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Rituals of Broken Ring

There are two requirements I need to fulfill when the day of the Broken Ring has arrived.1: Smoking. 2: Drinking. Since both of these are activities that get me going, but that alter my mind, I try to refrain from them. Also, if I didn't give myself checks or restraints I would probably smoke and drink all the time, which would lead to an unhealthy way of life.

Smoking is celebratory and rekindles us with our primitive ancestors.

"Look at me, Caveman, there is a lit stick in my mouth, and when I breathe of it's deadly toxins, I am stimulated and buzzing with ideas. Can you relate? Or didn't you know of the smoke?"

Judging by what they painted on the walls, I think they did. Last time I smoked I told myself I wouldn't since the next morning I woke up with a headache and the beginnings of cancer in my lungs. How can I preform my celebratory ritual on the day of the Broken Ring without ingesting of the cancerous fumes? Take a trip to the local hog fat refinery? To the parkade? Then the idea struck me like so many a wayward lightning: I'll make a fire. A real fire, the kind that requires kindling, paper, and a lighter, or matches to start. I wouldn't be placated with your regular run of the mill grass fire, which are easy to start here, nor would I be satisfied with lighting my lighter and waving it around.

I would have the fire in the forest that was for sure, but I didn't know whether to have it in the fire pit, or some random place by the river. When I used to be caught in the throes of that deadly vixen there was a place by the river I'd go, and since that time I've associated it with evil and smoking. Of course, smoking isn't evil, but when emerged in the depths of evil, it isn't so bad. In fact it's kind of refreshing. I wouldn't want to spend days lounging in those mineral baths, but like after a night of good partying, a jump in the lake prepares you for the next day.

It had been raining, though, since it was spring, and the river was just beginning to settle down after it's flood, so the ground was waterlogged and muddy. I'm all for a bit of mud now and then, but I had just been rolling about in it the other day, and was actually still trying to get over the memories of that. The fire pit I had in mind was a good one. It was in the park and open to the public. I had seen people having fires there before. It's set up so that you can cook things over it. I had images of cooking wild game over the fire I would make; catching it at night under a full moon, but all there is in the park are squirrels and ducks. A duck would be fine, if it wasn't for my fear of birds. And squirrels aren't worth the effort. I've seen a fox in the park before, but that one seemed to have lost all of it's cunning, and finding one of those again would be rare. Usually families were gathered round it in the day time cooking things, but at night it is teenagers, and they are usually drinking. The park officially closes at 10 or 11 at night, but there are few indications of this. The entrance isn't blocked off and I haven't seen a sign stating the park hours. There is, however, a touched young man who is known as Kluke, who is the self-appointed warden of the park. He rides around on his bicycle with his helmet on and with a flash light at the ready telling the teens at night that the park has closed and that fires and drinking aren't allowed. Sometimes the teens threaten to roll him, but mostly it is just an exchange of words. Kluke has no authority whatsoever and the only power he has comes from phoning the police. Although it is harmless fun for the teenagers he is determined on ruining their good time. I was sitting on a bench in the park one day off from my job at the golf course, just enjoying some sun. There were a couple of people drinking beer on the bench next to mine, and who shows up? Kluke. It is as though he has a fun detector, and when it goes off, instead of biking to the fun and amplifying it, he quenches it with the whole of his being. He told them drinking wasn't allowed. He also said the police were getting tired of him phoning them. If I were to have my fire in the park, he would be my other concern.

I told myself if there were teens at the firepit, I would go to the smoking place by the river.

I had actually been thinking about this fire for a long time. I'm studying architecture at the local university, and as a result have accumulated a fair amount of unused basswood used for model making. This year, since basswood was starting to remind me of eating the same thing everyday, I bought some mahogany on sale at a plywood store and used that in addition to the basswood to pepper up my models. It brought some warmth to the glaring obtrusiveness that was basswood, but did nothing to help my grades. The professors still thought it junk disproving my theory of bringing bling to improve grades. Apparently some amount of insight is needed, and a lot of work to bring that insight into fruition. I couldn't be bothered with work. I had fires to build. And the spare wood from the models I was making, indeed, the models themselves, would provide an excellent fuel, and a subsequent cathartic release as a result of the soothing, warming flames and images of destruction. Since basswood is expensive, I took the time to separate the unusable from the usable, which will also spurn future models of dread and horror. The accumulated basswood was enough to fill a plastic grocery bag. With the addition of the final model I made which was all wood and some glue, the fire promised to be memorable.

