NOTHING IN THIS WORK OF FICTION HAPPENED TO ANYONE. IT'S FICTION TO THE GUTS AND CORE. OKAY THE AUTHOR MET SOME UNUSUAL PEOPLE IN REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN AND THIS NOVEL HAPPENED.
By Mack McColl
(And literally writing this as we speak.)
Characters with Narrative Perspective
Crooked Cop Ronnie Woods corrupt cop friend who has a way of looking dead
Uncle Ambrose's girlfriend
Lori is Dialbo's sister
The Statue (Engine)
Diablo Dybbuk is hanging around wild and free, his life shrouded in occult mystery, and he moves in shadows that are both metaphorical and temporal, which is the ideal way to move when one engages in the kind of freedom Diablo enjoys. His main impulse is the pursuit of unrequited lust, which is the all-too-common form of lust, in his estimation. Diablo designs the purpose of his life around the capture of his heart's one true desire. Technically, recapture. What remains of his heart's one true desire is an intense ache. Diablo is driven by unrequited lust and is willing to admit this. Perhaps it is incorrect to refer to his heart's desire as something desirable. It is something irresistible.
To keep moving forward, the inclination of a life lived in modern times, Diablo goes down the road from drug store to drug store picking up prescriptions and selling the highly addictive pills to keep himself slip-sliding on a patch of winter ice, or spring ice or early autumn ice. Diablo survives pill to pill and travels province to province, city to city, month to month, picking up prescription drugs, welfare cheques, and shady women along the way.
Diablo takes shelter in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, on occasion. It's where he was born. It is a flat, dry, windswept place on the flat, dry prairie, the town of Moosomin, 1,500 dusty heads beside the Saskatchewan and Manitoba border, with a bus depot, and a room at fake uncle Ronnie's little shack, which was considered a semi-permanent address by the social services department of the flat province . Munchhausen Mom was long gone. He didn't know anything about her. Nobody knew. If she was sitting right in front of you, you would not know.
One of Munchhausen Mom's ex- 's showed a form of tolerance toward Diablo. Ronnie Woods was a rare and demented person. Ronnie showed Diablo how to drive a car. Ronnie showed him how to get a narcotics prescription from a doctor. Ronnie had the largest collection of porn mags Diablo or possibly anybody had ever seen. One entire wall of a garage behind the shack was stacked to the ceiling with porn mags. This is kind of interesting. This is thousands upon thousands of porn mags, Penthouse, Playboy, you name it, all the rest, various presentations of smut going back to the beginnings of smut, Diablo surmised.
Ronnie spent hours engaged with his magazines. He would reach in and randomly pull something out. "You know how some people say, 'I buy them for the articles,'" he told Diablo, one afternoon, finally, through a haze of cigarette smoke, "'Not me. I don't say that. Never said it in my life." Ronnie then confessed that he didn't buy the magazines for the articles because he didn't read, because Ronnie had a form of dyslexia so severe he could not sign his name. "It's amazing how useful this is in the medical system when you can't sign your name and you have a doctor's note to show that you have to leave an X for a signature," and not even a very good X. Like, That's an X? Ronnie was that dyslexic. Ronnie looked at the pictures.
When Diablo was cut loose from foster care, he gravitated down Highway 16 from Saskatoon to Moosomin to visit the last house he occupied with Munchhausen Mom. She and Ronnie had been living in the small house on the dusty corner lot when Diablo left, and Ronnie still lived there of course, Munchhausen Mom was gone. "Your mother? I don't know. She hated your guts. Just like everybody else. They took her away in a straight-jacket and an ambulance and I never saw her again." Diablo had no idea why everybody hated him. But he is ready to live with it and agree with it openly. It is his cross to bear.
"Yeah well neither did I."
Ronnie let him occupy the shack in Moosomin for a while. "I do not dislike you," he told him, and Diablo was informed about the world in which Ronnie formerly traveled. Ronnie bragged that he had been physically fit throughout most of his life, 5 foot 9 inches tall (which was one inch taller than Diablo), holding steady at 165 lbs. (and 20 lbs heavier than Diablo), dirty sometimes long blond hair with a permanent hairline. In his younger day Ronnie once scored weed for Paul McCartney in Amsterdam, he said. There would be no way to prove this memorable experience. Ronnie became a roofer on the prairie until he fell off one of the roofs and became a permanent ward of the medical system in the province of Saskatchewan.
Eventually he hooked Diablo up with one of his old partners in crime, a used car salesman in the city of Regina named Foster.
Presently Diablo went to the city of Regina to stay at the historic LaSalle Hotel and blind pig. The historic property is a habit of reasonable comfort (sagging bed-springs, no terrible odours) at a bargain basement price. Diablo has only to keep the disgruntled owner of the historic property, Roger Dubois, slammed on morphine. One of the owner's daughters' changes Diablo's sheets once a week. After a while he is going to ask her to do his laundry. And he would give her a tip. Diablo often repeats the phrase 'Historic Property' around Roger Dubois because it drives the owner a little crazy. All the provincial restrictions of building preservation put Roger on the fast track to insolvency, he complains, and Diablo finds this amusing.
Diablo's main preoccupation with survival was obtaining prescription drugs and selling the bennies and narcotics on the streets. Regina is a small city of 167,000 souls (and those who are possessed). Diablo required a larger area of operation and Ronnie suggested going inter provincial. "You look sick enough to have a thousand doctors chase you with prescription pads. You have to think bigger. You have to know what they want." What they want are patients who take drugs. Diablo happens to look like somebody who needs a lot of drugs and is avidly interested in doing them.
Selling prescription drugs keeps Diablo off the radar of street drug dealers with their issues selling cocaine and weed and other street drugs like heroin or LSD, and the guns and collectives and insatiable addictions and those complications. Ronnie told him prescription drugs keep you off the cops' radar too, because they don't regard pills as illicit generally and the doctors don't worry about pills being addictive. Ronnie has a few cop customers for his own stash of 482 pills a month of morphine sulphate, at $20 per pill. Ronnie's always ends up downing the profit.
Another piece of cop wisdom from Ronnie: a driver in the right-hand lane of traffic is always left alone. Ronnie lost his driver's license permanently and would never see it again, and this was for a specific reason. Ronnie was as bad at driving as he was at reading, and who knows, maybe for the same reason. But he seemed to be correct about driving in the right-hand lane of traffic. The cops drive by like you aren't even there.
The truth of the matter was that Ronnie used Diablo as a chauffeur for several months until Diablo shuffled away to greener pastures. You cannot say greener pastures out loud in Saskatchewan without raising laughs. Like there could be any greener pastures than those in Saskatchewan. Ronnie allows him to continue collecting welfare cheques with the Moosimin address.
In his daily endeavors, Diablo acquires Quaaludes, morphine 100 MG, Valium, and speed. The endless comings and goings at odd hours on highway buses across the endless expanse that is Canada leaves him feeling a little disoriented. He lives with a master plan, of course, which comes from having a strategic mind, and Diablo reads. He reads about how to cheat. He cheats four provincial governments and countless social workers out of cheques. He cheats countless doctors out of drugs. He is extraordinary at faking disability. It's a gift as is his reading ability.
The gifts from Munchhausen Mom, a legacy of permanently disabling conditions beginning with FASD and other congenital damage, keep on giving, in cash, which is spent on hookers, and travel, and a carefree existence. He has several crash pads across the country.
He is overdue to visit his Toronto "address," which is an encampment with Tony. This is located a few blocks from The Brass Rail, Diablo's favorite peeler bar. There are no strip clubs in Manitoba or Saskatchewan. There are strip clubs in Alberta, but Diablo isn't connected in Alberta. There are strip clubs in Montreal. He watched a superbly stacked blonde on St. Catherine's Street dance it up recently to Funky Town. Diablo's interest in Montreal is strictly to pick up two-year-old Cadillacs and Oldsmobile 98s and deliver them to Regina. Diablo doesn't run a welfare scam in Quebec. Too much hassle about speaking French.
HELLO My Name, Is: Tony (nametag on his chest) is a Jamaican who lives in Toronto in a bathrobe and a belt with a large hunting knife stuck in it, and it was an unsightly bathrobe but at least it wasn't pink. Meeting Tony had been 'luck of the draw' when Diablo fell off a Greyhound Bus four days (and 50 10mg Valium pills) after leaving Regina, with a night spent in Winnipeg and a night in Thunder Bay, he thinks, maybe yes maybe no in Thunder Bay. During the period in reflection, he cannot say for certain of the month in question, and, don't forget, memories fade or completely disappear, but there was a sign in front of a monstrous looking red brick building in the St. James's district next to downtown Toronto's highly acclaimed Yonge Street, the longest street in Canada.
Room For Rent was scrawled (likely, presumably, almost certainly) in blood on a piece of cut-out brown cardboard, nailed to an ancient porch-post of no particular design or paint. The sign tacked to the false front non-weight bearing post, was the 'draw' for Diablo. It was unmistakably put there to attract him. The brick building was three storeys high, and, as it turns out, located conveniently on the way to the welfare office. What it was, is a warehouse of people, plywood walls separating a few dozen raving lunatics. It was immediately clear from stepping in the place, Tony was the luck, and the manager of a dingy human zoo on three levels, the interminable dankness warmed by an old boiler in the basement, not by any sentiment like welcome or contentment. It was as close to perfection as it gets, wouldn't you say?
Diablo had rang the doorbell marked manager. It was a functional doorbell. Tony had been prompt, "Just tell them Tony sent ya." He pointed to his nametag. Diablo leaned in and squinted a bit, T - I - N - Y? "Tiny, huh? Is that ironic?" About 6 foot 5 inches of solid Jamaican muscle rippled with laughter, "That's an 'O'," the glassy dark brown eyes shone crazy, and bloodshot. Tony enjoyed the attention of the huge hunting knife in his waist belt. The terry cloth robe was relatively tied up, but, thankfully, Tony wore boxers to go with his stocking feet and pearly white teeth.
Diablo kept things fairly straight in his head. He hadn't been back to Toronto for weeks. Tony allowed a backlog of payments up to three months. Tony would keep it all after that. "I assume you're not coming back, and I notify the welfare office."
