Rory McMaster

The Train


Fuck. I hated that feeling of ‘what the fuck happened’. The dreaded unknown of memories stuck in your alcohol and drug soaked brain plasma.

Jeff looked over and started laughing.

“How you doing big guy?” he asked.

“Fuck dude, what the hell happened?” I embarrassedly moaned.

I looked around the bus amongst a sea of stares. Anger. Sadness. Bewilderment. Pity.

I felt like a piece of fucking shit. Oh well, status quo.

I didn’t even know where we were currently located. I embarked on this journey from good ol’ Barrie Ontario via greyhound bus en route to Calgary Alberta, where I met Jeff, a pot smoking Whitby, Ontario native. Accompanying Jeff was Brian, a wiry and weird east coaster from Glace Bay Nova Scotia, who had more teeth than brain cells; 17.

“Rory, you almost got pepper sprayed by Princess dude. I just stopped her man, it was pretty fucking close” he laughed hysterically.

I looked over to her seat and fucking died inside. How did I always find myself in these fucking situations? Especially already, as I was only 15 years old. Oh heavy alcohol and drug use, that’s how.

I was 15 and busing across the country by myself. 3,141 km of Canadiana sans supervision.

I imagined it was going to be a shit show. And it was.

“Well what the fuck did I do” I asked?

Jeff replied “Well you polished off that two-six of rye. You kept on falling into the middle aisle and that nice British fella Nigel kept on picking up and putting you back in your seat. At some point you went to the bathroom and when you came back out you went to the wrong seat and sat on Princesses head and she woke up in a panic grabbing for her pepper spray. I narrowly stopped her. You’re welcome little dude.”

“Thanks brother” I replied.

Princess was enroute to the University of Alberta to meet her starting fucking QB boyfriend. So my anxiety fueled, post using paranoia kicked into high gear for the rest of the trip, imaging all the ways this physical specimen was going to remove various appendages from my svelte, girl like frame.

Apparently we were in Brooks Alberta so I was close to my early departure from Earth at the hands of a modern Gladiator. I also learnt, due to my inability to responsibly manage intake of substances, I had held up the whole bus 45 minutes in Saskatoon because the new bus driver required a new section of my ticket and I was too drunk to wake up.

Proud, proud young man moments; with many more to come.

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round





The Ward



I stared at the ceiling for hours. The mosaic tiles had become my sky. If I stared long enough, they’d start swooning back and forth like it was 1995 and I had just eaten a gram of magic mushrooms.

“Would you like to hear a funny story?” my roommate Kevin asked.

Kevin was a 60-year-old schizophrenic. I kind of did want to hear a funny story. I knew it was going to be terrible though.

“So this French guy is selling tea and I ask how much and he says 10 bucks and I says ESTE!” he exclaimed amidst a sea of cackling.

I liked Kevin. He was severely mentally ill but he was alright.

Nice. And he always offered me his Apple Juice.

How the fuck did I end up on the 5th floor of the Ottawa General on the Mental Health Ward. Oh, life. That’s how.

I didn’t plan on waking up.

When I opened my eyes I groaned emphatically.

Well, that didn’t go as planned. 
Was out for 40 hours and felt like shit. But alas, was still this side of Hades.

Perfect. Let the self-loathing commence.

  1. 2. 1.

“So what you in for” Kev asked.
Like it was a sentence. 
I’m here on a suicide beef.

5-7 days for observation.
You know. The usual.

“I tried to eat heaven. I failed” I explained.

What the fuck had I done. Man. This feeling was terrible.

I just wanted out of my skin. And I had nowhere to go.

Just then a 90-year-old Punjabi man showed up at my door and pointed at me. Held out his hand.

“That’s Mr. Bubashank, he must like you. He’s holding out his hand because he wants to go for a walk.” Kevin informed me.

So off I went. I stood up in my hospital gown and little blue booties, still filled with enough medication to kill an elephant and began walking around the ward holding holds with Mr. Bubashank.

He didn’t speak English.

But he didn’t need to.

He’d come to my room 5 or 6 times a day for the duration of my stay, holding out his hand. And no matter my mood or mental state I would get up and walk around the unit with him.

Sometimes that’s all we really need you know;

a helping hand.



The Bartender




My Grandaddy was a hollerin’.

At my Ma again.

She didn’t come home last night after her shift at O’Tooles, where’s she’s worked ever since I can remember.

Probably started at the bottle and went home with one of the regulars.

If I was a gamblin’ boy, I’d put my money on smooth talking Jimmy “the Snake” Stevens.

He’s always at O’Tooles.

Most middle aged man in this dust pocket mid-west hell hole hung out there.

My Mom has probably been friendly with 83% of them. That number is under-gratuitous.

“THAT BOY NEEDS HIS MOMMA, HE AIN’T GOT NO DADDY”, he bellowed at the top of his lungs.

Thanks for the reminder, pops.

Jackson, Kentucky had been affected by the opiate scourge. Our family was not unscathed.

My Mom was an addict.

And my grandfather hated her for it.

It was quite the conducive environment for love.

In all my 15 years on the planet; this one was the worst.

The only thing that made it livable was Kelly Growganski’s smile.

It lit up every room she walked into. She epitomized girl next door, wholesome.

Alas, she had a somewhat functional family. And probably didn’t even know I existed.

“YOU’RE A TERRIBLE MOTHER AND A WHOOR”, my granddaddy bellowed.


I begged for sleep to steal me for the night.




The J-Word




I woke up in another smoke tinged motel room.

It smelt of day old whiskey, broken dreams and 3 hours worth of lust filled desire.

“Morning ‘andsome” she offered from her side of the coin operated 1970:s relic.

My head pounded. I couldn’t remember her name.

“Mornin’ sunshine” I offered in fear of guessing wrong. Jessica? Jennifer? J-something? J-Lo?

Low. Low like my esteem of the self variety.

Where were my cancer sticks?

“You’re quite the party animal darling. Rocked my world Pontiac.”  She quipped before walking her perfect bare ass {the sunshine bouncing off it in a most agreeable fashion further solidifying her newfound namesake} into the ridiculously small and unevenly lit HoJo bathroom.

Of course I did. Too bad I couldn’t remember. Never did.

Amazing experience, these blackout escapades in forgettable places and spaces.

Where were my fucking cigarettes?

I needed a brain cleanse and some whiskey for breakfast. It went well with the shitty instant coffee in these proverbial waiting rooms for degenerates.

Waiting for what? Love? The big break? Life to suddenly go your way? The cloak of darkness to magically lift?

“You have any smokes sunshine?” I implored. I guess that was officially her new name.

“Yes doll, in my jacket pocket beside the bed.” She responded.


Thank fuck. I needed to make this room as cloudy as my head.




Concrete Forests




i could smell the sweet and putrid defeat

as it exuded from every pore(


the birds started singing again, signifying another end to the dark:

the addict begged for more, but the body begged for yore


who needed sustenance,

when chemical bliss was

willing to kiss?


time to go for a walk,

to the only place,

ive ever truly

felt at home


the wildly colourful)



of north americas

concrete forests


sirens, horns, gridlock and screams;

are often the sounds


accompany my






Aboriginal Canadian, Spent 10 years in the Military Industrial Complex as an Intelligence Analyst and now full-time BA student at the University of Ottawa, Canada.


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