Sad Buffet
By LK Shaw


MORNING

Brock Lesley woke up at 9am and looked at the girl he was in bed with.

'Who is this girl?' He thought.

She had two tanned legs poking out from beneath the sheets.

He got up and walked out of the bedroom and looked at his iPhone. He had received two text messages from his girlfriend. The first read, 'Honey, my plane arrives at 7.30. r u picking me up at the airport?' The second read, 'Honey, can u plz call me? I need to talk to u.'

Brock Lesley called his girlfriend from the bathroom. Their conversation lasted for 2 minutes and 38 seconds. It ended with Brock Lesley saying, 'I love you too honey. I will see you at the airport.'

Brock Lesley hung up the phone and went back into the bedroom. The girl with the tanned legs had woken up and was sitting in the bed, naked, wrapped in his clean, white sheets.
'Well, Mr Major Leaguer,' she said, 'That was quite a night.'

Brock Lesley told her that she had to leave now. He said that he was sorry but he 'just couldn't do this'. He said that he had a game that afternoon. He said, 'No, I am not married.' He said, 'No, I don't want to see you again.' He said, 'Here is $50, take a cab home.' He said, 'Hey, and don't tell anyone about this, ok?' The girl smiled and said it was their 'little secret,' and then she left. Brock Lesley thought of the phrase, 'confused facial expression.'

Brock Lesley didn't really know where he had gotten that phrase from.

Brock Lesley lives in a condo by the lake shore. He moved to the condo at the start of this baseball season. This is Brock Lesley’s first season as a major leaguer. This is Brock Lesley’s first time living away from his girlfriend. Brock Lesley has been with his girlfriend since he was 15 years old. Brock Lesley is now 24 years old. Brock Lesley has recently become a Canadian heartthrob.

Brock Lesley grew up on the other side of the country, 3000 miles away. Brock Lesley is from a small town. Brock Lesley doesn't really know too much about big city life at this point. Brock Lesley is a lonely professional baseball player who sometimes feels out of his depth.

Brock Lesley looked out of his window and stared at the vastness of the lake he lived right next to. Brock Lesley sighed. Brock Lesley was afraid that he didn't know how to express all of the emotions he was experiencing.

Brock Lesley looked at his watch and walked to the bathroom. He took a shower and washed any sign of the girl off of himself. Brock Lesley got out of the shower and stood in front of the mirror and looked at his naked body for a few seconds. Brock Lesley is in the shape of his life. Brock Lesley has got 'washboard' abs. Brock Lesley thought of the phrase, 'Canadian heartthrob.' Brock Lesley felt indifferent.

Brock Lesley put some clothes on and grabbed his sports bag. Brock Lesley took the elevator down to the parking lot and got into his car. Brock Lesley drove two blocks to the baseball stadium. Brock Lesley drove into the baseball stadium parking lot and parked in a parking space marked, ‘Brock Lesley’.

Brock Lesley got out of the car and walked into the locker room. Brock Lesley passed a team mate and smiled at him as they pressed their hands together quickly to form a high-five. Brock Lesley changed into a wife-beater and grabbed a water bottle and walked into the weights room. Brock Lesley lifted weights and thought about the girl he had kicked out of his apartment. Brock Lesley thought, 'I need to stop doing this stuff, for real, I mean, like...... seriously.'

Brock Lesley went back into the locker room and tweeted something inspirational about the afternoon's upcoming game. Brock Lesley has over 131,000 twitter followers.

*

Ian Robinson woke up alone at 7.30am to the sound of his wife washing dishes in the kitchen. When Mary Robinson washes dishes early on a Saturday morning, she does it with little regard for the possibility that Ian Robinson might want to stay asleep a while longer than he does during the work week. Ian Robinson works 8am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday but on Saturday and Sunday, Ian Robinson does not go into the office. Ian Robinson reached out to the bedside table and put his glasses on. Ian Robinson looked at the alarm clock by his bed and read '7.30'. Ian Robinson sighed and rolled on to his back and stared up at the cracks in the ceiling for a couple of minutes.

