I received your recent letter with, I must confess, a bit of alarm, as so much time has passed between my last letter to you and your response that I had feared you were not going to reply at all.
As to your letter's content, well, while of course you are entitled to your specific point of view, as your response so aptly demonstrates (and which, may I add, I read hearing your voice gruffly make such a rejoinder to me, as it has on numerous occasions) I feel I am duty-bound to reply that you have missed the point of my last message, and have chosen instead to harp on but one unfortunate moment of our last meeting and have blown it out of all proportion vis a vis the rest of our adventure, which, I would hope, you regard, as I do, as very, very agreeable indeed. Why you continue to insist on deconstructing every shred of conversation until you have formed it into something that annoys you is still beyond my powers of comprehension.
Which is to say, in response, fuck you, too.
That being said, I miss you more than I can express in words.
See -- see Fraser, that is why I do not write to you. That is exactly why right here. I don't know why I even bother because you're just, you're like this big frustrating stupid guy and you drive me crazy and you're just being you. This is exactly it do you get that???
Last night I went out with this girl named Marianne. She talked about fish a lot, but she was a good dancer.
I didn't sleep with her if that's what you're thinking.
I gotta go to work.
Thank you for your response. I am pleased you enjoyed your evening with Marianne, with or without fish. I know dancing is important to you and I remember fondly the lessons you attempted with me, and apologise again for being a difficult student. In any case, I hope you are happy.
And there is no need for you to inform me each and every time you do or do not have sexual relations with someone. I assure you your intimate relations with Marianne are your own business.
As are mine, with...well that's not important.
I hope this letter finds you in good health. Please give my regards to Lt. Welsh.
P.S. I apologise also for annoying you, something I seem to do with great regularity.
You didn't tell me you were dating anybody.
That's great. That's hunkydory. I'm happy for you. I'm sure you'll live happily ever after, freezing your eyebrows off and licking gross things and being a jackass to your best friends and having dozens of know-it-all babies.
Send me an invite to your wedding, if you remember.
P.S. That came out a little snottier than I meant. I'm an asshole. I liked the postcard you sent last time, it was cool. I put it on the fridge.
Not that it is actually any of your business, any more than it is mine whether or not you and your girlfriend Marianne intensify the nature of your relationship, but I feel it is incumbent upon me to clarify a misconception. It was not my intention to convey to you that Cpl. Donaldson was anything more than a casual companion at local cultural events (and of course the Sunday Potluck, but that hardly counts, as both of us were there in a more-or-less official capacity). I'm sure you understand the need for human contact, as I recall your frequent complaint that you could not understand how someone could live here without pizza delivery. Lee, that is, Cpl. Donaldson (who visits the post only bi-weekly, may I add) is an affable and pleasant companion whose presence alleviates some of the loneliness of such a remote posting.
And it is lonely here, Ray. I am surrounded by the silence of the tundra and the enormity of the sky. Diefenbaker provides what company he can. Funny; before our adventure I never realized how big and lonely the Territories could be. I'm afraid not a day goes by that I don't enter my cabin wishing you were here, filling the space with your conversation, your personality, your warmth.
P.S. I am glad you liked the postcard. I hope you enjoy the enclosed photographs.
Thanks for the pictures. I put them on my fridge, too. The second one I like -- it reminds me of some of those mornings on the adventure, when it was real quiet and nothing around for miles.
I guess that's what you were saying about the lonely thing. Chicago's not like that. There's people everywhere. Never quiet at all.
I really don't know why I'm writing these letters, Fraser. Everything comes out so STUPID. Nothing like what I mean at all.
When Stella went to college, she wanted me to write to her because she thought it'd be all romantic and stuff, love letters, like all the books she read. We got two mailed off, I think, and then gave up. It was stupid. That was what the phone was for.
Your letters sound like you, though, so I guess that's something.
Frannie says hi.
Your letters are not stupid. In fact, they sound exactly like you, and you are not stupid in the least.
And I wonder... You mention the love letters you wrote to Stella when you were separated. I understand why she wanted you to write. Sometimes it's easier for people to talk about things in written words than over a telephone. You have the time to think things through when you compose a letter, to find the right words to say. When you and I speak on the phone I often feel the awkward silences and find myself unable to say what I am really feeling.
I hope you know I speak from the heart when I say I wish you were here.
This is the fourth time I've started this letter already. This is exactly what I mean. You say it's good to have time to think things through, I say you just get more time to second-guess yourself. I don't think anything I ever did that was worth doing was something I thought through. You need to be able to look someone in the eye, see them, what they're saying and what they're not saying, you and them together and not just you talking to yourself.
I hate talking to myself.
If I want to say something to you, I want to say something to you, I want to just say it and have you say whatever the hell you would say back, and go on like that, where we're both on the same level and I KNOW you. There's plenty of stuff I'm never going to say to you like this.
Yesterday when I was down at the square dancer's convention investigating the stabbing a bunch of the old ladies with the poofy skirts were asking after you. I guess they knew you from around town the last couple years. They were all sad you were gone, but they wanted to wish you luck on your new job.
