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Four roses for mother, four columbines for Miss O'Toole. Kero, Melvin 1970

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FOUR ROSES FOR MOTHER, FOUR COLUMBINES FOR MISS 0'TOOLE by MELVIN KERO B.A., U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, 1963  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  IN THE DEPARTMENT of ENGLISH  We accept t h i s t h e s i s a s conforming r e q u i r e d standard  THE  to the  UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April,  1970  In  presenting  this  an a d v a n c e d  degree  the  shall  I  Library  f u r t h e r agree  for  scholarly  by  his  of  this  thesis at  the U n i v e r s i t y  make  tha  it  purposes  written  for  may  is  financial  of  A p r i l 23, 1970  of  Columbia,  British  by  for  gain  Columbia  shall  the  that  not  requirements I  agree  r e f e r e n c e and copying  t h e Head o f  understood  ENGLISH  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h V a n c o u v e r 8, C a n a d a  of  for extensive  be g r a n t e d  It  fulfilment  available  permission.  Department  Date  freely  permission  representatives. thesis  in p a r t i a l  of  this  or  that  study. thesis  my D e p a r t m e n t  copying  for  or  publication  be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my  ABSTRACT  I n the absence of h i s r e g u l a r s u p e r v i s o r , Arvo Maki, an e m o t i o n a l l y immature young man Vancouver department  working as a designer i n - a  s t o r e , i s informed  p l a n draughtsman, t h a t a g i r l , Vara, o f f i c e , and Maki f e e l s t h r e a t e n e d . project  by Moore, the rent  i s j o i n i n g the His current  design  design  i s an enormous p l a s t e r Pegasus f o r the F a s h i o n F l o o r .  At home, he i s suddenly  t o l d by h i s a l c o h o l i c mother t h a t  i s opening a bootlegging j o i n t  she  d u r i n g the J u l y 1 weekend,  about t e n days away. I n t h i s t e n day  i n t e r v a l , Maki l o s e s h i s v i r g i n i t y  t o Vara, promises t o take her away f o r p a r t o f the weekend, moves h i s mother t o her planned drunkenly  bootlegging j o i n t ,  i n v o l v e d w i t h a c r i p p l e who  skateboard,  gets  t r a v e l s about on a  and h o l d s a mock f u n e r a l f o r Moore i n the  design  office. With Vara on the  camping t r i p  near a town o f Maki's  c h i l d h o o d , he d r i f t s i r r e s o l u t e l y between the past and  the  present.  after  I n an attempt t o i n g r a t i a t e h i m s e l f w i t h h e r  an argument, he r e v e a l s the p l a n t o open the joint.  She wants t o come as The On the  Vara,  bootlegging  p a i n t e d Woman.  night o f the opening, the g r o t e s q u e l y  d i s a p p o i n t e d and  dressed  drunk, g e t s h e r nose broken by Maki's  p o s s e s s i v e mother, he p i t c h e s rocks and h i s p a i n t i n g s i n t o the house, and  i s a r r e s t e d and j a i l e d f o r drunkenness.  He  spends t h e night w i t h t h e skateboard c r i p p l e i n the drunk tank, and on t h e i r r e l e a s e  i n the morning, t h e y move o f f  t o b e g i n a b u s i n e s s o f t h e i r own, t h a t o f making names i n s i l v e r wire. The i n t e n t o f the s t o r y i s t o make a n arabesque o f i d e a s , a c t s , and images t h a t t h e c e n t r a l f i g u r e , a n u n w i l l i n g e c l e c t i c , cannot r e s o l v e .  i  It was f i v e t w e n t y - f i v e and I was alone i n t h e draughting office.  Before p u t t i n g t h e dust cover on the drawing  board,  I l o o k e d at the day's work. At one i n c h t o t h e f o o t , a winged horse  i n three-  q u a r t e r - i n c h plywood, t o be padded out w i t h p l a s t e r , twenty f e e t h i g h , and mounted i n t o a frame o f t h e t h i c k n e s s and p r o p o r t i o n s p e c i f i e d by t h e n a t i o n a l head o f f i c e  i n Toronto.  I n H a l i f a x t h e r e would be a twenty foot cod, i n Quebec a wolf f o r the l i e des Loups, i n O n t a r i o a muskelunge, f o r Manitoba a bison, Saskatchewan a p r a i r i e  chicken, Alberta  a b i g horned sheep, and i n B r i t i s h Columbia, t h e most romantic  o f a l l the p r o v i n c e s and t h e l a s t t o be p a r t o f  the great Morgan c h a i n , a Pegasus, t o d i v i d e Sportswear from the F u r Salon. I looked down on the drawing, a l i t t l e  above i t a l l .  The white-rumped s l i c k n e s s , the f l a r i n g n o s t r i l s ,  touching  the frame i n nine p l a c e s , t h e nose, a l l f o u r f e e t , t h e mane, both wing t i p s , and the t a i l .  More t h a n Leopold  Stokowski  c o u l d ever provoke i n a r e r u n o f F a n t a s i a as he f i n g e r e d  2  and thumbed h i s way through the P a s t o r a l , western saddle on a gym  horse.  The  seated on h i s  f i e r c e eyes, the s o a r i n g  wings and the clomping hooves were a l l t h e r e . p e n i s was  a compromise.  the merest  nub,  Only the  At one i n c h t o the foot i t was  but m a g n i f i e d t o f u l l  s i z e at eye  level  between Sportswear and the Fur Salon, the o n l y d e s i g n choice was  a gentle swelling l i k e an apologetic  hermia.  I scrubbed over once a g a i n where Moore had drawn horse t u r d s d u r i n g the c o f f e e break, and covered the  drawing.  As u s u a l I went home east a l o n g Cordova  S t r e e t , past  the junk shops, used c l o t h i n g s t o r e s , the pubs s e r v i n g at nine i n the morning, the New Brunswick,  one  F o u n t a i n , the  beer  Stanley, the  door Mens the o t h e r L a d i e s and E s c o r t s ,  and  the round w h i r r i n g f a n s blowing out the smell o f tobacco and  s t a l e beer.  Above the doors and the y e l l o w s , greens,  t u r q u o i s e s o f the store f r o n t s were the massive  brick faces  w i t h the deep set windows, the p i l a s t e r s , and the great overhanging c o r n i c e s o f the H u l l B u i l d i n g 1902, Block 190£, one Carrall  s t r e t c h i n g back f o r h a l f a block from  Street and having two  b a l c o n i e s on the On  the Bentham  second f l o o r ,  Saturdays and  sandstone plaques under fake saying Built  i n 1839.  Sundays at f i v e i n the morning, I  p a i n t e d these b u i l d i n g s i n the s l a n t i n g l i g h t , m e t i c u l o u s tempera under p a i n t i n g s on gesso grounds, w i t h g l a z e s o f umber and paynef s grey p a i n t e d i n t o , l a y l i k e t h i n enamel. the foot o f my  so t h a t the c o l o u r s  I propped them i n a dark c o r n e r near  bed u n t i l the damar v a r n i s h d r i e d , t h e n  stacked the p a n e l s under the bed out o f s i g h t .  My mother  3  c a l l e d them morbid and gruesome. But Pegasus.  A f t e r stock  shelves, cash-wrap counters,  f o o t s t o o l s f o r t o d d l e r s at d r i n k i n g f o u n t a i n s , t h i s v/as de s i g n .  E n t i r e l y on my  own,  and  I c r o s s e d over t o Hastings new stand.  something t o c e l e b r a t e . Street t o D i r t y Eddy's  It had t o be something comme nsurate  something c h a l l e n g i n g , heady, i n t e l l e c t u a l . Statesman, Le Devoir, Vapaus.  No,  wasn't i n t e r e s t e d i n r e a d i n g about my  on  to the  The  occasion,  New  second thought I  South East A s i a o r r a c k i n g  b r a i n f o r cognates o r t r y i n g t o u n r a v e l F i n n i s h case  endings.  What I wanted was  something d i v e r t i n g t o  glance  a t , tease myself w i t h , knowing a l l the time t h a t I wanted o n l y t o t h i n k about the winged horse.  I p i c k e d up a t a b l o i d  h e a d l i n i n g the c o n f e s s i o n s o f the most recent t r a n s s e x u a l i t e , and went up t o the After three  Savoy beer p a r l o u r .  beers and a h a l f dozen f a l s e  the a r t i c l e , Pegasus would not be c o n t a i n e d . C o l l e o n i , i t suddenly  f a t t e n e d out  s t a r t s on V i r i l e as the  i n t o voluptuous  curves  o f musculature, no l o n g e r an e f f e t e p l a s t e r t h i n g between Sportswear and the Fur  Salon, glanced a t , i f at a l l ,  b a r g a i n hungry housewives or u g l y teen-agers glamour; i t was frame was Saarinen's  desperate  a s t a l l i o n f o r Amazons or V a l k y r i e s .  s t i l l t h e r e , but i t was  a soaring one  St. L o u i s a r c h , f l o a t i n g above and  m a j e s t i c horse.  by for The  like  around the  I t wasn't p l a s t e r anymore, o r marble, o r  bronze even, but a t r a n s l u c e n t a l a b a s t e r , c o n t r o l l e d somehow so t h a t day o r night i t glowed f a i n t l y , t h e r e w i t h i n i t s frame at the top o f L i t t l e  standing  Mountain.  4  L i t t l e Mountain i t s e l f , out t h e r e i n the suburbs,  became  an A c r o p o l i s covered w i t h glowing a l a b a s t e r temples, Mahals, A l ham bras, Hagia  Taj  Sophias, Part he no ns.  A f t e r two more beers t h i s mysterious a l a b a s t e r covered e n t i r e glowing c i t i e s .  I p i c k e d up a b o t t l e o f wine, a  l o a f o f sour r y e , and some salami on the way My mother was  home.  s i t t i n g on her bed, t e e t e r i n g  her r a t t y h a i r uncombed, her face sagging.  Before she c o u l d  n o t i c e , I s l i p p e d the b o t t l e o f Medoc under my knew what was  coming.  slightly,  pillow.  I  The poor-bugger-me r o u t i n e .  " I made your supper  so n i c e l y f o r you."  I f I had  t a k e n a h e l i c o p t e r I wouldn't have been on time f o r supper. In the f r y i n g pan were two  s h r i v e l l e d pork chops l y i n g i n  a p o o l o f congealed f a t , i n one pot  seven o r e i g h t b o i l e d  p o t a t o e s w i t h cracked s k i n s , and i n a s m a l l e r pot some canned creamed c o r n d i s t i l l e d down t o about a q u a r t e r i n c h at the bottom.  She was  sneering t r i u m p h a n t l y as I glanced  over these a r c h e o l o g i c a l f i n d s , not my  saying a word as I put  salami out i n the cooler-box n a i l e d t o the window frame,  and wrenched the chops up, along w i t h two The  c o r n was  almost  s o l i d , so I l e f t  o f the p o t a t o e s .  i t and  sat down at  the t a b l e . "What time  is it,"  she  "About a q u a r t e r past  asked. seven."  I was  l o o k i n g at  p a i n t i n g o f the Anchor H o t e l l e a n i n g a g a i n s t my narrow hallway t h a t l e d t o the s t a i r w e l l .  bed i n the  I n the  half-  l i g h t t h e r e , the d a r k - l i g h t p a t t e r n s stood out w e l l , something had t o be done w i t h the c o l o u r o f the  my  sky.  but  5  Except when I was alone the p a i n t i n g s never came i n t o the main p a r t o f the a t t i c apartment.  There the d e c o r a t i v e  theme was r o s e s .  doors, on the cur-  Roses on the cabinet  t a i n s , the o i l c l o t h on the t a b l e , p i c t u r e s o f them on the w a l l s , s a n d a p a t t e r n o f them on h e r bedspread. the l a t e  sunlight f e l l  from the vacant l o t .  Outside,  on the neighbouring house a c r o s s Yellow ochre, perhaps naples y e l l o w  on a sienna u n d e r p a i n t i n g , w i t h a glaze o f payne's grey i n t h e shadow o f the eavestrough.  I thought about t h e  permanence o f payne's grey. "You're familiar,  a dope a d d i c t , " she began.  T h i s was  all  so I went on sawing at the pork chops and l o o k i n g  at the neighbour? s w a l l . "That's what you a r e . hophead. scrawny  A drug a d d i c t .  You're on the b i g H."  A junkie.  I thought o f Pegasus.  cayuses f o r Anja Maki's son, though.  mind and t a l e n t  A  No,  No  s i r . His  s l i p the s u r l y bonds o f e a r t h and dance the  sky on l a u g h t e r s i l v e r e d wings. "That's why "Oh?  How  you're always g e t t i n g back l a t e . "  the h e l l would you know?"  "And t h a t ' s why Street at f i v e too.  you're always hanging around  i n the morning.  From f r u i t s . "  before, and now r a i s e her v o i c e .  You p r o b a b l y got the c l a p  T h i s was one  she hadn't thought o f  i n the delight of discovery "That's a l l t h e y a r e .  But t h a t ' s what you a r e .  "Why  she began t o  Fucken f r u i t s . "  caught h e r s e l f as i f someone had overheard. French.  Cordova  A lousy  "Pardon  She  my  fruit."  can't you keep your god-damned v o i c e down.  They  6  can hear you i n H a l i f a x . it's a fruit.  Last week I was a sex maniac.  What the h e l l ! s next —  Now  c h i l d molesting?  And  when your i m a g i n a t i o n r u n s dry, check Havelock E l l i s . " got  up, scraped the p l a t e o f f i n t o the garbage  I  beside the  sink, and went over t o t h e window t o l o o k at t h e s u n l i g h t . Every bloody time I l e t m y s e l f get sucked i n t o answering her,  a r g u i n g w i t h her.  Maybe i f I j u s t  sat down here and  read, she'd shut up, but a l l she'd have t o do i s glance over and see the t r a n s - s e x u a l h e a d l i n e t o set h e r o f f i n t o another blazing  insight.  She s t a r t e d sobbing q u i e t l y . got  one p a i r . "  I v i s u a l i z e d them.  She  sobbed l o u d e r .  "Look at my shoes.  I  Black, cracked, shapeless.  "My p o o r shoes.  A l l I had was a d o l l a r  twenty-seven today, so I went out and got some meat so you c o u l d have something nice f o r supper. time you l i k e . " it  comes.  She was sobbing u n c o n t r o l l a b l y now.  And poor bugger me, a l l I get i s s h i t i n  face." "I'm not g o i n g t o l i s t e n t o your crap t o n i g h t . "  l e f t the window and headed toward the s t a i r s . back at her. wet,  Here  " I t r y t o do the best I can f o r you. Make t h i n g s  nice f o r you. the  And you come i n any  I  I glanced  Under her r a t t y h a i r she l o o k e d back, h e r face  hanging l o o s e l y .  Her p i n k sweater sagged over h e r  black s k i r t , her p u f f y a n k l e s s t u f f e d i n t o the black shoes. I went over t o my bed, and put the b o t t l e o f Medoc on the table.  " I bought  some wine f o r you on t h e way home. I ' l l  l e a v e i t here." As I s t a r t e d down t h e s t a i r s , she s a i d , "Arvo?"  7  "Yeah?" "Arvo, p l e a s e .  Listen to  me."  "Yeah.  What do you want now?"  "Arvo.  Please,  "Okay.  What do you want."  promise me  "Don't screw me  i n my  one t h i n g . "  sleep."  I n the morning when I l e f t  f o r work she  s t i l l wasn't  back, so I put the wine out i n the cooler-box, and had a cup o f c o f f e e at T e s s i e ' s . When I p u l l e d the dust cover o f f Pegasus, I couldn't b e l i e v e the drawing was mine.  I n s t e a d o f a great s p r i n g i n g  horse w i t h a rump s l i g h t l y on the heavy side but easy t o f i x , t h e r e was t h i s t w i s t e d mockery, i t s a s s r e a c h i n g out f o r one  frame, i t s nose f u s e d t o the opposite one  bookend, and the eye hole. was  like a plaster  so f i e r c e y e s t e r d a y , l i k e h a l f a knot  And these were j u s t  i n d i v i d u a l p a r t s ; the whole t h i n g  somehow s u b t l e l y t w i s t e d ,  sick.  I rushed i n t o the l a v a t o r y t o see i t backwards i n the mirror.  I t was worse.  t w i g s , the  The  l e g s shrank i n t o knobby dwarfish  shoulder moved up toward t h e c o l l a r bones u n t i l  the whole chest l o o k e d l i k e the p r o f i l e o f a roast c h i c k e n . And the rump not j u s t  reaching out f o r the frame, but  drawn toward i t by some magnetic f o r c e , obscenely, the t a i l ,  intended t o be the c r u c i a l  there i r r e l e v a n t l y . the  sketch I had "Good boy,  I r a n back and  squared  being  while  bridge between,  dangled  s t a r t e d rummaging f o r  up.  B e l l e r o p h o n , " Moore s a i d , " f o r t a k i n g him  out f o r h i s morning pee l i k e t h a t . "  He was  l y i n g as usual  on the counter t h a t separated the t h r e e drawing boards from the  stairway t h a t l e d down i n t o the C o n s t r u c t i o n O f f i c e  the main f l o o r . h a l f your l i f e big  Bellerophon.  Smart a s s .  You  on  can spend  sneaking up on t h a t counter, o r p l a y i n g the  p l a n n e r i n the  stockrooms and goosing the g i r l s .  poor bugger me....  I found the  smudged sketch and  While  started  toward the l a v a t o r y . "Taking out Eohippus too?' Why  don't you j u s t t u r n  the paper around and look at i t through the window?" "Up  yours."  I s t u d i e d the l i t t l e  and t h e n h e l d i t up toward the l i g h t . There was  Damn Moore anyway.  nothing wrong w i t h t h i s l i t t l e  plump and f i r m as a l i t t l e mushroom. I s l i p p e d the a b o r t i o n i n t o my another frame at one and  rump i n the m i r r o r  bum;  i t was  But t h a t o t h e r  sheet.  drawer and r u l e d out  i n c h t o the f o o t , drew i n the  began drawing i t reversed.  as  squares  Moore sighed n o i s i l y .  I  s t a r t e d s k e t c h i n g the curve o f the back, b l o c k i n g i n the mass o f the chest and main movements o f the l e g s and wings, f l i p p e d the paper over, and patterns. The  He  began on the  swing o f the f e a t h e r  sighed a g a i n , more d r a m a t i c a l l y , adding ah  me.  l e a d i n g edge o f the wing c o u l d echo the knee o f the  hind quarter. "Ah me,"  Moore sighed a g a i n .  before custom l a y upon me deep almost another the  as l i f e . "  sigh.  "Yes,  " I t was  so l o n g  ago,  w i t h a weight heavy as f r o s t  and  H i s v o i c e t r a i l e d o f f and ended w i t h i t was Meta d i Sorrento.  I had  N e a p o l i t a n Swiss watches and P a r k e r pens, and  eluded  still  9  glowing w i t h the p a s s i o n s s t i r r e d up w i t h i n me by my v i s i t to  the Lupinare o f pompey, the two o f us alone i n the  hostel  i n the Mediterranean t w i l i g h t , a b o t t l e o f C h i a n t i , my primus buzzing, and she asked me i f she might put her potato i n w i t h mine."  He sighed a g a i n .  "Ah, Y v e t t e .  t ' a i m a i s , .et comme j e t'aime encore."  Comme j e  He l e t h i s v o i c e  trail  away a g a i n .  "And t h a t next a f t e r n o o n w a i t i n g f o r the  boat  i n the l i t t l e  park i n Sorrento above the h i g h rocks o f  the shore, the gamin s i n g i n g t o us, a s we gazed out Baiae's  over  Bay."  T h i s was a l l f a m i l i a r , l e a d i n g up t o some devious p o i n t , a v i s i t t o some r a v i s h i n g new d i s c o v e r y i n the stock rooms.  "And t h e n C a p r i .  What i s there t o say?  You,  Maki, w i t h your s e n s i t i v e nature would understand the unheard music from the r o c k s o f the to  n i b b l e at the l i t t l e  S i r e n s , o r swimming underwater  b u t t s o f boys and g i r l s i n the  azure madness o f the Blue G r o t t o . "  Right now I had o t h e r  a s s e s t o worry about, horses a s s e s o f another k i n d t h a n you a r e .  "You  know, Maki, l i m convinced t h a t under t h a t  s a t u r n i n e mask o f yours t h a t seems t o brood l i k e the g r a n i t e h i l l s o f Sibelius' Findland, there i s r e a l l y a repressed Tiberius." H i s arm swung out and l a y suspended h o r i z o n t a l l y , h o l d i n g a pink inter-department memo sheet. he  "Read t h i s , "  said. I p i c k e d i t up; i t was addressed from  Moore, and dated y e s t e r d a y .  Robinson t o  I t read, " A f t e r I phoned you,  t h e r e was some screw up about f l i g h t s .  So i t ' s  Wednesday  10  not  Tuesday,  but her name i s s t i l l  e v e r y t h i n g i s the same. I about  Tell  Vara Mantine.  Otherwise  Arvo."  s l i p p e d the memo baek between h i s f i n g e r s .  it.  "What  I t doesn't mean a damn t h i n g t o me."  "Maki, t h a t ' s our protege f o r the next two weeks, until  she i s put i n a b l e r hands.  Vara.  F r e s h from P a r i s ,  F l o r e n c e , Madrid, a t a l e n t t o be reckoned w i t h . " I went back t o my board and sat down. Another d e s i g n e r .  Pegasus g i v e n t o me j u s t a s Robinson was  going o f f f o r part o f h i s h o l i d a y . Robinson wasn^t l i k e t h a t . "How  Two weeks.  Some k i n d o f t e s t .  No,  But j u s t the same — .  come the: imported t a l e n t ? " I asked n o n c h a l a n t l y .  "Worried?" "No.  Just  curious, that's  all."  Moore swung h i s arm back, h e l d up the memo, murmuring Vara, Vara. and  He t u c k e d i t c a r e f u l l y i n h i s breast pocket,  s t a r e d up at the c e i l i n g . I went back t o Pegasus,  on i t .  but I couldn't keep ray mind  To k i l l time I drew i n the wing f e a t h e r s i n d e t a i l ,  one a f t e r the o t h e r , shaping the ends.  Why a l l the secrecy  about t h i s person, t h i s Vara, whoever she was,  the phone  c a l l s at night, and f l i g h t s from god knows where.  Well,  Robinson w i l l get h i s bloody horse. But i t was no good. or  Whichever way I t i l t e d the  redrew the a n g l e s , the t h i n g came out wooden and  shapes  lifeless.  T h e o r e t i c a l l y , a l l the d e s i g n elements were s o l i d and r i g h t ; s t r u c t u r a l l y , e v e r y t h i n g would stand up. was mechanical and dead, l i k e  something  But the whole t h i n g stamped out by a  11  machine.  I got up and went down f o r a c o f f e e , t h e n over t o  the M a i n F l o o r book department t o see what was i n t h e a r t section.  When I came back a h a l f hour l a t e r , Moore was  gone, l e a v i n g a note on my Board saying, " O f f t o s e t t l e the  f o r t u n e s o f Notions."  He didn't come back f o r t h e r e s t o f the day, and by f i v e t h i r t y , f o u r more s t i l l b o r n horses were" stacked up i n my drawer.  On t h e way home, I dropped i n t o t h e l i b r a r y .  I  c a r r i e d t o the Savoy every book I c o u l d f i n d t h a t had s t a t u e s of Renaissance o r C l a s s i c a l  horses.  T h i s time t h e r e were no immolated pork chops w a i t i n g at  home.  pink  My mother was s i t t i n g o n t h e bed, s t i l l  sweater and black  i n the  s k i r t , and she was e i t h e r s t i l l  drunk,  o r drunk again. She off.  s t a r t e d before  I c o u l d even get my j a c k e t and t i e  " I guess you t h i n k I'm k i n d o f s t u p i d , don't you." I didn't answer t h a t one.  one  o f two or three  I t would come around t o  endings, but t h i s one didn't have the  poor-bugger-me tone t o i t , at l e a s t the  I hung up  j a c k e t and t i e , and went over t o t h e cooler-box.  wine was s t i l l t h e r e , and  not y e t .  salami  from  so I l e f t  The  i t and took out the bread  yesterday.  " W e l l , I'm not." pool,,on t h e d i s h .  The b u t t e r had spread out i n t o a  There was even a f i l m o f grease on t h e  salami. "Arvo, I want you t o l e n d me a hundred and twenty f i v e  12  dollars."  That one I didn't expect.  The rent was  paid.  I f she had f i n a l l y d e c i d e d t o get a cooking j o b out o f town, t h e y t d pay her way, it  t h e n take i t out o f her wages.  But  couldn't be t h a t e i t h e r ; the l o g g i n g camps were a l l c l o s i n g  f o r the f i r e  season.  A c o n s t r u c t i o n camp t h e n .  "You haven't asked me what f o r . " " A l l right then.  You t e l l me.  What f o r ? "  She didn't answer, so t h i s was the coyness r o u t i n e that  never l e d i n t o the poor-bugger-me r e s o l u t i o n .  hundred and twenty f i v e d o l l a r s .  But a  I went on t o f i n i s h the  sandwich, t h e n d e c i d e d t o have the Medoc w i t h i t .  I t was  l u k e warm, but i t would have t o do. " I borrowed f i v e "So what? five dollars.  bucks from Huutala today."  What's t h a t t o do w i t h a hundred and twenty Or does he charge two thousand percent i n t e r e s t  on h i s l o a n s . " "Don't be  stupid."  "Well, f o r C h r i s t ' s sake why  do you want the money  then?" She g i g l e d t o h e r s e l f and w a i t e d as I went on t o open the b o t t l e and pour out a d r i n k . c i g a r e t t e and sucked on  She p u l l e d out a  it.  "Have you got a l i g h t ? " f o r her, and went back t o my  she asked c a s u a l l y . sandwich and wine.  " I put the f i v e down on a house f o r r e n t . t o open a j o i n t o f my do you l i k e them  own."  bananas."  