Ian Robinson changed the angle of his head positioning and rested his chin onto his chest a little bit. To Ian Robinson’s displeasure, he could see a large, round, bloated-looking stomach straight in front of him which appeared somehow to have actually become his own body. Four years previously, Ian Robinson had had a 'steamy' affair with a 25 year old co-worker. It seemed implausible to him, now, that this could ever have happened. Ian Robinson rested a hand upon his ugly belly and then flicked the skin with his middle finger. Ian Robinson's stomach skin wobbled and rippled. 'I am becoming something disgusting,' Ian Robinson thought to himself very briefly, before standing up and getting on with his life.

Mary Robinson came into their bedroom as Ian Robinson was buttoning up his shirt. Ian Robinson had put on socks and jeans and underwear and had begun the process of buttoning up his shirt. Ian Robinson looked at his wife and observed that she was fully clothed with a little bit of make up on her face which made her look vaguely tired or possibly older than she truly was. Mary Robinson is forty seven years old.

Ian Robinson asked Mary Robinson if she knew where he had left his wallet. Mary Robinson walked across their bedroom towards Ian Robinson and picked up his wallet from where it was resting, right beside him, on top of the television set. Ian Robinson smiled and said, 'And what would I do without you?' in a loving tone of voice before lightly kissing her on the forehead.

Mary Robinson felt Ian Robinson's lips, for a second, on the skin of her forty seven year old forehead. Mary Robinson remained still and looked out of their second story window, on to the back yards of their neighbours.

Mary Robinson didn't know about the 'steamy' affair Ian Robinson had had four years previously with a 25 year old work co-worker. However, for unrelated reasons, Mary Robinson couldn't help but feel a vague sense of existential unease for somewhere between 30-50% of the time. Mary Robinson remembered that it would soon be time for her to take her medication.

Mary Robinson noticed that the top of the television set was a little bit dusty. Mary Robinson ran her index finger through the dust and made a small, voluntary wincing sound which was intentionally, barely audible. 'I'm going to have to get the duster, honey,' said Mary Robinson, as she walked back out of their bedroom.

Ian Robinson walked downstairs into the kitchen and saw several bags of groceries laid out on the kitchen counter. Ian Robinson remembered that it was the last Saturday of the month. Ian Robinson didn’t know how he could have forgotten about that. Ian Robinson usually dreads the last Saturday of every month. The last Saturday of the month meant that it was time for one of Mary Robinson's 'dinner parties'.

Mary Robinson comes from a lower class background than Ian Robinson. Mary Robinson grew up in a world without dinner parties. Mary Robinson grew up in a small industrial town which had lost the majority of its industry. However, Mary Robinson now teaches at the local elementary school and Mary Robinson has tasted a drop of 'upward social mobility.'

Mary Robinson subconsciously celebrates this fact with monthly dinner parties. Mary Robinson’s therapist recommended that it would be nice to have ‘something low-key to look forward to.’

Mary Robinson invites some of her teacher friends to her monthly dinner parties. Mary Robinson’s teacher friends live locally. Mary Robinson enjoys feeling like a part of the community.

Ian Robinson invites some of his buddies to Mary Robinson’s monthly dinner parties. Ian Robinson and his buddies usually end up drinking beer on the back porch, smoking cigarettes. Mary Robinson's friends usually end up drinking a couple too many glasses of white wine in the living room. Mary Robinson almost always considers her dinner parties to be a great success. Mary Robinson tells her therapist that the dinner parties are really helping.

Ian Robinson walked around the kitchen trying to find something he could eat for breakfast. Mary Robinson walked into the kitchen and said something to Ian Robinson that startled him and caused him to turn around quickly. As Ian Robinson turned around quickly, he accidentally knocked something into something else which in turn knocked over something else. As a result of these things knocking into and over each other, a three-tiered serving plate on the other end of the counter fell on to the kitchen floor. The second tier of the serving plate smashed into a thousand pieces. Mary Robinson made a loud, involuntary yelping sound. Ian Robinson said, 'Oh, I’m sorry.'

Mary Robinson insisted that they needed a replacement serving plate for the dinner party. Ian Robinson told her there was no time to get another one before this evening. Mary Robinson told him he would have to pick up another one on his way home from the game. Ian Robinson sighed and relented, agreeing to pick up a new second tier serving plate from the specialist cook-ware store on his way home from the baseball game he was going to watch that afternoon. Mary Robinson said, 'Thank you honey, I love you, you know that.' Ian Robinson felt intense guilt about the 'steamy' affair he had had with a 25 year old co-worker four years previously.