Sure ya do, big fella. As a matter of record, the St. James neighbourhood has a long history of hosting guys like Tony. It is a short distance to Yonge Street and literally a stone's throw from the welfare office, which Diablo will never need to visit again.
He handed the social worker an address scrawled on a white cardboard back of a cigarette pack. "Tony sent me. Tony recycles a lot of cardboard into literature." The office person didn't smile.
"We don't do home visits to that address."
Diablo wears a blank expression, fast on his feet and twisting on the inside, searching for the will to live, this is a punch in the gut which he was determined to convey to the social worker.
"It's the only address in St. James we don't visit," she added, casually, feeling safe behind bulletproof glass.
"Well it's the only place," he stammered, "I could find. . , ," or wanted to look.
"Come back in an hour with this form filled in by Tony. A cheque will be ready for you."
A flabbergasted Diablo smiled, his mood giddy. And that was the day he recalls feeling the warm embrace of a concrete jungle called Toronto. Yes, Tony cruised the hallways half-dressed and menacing everything but vermin. He did a lot of screaming and yelling but sometimes he was laughing. Tony sold shitty weed. And he was generally an even-tempered psychopath. That is to say, he was miserable and then he was happy. He managed a building with very few even-tempered psychopaths. Dress was optional in the facility. Diablo makes rare visits. No overnights.
Diablo puts in the effort to live up to his name, but it wasn't as if it was work. Being diabolical can be arduous and taxing and challenging, but it is a choice. It was what he wanted to be and he had given this vocation to himself. It was what he needed. It was the only thing he was ever gonna get. And everybody knows it. It was written all over his face.
"Can I see your ID? Uh huh. Well, Darren, we make the cheques out to your building manager." "Tiny." "Tony," filled out this form. You bring it back, and we give you the cheque, which you take back to Tony." "Tiny."
She reiterated they do not do 'home' visits to Tony's warehouse. The place is as scary as it looks.
Diablo has no reason to be so defeatist all the time, now, does he? Diablo worked things out with social workers, and, ultimately, Tony. Tony's conducted business is in a kitchen/office at a small table in uniquely (for the building) livable quarters on the third floor at the very back of the building. After he diligently filled out the welfare forms, and took the cheque, he returned Diablo's share of cash within about 30 minutes. Tony likes valium and never says no to a mickey of Bacardi rum, and best of all, he writes letters for tenants to a medical clinic around the corner. Diablo learns Tony goes nutty about the rent, and people who turn their backs on him are betraying him. Diablo doesn't turn his back on Tony. Diablo backs away slowly.
Besides Tony in Toronto, Ronnie in Moosomin, and the stupefied hotel owner in Regina, Diablo fostered his connections as best as he knew how. One was a former partner of Ronnie Woods, a guy named Foster who sends guys to pick up cars from Winnipeg or Montreal, occasionally, and especially from small towns near the U.S. border in Saskatchewan. Foster is a badass, but he plays mister goody two shoes by sponsoring victims in Alcoholics Anonymous, and drinking gallons of coffee at the Regina Alano Club on Pasqua Street.
Another connection was an Indian Diablo met on the streets of Regina with the hookers. Virgil wasn't a pimp, per se, but Diablo was known to sell one or two pills to the girls on Rose Street now and again, and Virgil knows about it in explicit detail. You might even say forensic detail. Which begs the question, what else does Virgil know? Virgil comes to Diablo's room at the LaSalle Hotel on occasion, and while he doesn't come alone very often, Virgil always does the talking. He doesn't visit the hotel's slum level tavern nor the demon-rich blood red Rococo Lounge. Too many overserved Indians in one, too many overserved white people in the other. As it turns out, Virgil took to distributing pills to the girls for Diablo, so he and his sidekicks were in and out of the rickety elevator like ghosts.
To attract a kind of person into his orbit, bedraggled and sickly was the way Diablo commonly presented. From this life, a lack of magnetism. On this earth, a short run of chaos. Diablo didn't know where his personal life-force came from (or went to). Speculating was pointless, to contemplate in polite company was impossible. It's off-putting how offended people get when you gab a little bit about Satan. All others were too drunk or incapacitated to give a fuck. Diablo's heedless diabolism grew from a power he was given by Munchhausen Mom. The power of dismissal. This came directly from his primary guardian, and since he had no guardian anymore, Diablo was going to act strictly of his own diabolical volition, a disposition which had been developing throughout his entire life.
Diablo emerged from childhood with a sense of abandonment, and this was an incubator for remarkably bad feelings. He made peace with the vacuum but it made him act in peculiar ways. One night growing up, one of Munchhausen Mom's ex-boyfriends (this one in the parade before Ronnie) opened the door of the bedroom shared illicitly with Diablo's budding sister and threw in a paperback which landed on the grim-looking linoleum floor of the stark lit room. He remembered how mind-numbingly cold it was in that room, as well as the rest of the house, until the arrival of that book. "What am I supposed to do with that? Burn it?"
"You should memorize it first." Fake uncle number 10,000 said, "People should know where the fuck somebody like you is coming from." Diablo's younger sister on the mattress behind him was swaddled in blankets and sniggering at the alarming exchange. All in all she had a good sense of humour. The most dreadful or silly thing could make her laugh. This time it was The Satanic Bible.
He and his sister had been separated during later formative years, by the time he was 14 and she was 10 (and she was a remarkably and perhaps exceedingly developed 10 year old). Once he became an adult, Diablo travelled far and wide mostly by Greyhound and Saskatchewan Transportation Corp, (STC). He had taken the literary pimp's advice, modified the beliefs with a true believer's zeal for exploring one's "own nature and instincts," because zeal entitles Diablo to interpret beliefs whatever way it suits him, and this book is open to interpretation. He gave copies to people who appear to have some unrealized potential to walk sideways, speak extemporaneously, act out of character toward an end that suits themselves and possibly Diablo, who was ready to take them to the darkest corner of the darkest side in their darkest moment.
Meanwhile, Diablo owned the rear seat of a Greyhound Bus. He did use STC but those trips were less exciting. On STC he hooked up with an occasional farmer's daughter once he figured out those stereotypes were true. The rides in Saskatchewan were short, for example, leaving no time to get bent or do any drugging of fellow passengers to ride obliviously through several changes in driver. It was the Greyhound that took him to exotic locales like Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, and Toronto, and Montreal, and Sherbrooke, and Halifax. Diablo went east for his big adventures. He had been shuttling cars for good old boy Foster in the past few months, sometimes from as far away as Montreal but presently he was in Regina, which is the base of operations.
Brian Zeikle's defects of character include a few peccadilloes. Doesn't everybodys? Porn mags. He paid several visits a month to a variety of independent Chinese grocery stores with shame-inducing racks of magazine's tucked away in a back corner. He had a monthly budget for prostitutes. There was no shame in that. He had a couple of women who he might wind up fucking under the right circumstances, Becky, and a fine-looking Native woman who called herself, "Twisted." These were trysts that happened on a casual basis and usually involved both parties being three sheets to the wind.
Brian was dedicated to drinking beer. There was no shame in that. At the age of 25 he is carrying on with average success and proceeding on quick recoveries from small failures. He didn't have much to apologize for, no babies being dismissed, or crimes being committed. He was largely on the right side of the law. He figured he might do something with his life someday. He figured equally that he would do nothing. Meanwhile, he plays the lottery, especially pull-tab cards sold at the Alano Club or Copper Kettle Restaurant and Lounge. They feel more charitable, those cards, 25-cents each, 5 for a dollar. The payout is instant and ranges from $5 to $20.
"Spell budget any spare cash and deficit spending," smirked his 'travel companion,' a nasty-looking rusty-haired rumpled fellow who called himself the ridiculous name of 'Diablo' who lives off and on at the LaSalle Hotel. This Rumpelstiltskin wannabe hangs around the Rococo Lounge like Brian, and makes casual but specific demands of Brian for rides here and there. This one is a ride to Moose Jaw. "Moose Jaw is the asshole of the world!" he exclaims. "Regina is 40 miles up it." They were presently on the Trans Canada Highway returning up it.
Brian feels edgy in contact with Diablo. Brian smokes Players Filter cigarettes for example and Diablo says they taste like shit and smokes them anyway. Brian knew Diablo was watching things, such as when Brian picked up drunk women (not beneath him).
"Why you staying at the LaSalle?" Diablo asked, one evening, while they sat at separate tables in the shadowy Rococo Lounge.
"None of your business. Why do you call yourself the devil?"
"I've told you everything you need to know."
Diablo was somebody who pretended to imbibe while he watched single ladies drinking past the point of no return in the dark Rococo lounge. Sometimes he would point Brian in their direction, which Brian never followed and was able to manage his own sex life. He did not bully anyone even though he had the size and some agility. He had been a hefty boy all his life, but he was in good shape and a non-confrontational sort. He was friendly, and self-conscious about the size of his hands. They weren't fighters' hands. And he was self-aware about his eyesight. The eyes were bad enough to keep him out of key positions in sports. He barely passed an eye test for a driver's license. The vision has to be corrected with eyeglasses. And the reason he stayed at the LaSalle is because he can't live at his sister's anymore. She's entered a serious relationship and the spare room on Angus Street next to downtown Regina is not for rent anymore.
Brian didn't think about religion. There was a reason. He didn't think negative thoughts. In some ways he doesn't fit in. The world is such a negative place, it's hard to think positive about life anymore, so, the solution is to stop thinking. For example, right now is the time of year when the snow on the side of the highway is slush and ice lays in patches on the fields. It's rebirth and renewal and positive. Spring is in the air on the prairies. Before long tumbleweeds would be out. Instead of positive thoughts, however, he sits with a freakishly profound source of negativity that knows no bounds. He knew lots of people had unChristian beliefs. He knew Indians had ceremonies and danced and drummed and it wasn't to please the preachers in Arcola. Brian believed Native mysticism is unfettered by reality. But what Brian believes doesn't matter. He believes his opinion is worthless, so why would he share something worthless?
