
What do you think Conrad Black is doing right now, my husband says. A man reverses a golf cart down the lane; his mirrored sunglasses show a streak of colour. The crowd hops and skitters out of his path. There’s a hazard sign on the cart that says,
Slow
Adults at Play
Two Mexican men lift a rust-speckled corrugated gate up over their shoulders and it rumbles on its runners into the ceiling of a stall and one of the men makes a fist and swivels his shoulder touching it tenderly. The other man moves a revolving display rack of sharks’ teeth onto the sidewalk. The upper and lower jaws, still joined, are wide open. All those rows of milk white teeth pointing inward.

There are a few flies buzzing around our sugar dish and the crumbs from our croissants.

Rotting, I say. Conrad Black is rotting merrily away. The men set a display of wooden masks in the shade of the awning. There is a small red light bulb behind one of the elaborately carved masks. The mouth of the god hangs open, thick lipped and mute, a weak red light pouring out of it and out of the hollow eye sockets.

The music changes in the café. Neil Young is singing: How does it feel to be alone?
Lisa Moore’s latest novel, February, was published in 2009.
Seth, the author of several graphic novels, won the 2010 Doug Wright Award for George Sprott (1894 – 1975), originally serialized in The New York Times Magazine. His work has toured internationally, and has appeared on the cover of The New Yorker.

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