Quitting smoking isn't easy, though, there will always be that memory of your first kiss. I was going to have the fire in lieu of smoking a cigarette, but wouldn't both be better? Wouldn't both be more celebratory? I think so. Also, I had been playing a lot of poker lately and recently I had won. There is celebration for life, in my case taking form of a real live fire, and there is the celebration of winning at poker, which takes the form of half smoked cigars, which I take from a number of ashtrays located on campus.

The best ashtray I have discovered lies outside the doors of the school of music, where some man, presumably with music on his mind, takes a few puffs on a cigar and then throws the rest in the ashtray. When I first discovered this, on one particularly dire night, it was as though I had found a valuable source of treasure. He has since left. At first I thought this was good news, since taking half smoked cigars out of the ashtray and smoking them was not only degrading, but also bad for my health; but being confused for a homeless person, a headache, and a bit of lung cancer in the morning was not enough to stop me. I had checked the ashtray again earlier in the day in anticipation for the evenings events, but again was left with nothing.

With bag of wood in one hand, my pinhole camera in my backpack, lighter in pocket, and model under my arm, I was ready to go. My destination was firmly established. First I would check the ashtray again, just in case, and then head to the park.

I live on the 6th floor of University residence and I always take the stairs. I am not certain of the symbolic representations of stairs, but I do know that I dream of them often, and meetings in them are important, however brief. Elevators, with their claustrophobia and swift vertical climb are also important symbolic representations, but are unnecessary for the height at which I lived. The stairs also came with six separate views of the alley outside and a grain elevator sitting on one of the roofs towering over us, a testament to a forgotten past. At night that view turned into six reflections of me, and since I am impossibly narcissistic, it is not only my health that I take the stairs.

Walking down the stairs that night instead of looking at the reflection of myself in the window, I looked at one of an Asian woman coming down the stairs behind me. She noticed my observation, and when I turned to look at her real image she struck up a convo.

"Are you going to the U of M?"

"Excuse me?" I wasn't expecting a conversation in the stairs, I had to get her to repeat the question.

"Are you studying here at the U of M for the summer?"

"Yes. Are you?"

"Yeah, but only for four months. What's that? Are you in engineering?" She asked pointing to my model.

"I'm in architecture."

"Oh, that must be interesting."

"It's pretty good. What are you taking?"

"I'm taking marketing. My name is Julie." She offers her hand.

"Mine's John."


We shake hands. Hers is very soft, small and cool.

"Well, see you," I said, and we parted ways. So, the stairs in this case were the place for a quick meeting, which ended in regret. Before our encounter I considered asking a friend to the burning, but I didn't have any alcohol, so what would be the point. Meeting Julie was my chance to invite her to the fire. She could have had something to drink in her room, and could have brought it. She could have had cigarettes. She was an Asian woman. Short. Wearing a colourful shirt. She, like me, had bags under her eyes, speaking of worry, or sleepless nights. We started speaking with her behind me, but since I was so aghast at having someone talk to me, I had to slow my cadence down the stairs, so that she over took me. Did I come on too strong? I should have followed her, but did not want to seem creepy.

She reminded me of every girlfriend I ever had: Asian. After I quickly checked the ashtray by the school of music (empty again) I rushed over to the bus stop where Julie might be waiting, or maybe she was standing outside having a cigarette. I would ask her to the fire, Id ask her to bring alcohol, if things started getting serious. But alas, she was neither at the bus stop, nor outside having a cigarette. My foray to the fire pit would be a solo one.

Being double defeated by both the missing Asian and cigarettes, the jaunt in my step had disappeared. Luckily I happened to check the ashtray by the industrial complex, and there, like gold, were half smoked little white plastic filtered cigars. I took a big one, and a skinny one, removing the filters first, and then placing them in my pocket. Although I had no Asian, I had some tobacco, and so: one requirement fulfilled.

With my cigarettes, and model, and wood I walked with determination through the night. I felt power. It was the day of the broken ring. In my mind I offered protection and guidance to my teachers. They walked with me and were frightened at the host of characters we could possibly meet. The schizophrenic Indian, for instance, who believes he can shoot snakes from his arm. He asked for a cigarette once. I told him I knew where a cigar was, since I had found one on the golf course, smoked it on my way to the park, and put it in the garbage where pet owner deposit bags of poo. We had a tense conversation on the way to the garbage can, he wondered why I was acting so mean, when I was only trying to take him seriously. He didn't seem to mind that I pulled the cigar from the garbage, in fact, he was quite happy. In this regard I acknowledge him as a sort of gatekeeper to the park, whom I have appeased and can now have untroubled access to the park.