Ian Robinson took the subway to the baseball stadium. Ian Robinson and his buddies had tickets for seats along the third base line. Ian Robinson doesn’t need a therapist. Ian Robinson prescribes himself professional baseball.

*
Chintan Patel woke up alone in his single bed at 8.30am. Chintan Patel got out of bed and took a shower. Chintan Patel put on black work pants and a plain white t-shirt. Chintan Patel slipped into his black and white, ‘adidas classic’ sneakers. Chintan Patel ate a granola bar for breakfast. Chintan Patel put his work shirt into his backpack and walked to the bus stop and listened to rap music through his headphones.

Chintan Patel lives in a one bedroom apartment with his cousin. Chintan Patel's cousin works in the night time and Chintan Patel works in the day time. Chintan Patel and Chintan Patel's cousin rarely see each other. Chintan Patel feels this is a very good arrangement for the both of them.

Chintan Patel lives in a high rise apartment block. Chintan Patel’s apartment is on the 17th floor. If Chintan Patel looks out of his window, he can see the city skyline and the lake, very far away in the distance.

The apartment block is not downtown. The apartment block is not in a suburb. The apartment block is somewhere which could be described as 'part of the urban sprawl’. Chintan Patel waited for a bus for 15 minutes and then sat on the bus for eight more minutes whilst listening to rap music. The bus arrived at the subway station and Chintan Patel transferred on to the subway train. Chintan Patel's nearest subway station is the last stop on the subway line, with very close proximity to the airport.

Chintan Patel sat on the subway train for 21 minutes while the subway train headed to the centre of downtown where Chintan Patel works in a shopping mall. Chintan Patel is twenty years old. Chintan Patel moved to Canada two years ago to study business and economics at a low-level university in the centre of downtown. Chintan Patel plans to eventually return to India to run his father's company. Chintan Patel plans to one day marry an Indian woman in India. Chintan Patel plans to one day live a very different life to the one which he lives currently.

Currently, Chintan Patel's life consists of full-time education at a low-level university in the centre of downtown, two part-time jobs and occasional visits to suburban strip clubs with his cousin.

Chintan Patel's first job involves standing in subway stations for eight hours a day on some weekends. During these eight hour shifts, Chintan Patel’s objective is to encourage members of the public to sign up for low-interest credit cards with a large banking corporation. This job is paid on a commission basis. Chintan Patel is not particularly good at this job. Chintan Patel is very smiley and friendly while doing this job, but very few people are interested in signing up for low interest credit cards while walking through subway stations. It is hard to be particularly good at this job. It is hard to make people feel interest in things they do not naturally feel interest in.

Chintan Patel's second job is in a downtown shopping mall. Chintan Patel works for the mall itself, not in one of the stores. Chintan Patel clears away trays from tables in the central food court of the downtown shopping mall. For this job, Chintan Patel is paid a little bit more than minimum wage and he works one or two shifts per week. Chintan Patel likes this job. Chintan Patel enjoys looking at the people in the shopping mall. Chintan Patel especially enjoys looking at the girls in the shopping mall.

Chintan Patel fell asleep for five minutes on the subway. Chintan Patel woke up, luckily, just before his stop. Chintan Patel arrived at the downtown shopping mall at 9.55am. Chintan Patel was about to work 10am-6pm with 45 minutes for lunch. Chintan Patel can take his lunch break whenever he feels like it.

*
AFTERNOON
*

Brock Lesley ate lunch with his team mates before batting practice. Brock Lesley particularly enjoys batting practice when his team is playing a home game. Brock Lesley signed autographs for kids who had arrived early with baseballs and mitts they wanted to get signed by ‘Brock Lesley’. Brock Lesley looked at the tops of the heads of the kids he was signing baseballs for. Brock Lesley remembered himself as a kid, playing Little League in British Colombia. Brock Lesley imagined that he himself would probably have had a kid by now, if he wasn't a Canadian heartthrob/professional baseball player.