He heard Natives were into shape-shifting. Brian is reading a book by a spirit-guide named Silver Birch. He is more than reading it. He is trying to make sense of his life with it. It was Silver Birch who assured Brian that what is, is. And to be safe Brian was going to continue searching for deeper meaning, and leave it at that. No need to overthink everything.
Brian's hometown of Arcola is a sleepy former Scottish settlement in southeastern Saskatchewan and the area includes those Indians sneaking around to join the party. They drift in and out like they own the place, melting away to North Dakota or Montana, coming back every summer to party at the lakes north of Arcola.
Therefore what he was hearing from the passenger on the bench seat of the white 1965 Pontiac Laurentian (belonging to Foster of Advanced Auto Sales on Regina's north end) was pure aggravation. The nonsense was nothing he wanted to hear. This in spite of being a self-declared know-it-all. It might be his only flaw. Knowing it all.
"I never go west of Moose Jaw," said Diablo, puffing amicably on one of Brian's 'awful tasting' Players Filter cigarettes, "except when I turn left at Moose Jaw and go southwest to Shaunavon with our friend Foster and his stepson Randy," Likowsky. "Randy gets his weed from Calgary. It's hydroponic and it's amazing, Randy is one of those guys who knows it's not evil to do what you want and do it your way. Do you know Randy?"
Brian paused for a moment, "Fucking your sister might not be illegal but it probably should be."
While Brian is not considered intellectual by anyone who knows him, and this includes his family, Mother, Father, and sister, Brian was occasionally considered thoughtful. "Then again, I am not a lawyer."
"No you are not. It is illegal. Like cannibalism, frankly." Wow this guy lives to conjure the most delightful images. "The only reason I am with you right now is because Randy is out of dope."
There was the usual amount of risk involved in running with people like Diablo, and Brian is consciously aware of it, having no criminal record. Diablo claimed to be squeaky clean but that would be a gross interpretation of the expression. Superior was how this passenger made him feel. Brian felt the same way sitting next to Diablo that alcohol makes him feel, like he was in the midst of his own greatness. Brian kept the ride this side of the speed limit, which isn't difficult, since the car is woefully underpowered. Brian concentrated on control of the vehicle. But he decided without hesitation to smoke a joint. Sitting at the age of 25, Brian explored the possibilities of a higher power. That was how this rusty-haired Leprechaun made him feel. Like a higher power.
Brian drove the speed limit on the TransCanada east of Moose Jaw heading back to Regina, a 45-mile drive. They had fresh coffee from 7-11, and they smoked cigarettes. The passenger is gazing off into the blue sky and flat fields. The passenger seems to have nothing left to say but declines the offer of another smoke. "I don't chain smoke," he replied, which sounds condescending, "and not because it's sinful,' which sounds sarcastic.
"Not a chain smoker. That's a relief." He goes by the name Diablo. "And I don't drink a lot of coffee either." He likes to talk about Winnipeg. He keeps referring to Winnipeg as Drunktown. He said he makes trips to Drunktown to search for his sister. Brian decided to discourage further conversation from Diablo. Brian didn't know anything about Winnipeg, and he had the common Presbyterian relationship with his sister. She was older, and he respected her.
Brian had met Diablo at the LaSalle Hotel Rococco Lounge. Roger Dubois owned the hotel and spent most of the day in the restaurant in some kind of daze at the front of the historic property, but he made a point of hiring young, friendly, attractive women for the lounge. One of his daughters put in a shift in the Rococo. Brian and Diablo had spent a few evenings competing over the attention of a strawberry blonde bartender/waitress. Diablo didn't drink a lot of beer but he said he liked the atmosphere of a lounge.
Brian had been staying at the LaSalle for a couple of weeks. Diablo knew Foster, and Brian had a car in hand that belonged to Foster, and he had a day off, thus, spare time for Diablo, who asked him for a ride to Moose Jaw to scare up this weed. Brian was on absence from his labourer job. It wasn't serious, he sprained a wrist, so he couldn't carry lumber today. Brian knew Randy Likowsky from construction work, Likowsky had been a glazer at one of the office building job sites Brian had worked downtown. A glazer installs windows in high rise buildings. Randy made a lot of money working in Calgary where they had a few more high rise buildings.
The inevitably skanky drug exchange in Moose Jaw proved to be a complete fucking pain in the ass to Brian. They stopped at a house first, and were told to go to a particular bar in downtown Moose Jaw, where Brian heard the infamous history of Al Capone and his tunnels under the city for about the one millionth time. But Diablo said they wouldn't be drinking, and somehow, after nagging delays, Diablo scored his bag of weed. On the return trip, the first thing he did was reach into his parka's right pocket and pull out a pocket book.
"This is for you," he said, and placed a dog-eared black paperback on the bench seat between them in the 1965 Pontiac Laurentian. It was a used car for sale at Foster's Advanced Auto Sales. Brian said he would deliver it for Foster, and deliver it he would.
"Not a big reader? Problem with the eyes?"
"My eyes are perfect."
"It's the Satanic Bible," said the passenger.
"I can read. I don't wish to read anything about Satan, let alone a bible of it." Brian glanced down at the menacing pocket book, barely taking his eyes off the road, but long enough to see the book cover was weathered.
"Hardly read it yourself I see."
Darrell should not be overly confident that he won't be put on the side of the highway. Brian would do it. Especially since it was one of those early spring days to die for when the tail end of a spring wind had arrived in Southern Saskatchewan. Brian would be happy to stop and leave this red-haired lout beside the highway in a chinook breeze. He would surely see him a couple hours later in the Rococo Lounge.
The devil worshiper snatched up the book, "I have several copies," he sneered, "But if you don't want it. . . "
"I don't want it. I don't read much, and even less about Satan."
"I am sure the glasses work. The book is not what you think. It's about freedom, not about sacrificing people on altars and black magic unless you're into that sort of thing. Mind if I light this?"
The devil worshiper who went by the name Diablo even though his name is 'Darrell' held up a haphazardly rolled contraband joint which was surely functional.
"No, I don't mind," and he might even partake, but Brian was not a big weed smoker. His mother once told him if he wants to smoke the marijuana he should go to a country where it's legal.
"There is no such country, Mom."
Brian never smoked weed at home when he was growing up in Arcola. Now it's the mid-1980s and a lot of people smoked the illegal weed, howbeit, Brian was more of a beer drinker. Any port in a storm when confronted by the unexpected, and Brian decided it was necessary to play coy with this passenger. He imagined rejection of the ideas in such a dreadful sounding book would be a sore point. He had seen the smallish, bony, pigeon-chested fellow flinch defensively and retrieve his property which he was hell bent on giving away. While Brian didn't care about this devil worshiper's feelings, he was non-confrontational at all times, extremely non-confrontational.
By the time he re-assessed the fellow at his side, Brian decided Diablo was no threat whatsoever but more adversarial than previously believed. He was not really a whole person. He was kind of misshapen, small-framed with a large head of burnished red hair, and exaggerated facial features. He was certainly the natural born target of any bully in the school yard. Brian had stayed well back at the tavern in Moose Jaw where the thugs sold Diablo his little baggo precious weed. It was now smouldering in the front seat and he took it and drew in a large hit.
Since they had been talking about Foster and his stepson-in-law, Brian got high and began to cogitate on Randy's father-in-law, who was acting as Brian's temporary sponsor in AA. Foster would not approve of the weed smoking underway in the Pontiac. Foster was not a big fan of the dope dealing stepson-in-law either, to hear him tell it. Brian had had a few coffee chats with Foster at the Alano Club, and once in a while they attended AA meetings together and obviously they had these intermittent chats at the used car dealership. Foster had lent him this shitbox Pontiac off the back of his used car lot in lieu of cash payment for running a car down to Shaunavon last week. Brian would drop the car off at another dealer in Regina at the end of the week.
Foster told tales about his days as an active alcoholic and flim-flam artist who traveled the back roads of the prairies with a few different partners in crime. He confessed this was one of his defects of character. The thieves drove day and night and crashed in motels and small town hotels. They went from town to town in southern Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan, and all over Alberta.
They stopped in any given town and parked innocuously on a dirt lane around the corner from a general store, and the partner would walk to the store and Foster would follow a few minutes later. The partner would enter the store and say he's passing through. He might mention that his car is down the roadat a gas station getting fixed, or is parked at a hotel where he might be staying the night. He would then begin to meander around the store when Foster entered and the two paid each other no heed. The partner would continue up and down the aisles, mostly near the back, which Foster said was distracting to the store clerk.
Meanwhile Foster went straight to the counter and stayed there, and began dealing with the clerk about various things hanging on the wall behind him or displayed in a glass booth near the counter. Bottle openers were popular. Maybe a pair of cheap sunglasses. A pack of playing cards, "How much are those?" All he would do is ask the price.
He would continue asking the price of items surrounding the clerk, pointing and waving at random stuff such as nail clippers, ballpoint pens, and, finally, "I will take some Certs Breath Mints." The clerk was distracted by the partner roaming back and forth near the fridge, pretending to be a shopper engrossed with the task. Then the partner would leave, buying nothing. Every time. Now Foster has the clerk's utmost attention. Foster stood in front of the clerk changing the denominations of the bills waving hypnotically between his fingers three or four times from one dollar to five dollar to 10 dollar to 20 dollar bill.
"It's so much easier with Canadian bills because they're each a different colour. But US bills have the presidents." He finished every pantomime waving $20 to pay for a pack of Certs breath mints, and he would flop a one dollar bill on the counter top. Nine times out of ten he received change for $20. Foster said rural store clerks had no experience with flim flam artists. He kept the bills and threw the change in the trunk. "There were always a couple hundred bucks in quarters back there. Very incriminating."
On to the next store, the next town. Tavern opens at 11 a.m.. They came to know every road, to every town, to every main street, and every escape in the three western provinces of Canada. Brian was informed it was a life in the past. Brian was informed it was impossible to make amends to the people Foster had harmed over the years in this professional criminal activity. He had no idea where the partners were either. "Ronnie was the best, so stupid even stray dogs and cats had pity on him."