I lit it  I'm  She paused d r a m a t i c a l l y .  going "How  13  "You're  drunk and you're  " W e l l , I am.  Me,  crazy."  and Huutala w i l l help t o o . "  "You don't know what the h e l l you're doing.  Huutala.  He's been i n a wheel c h a i r f o r the l a s t t e n y e a r s , o r haven't you n o t i c e d .  And you b o o t l e g g i n g .  Or s h a l l I ask  you how many t i m e s I've stopped i n the p o l i c e  s t a t i o n with  t e n bucks t o get you out o f t h e tank." She didn't  say a n y t h i n g .  went over t o the window. H a s t i n g s two  I took the wine g l a s s and  Down on the corner o f Heatley and  Chinese k i d s were p l a y i n g w i t h the gum  p o k i n g something i n t o the opening where the gum  machine,  comes out.  Beyond them the mountains a c r o s s the i n l e t were almost invisible  i n the haze.  For the l a s t two weeks a l a y e r o f  mist had b u i l t  up over them, heavy enought  morning  there.  i t was  "It  doesn't m a t t e r what I t r y . " Her v o i c e hung on the  edge o f a whimper.  Here we were a g a i n heading down the main  l i n e , r i g h t on schedule. off —  t h a t even i n the  I might a s w e l l t r y shunting i t  tomorrow s h e ' l l f o r g e t about  out the f i v e d o l l a r s .  i t , and w e ' l l j u s t  be  Down at the c o r n e r the store owner  came out and chased the k i d s away. "Whereabouts i s i t ? " "Cordova. there."  473  Cordova, a c r o s s from the playground  That was about t h r e e b l o c k s from Main,  up Cordova from the p o l i c e  station.  At l e a s t  straight  i t was  convenient. "And  i t ' s got f i v e rooms.  Downstairs t h e r e ' s t h e  k i t c h e n , and the f r o n t room w i t h a k i n d o f archway t h i n g  14  t h a t goes i n t o another room at the back beside the k i t c h e n . Oh yeah, and t h e bathroom.  U p s t a i r s t h e r e ' s two rooms, f o r  bedrooms." "What's t h e rent a l t o g e t h e r ? "  She was b r i g h t e n i n g up,  so I may a s w e l l k i d h e r a l o n g , and have another wine. "It's  o n l y s i x t y , and i t ! s got a l i t t l e  back f o r f l o w e r s o r v e g e t a b l e s , and a l i t t l e f r o n t w i t h a hedge.  y a r d at t h e one at the  And you c o u l d have t h e f r o n t  bedroom  u p s t a i r s f o r hanging up your p i c t u r e s , you know, l i k e one of those  studio p l a c e s . "  She paused, t h e n went on, "What  are those p l a n t s w i t h the b i g shiny r o u n d i s h l e a v e s , you know the k i n d you see i n h o t e l s sometimes, and banks?" "You mean p h i l o d e n d r o n s ? " " I guess so, t h e ones w i t h b i g shiny l e a v e s . " "Or do you mean rubber p l a n t s ? " "The  ones w i t h shiny l e a v e s anyway.  n o t i c e t h i s aft#rnoon. and  We're going t o move next  Sunday,  you say Huutala i s going a l o n g w i t h t h i s ? "  "He's  going t o help and run i t , and maybe y o u ' l l have  help t o o , at l e a s t at  first."  The whole t h i n g was c r a z y . I?d  Helga  s t a r t the Sunday after.'.' "And  to  I gave  be f i r e d on t h e spot.  my j a c k e t .  I f t h e y found out at work,.  I went over t o t h e c l o s e t and got  "Arvo, where are you going now."  "Nowhere.  J u s t out f o r a walk."  "Would you p i c k up a b o t t l e o f goof f o r me?" The  s u n l i g h t was y e l l o w now through t h e brown haze,  15  but the heat was  s t i l l r e f l e c t i n g o f f the b r i c k b u i l d i n g s  as I headed north a c r o s s H a s t i n g s t o Cordova S t r e e t . I knew where the house was.  The whole d i s t r i c t  had  b&en f i l l e d w i t h Japanese u n t i l the war when t h e y were sent away from the c o a s t .  Some had d r i f t e d back and opened s t o r e s  and r e s t a u r a n t s a l o n g Powell playground,  but  now  Street on the o t h e r side o f the  the d i s t r i c t was  run down except  the houses l i v e d i n by the Chinese who  for  had moved i n from the  o t h e r side of Hastings. No.  I t wouldn't l a s t a month.  were t h e r e a l r e a d y ?  How  many F i n n b o o t l e g g e r s  Helga, C a r l s e n , A i l a , V i o l e t .  one making a n y t h i n g was  Helga  The  because she wouldn't d r i n k .  As f o r the r e s t o f them, A i l a and her p l a c e w i t h t h e windows smashed out and cardboard t a c k e d up and her f a t h e r wandering around day and like  only  front senile  night i n h i s l o n g underwear  some s p e c t r e , o r Violet, and the guy  she was  living  w i t h , the b l i n d s p u l l e d down, o r d e r i n g the goof i n t a x i s , and t o s s i n g the empties down the basement s t a i r s as t h e y knocked i t o f f themselves,  o r C a r l s e n who  spent more time  i n the beer p a r l o u r s t h a n h i s customers a f t e r h i s w i f e d i e d o f c i r r h o s i s and wasn't t h e r e t o keep the p l a c e I found the house not f a r from the middle Narrow, w i t h two  o f the  s t o r i e s as she had d e s c r i b e d i t , and  w i t h d i r t y grey clapboard. r i g h t , was  running.  I n f r o n t o f the  a s m a l l porch, w i t h the door and  block. covered  door, on the side p a n e l s  o f what must be t h e l i v i n g room window, decorated w i t h s m a l l squares o f blue s t a i n e d g l a s s .  I t was  o n l y one  step down  16  from t h e p o r c h t o the walk which was l i n e d down both  sides  w i t h rows o f f i s t - s i z e d rocks t h a t had at one time been p a i n t e d white.  I n f r o n t on both s i d e s o f t h e walk was a  brown d r i e d s k e l e t o n o f a p r i v e t  hedge.  The whole t h i n g  l o o k e d l i k e a faded black and white photograph.  It  c e r t a i n l y wasn't Capone's Four Deuces.  She was sober i n the morning when I got up f o r work. She asked f o r t h e money a g a i n , so I wrote out a cheque. I knew from Helga t h a t I  she had r e a l l y g i v e n n o t i c e .  signed i n at M i s s D i l l s o n ' s desk i n the C o n s t r u c t i o n  O f f i c e , and a s I went u p s t a i r s , I c o u l d hear Moore.  So  she must be t h e r e a l r e a d y . "Vara, t h i s i s o u r c a p t i v e F i n n , Arvo Maki.  He's  not  q u i t e u r b a n i z e d , and he becomes moody and r e s t l e s s f o r  the  f o r e s t s where he was t a k e n from, e s p e c i a l l y when t h e r e ' s  a f u l l moon." "Hi,"  she s a i d , so I s a i d h e l l o .  She was t i n y , not  more t h a n f i v e f e e t t a l l , w i t h dark, almost b l a c k h a i r , and a face w i t h c l e a r cheek bones and a d e l i c a t e l y - s h a p e d t h i n nose.  Her eyes were dark brown, almost b l a c k .  She  was wearing a c r i s p l y - i r o n e d y e l l o w b e l t l e s s d r e s s decorated at  t h e back w i t h a s t r i p e d s i l k r i b b o n . I glanced through the v a r i a t i o n s o f Pegasus and chose  one t h a t  seemed t o have some chance o f r e s u s c i t a t i o n .  went back t o h i s p i t c h .  Moore  "Here's t h e s i t e p l a n and t h e e i g h t  b u i l d i n g s t h a t make up the s t o r e .  This l i t t l e  neo-classical  17  excrescence  i s where we a r e , and down t h e r e a c r o s s the  l o a d i n g bay t h e r e i s the entrance you can see out the window."  He l e d h e r over t o the window, s t a n d i n g beside  her, p o i n t i n g a l l t h i s out as i f she were an i d i o t . back t o the drawing.  Then  '?And t h i s p a r t always shows the  seventh  f l o o r blank, because t h a t ' s where God d w e l l s . " He went on p a i n f u l l y sheet  by sheet through the  floor  p l a n s , from the f o o d f l o o r i n t h e basement t o c a r p e t s on the  sixth.  She remained perched on the h i g h s t o o l without  a word, her back s t r a i g h t . he  When he was  s l i d a t r a c i n g on her board.  want. way,  "Now  through,  here's t h e one  T h i s sheet corresponds w i t h that and t h r e e f l o o r s up."  finally  b u i l d i n g a c r o s s the  I expected him t o l e a d her  over t o the window a g a i n , t h i s time t o put h i s arm her.  you  around  But he climbed up on the counter and l a y back.  looked a l i t t l e  She  s t a r t l e d , t h e n began r o l l i n g up the t r a c i n g ,  and g a t h e r i n g up p e n c i l s and the  scale and measuring  tape  she would need. As she went out around the counter, through the gate at t h e end, and past Moore on the o t h e r s i d e , she "Thanks, Jack.  Here  said,  goes."  As her f o o t s t e p s d i e d away on the singing  flap  s t a i r s , he  began  softly,  Vor der Kaserne, v o r dem g r o s s e n Tor, Standt e i n L a t e r n e , und steht s i e noch davor, So w o l l ' n w i r da uns Wiedersehen, Bei der Laterne w o l l ' n w i r stehn, Wie e i n s t L i l i Marlene, wie e i n s t L i l i Marlene. Thanks, Jack.  She c l i p p e d b r i s k l y a c r o s s the open  18  end o f t h e bay and d i s a p p e a r e d through the lower main door. Click-click.  F o r her, none o f the days o f b u l l s h i t t i n g  through the hours I'd be watched,  staying a f t e r  closing  time w i t h l i e s t o the sweepers about overtime, copying drawing technique from the f i l e s , draughting p r a c t i c e u n t i l two  and reading about  i n the morning, t e r r i f i e d when  I handed i n f i n i s h e d p r i n t s , t h e n p a n i c k i n g as the days went by, and the t h i n g I had drawn wasnTt was  standing where i t  supposed t o go, and too s t u p i d t o r e a l i z e t h a t the  c a r p e n t e r s p a i d no a t t e n t i o n t o our d e t a i l i n g anyway. A l l they wanted were the dimensions and o v e r a l l  design.  "What do you t h i n k about our Vara, Maki?'» "What has she got t o do w i t h me?" "Robinson's phone c a l l . viz  For the next seven days,  t o J u l y f o u r , we are h e r sole mentors and guides through  Morgan's morasses and marshes, c a l l was t o me, ing  but n a t u r a l l y ,  since t h e phone  I w i l l be the one with the Magnum and  t e e t h , and you the s e n s i t i v e  flash-  student snatched from  h i s moody wanderings i n Arcady by an o v e r b e a r i n g f a t h e r , and now  spends h i s n i g h t s i n the t e n t r e a d i n g Keats and  arranging h i s botanical  specimens."  I was t r y i n g t o decide whether t o say I was g l a d he had i t a l l f i g u r e d out, or that he was e n t i t l e d t o her, when the  phone r a n g .  Moore swung h i s arm up o v e r h i s head, p i c k e d  up the phone, drew h i s knee up, and c r o s s e d the o t h e r knee over i t , a l l i n one motion.  He was  now  i n h i s young  Morga n s - e x e c u t i v e - a t - t he-pool side-in-Palm- Springs p o s i t i o n .  19  "Draughting o f f i c e , Moore speaking," he s a i d Mentors and guides?  crisply.  That meant nothing, but  e v e n t u a l l y get around t o i t by some devious way.  he'd If I  p u l l e d out one o f the other Pegasus drawings from y e s t e r d a y , and like  superimposed  i t on the one I was working w i t h .  seeing double, o r two t r a n s p a r e n t h o r s e s .  adding another one,  but the bottom one was  Moore f l i p p e d the phone back.  drawings and I  faint.  s a i d and swung  down from the counter; r i f l e d through h i s f i l e his  was  I tried  now too  " B a l l s , " he  It  f o r one  of  left.  began adding a l l the drawings on t o one  sheet,  horse on horse, a d j u s t i n g the l i n e i s where t h e y were no good. What was a p p e a r i n g was  a d e l i c a t e f i l i g r e e o f l i n e s weaving  i n t r i c a t e l y through each o t h e r , f u s i n g and wings, mane and t a i l  a shadowy lacework  s e p a r a t i n g , the  b a l a n c i n g o f the  c l e a n mass of the body and negative shapes.  Made o f g i l d e d  wrought i r o n , t h i s was the k i n d o f t h i n g the F a s h i o n F l o o r needed.  I threw the r e s t  t r a c i n g t h i s new The  back i n t o the drawer and  one, t o make a f i n i s h e d  started  drawing.  drawing went q u i c k l y as I began f r e s h ,  selecting,  j o i n i n g p a r t s , r e s h a p i n g the p l a c e s where i t touched the frame so that the whole t h i n g would l o c k and h o l d . i t was p l a s t e r they wanted, and t h i s was a g o o f - o f f .  But And  I knew i t . By now my mother would have cashed the cheque. have s i x t y - f i v e d o l l a r s l e f t  She'd  a f t e r the r e n t , f o r f u r n i t u r e  and her s o - c a l l e d l i q u o r stock.  And the cost o f moving.  Huutala couldn't be h e l p i n g , not w i t h h i s d i s a b i l i t y cheque  20  and the amount he d r i n k s .  The t h i n g w i l l f a l l  through,  and I ' l l end up w i t h an e x t r a f i f t e e n a month f o r r e n t . at l e a s t I might have a room t o p a i n t i n , as she l o o k e d a c r o s s the  street t o a b r i c k apartment.  says.  But I  Every morning,  around t e n o ' c l o c k the green b l i n d would go up t h e r e , and some unseen p e r s o n would put out a row o f geraniums on the window  sill.  As I was h u r r y i n g up the out  w a i t i n g f o r them to be put  out, Vara came  s t a i r s and t o her desk.  something, g l a n c i n g now  t o check some dimension  She  and t h e n at the  or o t h e r .  She was  began l a y i n g survey  sheet  so small i n  f r o n t o f the f o u r f o o t drawing board t h a t she had to climb down from her s t o o l t o get whatever she needed from her cabinet at the  s i d e , or stand up on the rungs of the  t o r e a c h the top o f the  drawing.  She must have guessed t h a t I was watching suddenly  stool  s a i d , " T h i s i s the curse o f being a  because  she  shrimp."  "Could I lower the board f o r you?^ "It  doesn't  matter,  i t ' s happened before.  i s a l a d d e r and a p a i r o f r o l l e r skates."  She went back  t o h e r l a y o u t , and I r e t u r n e d t o the multi-image It  s t i l l l o o k e d b e t t e r t h a n any  A l l I need  Pegasus.  damned p l a s t e r t h i n g t h e y  c o u l d put t o g e t h e r i n the c a r p e n t r y shop, u n l e s s they combined e f f o r t s w i t h the d i s p l a y people. f l o o r t o c e i l i n g height and  began t o  sketch i n stanchions.  I began t o f o r g e t her t h e r e i n f r o n t o f "What does Jack Moore do  here?"  I checked the  me.  21  She hadn't t u r n e d around, but v/as drawing  quickly,  moving up and down o n the rung o f the s t o o l , keeping the t e e square on the edge o f t h e board i n some secret way.  "Rent  plans," I said. "What are t h e y ? " "All  the departments pay rent f o r the space they use.  T h a t ' s what Moore does, work out t h e square f e e t they have c o u n t e r s and stock on." She thought t h i s over f o r a w h i l e , "And you're a designer." "I'm  supposed t o be."  She f l i p p e d h e r instruments down on the board, and jumped down from h e r s t o o l . coffee."  "That's done.  she came over t o my drawing.  L e t ' s go f o r  "Not bad, not bad.  Now l e t ' s go." "There's supposed t o be somebody up here a l l the t i m e . For the phone." "Who's t o know?" " D i l l s o n , the woman at the desk where you signed i n . " " J u s t grab a r o l l o f drawings.  You can be showing me  around t h e p l a c e . " I c o u l d f e e l h e r w a i t i n g f o r me t o do something, grabbed a couple o f t h e pegasus went down the  so I  sheets, r o l l e d them, and we  s t a i r s and a c r o s s t o t h e lower main c a f e t e r i a ,  p r e t e n d i n g t o be d i s c u s s i n g them. At  first  she asked more q u e s t i o n s about how the store  worked, who e x a c t l y we worked f o r , o r through, t h e system  22  of work o r d e r s , who d i d we c a l l t o get p r i n t s made, but every time first  she mentioned Robinson she c a l l e d him by h i s  name, B i l l .  Maybe Moore would know i f she was a  r e l a t i v e o r something. " I guess you're coming f o r beer a f t e r work then?" I wondered what she was t a l k i n g about.  The q u e s t i o n had  come out o f nowhere. She l o o k e d f l u s t e r e d f o r a moment, t h e n s a i d , w i t h Jack and me.  "Why,  I thought i t was a sort o f d a i l y r i t u a l . ' ?  "Yeah, i t i s on F r i d a y s . " "What about the r e s t o f t h e week?" " I don't know.  Robinson t o l d me at t h e pub once t h a t  Moore's w i f e g i v e s him h e l l the r e s t o f t h e week."  she  burst out i n l a u g h t e r so l o u d that people t u r n e d t o l o o k at us from the nearby t a b l e s .  And she wouldn't  would glance at me and burst out again. I knew, and s e v e r a l people were  stop.  She  I was b l u s h i n g  smiling.  By the time Moore got back i n the a f t e r n o o n , Vara was out.  I n s t e a d o f c a l l i n g f o r the boy from t h e blue p r i n t  shop, she had walked over h e r s e l f , and from t h e r e she s a i d that  she was t a k i n g the p r i n t s up t o show the man she had  been t a l k i n g w i t h i n the morning about them. Moore t o s s e d h i s tape and drawing o v e r t o h i s drawing c a b i n e t , and climbed on the counter from t h e o t h e r s i d e , and w i t h i n a few minutes he was a s l e e p .  I n o t i c e d t h a t he  d i d l o o k toward Vara's board, but he didn't  say a n y t h i n g as  23  I had expected. The o f f i c e was quiet and time dragged. the  The l i g h t from  w a l l on the o t h e r side o f the bay g l a r e d a c r o s s w i t h a  steady heat, and the V e n e t i a n b l i n d s o n l y cut o f f whatever little the  a i r d i d manage t o come i n t o the bay.  I poked around  drawing I had made, e r a s i n g p a t c h e s o f smudge t h a t would  never have showed up on a p r i n t ,  shading the s t a n c h i o n s ,  adding unnecessary d e t a i l s o f mounting b r a c k e t s .  That house  my mother r e n t e d must be an i n f e r n o i n t h i s k i n d o f weather. And Vara and Robinson.  H i s r e l a t i v e s l i v e d i n Toronto, but  he o n l y had a b r o t h e r .  The  seen them d u r i n g the war.  rest were i n England, he had Mantine.  The geraniums were  l i n e d up i n the window i n t h e i r u s u a l p l a c e , always  seven  of them, probably a l l i n the same o r d e r every time t o o . "You're  coming t o o , aren't you, Arvo?" she asked as  she covered her board. "Where," I asked i n n o c e n t l y . "Why,  f o r beer o f course.  Good boy B e l l e r o p h o n .  Don't you f o l l o w the custom?'?  "Of course, but t h i s i s only Wednesday." "What on e a r t h would t h a t  have t o do w i t h i t ?  Are you  some k i n d o f w e i r d A d v e n t i s t ? " " L e t ' s go before i t g e t s crowded down t h e r e . " was  i r r i t a t e d , and walked  o v e r t o h i s c a r park.  s l i g h t l y ahead o f us a s we went  On the way  down to the Belmont he  s a i d nothing, and Vara and I kept c a r e f u l l y We took a t a b l e car  Moore  downstairs.  quiet.  A f t e r the heat o f Moore's  i t was l i k e being i n a c o o l cave.  I put a d o l l a r  on  24  the  t a b l e , and Moore p u l l e d out h i s l i t t l e  change purse  and  counted out s i x t y cents; f o r some reason he never put out any more money t h a n the exact amount f o r one round o f d r i n k s , and whenever t h e r e was little  change, i t went immediately i n t o the  change purse u n t i l the next  round.  "What a b e a u t i f u l pub," Vara t r i e d . d i n i n g s a l o n o f a ship, w i t h t h a t  " I t ' s like;t.he  s t a i r c a s e , and the t a b l e s  w i t h c l o t h s on them." No one the  said anything t o t h a t .  beer, I o r d e r e d another round.  When the w a i t e r dropped Moore almost emptied the  g l a s s i n t h r e e swallows as he always d i d w i t h the f i r s t  two  or t h r e e . "Yeah," he s a i d , "our pubs are a t r u e  s u b c u l t u r e , the  o n l y one, and t h i s i s the l a s t o f a noble t r a d i t i o n . " iHe  swept h i s hand around t o i n d i c a t e the room.  is a l i t t l e  l e s s when the new  "But my  life  breed o f d e s i g n e r s move i n  w i t h t h e i r p l a s t i c - c o a t e d teak veneers, p l a t f o r m  floor  l e v e l s , hung c e i l i n g s , f u r r e d w a l l s , pink l i g h t i n g ,  and  a l l the c l a p t r a p o f t h e i r dismal t r a d e . " Here comes another one go:  r i g h t on schedule.  hung, f u r r e d , p i n k , dismal t r a d e , c l a p t r a p ,  Warren's P r o f e s s i o n .  Was  t h a t one o n l y Thursday.  It would Mrs.  the heat g e t t i n g him; he used Vara cut i n , "And  you then?"  " L y i n g t h e r e on the counter, I am at peace, my  finger-  t i p s t o u c h i n g t h a t w a l l where e v e r y t h i n g ends, beyond a l l the  v a r n i s h and g a r n i s h o f r u f f l e s and  seedy t r a p p i n g s .  w a l l o f a u n i v e r s e c o n t a i n i n g the t e n by t h i r t e e n  The  green-rugged  25  w o r l d s o f the f l o o r managers w i t h t h e i r w a l l o f g l a s s , the ten  by t h i r t e e n r u g l e s s world o f t h e managers w i t h t h e i r  w a l l o f g l a s s , t h e s i x by eight c u b i c l e s o f t h e a s s i s t a n t managers w i t h t h e i r foot o f g l a s s , and the g l a s s l e s s a s s i s t a n t s t o the a s s i s t a n t s . " T h i s was t h e F r i d a y l i m i t e d u n i v e r s e t h e o r y being brought  out f o r Vara.  Mantine.  Could be a n y t h i n g .  dark h a i r , t h e cheek bones, the d e l i c a t e  The  nose.  "And the world, t o o , o f such a s Maki, who may t a l k d i r e c t l y with assistants, t o assistants, with assistants by appointment,  w i t h managers o n l y when a n a s s i s t a n t i s  p r e s e n t , w i t h f l o o r managers never." "And  you don't t h i n k he minds t h a t ? "  "Maki?  He would never understand p r e d e s t i n a t i o n .  can o n l y endure, at best s u s t a i n e d by v i s i o n s and wish filments.  He ful-  And when he i s wounded, he withdraws t o a  creek mouth o f some dim f i o r d t o burn l o c k s o f h i s blond h a i r on the t o p o f some r u n i c - c o v e r e d boulder." " I thought a s you c a l l "Mr.  your peace that p a s s e t h a l l understanding,  i t , was shaken a l i t t l e t h i s morning,'' I s a i d . Tremolo,  o r whatever, understands  now.  He  s u f f e r e d from p r i d e o f p l a c e . " "You were a t i t f o r over t h r e e hours, a s I remember." "Some cases a r e d i f f i c u l t .  I n h i s crude way, he  reasoned t h a t he should not pay f o r columns on h i s f l o o r , and he was q u i t e r i g h t , except that he wanted eight square ones deducted.  inch  I p o i n t e d out that they were round -  26  a d i f f e r e n c e o f t e n square i n c h e s , m u l t i p l i e d by s i x t e e n columns." "I've  He gulped down the beer and suddenly stood up.  got to> go.  I ' l l drop you o f f on the way, Vara."  "Take one o f these f i r s t , "  she said, p u t t i n g a beer  i n f r o n t o f him. "No, I've got t o go." "Come on, Jack. "ISorry. go."  Just one.  To c e l e b r a t e my f i r s t day."  You go ahead and stay.  I've r e a l l y got t o  He t u r n e d and h u r r i e d up the s t a i r c a s e . " W e l l , t h a t was q u i c k , " she s a i d . "If  we stay u n t i l  s i x - t h i r t y , h e ' l l whip i n f o r two  more." She reached f o r h e r purse on the empty c h a i r . now I've got t o p u l l a Moore on you t o o . at  "And  I've got t o l o o k  a n apartment." "Whereabouts i s i t ? " "In  I asked, t o keep her t h e r e .  t h e West End, t h e agent  s a i d , by E n g l i s h Bay."  "Gould I walk part way w i t h you t h e n ? " "Thanks, but I have t o take a t a x i by now. six  o'clock. "It's  I promised  I o n l y came here today out o f c u r i o s i t y . "  t o o bad you have t o go.  I would have l i k e d t o  t a l k t o you." "Me t o o .  Friday then.  I'm t a k i n g o f f tomorrow a f t e r -  noon t o s e t t l e i n , i f t h i s p l a c e i s any good.'?  I  sat t h e r e f i n i s h i n g t h e beer, wondering what k i n d o f  p l a c e she would move t o .  I t was p r o b a b l y a basement  suite,  27  o r f r o n t room o r a t t i c the West  i n one  of the b i g o l d houses i n  End.  