Brock Lesley went to the plate and hit twenty home runs during batting practice. Brock Lesley made a conscious effort not to identify the feeling of anxiety he could feel developing inside his chest cavity.

Brock Lesley felt distant during the team meeting prior to the national anthems. Brock Lesley had become used to the routine of play over the course of the 70 or so games he had played already during the season. Brock Lesley's batting average was presently mediocre. Brock Lesley knew that it made little difference. Brock Lesley knew that it benefited the club to have a Canadian heartthrob on the team. T-shirts with Brock Lesley's name on the back had proved to be the best-selling pieces of merchandise available this quarter, both online and in the club store. Brock Lesley tried not to think too much about that.

The game started at 1.07pm. The games always start at 7 minutes past the hour because of commercials and TV broadcasting and things that nobody really cares about when they're inside the stadium. Brock Lesley ran on to the field at 1.07 and took his position at third base. Brock Lesley scanned the stadium and tried to guess the attendance. Brock Lesley estimated that the attendance was approximately 40,000 people that day. Brock Lesley found this to be pleasing. Saturday afternoon games are consistently popular occasions when the weather is favourable. Brock Lesley thought, 'Six and a half hours ‘til I see my baby,' and concentrated on the first pitch.

Brock Lesley played a small role in the eventual loss his team suffered that afternoon. Brock Lesley struck out twice, made one hit and was walked once, unintentionally. His hit was inconsequential. He was run out at second base in the midst of a double play in the 4th inning. Brock Lesley made an embarrassing error in the sixth inning, during a moment of lapsed concentration. Brock Lesley worked hard to maintain focus on nothing except the task at hand following this error. Brock Lesley could vaguely hear people in the crowd heckling him for the mistake he had made. Brock Lesley continued living his life and thought of what he always thought in these sorts of moments, from Take Me Out To The Ball Game; 'If we don't win, it's a shame.'

Brock Lesley knew that people expected him to care more. Brock Lesley knew that he was supposed to feel passionate about professional baseball. Brock Lesley knew that many people say that they would 'kill' to do what he does for a living, but Brock Lesley had never done anything else for a living. Brock Lesley just happens to be very good at playing baseball. Brock Lesley has never considered doing anything else.

Brock Lesley recognised that deep down inside of himself, there was something 'wrong' or 'missing' or 'incomplete' in his life. Brock Lesley came to this realisation while standing on third base in the eighth inning of a major league baseball game, whilst looking up at a crowd of 42,535 people. Brock Lesley came to this realisation half a second before the ball was thrown to him from centre-field when he was tagging out a runner from second to end the innings. Brock Lesley was distracted again. Brock Lesley distracted himself from visceral emotional feelings using exercise and interaction. Some people use drugs and alcohol. Brock Lesley gets drug-tested three times a week.

Brock Lesley's team lost the game by three runs. The game was over by 4.30pm. Brock Lesley headed into the locker room to change out of his uniform and into something more comfortable. Brock Lesley drunk a glass of sparkling water while sitting opposite last month's most valuable player. The wives of the other players congregated in the player’s lounge. Brock Lesley made an excuse and headed down to the parking lot and tried to decide what he should do with the time he had to kill before going to the airport.

*

Ian Robinson arrived at the baseball stadium approximately 25 minutes before the game was due to start. Ian Robinson sent a text message to his buddies to say that he would meet them in their assigned seats after he bought himself a hot dog. Ian Robinson stood in line to buy a hot dog. Ian Robinson spent $12 on a hot dog and some french fries. Ian Robinson rested his fingers on his oversized belly.

Ian Robinson goes to probably 30 games a year and usually sits in the '500 level' cheap seats above home plate for the reasonable price of $13. Every now and then though, Ian Robinson and his friends 'treat themselves' to a better location. On this occasion they were sitting close to field level, on the third base line. Level 100. Section 128. Row 7. Seats 103-105. Ian Robinson carried his hot dog over to where he and his buddies were sitting and sat down and waited for their arrival.

