Aidan 2

By Asa Montreaux 

Days went by and I found it difficult to look at my Dad. I couldn't see him the same way anymore. Knowing what he was capable of, I couldn't stand it. I wished he wasn't my Dad. Sometimes I went on walks, and mostly I wondered how I ended up with a family like this. How cruel! My Mom endeavored to comfort me but even that felt a little hollow. I wondered secretly whether there wasn't something I could do. Whether there wasn't something that could change things.

I thought about telling Jayden's parents the truth, that it was my fault. But I couldn't work up the courage. It was probably for the better. And I didn't know how to tell people yet. How was I going to get people to believe me, accusing my own father of murder. They'd look at me like I was crazy. No, I couldn't tell anyone what I knew. Not yet.

I searched online to see if anyone was catching on to what was happening. There was no word on who carried out the act. If it was an ordered hit they didn't know by who. They still hadn't caught the shooter. Maybe if they did he would talk. In part of me I sort of hoped they wouldn't catch him, and my Dad wouldn't be caught either. I got so mad at myself anytime I thought that, and I hated that part of myself. But still, it was hard to think my Dad deserved to go down for a moment of anger. No. He deserved it. He'd ordered a hit. A real hit!

Eventually it came out that the book was still being published. They were going to publish it in in his honor, for the fallen writer. Wow. My book was still coming out. And I couldn't help part of myself from being excited. The sales for the book could be huge, if it was being released posthumously.

I guess Jayden would be getting something to be remembered by. If my novel had killed him, at least it gave him something that made him famous, and potentially remembered for all of time.

Jayden's body was brought back to Vancouver for his funeral. It was closed casket. But standing near him, I could feel him in there. Sup, Aidan, he was saying. I'm just dead, it's no big deal. And hey, look. I'm famous. How about that. It seemed we all had a price to pay to get what we wanted.

They wanted me to say a few words, but I explained I wouldn't be able to. Of course, they said. Your panic attacks. It seemed they wanted me to be above them for this event, but it just wasn't possible. I could only be what I was. 

His Dad spoke the longest. He started tearing up halfway through. But he pulled it together and got through it. He said they were so proud of him for writing this book, and finding his truth. He was never one for reading, so they were as surprised as anyone. They had no idea he was gay; they always thought he likes girls. But they were happy if he could be himself. He died being himself, his Dad said. 

At the wake I found myself explaining to our friend Tracy that Jayden was in fact, gay.

'Yea, didn't you know. I thought everyone knew. He was gay, totally gay.'

'No. I had no idea. I always thought he liked me.'

'Really?' I laughed. 'Why would you think that? That's crazy, right?'

'Just the way he looked at me. The way he acted. I don't know, you just have a feeling, right?'

'I guess so. I can see what you mean, I guess.'

'But I can't believe he died. I'm just in shock. I mean, who would do something like this? What a hate crime.'

'I know. It's terrible. Just terrible.'

'I hope they catch the guy. Have you heard anything, Aidan?'

'No,' I lied. 'I haven't found out anything, like everyone else.'

That evening I was talking with my Dad in the living room.

'Sad about your friend, Aidan. Very sad.'

'Yea. We're just in shock.'

'Well. I guess he had it coming.'

'Jacob!' My mom said.

'What? A guy like that? Coming out. He had to know to watch out. He asked for it.'

'He asked for it?' I asked.

'Yea. That's what I said. He. Asked. For. It.'

'Oh. Jacob. You never did like gays.'

'Quiet Amelia. The boy doesn't need to hear that.'

'He's almost twenty years old. What exactly don't you want him to hear?'

He sniffed. 'Nothing. No concern of yours. He doesn't need to hear us fighting like this.'

'Oh. He can hear what he wants.'

'No. I don't want him to hear. That's enough, Amelia. I'm warning you.'

'Oh, you're warning me, are you?'

'You don't know who you're arguing with.'

'Well, clearly.' She got up and stormed out of the room.


Time went by after the funeral. I missed Jayden. I didn't miss the him that martyred his life to help me, I just missed the plain old Jayden. The way he was; I missed his company. I thought about writing Janelle and telling her the truth. That Jayden was just a plain old guy. I wanted to tell her the truth about things. That I wrote the book, and that I was alive. I felt selfish for putting my worries in front of my friendship. It was wrong to ask him to come out for me. But I saw how my Dad acted, the things he said. If I wanted to come out, I was up against a lot. 