The p l a c e was t o s i t at my t a b l e ,  g e t t i n g too f u l l ,  someone would come  so I got up and wandered north, up  G r a n v i l l e , w i t h no p a r t i c u l a r p l a c e i n mind. would be  s t i f l i n g , and I wasn't i n any mood to l i s t e n t o  any more dreams about b o o t l e g g i n g . if  Helga's p l a c e  With s i x t y - f i v e  dollars,  she d i d pay the r e n t f o r t h a t house, my mother would  probably be drunk anyway. I ended up at the C.P.R. p i e r . w i t h only the  slightest  ripple.  Vancouver was  barely v i s i b l e .  The water was  A c r o s s the i n l e t ,  still, North  Above i t , Grouse Mountain  l a y covered i n p a l e blue m i s t , w i t h that m o t i o n l e s s l a y e r o f smoke c u t t i n g a c r o s s i t and  s t r e t c h i n g out o f sight  toward the G u l f I s l a n d s , and on up past I n d i a n Arm other d i r e c t i o n .  A merganser was  o f Vara, and i f she was  i n the  d i v i n g near a l o g boom  t h a t l e d out t o a c l u s t e r o f p i l i n g s . thought  out  As I watched i t ,  r e a l l y going apartment  I hunting.  My mother had s o l v e d t h a t problem f o r me.  Vara came i n o n l y f o r the morning as she had I was  f i f t e e n minutes l a t e , and  the o f f i c e . p o l i t i c s , who  said.  both she and Moore were i n  He l a y on the c o u n t e r rambling on about store was  who,  and who  t o see about what.  f o r Buon Giorno, B e l l e r o p h o n , and went on w i t h the Vara was working at her board. up w i t h a smile and  He paused recitation.  As I passed her she glanced  s a i d t h a t she had found a p l a c e .  I told  28  her t h a t t h a t was good. I t a p e d a blank sheet o f t r a c i n g paper down, and drew the pegasus frame on i t , My mother hadn't  by now l i k e a c o n d i t i o n e d  come home at a l l .  Helga hadn't  reaction.  seen her,  nor had C a r l s e n .  There was no answer at A i l a ' s , and I knew  that  go over t o V i o l e t ' s .  she wouldn't  I had stopped at the Cordova police  On the way t o work  Street house, t h e n t r i e d the  s t a t i o n t o see i f they had p i c k e d her up. I t wasn't t h e money, the s i x t y d o l l a r s o r the hundred  and t w e n t y - f i v e .  The whole b o o t l e g g i n g a f f a i r was j u s t a  w i l d whim, l i k e h e r dramatic announcements about going t o work i n the l o g g i n g camps, o r h e r maunderings about h e r s e l f because 'she was such a drag on me. about  killing  She never t a l k e d  s u i c i d e when she was sober, and when she was drunk  she always broke down at t h e p o i n t where she was d e s c r i b i n g her body being found on t h e t r a c k , and the subsequent  funeral  w i t h one white rose on t h e c a s k e t . And  she couldn't be i n t h e h o s p i t a l .  She i n v a r i a b l y  c a r r i e d one o f those i n case o f emergency c a r d s . superstitious thing —  I t was a  she didn^t want 'her remains t o be  d i s p o s e d o f by the c i t y i n an unmarked grave' j u s t ats she didn't want t o be 'screwed i n her s l e e p ' . I t was j u s t t h e not knowing, and the f a c t that she c o u l d get so scrambled. I f o r c e d myself t o s t a r t the horse a g a i n , down the backbone, up t h e wing, down t h e f o r e l e g s , by r o t e , and t o do i t u n t i l t e n o ' c l o c k .  Vara was working, and Moore  29  c a r r i e d on, f l o o r by f l o o r , department by department, through the warehouses and the branch  s t o r e s , one  by  one  i n an i n e x h a u s t i b l e droning l i t a n y of persons, p l a c e s , dates, expense account  fiddlings,  stockroom g i r l s , pubs, and  r e s t a u r a n t s i n Duncan, C h i l l i w a c k , and  Nanaimo.  At t e n o ' c l o c k I used the o f f i c e phone and asked i f t h e r e was  any  news.  over t o A i l a ' s and She  suggested  Helga  said that  C a r l s e n ' s , but  she had gone h e r s e l f  no one  had  I t r y the e a r l y opening pubs.  seen her. I t o l d her I'd  c a l l a g a i n at noon anyway, and gave her the o f f i c e phone local. No doubt Helga was  right.  There she was,  i n person, while I l a b o u r e d b r i n g i n g whole back t o l i f e  —  w i t h wings, y e t .  Cinderella  civilizations  I c a r e f u l l y drew a  F e a r l e s s Fosdick b u l l e t hole i n the forehead, and  then  before r i p p i n g up the drawing, took a heavy chalk used f o r r e n d e r i n g , and  smashed two  or three heavy l i n e s i n t o i t ,  l i k e a d o c t o r k i c k i n g a dying p a t i e n t i n the g r o i n as a last  resort. I n s t a n t l y Moore was  s i t t i n g up, "A h o r s e l  a horsei"  I threw i n more l i n e s , a c r o s s the chest, down the f o r e l e g t o the hooves, up a c r o s s t h e . b e l l y , hooked i n t o the l i f t e d  back l e g , r a i s i n g i t u n t i l i t j o i n e d the  t h e n up through the the  b e l l y a g a i n t o the backbone, up around  b u l l e t - h o l e d forehead t o the  "Yahoo!  Out  belly,  nose, Moore  shouting,  of chute quinque, i t ' s t h a t cowboy out  the f r o z e n l o i n s beyond our n o r t h e r n p r o v i n c e si Spectate, c i v i s C a l g a r i e n s i s !  Eccei  Ot  E c c e l " , up the  of 01 front  30  of t h e wing swinging, l o o p i n g , through each o f the f l i g h t feathers,  spreading them i n t o a f l a r i n g f a n , i n t o the down  f e a t h e r s , b u r s t i n g them l i k e chrysanthemums, on down t o the sweeping t a i l ,  "Eccel  seconds,  Octol  "Septuml  E c c e l " , he was c o u n t i n g t h e Noveml  Yahool  l i k e one a s t r i d e the w i n t e r y b l a s t ?  Rides he not  Duodeciml  Tredeciml",  on up t h e back, l o o p i n g i n t o the mane, r i p p l i n g i n t o t h e l o c k s , up i n t o the wing, "Quatuordeciml  QuindecimI  Sedeciml", up t h e rump, t h e backbone, t h e c r a y o n r i p p i n g out a f l a p o f paper,  "Septemdeciml",  sheet, t h e n another,  "Vigintit  done i t !  another t e a r i n t h e  Viginti!  Twenty seconds.aboard Pegasus!"  0 civisl  He's  Moore f l i p p e d  back and l a y t h e r e , h i s f i n g e r s i n t e r l o c k e d on h i s chest, h i s eyes c l o s e d . The t r a c i n g  sheet hung i n t a t t e r s , and t h e green  o i l - p a p e r c o v e r i n g o f t h e board was s l a s h e d w i t h c h a l k lines.  Vara was l o o k i n g at us i n t u r n .  "My god, what was  t h a t a l l about?" Without  opening h i s eyes Moore sighed, "The Mark V l l  prototype ground-looped on t a k e o f f and crashed i n t o t h e grandstands."  I t o s s e d the chalk on my drawing  cabinet  and headed f o r the c a f e t e r i a . Outside t h e door, I stopped on t h e sidewalk. course Helga was r i g h t .  Of  A f t e r the pubs c l o s e d , my mother  had gone wheeling through l o g g e r s ' rooms f o l l o w i n g t h e p a r t i e s , and showering i n v i t a t i o n s t o the g a l a opening o f H y s t e r i a Cottage, u n t i l  suddenly at the stroke o f f o u r ,  zonk, e v e r y t h i n g v a n i s h e d , and t h e r e she was, w i t h a n empty  31  g a l l o n j u g and s i x beer b o t t l e s .  And her poor shoes.  Suddenly someone was shouting, so no f a b i t e h i " , and down the h i l l  " C l e a r t h e way, you  from Hastings, a f i g u r e  seated on a skateboard was h u r t l i n g at me out o f t h e sun, l i k e a Kamikaze.  I sidestepped, and he shot by and  disappeared around t h e corner on Cordova S t r e e t . I was unnerved f o r a moment, and t h e n I knew who i t was.  He was the l e g l e s s c r i p p l e who parked  himself i n  doorways and on s t r e e t c o r n e r s a l o n g Hastings and Cordova, and  s o l d brooches he t w i s t e d out o f s i l v e r w i r e ,  spelling  out whatever name the customer ordered. I found a t a b l e near the w a l l , and sat down w i t h my coffee, t o think.  T h i s was Thursday.  day, and a s f a r a s I c o u l d t e l l  Sunday was moving  by peeking  i n through  the window t h i s morning, there wasn't a s t i c k o f f u r n i t u r e i n the new house.  Unless my mother got o f f her a s s , there  wouldn't be any e i t h e r . she  I'd g i v e n h e r the money she thought  needed, and from t h e r e on i t was her b a l l game.  c o u l d keep going l i k e wanted t o .  She  she was f o r the next two days i f she  I'd s t i c k i t out u n t i l  Sunday, c a n c e l the n o t i c e  t o Helga, and t h a t would be t h a t . "Could I j o i n you?" " W e l l , yeah, sure.  I t was Vara S i t down.  standing by t h e t a b l e .  Sorry I d i d n ' t see you  come i n . " She poured some sugar i n t o h e r c o f f e e and s t i r r e d i t slowly.  " I cleaned o f f your drawing board,"  "Thanks.'?  she began.  32  I thought she was going t o ask what a l l the f r a c a s had been f o r , and I s t a r t e d t h i n k i n g about what k i n d o f excuse I c o u l d make, when -she s a i d out o f nowhere, with that  "What's  D i l l s o n woman downstairs?"  "She's a b i t c h , t h a t ' s a l l .  Why?  D i d she do  something?" "On the way down j u s t the  now, she c a l l e d me i n , and s a i d  drawing I'm working on has t o be i n , t h i s a f t e r n o o n . "  That would be D i l l s o n a l l r i g h t ,  so I w a i t e d .  a f t e r n o o n I have t o be a t t h e apartment  "And t h i s  f o r the movers."  "Didn't you t e l l her?" "No. I?d  That i s , I haven't t o l d her y e t .  I just  said  see what I c o u l d do." "And then?" " F i n d out what the h e l l the score was w i t h her, f i n d  out  i f she was f o r r e a l . " " I don't know.  Like I s a i d ,  she! s a b i t c h , and  t e r r o r i z e s everybody she can. Just what are you going t o do?" " I don't know." sure.  She took a s i p o f c o f f e e .  "I!m not  I don't want t o c a n c e l t h e mover© and spend another  night i n a h o t e l ,  and I don't want t o queer t h i n g s on my  second day -- p l u s l o s i n g h a l f a day's pay." "You'd have l o s t the pay anyway," t h e n seeing what she meant, " — u n l e s s you had a l o t o f measuring t o do t h i s afternoon." "That's r i g h t . "  She smiled.  around, so can I f o r a few hours.  " I f Moore can screw T h a t ' s why I chose t h i s  33  p a r t i c u l a r job order." "How much measuring i s t h e r e then, I mean c a n the job  be done?" She glanced c l o s e l y at me, and I saw how s t u p i d t h e  q u e s t i o n was. "All  "Measuring always depends, doesnrt i t ? "  r i g h t then," I s a i d , " I ' l l do i t f o r you, and  put your name on i t . " "Thank you v e r y much, Arvo." "Thank you f o r c l e a n i n g o f f my "Don't mention i t .  She squeezed my hand. board."  Now l e t ' s go up and put the p l o t  i n t o motion." While Moore slept on t h e counter, we worked l i k e conspirators.  I remembered a drawing i n t h e f i l e s f o r t h e  same stock a r e a , so a l l i t would take would be a quick check to  see i f i t was s t i l l up t o date, t h e n make whatever  changes were needed.  C o n s i d e r i n g Moore? s f r i e n d l i n e s s  toward Vara the day before, I was a l i t t l e he hadn't mentioned that f i l e .  surprised that  W e l l , t h a t was h i s own  affair. When f i n a l l y we saw D i l l son c r o s s over f o r l u n c h , Vara  skipped out, c a r r y i n g h e r notebook, j u s t  i n case.  For t h e r e s t o f the a f t e r n o o n t h e o f f i c e was q u i e t . s l e p t on, except his  c o f f e e break.  Moore  t o u r i n a t e , and at t h r e e o ' c l o c k t o take Pegasus was o f f my back f o r the time  being, and the stock s h e l f j o b was a m i n d l e s s one.  I  enjoyed myself t r y i n g t o f o r g e h e r drawing s t y l e , t r y i n g to  guess how she would handle  c e r t a i n p a r t s , and adding  34  other p a r t s t h a t might amuse her when she saw the  finished  sheet. At f o u r - t h i r t y I c a l l e d the p r i n t e r and asked f o r a rush.  When I put the phone down, Moore murmured without  opening  h i s eyes,  "Oh  Tom,  how  c o u l d you be so  An hour l a t e r , he got up without  noble."  saying a word.  The  beer  every day p l a n s weren't mentioned a g a i n . As f o r myself, evening. corner.  I walked up t o the Belmont and But i t was  o t h e r people. Bay.  I didn't know what t o do w i t h the  no good s i t t i n g t h e r e alone  A f t e r two  I had a hot  sat i n the usual watching  beers, I wandered down t o E n g l i s h  dog f o r supper and watched the  boat  t r a f f i c , the t u r q u o i s e and y e l l o w barges o f hog f u e l p u l l e d a l o n g by t u g s , and the p l e a s u r e boats f a n n i n g out Bay from the F a l s e Creek marinas.  into the  When the esplanade  the beach became too crowded w i t h people  and  coming down from  the apartments a f t e r supper, I moved f a r t h e r a l o n g , out toward Stanley Bark, and down.  sat on a rock u n t i l the  When I got back, Helga t o l d me  been i n f o r a w h i l e and t h e n gone out  On the way  t h a t my  police  t o work i n the morning I l o o k e d i n t o the  been done, and  expected,  she wasn't t h e r e .  To t r y the  s t a t i o n o r the o t h e r p l a c e s a g a i n was t o o  When I came i n t o the o f f i c e Vara Moore.  mother had  again.  window of the Cordova Street house, and as I nothing had  sun went  On h i s chest was  a little  shushed me "Men  out from a G r i n and Bear I t c a r t o o n .  embarrassing.  and p o i n t e d a t  at Work" s i g n cut She was  sketching  35  rough p e r s p e c t i v e s o f some d i s p l a y counter. I taped down another sheet o f t r a c i n g paper, autom a t i c a l l y made the frame and sat back t o wait f o r a v i s i o n o f the  winged horse o f the Apocalypse.  f i v e minutes,  Nothing came i n the f i r s t  so I t u r n e d t o watching Vara perched t h e r e i n  f r o n t o f h e r drawing board.  She reached i n t o her cabinet  drawer, took out her memo pad, s c r i b b l e d and handed back a sheet.  something o n i t ,  On i t was w r i t t e n  "Thanks. The  drawing's great and M i s s You Know who smiled at me through her c h i n a c l i p p e r s . " I took my memo pad and wrote  back  "Thank you f o r  t h a n k i n g me, but p a s s i n g notes i s dangerous.  I was e x p e l l e d  from h i g h school f o r a week f o r doing i t . " " J u s t f o r t h a t ? " she wrote. " W e l l , not e x a c t l y .  There i t was, a s u n l i t a f t e r n o o n  We had t o s i t i n t w o s i e s f o r French, and I was  i n June.  watching d r i f t i n g f l u f f s o f f i r e w e e d out t h e window and f i d d l i n g w i t h Mushie Conner's  compass.  M i s s Lecoq, who we  all  c a l l e d M i s s 0'Toole, ended 'Le J o n g l e u r de Notre Dame'  and  s t a r t e d d r a m a t i c a l l y w i t h 'Depuis son entre e n France  avec l'armee  d ' i n v a s i o n , Walter Schnaff se j u g a i t l e p l u s  mal he ur eux des hommes.' " I gave Vara t h e sheet and went on, 'Monsieur Maqui, c'est "a t o i l ' the  "And t h e n powl  I grabbed f r a n t i c a l l y f o r  book and s c r a t c h e d Mushie's hand w i t h the compass, and  he s t a r t e d screaming. and s a i d ,  M i s s 0'Toole took me out i n the hallway  'Now you s c r a t c h y o u r s e l f w i t h i t t o see how i t  36  feels.* what  I gave my hand a m i l d poke, not knowing e x a c t l y  she wanted.  'Go ahead.  Push i t harder.  have any t r o u b l e w i t h doing i t t o Fred.' another poke.  'Now  push i t .  I s t a r t e d on another t o do i t ? ' thing.  You didn't  I gave my hand  Or do you want me t o do i t . ' sheet.  " 'Or do you want  There we were alone i n t h e h a l l doing t h i s  "  me stupid  'Do you want me t o do i t ? ' I rammed the compass  i n t o my hand so deep t h a t the whole p o i n t was b u r i e d , and h e l d out my hand w i t h the compass s t i c k i n g up. the door and vomitted i n the yard.  She r a n out  The p r i n c i p a l took  over  the c l a s s and caught me p a s s i n g a note about i t and he was going t o strap me on the o t h e r hand, so I took o f f . " Vara worked as I went on w r i t i n g .  "The town was i n  a v a l l e y and every day I climbed the mountains and pretended t o my mother t h a t I was going t o school as u s u a l .  One day I  suddenly came i n t o a swampy c l e a r i n g w i t h wide p o o l s o f black water and bleached t r e e s f a l l e n by the wind, l y i n g i n c r a z y angles l i k e  s k e l e t o n s o f g i a n t f i s h crowded i n t o t h i s  isolated  p l a c e t o d i e . The p l a c e was g h o s t l y , w i t h those great white r i b s s i n k i n g i n t o the marsh and t h a t dark w a l l o f s i l e n t t r e e s , and I became f r i g h t e n e d . "I s t a r t e d t o hurry a c r o s s a l o n g t h e s t r i p s o f l a n d between the p o o l s , and suddenly t h e r e was a huge owl on the ground i n f r o n t o f me.  I t must  have broken i t s wing.  It  h u f f l e d i t s f e a t h e r s and took a hop toward me w i t h i t s beak open, and I r a n away t e r r i f i e d . " She handed b%ck a sheet  saying,  "And what  happened  37  t o M i s s O'Toole?" " A c t u a l l y I was  d e s p e r a t e l y i n love w i t h her, but she  never understood the y e a r n i n g l o o k i n my  eyes o r the depth  of p a s s i o n t h a t l a y under my f a u l t l e s s memorization o f imperfect tense c o n j u g a t i o n s .  We were f a t e d never t o l o v e .  Mushie's mother was p i c k i n g b l u e b e r r i e s one day near the Powder House, and caught M i s s O'Toole  necking w i t h a grade  twelve boy on the l o a d i n g p l a t f o r m .  She was f i r e d f o r  t u r p i t u d e and shameful wickedness." "How  l o n g have you been here at Morgans?"  "Only since E a s t e r , a f t e r e x a c t l y two weeks o f my chosen c a r e e r o f commercial a r t .  I t was a c a l e n d a r g i r l w i t h  a b r a s s i e r e and p a n t i e s made o f r e a l c l o t h , so t h a t when you l i f t e d them t o peek under, t h e r e was  'For the f e e l o f  the  Jansen's C o l l i s i o n s '  b r a s s i e r e , and 'Good body work.  under the p a n t i e s . "  Underneath I added,  "Ps.  under  Did you  know Robinson from before, o r what?" "Back East when we worked f o r N a t i o n a l Housing." i t was  So  simple a s t h a t . "Are you going f o r a beer a f t e r work — "I'd  l i k e t o , " she wrote  it's  Friday."  back, "but I've got t o buy  somefethiingsefor the apartment, and the s t o r e s are open t o n i g h t . Instead, how would you l i k e t o go swimming tomorrow?" To t h i s , I s t a r t e d t o s c r i b b l e yes over and over on the  pad, t h e n changed my mind and gave her,  good."  She t u r n e d around and  "Yes, i t sounds  smiled.  I didn't t r u s t myself t o w r i t e any more notes a f t e r  38  t hat. Something had t o be done w i t h the r e s t o f the day, But I couldn't  I began f o o l i n g about w i t h pegasus. centrate.  A f t e r one or two  con-  line's my mind d r i f t e d o f f i n t o  the i d e a o f tomorrow, o f being w i t h Vara f o r the whole  day.  By a f t e r n o o n I gave up any attempt  I  dod.dled,  t o make a drawing.  drank three cups o f c o f f e e i n the c a f e t e r i a , went  out f o r a walk near the docks, when I got  drew out frames f o r the  some f r e s h i d e a s f o r the d e s i g n , and kept  back t o Vara.  been any messages.  coming  a word except t o ask i f t h e r e  Vara was  the o n l y one who  t o the p r i n t e r s d u r i n g the whole  The  time  Moore got up o n l y f o r l u n c h and c o f f e e breaks,  coming and going without  at work, but  had  sent a n y t h i n g  day.  b o o t l e g g i n g b u s i n e s s l o o k e d as i f i t had  quietly forgotten. I was  been  My mother had been i n once or.twice while she was  out a l l night a g a i n .  On my  way  t o see Vara on Saturday,  I glanced i n t o the beer p a r l o u r s  where she u s u a l l y went.  She had been seen by one or two  people, but they couldn't Vara  say any more t h a n t h a t .  showed up at the  and pale blue bathing s u i t . almost had  beach i n a white Her f i g u r e was  g i r l i s h , and deeply tanned.  noticed i t ,  she laughed  A f t e r the swim we I  When she  beach  robe  small and saw t h a t  i t o f f w i t h a remark about  s i n f u l i d l e n e s s i n Malaga, and  chips.  so  neat, I her  r a n i n t o the water.  l a y on the beach and ate p o t a t o  s t e e r e d the t a l k toward Robinson a g a i n .  39  "That was almost two y e a r s ago.  He was t h e head o f  a small draughting o f f i c e f o r N a t i o n a l Housing, out  stock p l a n s .  and we ground  He was g e t t i n g bored w i t h i t , so we q u i t  around the same time.  He went t o Morgans and I went t o  Europe t o do nothing except l i v e cheaply and not work." "How d i d you hear about t h i s j o b ? " "He sent me a Christmas r e f e r e n c e t o working f o r him.  c a r d t o Malaga, w i t h a j o k i n g And I took him up on i t . "  "Are you going t o stay i n Vancouver then?" "I  still  have t r a v e l f e v e r .  N§, I'm j u s t  going t o  stay u n t i l I can scrape enough money t o g e t h e r t o "go t o Australia  o r the O r i e n t . "  "How l o n g w i l l t h a t t a k e , do you t h i n k ? "  Already I  c o u l d see h e r boarding a p l a n e . Her answer s t a r t l e d me. " I t depends on how much I can screw out o f t h e o l d man, how l o n g I can con him about f i n d i n g myself  before marrying  some grey Toronto j u n i o r law  partner." "Have you got one i n mind?" "God I  no.  The v e r y thought  should have p l e a s u r e . "  I asked c a u t i o u s l y . o f i t g i v e s me p a i n where  I g l a n c e d at her t o see i f her  face would show something more, but she j u s t l a y back w i t h her eyes c l o s e d , a s i f the whole t o p i c bored her immensely. "How about you," she asked. "No.  Not r i g h t  "Any p l a n s ? "  now."  She was h a l f - d o z i n g , and I s t u d i e d h e r p r o f i l e . She was d e f i n i t e l y some kind o f Mediterranean,  but not c l a s s i  40  i n the Greek or Roman way. those  Then i t struck me.  g i r l s i n Minoan murals.  I was  she was  going t o t e l l  like  her,  then  decided not t o . The  sun was  a l r e a d y low when we  got up.  "How  about  coming up f o r a d r i n k , and maybe something t o e a t ? " she "I'd  like that.  "No.  Why  not change up t h e r e .  custom o f the  natives.  p o i n t e d out a  building.  It ally  was  But I ' l l have t o get  Anyway, I l i v e  It seems t o be a just there."  b a l c o n i e s , one  and around i n rows l i k e growths o f fungus. towers stood beside i t i n a row,  sphere just  a c i r c u l a r p o o l decorated o f t o r n and  out o f the r i p s i n the  octagon-  other  identical intervals  At each end of the  i n the centre w i t h a huge  sea, the water s t i l l  satellite  emptying  metal.  Basements o r a t t i c s .  in  Two  buckled copper l i k e a d e r e l i c t  dredged up out o f the  the time we  She  above the o t h e r ,  spaced out at equal  a l o n g a block l o n g t e r r a c e o f c o n c r e t e . row was  changed."  a h i g h r i s e about twenty s t o r i e s t a l l ,  shaped, w i t h m i n i a t u r e  said.  What k i n d o f i d i o t was  reached the mezzanined f o y e r , she was  I?  By  completely  c o n t r o l , her h e e l s c l i c k i n g b r i s k l y along the t e r r a z o f l o o r .  She punched the e l e v a t o r button e f f i c i e n t l y , p u l l e d me i n , punched out a f l o o r number, t h e n out a g a i n a l o n g a r e d c a r p e t e d b l i n d c o r r i d o r , a t u r n , t h e n opened one of  identical  o f the  row  doors.  