Ian Robinson's cell phone vibrated inside his pocket. Ian Robinson pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and read a text message from Mary Robinson. 'Ian, please don't forget to pick up the second tier serving plate from the specialty cookware store.' Ian Robinson winced a little. Ian Robinson hadn't thought about the evening's dinner party since leaving home over an hour earlier. Ian Robinson couldn't bear the thought of Mary Robinson's friends coming over to the house for another evening of 'entertainment'. Ian Robinson couldn't bear the thought of another dinner party.

Ian Robinson's negative feelings towards Mary Robinson's dinner parties had begun almost one year ago, one night when Ian Robinson had stopped at the 24 hour super market to pick up a couple of things for a forthcoming dinner party whilst on his way home from somewhere, fairly late into the evening. Ian Robinson selected the items he required and approached the cashier, seeing two of Mary Robinson's teacher friends in the line ahead of him. Ian Robinson looked for another check-out he could go to, to avoid the ladies, but there was nothing else open at that time of night.

With another customer between himself and the ladies, Ian Robinson hung back and turned to the side, hoping they wouldn't notice him, which it turned out, they didn't. Ian Robinson read the headlines on the tabloids. Ian Robinson despises gossip.

Ian Robinson listened in, unnoticed, as the two women proceeded to berate Mary Robinson, focusing particular attention on her dinner parties.
'And the funniest part,' said the fatter woman to the thinner woman, 'was that salad dressing... You cannot tell me that didn’t come out of a screw top bottle'
The women cackled jubilantly in their unpleasantness. Ian Robinson's eyes opened wide.

'Dinner party…' the thinner woman replied to the fatter one, rolling her eyeballs into the back of her skull, 'more like a sad buffet, if you ask me.'

And they erupted into laughter again.

‘Mary-Robinson’s-last-Saturday-of-the-month-sad-buffet,’ the fatter woman shrieked, whilst wobbling. Ian Robinson saw the words ticker-tape across his life, like a news feed.

The women continued to cackle as they exited the 24 hour supermarket. Ian Robinson said nothing. Ian Robinson felt intense guilt about the 'steamy' affair he had had with a 25 year old co-worker four years previously.

Ian Robinson’s buddies arrived just before the national anthems. Ian Robinson and his buddies stood up straight and listened to the American national anthem intently. Ian Robinson and his buddies sung along to the Canadian national anthem very loudly. Ian Robinson thought repeatedly about the quality of the hot dog he had just eaten whilst singing. Ian Robinson thought repeatedly about buying another hot dog after a couple of innings had passed by. Ian Robinson didn’t want to be hungry later on. Ian Robinson didn’t want to think about later on. Ian Robinson wanted to live his whole life in the crowd at a baseball game.

The game was quick and disappointing for Ian Robinson. Ian Robinson’s team lost and some of the players made embarrassing errors which reflected badly on the team in general. Ian Robinson felt angry about the level of concentration exhibited by some of the players. Ian Robinson’s buddy leaned over to Ian Robinson and said, ‘I would kill to be playing in the big leagues like these guys… and look at them, they’re too busy thinking about seeing their little girlfriends or something.’ Ian Robinson nodded in agreement. Ian Robinson had made his way up to a middle-management position at the insurance company he had been working at since the age of 19 and despite being pretty consistently unhappy for most of that time, Ian Robinson had very rarely considered doing anything else. Ian Robinson yelled at the third baseman Brock Lesley during the sixth inning when the young, Canadian heartthrob made a careless mistake. Ian Robinson felt depressed when the game was over by 4.30pm.

Ian Robinson said good bye to his buddies and headed to the specialty cook store to buy the replacement second-tier serving plate he needed for Mary Robinson’s impending dinner party.

*
The first hour of Chintan Patel’s shift was very busy with many early morning shoppers who arrived in the mall to buy consumer products and have breakfast in the food court. Chintan Patel cleared away the trays and took them into a central kitchen room where he loaded them into a dishwasher. The central kitchen room contains only dishwashers and places to stack trays and is perpetually warm enough to cause instant perspiration. Chintan Patel doesn’t think the room is exactly a ‘kitchen’, but accepts that there is probably no other word to describe what it is.

Chintan Patel enjoys Saturdays in the mall because there are so many people around and there is so much to do that time seems to pass very quickly and often before he knows it, it is time for Chintan Patel to take his lunch break. Chintan Patel likes to take his lunch as late into the day as possible so as to give himself a shorter afternoon.