I went and saw Dr. Callaghan. Her office was downtown, in a tower spiraling over the city. 

'Aidan. It's been a while.'

'I know. My panic attacks haven't been acting up. I kind of thought that was over.'

'By avoiding society entirely? I suppose that's one way of handling the situation.'

'Well, it didn't seem like I would ever get better. There was no relent to this thing. I mean, I'm not sure you know what it's like to black out, and wake up somewhere totally different. First off, It's so embarrassing.'

'I do get it. I understand, Aidan.'

'Do you? How could you possibly understand?'

'I've seen patients going through similar things to what you're going through. And I've seen them get better.'

'Better? How could I possibly get better? I think they must be pretty different scenarios.'

'No. I believe you can get better. You just have to believe in yourself. And use the skills we've worked on.'

'Are you a psychologist or a witch doctor? What difference is it going to make if I believe in myself?'

'Use the tools I've taught you. Use mindfulness. Control your breathing. Visualize a safe place. And you won't pass out.'

'That's easy enough for you to say.'

'Why the sudden interest in getting over your fear?'

'Ah, something has come up.'

'You need to beat your fear?'

'Uh, yea. It's important?'

'May I ask what's come up?'

'I'd prefer not to talk about it.'

'It's a secret.'

'You could say that. Yea, it's a secret.'

'So, let me get this straight. In order to rectify this secret situation that you're in, you're going to need to face up to your fears, and beat your illness?'

'I think so. I don't see any other way.'

'Let me advise you to give it try. If it's important, you have to try.'

'Well, I'm not 100 percent sure it's the right thing.'

'What's holding you back?'

'Well, this thing, it's important to me. But it's important to someone else too.'

'And you want to win it back?'

'I never envisioned I would never get it back. It's just it's almost gone for good if I don't do anything.'

'It sounds like you have to do something, rather than nothing.'

'It’s about how I want to live my life. I don't want to live my life in fear. I realize that now. This might be my one chance to live my life truly.'

'I admire your courage, and I know that eventually, you will beat these fears.'

'Thanks, Dr. Callaghan.'


I was sorry I ever got Jayden involved. I realized this couldn't be the way he was remembered. It was totally counter to his spirit. He wasn't gay! He wasn't excited by men! He wasn't a writer, and he didn't write a book out of love for the craft. It wasn't fair to Jayden to be remembered as something he's not. To rest easy, he needed to be authentically remembered, as a good friend who went out of his way to help me. As someone that loved life, and loved women.

I thought that I needed to write Janelle. I went over the best ways to tell her that I wrote it.

Dear Janelle,

I'm still alive. I had my friend stand in for me and say he wrote it because I wasn't ready. I

Something didn't feel right. What if she didn't believe me?

I kept redrafting and redrafting the email, but nothing seemed to be quite right. But I had to write her, I had to contact her. But maybe email wasn't the way to go. I needed to see her in person to explain things. It was too crazy to be true, so crazy it was true. I needed to go to New York. 

But what would my Dad think? Would he kill me too? How could I be sure it was safe? One thing was for certain. If I was going to New York, I wasn't coming back. And I was going to need to be careful. I think it was obvious I was going to have to find out who killed Jayden, who my Dad hired, and have them caught, before it can be safe to go on a book tour and promote the book.

I was sad my Dad could have done something like this. But, hopefully with Janelle's help, I could find the killer and also bring my Dad to justice. If he was also a killer, then he was going to be treated like one, family or not.

I searched tickets on my laptop. There was a cheap flight in a couple days, but it was overnight. I'd have to sleep on the plane. I thought what the hell, it was time to go for it. I would figure the rest out on the way.


I told my parents I was going away to a meditation retreat, and took the skytrain south to the airport. I sat in YVR waiting for my flight to board having second thoughts, but also dismissing them because this was important. If I didn't say something, no one would ever know I wrote the book.

When they finally called for my flight, the line slowly diminished to the check-in counter. I was near the end, and I could feel my heart fluttering. When I got to the counter I showed the attendant my boarding pass with mock confidence, and somewhat to my surprise, I wasn't sent on my way back home. 

Flying coach wasn't the worst thing in the world, but I realized my seat was right by the engine. How on earth was I going to sleep? It was going to complicate things a little, that's for sure. The seat next to me was empty, and to my surprise when we started taxiing to the runway, it was still empty.