I went d i r e c t l y out the balcony. f l o o r s below was  Fourteen or f i f t e e n  the concrete desert o f the t e r r a c e , and  41  a c r o s s the s t r e e t , the beach o f E n g l i s h Bay. f a c e d westward  The balcony  out o v e r the bay, toward the Georgia S t r a i t s ,  on one side point Grey and Spanish Banks, on the o t h e r , past the dark evergreens o f Stanley Park, Point A t k i n s o n w i t h i t s white l i g h t h o u s e i n v i s i b l e the f a i n t  i n t h e haze, and beyond t h a t ,  blue mountains o f the sechelt P e n i n s u l a and the  peaks o f t h e Coast Range. It wasn't  e x a c t l y 4 7 3 Cordova w i t h i t s view o f the  dusty b a l l g r o u n d and rummies t a k i n g t h e i r ease l u x u r i a n t l y under the dusty horse chestnut t r e e s , though o f course my mother and I would have our own sight  of the mountains t o o ,  not as s p e c t a c u l a r as t h i s , but at night we c o u l d t h r i l l a s the Grouse Mountain c h a i r l i f t  l i g h t s went on.  " W e l l , how do you l i k e i t ? " a double cognac.  I sniffed i t .  she asked, and handed me  "Don't worry," she added,  "Next week i t would have been middle p r i c e d  scotch."  She c l i n k e d my g l a s s and went over t o the balcony. F o r g e t t i n g her q u e s t i o n about what I thought o f the apartment, she watched t h e sun s e t t l i n g i n t o t h e smoke haze, t u r n i n g bright orange. least.  "Up and down, t h a t ' s me.  F o r the l a s t  F i n a n c i a l l y at  year and a h a l f I've l i v e d out o f a  pack sack, drank b o i l e d t e a and g l o a t e d at the American g i r l s i n the h o s t e l s d a i n t i l y washing t h e i r s p i f f y white nylon; b r i e f s i n tube-packed detergents." I couldn't connect t h i s image o f her w i t h the p e r s o n who sat i n f r o n t o f me at work, c a r r y i n g a pack when she had t o use t h e rung j u s t t o get up on the drawing s t o o l .  Now i n  42  her b a t h i n g s u i t she l o o k e d even t i n i e r . "Did i t was  you go t o Europe f o r some reason?"  something t o "No,  just  At l e a s t  say.  bored w i t h work, and the grey lawyers were  beginning t o c i r c l e around the encampment." "I've read t h a t a  you can keep them o f f by  building  fire." "Jack London didn't go t o an e a s t e r n p r i v a t e s c h o o l ,  at  l e a s t t h a t I know o f . "  She f i n i s h e d her drink, t h e n went  i n t o the k i t c h e n and poured out another. "Have one y o u r s e l f when you want. something stand my  I'm  going t o put  e l s e on, and w e ' l l have some supper i f you salad."  "Thanks."  While  she dressed, I poured out two more  s t i f f d r i n k s and watched the s a i l swimming on the beach.  Private  boats and people  s c h o o l s , imported  Toronto lawyers, t r i p s t o Europe and A u s t r a l i a . t h i n g t o do i s t o d r e s s r i g h t Just  now,  still cognac,  No.  The  and make some excuse.  say I have t o get my mother out o f the drunk tank  she can open up a b o o t l e g g i n g j o i n t tomorrow. it.  can  Or I c o u l d j u s t take o f f without  so  That would do  saying a n y t h i n g , o r  say t h a t I went s k e t c h i n g i n the pubs at night. But  she had the  salad a l r e a d y made, and we  the f l o o r o f the balcony w i t h a b o t t l e of c h i l l e d between us.  sat on chablis  High up here, the sounds from the beach were  b a r e l y a u d i b l e , coming up at us f a i n t l y as i f from a v a l l e y . A c o o l breeze was  beginning t o blow s o f t l y o f f the  water.  43  We  t a l k e d at f i r s t "He's  about Robinson, h i s running o f the  office.  a w f u l l y s o f t - h e a r t e d , but Moore must be the  end." "If  Robinson wasn't, I don't t h i n k I'd be there  either," I said. " I s n ' t t h a t a b i t o f an "God  no.  Not the way  exaggeration?"  I came i n .  Every  commercial  art  p l a c e I d i d t r y , a l l wanted samples, and at f i r s t  too  naive even t o see the game of don't phone us, w e ' l l  phone you. couldn't  It f i n a l l y  get work, and without  o r at l e a s t t h a t ' s how v/ith the  calendar.  I saw  work I couldn't  "Had My  .  complete with approval  samples, failure  department signatures,  i n Chicago."  you?"  first  f e e l i n g was  t h a t the q u e s t i o n was more  s u p e r i o r i t y , but t h e n I r e a l i z e d t h a t might have been t h e r e . s t i l l wasn't  get  i t . And t h a t dismal  s a i d I had worked f o r a while  was  samples I  So I f o r g e d some e l a b o r a t e  store d i s p l a y designs, and  sank i n t h a t without  I  State  "No.  And  she a c t u a l l y thought I  a f t e r a week when H a s t i n g s  S t r e e t , Robinson q u i e t l y put me  on  smaller  jobs." "Do "I the  you t h i n k he was d i d at f i r s t ,  but  r e a l l y conned?" not  now.  thought  samples were s l i c k enough t o be worth a t r y . " She poured out the l a s t o f the  the  I t h i n k he j u s t  k i t c h e n f o r the  cognac.  l e a n e d back beside me.  She  c h a b l i s , and went i n t o  set i t between us, t h e n  There were s t i l l  c h i l d r e n shouting  44  down on the water; probably covered with goose bumps by "Is that why  now.  Moore keeps needling you?"  "I'd l i k e to think  so."  She didn't say anything t o that.  We  both watched  the sun as i t f e l l below the layer of smoke that covered the S t r a i t s , watched i t f l a r e up suddenly, l i g h t i n g the side of the building i n a glare of orange, then s l i p quickly into the mountains. "I guess we maylsas well go down i n flames ourselves," she  said, and poured out more cognac. I sipped the drink and stared out over the water.  the  As  sunlight died on the mountains they lost t h e i r s o l i d i t y  and volume, and the a i r was everything  f i l l e d with blue l i g h t that held  suspended i n i t l i k e a vast soft c r y s t a l .  Behind  the darkening islands, Bowen, Gainbier, and Keats, was the mass of the  Sechelt Peninsula, a sharply outlined deep smoky blue.  Somewhere farther, perhaps over Texada or Quadra, a s l i v e r of cloud glowed y ellow f o r a moment, the sky turned a soft green, 5  then faded.  The  beam of point Atkinson blinked  insistently  over the faint orange points of l i g h t of the houses along t he shore. I noticed that she was looking at i t so I t o l d  her  the name, and that the mountains behind were c a l l e d the Tantalus Range. " I t ' s a pretty name f o r a mountain range, isn't i t ? " she said. "Once, high up across the i n l e t from them, I found  45 I didn't know what k i n d o f f l o w e r i t was,  a tiger l i l y . and  next y e a r when I went t o see i f some more had grown,  there wasn't anything.  She didn't answer, so I took another  drink o f the cognac, and watched the l i g h t h o u s e .  " I t was  on a r o c k s l i d e where part o f a mountain face had crumbled down.  Nothing but huge boulders The  split  and heat and g l a r e . "  l i g h t h o u s e a c t u a l l y had a double f l a s h w i t h a  second i n t e r v a l ,  something I ' d never n o t i c e d .  Not  t h a t I'd e v e r l o o k e d at i t very c l o s e l y e i t h e r , or had any  reason t o .  then.  I must have been about  twelve-years-old  " I was w i t h two other k i d s when I saw i t , and I s t e e r e d  them away so t h e y wouldn't f i n d i t and I don't know what pluck  i t o r smash i t o r something." Soon i t would be completely  t o go. and  —  dark, and I would have  I'd have t o watch the d r i n k i n g then, not go weaving  stumbling  through t h a t a i r p o r t t e r m i n a l f o y e r  Just f i n i s h t h i s one l a s t  downstairs.  drink.  When I set the g l a s s down, Vara's hand c l o s e d on mine.  "Arvo, l e t ' s go t o bed." Christ,  suddenly there  i t was.  Twelve f l o o r s up i n  t h i s hotsy t o t s y tower, Arvo Maki would l o s e h i s c h e r r y at l o n g l a s t , be b e r e f t f o r e v e r o f h i s bing. what t o do.  I didn't know  Was i t up t o me t o i n i t i a t e the p r e s c r i b e d  love p l a y by s e i z i n g her l e f t , more s e n s i t i v e breast, o r put my hand on her knee, get her t o l i e back on the balcony and move my hand i n s i n u a t i n g l y up her t h i g h ?  Was I supposed  t o k i s s her p a s s i o n a t e l y , but what i f I squeezed her t o o hard  46 and  she coughed l i k e t h a t g i r l from S o i n t u l a ?  just  stand and o f f e r myself She  squeezed my  Or should I  i n simple h u m i l i t y ?  hand g e n t l y .  "Yes," I s a i d .  And  I l o o k e d at the  steady p u l s e o f the A t k i n s o n l i g h t .  Already t h e r e was  she was  "Yes?" gone.  the c l i n k of t h i n g s being put on the  s h e l f i n the bathroom, a s q u i r t o f water. hurry, but I was  yanking ray shoes o f f and  cord o f my  bathing trunks.  bathroom.  I grabbed two  r e t c h e d over the  balcony.  What's the  shaking my  down i n my reached  Another s q u i r t o f water from the  b i g mouthfuls o f cognac and I hadn't thought  head t o c l e a r i t .  almost  I was t h a t drunk.  There was  c r o t c h , a f a i n t movement i n s i d e my  balcony  a twitching  cock and I  down and moved the f o r e s k i n back and f o r t h t e n t a t i v e l y .  With a t w i t c h i n g the t h i n g began to s w e l l a l i t t l e , 1/ was  bloody  s t r u g g l i n g w i t h the  I stood naked i n the doorway, back from t h e railing,  glass  drunk.  I s t a r e d at the  but  Christ  b l i n k o f l i g h t , moving my  hand  back and f o r t h more f i r m l y , and t h e n f a s t e r i n time t o the light.  And  still  there were those  quick  sounds i n the  I c o u l d see her t h e r e moving w i t h that deft unstopping cision.  I moved my  hand f a s t e r ,  f u z z i n e s s wouldn't c l e a r , and my that  shaking my  pre-  head, but the  cock wouldn't r i s e above  s i l l y f l a c c i d half erection.  The  steady  blink, blink of  the l i g h t h o u s e , never stopping, never stopping, e v i l , I grabbed the  bathroom.  evil.  s t u p i d t h i n g i n a f u r i o u s h o l d , pumping i t  v i c i o u s l y , t r y i n g t o erase the rhythm o f the l i g h t . the anger passed,  When  there i t hung, wounded and s u l k i n g .  47  And what was  a l l t h a t god-damned a c t i v i t y * i n the  bathroom, what the h e l l was bloody i n v e n t o r y o f the  she doing, t a k i n g some k i n d o f  notches cut i n t o her  Double ones f o r the v i r g i n s . t o move my twitched fill  I reached down a g a i n and  f i n g e r s t e n d e r l y , and l i k e a cowed puppy i t  again.  I c l o s e d my  eyes and t r i e d t o focus on  bathroom door opened and  word Vara was  standing  o f cognac, rubbing, I took the  beside me  c l o s e d , and without a  nude, h o l d i n g out  her h a i r t i c k l i n g against my  g l a s s , sipped at i t , and  f e e l i n g her b r e a s t s on my  see was  i t dangling there  s i d e , hoping f o r some  And  passionate  But a l l I c o u l d  the l i g h t  b l i n k e d at me  the  i n the  eye.  She was go?"  thigh.  snickering c o z i l y to i t s e l f ,  son o f a b i t c h , while  corner o f my  a glass  p u l l e d her c l o s e r against  a r o u s a l i n h a l f - h e a r t e d p e t e r down below.  we  her  sex. The  little  began  back c a u t i o u s l y , and t h e n more c o n f i d e n t , began t o  warm wet  me,  douche hose?  n u z z l i n g her cheek against my  she was  l e a d i n g me  t o the  bed,  arm.  "Shall  i t s covers  n e a t l y f l i p p e d back, s w i t c h i n g on the r e c o r d p l a y e r ,  and  suddenly n u z z l i n g , squirming  her  tongue i n my my  hair.  my  skull  up against me,  ear, her hands on my  With my  eyes shut  i n the  back, my  sticking t h i g h s , my  darkness the  spun a w h i r l p o o l f a s t e r and f a s t e r , and  ass,  space o f on top  o f t h i s storm o f w r i t h i n g b e l l y , arms, f i n g e r s , tongues, the overture  o f Mendelssohn's I t a l i a n Symphony  w h i r l i n g i n t o the o f the world.  crashed  room, f i l l i n g up whatever t h e r e was  I grabbed her,  squeezing her t o keep  left her  ,  48  under some k i n d o f c o n t r o l , but when I got one arm pinned down, the other would s p r i n g loose running up my t h i g h while I t w i s t e d and h e l d my l e g s t o g e t h e r t o keep her hand away from t h a t p i t i f u l misunderstood t h i n g down t h e r e , t h e n suddenly i t was h e r t h i g h a g a i n s t my l e g t r y i n g t o pry i n between the knees, and a l l the time t h a t  bloody  music  c r a s h i n g around t h e room a s i f the whole o r c h e s t r a was sma.'shing t h e i r instruments a g a i n s t the w a l l s . can't  F o r C h r i s t ' s sake why  she take i t easy, o f course I want t o fuck you, o f  course you c a n double  notch me on your douche hose,  can drop h i s cherry w r e s t l i n g w i t h twenty i n a h u r r i c a n e and everybody  but who  sex-crazed V a l k y r i e s  i n the world has grabbed m u s i c a l  instruments and s t a r t e d blowing and b e a t i n g them a l l a t once as i f t h e T i t a n i c was s i n k i n g , and i f she must screw t o a scherzo o r f o r n i c a t e t o a fugue,.why choose t h a t motherfucker.  crazy German  I grabbed her, f l i p p e d her over, and she l a y  back p a n t i n g . Now l e t ' s t r y i t some o t h e r way.  I l e a n e d over h e r  and began t o k i s s her g e n t l y on the mouth, cheeks, under, her eyes.  The r e c o r d p l a y e r c l i c k e d i t s e l f o f f .  softly  now as I k i s s e d her h a i r l i n e , her l i p s , the space  under her ear, and she t a s t e d o f ocean softly,  r e g u l a r l y , not moving.  i n my sleep?  She breathed  What was i t , don't  I moved my hand down t o her b r e a s t .  f o r the nipple that rest  salt.  She breathed  swelled i n t o a hard l i t t l e  f e l t white by i t s very s o f t n e s s .  screw me Except  button, t h e  I squeezed the breast  and began t o k i s s and l i c k the n i p p l e , and her hand s l i d out  49  from somewhere and c l o s e d on my cock.  As she moved t h e  s k i n back and f o r t h , i t began t o swell out, and w i t h i t s t i l l i n h e r hands, p u l l e d me over on top o f her, wiggled i t i n through the l i p s ,  and I was h e l p l e s s l y e j a c u l a t i n g .  We l a y i n the warm darkness, t h e sea breeze out t h e c u r t a i n s . me a c o l d d r i n k . out  swelling  Vara l e a n e d over the side t a b l e and handed So e v e r y t h i n g  had been planned and worked  i n advance. I sipped i t and began r e c i t i n g , There was a young f e l l o w o f Kent, Whose t o o l was so s o f t t h a t i t bent, He r a n i n t o t r o u b l e When i t bent i t s e l f double, And  i n s t e a d o f coming he went.  "You  don't have t o say t h a t , Arvo," she s a i d .  to think of i t , I didn't. her head up higher, honestly  didn't "It's  She set her drink down, propped  and began t o t o y w i t h my h a i r .  even guess t h a t  a l l right.  Come  i t was your f i r s t  "I time."  I ' l l t e l l you about my r e c k l e s s  sexual p a s t , t h e n . " She didn't  say e i t h e r yes o r no t o t h a t ,  so I t o l d  her about the F i n n i s h g i r l from S o i n t u l a , and t h e g i r l whose mouth had been k i c k e d over t o one side o f h e r face who I thought was so ugly t h a t  she must be promiscuous, but  a f t e r doggedly box-stepping through t h r e e the  by a horse,  Sons o f Norway H a l l a l l t h a t  hours w i t h her at  happened was t h a t  I insulted  her by k i s s i n g her, a n a t u r a l mistake, under t h e nose. M i s s O'Toole,  And  so b e a u t i f u l that I memorized a l l t h e s t r e e t s i n  Montmartre, and spent hours f a n t a s i z i n g about meeting her i n  50  the place du T e r t r e , c a r r y i n g my e a s e l w i t h  i t s most  recent  n e o - U t r i l l o , and t a k i n g her a s t o n i s h e d t o ray s t u d i o at 12 Rue  Cortot.  Before  and  I k i s s e d her.  I had f i n i s h e d , Vara had f a l l e n a s l e e p ,  "Where the h e l l have you been?" d i s h e s i n t o a cardboard  carton.  My mother was p a c k i n g  Her c l o t h e s were p i l e d up  on the bed, most o f them a l r e a d y packed. " I l e f t my keys i n my o t h e r pants,  and i t was t o o  l a t e t o wake Helga up." I went o v e r t o the window by the cooler-box, and s t a r e d down i n t o the vacant  lot.  I n the smashed house founda-  t i o n , ' one o f my p a i n t i n g s l a y f a c e down i n t h e broken g l a s s where I had thrown i t a f t e r  she made some s n e e r i n g remark.  " A l l he ever p a i n t s are those lonesome l o o k i n g . "  fucken h o t e l s , and they're so  So t h i s was moving day a f t e r  all.  "Arvo, f o r c r y i n g out l o u d , come and help out a little.  I t must be them coming up t h e s t a i r s . " I grabbed one o f the boxes and s t a r t e d throwing my  clothes into i t . A n t t i Kentala,  H e i k k i Suo, M a r t t i V a r i l a ,  and another man came up, wiping t h e i r f a c e s and b r e a t h i n g heavily.  I c o u l d smell t h e beer. They sat down and my mother poured out tumblers o f  goof f o r them from a g a l l o n j u g . on t h e f l o o r by t h e stove. Huutala.  Varila  Another f u l l  g a l l o n stood  spoke up,  "Make one f o r  He down on porse." I poured out a tumbler almost t o the brim, and took  51  it  down t o the p o r c h .  He had maneuvred  h i s wheel c h a i r i n t o  the piece o f shade i n the f a r c o r n e r , but even at t h a t , his  head and shoulders were p r o t e c t e d .  As I gave him the  g l a s s I asked him how t h i n g s were going. always t h e same,  " I t goes l i k e  only  H i s answer was  i t comes."  "Can I get you an umbrella o r something t o keep t h e sun  off?" "No," he s a i d .  "Just t e l l them hurry.  I got t o p i s s  p r e t t y soon." I  r a n up and s t a r t e d t o throw my books and p a i n t s  i n t o my pack sack, s t u f f i n g them i n t o the pockets, ramming them on t o p o f t h e s l e e p i n g bag. The p a i n t i n g s wouldn't fit  i n t o any box, and t h e p a n e l s weighed about seventy  a l t o g e t h e r because t h e hardboard was so heavy. down and stacked them beside Huutala.  pounds  I took them  I'd p i c k them up  t h e r e when I had my pack on. By repacking and u s i n g the e x t e n s i o n s t r a p s I managed to  cram e v e r y t h i n g I had i n t o t h e pack, but i t weighed  almost f i f t y the  pounds because o f the p a i n t s and books.  By  time I f i n i s h e d , t h e o t h e r s were a l r e a d y down below. I h u r r i e d down, and C h r i s t , t h e r e was Huutala out  on t h e sidewalk, h i s c h a i r p o i n t e d toward H a s t i n g s . had the f u l l  He  g a l l o n between h i s knees, and on each s i d e ,  propped up between h i s t h i g h s and the arms o f the c h a i r was a p a i n t i n g , f a c i n g outward. on the l e f t him i n .  On the r i g h t t h e Europe, and  a l a r g e v e r s i o n o f the Anchor, completely boxing  He was t i p p i n g t h e g a l l o n forward and pouring  52  h i m s e l f a clrink.  "God  damn good fun,  I l o o k e d up toward H a s t i n g s . yard i n t e r v a l s l i k e were V a r i l a ,  Strung out at f i v e  some k i n d o f insane m i l i t a r y p a t r o l  Suo, K e n t a l a , and the o t h e r man,  s l i g h t l y from side t o both  Arvo."  weaving  side w i t h t h e i r boxes, and h e l d around  s i d e s of each box were p a i n t i n g s , so t h a t t h e y gave the  i m p r e s s i o n o f some a r t g a l l e r y e x h i b i t a l o n g through the b r i g h t s u n l i g h t .  s l i d i n g hideously  My mother was  c r o s s i n g Hastings, b r i n g i n g t r a f f i c t o a stop.  already  Behind  her  came K e n t a l a , s t a r t i n g a c r o s s , as she reached the o t h e r " L e t ' s go!" wagon."  c h o r t l e d Huutala.  Holding the g l a s s up, he  t h i s v a l l e y they eyes and  "We're the  side.  tsuck  started to sing.  "From  say you are going, we w i l l m i s s your b r i g h t  sweet s m i l e .  Come on, giddyup.  We're the  tsuck  wagon!" I s t a r t e d t o push the w h e e l c h a i r , and t h e n Up ahead, c a r s were honking, middle  o f Hastings shouting,  and t h e r e was "Yaaal  stopped.  V a r i l a i n the  Go t o h e l l ,  you  p u l l s i t p i p p l e s , you grazy p a s t a r d s . " I t u r n e d the c h a i r toward Pender, t o go t h a t but Huutala  started y e l l i n g ,  w i t h your momma.  "Hey  where you go?  We're the t s u c k wagon."  He  You  way, go  started singing  again. As we  began t o move, the column ahead had  so t h a t my mother was wheeling  left  a l r e a d y a block past H a s t i n g s and  on Cordova.  f o l l o w i n g , except  strung out  K e n t a l a and the o t h e r men  V a r i l a who  was  l e a n i n g a g a i n s t the  was  were Chinese  53  s t o r e , w i t h two  c h i l d r e n l o o k i n g up at  him.  The t r a f f i c was moving a g a i n , and Huutala, thank god, had f o r the moment run out o f v e r s e s .  The t h i n g t o do  was t o get a c r o s s before anyone r e c o g n i z e d me. somehow saw  it.  I  What i f Vara  bumped "the c h a i r down from the curb, waited,  t h e n s t r e a k e d d e s p e r a t e l y a c r o s s , and bumped up a g a i n s t the o t h e r s i d e , Huutala going t o get  shouting,  speeding  "Hohool  Makin p o i k a ,  you  ticket."  To h e l l w i t h you, I l u r c h e d the c h a i r up on the and  s t a r t e d pushing w i t h a l l my  t h a t we were moving d o w n h i l l . a drinkl  Yahoot"  The two  f o r c e , p i c k i n g up  speed  "Don't give o l d p u l l s i t  Chinese  curb, now Varila  c h i l d r e n s c a t t e r e d as we  h u r t l e d by, and before V a r i l a c o u l d disengage  h i m s e l f from  the w a l l , the c h a i r was  past the lane t e a r i n g on toward  Cordova.  What you do, you p u l l s i t men?" he  appealed  "HeyJS. Stopl  from a h a l f block  behind.  "Hoohoo, M a k i l " shouted Huutala w i t h the wine g l a s s up over h i s head as a g r a i l f o r V a r i l a , make o l d V a r i l a work f o r h i s d r i n k l I  glanced back and "Hoi  "Fasti  Yahoot"  pushl  At the  We  corner  saw V a r i l a l a b o u r i n g along r e d - f a c e d .  Fasti  Or he c a t c h u s l "  0fcayj\if t h a t ' s what you want, l e t ' s go, and w i t h a bloody vengeance. began t o p i c k up  I j o l t e d the c h a i r i n t o motion a g a i n , speed.  As we  caught  up w i t h the o t h e r t h r e e  p o r t e r s , the wheels were a l r e a d y shimmying from so v i o l e n t l y t h a t we  c o u l d h a r d l y stay on the  l u r c h e d by somehow, Huutala  and  side t o side  sidewalk.  shouting over and over,  We  "Yahoot  54  Yahool  Yahool"  We crashed through between a teenage couple,  swung by an old Chinese woman i n her black pajama clothes just timing the swing t o miss her, past my mother who y e l l e d out something about what the h e l l were we t r y i n g t o celebrate. "Yahool  Yahool  Yahool"  When we swung into the house yard between the dry p r i v e t , I could hardly breathe.  The others were almost a  block behind, and V a r i l a was completely out of sight. Inside, the house was about what I had expected, o r guessed from the outside.  The door opened on a hallway with  s t a i r s on the right and a passageway into the kitchen. Immediately on the l e f t of the front door was a door into what had once been the parlour, and t h i s i n t u r n l e d through an archway t o a rear dining room that had a door into the kitchen.  The bathroom was tacked on the back, on a kind of  porch. Every room was papered with v a r i a t i o n s of dingy brown ferns, except the front room where the paperhanger had evidently l o s t hold of himself, or had f a l l e n short of some v i s i o n .  The walls were v e r t i c a l green and s i l v e r stripes  about two inches wide, ending near the c e i l i n g i n a s i l v e r wave pattern.  The c e i l i n g was a darker green, covered with  a pattern o f large s i l v e r stars that looked as i f they had been sprayed on. Upstairs, two beds l a y dismantled on the f l o o r , l> brought i n yesterday.  While the four porters drank o f f the  rest of the wine, I put them together, and helped i n the  55  w a s h i n g o f t h e woodwork d o w n s t a i r s . another  g a l l o n came o u t  of the  When t h e y f i n a l l y  broom  closet.  