That's it here.
P.S. Maybe you think you wish I'm there, but you can probably clear that up if you remember when I WAS there.
You're right. I should stop telling you I miss you. It does neither of us any good. I'm wrong to wish you were here, because, as you point out, you were here once and you were
clerly clearly unhappy. It's selfish of me to have wished you to stay where you have made it abundantly clear you never wanted to be in the first place.
As for how you are most comfortable saying things to me face to face, allow me to point out that when you WERE here, you stopped saying anything at all. So apparently it's not proximity, rather than letters, that permits you to speak frankly to me. And you can't speak to me on the phone, as our last abortive attempt illustrated. I can only assume that it's a fault in me, rather than in
Y yourself, that keeps whatever you have to say from being uttered, because as you have mentioned, you did succeed at communicating fully with your future wife, despite your inability to write her love letters.
As for my second-guessing myself, you're right again. I second-guess, and sometimes third- or even fourth-guess, if there is such a term, and yet I find that whatever I say to you, however I say it, I continue to fail at communicating my feelings. You may be happy to know I have written this without once going back and changing a word, other than spelling, penning what reads now like a stream-of-conscious ramble. Perhaps you'll like this better. Or perhaps I shall continue to annoy or even anger you. So let me apologise in advance if that is the case. I'm sorry, Ray, truly sorry.
P.S. There is a rumor the McGinty brothers are back in the area after killing an R.C.M.P. sergeant outside Yellowknife. I am leaving in two hours to track them, and I don't know how long I will be away. If you choose to answer this letter, please don't think a lack of immediate response means I have stopped writing. It just may mean a delay before I can reply.
Fraser -- wow.
You know what, if you want to pretend like that's how it went down, that I did all that, that's fine, I'm not going to stop you or anything. All I was saying is don't pretend you want me there so bad when you made things damn obvious when I was there, okay? I got it then, I get it now. I miss you too, and I know you miss me, but you don't got to jerk me around like that.
I'm not mad at you. I WILL be mad at you, though, if it turns out you went after those guys alone, which you probably did, without any backup, not even those jackasses you call fellow officers up there. If you get yourself killed, I'm never going to forgive you.
P.S. If you get yourself killed I guess you'll never read this, now that I think about it. This is why letters suck.
TO: Det. Raymond Kowalski
FR: Cpl. Lee Donaldson, Yellowknife Post, R.C.M.P.
RE: Cpl. Benton Fraser
Dear Det. Kowalski:
On behalf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Mobile Unit, N.W.T., I am writing to inform you that Cpl. Benton Fraser is now in the Stanton Regional Hospital with injuries sustained in the pursuit of his duties. Your recent letter was found in his home during a search for him when he failed to check in with us as expected. Before Cpl. Fraser lost consciousness he asked me to notify you of the circumstances and to apologise for not replying. Should you have any further questions please feel free to call the post at (867)873-5646. If you prefer, our fax number is (867)873-5657.
Det. Kowalski, Benton is a close friend, and he has spoken of you often. Please be assured I will do my best to ensure he receives the best care possible. All of us here will.
Fraser, they still won't let me in to see you, they say it's just family only, but they haven't been letting Dief in either, so I don't know what they think family is. But nurse Jane is really nice, and also I think she's sick of me asking her every five minutes, and she said she'd bring you in this note so you'd have if you were up to reading or anything. Or she could even read it to you, I guess.
Anyway. I guess I just want to tell you I'm here.
I'm writing this as I watch you sleep in the chair across my room. Sorry for the appalling handwriting -- because the bullet wound is in my right shoulder, I'm having to struggle writing with my left hand. I'm also still a little groggy, and rather tired. I hope I can finish this before I fall asleep again.
I woke up a few minutes ago, and yours was the first face I saw. The last one I saw was Axel McGinty's as he pulled the trigger. Suffice to say, yours is the one I prefer.
I didn't have the heart to wake you up; you probably need your sleep after traveling all that way from Chicago. You didn't need to come, you know. I know the Territories are not your favourite place on earth, and I'd hate to think you came here because you thought I was in danger of imminent demise. We have an excellent health care system here and I assure you I was always in capable hands. And even if I heard the doctors saying they weren't sure of the outcome (comas are actually not as absolute as one would think), I would not, COULD not have died before I saw you again.
But Ray, I'm glad you came. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad we're still friends, despite our arguments. I can't express to you how much you mean to me.
I wish I could. I wish I knew the words to tell you. I wish
Leaving this note in case you wake up while I'm out. You look pretty dead to the world still, but I figure better safe than sorry. I don't want you thinking I stole your truck and your wolf and hightailed it back to Chicago or anything. Dief and I are just running to town to pick up some more groceries, because you have no food in the cabin, and maybe rent a couple movies, because I figure that's something we can do without you moving around too much and messing up your arm.
