I’m late. They’re early. It’s a buffet.
A facemask peeks through the folds of a raincoat tossed casually on the floor. Win Butler shuffles his foot under the table, over to the coat, emits a soft whup.
There are no menus at Toronto Four Seasons. We order mimosas. Alexander writes the word bankteller across the waiter’s eyelids. It’s 11:40 a.m. The tablecloth is snowy linen, silverware black as night.
The egg station is a fake igloo. A French chef with a waxed moustache ignores my request for a Denver omelet. I repeat the order as omelette and he shudders.
Win asks me what this interview is all about. I tell him it’s not an interview. I tell him it’s a true dream. He extends his hand and we jitterbug between the tables. I would describe the colour of the sun through the windows—everywhere windows, floor-to-ceiling in a ring around the entire dining room—as urinary.
We all get stomach aches.
A dessert cart approaches the table and Régine attacks it with the straw end of a broom. Tim and Jeremy don Detroit Lions helmets and butt the cart until it capsizes. Tartes leak jelly filling across the carpet.
“I am making a big mistake,” says Win. “I fought the just war with enemy intentions. Release the faceless nuns.” Nothing happens.
A non-rock-band patron asks to borrow my cellphone. I point to the no mobiles please sign. She smacks me with a fur glove and steals our salt shaker. She calls the Canadian ambassador to Haiti to ask for some explanation.
Humming. Harmony. Percussive helmet tapping. Clapping and whistling. A few words, here and there. A refrain: “Il n’ya pas de raison pour ce malaise.” I add the word truffles in perfect counterpoint.
It gets quiet. Everyone’s embarrassed. We take out notebooks and write down our thoughts. We exchange our thoughtbooks and Jeremy’s says that his parents’ bedroom reeks of sexual secrets beyond the ken of any normal adolescent. He draws boning stick figures.
Everyone wants to pay the bill. No one wants to pay the tip. The tip is a big fat lie. We are all starving.
Bells ring across the tables in a crescendo of atonality. It’s deafening, until the release. Sarah and Will make out, until the release. Faceless nuns descend from the roof and crash through the walls of windows.
It gets very cold. My cell phone rings. It’s Win. He’s calling from the egg igloo. He wants a cup of coffee. He wants a broken rifle. He sings the refrain one octave up and the call goes to static.
The executive chef emerges from the kitchen with a guitar and a pen. We run away in horror, through the lobby to Avenue Road where a bus takes us to the border. That’s where I lose them. Arcade Fire lacks passports or any reasonable form of identification.
I come home. I make coffee. I turn on the radio. I hear a familiar song.