On Monday m o r n i n g a l l t h e D o m i n i o n Day up.  left,  f l a g s were  Downtown a l o n g H a s t i n g s , t h r e e - f l a g c l u s t e r s w e r e  m o u n t e d t o t h e lamp p o s t s , t h e flag,  and  U n i o n J a c k , t h e maple  B r i t i s h Columbia's p r o v i n c i a l  American h o l i d a y f o l l o w e d on the  flag.  leaf  Since  the  next Monday, M o r g a n s '  c o m p e t i n g d e p a r t m e n t s t o r e f a r t h e r down H a s t i n g s f l e w t h e S t a r s and  S t r i p e s as w e l l ,  disdained  such  cynicism.  but M o r g a n s , a l w a y s E m p i r e On t h e  s t o r e , huge new  purists,  British  and  Canadian f l a g s set i n c l u s t e r s l i n e d the e n t i r e l e n g t h o f the  c a n o p y so d e n s e l y t h a t t h e m e z z a n i n e w i n d o w s w e r e  b e h i n d t h e f l i c k e r o f r e d , w h i t e , and from the  canopy f a c i n g , and  blue.  held i n place  B e n e a t h them  by g i l d e d  o f a r m s , h u n g h e a v y swags o f r i c h u l t r a m a r i n e diapered w i t h g l i t t e r i n g  s i l v e r maple l e a v e s .  i n the arcades, on t h e i r  door frames.  A little  coats  bunting Maroon banners  trimmed w i t h gold s t r i p e s covered a l l the p i l a s t e r s , window d i v i d e r s , and  hidden  metal  incongruously,  a row o f r i c h l y l a c q u e r e d v i n t a g e c a r s r e s t e d  great wheels, Packard, McLaughlin,  Stutz, Rolls  Royce,  w i t h t h e i r g l i t t e r i n g h e a d l i g h t s a s b i g a s chamber p o t s . From t h e t o p o f t h e Vara.  She was  wearing  s t a i r s I g l a n c e d o v e r Moore t o  a navy blue d r e s s w i t h w h i t e  down t h e  f r o n t and  l i p s and  beckoned w i t h t h e o t h e r hand.  see  i f she  had l e f t  back.  She  panels  smiled, held a finger t o  her  I l o o k e d down t o  a n y t h i n g e l s e on Moore.  I  stopped  56  a c r o s s the drawing whispered,  board from her.  "Are you s t i l l  "No.  Come here,"  shy?"  I moved around t o the other side and her.  "No,  she  no, here," she took my  hand.  stood beside  "Now  kiss  me."  There a c r o s s the l o a d i n g ramp not t w e n t y - f i v e f e e t away were rows o f windows r i s i n g f o r f i v e behind me,  stories,  and  Moore, so close I c o u l d hear h i s breathing.  She  must have l o s t her mind. •'I'm voice.  going t o say i t out l o u d , " she s a i d i n a  normal  She took a breath, so I l e a n e d over and k i s s e d her  and p u l l e d q u i c k l y away. "The she  hours I have l a n g u i s h e d f o r t h a t , f a i r k n i g h t , "  whispered. " I t was  but the merest  From behind me,  t o k e n o f mine ardour, l a d y , "  almost as i f i t emanated from the  woodwork, came,  "So make us a l l good men,  h i s high b l i s s .  Amen."  Moore's hands were p r e s s e d t o g e t h e r  l i k e a knight on a sarcophagus. little  and b r i n g u s t o  Even Vara was  jolted a  by the sudden v o i c e , and t u r n e d q u i c k l y back t o her  board.  As I went by I f e l t  like  s p i t t i n g on h i s f a c e .  His remark hung on i n the a i r during the morning, h i s presence t h e r e l i s t e n i n g  s i l e n t l y t o every sound kept  us  from doing more t h a n l o o k i n g at each other, but Vara's cheerf u l n e s s was  forced.  I began working on some f r e s h h a n d l i n g  o f the mane and wing, some s t y l i z e d treatment, perhaps.  I t r i e d out shapes  Japanese  s t a r t i n g w i t h what I c o u l d  remember o f Hokusai's wave p r i n t , t h e n sketched out  variations  57 t h a t might work.  Vara worked on the  sent t o the p r i n t e r on F r i d a y . handed me  a note saying,  d i s p l a y counter  she  J u s t before t e n o'clock  " L e t ' s get the h e l l out and  had she  take  a good l o n g break before the b a s t a r d beats us t o i t . When you've read t h i s , chew i t up and sure i t ' s not on c e l e r y paper.  swallow i t . I've made Love."  Instead o f going t o the lower main c a f e t e r i a , walked h o l d i n g hands down t o a c o f f e e shop on the For the  we  docks.  next week Moore could l i e t h e r e , he c o u l d get  bed  sores, and i f i t came t o i t , I would get t o work e a r l y , not have l u n c h or c o f f e e , and leave l a t e . t o get up and  down from t h a t counter  He would be the  one  as we watched h i s  c h i l d i s h game. But Vara was work l i k e t h i s , "  she  more hurt t h a n I thought.  said as soon as we were o u t s i d e .  don't want t o seem dramatic, I f he was with i t , fine.  He comes i n a f t e r me  t o the  i f he can get away and l i e s down, and  But he's awake,'with h i s eyes c l o s e d , and  breathing, waiting l i k e  some huge sponge t o every  c l o c k t i c k over t o the  "I  but the whole room i s poisoned.  s l e e p i n g I wouldn't care — fine.  " I can't  next minute, and t o  that's  I hear him footstep, every  move I make." " I t ' s o n l y f o u r days. there's  Just t r y t o ignore him,  something I wanted t o ask "Ignore him?  sneaking  turned  But  h i s way.  you."  Maybe I c o u l d at f i r s t when he  j u s t l y i n g there  now  and  l o o k s up my  was  s k i r t every time I  i t ' s eerie, like  being watched by  58  a b l i n d voyeur." "All  r i g h t t h e n , i f i t r e a l l y bothers you t h a t much,  l e t ' s f i n d a j o b t h a t we can work on t o g e t h e r . " She  seemed t o b r i g h t e n up.  "But you've  got something  a l r e a d y , t h a t winged horse." "I  can knock t h a t o f f i n a n a f t e r n o o n o r so, i t ' s  far  enough on the way.  for  us.  It just  And I've even got something i n mind  s t r u c k me,"  "That was quick. " What i s i t ? " 8  "Oh, of  i t w i l l take a couple o f days, and keep us out  the o f f i c e a w h i l e . " "But what i s i t ?  Moore a f t e r  The way you hedge, I might  prefer  all."  "Have you seen Mr. S n e l l ' s work order, Vara?" "Well yes. shoes.  Some k i n d o f p l a t f o r m f o r c h i l d r e n ' s  I t looked p r e t t y d u l l t o me." "You don't know Mr. S n e l l t h e n .  who w i l l  someday see t h a t  He's a v i s i o n a r y  blank space where God d w e l l s . "  "How come you know so much about i t ? " "Robinson mentioned i t at t h e pub.  He was  still  shake n." She was s i l e n t f o r a moment a s we walked a l o n g . "Are you sure i t ' s  all  r i g h t t o do then?"  "You're my p r o t e g e , o r didn't you know? t h i n g I wanted t o ask you. "No.  Have you s t i l l  Now t h e  got your pack?"  I a u c t i o n e d o f f e v e r y t h i n g at the h o s t e l i n  P a r i s , and went out and got drunk w i t h the money."  59  "It  doesn't matter then, I've  got one.  Would you  l i k e t o go camping next weekend a c r o s s from the T a n t a l u s Range?" "My  god yes.  A f t e r Moore, I'd sleep bare naked on  Everest." "Of course, the woods are c l o s e d , " I s a i d , "and most of t h e way  i s trespassing.  months i n the  That  should be good f o r t h r e e  bucket."  She took my  hand i n both of h e r s .  "That's a l l r i g h t .  I ' l l p u t ! a l l the blame on you, and t h e n send you a cake with a f i l e Mr. one  in it." S n e l l ' s blue p a i n t e d f o u r foot  f o o t o f reeded g l a s s and phone, was  r e a r c o r n e r o f a second f l o o r dark blue-grey  s u i t he was  desk under the p i n k and  six cubicle with  tucked i n a g a i n s t the  stockroom, and dressed i n h i s  s i t t i n g at h i s chrome and  blue p a i r o f f l u o r e s c e n t tubes.  Behind him were c o l o u r photographs o f the Queen and p r e s i d e n t , and on h i s desk was cut  off artillery  decorated w i t h the  veneer  company  a c l e a n a s h t r a y made from a  s h e l l , i n the centre an e r e c t r i f l e  bullet  stag head o f the S e a f o r t h Highlanders.  " W e l l , w e l l , " he clapped,  "And what can I do  "We  Vara  you  for?" came about t h i s ,  sir,"  s a i d , h o l d i n g out  the work o r d e r . " E x c e l l e n t , " he shouted, and drew from h i s desk a c o l o u r e d i l l u s t r a t i o n r a z o r e d out of some t r a d e j o u r n a l . It was  o f a c h i l d r e n ' s shoe department, and  circled  60  i n r e d b a l l p o i n t was  a t i n y throne  set on a d a i s about  two  f e e t high, and complete w i t h a f l o s s y b a l d a q u i n t h a t made the whole t h i n g l i k e a m i n i a t u r e two door r i p p e d o f f .  Every  h o l e r outhouse w i t h the  i n c h of i t was  covered w i t h rampant  l i o n s , u n i c o r n s , c o r o n e t s , and f l e u r - d e - l i s , and  seated  side by side as i f sharing a bowel movement were a boy i n short pants and a g i r l  i n a p i n k f r o c k , both wearing crowns,  and k n e e l i n g i n f r o n t o f them was  what seemed t o be the  salesman, dressed i n the r e d t u n i c and busby o f t h e Coldstream  Guards.  The mother o r nanny o f the r e g a l p a i r  beamed i n the background. "Here's what we want," he "Yes,  s i r , " Vara  shouted  yelled. back.  "But more a u t h e n t i c ! " "Authentic i t i s , "Expected  sir!"  completion time?" he  "Tomorrow, 1600  hours,  s i r , " she  "Good show!" he y e l l e d . "Righto, l e a v i n g me  s i r ! " She  standing there.  excused myself,  barked. shouted.  "Carry on,  lass."  spun around and marched out, He l o o k e d up at me,  and I  saying something about being her batman.  When I caught up w i t h her among the seated on a step s t o o l , bent  stock shelves she  was  over with laughter.  What S n e l l meant by a u t h e n t i c was the f i r s t  problem  and took three cups o f c o f f e e and over an hour to s o l v e . Should o r should not t h e r e be the  Stone of Scone, and under  whose throne would i t be placed?  Should i t be a l t e r n a t e d  61  from one throne t o the other? p a i r , and t o h e l l w i t h  Should t h e r e be an e g a l i t a r i a n  strict authenticity?  Or should we  stay w i t h one stone, and a s c o n s o l a t i o n t o the s t o n e l e s s one  give him o r h e r a n orb o r sceptre o r both?  t h e r e were two g i r l s l i k e  G o n e r i l and Regan?  Or what i f Or two boys  l i k e John and Richard? ' A u t h e n t i c or not, i t would have t o be two stones, w i t h a g i l d e d one s t o r e d under t h e p l a t f o r m i n case o f t r i p l e t s . Research took the r e s t o f the day, measuring  children  c h a i r s , s t a l k i n g c h i l d r e n l i k e quarry through the s t o r e , w a i t i n g f o r them t o s i t down o r go up steps, t h e n r u s h i n g infito measure where t h e y had been.  I n between, we found  stockrooms t o k i s s i n , and time t o wander through t h e f o o d floor  choosing f o o d f o r t h e camping t r i p .  counter as we dropped  Moore l a y on t h e  o f f o u r sketch pads and measuring  t a p e s , and on the way out I f l i c k e d  h i s shoe sole w i t h my  forefinger. H y s t e r i a Cottage meanwhile had blossomed.  The i n s i d e  o f the k i t c h e n cupboards b l a z e d out i n s c a r l e t and t h e doors and drawers s p a r k l e d w i t h d e c a l s o f p i n k and r e d roses. Ruffled rose-printed p l a s t i c Rose-decorated  c u r t a i n s hung i n the windows.  paper covered t h e w a l l where t h e door t o the  bathroom was, w i t h another whole rose bed m a t e r i a l i z i n g on the door i t s e l f . Huutala was wheeling h i s c h a i r around the d i n i n g room p a i n t i n g a w i l d t u r q u o i s e s t r i p around the woodwork, up and down a s f a r a s he could reach, h i s g a l l o n j u g between h i s  62  knees, h i s p a i n t I  can on the window s i l l .  "How's i t going?"  asked. "It  goes l i k e  t o the window s i l l fun,  hey p o i k a . "  i t comes," he shouted, w h i z z i n g over  f o r another b r u s h f u l .  "God damn good  He dipped t h e brush, swung t h e c h a i r i n t o  motion, and swept a l o n g , s l a s h i n g at the w a l l w i t h the brush l i k e a c a v a l r y sabre. paint  I p i c k e d up a b o t t l e o f beer and a  brush, t h e n began at t h e corner t o move through t h e  t u r q u o i s e carnage, g i v i n g the coup de grace.  When I got i n t o the o f f i c e , the  o t h e r way t o face mine.  Vara had t i l t e d h e r board  Starting with Snell's  illustration,  she had a l r e a d y roughed out the main p a r t s o f the r o y a l outhouse.  Moore l a y t h e r e i n h i s p l a c e .  "What time d i d you get here?" I whispered. "About twenty minutes ago.  I t was so warm and  b e a u t i f u l I walked." "What about him?"  Moore's b r e a t h i n g was even, a s i f  he were a c t u a l l y a s l e e p . "About f i v e minutes ago.  He l o o k e d a l i t t l e  s u r p r i s e d t o see me." "Did  he say anything?"  " I thought  he was going t o u n t i l he saw what I was  doing w i t h the board. he t h i n k s . "  Before I c o u l d answer, she added,  p a i n t i n g going? "Yes.  Anyhow I don't give a f a r t  f o r what  "How's t h e  Are you going t o be f i n i s h e d by F r i d a y ? " Don't worry about i t . "  63  I for  noticed that  she had  sketched out  some of the  curves  the canopy, so I took the measurements o f the p l a t f o r m  from h e r and  began l a y i n g out the drawing.  With Huutala  t e a r i n g around w i t h h i s p a i n t brush, t h e y ' d be f i n i s h e d too soon, and want t o open before Sunday n i g h t . the bathroom and hallway l e f t . p a i n t the  At l e a s t  only  Huutala couldn't  stairs.  The phone rang on the counter. without moving. she was  There was  I t rang a g a i n .  Moore l a y there  I glanced over t o Vara,  h o l d i n g h e r f i n g e r over her l i p s ,  and  shaking her head.  A f t e r t h r e e more r i n g s , I went and p i c k e d i t up.  I t was  D i l l s o n wanting Vara t o come downstairs. She around  brought  back a work o r d e r that had been l y i n g  f o r a week w a i t i n g f o r more i n s t r u c t i o n s .  says t h a t the man's over at the Hamilton  "She  Street garage  now,  and t h e y want somebody o v e r there r i g h t away." " I guess you have t o go t h e n , " I s a i d .  " I f you're  not back by l u n c h , I ' l l come up." Without  Vara t h e r e , I began by g r i n d i n g out  i m i t a t i o n o f S n e l l ' s p i c t u r e , t r y i n g t o guess what had i n mind, and what  an she  had  S n e l l meant by a u t h e n t i c i t y .  Gradually  the d e s i g n o f the canopy d r i f t e d toward arabesques  of c u r v i n g  l i n e s that  i n t e r l o c k e d around  r o s e t t e s and f l e u r de l i s , and  I l e t myself s e t t l e  comfortably i n t o t h e i r easy r e p e a t i n g  w h i r l s and t w i s t s .  Moore didn't move except f o r h i s c o f f e e  break, and f o r t h a t , he that  swung down so a b r u p t l y and  silently  I o n l y got a glimpse o f h i s back a s he disappeared down  64  the  stairs.  a c r o s s the  Promptly  on time, the hands i n the window  s t r e e t put out the geraniums.  On F r i d a y morning t h e r e would p r o b a b l y be a b i g scene  about my  t a k i n g o f f t o go camping.  At f o u r thousand the  shaded r a v i n e s .  a. few  feet t h e r e would s t i l l  screw them. be snow i n  I t ' s always s u r p r i s i n g t o f i n d i t , when  yards away i n the  w i t h tgree gum.  Well  sunlight the a i r i s a l r e a d y heavy  At the l a k e , the  sun would reach the c a b i n  c l e a r i n g around nine i n the morning, and  by a f t e r n o o n , i t  would be warm enough f o r swimming. The  arabesques t w i s t e d on down from the canopy,  r e a c h i n g around the thrones, c u r l i n g up l i k e v i n e s behind them, and ending i n two  symmetrical  crowns i n the c e n t r e .  shield  shaped spaces with  I f o l l o w e d them d r o w z i l y over the  sheet, p i c k i n g them up as they  spread now  from the edges  o f the p l a t f o r m , r e p e a t i n g the p a t t e r n on the canopy f a c i n g . When I met  Vara at the garage,  she was  by machinery, and t a l k i n g w i t h a g r e y i n g man " H i , Arvo.  T h i s i s Jock, and I'm  secrets of sandblasting.  surrounded  i n coveralls.  l e a r n i n g a l l the  He e t c h e s g l a s s w i t h i t . "  reached down i n t o a cardboard  She  c a r t o n and began s l i p p i n g out  tumblers etched w i t h monograms, names, c o a t s o f arms, maple leaves.  Jock  shone w i t h p r i d e .  "It looks like  I'll  have t o  spend most o f the a f t e r n o o n up here t o o , " she went on showing the  samples,  "How  i s the r o y a l p o t t y coming?"  " S f i e l l w i l l get h i s drawing." "That's good," she s a i d .  "I f e l t  bad about  sticking  65  you w i t h  it." " I t ' s not your f a u l t .  Now l e t ' s go f o r l u n c h . "  "Arvo, you don't mind, do you, i f j o c k comes a l o n g . He doesn't  have h i s l u n c h w i t h him,  him a l r e a d y . "  and I've sort o f i n v i t e d  And o f course j o c k came.  For the r e s t o f t h e day, I worked on Pegasus i n s t e a d , s t a r t i n g w i t h the Japanese idea from yesterday.  Gradually  as sheet p i l e d on sheet, the form became more and more d e l i c a t e , t h e mane a neat l i t t l e  caravan o f s n a i l  shells,  the wing f e a t h e r s o v e r l a p p i n g rows o f d a i s y p e t a l s ,  until  i t l o o k e d l i k e a P e r s i a n m i n i a t u r e carved i n i v o r y . Vara d i d n ' t phone, and I l e f t her.  e a r l y t o a v o i d seeing  H y s t e r i a Cottage was empty, t h e b u s t l e o f yesterday  stopped a s suddenly a s i t must have s t a r t e d , p a i n t i n g ending a t a ragged  Huutala's  high water mark on the  I went u p s t a i r s t o l i e down f o r a w h i l e .  stairs. When I  woke up, i t was dark, and e v e r y t h i n g q u i e t .  I didn't expect t o see Moore alone since I n o t i c e d t h a t Vara had signed i n . still rang.  covered.  i n the morning, But her board was  I s t a r t e d f o r the c a f e t e r i a when the phone  I t was h e r v o i c e .  "Arvo?  Thank god i t ' s you.  I got there t h i s morning, he was l y i n g on the  counter  covered w i t h those drawing board c l o t h s , except f e e t , and I almost threw up.  for his  Arvo, l i s t e n t o me.  going t o stay i n t h a t room w i t h the son o f a b i t c h he  stops t h a t a c t . "  When  I'm not until  66  "Where are you?" "The  garage where I was y e s t e r d a y .  There* s a t a b l e  down here next t o the o f f i c e where I can work, i f you b r i n g my t e e square and paper down f o r me." "How  about your hungry  "Who?  Jock?  friend?"  Wliat about him?"  " Nothing." "What are you t a l k i n g about then?" about two the  Moore's head  f e e t away, h i s b r e a t h i n g s o f t e r , l i s t e n i n g .  was  I pulled  phone f a r t h e r away. " W e l l , nothing.  What do you  "Just the o r d i n a r y t h i n g s .  need?" It's all  so damned  isn't  i t ? " She paused f o r an answer, t h e n went on,  about  i f I met "It  you a l o n g the  "How  way."  doesn't matter."  " W e l l , something's the matter then, the way sound.  silly,  you  I s he g e t t i n g t o you t o o ? " "No." " W e l l , s h a l l I meet you then?" "Whatever." "I'll  come s t r a i g h t up Hamilton now.  "Okay," I  s a i d and hung up.  down at Moore's f a c e . you p r i c k ? flicker.  And  I stood t h e r e l o o k i n g  How much d i d you get out o f that chat,  s t i l l , the c o r n e r s o f h i s mouth seemed t o  But Vara was  What must i t look l i k e bay, one man  A l l right?"  right.  The whole t h i n g was  silly.  from the windows a c r o s s the l o a d i n g  l y i n g on a counter, t h e o t h e r standing t h e r e  67  motionless,  studying the c o r n e r s o f h i s mouth.  On t h e way out, I managed t o c l i p  h i s ankle  sharply  w i t h t h e p o i n t e d c r o s s arm o f Vara's t e e square. A f t e r having taeen spooked out o f t h e o f f i c e only a while  before, Vara was i r r i t a t i n g l y j u b i l a n t .  going up, t h e p l a c e  W a l l s were  sounded l i k e the C l a r k Street garage  when she got t h e r e , because the f l o o r p l a t e s were being f i r e d i n w i t h p i s t o l s , vent h o l e s were appearing i n t h e r o o f , Jock t r y i n g t o sketch out h i s i d e a s a s she t r i e d t o t r a n s l a t e them, and not a word o f why she hadn't w a i t e d f o r me i n the c a f e t e r i a , i n s t e a d o f coming up here.  Only time f o r a quick  c o f f e e , are you coming down t o have l u n c h w i t h us, k i s s me, come down and see, everybody's j o k i n g and l a u g h i n g a l l the time.  I walked t o w i t h i n a block o f t h e garage w i t h h e r  and turned back, saying I had a drawing at the p r i n t e r s . And while what was I doing?  Saint V a l e n t i n e ' s Day was being An a u t h e n t i c double  h o l e r f o r K i d d i e ' s Shoes,  and p a s t i c h e s o f P e r s i a n p o n i e s , and watching rent p l a n man p l a y dead. And  still  re-enacted,  a lecherous  Poor bugger me.  on second thought,  P e r s i a n Pegasus was a d e l i c a t e , p e t a l wings and l e g s l i k e r e e d s .  l o o k i n g at i t now, t h e  sensitive t h i n g with i t s A l l i t r e a l l y needed was  some k i n d o f f i n e l y - w o r k e d t e x t u r e , a r e g u l a r p a t t e r n r e p e a t i n g every two o r t h r e e i n c h e s over t h e twenty foot design. The  shape o f a l a u r e l l e a f .  I r u l e d out a g r i d , and  began the r e p e a t s as t i n y a s r i c e g r a i n s on t h e sheet, p o i n t t o p o i n t , t h e negative  shapes themselves becoming l e a v e s ,  68  h u n d r e d s o f them. A s t h e y s p r e a d o u t f r o m t h e c o r n e r , t h e IBM t i c k e d o f f the minutes, twelve or f i f t e e n of the g r a i n s t o the minute.  clock  little  M o o r e s l i p p e d away t o d r i n k h i s  c o f f e e a n d r u b h i s a c h i n g m u s c l e s , r e t u r n e d , s l e p t , and o u t f o r l u n c h a s t h e h u n d r e d s became a t h o u s a n d , t h e n a n h o u r o r so a n o t h e r t h o u s a n d ,  went  after  and g r a d u a l l y another.  At  t i m e s d u r i n g t h e . a f t e r n o o n t h e room d i s s o l v e d a l t o g e t h e r a mist of sunlight, or without warning the covered boards  became c r o u c h i n g a n i m a l s , o r t h e g e r a n i u m s  eyes w i t h t h e i r throbbing l i g h t . shift  surface, then f a l l  wind on a g r a i n f i e l d a c r o s s the would  In  network  a n d v a n i s h f o r a moment, o r jump out  and f l o a t above t h e  leaf  The  suddenly  recede  into  drawing held  from the  The  frame,  like  the  dissolve.  between t h e w i n g , head  542  and  i n o t h e r a r e a s , t h e y were t h e a l p h a b e t , r e p e a t i n g o v e r  and o v e r .  F o r a w h i l e t h e y were s y l l a b l e s o f p o e t r y , t h e n  numbers a g a i n , a n d t h e n w o r d s o f p o p u l a r s o n g s . five  sheet  some r e m o t e d i s t a n c e , a n d  some s h a p e s I c o u n t e d t h e g r a i n s a s I drew t h e m , back l e g s , 970  would  black l i n e s  shapes w o u l d loom o u t , b l u r t o g e t h e r , and  between the  my  of lines  back r i p p l i n g  sheet.  into  hundred  she l o v e s me  For  almost  o f t h e m , ;< t h e r o w s w e r e games o f she l o v e s  me,  n o t , s o m e t i m e s V a r a , most o f t e n V a r a , but f o r  a change M i s s O ' T o o l e , t h e g i r l  from  S o i n t u l a who  coughed,  a n d e v e n t h e one whose f a c e had b e e n k i c k e d by a h o r s e . When I drew i n t h e l a s t  one,  I threw the cover on the  and w a l k e d out w i t h o u t l o o k i n g a t t h e d r a w i n g .  Moore  board slept  69  on; i t was s t i l l twenty minutes t o q u i t t i n g time, and screw Miss  Dillson.  H y s t e r i a Cottage had exploded i n t o a c t i o n a g a i n . Huutala was h o i s t i n g h i m s e l f backwards up the s t a i r s ,  step  by step w i t h h i s j u g and p a i n t can, while my mother t e e t e r e d on a c h a i r , p a i n t i n g the o u t s i d e o f the r a i l i n g , r e a c h i n g f o r her refreshment  between the  balusters.  " P r e t t y good, hey p o i k a l " Hhutala shouted, "You take good l o o k l "  I opened the l i v i n g  room door, not knowing  quite what t o expect a f t e r h i s t u r q u o i s e c a v a l r y charge o f the day before y e s t e r d a y . The e n t i r e room glowed l i k e a furnace from the raw p i n k p l a s t i c . d r a p e s on the f r o n t windows. t o the r i g h t o f the door  Along the w a l l  stood a sagging maroon c h e s t e r f i e l d  couch, and o n the o t h e r side o f the door, t o my l e f t , a n armchair, part o f the maroon s u i t e .  I n f r o n t o f the  centered i n the p i n k l i g h t was a chipped s i d e - t a b l e  curtains, carrying  a s t a r v e d l o o k i n g rubber p l a n t w i t h t h r e e b a t t e r e d l e a v e s . But what  seemed t o be meant a s the f o c a l p o i n t o f the room  was a huge f a l s e f i r e p l a c e b u i l t mostly of wood w i t h l a t h e t u r n e d p i l a s t e r s o n both s i d e s set a g a i n s t , o r i n t o , that looked l i k e  scarlet  brick.  Through the door Huutala saw me examining good, hey?" he shouted,  "That's f o r you.  you always want f i r e p l a c e . " narrow adhesive tape.  something  it.  "Pretty  Your momma sayrs  The mortar had been put on w i t h  "That's your j o b t o n i g h t .  Your momma  70  don't l i k e the  brick.  I had j u s t  Too p h o n e y ,  she  f i n i s h e d over five  of r i c e .  On t h e  fireplace  bricks to  be p a i n t e d one  t h e r e must  by  say." thousand p o i n t e d  grains  be o v e r two h u n d r e d  one.  "How a b o u t m a r b l e , " I a s k e d .  "It  w o u l d go w i t h  those p i l l a r s . " "No,  I want  "But  i t w o u l d go w i t h t h e w a l l s t o o . "  marble contrast "Anyway,  b r i c k s , " my m o t h e r  said.  w i t h the green and s i l v e r  I ' m not  sure I c a n p a i n t  A grained  s t r i p e s , why  bricks that  big to  not?  look  real." I waited as I heard her g l a s s being All  s h e ' d have t o  morning.  I  say i s t h a t  set  on the  I painted b r i c k s every  s h o u l d have t o l d h e r t h a t  I d i d n ' t have  stair.  weekend enough  paint. "I What a b o u t  don't l i k e marble," fieldstone  a n d we c o u l d s c r o u n g e  she  blurted,  "It's  t h e n as a compromise, t h e y ' r e a stuffed  deer head f o r o v e r  so l o n e l y . " larger, the  mantlepiece. "It's cracking as I  die,  she t h o u g h t  so a w f u l l y l o n e l y . " about  just  stuck  i n the If  her off  an o l d rugged cross,  A l l I want  into fantasies,  I heard h i s j u g  was  rose  now, t h a t  "When  i s a p l a i n wooden  w i t h one o f t h o s e t i n  g r o u n d , w i t h one w h i t e  I said fieldstone  Her v o i c e  the l o n e l i n e s s of marble.  d o n ' t p u t m a r b l e o v e r me.  cross,  me.  so l o n e l y ,  cans  in it."  would r e a l l y  drive  and t h e r e was H u u t a l a s i t t i n g b e h i n d  s l o s h a s he p i c k e d i t  up,  drank,  and  71  set i t down.  He was p r o b a b l y r e f l e c t i n g on man's m o r t a l i t y  too. "Okay, I ' l l  do b r i c k s then," I s a i d .  "What c o l o u r  do you want?" "Red "The  ones," she  s a i d , her v o i c e b r i g h t e n i n g suddenly.  k i n d they have on f i r e p l a c e s . " I went i n t o the k i t c h e n , drank a tumbler o f wine  f o r the o r d e a l , and t h e n another one t o start work w i t h . Vara would l i k e l y be swimming now, Asi  blocked out the b r i c k s w i t h c h a r c o a l and  on a base c o l o u r , Huutala up the  so I'd phone her l a t e r .  sang, working h i s way  began  backwards  stairs. Ven i t ' s springtime i n the Rockies, I am coming back t o you, L i t t l e sweetheart o f the mountains Vit- your bonny eyes so blue.  My mother j o i n e d i n now  and t h e n on a few words, or when he  l i f t e d h i s j u g , s l i p p e d i n the f i r s t two Love C a l l .  The  l i n e s of I n d i a n  s c a r l e t glowed under the warm glaze o f umber,  even under the payne's grey and burnt umber shadows. Huutala  sang on.  C a r o l i n a Moon, When I t ' s Lamp L i g h t i n g Time  i n t h e V a l l e y , j e a l o u s Heart, Bury Me Prairie,  -The  Not on the Lone  P r i s o n e r ' s Song, The Wreck o f the Old Number  Nine, and between numbers, the f i r s t two l i n e s o f I n d i a n Love C a l l t r e m b l e d i n t o the l i v i n g  room.  The  brick  highlights  would have t o be naples yellow, some v a r i a t i o n i f she wanted those p i n k c u r t a i n s up.  Huutala's memory was i n e x h a u s t i b l e ,  South o f the Border, The  Beer B a r r e l p o l k a , We'll Hang Out  Our Washing on the S i e g f r i e d L i n e , Yours, The White C l i f f s of  72  Dover, and when World War 11 had been tapped, it was back to Tipperary, and Smile the v i l e , you bid me sad uhdoo, Ven the clouds r o l l by I come to you. After the third time my mother f e l l off the chair, they sat on the couch with the jug, admiring, offering advice, and entertaining me with more song hits from the great days of gramophone, with quavering inserts of Indian Love C a l l ' s first two l i n e s .  By that time I had my own jug of goof,  and when the lights finally had to be put on, the fireplace looked like an aging whore caught i n a spotlight. I didn't sleep through the hangover, and when I woke up a pool of black pain sloshed around i n the back of my skull.  I got my clothes on somehow by keeping my head level  and went down the stairs one by one as i f balancing a pitcher of water on my head.  Huutala lay asleep on the couch, his  wheelchair spun off i n front of the fireplace, a spectral bon vivant warming himself, with a half empty wine glass on the floor beside him. I squinted my eyes i n advance, but even then, opening the front door set off a long yellow explosion.  Outside,  the heat and light separated, the buildings and playground invisible.  Then as the flare subsided, the shadows on the  street deepened abruptly into scissored shapes of translucent cobalt lying around like discarded patterns or templates. The buildings took on hard sharp edges, cooling along the corners and cornices, until I found myself moving through a  73  huge t o y c i t y punched n e a t l y out o f p l a s t i c , w i t h  drifting  scale f i g u r e s shadowy and at the same time t o o f l a t distinct  i n the v i c i o u s u n f i l t e r e d l i g h t .  and  A f t e r Main S t r e e t ,  I moved a l o n g the shadows, c o n c e n t r a t i n g c a r e f u l l y on t h a t s l o s h i n g i n my  s k u l l , and r u s h i n g a c r o s s i n t e r s e c t i o n s w i t h  my eyes almost  closed.  I n the darkness o f T e s s i e ' s c a f e , I began t r y i n g to t h i n k about Vara and the weekend. the  shopping hadn't  I hadn't phoned her and  been s t a r t e d on, not even a l i s t made.  Some k i n d o f present would have t o be bought  f o r her, and  t h e n the e x p l o s i o n at H y s t e r i a Cottage tomorrow morning t o be f a c e d .  I phoned the Hamilton Street garage.  r o a r o f a j a c k hammer a man and  Over the  shouted t h a t Vara had been i n ,  left. When I signed i n , D i l l s o n handed me an envelope t h a t  I r e a d on my way  up the  stairs.  y e s t e r d a y a f t e r n o o n , June 29, was  "Your absence  from duty  noted and an a p p r o p r i a t e  adjustment w i l l be e n t e r e d t o the p a y r o l l o f f i c e .  J.L. D i l l s o n . "  I threw i t i n the basket, the twenty minutes would cost me  an  hour. I took the cover o f f the board.  Pegasus l a y t h e r e  button-eyed among h i s f i v e thousand g r a i n s .  Lettered  neatly  under i t was, ' T i s more t o guide, t h a n spur the Muse's steed, R e s t r a i n h i s f u r y , t h a n provoke h i s speed; The winged c o u r s e r , l i k e a generous horse, Shows more t r u e m e t t l e when you check h i s course. I e r a s e d i t a s I had e r a s e d the horse t u r d s . has been noted.  Your absence  74  I had h a l f expected Vara to p-hone by now.  With  Moore l y i n g there sleeping so peacefully, or looking as i f he was, the heat and silence were making me  so drowzy that I  leaned my head down on my arms on the drawing board.  What  a bloody luxury vfct would be to shove him o f f there, and l i e down.  A consummation devoutly to be wished.  That coffee  only made me t h i r s t i e r , or reminded me how t h i r s t y I was. I should have f i n i s h e d that wine by the wheelchair. that damned shopping.  She could at least phone.  And  But a  glass of coaLd beer with condensation streaming down the sides. I gathered up my  notebook and a r o l l of Pegasus  drawings and started out, just to keep awake.  At the door  of the Construction O f f i c e , I stopped to study some mythical page i n the book u n t i l I was  sure that D i l l s o n saw that I  was on gainful Morgan business. After a few blocks, the pain i n my head seemed to have congealed, and now l a y l i k e a bullet i n the back of my But at least I could think more c l e a r l y .  skull.  There were few  people on the street, except for the usual rummies along Cordova.  The cripple who  sold the s i l v e r wire names had taken  up a post across the street from me, the corner of Abbott.  beside a bus stop at  Above him a couple of f l a g s drooped  from a store canopy, with a sign between them saying Americans".  Maybe that's the way Morgan started out,  beside some Yonge Street hitching post i n  "Welcome crouched  1337.  At a sporting goods store a block farther along, I  75  began the  shopping w i t h a twenty f o o t l e n g t h o f yellow n y l o n  cord and two t e n foot  squares o f heavy c l e a r p l a s t i c ,  f o r the ground, the o t h e r i n case i t r a i n e d .  At a  one  fisherman's  store I p i c k e d up d r i e d v e g e t a b l e s , t h e n stopped f o r a i n the  beer  Stanley. The w a i t e r , seeing the d o l l a r on the t a b l e , a u t o m a t i c a l l y  dropped two  g l a s s e s down.  manner, b e a u t i f u l l y c o l d . out a food l i s t  w a i t e r brought  her.  i n the Moore  second,  I scribbled  had t a l k e d about on Tuesday.  she was  knocking o f f the cognac and  And a h a l f dozen b o t t l e s o f wine.  another two  beers.  And the present f o r  Something from Chinatown, some c h i n t z y h a n d - c r a f t e d  bauble  carved out o f a peach stone i n Taiwan.  t o o l e d c r u s t a c e a n set w i t h abaloJne K w a k i u t l totem brooch from thing.  Nagoya.  Some e x q u i s i t e l y -  i n Mexico, then.  A  Some c r a f t sy make-and-do  I ordered one more beer t o round out the d o l l a r ,  bought the  and  liquor.  On the way was  one  Four b o t t l e s then, i n c l u d i n g one medium p r i c e d  scotch, o r b e t t e r two. The  As I sipped the  from what we  But the l i q u o r , the way chablis.  I drank the f i r s t  back, I n o t i c e d the c r i p p l e a g a i n .  the answer t o the g i f t problem.  He  I c r o s s e d over t o h i s  corner. He seemed t o have caught the p a t r i o t i c f e v e r o f a l l the merchants.  Mary, Betty, Susan, and Ruby s t i l l l a y p i n n e d  on h i s faded v e l v e t  d i s p l a y board,  but  sparkling bravely  among them were O l d G l o r i e s , O l d G l o r i e s c r o s s e d w i t h Canadian f l a g s , enamel maple l e a v e s and beavers, Canada and USA  spelled  76  out i n s i l v e r w i r e , and even a l a r g e s i l v e r wire maple l e a f t h a t was s t i l l b o r n but pinned up anyway. A row o f t i n y f l a g s were stuck a l o n g the t o p o f t h e board, and down the crepe paper.  s i d e s , s c r a p s o f red, white and blue  The same paper festooned the edge o f the  board, w i t h l i t t l e  skate-  paper r o s e t t e s taped i n t o the wheels.  More f l a g s and maple l e a v e s t r a i l e d and covered the e n t i r e f r o n t o f h i s coat.  down h i s sleeves, Another row o f  t i n y f l a g s stuck out o f h i s hat band, behind a c r u d e l y drawn copy o f t h e Peace Arch motto: I l e a n e d down. really  CHILDREN OF A COMMON MOTHER.  "Excuse me, p l e a s e , i s t h a t wire  silver?" He g l a n c e d up, and h i s eyes narrowed.  t h i n k I am. silver,  "What do you  I run an honeTst business, and i f I say i t ' s  i t ' s silver." "I'm  s o r r y , I didn't mean i t that way, what I meant  i s I'd l i k e t o buy some." His eyes narrowed t o s l i t s . "I'd  "What f o r ? "  l i k e t o make something."  "Names?" "No,  something e l s e . "  "Honestly, I don't "The  H i s eyes wouldn't move.  know what y e t . "  answer i s no."  "Could you make something f o r me then?" "Such as?" he asked  suspiciously.  " I wonder i f you c o u l d do,"  I glanced at h i s hat,  " C h i l d r e n o f a Uommon Mother f o r me, out o f one p i e c e o f wire,  77 I mean s i l v e r w i r e . " "It'll  cost you, l e t ' s see," he counted  f i n g e r s , "Three b i g words, and two  little  on h i s  ones, i t ' l l  be a  buck s e v e n t y - f i v e . " It was off  too much, but he was  a l r e a d y winding the  a spool, t w i s t i n g i t with h i s t i n y p l i e r s ,  opening  and  closing.  "Do  you want i t one  row,  answer he went on,  "That M t h e r e ' s a new  with that t w i r l y part. the M, him,  and almost  squatting.  My  I'm  he asked,  Before I c o u l d  kinda  capital,  I k n e l t down t o  see  so I moved beside  "Yeah, you g o t t a keep up,"  "Yeah. not  idea."  p i t c h e d forward on him,  h e l d the t h i n g out a g a i n .  "but  own  h i s mouth  o r i n kinda two,"  h o l d i n g i t out, c o c k i n g h i s head c r i t i c a l l y .  wire  he  said.  He  " I n t e r e s t i n g , eh?"  i n the a r t b u s i n e s s myself,"  I said,  s i l v e r w i r e , of course." "Yeah, i t ' s a kinda s p e c i a l t y a l l r i g h t .  Not many  around." "Right  now  I'm  working on t h i s b i g d e s i g n o f Pegasus,"  I offered. He was  winding  jaw working sideways. my work, the way tell  t h a t ' s my "Do  the  a c u r l i c u e on the end o f C h i l d r e n , h i s "That  little  part there's a sign of  D t h e r e kinda doubles  back, you  work i f you know a n y t h i n g about  can  silver."  you know C e l l i n i ' s work?" I asked, hoping t o work  i n a compliment.  Immediately he was  "Where's h i s stand?"  suspicious again.  7B  "It's  not any more.  He's been dead f o r quite a  while."  „ He stopped f o r a moment i n memory o f C e l l i n i .  we come and go i n t h i s w o r l d , a l l r i g h t , " he sighed.  "Yeah, "And  t h a t ' s the god damned t r u t h . " I t r i e d c h e e r i n g him up.  "Yeah.  But you l i v e o n  t h r o u g h your a r t . " "No," he s a i d s a d l y , l o o k i n g a c r o s s t h e s t r e e t , "No. It's  l i k e t h a t guy you was j u s t t a l k i n g about.  him?  Where's h i s work now, the names he made?  Who remembers Getting a l l  black i n some bureau drawer somewhere, f o r g o t t e n , o r t a k e n apart  by some k i d t o use the wire." "That's o n l y some," I s a i d g u i l t i l y .  "When you f i n i s h  CHILDREN OF A COMMON MOTHER f o r me, I'm going t o take  real  care o f i t . " He brightened a l i t t l e , can t e l l  " I c a n t e l l you w i l l .  you got strong H e e l i n g s .  I  Know how I can t e l l ? "  "No." "Because you asked me t o make CHILDREN OF A COMMON MOTHER, t h a t ' s how. When you s a i d do CHILDREN OF A COMMON MOTHER f o r me p l e a s e ,  I knew you had strong  feelings."  Suddenly he grabbed me around the neck a s i f he was going t o k i s s me.  "And do you know what?"  drawing my face c l o s e r s t i l l . t r i e d t o shake my head. again,  "And do you know what?"  " I appreciate  so I c o u l d f e e l h i s whiskers.  whole l o t .  He squeezed,  it."  He squeezed  " I appreciate  And do you know what e l s e ? "  I  it a  79  Before he c o u l d squeeze  a g a i n , I managed t o gasp,  "Would you l i k e a beer?" He r e l a x e d and l e a n e d back.  "I'm broke."  "Okay, I ' l l buy then." " W e l l , come t o t h i n k o f i t , b u s i n e s s has been k i n d a slow. . ."  I glanced a t my watch, maybe he would f o r g e t i t ,  ". . .you're o n i " his  And he had h i s de splay hoard snapped on  back, and was wheeling toward the curb, p r o p e l l i n g  h i m s e l f l i k e a chimpanzee. Before I c o u l d c a t c h up he stopped. d i r t y son o f a b i t c h i n '  b a s t a r d , " he y e l l e d , and began  f l a p p i n g h i s arms and howling, I thought  "God damned  "Aaal  Aaal  Aaal"  he had put h i s hand on a c i g a r e t t e b u t t .  "What's t h e matter?" "The matter?" he screamed. sidewalkt"  "Feel that  cocksucken  He grabbed ray hand t o drag me down,  He put h i s hand down a g a i n .  "Aaal  Aaal  Aaal"  "Here l " He was  f l a p p i n g h i s arms, howling. Several passersby had stopped, and I saw a policeman at the i n t e r s e c t i o n , l o o k i n g our way. you, then."  "Here, l e t me push  I got behind and began t o push a g a i n s t h i s back,  when he screamed a g a i n . "Stop t h a t , f o r C h r i s t ' s sake I  You're f u c k i n g up my  d i s p l a y I" "What am I going t o do then," I pleaded. "I his  don't know what t h e fuck you're going t o do,"  v o i c e was r i s i n g t o a h i g h - p i t c h e d w a i l ,  "But you  80  promised me  a beer, and I fucken w e l l want i t ! "  The policeman had t a k e n a step i n our d i r e c t i o n .  I  reached i n t o the paper shopping bag and p u l l e d out the y e l l o w nylon rope. "Here, 1*11  I t i e d i t quickly p u l l you t h e n .  on the wheel  Now  mountings.  f o r God's sake, stop t h a t  yelling." I gave the rope a t u g , and the .smoothly.  The  cripple  policeman a s we I n the  skateboard moved along  sat back, t h e n d o f f e d h i s hat t o the  passed. New  a corner t a b l e , 1  F o u n t a i n , I s t a r t e d t o p u l l him  but he s t a r t e d  screeching,  "There.  toward There.  Over by the bar!" The t a p man the  cripple  said,  came over w i t h two  " I want you t o meet my  The w a i t e r g l a n c e d at me, The delicate  beers.  "Freddy,"  good f r i e n d P i g a s s . "  and went back t o the bar.  c r i p p l e h e l d h i s g l a s s up t o the l i g h t , took a  s i p , and disappeared under the t a b l e .  was at my  right, l i k e a surfacing  "Hey,  p i g a s s , " he  Suddenly he  duck.  whispered.  " I s a i d I was working on a d e s i g n o f pronouncing i t as c l e a r l y as I c o u l d .  Pegasus,"  " I t ' s a horse from  Greek mythology,  c r e a t e d when Medusa's blood soaked  the  had v a n i s h e d again.  ground." HHe  Vara had probably phoned by now, coffee, The  and D i l l s o n ' s on watch.  into  Moore's been t o  I gulped the beer down.  c r i p p l e ' s head popped up again, the f l a g s askew as i f he  had been h i t by a broadside.  !  'S-s-s-t!  Pigassl  Hand down your g l a s s ! "  "What f o r . " "Herel"  H i s hand f l a s h e d out from under the t a b l e ,  h o l d i n g a medicine  b o t t l e f i l l e d w i t h p a l e green f l u i d .  "What's t h a t , " I asked. He l o o k e d at me,  and  another O l d G l o r y t o p p l e d . he  shook,„his head so hard t h a t " B a y s i e , " he  repeated as i f t o a c h i l d . The  I shook my  beer had t a s t e d b i t t e r .  soon as I c o u l d now,  said.  "Bay-zee,"  head.  I had t o get back as  before Freddy came over w i t h  another  beer, and I had to u r i n a t e . When I stood up, two v i c i o u s l y t h a t I almost you going —  fell  hands grabbed my  pant  back i n the c h a i r .  l e g s so  "Where  P i g ass."  "I'm  going t o the can, i f you don't mind.  The  Now  l e t go."  hands h e l d f o r a moment, t h e n w i t h a t w i s t  withdrew slowly back, l i k e two  huge s p i d e r s .  enough o f C e l l i n i ' s descendants, f e e t o f n y l o n rope.  That  and i t had cost me  was twenty  I would leave by the r e a r f i r e d o o r l  He was w a i t i n g o u t s i d e the washroom door, h i s f l a g s p r i m l y r e a r r a n g e d , h o l d i n g up the rope w i t h t h r u s t i n g g e s t u r e s , l i k e a dog a s k i n g t o be walked.  The  skateboard  stood  slightly  sideways i n the passage, so t h a t t o p a s s I would have t o step over i t .  He  h i s hand.  s t a r e d up, making t h a t t w i t c h i n g movement w i t h  I mumbled something about having t o get t o work, and  s t a r t e d t o step over. "Please l e t me He didn't move.  His hands shot out a g a i n s t the w a l l s . by, I have to go to work." And  I couldn't  step over.  He  stared  82  up s i l e n t l y , w i t h t h a t c r u s t o f t r a s h y f l a g s faintly, vomit  black and obscene.  o f the l a v a t o r y .  glittering  I c o u l d smell t h e s t a l e p i s s and  He t w i t c h e d the rope out a g a i n , and  I k i c k e d t h e skateboard a s hard as I c o u l d , sending i t s k i t t e r i n g , s p i n n i n g end over end a l o n g t h e t i l e  floor,  smashing i n  under a t a b l e among t h e c h a i r l e g s where the s h r i e k i n g out.  "Aaaal  Aaaal  broke  Aaaal"  Freddy met me i n t h e a i s l e , grabbed me by the arm a s d e f t l y as a square dancer, and l e d me back. to the t a b l e , the shrieking of frogs. around,  As we came up  stopped a b r u p t l y l i k e t h e c r o a k i n g  Then a s we watched, the c h a i r s began t o r u s t l e  a low m u t t e r i n g s t a r t e d , mixed w i t h s n i v e l l i n g , and  g r a d u a l l y I c o u l d make out words, son o f a whore,  cocksucker,  Pigass. Freddy  stooped down, making coaxing sounds.  After a  minute o r so, t h e skateboard began t o emerge s h y l y , t h e t a t t e r e d trimmings,  and f i n a l l y the c r i p p l e h i m s e l f , s u l l e n , a l l h i s  hat f l a g s smashed down a g a i n , h i s d i s p l a y board vertically!  Still  buckled  crouching, Freddy asked him what had  happened. The  cripple  s n u f f l e d , wiped h i s nose on the i n s i d e  of h i s sleeve, h i s v o i c e racked.  " I see p i g a s s here go t o  the t o i l e t , an' I f o l l o w him, j u s t Freddy, you know what i t ' s l i k e ,  f o r a bit o f help.  how hard i t i s , Fre€dy,  f o r me t o p i s s o f f the edge o f t h i s skateboard at the best o f times without  d r i b b l i n g onto i t ,  the end and a l l ,  just  so's i t ' l l  t h e r e ' s always a few drops.  how I got t o squeeze  c l e a r t h e edge, and s t i l l  An' now w i t h a l l these  decora-  33  t i o n s . . ."  He l i c k e d h i s f i n g e r , and t e n d e r l y stuck back  a l o o s e f l a p o f crepe paper.  'I was  but what had he wanted me t o do? trough?  To dangle him o v e r the  Even i f I propped him up on one knee, i t would have  been hard t o h o l d him. to  touched by h i s dilemma,  Or maybe a l l he wanted was f o r me  get the skateboard up on the p l a t f o r m , so he  have t o squeeze the end Suddenly he was  wouldn't  so hard. screaming.  son o f a whore here boots me  "And t h i s  cocksucken  under the t a b l e s t o get out o f  p a y i n g me the buck s e v e n t y - f i v e , an' do you know what i t ' s l i k e under the t a b l e s ?  Aaaal  dark down t h e r e , I ' l l t e l l  Aaaal  Aaaal  I t ' s fucken  you, an' a l l them c i g a r e t t e b u t t s  an' s p i t , an' C h r i s t o n l y knows what crap u n t i l you see i t for  your s e l f I"  He took a deep breath t o s t a r t going Aaa  a g a i n , but Freddy p a t t e d him i n t o Freddy "Okay.  stood up.  He probably doubled a s  and  I d i d , but he was  blocking  —"  "Him?  A cripple  s n u f f l e d on cue. "How  bouncer.  Did you k i c k him under the t a b l e s ? " " W e l l , yeah, I suppose  my way,  silence.  b l o c k i n g your way?"  The  Freddy snatched out and grabbed my  t a l l are you, p i s s a s s , o r whatever they c a l l He  shook me.  "About  me what the h e l l was  lapel.  you?"  s i x f e e t , " I s a i d , and I  l u r c h e d over as Freddy whispered w i t h the c r i p p l e .  