Chintan Patel’s boss called in sick that morning. Several other members of staff called in sick that morning also. Chintan Patel worked harder than ever to ensure that the trays were cleared swiftly from the tables.

When Chintan Patel moved to Canada two years ago to attend a low-level university in the centre of downtown, he was often very bored and lonely with nothing to do except study and go to work. To alleviate his boredom and loneliness, he would watch television in his apartment.

One evening, there was nothing that Chintan Patel wanted to watch on the television. Chintan Patel decided that he would do some studying instead and so reclined on the sofa reading a text book. Unfortunately, the remote was too far away for Chintan Patel to reach out and simply turn the power button off. Chintan Patel decided to leave the television playing while he studied his text book.

After a while, Chintan Patel became bored of reading the text book and looked back at the television to see what was playing. The television had started to play a baseball game. Chintan Patel knew nothing about baseball. Chintan Patel didn’t understand any of the rules. Chintan Patel stared at the screen for a long time and watched the players moving around the field. After some time, Chintan Patel realised that he was starting to understand, to some extent, what was happening in the game.

Chintan Patel began to watch baseball games most nights in his apartment. After a few weeks, Chintan Patel decided to buy a ticket to watch a live game. Chintan Patel went to the baseball stadium and watched a live game and from that day forward, he considered himself a true fan of the sport.

Chintan Patel discovered that his new love for baseball helped in many areas of his life. Not only did it give him something to do on bored and lonely evenings, it also gave him something to talk to strangers about. Chintan Patel also found that there was a wealth of statistics which he could spend time reading over on the subway. Overall, Chintan Patel felt that baseball made his life feel better.

Chintan Patel’s boss was sick that day, so Chintan Patel decided to listen to the radio through headphones while he was working. Chintan Patel felt glad that baseball games last for so many hours. Chintan Patel felt that his working day had been much improved by the addition of the radio. Chintan Patel took his lunch break around 2.30pm and went outside onto a busy street and listened to the game while eating his lunch and sitting on a bench and smiling at passers-by. Chintan Patel felt happy to live in such a wonderful city. Chintan Patel felt glad to have something he enjoys so much.

Chintan Patel’s lunch break ended as Brock Lesley was making his error. Chintan Patel felt sad for Brock Lesley. Brock Lesley is Chintan Patel’s favourite player of the season so far. Chintan Patel has a t-shirt with Brock Lesley’s name on the back. Chintan Patel sighed and went back into the shopping mall. The shopping mall was very busy because it was Saturday and people love to go shopping on Saturdays. Chintan Patel looked at his watch and counted down the hours until he would be done working for the day. Chintan Patel didn’t have any plans for the evening. Chintan Patel would probably go home and watch another baseball game on the television.

*
EVENING
*


Brock Lesley left the player’s lounge and went down to the parking garage and got into his car and realised that he still had two hours before he needed to meet his girlfriend at the airport. Brock Lesley felt somewhat guilty about some of the choices he had made recently. Brock Lesley felt that it might be a good idea to buy his girlfriend some kind of present, to make himself feel better. Brock Lesley decided he should probably drive to the mall to buy his girlfriend a present, to make himself feel better. Brock Lesley decided to buy his girlfriend either flowers or jewelry or underwear.

Ian Robinson left the baseball stadium and thought about taking the subway to the specialty cookware store to buy a replacement second-tier serving plate for his wife, Mary Robinson. Ian Robinson decided that there was probably enough time for him to walk from the baseball stadium to the shopping mall. Ian Robinson walked 1km from the baseball stadium to the shopping mall. Ian Robinson felt happy to live in such wonderful city.

Chintan Patel returned from his lunch break and was approached immediately by his supervisor. Chintan Patel felt afraid that he was going to be told off for wearing headphones while he was working. Chintan Patel didn’t enjoy conflict. Chintan Patel wanted to be seen as a person with a strong work ethic.

Chintan Patel’s supervisor asked Chintan Patel if he would be interested in staying until 7pm (instead of 6pm) because there were so many people who had called in sick that morning. Chintan Patel had nothing else to do that evening. Chintan Patel said, ‘Yes, that would not be a problem.’