I'm a little scared of flying, and taking off is always the worst. The plane rattled back and forth, slowly moving faster, and faster, and I worried we weren't going to take off into the air. Maybe we would hit another plane, or land in the water? But it took off alright, and once we were in the air, a few thousand feet between us and the ground, it felt better. We were flying.

When the flight attendants came around for the first time with drinks, I asked for an orange juice, and thereafter I took six trips to the washroom. I was so nervous. I could feel myself sweating even though it was, obviously, cold on the plane. I tried to settle myself down, and after an hour or two maybe, it worked. I had to sleep, I thought. The noise was loud from the engine, but I guess it wasn't deafening. I asked for a pillow, and put my head up against the window and closed my eyes. After fifteen minutes or so, I drifted off into sleep. 

I slept for two hours or so, before I awoke, confused. There wasn't anything that seemed to have awakened me. No one was asking me if I wanted chips or anything like that. It must have been the noise. The only thing I felt like was sleeping, though, so when I'd taken a few deep breaths, I closed my eyes and drifted off back to sleep. 

When I awoke, the pilot was in the middle of announcing our descent to New York City. It seemed we were going to land. This whole ordeal was almost over, and I couldn't have been more relieved. 

I couldn't wait to land. When I saw the lights of the airport I could almost feel it I wanted to be on the ground so bad. When we touched ground I closed my eyes to try and stop my panic. Once again it didn't seem like we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, the plane wasn't slowing down fast enough, was it slowing down again. Boom. Bang! Crash! Explosion. Oil everywhere! People on fire! But the plane came to a leisurely speed, and it was all over.

When I stumbled through the walkway, my legs wobbled underneath me. I was super shaken up.  I needed to find my hotel and calm down. That was priority number one before I did anything else. Customs only took fifteen minutes at five in the morning. My baggage took as long as expected but not much longer. My whole body was like Jello as I lunged for my suitcase. For a moment I forgot myself in pure joy for having caught my suitcase.

I lumbered out of the terminal and outside to where the taxis were. I got in the first one, letting the cabbie take my bags. 'The Best Western hotel, please.'

'I know the one. Sure.'

It was my first time in New York. The city obviously never slept, because I had never seen so many cars, so many people. Skyscrapers loomed above us. I could see the Eiffel Tower and the One World Trade Centre. So many interesting sites, so many lights and buildings, so much commotion. New York. 

The cabbie deposited me out front of the hotel. I paid him and got out, leaving a generous tip. I thought so anyways, he looked no more pleased than before. My legs were more under me now, and I wheeled my way into the front desk. 'Hi,' I announced.

'Hello, are you staying here?'

'Yes, I booked a room last week.'

'First and last name.'

'Aidan Cunningham.'

'Okay.' She did some typing and perhaps some computations, a slightly confused look on her face. Then she looked up and said, 'Could I have the credit card you booked with, please?'

'Certainly.' I slid her the card. 

She looked at it and then she swiped it on her keyboard. She stared at the monitor waiting for information. Then she presented the card back to me, smiled, and said, 'Thank you.'

She did some more typing, biting her lip, and then she reached for two keys, and handed them to me. 'Here are your room keys. Have a pleasant stay.'

'I will. But I'm here for business.'

'Oh. I see. A bit of both then.'

'Yes. That sounds lovely. Have a nice day.'

'You as well, sir.' I turned towards the elevator and lugged my suitcase with me. 

The room was average at best. I didn't see anything so pleasant about it, that's for sure. There were two beds next to each other, and I sat down at the one nearest the window. It was still six in the morning. I could sleep for a few hours, try to make sure I felt rested, and when I felt better, I could go and talk to Janelle.


When I awoke, at first I felt groggy, but after a few minutes I could tell I felt better. I felt very awake. It was time to set the record straight. I quickly dressed and did my hair, brushed my teeth and put on some deodorant. I googled the location of Astelle and Goderich. I had to take one subway to get there, and then I had to walk a few blocks. I could do this. I started rehearsing how I was going to explain, what I was going to say.

You see, I wrote this novel. I know it's surprising, but I'm the real writer, and I want to be acknowledged.

You see, Jayden didn't write this. I did. This is bullshit.