i t was a b e a u t i f u l  cripple  was  It struck  I doing, bent over l i k e t h i s , when here  sunlit  day before a l o n g weekend w i t h a  l o v e l y woman, a j o b t o f i n i s h i n a quiet  c l e a n draughting  84  o f f i c e , and now g i v i n g my height t o a S i c i l i a n ape f o r k i c k i n g , a f l a g - d e c o r a t e d c r i p p l e r i d i n g a skateboard, under some t a b l e s at the New F o u r t a i n . Freddy l u r c h e d me up again. fifty  because he s t i l l  "He'll  got the w i r e .  take him some p l a c e , an' c a l l  s e t t l e f o r a buck  He j u s t wants you t o  i t square."  The c r i p p l e was  r e s e t t i n g h i s f l a g s and s t r a i g h t e n i n g out h i s buckled  board  on the edge o f the t a b l e . As I hauled him a l o n g w i t h t h a t yellow n y l o n rope, I r e f l e c t e d b i t t e r l y on c r i p p l e s . I was p u l l i n g them.  I f I wasn't pushing them,  No, he doesn't  The l u n c h hour trade i s gone.  want t o go where he was.  No, he doesn't want  and H a s t i n g s , people w i t h p a r c e l s won't buy. want V i c t o r y  Pigass.  No, he doesn't  Square, t o o h o t . Too hot a l l along the n o r t h  side o f the s t r e e t , no t r a d e on the south. my shopping  Abbott  bag t o the o t h e r hand, don't  When I changed  jerk  so much,  Block by block we went up Hastings, the tow rope  l e n g t h e n i n g a s I t r i e d t o remove m y s e l f from t h i s loathsome burden and the t e e t h - g r i n d i n g r a t t l e  c l i c k - c l a c k i n g over the  c r a c k s i n the sidewalk. We were p a s s i n g t h e massed f l a g s and blue o f Morgans, the great  s h i n i n g automobiles  bunting  i n the arcades.  S i t t i n g there at the end o f twenty f e e t o f rope w i t h h i s r a t t y crepe paper, t h e c r i p p l e , h i s eyes sweeping back and forth.  "Cross over, P i g a s s , " he y e l l e d . I dragged him a l o n g i n f r o n t , t r y i n g t o keep my face  down i n case I met someone from the s t o r e .  At t h e end o f  85  the rope, the c r i p p l e was Motors man  r a n t i n g about  being a General  h i m s e l f , t h a t these fucken f o r e i g n c a r s don't  stand up t o the Canadian h i m s e l f t o the f r o n t  roads.  I finally left  bumper of a Dusenberg.  the arcade, I took the crumpled r o l l out o f the  him  tying  At the end o f  o f Pegasus drawings  shopping bag, and r e r o l l e d them as n e a t l y a s I  could. I n the quiet o f the o f f i c e , Moore l o o k e d so p e a c e f u l on the counter, almost  b e a t i f i c , with h i s fingers interlocked  on h i s b e l l y , h i s head propped immaculately  up on the phone book, h i s  creased fawn s l a c k s and p o l i s h e d brown brogues.  A f t e r that greasy, p i s s - d r i b b l e d skateboard, even the p a l e blue counter had a serene  d i g n i t y o f p r o p o r t i o n , a grace  beyond the r e a c h o f a r t ,  And Pegasus the j e w e l o f the l o t ,  the u n r a v i s h e d b r i d e , modest as a d a i s y i n i t s l a c e o f laurel leaves. always t e l l  That p a r t t h e r e ' s a s i g n o f my work, you can  i t i f you know a n y t h i n g about  p l a s t e r horses.  With the modest m i r a c l e o f Pegasus accomplished the morning b r i g h t w i t h sunshine why  and  not j u s t o f f e r Moore a  d r i n k and  be done w i t h the a n t i c s , on Monday there we'd  one, two,  t h r e e , at our drawing  be,  boards and a l l the game over.  With Robinson back, the spooking would be f i n i s h e d even i f Moore d i d pop  up and down on the counter the re st of the time . x  F r i d a y would be r e g u l a r beer day a g a i n , Moore would gulp h i s t h r e e beers, Robinson would d r i n k f i v e , and I would go w i t h Vara t o her balcony twelve  s t o r i e s above the  salvaged s a t e l l i t e s .  The weeks would s l i p through the summer, swimming w i t h her,  86  s l e e p i n g w i t h her, u n t i l the Labour  Day weekend when we  would go away a g a i n , t h i s time to some i s o l a t e d beach t h i c k with oysters. Then as I measured out the  second tumbler i n the  l a v a t o r y w i t h vodka and sauterne, i t struck me t h a t not  Moore, should be d r i n k i n g i t , t h a t  that  she c o u l d n ' t .  i t was Moore's f a u l t  I topped up the second g l a s s w i t h sauterne,  drank i t , and went back t o my  board t o admire  The very i n t r i c a c y o f i t .  S i p p i n g my  vaguely c o u n t i n g the r i c e g r a i n l e a v e s . first  Vara,  Pegasus a g a i n . d r i n k I began  Forty-two down the  row from the top c o r n e r t o the t a i l ,  thirty-nine  i n the next, t h e n t h i r t y - t w o as the curve of the t a i l more s h a r p l y .  But  since the background  themselves, the number should r e a l l y i t was  shapes were l e a v e s  be doubled,  so t h a t  not forty-two but e i g h t y - f o u r , t h e n s e v e n t y - e i g h t , and  then sixty-four.  Looked at i n t h a t way,  yesterday had been f o r nothing.. total  rose  a l l my c o u n t i n g  Simply m u l t i p l y i n g t h a t  by two would g i v e o n l y a rough number. I stuck a p i e c e o f draughting tape up the side o f the  g l a s s and measured out even t e n t h s , one of  d r i n k t o one  the l e a v e s , t e n d r i n k s t o a thousand.  i n my  I kept the tumbler  drawer i n case Moore was peeking. At  for  hundred  around two thousand  l u n c h , and because  I lost  seven hundred Moore s l i d away count  s e v e r a l t i m e s I was o n l y  j u s t over f o u r thousand when he r e t u r n e d . phoned, p r o b a b l y c a r o u s i n g w i t h Jock over a  And Vara  hadn't  compresser.  P o u r i n g out the s i x t h thousand, I n o t i c e d w i t h a that  shock  both the vodka and sauterne were h a l f gone, so easy i t  87  i  !  i s , Maki p o i k a , one t i c k f o r two hundred then. losing  But I kept  count, and had t o add the columns over and over, from  bottom t o t o p , top t o bottom, and double  check.  At j u s t over seven thousand, the phone f i n a l l y "Draughting o f f i c e , Maki speaking."  Just i n case.  "This i s Tobias Snell t a l k i n g , " a voice shrilly  rang.  squeaked  out o f the phone. it Yes?" What can I do you f o r . " I want t o t a l k t o the draughtsman f o r my p l a n s j " "Speaking.  What would you l i k e ? "  "Didn't you r e c e i v e my "Which ones?" it  communications?"  Say a s l i t t l e  a s p o s s i b l e i n case  sounds s l u r r y . "The  communications of 1720  c o n f i r m a t i o n 0935 t h i s morning!" and the V l l l t h Totenkopf a l o n g s i d e the X l l l t h  hours y e s t e r d a y and  Good C h r i s t ,  i t was Ortona  D i v i s i o n had moved i n o n our  flank  S c h e i s t k o p f Panzers.  'jNot r e c e i v e d , s i r ! " " I want the p l a n s now, on the double!"  I l o o k e d down  at Moore, h i s head not t h r e e f e e t away, and t h e n over at my  cabinet f o r any memo sheets.  Maybe Vara had c a l l e d t o o l  " I s h a l f a n hour a l l r i g h t , t o get p r i n t s made first?" " I WANT THEM NOW!" window a c r o s s the  I expected the geraniums i n the  street t o s h a t t e r l i k e c r y s t a l from the  sound. "Okay, I t i l  b r i n g them."  88  "ON THE DOUBLE I" On t h e double, the  I hung up.  bullshit.  He c a n w a i t , even i f a l l  sandals are wiped out i n t h e f i r s t  a t t a c k and b o o t i e s  are t o o raw and unblooded t o h o l d t h e l i n e .  We'll  retire  f i r s t t o s l i p p e r s , and t h e n i f we can't h o l d t h e r e u n t i l r e i n f o r c e m e n t s o f boys' o x f o r d s a r r i v e , w e ' l l c r o s s t h e aisle,  blowing up a l l t h e c a r p e t , and make a f i n a l  l a d i e s ' pumps. of drink l e f t  I n t h e meantime t h e r e a r e s t i l l i n t h e g l a s s , one thousand  by t h e new count.  stand at  five ticks  rice grain leaves  S n e l l can wait t h a t l o n g .  And Moore, he  must have answered t h e phone both times, t h e chippy b a s t a r d .  S n e l l was s i t t i n g behind h i s S e a f o r t h machine gun b u l l e t , h i s desk bare o f papers.  As I rapped on the side  o f h i s c u b i c l e , he glanced at h i s watch, t h e patches  crimson  on h i s f a c e . "Well?" he shouted,  " L e t ' s see them."  Them?  I  u n r o l l e d t h e drawing and l a i d i t on h i s desk, t h e p e n c i l l i n e s o f the t r a c i n g b a r e l y v i s i b l e walnut c o l o u r f i n i s h .  now a g a i n s t t h e dark  He g l a r e d down at i t , t r y i n g I thought,  i n some dim way t o work out map c o - o r d i n a t e s among the t e n d r i l s and v i n e s . "What i s t h e meaning o f t h i s ? " he s a i d c o l d l y . " I t ' s your p o t t y , your throne I mean."  He s t a r e d  down at t h e sheet, at some i n v i s i b l e p o i n t i n t h e centre where he probably c o u l d see some shadowy p r o c e s s i o n o f monarchs l i k e t h e descendants  o f Banquo being f i t t e d w i t h Morgans'  shoes.  89  " I t ' s e n t i r e l y u n s e r v i c e a b l e , " he s a i d  finally.  The word must have set o f f some o t h e r echo o f Ortona, and he sat t h e r e r e p e a t i n g u n s e r v i c e a b l e , u n s e r v i c e a b l e . he  snapped out o f i t ,  forefinger.  Suddenly  stabbing at t h e sheet w i t h h i s manicured  "Do you c a l l t h i s a u t h e n t i c ? "  I had been s t i l l t r y i n g t o connect  unserviceable  with  something he might have read about f u n c t i o n a l i s m i n a r c h i tecture.  I shrugged.  "Answer my q u e s t i o n .  Do you c a l l  t h i s authentic?" "Will,  sure, I guess so."  " I asked you is^ i t ,  o r i s i t not a u t h e n t i c ? "  " I t o l d you I guess so," I s a i d and shrugged a g a i n . "Do you understand being  what I'm a s k i n g you, o r are you  insolent?" " I guess I understand, and no I don't t h i n k I'm  being  insolent." "Then l e t me ask you again. "Well  sure, why not?"  I s t h i s authentic?"  I t was a s a u t h e n t i c a s t h e  t r a v e s t y he had shown me. "Can't I get a s t r a i g h t answer from you, dammit?" he  roared. "All  r i g h t then, how t h e h e l l  should I know i f i t ' s  a u t h e n t i c , o r you f o r t h a t matter, and what the h e l l has a u t h e n t i c i t y o r whatever you're t a l k i n g about got t o do w i t h i t anyway?" "That i s i n s o l e n c e , man," he shouted. "Oh f o r C h r i s t ' s  sake," I s a i d and t u r n e d t o go  90  out.  He c o u l d keep the cruddy  drawing.  But Mr. S n e l l  had t a s t e d blood; i t was the parade square  i n Aldershot,  1941. "Come back herein,, Who i s your department s u p e r i o r ? " "None o f your god-damned business." "What d i d you say?" he s h r i e k e d , h i s face p u r p l e . "What i s your name?" number?  Give o n l y my name, rank, and regimental  I t u r n e d away weaving a l i t t l e  between the stock shelves, and heard to  i n the narrow space  Snell d i a l l i n g  frantically  GHQ. I  sat at my board, my stomach so t i g h t t h a t I was  a f r a i d I'd vomit.  T h i s being the l a s t  day o f the week,  Moore must be r e v i s i t i n g t h a t w a l l where e v e r y t h i n g ends, not a s t i r o r t w i t c h as I haul hideous c r i p p l e s around, t r o o o p i n g t h e c o l o u r s a l o n g Hastings, and s i t here court m a r t i a l , poor bugger me. innocent Pegasus.  facing  I g l a n c e d down at the  W r i t t e n n e a t l y underneath i t was,  He whose b l i n d thought f u t u r i t y denies, Unconscious bears, Bellerophon, l i k e thee H i s own indictment; he condemns h i m s e l f . The  son o f a b i t c h .  Why not j u s t leave f o r t h e day,  p l e a d s i c k n e s s , but naughty, naughty, your absence from duty has been noted and w i l l be noted, and on Monday, S n e l l will  be p r e s s i n g Robinson f o r a summary e x e c u t i o n o r at  l e a s t a discharge w i t h ignominy. count  So s i t then, k i l l  time,  something, sketch, shove Moore o f f the counter t o get  your t u r n —  but don't l e a v e the o f f i c e , and above a l l stay  o f f Hastings  S t r e e t , o r w i t h your l u c k i n encountering  91  t h i n g s r o y a l , y o u ' l l be swept up i n t o another He whose b l i n d thought f u t u r i t y "Get the  up, you  pageant.  denies.  s t u p i d b a s t a r d , " I s a i d at Moore.  After  days of s i l e n c e my v o i c e echoed i n the room, and I f e l t  suddenly  l i k e an i d i o t . ' Of course  not a r u f f l e  not a tremor from Moore,  from those fawn, chocolate milk-shake s l a c k s ,  not a l a p s e i n the r i s e and f a l l  of that jacket with i t s  mucky browns and venemous greens. All w i t h you. I'll  r i g h t , Moore, p l a y dead then, and A f t e r your p r i m i t i v e l i t t l e  show you what a p r o f e s s i o n a l can  d i s p l a y f o r Vara, do.  F i r s t , masses o f f u n e r e a l drapery the counter, t h r e e counter, one paper.  symmetrically  deep one  I ' l l play  under the rim o f  down each side o f the  f o r t h e end, t o r n out o f black  G a t h e r i n g s between them made from the  f o l d e d i n t o f a n shapes.  The  scraps n e a t l y  f o l d s i n the d r a p e r i e s t o  done w i t h grey c h a l k , with white h i g h l i g h t s i n the F l e m i s h manner, ending cut  i n Roman c a p i t a l M's  be  best  on pink paper  from the memo pads. The  i d e a o f the chalk was  the paper e x a c t l y r i g h t  b r i l l i a n t , the tooth of  f o r p i c k i n g up t h e c o l o u r and  l e a v i n g a t e x t u r e o f the black t o show through. out a d r i n k , and  c a r e f u l l y towards the h i g h l i g h t s .  on them.  The  end  blocking  side o f the  counter t o get a c o n s i s t e n t e f f e c t g e n e r a l l y , t h e n way  still  I poured  sat down on the f l o o r t o work, f i r s t  out the main masses o f l i g h t a l l along the  my  rendering  feeling  E v e r y t h i n g depended  by Moore's f e e t would be the most  difficult  92  because o f the problem o f m a i n t a i n i n g the i l l u s i o n o f a real light  source.  I was  just  beginning t o put the f i n a l sharpness  the g a t h e r s when the phone rang. Vara asked  "How's the wake going?"  cheerfully.  " P r e t t y deadly at f i r s t , solemn grandeur  now.  How  s t a r t e d on the "No.  I j u s t can't c r y .  shopping,  J u s t a few  but i t ' s a c q u i r i n g a c e r t a i n  about you?"  " I can't c r y , W i l l y . haven't  Arvo,  you  have you?"  small t h i n g s , why?"  "I've done i t out i n New  Westminster today."  "What were you doing t h e r e ? " with  into  While  you l e f t  me  Snell. "Jock and a r e g u l a r Morgan man  the r i d e . " probably.  asked me  along f o r  And i n r e t u r n she had asked them a l o n g tomorrow, "Gould you meet me t o p i c k t h i s s t u f f  up?"  "At the Belmont t h e n . " " A l l right. see you."  Now  l i g h t a candle f o r me,  I'll  She made a k i s s i n g sound and hung up.  A f t e r the phone c a l l I l o s t i t was  and  interest  i n Moore.  Since  s t a r t e d , I went on f i n i s h i n g what had t o be done, the  pink M's,  the candle made from a r o l l o f paper w i t h a  flame, a t r i m  crayoned  saying morganmorganmorganmorgan a l o n g the  counter edge, and a l l the u s e l e s s Pegasus drawings cut s t r i p s l a i d on top o f him l i k e mummy wrappings.  into  F o r good  measure, I c l o s e d a l l the V e n e t i a n b l i n d s as t i g h t l y a s they would go, t h e n t u r n e d o f f the  lights.  93  From t h e head o f the s t a i r s I looked back.  Lying  t h e r e i n the warm glow, covered i n scrap paper  magnificence  w i t h a s t i l l t o be born P e r s i a n Pegasus a s h i s  silent  v i g i l , t h e r e seemed something g e n u i n e l y t o u c h i n g about him now.  He needed o n l y something on h i s b r e a s t , a white  rose perhaps.  F r i d a y morning, except t o say h e l l o , t o k i s s her£ and answer random q u e s t i o n s about the p l a c e s we passed, I had h a r d l y spoken t o Vara V i c t o r y Square.  since we l e f t the Bus Depot above  I t had been a cheap t r i c k j u s t t o l e a v e a  note l i k e t h a t on the f i r e p l a c e at H y s t e r i a Cottage i n s t e a d of  going out t o l o o k f o r my mother l a s t  had worked u n t i l midnight up?  night.  But who  f i n i s h i n g the p a i n t i n g and c l e a n i n g  Having been a sex maniac and a f r u i t , probably  c l a p , whatever e l s e ference.  with  she coul<d f i n d wouldn't make much d i f -  I f she went t o t h e Logger's Dance t o promote  customers, she'd be t o o skwonked t o care. Right now t h e r e were o t h e r t h i n g s t o worry about, such as the f o r e s t  c l o s u r e , whether someone was put on guard  duty at t h e end o f the road, e s p e c i a l l y on a t h r e e day h o l i d a y for of  so many people. the mountainside  Even w i t h a l l the windows open the heat pushed i n t o the bus.  hazy blue p r o c e s s i o n o f i s l a n d s passed,  To the l e f t t h e  Bowen, Gambier,  Passage, and t h e n f i n a l l y t h e great t o r t o i s e I s l a n d r i s i n g l i k e a great I n a few minutes we'd know.  shape o f A n v i l  sea beast out o f t h e s t i l l  water.  I l o o k e d down at Varates eainvas  94  shoes and at my h i g h army boots t h a t  she had thought were  so funny! The  bus rose up t h e l a s t l o n g climb around a p o i n t ,  swung o f f through a l d e r f o r e s t , and t h e n without  warning  we were i n t o g r a v e l q u a r r i e s , p a s s i n g them, moving i n a grey dusty nightmare o f m i l l waste, between mountains o f dead rock crushed i n t o powder that l i f t e d a s t h e bus passed over, and hung s h a p e l e s s l y u n t i l  some f a i n t  breeze made i t  s l i d e a l o n g back i n t o the grey powder o f the ground, o r drift,  c l i n g i n g t o t h e network o f t r e s t l e s t h a t loomed l i k e  s c a f f o l d s overhead.  The shacks, the grey workshops, t h e  heavy i r o n mesh fences, the s h o r e l i n e r o c k s , even t h e water i t s e l f , l a y under the grey powder.  The bus b a r e l y  l o n g enough t o l e t us o f f , and we were l e f t  stopped  standing i n a  s w i r l i n g f o g o f the s t i n g i n g dust. "My god, my god," Vara kept  saying,  "What k i n d o f  C h r i s t l y place i s t h i s ? " " T h i s i s what i t ' s l i k e under the t a b l e s , I t h i n k , It wasn't l i k e t h i s b e f o r e . "  I took h e r hand, and l e d her  i n t o the v i l l a g e i t s e l f as she kept rubbing her eyes and t r y i n g t o c l e a r h e r nose. As we passed the b a l l g r o u n d , two small boys were p r a c t i s i n g a t h r e e - l e g g e d race a l o n g a t r a c k drawn i n w i t h sawdust.  A f t e r about  a dozen steps t h e y would f a l l  into  the dust, brush themselves o f f and t r y another few s t e p s . Beyond them, near the backstop, and under some dusty t r e e s , a d a i s had been set up and decorated w i t h red, white, and blue  95  crepe paper.  I n the centre o f i t was  a low p l a t f o r m on  which r e s t e d a crepe paper trimmed o f f i c e  c h a i r with a pink-  p a i n t e d rose arbour as a canopy. "That's where they crown the Copper Queen t h i s a f t e r n o o n , w i t h a crown made of mine copper," " I t must l o o k r a t h e r c h i c w i t h her  I  said.  respirator."  " I t wasn't l i k e t h i s before, nothing l i k e i t . Anyway t h a t ' s where we're going.  Up t h e r e . "  Beyond the v e i l o f smoke haze the g r a n i t e c l i f f s glowed orange i n the morning sun,  but blue f l e c k s of snow  s t i l l l a y i n the deeper shadows and i n the r a v i n e s between the great masses o f r o c k .  From the r i g h t , the massive blue  shadow o f B r i t a n n i a Mountain s p i l l e d i n t o the v a l l e y , making the  smoke an i n t e n s e mauve, almost  violet;  init  a f l o c k o f g u l l s sheeled and dipped g l i t t e r i n g above some spot i n t h e f o r e s t f a r ahead.  There was  the company road, and as we c o u l d hear the playing  s l i p p e d through the fence,  sound o f a bagpipe  S c o t l a n d the  no guard at the end o f  back i n the  we  village  Brave.  Discarded mining t i m b e r s l a y i n t a n g l e d p i l e s along the road beside automobile  wrecks and abandoned mining  machinery, r u s t e d winches, ore buckets, and Around them the w i n d l e s s s i l e n c e was sudden r a s p i n g f l i g h t  scraps of cable.  broken o n l y by the  o f grasshoppers as t h e y  disappeared  i n a f l i c k e r o f y e l l o w i n t o the f i r e w o o d and r o a d s i d e Mine waste had  been used f o r road s u r f a c i n g .  o f i t powdered the  bush and t r e e s on both  slash.  A grey f i l m  s i d e s , and a s we  96  walked t h r o u g h i t i n some p l a c e s , i t s w i r l e d up around o u r knees.  At f i r s t  Vara t r i e d  stamping  i t o f f her shoes at any-  c l e a r e r p a r t s where t h e road r a n over rock.  What was the l i n e ,  my poor shoes? At about the thousand shoulder.  foot l e v e l we swung out over a  A l e v e l p a t c h had been scraped i n t o t h e mountain-  s i d e , and t h e r e stood two company houses o f t h e sort I had l i v e d i n , n a i l e d t o g e t h e r w i t h p l a n k s , l o o k i n g as i f t h e y were c l u t c h i n g each o t h e r .  A spar t r e e had been l e f t  with  the r u s t y c a b l e s d a n g l i n g from t h e t a c k l e and c o i l i n g i n the bush at t h e base.  The rim o f the c l e a r i n g had become  the v i l l a g e garbage dump.  The g u l l s we had seen wheeled  above i t , o r fought f o r scraps, sending t i n cans c l a t t e r i n g down the s l o p e . A f t e r t h a t , I was g l a d that t h e climb kept h e r from talking.  I f we had stopped, o r i f Vara had complained,  I  wasn't sure t h a t I wouldn't c a l l t h e whole t h i n g o f f , go back down a g a i n , and l o o k f o r some o t h e r p l a c e .  I t was t h a t grey  d i a r r h e a s l u i c i n g a l o n g t h e flumes above t h e t r e s t l e s , p l o p p i n g on t o those cone h i l l s , line.  o o z i n g out over t h e shore-  That miserable p a i r o f houses g r o p i n g at each o t h e r  over the garbage dump, and t h a t green p a t c h o f a l d e r t h i c k e t on the h i l l s i d e  below us, where the s i x o r seven shacks o f  the Japanese ghetto had been. And  What I remembered was gone.  s t i l l , the o p p o s i t e side o f t h e v a l l e y , where  we would go, was a b l i n d i n g g l a r e o f golden ochre  sunlight,  so i n t e n s e t h a t t h e t r e e s and r o c k s melted t o g e t h e r i n t o one immense w a l l o f v i b r a t i n g c o l o u r , the sky above i t a deep  97  cobalt. "Arvo, I q u i t . " beside the  Vara f l o p p e d down on a boulder  road.  "Whatts the matter?" I asked. " I s there a p r i z e  f o r coming i n f i r s t  She was w i p i n g her f a c e and and there was  a wet  or something?"  neck w i t h a b a l l o f damp kleenex,  rim around her c o l l a r .  "Well no, t h e r e i s n ' t a p r i z e . " "What's the f r i g g i n g panic "Sorry. pack o f f and  then?"  We'll be o f f the road soon."  sat down beside her.  t a i n s a c r o s s the way  was  The  I swung t h e  contour o f the moun-  e x a c t l y as I remembered, the l o n g  spur o f f o r e s t and g r a n i t e o u t c r o p p i n g s running out w i t h us, t h e n dropping climbed through the at the  base o f the "Arvo, "Not  steeply.  Without  level  n o t i c i n g i t we  smoke haze, which now  had  floated thinly  drop.  i s n ' t t h e r e any water or anything around?"  on t h i s s i d e , and a l l I've  got i s wine and  l i q u o r i n the pack u n l e s s you want a f i r e f o r some t e a . " "It'll  have t o be the wine t h e n , "  By the time we was  she s a i d  listlessly.  had f i n i s h e d most o f the wine,  r e s t e d and c h e e r f u l a g a i n .  With the b o t t l e i n my  we went on u n t i l the bridge t h a t c r o s s e d the v a l l e y .  Vara hand There  the road t u r n e d o f f , up toward the powerhouse t h a t s u p p l i e d a i r t o the mine.  