*

Brock Lesley arrived in the shopping mall around 5.30pm. Brock Lesley walked through the shopping mall and looked for the first place he could see which sold flowers, jewelry or underwear. Brock Lesley quickly found a place which sold jewelry. Brock Lesley bought his girlfriend a necklace with some kind of diamond on it. Brock Lesley realised he hadn’t eaten for hours and still had an hour to kill before going to the airport to meet his girlfriend. Brock Lesley decided to buy himself some kind of food or something.

Ian Robinson headed directly to the specialty cookware store and purchased a second-tier serving plate for his wife, Mary Robinson. Ian Robinson felt astonished at the price of the second-tier serving plate. Ian Robinson sent a text message to his wife, Mary Robinson, which said, ‘I’m just on my way to the specialty cookware store. I shouldn’t be too long now, honey.’ Ian Robinson wanted to buy himself some time so that he could grab a burger before going home to the dinner party.

Chintan Patel didn’t mind staying for an extra hour, collecting trays from tables in the food court, but he was becoming aware of the fact that his feet had started aching. Chintan Patel went into the central kitchen area for a couple of minutes and stood very still, looking at the blurred reflection of himself in one of the metal dishwashers. Chintan Patel sighed deeply. Chintan Patel thought he’d better get out of the central kitchen area before he started sweating profusely. Chintan Patel headed back out into the food court area. Chintan Patel began collecting more trays from the tables of the food court.



*
At around 6.05pm, Brock Lesley entered into the food court, coming down on an escalator.

Ian Robinson walked across the food court and passed Brock Lesley in front of a franchise of a popular fried-chicken, fast-food restaurant. Ian Robinson did not recognise Brock Lesley immediately.

Chintan Patel looked up for a second to find other trays he could collect from tables and immediately recognised Brock Lesley.

Brock Lesley caught a moment of eye contact with Chintan Patel.

Chintan Patel smiled widely and started walking towards Brock Lesley.

Ian Robinson turned, realising that he had just walked past Brock Lesley.

Brock Lesley turned, trying to avoid having a conversation with Chintan Patel.

A woman walked into the food court, pulled out a gun from inside of her jacket, and started screaming loudly and shooting at people at random.

Chintan Patel screamed and got down underneath a table.

Brock Lesley’s eyes opened widely as he turned to run out of the food court.

Blood started to spray around the food court as several people were shot at by the gunwoman.

Ian Robinson flew into a panic, not knowing how to escape from the chaos.

The gunwoman shot at Ian Robinson. Ian Robinson felt a bullet enter his thigh. Ian Robinson screamed in pain and fell to the ground in a heap.

The gunwoman continued to shoot at people.
Blood continued to spray around the food-court. People were running in all directions around the food court, trying to find an exit.

Chintan Patel darted out from beneath the table and grabbed hold of Ian Robinson. Ian Robinson screamed in pain. Brock Lesley ran back past Ian Robinson and Chintan Patel, unable to find an exit. Chintan Patel called out to Brock Lesley to help him with Ian Robinson.

Brock Lesley couldn’t believe he had been recognised during a shooting.

The gunwoman continued to scream and shoot at people at random.

Chintan Patel and Brock Lesley dragged Ian Robinson into the central kitchen area and locked the door behind them. Ian Robinson screamed in pain. Brock Lesley tried to call 911. Chintan Patel tried to tie his shirt around Ian Robinson’s leg to stop the blood from spraying.

Ian Robinson screamed, ‘You have no idea what you’re doing!’

Brock Lesley screamed, ‘What the hell is happening!’

Chintan Patel stared wide eyed at Ian Robinson’s leg. Chintan Patel stared wide-eyed at Brock Lesley. Ian Robinson and Brock Lesley stared wide-eyed at a shirtless Chintan Patel, sweating profusely in the central kitchen area of a downtown, shopping mall, food court.

They continued to hear gunshots coming from the food court. They continued to hear people running and people screaming. Ian Robinson’s skin turned paler and paler. Brock Lesley was hyperventilating. Chintan Patel paced up and down the central kitchen area of the food court.

All of them shouted. All of them panicked. All of them thought about things they hadn’t thought about in a long time.

They waited for the food court to get quiet.