The centre of this life of drunken debauchery paid for by crime had been Winnipeg. Brian had never been to Winnipeg even though it wasn't far away. Brian didn't enjoy spontaneous adventures like waking up on strange sofas in strange cities. He didn't think he had a serious problem with alcohol, and he wasn't a thief. AA was keeping him out of jail for drunk driving. Brian's dad had told him Alcoholics Anonymous might come in handy someday.
When Diablo was in Regina he usually got his weed from Vampire Joe . But Vampire Joe had up and disappeared, again. Diablo didn't know the rules, but Vampire Joe probably turned into a bat and found a dark barn attic to hibernate for the winter. Vampire Joe was a by the book kind of devil worshipper, which was okay with Diablo, but it was a different book. He talked a lot about the vampire Lestat, and perhaps he was indeed the vampire Lestat. He talked about an author named Anne Rice. He was, surely, however, a vampire of the usual bloodsucking sort. There were days when he was anemic and days when he was effulgent. Diablo had no interest in the mechanics of vampire life. But Vampire Joe was one swarthy example of it, and a decent source of generally passably quality, if overpriced, weed.
Diablo had made the rounds and Vampire Joe wasn't found in one of three or four places on a given day. First, the LaSalle Hotel owned by the equally swarthy Roger. It had a long narrow room on the ground floor which was a low-track tavern in the geographic centre of Regina. It might be a heritage property but Diablo was fairly certain the only heritage was alcoholism and prostitution. This history persisted into the present. Further evidence of debauchery having truck was in the restaurant. The provincial government mucky-mucks held regular breakfast seances in the LaSalle's main floor greasy spoon. And these types, the political animals from the Saskatchewan legislature, occasionally appeared in the Rococo Lounge situated behind the restaurant in the mid to late afternoon. Diablo was a casual observer. He spent time watching people in every one of the LaSalle facilities, and Diablo had a hotel room upstairs. Sink in the room, no toilet. A home away from home.
The guy driving the car and rejecting the book had asked him where he got the name. "Satan was taken." It would be pretentious to call himself after his lord and master. "I am a lightning bolt falling from heaven just like my lord, but I don't want to take on more responsibility than I can handle, so I am Diablo." Darrell was his given name. But he rarely used it except to cash a cheque.
"You know your friend Gordon who runs the disability office down on Albert Street, says, he says heaven is found in those test drives of new cars they're tryin to sell ya that you actually want more than they wanna sell. He calls that heaven."
Diablo and Brian had shared a few jugs of beer at the Rococo Lounge with Gordon, who was known to make the rounds to a few different drinking establishments in the tiny, myopic, self-centred downtown of Regina.
Diablo was able to twist himself into a writhing ball of disability, which defied description, and these double-jointed maneuvers were perfect to deploy for the purpose of hanging around a disability office on Regina's Park Street. It was the disability program manager Gordon who had invited Diablo to visit the ground-level office of the South Saskatchewan Independent Living Society one day after sitting together at the bar in the Embassy Lounge. Gordon had pointed to the receptionist, "If you pass her criterion you can have upwards of $600 a month." It was this $600 a month he called rambling around money. It was a permanent side income and a generous sum for acting like a wreck.
June Bug is what he called her, and Diablo wooed June Bug at the Embassy Lounge, stinking dark little corner on Albert Street and 13th. He double-jointed his shoulders and hips to the degree that he sharply resembled her, except she crammed herself into an electric wheelchair every morning, and he followed her along Park Street limping, and gimping in the sunshine (there is an incredible amount of sunshine in Regina) and the dust to the Embassy Lounge, her wheelchair whirring up the ramps and curbs.
She was buying and she was buying a lot. By the end of one evening when Diablo was breaking character and walking around the room looking normal, she was so smitten that he dropped a copy of the Satanic Bible on her lap and she did not flinch. They went drinking at the Embassy every cheque day from that day forward and Diablo did not once pick up a tab. He made a point of launching into double joint manoeuvres at all times. It was a cost of doing business.
Blink once for yes, June Bug. He was continuously reminded of Captain Pike, from the very first episode of the original Star Trek.
Virgil lived to take off his shoes and run across the prairie at night. The Poormans Indian Reserve was big and quite open, largely unfenced, although saying the land was large and unfenced was a statement belonging to a different era, and today some land was leased to ranchers. And Virgil wasn't the only Cree who liked to get out and sprint across the prairie but he was the only one to do it without shoes as far as he knew. By the time he hit full stride Virgil leapt onto the galloping stone engine and instantly he was flying. It was a magical transformation, an experience available on the reserve where no fences kept you from becoming airborne, and because sometimes he was sprinting around low hills for awhile in search of a lift, by the time he found the engine he was ready to transform and fly away to meet his connections. The proceeding required a lot of fuel.
Virgil's cousins congregated in Regina where some of them lived Off The Rez on a bunch of streets known as Moccasin Flats, in those pre-war houses where the windows rattle and the walls shake when you shut the door, and these included Uncle Leven, and Uncle Ambrose, ànd a few cousins. Regarding fuel, there was presently a connection with at the LaSalle Hotel, seems like he lives at a low flying non-Native downtown hotel. Virgil ran for the engine on this moonless night so he would not be detected, and make no mistake about it, Virgil was perfectly aware there were a multitude of laws he was breaking.
Uncle Ambrose occupied a house in Moccasin Flats. He was a block away from 'Leven on a similar street. Uncle Ambrose enjoyed a big payday on no fewer than eight Sundays in the summer and fall through the CFL season because his yard transformed from hard-packed dirt and patches of scruffy grass into a high-priced parking lot during home games and playoffs.
Moccasin Flats lay in the shadow of Taylor Field. Uncle Ambrose does two things, a study of the tyranny of white people. He is also a trusted uncle to the youthful females who would evidently be ready for working on Rose Street by the time they were 12 or 13, and equally inevitably be old women by the age of 18.
Uncle Ambrose had a copy of the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich on the table in his living room. This room was sparsely furnished. He had his reading chair perched with the back to the kitchen. There was a plain dusty sofa on the north wall of the house.
This was a real old house with creaking floors and threadbare carpet. Nothing on the walls. A standing floor lamp and a ceiling light typically burning with a 100 watt bulb. This room was lit like daylight all through the night. There was no lampshades. Ambrose liked the brilliance of 100 Watt bulbs. He wore glasses. Virgil wore sunglasses at night, when visiting Uncle Ambrose. He had long black hair. He never wore a ponytail. He was relatively short and some people dared to call him chunky. But he was agile enough and completely at home in the night. He was a bit of an owl, Virgil cackled to himself. For instance, this house was lit up like a sunny day in the middle of the night and with his thick glasses Virgil was pretty sure he could see practically through the walls. Nothing escaped his observation. Not the sow bugs. Not the silverfish. And definitely not the cockroaches.
Virgil was in the hood, and Virgil was the hood, and occasionally dropping by, him and his brother Randy, he of the perpetual peaked cap. Brother Randy was the kind that deported himself in a comely fashion, clean clothes, freshly soaped and showered, hair groomed. Randy wasn't a scruffy fellow at all, and you could say he was able to get past a bouncer at a white man's tavern, even though he's as pure as they come. Why the fuck he would want to was anybody's guess. Virgil preferred a country and western flavour on the other side of the tracks.
Randy was a peaceful sort, Virgil admitted to being an entirely other kettle of fish. He would like nothing more than to rip the arm off anybody who looked at him sideways and proceed to beat them to death with it. So he was right as rain about things as was his brother, just in a different way. Virgil and Randy had another brother who made the rounds with them. When John was along they were a murder. John was traditional about the way he comported. He was the main connection to the engine. He was the engine's best friend. John was the one who kept the motor running. He spoke the language of design. He may not have had a hand in the original construction of the engine, for obviously this was ancient and possibly extraterrestrial technology, but John knew about the maintenance, essentially care and feeding, for this was what it took to keep it running.
Virgil accepted the way the engine governed the ways and means of the cult, uh ture. The complexity of such governance required the finely tuned engine to be in control. But the engine needed fuel. There was one fuel that would do and John was in charge of pointing to the source, and ordering the acquisitions.
The cult- has old magical Indigenous tricks of the trade, but theirs was not the only magic in town. Virgil had observed a coven of witches circling a lounge slash restaurant on Broad Street. He knew a troll disguised his bridge as a used car lot on Toronto Street, north of Victoria Avenue, in an old neighborhood on the east side of downtown Regina. The troll disguised himself as a tall guy wearing a bright green hat like a Leprechaun, but he was not 6 and a half feet tall. Not by any stretch.
The door on the secretive garage was a dead giveaway, it was 4 feet high. You couldn't see through the windows, covered in dust from a hundred years. And in his travels with a bird's eye view, Virgil spotted a fetish idol strolling around downtown, taking pedestrians and drivers alike by surprise. Virgil called him Voodoo Jack, and the only reason Virgil would keep an eye on him was because he was there, a curiosity, out-of the blue.
The glue that binds this predominantly white people world together was a thing they called Religion. Uncle Ambrose talked at length with Virgil about it, and he could see it came in parcels like catholic and united and Anglican and Presbyterian, and Baptist, but they all pulled on the same chain. Uncle Ambrose was explicit about this. They had a magic but they called it a calling. They weren't born to it, they were dragged to it. They had dragged more than a few Cree to the calling. None of the cult-.
Another thing holding this white magic together was beer (and alcohol in general). While all the magic was swirling and often entwined, one thing is certain, nobody knew the magic of the engine. This was the deep secret. And nobody dare speak of it if they know. The engine was a creation of extraordinary power and Virgil was the most convinced it was God.
It was a machine. It was a creation, the peak of stone creations, the very height of stone. To outsiders it might be nothing at all. It was a commandeering presence when animated, it might be interpreted as a short energetic person, a spry, focused,, a well oriented stone thing, thing made of stone. The statue had a glistening whitish skin of woven glass. Inside the skin, it has been revealed to Virgil, by brother John, the engine has tubes like veins and arteries. The engine showed John and John told Virgil and told Randy, who barely paid attention, preoccupied by a snazzy-looking woman walking toward them on the sidewalk of Hamilton Street.