I probably shouldn't say that. The subway smelt as strongly as a garbage dump, and several people asked me for change before I got on it, and as I was leaving the station, back to the light. As I stepped out of the Subway station, I wiped my noise. It was all black. Ughh. A grey smog hung over the city.

I felt okay as I walked toward the agency. I could feel one foot under the other, and it didn't feel like either foot would give. I stopped at a crosswalk, before the flashing man signaled me across the street. Before long, I was in front of Astelle and Goderich, looking up at in an anxious awe.

I went through the double doors and in towards the elevator. I pushed the button for the second floor and swayed back and forth one foot to the other waiting for the ding of the elevator's arrival. It only took a few moments, and the promptness was impressive. I stepped in, and turned around, thumbing for the second floor.

When I exited the elevator I could see the office, and hesitating only for a second I went for the door, opened it, and entered Astelle and Goderich. A receptionist looked up and smiled at me somewhat sleepily. I went up to her.

'Hi.' She said warmly.

'Hi, I was hoping to speak to Janelle.’

'Usually our meetings are by appointment. What is it regarding?'

'It's important. She'll want to hear what I have to say.'

'I see. What's your name?'

'Aidan Soars.'


'Aidan Soars. The writer.'

'Okay. Why don't you just have a seat over there, please.'


When I sat down I nearly stumbled over. My heart was pounding through my chest, but I kept telling myself to calm down, everything is fine. I watched the receptionist pick up the phone and dial it. She looked confused and skeptical. I could hear here say, there's someone here to see you. He says its him. Well he's here now.

She hung up the phone and I looked away from here. I looked at the walls, several plaques, some post-modern paintings, and the glass walls between the office and New York. The receptionist went back to whatever she was doing before like nothing had happened.

It was a while I was waiting. I got so anxious all I could do was twiddle with my hands. Eventually, a door opened, and a woman dressed in black came out, her heels making noise against the tiles. 

'Mr. Soars?'

I rose. 'Hello,' I said.

'Janelle.' It was her. 'Why don't you step into my office so we can talk?'

“That's what I'm here for.'

We walked over to the far side of the room, to an office in a corner, overlooking the nearby street. She sat down at the head of the desk, and motioned for me to sit down as well. She clasped her hands together and sat them down on the mahogany desk. 

'So, your Aidan Soars. But Aidan Soars died a few weeks ago.'

'I know. Pretty crazy, I'll admit.'

'In fact, I knew Mr. Soars. I was quite fond of him. He didn't look like you.'

'No, certainly, he didn't.'

'So can you explain to me what's going on?'

'Oh. He's dead. The man you knew is dead. And I know we said he wrote the book.'


'But he didn't write the book. He said he wrote the book because I wasn't ready to come out with my sexulaity. His name was Jayden. He was my best friend.'

'I'm sorry for your loss.'

'Thank you.'

'So he stood in for you?'

'When you asked me to come to New York I knew I couldn't do it. So I asked him to go for me. Eventually I was going to say I wrote it, but it got out of hand. He was doing the tour, going to talk with people who read the book, everything.'

'So you wanted to tell me the truth, it's just that the sensitive matter contained in the book made it impossible.'


'Well, I'll say this. I'm not mad at you. It was brave to share your work. And you had a very nice friend. That he would step in like that is remarkable, my anger at him aside.'

'He was a great guy. He spoke fondly of you. It seemed like he really liked you.'

'He was the perfect guy. It seemed he had everything. But knowing the truth I see it was too good to be true. Something was wrong. It's true, I could tell something was wrong.'

'Pretty hard to say you wrote something like that.'

'Well, I congratulate him for getting away with it.'

'So, what are you going to do?'

'Well, without a writer, all our plans for the book were completely shelved. We thought Jayden could have had a nice long career with us. I suppose it would have been a very unwelcome surprise when he wasn't able to write a follow up.'

'He couldn't write at all.'

'Aidan, say you wrote the book. Take a risk and be open with your sexuality, and this book will be a success. All the signs are good, we just need a face. Will you be the face, Aidan? Will you say wrote the book for me?'

'Yes. Absolutely, I will. Yes.'

'Good. Then will make an announcement and when the book tour starts, you'll head out as the writer. I'm proud of you Aidan. You wrote a really great work. And now we have our prize writer again.'

'Thank you. Alright. I look forward to the book tour.'


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