*
‘We can’t go out there.’ Chintan Patel said to Brock Lesley and Ian Robinson.

‘What are we supposed to do?’ said Brock Lesley. ‘He’ll die. He’s got a bullet in his leg.’

‘I’m not going to die. We can’t go out there.’ said Ian Robinson.

‘What the hell is happening?’ said Brock Lesley.

Brock Lesley and Ian Robinson and Chintan Patel sat on the floor of the central kitchen area of the downtown shopping mall food court. Brock Lesley and Chintan Patel both had Ian Robinson’s blood on their hands and arms. Ian Robinson started to lose consciousness. Chintan Patel and Brock Lesley shouted in Ian Robinson’s face to keep him awake.

Ian Robinson said, ‘You’re Brock Lesley.’

Chintan Patel said, ‘He's Brock Lesley!!’

Brock Lesley said, ‘You’ve been shot in the leg!’

Ian Robinson said, ‘What were you doing out there today, boy? That mistake you made in the sixth inning…They don’t pay you to make mistakes like that, Mr. Major Leaguer’

Chintan Patel looked at Ian Robinson’s bleeding thigh. Chintan Patel looked at Brock Lesley’s disbelieving facial expression. Chintan Patel looked at his own bloody hands. Brock Lesley looked at Ian Robinson’s bleeding thigh. Brock Lesley looked at Chintan Patel’s thin, shirtless body. Brock Lesley looked at his own face, blurred in the reflection of a metallic dishwasher.

Ian Robinson looked at Brock Lesley.

Ian Robinson thought of Mary Robinson’s sad goddamn buffet.

Ian Robinson felt intense guilt about the 'steamy' affair he had had with a 25 year old co-worker four years previously.

Ian Robinson repeated, ‘They don’t pay you to make mistakes like that, Mr. Major Leaguer’

Brock Lesley didn’t say anything. Chintan Patel looked back and forth between the two of them. Brock Lesley sat down on the floor and put his head in his hands.

Chintan Patel told him, ‘Mr. Lesley, I have to say, I am a big fan of yours. I am a big fan of your team and of your game of baseball and it is truly an honour to meet you, even in these terrible circumstances.’

‘People are dying inside a food court,’ said Brock Lesley.

Ian Robinson felt delirious. Ian Robinson felt insane and full of rage and sadness and guilt. Ian Robinson continued to chide Brock Lesley for mistakes he’d made earlier in the season. Brock Lesley thought about his girlfriend. Ian Robinson ranted and ranted, becoming more and more worked up. Chintan Patel looked on in disbelief at the sight of the two, strange Canadian males arguing with each other, in blood and sweat and uncertainty. Chintan Patel thought about his father’s company. Ian Robinson thought about the two women in the supermarket. Brock Lesley remembered playing Little League.

Eventually, Brock Lesley said, ‘Did you ever just end up in a place in your life… and you didn’t know how that happened to you?’

The police banged on the door of the central kitchen area. A police voice shouted, 'This is the police. It is now safe to unlock the door.' Chintan Patel unlocked the door and two paramedics rushed in to treat Ian Robinson.

Chintan Patel looked blankly at Ian Robinson.

Brock Lesley looked blankly at Chintan Patel.

Chintan Patel walked out of the central kitchen area and went to collect his bag from where he had left it in the staff room. Paramedics were loading wounded people on to stretchers and taking them to the hospital.

Ian Robinson was loaded on to a stretcher and taken to the hospital.

Brock Lesley stared at puddles of blood on the tiled floor as he made his way towards an exit.

Brock Lesley walked out of the shopping mall and was applauded by a crowd of people. Brock Lesley was interviewed by a news reporter, live on national television.

Brock Lesley spoke mostly in cliches.

Chintan Patel went home to watch a baseball game.

Ian Robinson imagined his new life as the survivor of a shopping-mall shooting.

The replacement second-tier serving plate lay disregarded on the floor of the downtown, shopping mall food court.

Mary Robinson prepared herself for another sad buffet.

Brock Lesley tweeted something inspirational about surviving a shopping-mall shooting. Brock Lesley has over 131,000 twitter followers.


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lk shaw lives in toronto

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@lkshowbiz