It wasn't important how much Randy knew of technicalities. The engine was carried by stone bones and skeleton. The eyes were black diamonds. The skull was filled with precious stones like jade, and sapphire, and other stones, acquired from far away nations, and the engine had equipment like vocal chords and hearing, but it didn't have a complex nervous system. It didn't feel things, but it moved, and made noise instantly interpreted as commands. The engine had natural intelligence, not to be confused with Native Intelligence, was highly advanced at perceiving stimulation in blood, things like threats, and other energy like sex. John did not see this, he was told this by the statue. Again, said it was issued like a command, and John accepted it.
Other Indigenous intelligence fled from the engine. The power of the engine is explicit. It is the power to transform from one aspect of nature to another. To be exact, the engine offers the ability to turn a Cree into a crow and a crow into a Cree. You had to catch it and climb on its back and away you flew. That's what running across the prairie is about. And you had to be a great, great runner to pull it off. Flying back is much easier.
No other cult- exists, and no other animal matters, granted, an occasional owl seems to stumble upon the engine. Virgil knew owls to see everything in the dark even in the blackest dark. He thought this might be a superfluous ability, and he didn't see the worth of it, and at night the house was so bright he had to wear shades.
The City of Regina was a dusty place, and the best place in Canada to see a tumbleweed blowing through town. The city seems to attract these tumbleweeds, you see them so often rolling along the main thoroughfares. The City of Regina is also ideal for watching tornadoes form on the western horizon. Brian found sights like these exciting, even if everybody else in Regina could care less and pays no heed whatsoever to these atmospheric and vegetation occurrences.
This was probably the only place in Canada to see them so distinctively. Brian was all prairie and hardly ever left the area. He did a little driving for Foster who had some kind of flim flam going on with a car dealer in Shaunavon. Brian would accompany Foster for the two hour drive to get a car, which Brian drove back to Regina always some kind of American automobile that was going to the lot at Advanced Auto Sales, up Park Street in the city's north end. Indeed, you could see the amber waves of grain blowing in the breeze on a hot August day when you stood on the sidewalk in front of Foster's used car lot, facing north.
He was an occasional visitor to his hometown in Arcola. His parents still lived there and were still together. Brian and his older sister moved to Regina. The party scene in Arcola died at the end of high school. Even the Indians went to the city for fun now, Regina or Winnipeg. This was a good thing. It meant Brian could get laid pretty much anytime he wanted.
So Brian worked in construction as a labourer because he was strong and somewhat tireless. He wasn't interested in a trade because that would cut into his drinking. It might also attract women who smelled money. Brian was absolutely not the marrying kind. He was the buy her a mickey of rum and walk her up the back alley towards home kind.
Brian didn't generally pay much attention to Diablo's 'vampire' friend named Joe except to envy all the pussy hanging around the Rococco Lounge to find Vampire Joe and buy some of his weed. Brian knew better than to buy weed from Vampire Joe and wouldn't dare to dream about fucking one of his girlfriends. Vampire Joe was capable of attaching you to a pretty face, but it would come to you with a set of complicated mental disorders and expensive tastes in drugs. The vamps around Vampire Joe come with STDs and blood disorders. Those they owed to Vampire Joe. Brian didn't think he was a real vampire and marvelled as usual at the depth of bullshit pouring out of Diablo's mouth.
Brian was accustomed to playing PacMan with three of them at the Rococco, hunched in the dark over the glowing cabinet with the Ms PacMan screen staring up at them, staring at them in a leering manner. They bought their own drinks. He drank Budweiser and alternated between the bar stools and the tables in the shadowy lounge and dark red curtains and corners and alcoves. Brian figured this must be Roger's personal favorite room in the hotel, and on the far end at the back, the Rococo connected to a long narrow room, a less traveled room. If you went,straight back you entered the alley, but if you turned sharp right before the back door, and pushed hard through a heavy fireproof door, you arrived in the grimy LaSalle Hotel Tavern. It was always busier than the brooding Rococo Room. All this was designated kids free. The amount of alcohol consumed was carefully weighed and delivered under the auspices of the Saskatchewan Liquor Commission. This was the granddaddy of provincial departments. Brian was a loyal servant of the liquor commission. A bit of this ran in the family on the paternal side.
These gals were a little more sophisticated than the average farmers daughters. Very few of the girls in the Rococo Room were Reservation girls. They stayed closer to the unofficial tribal headquarters next door. Brian stayed in his element with the tribal girls. He had a lure that worked like a charm on a pack rat.
"You can take Twisted home for a mickey," he said, to Diablo. And Twisted had cousins. Brian was not financially disposed to dating the pale-skinned blowsy lovelies flitting from the tavern to the Rococo Room, to the Pacman machines, to the rooms upstairs to snort coke with Vampire Joe. Neither was Diablo as far as Brian could surmise. But Diablo had connections and some persistent goddamned interest in hanging around. He had some sordid agenda that everyone else knew besides Brian, and that means you stay on your toes.
Virgil stood on the Highway 6 overpass leading out of Regina's north end onto Highway hitchhiking with his cousin Jerry, who was shorter and slighter in stature, younger and sickly on occasion from a rough childhood, but generally hardy and evenly natured. He stood behind Virgil as they watched a shiny blue muscle car roll up the street out of the city, climbing the overpass, and, well. . . what do you know? Stopping. The car backed up a few feet and Jerry jumped in the back seat.
A white man with blond hair sat behind the wheel looking like Hulk Hogan the wrestler, and he was the sole occupant in the two door Camaro, filling the driver's seat of the car. "Where ya going?"
Virgil said, "We are going to Southey."
"Wanna smoke a joint?" said Jerry in the back seat.
"How far north is Southey?" the driver said.
The car took off and the radio played low. Virgil explained, “It's about 50 miles north on this highway,” and he pointed up the road.
"You guys are lucky. I got this car today and I wanna take it for a ride, so I'll take ya to Southey." “That is good news,” said Jerry.” Nice fucking car.” But it had a dealer plate on it.
"So ya wanna smoke one?" Jerry persisted.
"Go ahead, roll one up," said the mullet wearing driver. Once they left city lights the headlights illuminated the way ahead through a warm, dry spring night, while the driver had his window open slightly. The driver sped down the highway accelerating continuously until Virgil said, “Hey man, we're not in a hurry!” He was relieved when the man backed off the accelerator and the car pitched forward, "No sweat. This is my first opportunity to do this to the car,"
Tell that to the cops. Virgil said, ”Uh, my name's Virgil, that's my cousin Jerry,” to the blond man driving the car like a fucking maniac.
"My name's Brian," then a hand came out and Jerry's hand came ahead in the dark cab and the burning joint appeared, and Virgil decided the guy is allowed to drive as fast as he likes, and it appears he can handle the car, even with those small hands and even if he wears those glasses. Once the joint passed Virgil was curious why the guy would stop for a couple of cousins. Fifty minutes flew past at an impressive speed, and there was no radar detector either.
Brian The Driver was silent after the joint, and turned up the radio and bee-bopped along in his used muscle car (he said it was a Camaro Z-28 with a 350 cubic inch engine), down the asphalt, every inch of which Virgil was familiar with, in both day and night. They rolled past a sign, and Virgil pointed to it, for Brian, and said, “The sign points to Poorman's Reserve and that's where we're going.”
“But if you don't mind, we want to go to the convenience store in Southey, another a half mile
up the highway, do you mind?”
"No, I don't mind."
This is a strange occurrence, Virgil had to think about it, possibly a first. “Yeah, B-Brian,” and he double-clutched the 'B', purposely, ” it's just up the highway. There's a store in the middle of town. Wanna pop or anything?”
"Well, sure, a coke." Brian was a smoker and Virgil wasn't, but Jerry bummed a couple off Brian while sitting outside the store, the audacity, and would bum a couple more, so Virgil asked if Brian needed smokes.
"Got lots, thanks, have another, Jerry." Brian held the pack over his shoulder. Virgil jumped out and ran into the grocery store, went through gathering stuff from his mental check list, and stepped out lightly and strolled to the passenger's seat.
“Now about giving us a ride to Poorman's?”
"No problem. I came this far. How much farther is the Poorman's Reserve?"
The blond man, who kind-of resembled Hulk Hogan, famous WWF wrestler, displayed no hint of exasperation. He seemed to be enjoying the adventure, well why not? His highway fucking driving was an adventure. See how he likes this ride.
Brian The Driver turned east and they entered an envelope of darkness that would grow darker as they rolled northeast across the prairie. The sun had long receded and there was no moon tonight and the road had no signs to point the way, so Virgil put out his left hand on the dashboard and navigated for the driver, who followed the twisting road. It was a thin ribbon of pavement and finally Virgil said, “We've got a ways to go, so you might as well pick up the pace.”
Brian The Driver snorted, and accelerated, and they were flying now. "I was worried about waking the neighbors."
Virgil laughed and told him, “Nobody lives on this road. It's too haunted.” Jerry laughed too, and soon Virgil said, “Okay, you can slow her down. We are getting close. Don't want to wake my Granny. Pull in to the left up here,” he pointed at the sharp rise that was the parking area. Brian The Driver turned the car off the road and onto the gravel driveway and stopped below the house. Brian The Driver jumped out, "Gotta take a piss," he said, and they all had to.
"I can't believe it. Is that a hill behind your Granny's house?" Brian asked, while his piss hit the ground at the rear of the vehicle, Virgil watched him set back to the driver's side door where he stood arms at his sides. and, a moment later, lit a smoke while he leaned on the roof of his new car. It was a dark blue.
Virgil asked him if he was gonna find his way off the reserve.
“No problem. How did you get the only hill in Saskatchewan?"
Virgil laughed, Jerry with him; “Well, ya see, we ran and we ran and we ran till we came to this hill. And we turned around, and said, 'Come and Get Us, Motherfuckers,' and nobody came." And the blond man grinned, and thought about it, and laughed. Virgil decided he will tell Brian about target practice some other time. That's when the RCMP drive across the reserve and the boys take target practice at the cherries on top. Some of the boys don't aim too good.