The other characters are purely imaginary, much like the decision for my teachers to go to the park with me. Nevertheless, I believe I could one day run into them, and when I do, I will be prepared. Preparation comes in the form of coins which I throw on the road when they come running at me. Like horses, homeless, down trodden horses, they have a terrible need for coins. They will risk death by car to get at them, they have no shame. Curiously, I have seen one of them get hit by a car and it did more damage to the car. They must have strong constitutions.

With my wood, and my model, I felt like I carried a torch and it was the torch of power leading the way to the fire. Walking up to it, through the woods, I saw someone leaving, which brought back the memories and thoughts of Kluke. If someone was leaving then that was a good sign. Kluke had brought his reign down and the fun was over. The fire pit was nestled in the trees and sat in the corner created by a parking lot and a road. There was a picnic table nearby, a garbage can and a few trees. When I looked in the pit I noticed some embers glowing. It must have belonged to the ones leaving. I acted quickly dumping the contents of my grocery bag onto the embers topping it off with my model and readying my camera for the event. Blowing on the fire was like the most deadly of fuels. The bass wood was so dry it caught fire, and burned fast and bright for about two minutes. The camera I was using was a pinhole one taking a 5x7 inch photo. I had taken pictures of candles before, but there wasn't enough light to register the film. I haven't developed the film yet, but hopefully there was enough light. There wouldn't be enough light for the embers which resulted. During the fire I took out a half smoked cigar and lit that. I felt pretty cool. During my walk to the pit I told myself it would be fine if I was the first one there. I was. I was the fire starter. I had just finished throwing the cigar into the fire when I heard voices approaching. They were teenager boy voices. One yelled he couldn't run because he was too sore. There was laughing. I started to panic, and thought of leaving. Although that would save me from any weird dealings with these people, it would look even weirder for them to witness me slink off into the night leaving behind a pit of glowing embers. It would be a real downer, and the image of Julie and our encounter was still hot in my mind. I wouldn't have any more regret that evening.

The first dude to come up almost knocked over my pinhole camera, which was sitting on the ground in front of the fire pit. I quickly picked it up. Before he arrived he asked to see if anyone was there, I said I was. The next guy to come up asked what I was doing. I told him having a fire, since I am in architecture, and I had extra wood to burn. There was about seven of them, and one was a girl, a tall girl with blond straight hair who's name was Callie. One of the boys was her boyfriend, but she seemed to be open to anything. Her boyfriend was shorter than her. They all seemed to be pretty short. I asked the one who asked me what they were doing out here. He said they were going to hammer down and start drinking, hence the backpack full of beer. I asked him for a beer eventually seeing as how it was destiny that brought us all together. I could have drank many beers, but only asked him for one. The others would also ask. He would go get fire wood, and the one they called Stefan would show up with another teen, and Stefan would break the wood that he came back with, seeing as how he was the biggest.

With the embers from the fire I had started, they lit a fire work. They actually just threw it in the fire and it flared up in there for a bit. It was beautiful. The same kid had another fire work, lit it and set it on the ground. It was much larger than anyone expected. It soared 50 feet into the air and then blew up loudly. Before this who showed up but Kluke with flash light in hand and helmet on head. He told us to get out of the park since it was closed, but the teens did not listen and talked back at him. He said he called the police but no one believed him. The fire work would only amplify matters, and soon the fire truck arrived. We all ran. Stefan took the beer. I thought that would be the last I would see of them, But we were all headed in the same direction, and met up at the muddiest place in the park. He tromped through a bog of some sort, and then out to the road under streetlights and next to suburban houses. I got see m fire friends a bit clearer. They were probably 15-17. Callie had bags under her eyes, a sharp nose, and happy/mean eyes. She seemed to approve of my looks, even though I felt out of place and freakish. My hair bigger than ever, mostly. They contemplated where to go and observed they had picked up an extra man and pointed at me. We all laughed. I was such a freak. They wondered where to go next and the leader of them said back to the fire pit, but Callie said she was hungry, and they knew a dude working at McDonald's s they decided to go there. If they had gone back to the fire pit, I would have joined them, but there was no way I was going to McDonald's since I am a vegetarian. I contemplated eating a hamburger at McDonalds, turning the day of the broken ring into drinking smoking and eating meat, but I didn't have my wallet, and didn't really want to hang out with them anymore, although I was enjoying the humiliation and vicious horrible memories of high school.

So I walked back, and was pretty happy. Both requirements had been met; the drinking requirement guided by the hand of destiny and the smoking requirement being healthily subsidized.

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