Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Chainsaw Man

By Lucianne Poole

The number 7 is best taken outside of rushhour with no chainsaws.
A man with a chainsaw boarded the number 7 bus at about 7:45 a.m., when I was on my way to work in downtown Ottawa.

He hopped on at the corner of Catherine and Bank. He looked a lot like the other male office workers—medium height, greying brown hair cropped army style, business suit, plastic-rimmed glasses, black shoes that were scuffed and worn at the heel.

But instead of a briefcase, he held a chainsaw.

The surly crowd of morning commuters parted readily as the man made his way to the back of the bus. He calmly held the saw with the blade pointing down, as if he were holding a knife.

Suddenly, the bus lurched forward. The chainsaw man grabbed a pole and the blade flew up in the air, the saw’s cruel teeth glittering in the sunlight. All eyes were on the chainsaw man and the air was still as we waited silently and passively for him to start the motor and carve us up like a Sunday roast.

But the only thing that moved was a pink tag, which swung from the chainsaw at the end of a delicate pink ribbon. Something was written on the tag, which could have been a price tag. Perhaps he had just bought the chainsaw—it was very clean and shiny. Or maybe it was a gift tag: “Darling, happy birthday. Enjoy the chainsaw.”

The bus shuddered to a stop and more people surged on, but no one went near the man and his chainsaw. Someone stood up to get off the bus and the chainsaw man sat down heavily in the vacated seat. Would it be easier to cut people’s legs off from that angle? His expressionless face and downcast eyes gave no clue to his plans.

He tucked the chainsaw on the floor behind his legs, blade parallel to the ground. Then he seemed to change his mind and turned the saw on its side, blade up. Maybe he was worried that the lurching bus would send the saw hacking into his ankles. The woman next to him faced the other way, as if to turn her back on imminent carnage. In her final moments she would be looking in the direction of Parliament Hill.

The bus stopped near Sparks Street and the chainsaw man leapt to his feet, grabbed his chainsaw and jumped down onto the steps of the back door. The door swung open, and like a silent Rambo he launched himself through the air. Across the gutter and onto the sidewalk he flew, swinging the chainsaw in an arc deadly enough to mow down anyone in its path. But the saw returned to his side unbloodied, and the chainsaw man made a sharp left turn and continued down the sidewalk. The bus doors closed behind him.


This story was first published in Geist in Spring 2005. Chainsaw Man was also told at the Ottawa Storytellers Festival in 2006 at the National Arts Centre.


  1. Good old number 7... I have taken that bus to and from Carleton a few times.
    I liked the story. Short yet engaging. I was reading in anticipation of whether the chainsaw guy would indeed start hacking away at the nervous bus goers.
    Looking forward to seeing some of your other works.

  2. Thanks for your comment, fellow number 7 veteran. Writing is a lonely pursuit so your feedback is much appreciated!