Stay in your bed. I heated you up a can of chicken soup I found under the sink, it's in the saucepan on the stove.
I read your message, and no, I would never have thought you stole my truck, and Lord knows Diefenbaker is capable of resisting kidnapping, even by you. Actually, though, now that I think about it, Dief is very, very fond of you. It would be like him to allow himself to be kidnapped and taken all the way back to Chicago without telling me first.
I have gone out.
Do not worry.
Now, before you start shouting about me getting out of bed too soon, please be assured I feel quite well enough to go out to the lake to sit for a few minutes. There are things I need to think about, and I have always found that being near water helps me put my thoughts in order.
Please don't worry. I will be back before dusk, which, as you know, is very late at this time of year. So don't worry that I will get lost in the dark. Despite what you may think, I do know how to do things by myself without getting lost, shot or injured.
P.S. Thank you for the soup. It was very thoughtful of you, though there was really no need to bother on my behalf.
If I know you as well as I think I do, you should be finding this note when you go to make lunch for you and Dief, just as I'm switching planes to Chicago. If I don't know you as well as I think I do, I guess you might not find this for weeks or years or decades, which would be as much an answer as anything else.
Look, you know, the past couple days up here has been the best time I've had since I left Canada last time. And all that stuff last night -- I know I'm not good at talking, or writing like this even, Fraser, but you got to know that means something to me, I don't do this with just anybody. It's got to be something special.
I don't know, maybe it was a mistake. Maybe not, I don't know that either. Maybe I don't know anything.
Listen to the doctors and take it slow with your arm and don't fuck it up.
Once again I've made a terrible mistake.
I said you should go if you had to. I told you I would be all right by myself.
I didn't want you to go.
I won't be all right. I don't think I can be all right with part of me missing.
You are that missing part.
But now it's too late, because of my own damnable inability to speak. You've gone, again, and I've driven you away.
I should have said it last night -- hell, I should have said it three months ago, when our adventure was over. The words were there, but my fears kept them trapped inside me. I was a coward.
I am still a coward.
If you were here, still, this is what I would say to you:
Stay. Please stay.
But I've waited too long.
I'm sorry, Ray.
I don't know what to say. I mean that, literally, not that stupid way girls say it when they really mean they're going to dump you. What I mean is part of me just wants to ask you if you're sure, which is stupid, because it's not like you're this teenager or a little kid or anything, you know what you're doing. You always know you're doing, that's the whole POINT of you.
I don't I want
You got to know how I feel already. Maybe you don't know it, because I know I'm cool and everything, but last week when you and me were together -- you and Stella, that's it. I wasn't going to say anything because, jesus, Fraser, you don't need anybody, you don't need me, but
I don't know how to do this. I don't know what we're supposed to do next. It's not like I can go pick you in the middle of the night and elope to Niagara Falls.
I don't know.
I miss you. I wish you were here.
Chicago is a crowded, bustling city. There are many amenities. There are distinct seasons -- hot summer, gloriously crisp autumn, cold and wet winters, warm and fragrant springs. There is also a great deal of crime, despite the noble efforts of people like Lt. Welsh and yourself. Your parents live there. Your friends live there. It is a familiar place for you, if a strange one for me.
I hated living there.
It's cold in Canada. There is snow much of the year. Where I live there are few people. The crimes here are either ridiculously minor or desperate and cruel. There is no delivery of pizza, or anything else, really. There are customs and people here that you find strange. And I am strange, too, alien in a way, I know. You've told me so, often enough.
It is a harsh place. You would hate living here.
But it is also a place where people like ourselves could live together, in the fullest sense of the word, without the stigma attached to such an arrangement you'd find in places like Chicago. Here people, neighbours, must depend on each other, and if one's neighbour lives with another man, they will not be judged in the same way they would be in the "civilized" world. Others will not begrudge them the comfort of love, whatever form it may take.
Funny; all these years, with other people, others I've cared about -- Innusiq, Eric, Steve, Victoria, Ray Vecchio, Janet Morse, Lee -- I've never used that word before.
It looks strange on the page.
I've never dared utter it.
I've never wanted to, Ray. Never before.
I've never written a love letter before. Odd, isn't it, that I should do it for the first time now?
Which is to say, come live with me, Ray, in cold, harsh, inaccessible, pizza-less, snowy, alien Canada.
I love you.
You really know how to win a guy over.
Let's give it a shot.
Save this postcard, okay? I bet I'll spend a whole lot of time curled up in all your blankets, staring at the skyline.
Tell me when you're arriving. I'll come get you.
Dief is very excited.
P. S. When you spend time curled up in my blankets, we'll be doing more than looking at a postcard.
P.P.S. But it's tacked up on the wall across from the bed, as you requested.
P.P.P.S. I hope my P.S. was not too forward.
Here is my new address like you were wanting. The mail takes a while sometimes, but it should get here eventually.
Thanks again for taking the turtle.
I sent along some pictures of the place so you could see what it's like. It's not always this snowy.
Fraser says hi.