"Have you ever seen a really bad car accident?" he asked me, suddenly. "I mean close up, I mean with the bodies, I mean before it gets cleaned up? Have you ever seen what actually happens to people?" He wasn't interested in my answer to that question, and he pushed on with an uncomfortable mix of glee and horror, giving me more details I didn't want to hear. The smashed windshield, jutting bits of metal, and descriptions of blood and bodies, the angle of one of the victim's arms. "Pointing in all the wrong directions," Sylvain said. "It was so weird." He rested his chin on his mop, sombre and somehow pitying my lack of knowledge of the world. "You have no idea, Oscar," he said, and the lights glinted off the shining tile of the floor, "how terrible it really is. How really terrible when you see it up close like that. These were people talking and breathing and all of a sudden they're gone. I'm not religious," he continued, cleaning again as he spoke, paying close attention to the floor, moving the mop in slow figure eights, the cleansing symbols of infinity, over and over in front of him. "But it's scary seeing a body moments after the soul disappears. You have no idea."
I did have an idea but instead of saying so, I just nodded.
Sylvain spotted some sort of caked-on substance—a red sauce or dried blood--on the side of a stainless steel counter, and he knelt down to scrub it off. Vivianne was a demanding queen of her kitchen, and Sylvain was a conscientious apprentice.
"And he was a driving student," he continued, with a little gallows laugh, staring intently at whatever he was scrubbing as he spoke. "How's that for irony?"
There were two dead in the car: an instructor from one of Montreal's best schools, the Driving Ace Academy, and his charge. Their lesson, officials from Ace Academy confirmed, had started at 7:00 am, and ended, earlier than expected, at 7:12 am.
Sylvain offered to drive me home, but I refused, perhaps too curtly. I did not know Sylvain well, and he may have been offended, but I couldn't bear more of his gory descriptions, with their vaguely pornographic details and the excitement with which he related them.