HAIR OF THE GIANT
A dense web of black lines radiated from the trees in Roselawn Park. At first glance they looked like the power cables associated with hydro or telephone poles, except that the trees in this instance weren’t really acting as supports, and to all appearances the lines led nowhere. Moreover, their mass, texture and sheen suggested something organic, like rampant vines perhaps, or impossibly long black snakes. Wols stopped at the gates. He saw only patches of green lawn between the thickly tangled lines. A man with a white helmet approached.
“What is this?” Wols asked.
“Have no idea. Just got here. I’m with Hydro.”
“They sent you on your own?”
“Cutbacks. Not sure I want to go near that shit. Don’t look like electrical lines.”
“Nah. Something weird about them. They’re coming from the trees.”
“Are they, or are they just lying on the trees?”
Wols shrugged. The fuck did he know. He was just out for a walk. He’d been cooped up inside for three days fighting a little flu bug and finally felt well enough to get out for some exercise and fresh air. Roselawn Park seemed ideal.
“So you’re not going in to investigate?”
The Hydro man looked at Wols. His eyes sat so deeply in his head that for a moment Wols thought he had none, that the sockets had been scraped clean, or blown out.
“And what are you doing?” he asked Wols.
“I was gonna do a few laps in the park, but not with this.”
“I hear you. Gives me a funny feeling.”
A group of youth wearing crayon colours stopped and gaped at the monstrous spectacle.
“Looks like big hair, dude,” one said.
“Really big hair,” said another. “How’d it get like that?”
“Let me Google it.”
“Okay, I’ll Instagram it.”
Wols wondered where the police were; it was something they’d surely want to investigate. The Hydro guy appeared useless. Wols stared at him. The brim of his helmet bore what looked like a shit stain. The stitching of his dark green overalls, threads flailing everywhere, were unravelling. The guy smiled, and his teeth reminded Wols of a complex but fractured mosaic sculpture.
“Well, if you’re not going to investigate,” Wols said, “shouldn’t you like call the cops or something? I mean, someone should check this out.”
“Do you guys know what this is?” said one of the youth, blazing with freckles. “Tiffany thinks it’s hair.”
“Hair,” said the Hydro man. He grabbed his stomach and shook with laughter.
“What’s so funny?”
“Hair? How could it be hair? Like hair from a giant?”
“Do you have a better explanation?” the kid snarled.
Wols stepped aside. He wanted no part of the brewing brouhaha. People had thin skins these days. The slightest thing could set them off. The other youth surrounded the Hydro man.
“He offended me,” said the freckled kid.
“He’s a Nazi,” said another.
“Ew, he’s like the dude in that horror flick—what’s it called again.”
“You fuckheads get out of my face before I lose it,” said the Hydro man.
Wols left them shouting at the Hydro man. It was too easy to get yourself jammed up. One wrong word, one wrong move could get you denounced. You didn’t want that, no sir. That was curtains for an ordinary citizen. Wols kept walking. The horrible trees and the black lines roping them together, linking them, blotted out all the beauty. It made Wols grit his teeth. Also, a bad smell wafted from the park.
A man walking an enormous dog crossed paths with him. The man’s face was red and raw as if he had just endured a face peel. Perhaps this explained the sneer.
“What the hell’s going on?” he asked Wols.
Wols watched the dog, complaisant enough in demeanour, yet his bulk intimidated him.
“That’s a very big dog,” he said.
“That’s a very obvious observation,” said the man, leaning forward. “You seem like a very sharp guy with lots of interesting things to say. Now, about the park.”
“I really don’t know what’s going on,” Wols said, watching the dog, who was now glaring at him. “Uh, someone said it was hair.”
“Hair?” said the man, widening his bloodshot eyes. “Must have been some friggin giant if that was the case. Eh, don’t you think? Eh, sharp guy? I mean a really big fucker, right? Huge. Like Jack and the Beanstalk big hahaha. Right?”
The dog bared his teeth. Had he wanted to rip Wols to pieces, he easily could have. Well, it wouldn’t have been easy. Wols would have put up a fight. But in the end the dog would have ripped him to pieces. A painful way to go. If the master decided that Wols had offended him, he could sic the dog on him, no problemo. And it seemed that this was a man ill at ease with himself, unwell, outraged, perhaps even deranged, but in any case looking for trouble. Wols wanted no trouble. He started walking away.
“Where you going?” the man said.
Wols waved at him. Another time.
“Don’t you walk away away from me, dude! Don’t fucking do it!”
Wols couldn’t bother engaging. Engaging only led to conflict. He had no truck for conflict. He continued walking. The man continued yelling behind him. The dog joined in, barking. And with the park all messed up like that, and his walk diminished, Wols just wanted to go home. The world was becoming a strange and unforgiving place. The old world glittered in his memory like a broken glass bowl.
A car passed, faces peering from its windows like goldfish.