Virgil decided it was a good idea to keep an eye out for this white.. “Drive safe, Brian.” "Nice to meet you guys," he said, and climbed into the vehicle and backed out and drove away slowly. Jerry looked at Virgil, "Yep. Pretty sure I've seen him circling the sisters," and they laughed, and climbed the hill to Granny's house.
Brian didn't see Virgil for many weeks. Brian didn't expect to see Virgil ever again. And did not want to. But one night he came out of the AA coven he frequents, every night in downtown Regina on McIntyre Street and 11 avenue, he came out of the basement of the single storey store fronts, and turned left to where he parked his car, and he meets Virgil with his arm in a sling, "What oh what did you do to your arm?”
"I sprained it jumping over a fence on the reserve." Yeah, sure, Virgil. “They have fences around that reserve, huh, so was that an escape?” Brian was mildly curious to see Virgil standing with your basic shit-eating grin on his face. Brian was with another couple of people making a rushed departure to a coffee shop for donuts and endless bullshit about how great it is to be sober. It's not. It's unhealthy. Brian is eating too much on top of his regular visits to taverns.
Being sober enough to talk about somebody other than yourself, thanking Doctor Bob and Bill for it, and all the friends those two guys have made, until the coffee madness burns down to a sleep disorder. Virgil declined Brian's invitation to come along. But he did say, "We'll meet again." So what? Brian doesn't owe him money.
So Brian had settled his mind on a method to cure the sleep disorder. He goes to Rose Street is what he does at this time of night, it's between 10 p.m. and midnight, depending on how much he can fight temptation. It's usually 10:30-ish. It is a small city and a closed society, and he doesn't feel part of anything at the moment, and honestly, he has anger toward the coven for hiving him off away from any action. That's what he thinks in his frustrations of the day. He,is meeting with the girls on Rose Street.
Right now his career, his job, his work associates and all the world around him are going perfectly normal. Some of the local talent that didn't charge an arm and a leg to sleep with him, and he thinks life is going along fine, because it is.
Virgil walked up the back lane and turned up the dirt and grass driveway, partly caked in snow and ice laying in crusts in the shadows. The spring air held crispness, and he wore a light jacket but didn't think much of the temperature as he slid past the blue Camaro with the dealer plate. He stood at 10 a.m. and knocked at the door of the tidy little house, as promised, in the east end of Regina. He saw his own jet black hair in the reflection of the door window glinting in the bright sun rising toward mid-day. He felt exposed standing on the driveway. He felt exposed standing in the neighborhood.
He knocked again. Louder. The inside door flew open and the slovenly Brian stood inside wearing a bathrobe, not wearing his glasses and rubbing his eyes at the bright sunshine spilling into the porch. "What the fuck at you doing here?”
“I told you I'd see you again soon.”
“Oh yeah, so you did. Come in, then. I gotta make coffee."
Virgil looked around the empty inside back porch, while Brian made up two steps to the kitchen. Virgil walked in and saw an empty tin of tuna, and a coffee pot, which became the focus of the blond man.
“Didn't you used to live at the LaSalle?”
“It was temporary. So you're set on taking me to this indoor Pow Wow at the AgriPlex."
Virgil cocked an ear for insubordination about to spew from a white man. He didn't know enough about Brian from the moments they met on the highway. Maybe he turned this way, maybe he turned that, but Brian was his own worst enemy and that's the way he turned.
“Well it starts at 12, and I want to get Randy,”
"Wanna cup of coffee?"
“Uhm, sure,” not that he wanted it.
Brian slouched away to get dressed, and Virgil sat at the kitchen table. The curtains were shut but relatively thin and he could see the grass and dirt on the driveway running from back to front of the property. Virgil picked up a front section of the Regina Leader Post newspaper. He flipped a few pages to get to the section about his side of the story, the not telling of it, the obfuscation and messing with heads.
It was important to read, and the coffee was starting to smell good. Virgil wasn't ravenous, but what the hell. There was food on the counter. Those cookies look good, what are those? Fig newtons. Brian came to the kitchen and poured a coffee for each of them and put the package of fig newtons on the kitchen table.
"You like to read the newspaper?" said the blond man as he sat and drank coffee and stared at Virgil, then at the window, and back at Virgil. “How did you find me? I don't think anybody knows where I live.”
“I am psychic." It wasn't difficult. How many shiny blue Camaros with dealer plates are there in Regina?
How's the coffee?"
“It's great coffee, Brian. We will pick up Randy at Uncle Ambrose's place. See if Uncle Ambrose wants to come to the Pow Wow too. We should head over after these coffees.”
"Okay, Virgil. This ought to be an interesting day."
“Couple of days, Brian. It runs today. It runs tomorrow. We go both days.”
"Uh huh. Okay, couple of days. Today, and tomorrow."
“That's right. Two days.”
They hopped out of the house and flew up Victoria Avenue to the neighborhood turning into an Indian Reservation in the shadow of Taylor Field and he directed the white man onto Robinson Street. Virgil told Brian to wait in the car, as it was getting close to noon. Well, this turned out to be wrong, and he ran back to the car, and said, “Come inside. Smoke some weed with Uncle Ambrose.”
Randy is ready to go but in reality Uncle Ambrose wanted a few of Brian's smokes, and he wanted to sell Brian an overpriced joint of of ditch weed. Randy and Virgil would take Brian to the Pow Wow at the pyramid-shaped AgrPlex in Regina. Brian had a rosy outlook and this was the general assessment of both Virgil and Randy. Uncle Ambroses' assessment was that the white man was better off dead, but according to Uncle Ambrose everybody was better off dead when they were draped in white skin.
Brian circled the parking lot, basically permitting them to smoke another joint while he spent a few minutes looking for a parking spot. This was a sober event, nobody drank alcohol and especially not on the first day. All bets were off after midnight. There was no parking close to the front, and Brian had to park near the back of the lot, a distance indeed, but one the fellow took lightheartedly, and with a small amount of grumbling.
"What the fuck is going on in there? Sounds like Van Halen."
Virgil falls over grabbing Randy as they laugh at the ridiculous comment together. “Hey Brian, there's 2,500 Indians in there and the party's just starting.”
"Well it sounding fucking awesome already!"
The Goose Moon on day one is always an extraordinary life-giving experience, “the Goose itself heralds the return of life,” Virgil spits, Randy sniggers.
They enter the building behind Brian at his respective elbows.
“Where do I pay?”
They watch him immerse instantly in the spirit of the goose. The day is a blur, because Virgil finds it difficult to focus in the atmosphere. And there is a reason for this. Virgil and Randy stand out in their nature, which is basically disinterest in the goings on during day one of the return of the goose moon.
He feels dragged into the flow, not because it is uncomfortable, or unwanted. It's meaningless, and not his thing. All he can do is observe the exuberance detached and disinterested, primarily looking for potential victims of their own subtle and otherwise obvious weaknesses.
This is exhausting to watch the goose running a Pow Wow, because the goose feeds everybody with life-giving spirit and no one is turned away, which makes it difficult to distinguish a victim.
It's the life force and Virgil adheres to another force. The crowd is absorbing a Great Spirit but it has a tenuous grip. It lasts and then it is gone. In the course of reality, it is shoved aside, crushed, drained, and dismissed.
Virgil and Randy have Brian dragging them through this like it was some kind of party. Brian stopped in the promenade circling the dance floor. “How about a couple of hot dogs?”
“My treat,” said Virgil. "I'm down with hot dogs.”
“Are those free too?”
Virgil handed him $5, “For you, today," grinned Randy under his cap, "totally free."
Virgil needs to smoke a lot of dope on the first day of the return of the goose moon Pow Wow, and even then it ain't half enough. Brian had turned and stood in front of the concession stand.
After inhaling the hotdogs, he gestures toward the flow of bodies, a river of people circles the ring of guests watching the dance. The outside flows counterclockwise, and the inside flows clockwise. Drums are pounded from the four corners. A singer is hitting high notes, and the men walk as part of the crowd going clockwise, on Brian's elbows.
People are moving both directions, but the largest number stands surrounding the dance floor watching intently. It was a mixed crowd, whites and Indians, and there are bleachers in the four corners of the building. Virgil didn't look in. The blond man couldn't take his eyes off the centre, craning his neck and watching the intense activity.
They moved past one massive drum, around the circle to another massive drum, and around the circle until they completed one full circle, Randy and Virgil follow at his elbows. He is walking counterclockwise smoothly and suddenly he turns and joins the band flowing the other direction. Randy looks at Virgil who signals Randy to follow Brian. Virgil sees a lady he needs to speak to. He corners her beside a set of bleachers and she hands over $20, a small debt.
She is an honest kid. Virgil rejoins the clockwise band and finds Randy standing with Brian watching the dance competition.
Virgil stands behind Brian and looks over his head. Brian turns around, smiles, laughs, and Virgil leans ahead, and says, “Anytime ya wanna go outside and smoke.”
“The drumming is incredible."
You can hear it pretty good outside too!
The show went on for an hour before Brian wanted to go outside. It would go on for many more hours. It will go from noon to midnight, then drums stop. Virgil tapped Randy on the shoulder and led the way to the west exit, to the sunshine. It was early spring, but you need a sweater, and Virgil wears a heavy sweatshirt and undershirt.
Three men stand outside the steel door smoking Brian's cigarettes in the warm sun with a gentle breeze blowing down the lane.
"So what exactly am I seeing?" asked Brian. Virgil looked at Randy, "It's a Competition Pow Wow," he said, and Virgil added, “Those are different from traditional.”
"They are competing for money," said Randy.
Brian stands across the exit ramp leaning heavily against the steel rail, smoking his cigarette, "Well it's a charming event,” expressing his delight. “The people are all very nice. I am surrounded by smiling faces," and Virgil laughs, and Randy joins in and Brian too.
"So does the event have a name?"
"Still called the celebration of the goose moon," says Randy.
"Goose moon,” Brian echoes Randy's statement. “With that I am leaving. I will be back. I promised Becky I would bring her to this. I won't be long." Brian walks down the lane toward the parking lot and away to his car. Virgil looks at Randy, "I don't know how he can walk so fast."
