MONDAY: Goat Jacket


Copyright is held by the author.

THERE WERE five of us, not counting Shafiq, at the council meeting over at Lakeview Public. That was not a great turnout for the kind of conversation we needed to have. Absent: Morris Owendyke, Vince Mair and Serge and Patty Lefebvre, who are already wintering in Sarasota, apparently, if that emailed jpeg of Serge with the marlin on the boat is any indication.

On the agenda was Shafiq’s apology that he’d sent to each of us, as requested, as a PDF. As Vince predicted, it didn’t cut the mustard. It took us about three minutes in camera to give Shafiq the thumbs down.

He was waiting in the staff lunch room with his tan golf jacket done up to the collar. He’d worn it for as long as I’ve known him, it’s like he was always fighting a cold or low grade infection. His hands were folded in his lap and he just blinked when we entered. A nod would have been too collegial, it’s true, we were down to business. He had his phone on the table and he was just glaring at it, as if he’d just finished texting and was resisting typing another word. When I told him the verdict he nodded deeply. He wouldn’t look up from the table, wouldn’t look anybody in the eye. After a long couple of minutes he rose from his chair and told us he was driving home to get his “house in order” with his wife Salma and his two boys, Ali and Jay. Stan Sutcliffe offered to follow in his Denali and wait in the driveway because Shafiq was now in “detainment-type mode” but I said it wouldn’t be necessary, let’s give the guy a little slack. There were nods of agreement from Jan and Findlay and Al, but Shafiq didn’t even look back to check, he was already out the door.

It was Jan’s suggestion that the best way to get this done would be with Al’s new MSR. Al made no bones about the fact he’s been itching to test out this baby. And why wouldn’t he want to, it’s one of those bullpup types the bangers and the Russians down at the Odeon are into now. Al confirmed he bought it from a little firm operating just outside of Passmore, which led to a brief conversation about how we could be doing more to celebrate innovation and homegrown enterprise. He pulled up a photo of the rifle on his phone and it does look very cool IMHO. It can hold up to five cartridge cases, which we all agreed would be more than enough for the job. The idea was that we’d just cuff Shafiq to the tetherball pole in the playground lot at P.S. 60, then Al would emerge from the janitor’s office wearing his camos and balaclava, all Ninja style, bolt out onto the playground and empty out a couple of clips from 50 yards and we’d be done. It would take about 15 or 20 minutes, tops, and that was factoring in the parking issues on Daly with the new sewage pipes going in.

The meeting would have adjourned at that point if Stan Sutcliffe didn’t bring up the video question. It was his contention we would need to tape the whole event and post it on the community events page on the website, otherwise there would be no official public record of what happened to Shafiq. I offered that we were just asking for trouble if we went that route. As far as I was concerned, the decision was made in camera so we had no obligation to put it on camera. I thought that had a persuasive ring to it and indeed, we had quorum to vote and Stan’s motion didn’t fly. He mumbled something about me “playing it too cute” but he went along with the decision, sat by the door and spat out half a bag of sunflower seed shells into the wastepaper basket until we adjourned.

While he was in his huff we voted on two other crucial motions. The first concerned the catering and Jan said she frequently uses Scalawags on Euclid Avenue because they have an imaginative gluten-free menu. Al urged us to go with them as well because he said it would be respectful of Shafiq’s family in attendance. I wasn’t going to tell him gluten-free didn’t mean Halal (Ha!). The second motion concerned a registration table so we could confirm that everybody attending were from town and that there were no media. It was my opinion that we wanted to turn media away if they showed up and the registration table was a necessary precaution, but Stan, still smarting from the video conversation (contending that should have been a motion), decided this was his opportunity to make a passionate speech about the importance of our local media and that freedom of speech was a foundational type thing. I countered with the simple fact that freedom of speech is what got Shafiq in trouble in the first place. The motion on the registration table passed and Jan confirmed she’d “woman” it instead of man it, day of.

As it turned out, the weather on the day was less than ideal — cool and overcast with periods of rain. I couldn’t help but think we’d picked the one day in an otherwise glorious Indian (sorry) summer where it made sense for Shafiq to wear that goddamned old golf jacket. Stan had picked him up and drove him down in the Denali, expecting Shafiq’s family would want to come too — he’d even washed it and cleaned and vacuumed the back seats — but they’d chosen to say their goodbyes at home. Al said he found that odd and a little suspicious but Jan, rightly, in my mind, suggested we should live and let live, different strokes and all that. Many nods in agreement. Besides, as I was saying, we didn’t have the best weather and that affected the attendance and the general mood.

My general thoughts on Al’s MSR was that, despite its “rad specs and its homegrown cred” (his review on OPioneers!.com), I’m not too sure if it was worth the 10 percent more he paid to help the Passmore economy. I could see it was a little awkward to maneuver once he got into position and emptied out a couple of clips, and there was a kick to it that suggested it was not a wise choice for someone purchasing their first firearm. You’d have to know what you’re doing to get maximum value over time.

Still, with a good scope and I’d say a few hours at Dunvegan’s range out by the highway, most weekend sportsmen could manage the kind of clean hit from 50 metres that your more experienced hunter like Al pulls off effortlessly. I don’t think Shafiq even felt the second bullet, the first did the job.

The only disappointment that morning was the order from Scalawags. The breakfast cookies were as hard as hockey pucks. We had more than a half dozen left over, and it was Jen’s idea to bring them over to Salma and her boys but even they politely declined (and that’s surprising when you see the size of that kid Jay, if you know what I mean).

I made a mental note that at our next board meeting, I would move that we only order from Nona’s Bakery, going forward. Much like the Shafiq decision, I know that motion will pass unanimously.

But last thing before I close; I have to tell you about Tippy Galbraith. You know him and Todd have a lean-to they made at the back end of the reservoir. I don’t think either of them have had a job for 30 years. They get by on panhandling, and if they earn enough to split a bottle of Chinese cooking wine at the working end of the day, they’re satisfied. Well, I swear to God I saw Tippy sleeping by the fountain at the Town Hall wearing Shafiq’s jacket. It even had the rip and the blood stain right where Al’s first shot did the job.

The question is: who gave it to Tippy? And further to this, if there are grounds to believe he stole this from Shafiq’s family, do we put Tippy as an item on the agenda for our next meeting? Please advise.

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  1. Could have been a whole lot of fun but too clever by half. It’s not supposed to be a guessing game.

  2. Dave: How exactly was this story a guessing game? It was fairly clear to me that the neighbours in whatever quasi official capacity had condemned Shafiq for an unnamed infraction and executed him. A sad comment on today’s tense political atmosphere.

  3. Dystopian to be sure but so too is the recent American political scene. The casual style of the narrator contrasts well with the chilling topic. I get why you didn’t tell why they did it.

  4. After looking up the definition of ‘dystopian’ (not a word with which I sprinkle my daily conversations) I am inclined to agree with Sue. The narrator’s casual description of a cold-blooded execution of a human being for an undisclosed offence is in chilling contrast to the nature of the act. Mad Max redux?

  5. […] we re-post a favourite story or poem from the CommuterLit archives. Today we present the story, “Goat Jacket.” Click on the link to […]

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