“I think he's persistent, said Randy. He''ll be back in an hour or two.
"Oh ya think he's coming back?"
“Oh I'm sure he's coming back.”
Virgil worries sometimes to himself especially when he is running on instinct, but he knows there is a problem. The engine is low on fuel. He just didn't know how much fuel, but if he didn't find it soon, it would mean the engine was lost. The hard core essence of knowledge had grown from the earth. And now it was practically extinguished, so Virgil faced an urgent need to protect a remnant, barely a ruination, left to the disordered world.
One of the joys in his life is running. He did it in the city too. He sprinted out of the alley and down the residential street, cutting left, sprinting harder, cutting right, harder still, putting it all out, a block in under 15 seconds, backing it off, catching his breath. It's safer doing it across the prairie on the reserve, simply because when the police see an Indian running, well. . .. And then the chase is on, and it's no exercise. Someday this war is going to end
He ran a few more alleys and loped quietly into the back yard at Uncle Ambrose's (speaking of disorder), and walked up the back steps, and walked in the back door, and sat with Uncle Ambrose, who gave him a burning joint of weed.
Sitting with Uncle Ambrose, Virgil can't help thinking, yes, the white man in the sporty car caught his attention the night of the drive to Southey, and, whereupon the blond man was identified by cousin Jerry as a staple source of income and a darned respectful visitor to the sisters of Rose Street, nevertheless investigation will continue.
Facing off with Brian was blissful compared to sitting with dour and perverse Uncle Ambrose. Virgil knew the story of his depravity. Virgil had plenty of teaching and had learned a few hard lessons and remembered the slightest details. There is no way in the world forgiveness can be on the menu. And a need for fuel is a terrible thing.
He squinted as he passed the joint to squat, timid, disreputable, unsuitable Uncle Ambrose having neither scruples nor restraint. For the time being, Virgil receives the joint back, "What are you doing with the white man?"
Tapping his wallet, “Uncle Ambrose, it's because he's a lady's man.”
"Ah one of those."
“Yeah, one of those. Listen, I'll be around anytime.”
"My castle is your castle." You read far too much white trash for your own good, Uncle Ambrose.
He sprinted back to the AgriPlex. If he did less than 25 miles today it would be unusual. Virgil ran like a bird flew. Randy was the only person he ever knew that could come close. Brother John was definitely an endurance runner, but not built for speed. Virgil was the wind in a blizzard compared to all others. He preferred bare feet, including in winter running on the prairie. He entered the main door and circled until he settled on a half-empty bleacher to observe the festivities.
The Jingle Dancers are the show of youth, nobles children adorned in regalia, uncles, brothers, fathers, pounding drums, a roaring good life pulsing in the veins on the floor, and then he saw Brian at one corner, standing with a blonde woman, and he didn't quite know what to make of it.
The woman, she was definitely looking out of place. She had no idea what to make of the intensity of the dance and the drums. Brian, on the other hand, was blushing. In fact, he was red, and Virgil had to say it out loud to believe what he was seeing.
It wasn't long before the blonde woman left the circle and took Brian outside, and Virgil followed where Brian took her out the same door they used in the early afternoon. It was warm, but the day was waning.
"Ah ya found me. I'm flattered you would bother to look. We're going to the Copper Kettle. You're welcome to come along." Sure, Brian.
“That's okay. Name's Virgil,” and he introduces himself while she stands by smoking, and smiling, and saying it was nice to meet him, but not at all comfortably.
"Becky is impressed, but she's had enough. I'll see ya later."
Virgil promises to come by Brian's house in the morning, ya know, about 11:00 a.m.. "Uh huh, okay, tomorrow, back for more.”
" Yeah, ya gotta come t'morrow,” says Virgil. Randy pops out the side door, "Can ya give me a ride, Brian?"
"Yeah, like, where to?"
"Saskatoon," Randy quipped.
"Nope," they laughed while Brian looked back quizzically. “It's okay, Brian. See ya in the morning. Try to make a guy feel useful. What do you get?” “Quizzical?”
The night passed as they always do, Virgil sprinting from roost to roost, eventually settling down around 4 a.m.. First he went down to Rose Street and grabbed a cousin and went to the Country Cabaret on north Albert. He drank a few and felt like dancing, and then he sent her back to Rose Street in a taxi, while he circled Moccasin Flats for a couple hours. He circled around 10 or 20 blocks when he decided where to crash.
Then he was up at about 9 a.m., and leaving the lady, and jogging down to see Randy pulling duty at Uncle Ambrose's, making absolutely sure none of that stealing young out of nests was taking place, not, at least, at Uncle Ambrose's house. Randy was sitting in the kitchen on a high stool contemplating the outer room where Uncle Ambrose sat in continuous discomfort, clearly disliking the close company.
Virgil signalled to his slightly older brother, "Okay, I'm ready." Off they ran down the stairs, out of the yard, and 50 blocks to the east end of the city, "This fucker might as well live in Winnipeg," Randy growled. Oh fer gawd's sake, Randy, “Brian The Driver will give ya ride home. Shut the fuck up.” So for that Virgil put down an exerted effort to create some distance between he and brother Randy, but that wasn't happening this morning, so he bumped shoulders, and tried this again on a patch of ice. The fella has a lot of energy this morning. It was getting close to 11 a.m..
It's not that killing comes easy to Virgil. It certainly isn't difficult either. There is a balance to his flight into killing, but he does it with flourish. Seriously, stabbing a person in the heart to kill him takes a few blows. Beating a guy to death with a stick with nails in it takes a lot of energy too. Nobody lies down and dies like a sack of shit usually, although he'd seen it happen too. Sometimes people show a gung-ho attitude, which turns quickly to a gasp of surrender while Virgil goes about finishing the task.
People are different in the ways they go about dying, and one thing Virgil came to believe is how some people are simply not meant to die in a grisly attack, while others are absolutely suited to the event where their lives fold up like a tent. Virgil is not an animal, he's a predatory animal, a crow to be exact, and a leader of a murder with a peculiar bent for murder. That is the philosophical school of his understanding. It's a study of human frailty, and a study that is task-oriented. He believes human nature is something to be respected as far as the human is respectable. In cases where the human shows no respect, these people are to be studied. In cases where the study shows fatal flaws, dissection will ensue. There is no such thing as a waste of fuel.
These non-random events require teamwork, he never acts alone, but accomplices add a lot of distraction to the situation, and since Virgil does the sacrifice, to his God, nobody else''s God but his, he likes to be in control, not just feel in control. That is insufficient. Now Virgil was raised with purpose and his Elders taught him to deal with ruptures in society, and his task in life is not misunderstood on any level.
Virgil is a top of the class warrior, in fact. without a fucking doubt. Virgil can run 50 miles a day every day, without breaking a sweat, and leap over tall fences, and fit through tight spaces. He is wiry and strong, tall, and lean, and fast, in a headwind. The next purpose of all this power was to protect and serve. It is a millennia-long undertaking, or longer. He takes it more seriously every day, and it takes him to the darkest corners of his mind, and into the darkest corners of every mind. He continues to have an open mind and wants to learn from mistakes, and lives across a cultural divide from his own people due to an urgency to his duty, and in direct opposition to the atrocities brought by a usurper, which stands with the boot on the neck of the people.
The engine is maintained under a cloak of secrecy, and the statue is extraordinary in terms of wealth, knowledge. The more fuel it has, the more knowledge it delivers.
It is a marvel of engineering and all power belonged to the statue, which instructed with explicit detail the intricacies of acquiring the fuel, and where it could take you. The statue belongs to the people, even if they didn't know it. If you can catch it, you can know it. Virgil carries out commands from the statue. He maintains formation, and presents the statue with correct conditions, flattery carries a ton of weight, unadulterated is the right fuel.
No one knows what they were seeing. The statue is a mystery because it so sharply resembles a man that nobody could be convinced it isn't human. This feat of engineering had given his cult- an enormous advantage. The land of his ancestors had been subjugated since the ruination of the old universe which lies in ruins accept what belongs to the Cult-.
Virgil had been inspired by the statue for a long as he remembered. Virgil saw something in it as a youth and visited it many times, and it made him into the piece of steel he had become. The statue could run across the land for days without breathing, of course, and it taught Virgil to run with a different kind of stamina than normal human beings, running outside of time. It taught Virgil and his brothers, but they weren't nearly the students Virgil is, and sometimes Virgil thought they were mocking him, his brothers, for his devotion.
Turns out none of them were the killers that Virgil is, and maybe that's a good thing. He also felt the need to keep them under scrutiny, and the statue spoke to Virgil of things that it probably didn't share with others, certainly not in this vicinity. It was known to disappear from time to time and he had no idea of its business beyond his own fields of endeavor. It had to be more of the same, dealing brutal and punishing blows to those who inflict these kinds of blows on others. It's a vicious circle in the truest meaning.
Even his own people mistook Virgil. One person might say he's a pimp. Another might say he's a dope dealer. Another might say he's a murderer, Others thought he was a renegade when the truth was Virgil stood for the prevention of extinction. His own people were like the usurpers in so many ways now that most could not imagine what kind of power it takes to manipulate nature. It's a helluva balancing act to keep things working to the exact advantage of the people. The only way you can achieve something like this is by knowledge, and that has to come from somewhere. The statue was manufactured for that purpose. The statue was all about respect for nature. And the statue says the crow is the brains of the operation..
Virgil has been conducting a full investigation of Uncle Ambrose, who it was known had spent most of his youth in an Indian residential school, and once the system got hold of you it never let go. All of the families in the circles of collectives and tribes went through the torture, and for 70 years there were few escapes. Uncle Ambrose became a slave to a couple of so-called teachers. From age 6 to age 16 he was lurching around the residential school teachers who shared him from the dormitory. The crisis in communities grew directly from the crisis created in the Indian residential school system.
Virgil's mother was another slave when she went through the system, and Virgil never saw her after he was born. Virgil was raised by his grandmother whose life had preceded the worst forms of depredation, reaching back into the ancient wisdom, and she held a good deal of value in the old and ancient ways. It was his Granny who told him to take the fuel to the statue and see what happens.
She was at peace with Virgil's line of duty, and she was a bridge to the past, for the life of granny had preceded the arrangement of continuous rape, and she never bore the brunt of tortures designed to erase culture, including pins in the tongue for speaking Cree, and other smashing blows for protecting loved ones. It was absolute mayhem and of course it continues.
The stories about these terrible years came to Virgil by hearsay, and, anyway, few of the victims cared to speak a word. The humiliation was too great, and no one with an ear had any less trauma to discuss, so what was the point?
It was this silence that almost completed the ruination of the old and ancient ways. It's not that people should be walking around blubbering about the wretched past, but perhaps a more accurate reading of the blame in the situation would do his own people some good. In that like that, Virgil could be assigned to inflict smashing blows with far greater efficacy, because no doubt the blows were being inflicted on victims as much as perpetrators.
Vengeance was not Virgil's, but he delivers a lot of pain. Vengeance is a motivating force. All he ever saw of his mother was photographs, and she was tall, willowy, a beautiful woman standing over siblings. She was proud in the few photographs, but she was gone, and by the time she had Virgil, she took flight from the society, into the darkness of the usurpers. She fought it, Virgil was told. Several times she took jobs working in camps and cooking and housekeeping in Winnipeg, and she worked in a couple of hotels. Virgil's father was a Cree and a soldier preparing for battle.. He died in Korea.
Maybe they were together longer than one night, but Virgil's mother wasn't around to talk about it. She gave birth to Virgil and went away to die young somewhere else and probably alone.
His grandmother sent Virgil to residential school, but the system had changed. The food was better, the abuse was less, and the escapes were more often. Then, a lot of the brothers and sisters, and cousins, ended up in those insane asylums in Weyburn and North Battleford, and they came out completely demented, so change is not always for the better, and sometimes it just gets worse, which motivates every blow Virgil inflicts, naturally.
He received the hearsay of the heart-rending story of his mother's demise. The statue informed him that he would not be inflicting damage that was not due. From then on, the task was clear. Now the situation with Uncle Ambrose is a priority, but there are other priorities. Bang, bang, bang. Get up, you motherfucker.
Bang, bang, bang. Maybe he was laying in the sack with the blonde. He didn't make the rounds of Rose Street and take any of the sisters for a ride on his waterbed. Door is opening not too slowly either, Brian is standing there in his bathrobe, it's quarter to twelve.
"I know what fucking time it is."
“Well what are ya waiting for, it's time to hit the Pow Wow trail!”
"Oh fuck yeah. The Pow Wow. You came all the way out here for that?" Uh huh, "Whadja take the fucking bus?"
“Something like that. Come on, Randy's sitting in the backseat already. He's waiting to go. He has some weed for ya. Let's go.”
"Holy shit, Virgil, you are one persistent fella."
“Yeah, so I've been told, Brian.”
"Well persist on this," said the white man, holding up a middle finger through the back door window, and Virgil laughed, and signalled for Randy.
"Tell Randy to come inside and smoke a joint and I'll get dressed," said Brian, finally relenting through the door, and walking away into his house. Virgil held the door for Randy and they sat at the kitchen table for a few minutes. Randy lit a joint and Brian came in and smoked some and out the back door they proceeded to the Pow Wow.
It was more of the same with parking, even worse, and this put Brian in a foul mood. He was not a happy guy and maybe a little disrespectful in that state of mind. He wheeled the rumbling car into a space, sighed, and asked Randy to light another joint.
"No problem, Brian," said Randy.
The crowd was in full roar. Unlike yesterday, a lot of people stood outside the pavilion in regalia. These were the casualties. They showed up for the event, and today they were told to forget it, they were not going to be dancing. "What the fuck are all the dancers doing outside?" asked Brian.
"Licking their wounds," said Randy. Brian walked up to the entrance to the pavilion, the same large tin or aluminum structure shaped like a pyramid. Brian entered and Virgil followed and tuned in at Brian's moment of hesitation. He had to be pushed in, and the hallway to the centre was congested with crowd.
Brian got half way down the entrance hall when an old uncle grabbed Brian's arm, "Give me ten bucks."
"What the fuck for? I mean, why would I do that?"
"I gotta get back to South Dakota, and I'm outta gas."
"Well go find a fucking garden hose," said Brian, and pushed past the encounter. This time he met the circle and turned left. Randy ran past Virgil and stayed on Brian's trail, which was surprisingly difficult.
Brian met, not one, but several, more snarly customers in his stroll, and he looked exasperated by the time he got to the west-side steel exit door, BLAM, he burst outside, Randy on his immediate tail, and Virgil not a second later, ready to find Brian, who stood with his back to the rail, pulling out his cigarettes.
The statue stood still below the rail, just a pile of rocks, really, nothing to attract attention whatsoever. In less than half a second, Brian was tapped on the shoulder from behind, and he turned, rudely, breaking off the glower at Virgil and Randy, who both stood across the exit ramp leaning on the rail, staring at Brian and what would happen next.
"Gimme a fucking smoke." Brian half-turned and half smirked and Virgil looked sideways at Randy, "And who or what are you?"
"You should give him a smoke," said Randy, and Brian pulled out a smoke and gave it over to the other side of the rail.
Brian turned to Randy and Virgil, "You too, gentlemen?"
“Absolutely,” said Randy. "You betcha." And everybody stood around in the status quo, which Virgil knew was not gonna last. The statue snorted and walked away.
Brian backed up to the rail, and slid down closer to the alley, engaged in staring at Randy. He was avoiding looking at Virgil for a few minutes. The air was crisp and crackling with anticipation.
"So what the fuck is going on in there?" Brian says, a hint of exasperation as he blows smoke.
"Pow Wow, same as yesterday. No different," says Randy, and Virgil concurs, "What the fuck do ya think it is, a circus?" says the statue, which had ambled back to the fence. Brian did a side-step and a double-take, "Well, it doesn't feel the same at all," he replied, "and I am wondering what the difference would be." He kept an eye on the statue, “And who or what are you again?”
"No difference. Same event," said Virgil, and Randy nodded, and the statue wandered away.
"You said it has something to do with a goose."
“Uh huh,” said, Virgil.
"It was a lot more festive yesterday. Today it feels like shit. Does everybody have the world's worst hangover?"
This was funny because it's true. Randy began to bend to the humorous angle. He grinned and relaxed but watched the statue turn down another alley in the shade.
"So it's called the Goose Moon here in March, and the moon is full," says Brian.
“It's a celebration," Randy says, and rolls his shoulders," adding a little crow hop like a dance, and Virgil laughs.
By now Brian might be cornered. "So the Goose Moon is the most important celebration, is it?" Virgil glanced at Randy, who nodded, "Some say."
"Well Brian, you see it's like this. When the goose comes back, so does the crow.”
"So does the crow. . . . Where do ya find these crows?"
"Usually hanging around the garbage," said Randy, half turning to lean on the dumpster behind the rail. They are both laughing, and Brian chuckles, unevenly, perhaps nervously, and shakes his head.
Archie rarely sees himself in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous looking for a mission and nor did he contemplate the immense job of recovery that the people are facing on all sides. He didn't contemplate it because he felt he was more of an assimilated person than an 'Indian.'
Archie was an image more than a reality. He was an image of God. He didn't believe he could make those changes in society, the ones he could see were needed. He felt an odd impulse to confront the fellow who sat bristling in the chair on the wall. The mullet wearing blond haired man was talking about the Great Spirit, vas he had done in previous meetings, and to be honest it was making Archie kind of angry, even though it was not the kind of angry that would ever stop the perpetual smile he wore on his face, which he felt himself wearing at all times, morning to night.
Archie wore this smile and credited the Lord Above for having it. The talk about the Great Spirit was pissing him off because surely to Christ this fellow, Brian, probably approaching the age of 30, obviously tormented, was on a lonely search for answers, or talking a lot. It was then in that AA meeting that Archie had decided to do this intervention, and the two men sat across the table from each other in the shop-worn bus depot restaurant on Rose Street and Victoria Avenue, Regina, Saskatchewan.
Archie was used to the yellowish hues and the age and wear and the lighting, the red trim on the counters, the 1950s feel of the Saskatchewan Transportation Corporation Bus Depot. It was a passable crossroads for this singular and therefore memorable confrontation.
The coffee was steaming hot and the hefty blond man dumped in two spoonfuls of sugar and a dollop of cream. Archie watched him stir and do so with a level of patience, then the blue eyes fixed on Archie, "What's your problem with traditional beliefs?" and Archie, already smiling, burst into laughter.
"Your bullshit beliefs aren't traditional," he replied, still smiling. The white guy turned whiter, and Archie felt himself blushing, which means he was redder. He was unsure how he felt about this sudden contrast, except it seemed inevitable. Hardly before the man was finished stirring and taking his first sip of the fresh cup of coffee, "He's got you," said Archie. The blue eyes peered over the white coffee cup, "Got who? Who's got who?"
Brian launched into a verbose defense of his position in the spiritual kingdom. "I know what I saw. The fucking thing was walking and talking. They said the first day was the celebration of the Goose Moon. The second day was the return of the Crow. And that thing was doing the talking, somehow."
Archie spoke, evenly and carefully, "You gotta hope He's got you, because if that pile of rocks gets you, you're dead," and watched the man put down the coffee cup in the saucer, reach behind himself and don his coat from the back of the chair.
"You mean Jesus, don't you?" he said, as he rose and stood across kind of looking down at Archie, but not really gaining any positional advantage since Archie had his back to a wall and always did. In his experience it was the wise thing to do in restaurants and other public venues, including churches.
"How can you with all your traditional beliefs say that to me?" Archie didn't have any, was adopted by a Christian family at birth. But even he knew better than to get mixed up in crow business. The man looked to be on the verge of bursting into a bunch of swearing but instead turned on his heels and stormed out of the restaurant. "If you're smart you'll be on your knees praising Jesus," Archie called, and apparently this ended his mission.
NOTICE TO BOOK PUBLISHERS, AUTHOR'S AGENTS,
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By Mack McColl