F a r up the v a l l e y the pump, l i k e an exposed  h e a r t , would be hammering, echoing a g a i n s t the mountains. We  silent  On top o f the next h i l l we would hear i t . t u r n e d the o t h e r way,  a l o n g an abandoned r a i l w a y  93  t r a c k t h a t l e d out t o t h e powderhouse and the head o f t h e trail.  The t r a c k s , even the  c r o s s tie©, had been r i p p e d  up, t h e power p o l e s f o r the e l e c t r i c t r a i n had been cut o f f a t t h e base and l e f t t o l i e on the ground, s t r i p p e d o f t h e i r metal f i x t u r e s .  The roadbed i t s e l f had crumbled a s  s p r i n g f r e s h e t s cut through i t .  We had t o push o u r way  through a l d e r and w i l l o w . The  s h e l l o f the concrete powderhouse stood, i t s  metal f a c e d door p r i m l y c l o s e d a c c o r d i n g t o r e g u l a t i o n , but the  r o o f had c o l l a p s e d .  The l o a d i n g p l a t f o r m , t h e scene o f  M i s s O'Toole's d i s g r a c e , had caved outwards l i k e t h e r o o f of a l e a n t o , one end o f i t r e s t i n g awkwardly on the foot o f a cut o f f power p o l e . a bank o f e a r t h , beside  The pole  i t the r e d powderhouse s i g n saying  DANGER, HIGH EXPLOSIVES, KEEP AWAY, rusted bullet  punctured w i t h  small  holes.  Vara leaned wiping  i t s e l f l a y sprawled on  back against t h e f a l l e n p l a t f o r m ,  rubbing,  h e r f a c e , t r y i n g t o erase w i t h a wet f i n g e r the  s c r a t c h e s a l o n g h e r arms.  I gave h e r the wine  Above the e a r t h bank i n the  bottle.  heat shimmer, the  mountains rose i n a bleached t a n g l e o f timber  slash, t r e e s  f a l l e n on each other, t h e i r bark hanging shredded from the branches.  Some b r i g h t spruce  s a p l i n g s were p u s h i n g up through  the p u r p l e  f r o n d blossoms o f f i r e w e e d .  Around me the heat  from t h e dynamited orange rock f a c e s f l a r e d b l i n d i n g back l i k e the w a l l s o f a s h a t t e r e d The  cauldron.  s i g n was t o o hot t o h o l d i n my hands, so I  99  propped i t up on my knees and c a r e f u l l y scratched out w i t h my H y s t e r i a Cottage key, on t h e r u s t e d back, between the t i n y eruptions o f the bullet  holes,  Longtempsl t o u j o u r s ! ma main dans t a c r i n i e r e Semera l e r u b i s l a p e r l e et l e s a p h i r , A f i n qu'a mon de'sir t u ne s o i s jamais sourdel N{es-tu p a s l ' o a s i s ou j e reve, et l a gourde  lourde  v  x  Ou j e hume a l o n g s t r a i t s l e v i n du A purple  columbine waxy w i t h heat was growing near t h e  base o f t h e p o l e . the  souvenir?  bullet  I p l u c k e d the blossoms, pushed them i n t o  h o l e s , and put t h e s i g n back i n t o t h e i m p r i n t s  on the  bank.  on the  sign. "And  The r e s t o f t h e wine t h a t Vara had I d r i b b l e d  that  ceremony was f o r — ? " she asked.  " M i s s O'Toole." "Of t h e s e l f - i n f l i c t e d stigmata "I  suppose."  A f t e r t h e open h i l l s i d e was c o o l , t h e f l o o r o f i t s o f t . had  fame?"  by t h e powderhouse t h e f o r e s t Although many o f t h e b l a z e s  grown and c r u s t e d over, Vara c o u l d f o l l o w them e a s i l y  enough, and she went on ahead without t a l k i n g , at t i m e s disappearing  altogether  i n the t r e e s .  A f t e r the tone o f her v o i c e  That was up t o her.  at the powderhouse, i t would have  been u s e l e s s t o e x p l a i n t h a t t h e verse was from a book M i s s O'Toole f o r g o t when she l e f t , and t h a t on h e r l a s t read Baudelaire  day she  t o us f o r a n hour, as i f e v e r y t h i n g were  a l l our f a u l t . When I caught up here, Vara was s i t t i n g o n the t o p p o i n t o f t h e g r a n i t e promontory where I had planned t o stay i f t h e s p r i n g was s t i l l  running.  Without moving she s t a r e d  100  out  over Sound.  A thousand f e e t below us t h e f o r e s t was  l i k e moss, at i t s edge t h e town s p a r k l i n g l i k e a scrap o f discarded  foil,  above i n the b l u r o f hazy green, the speck  of t h e two c l u t c h i n g houses, and a vapour o f g u l l s .  Behind  the w a l l o f B r i t a n n i a Mountain t h e p a l e c o b a l t o u t l i n e s o f A n v i l and Gambier and the T a n t a l u s s t a n t i a l , melting,  Range f l o a t e d ,  insub-  f i l m on t h i n n e r f i l m i n t o a shimmer o f  white. I n the l a r g e pine t r e e above me t h r e e grey whiskey j a c k s had a l r e a d y a r r i v e d , and f l u t t e r e d at each other branch t o branch.  They had come so q u i c k l y t h a t I  around h a l f e x p e c t i n g  from  glanced  the usual  c l u t t e r o f r u s t y cans and  f o i l t r a y s f o r i n s t a n t dinners,  but except f o r the shower  of pine  cones the p a t c h o f yellow  g r a s s under the tree was  clean.  I put the pack down, and opened i t . "Would you l i k e a d r i n k ? " I c a l l e d up t o h e r . "No thanks," she answered without t u r n i n g h e r head. Screw her, then.  I poured out a c u p f u l o f vodka and  sauterne, went back t o the p o i n t o f rock f a r t h e r down from her, and sat down.  I n t h e v i l l a g e , a grey b l u r , l i k e mould  had formed at t h e edge o f t h e b a l l f i e l d . Queen was being And  One more Copper  crowned.  d u r i n g my r e i g n , may peace and p r o s p e r i t y  without cease upon you a l l , my l o y a l  shine  subjects, may t h e sun  shine upon you by day, the s t a r s by n i g h t , and may t h e sweet r a i n s b r i n g f o r t h the f l o w e r s at your f e e t .  May the  j o y s o f t h i s f e s t i v e day Continue now, and i n t o t h e night,  101 and remain w i t h us through t h e coming year. loyal  s u b j e c t s , t h e bagpipe  Applause  from  s t r i k i n g up The Road t o t h e I s l e s ,  l e a d i n g t h e queen w i t h h e r r e t i n u e i n t r i u m p h a l p r o c e s s i o n to  the b a l l diamond where she p r e s e n t s a copper  sprayed  s o f t b a l l t o open t h e annual game between t h e Surface and Underground a l l s t a r s , one team i n the ged, blue, or green of  some u n i v e r s i t y , the o t h e r s i n hard hats and grey s t a i n e d  work c l o t h e s , f l o p p i n g about a f t e r the copper  ball  i n rubber  boots, and t h e n t h e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f the t r o p h y , a hammered copper for  chamber pot, by the mine superintendent  nattily  attired  t h e nonce i n grey s l a c k s and b l a z e r . I n t h e meantime t h e camp had t o be made.  And now  there was Vara, the s l i g h t e d p r i n c e s s , l y i n g back on the rock w a i t i n g f o r i t a l l t o happen. I poured out another d r i n k , and began k i c k i n g the pine cones away from where the bed would be.  The young  c e d a r s near the opening t o the t r a i l would make t h e ends and  s i d e s o f the bed i n the best Ernest Thompson seton  manner, l o c k e d t o g e t h e r w i t h the n a i l s t h e c r i p p l e didn't con me out o f , the cedar bark t o r e p l a c e the rope he d i d . Stones enough f o r the c h i n t z i e s t to  campfire, and wood enough  have h e r s t a r i n g m o i s t l y i n t o the embers r e f l e c t i n g upon  whatever s l i g h t e d p r i n c e s s e s r e f l e c t  upon when t h e y stare  m o i s t l y i n t o embers. At f i r s t  I thought t h a t t h e chopping would b r i n g h e r  down t o h e l p , but she l a y t h e r e without moving.  And s t i l l  a s I drank and worked under the great p i n e , t h i s bed, compared to  t h e one I had made f o r Moore y e s t e r d a y was m a j e s t i c , w i t h  102  i t s m e t i c u l o u s l y arranged o v e r l a p p i n g f r o n d s o f cedar and f i r almost  a f o o t i n t h i c k n e s s , and the p e r f e c t r i g h t  c o r n e r s decorated w i t h masses o f s a l a l , f e r n , and grape. bed.  angled  Oregon  Candles poked up through the f e r n at the head o f the Except  f o r the l a v i s h scale o f the d e c o r a t i o n s and the  bed's l e c h e r o u s i n t e n t , Ernest Thompson Set on would have been proud o f The  me.  p l a c e f o r the campfire t u r n e d out t o be the same  kind of b r i l l i a n t  success, p e r f e c t l y  symmetrical, and  n e a t l y i n t o a small a l c o v e i n the rock, w i t h a two  tucked  inch  t h i c k s l a b o f g r a n i t e making an e l e g a n t , i f s u p e r f l u o u s , warming s h e l f .  One  one  side o f the f i r e p l a c e , I made another  s h e l f f o r s t o r i n g cooking u t e n s i l s , and on the o t h e r two  rows o f r o c k s f o r s t o r i n g  firewood.  Looked at from a d i s t a n c e , the whole scene the pine t r e e was lay  unabashedly  side,  sybaritic.  And  still  under she j u s t  t h e r e , by t h i s time g e t t i n g sunburned. I poured out another d r i n k , and t u r n e d o f f i n t o the  f o r e s t t o get wood f o r the f i r e .  U n l e s s she was  planning t o  spend the whole night on t h a t rock, the game would have t o end  soon.  Two  people on a b i g bloody mountain w i t h l i q u o r ,  a f a n t a s t i c double  bed, a l l the scenery t h a t would b r i n g the  Pope h i m s e l f i n t o a state o f sexual d e p r a v i t y , and what we  do,  do  sulk p e t u l a n t l y on a boulder, o r stagger through the  bushes bombed on warm -teodka.  Before  % dead cedar, I f o r c e d down the l a s t suddenly  I was  s t a r t i n g t o chop i n t o h a l f cup of d r i n k , and  vomiting h e l p l e s s l y into a c l e f t  between two  103  huge rocks, e v e r y t a s t e o f the v i l e o i l y mixture off  another c h a i n of spasms, u n t i l I was l e f t  s t u p i d l y on my elbows s h i v e r i n g and exhausted,  setting  propped staring  at t h e minute orange moss stamen's. I threw a handful o f moss on the puke, and through the t r e e s t o the s p r i n g , s t i l l  staggered  retching.  When I got back t o the camp, Vara was  s q u a t t i n g by  the f i r e p l a c e a r r a n g i n g p o t s and p l a t e s on the l i t t l e I had made.  She l o o k e d up.  "My  shelf  god, Arvo, you look a w f u l .  What's happened?" "Nothing." "I I  bet you were s i c k from a l l t h a t god damned booze."  noticed that  stone  she had put the h a l f empty b o t t l e s on t h e  s h e l f beside the p o t s .  stomach l i k e t h a t . " continue.  May  "You're c r a z y on an empty  the j o y s o f t h i s f e s t i v e  "Arvo, p l e a s e .  Be s e n s i b l e .  day  You'll f a l l o f f  t h i s c l i f f o r h i t y o u r s e l f w i t h the axe o r something,  and  t h e n what?" "Applause  from l o y a l s u b j e c t s ? "  "Arvo, I don't know what you're t a l k i n g about. down while I make something  Lie  t o e a t , and w e ' l l go over to t h a t  lake you mentioned."  The  back of my  head was  still  numb as we walked a l o n g ,  but at l e a s t we were speaking t o each o t h e r a g a i n . l u n c h , she had even drunk some o f the wine h e r s e l f .  During The  t r a i l was almost l e v e l , moving along a f l a t - t o p p e d r i d g e through spruce and p i n e .  I gathered f l o w e r s f o r herlj. and  104  when she suddenly saw t h e lake below her, deep p r u s s i a n blue i n t h e g o l d e n l i g h t o f the f o r e s t , the  she s l i d s h r i e k i n g down  embankment, p u l l i n g at h e r c l o t h e s .  it's  It!s beautiful,  b e a u t i f u l , she kept shouting, t e a r i n g o f f a shoe when  i t wouldn't u n t i e , f l i n g i n g i t away, throwing h e r socks on t h e bushe s. As I undressed, I watched her i n the water, her body a warm g o l d e n brown, darker a s she dived, the black of  spot  h e r sex h a i r appearing and d i s a p p e a r i n g as she t u r n e d  under water l i k e a s e a l , s u r f a c i n g f o r a breath and down again, s p i n n i n g around and around w i t h t h a t f l a s h o f black, marking out  each t u r n o f h e r body. I waded i n t o the water w i t h an e r e c t i o n , and s t a n d i n g  chest deep watched t h e orange body g l i d e toward me, her  felt  hand c l o s e on me, t h e n her b u r s t i n g up t o t h e s u r f a c e ,  throwing her arms around my neck, and I t o p p l e d  backwards  w i t h her l e g s l o c k e d around me, and s t a g g e r i n g back, she lay  under me on the coppery g r a v e l , I was i n her t h r u s t i n g  b l i n d l y , the water s p l a s h i n g o v e r her b r e a s t s ,  seeing her  eyes suddenly wide, p l u n g i n g at t h e t h r u s t o f h e r h i p s , t h e n her  voice  saying come, come, oh god come w i t h me.  We l a y s i l e n t  on our backs i n the lukewarm water,  h o l d i n g hands, our bodies j u s t t o u c h i n g a s t h e y h a l f against each o t h e r . the  Vara's eyes were c l o s e d .  I watched  sky and l i s t e n e d t o t h e sounds o f t h e f o r e s t .  o f f t o the l e f t , tree,  floated  Somewhere  beyond the r o c k s , a woodpecker rapped at a  sending a n echo shimmering a c r o s s t h e l a k e , t h e n  105  e v i d e n t l y g i v i n g up the whole t h i n g , flew i n a b l u r o f black and w h i t e . Vara, but  she was  sharply over us  I t u r n e d t o mentions i t t o  asleep.  By the time we  got up, most of the  south side o f the lake was from the woods.  We  c l e a r i n g and  i n shadow, and a t h i n c h i l l  exhaled  d r i e d o u r s e l v e s h u r r i e d l y , t h e n as Vara  combed her h a i r , I gathered b l u e b e r r i e s i n t o a p l a s t i c and  searched the  that  had  c l e a r i n g f o r any  been t h e r e .  l o g s , not even any  s i g n o f the  But t h e r e were no  ashes t o  show t h a t  burned, o r e v e r been t h e r e at a l l . l e a s t part o f the  stove  shake  shakes,  i t had  bag,  cabin  supporting  burned, been  I expected t o f i n d at  because no one would c a r r y t h a t away  o r go t o the work o f h i d i n g i t , but a l l I found was  a  scrap  o f r u s t e d cable which I threw as f a r as I c o u l d out  i n t o the  lake. Once I got the t o make the  f i r e going  supper f o r me.  As she  o f rock w i t h a drink o f scotch. my mother, t h e r e would be had anything t o o f any  use.  sell.  Maybe a f t e r t h a t  some great  There was  fried  point  note t o  change i n p l a n s , i f jthey  nothing  But pust the  saying anything was  Vara had the  cooked, I sat on the  I c o u l d do anyway,  As a bouncer, I'd be damned i f I'd tangle  a roomful o f l o g g e r s . t h a t without  i n our camp, Vara wanted  same, t o skip out  cheap and  some steak, and  with like  dirty.  as we  ate we  watched  sun s e t , the l i g h t s i n the v i l l a g e f l i c k e r i n g on a s the  Sound f i l l e d w i t h would be  darkness.  By now  the  s t a r t i n g t o knock o f f Sunrise  Sulphite  Revellers  Serenade o r S t r i n g  106  of  p e a r l s , while the  S o c i a l Committee w i t h Sen Sen  and  f l i t t e r e d h a i r , the f i r s t t o a r r i v e , moved out under the b a l l o o n s and crepe paper, vaguely s e a r c h i n g i n the dimmed light  f o r echoes o f Glenn M i l l e r .  I n blue j e a n s and  tartan  s h i r t the decrowned Copper Queen would be f i n i s h i n g first  day o f peace and p r o s p e r i t y w i t h the k i d s out on the  front* steps o f the h a l l , u n t i l enough people they c o u l d s t a r t liquor  rummaging among the  t r e e gum  had come t h a t  bushes f o r stashed  bottles. Around the campsite and cut boughs.  the a i r was warm and heavy w i t h  I s t i r r e d the f i r e ,  added a  t w i g s t o see by, and i n the f l i c k e r i n g l i g h t we off  her  few  finished  our d r i n k s . On the bed, Yara g i g g l e d a l i t t l e as she s t r a d d l e d  me,  but a f t e r t h a t t h e r e was  o n l y her b r e a t h i n g , and that  t h i n whimpering sound as I saw a g a i n s t the  She  her p l u n g i n g above me,  stars.  shook me  awake i n the morning.  Around us, the  world o f r e a l i t y , o f s o l i d t h i n g s had vanished. f l o a t i n g above an ocean of incandescent sun f l a r i n g a c r o s s at us from a few mountains, the r e s t had  black  We were  haze, a v e r m i l l i o n  behind the g h o s t l y p o i n t s o f  submerged.  I t was  as i f e v e r y t h i n g  shrunk back t o t h i s small promontory, the p a t c h o f yellow  g r a s s a g a i n s t the w a l l o f f o r e s t , w i t h the whiskey j a c k s f l u t t e r i n g overhead  i n the pine t r e e .  "What a p l a c e t o screw i n , " she  s a i d suddenly.  "After  107  t h i s the only t h i n g l e f t thundercloud."  i s a gang bang w i t h  She r a n h e r hand up t h e i n s i d e o f my t h i g h ,  a l r e a d y d r o o l i n g over t h a t f i n a l her  skydivers i n a  cataclysmic expression o f  Sturm und Drang l i b i d o . "You  weren't  so bloody c a s u a l i n the l a k e , or d u r i n g  your star-studded performance l a s t  night."  I got up and  went down t o the s p r i n g f o r water. A f t e r I washed, I was so c o l d that my t e e t h c h a t t e r e d . I t r i e d walking  a l o n g the t r a i l toward the powderhouse, f l a p -  p i n g my arms, but without  a shirt  i t was o n l y worse.  sun wouldn't have any heat f o r at l e a s t two hours.  The  I gave  up, and s t a r t e d a f i r e at the campsite, u s i n g wood t h a t have t o be chopped.  didn't  Let her dream about her cumulo nimbus  c o p u l a t i o n , t o s s i n the great Wagnerian spectre o f the Fucking Dutchman since she d i g s i t w i t h m u s i c a l  accompaniment, and  when t h a t j a d e s , heave i n Pegasus and t h e Ghost R i d e r s i n the Sky. "What's the m a t t e r w i t h you?" she asked,  without  t u r n i n g around. " I thought you were a s l e e p . " "No, and you didn't answer my  question."  "There's nothing t h e matter." "Yes there, i s .  With me, o r being here.  Or t h a t  house p a i n t i n g t h i n g at night t h a t you're so e v a s i v e about. And  j u s t what d i d happen at the o f f i c e on Thursday?" "You're f u l l  o f q u e s t i o n s f o r s i x i n the morning.  you want some c o f f e e o r a hot scotch?"  Do  loa " St op c ha hgi ng t he  sub j e ct,  Arv o.  What d i d happ e n? "  I added sugar to the scotch and water, t r y i n g t o remember the  phone c a l l ,  meeting her a f t e r work, wondering i f she  had phoned some o t h e r time. Thursday n i g h t , " she  "Jack Moore phoned me  said.  I expected her t o be l o o k i n g at me, t u r n e d away.  on  "And what d i d Lazarus say?  but she was  Did he t e l l  still  you  a l l ? " I asked. "He sore about  s a i d you i n s u l t e d some manager who  got p r e t t y  it."  "And what e l s e ? " "That they n o t i c e d you were away d r i n k i n g .  Dillson  and everybody." "Well. "It's  He was f u l l  o f news, wasn't he?"  more t h a n t h a t .  He s a i d you were t a c k i n g  up a l l over t h e o f f i c e , w i l d t h i n g s l i k e or  funeral  stuff  decorations  something, as i f you were out o f your mind." "And a f t e r t h a t , I suppose, D i l l s o n came up and  blew  t a p s on h e r d i l d o . " "Stop i t , Arvo. it.  He l e f t  e v e r y t h i n g where you put  A l l the chopped up drawings and e v e r y t h i n g . " "Because  he was  i n such a r u s h t o get out and phone  you$" She sat up.  "I said  stop i t , god damn you, and stop  t w i s t i n g t h i n g s around." "I'm t he n."  not t w i s t i n g t h i n g s .  Why  d i d the bastard phone  109  "What d i f f e r e n c e does i t make? n o t i c e d you the  b u s t i n g your a s s t o do."  bed and p u l l e d the "If  he  She  I've  f l o p p e d down on  s l e e p i n g bag o v e r her head.  you're so great  at answering q u e s t i o n s ,  why  did  c a l l you?" "Why  don't you  o r something.  And  fuck o f f and  l e t me  anything  else.  came back toward the  the  i n the  thought about i t now, At l e a s t t o  was  Cottage at about  sun on the  he had  o f the  seven i n the morning.  see  still  the  clung, c u r l i n g  f a r shore.  When I  I t wouldn't have  hibernated  f o r the  better  A l l I could  do  nightwatchmen o r j a n i t o r s going on at  Hysteria  Robinson would understand  Dillson.  When I got neatly  l i q u o r i n a row sandwich, and  headed f o r  f o r e s t where I had met  i n e a r l y Monday, whatever was  s l e e p i n g bag  and  rocks t h e r e , I c o u l d  weeks without much complaint.  S n e l l or  around  s t r i p the t h i n g s down.  t o t r y g e t t i n g one  t o l e t me  or  I didn't know what I had expected o f  f i v e minutes, and  p a r t o f two  owl  d i r e c t i o n o f the powder-  i t s e l f the morning mist  up where i t d r i f t e d i n t o the  t a k e n him  f o r the owl  campsite, s k i r t e d i t , and  From the top o f the  On the lake  Moore.  searching  almost t h e r e , t u r n e d  shape o f hazy l i g h t  owl.  go  I s t a r t e d o f f i n the  house, t h e n when I was  the l a k e .  look f o r your scary  sleep."  A f t e r t h a t , I didn't  now  I t ' s more t h a n  back, Vara had side by  f o l d e d the  side w i t h the p o t s , food  l e a d i n g to the pack.  dressed  blankets  ready t o  go.  She was  and and  eating a  110  "What's t h a t f o r ? " I asked. "What does i t l o o k l i k e ? " she  said c o l d l y .  "Whatever i t l o o k s l i k e , we're not going down today. Or at l e a s t I'm  not."  "And  I have no say i n i t ? "  "Not  i n what I'm  "So  going t o d o j "  because o f you, I'm  "No. both s i d e s . "  You're not Before  stuck," she  stuck.  The  said.  t r e e s are b l a z e d on  she c o u l d answer, I added,  "Vara,  I'd  l i k e you t o stay u n t i l tomorrow." "What f o r ? "No."  J u s t because we  I poured  o r i g i n a l l y planned i t ? "  out a d r i n k of scotch, and put  the  b o t t l e c a r e f u l l y on the side s h e l f o f the f i r e p l a c e , away from the l i n e she ha4  built.  "What f o r then?"  she repeated.  "What's so  special  about tomorrow?" " W e l l , nothing, but I want us t o stay." "And me  you don't  care what I want.  Are you p u n i s h i n g  o r something?" "No,  Vara, I'm  not."  "Then what the h e l l are you doing o r going to The  tone o f her v o i c e s h i f t e d s h a r p l y .  daylong town.  scene was The  d e p r e s s i n g , but I was  damned note  "Well?"  she  said  Sunday, and  The thought  do?"  of a  not going back t o Sunday i t would be.  asked.  I t u r n e d toward her. f i n a l l y make, anyway.  What d i f f e r e n c e would i t  " A l l r i g h t then, i f you want t o know,  Ill  I'm opening a b o o t l e g g i n g j o i n t tomorrow night, and I don't want t o go to town today." At f i r s t  she l o o k e d at me c u r i o u s l y , h e r mind probably  r a c i n g back t o Moore's s t o r y , h i s remark about me being out of my mind. "I'm  opening a speakeasy," I s a i d .  "You?" she asked i n c r e d u l o u s l y . "Yes, me.  On Cordova S t r e e t .  That's what t h e  p a i n t i n g was f o r . " At t h a t she began t o g i g g l e . " A l l t h a t p a i n t i n g , night a f t e r n i g h t . sin  without  And a l l the time  knowing i t —  I was l i v i n g a l i f e of  a bootlegger's moll — "  g i g g l i n g b l u r r e d i n t o l a u g h t e r , and there over on the yellow g r a s s , a gun m o l l — fell  The  she was, doubled  " — oh C h r i s t , t h a t ' s t o o much,  and my f a t h e r —I"  She glanced up at me, and  back, p u l l i n g h e r knees up and r o l l i n g o v e r on her  s i d e , p o i n t i n g at me, s h r i e k i n g clutch of suitors — . poured out another  " — my f a t h e r and h i s grey  And me a b o o t l e g g e r ' s moM."  I  s c o t c h and waited f o r h e r t o f i n i s h .  When she c o u l d f i n a l l y s i t up a g a i n , she asked, "What's today! s p l a n , boss?  A h i g h j a c k i n g o r a rubout?  I hear Bugs Moran has been muscling She  fell  back a g a i n i n l a u g h t e r ,  i n on the West  Side."  " — and Dion O'Banion,  and Greasy Thumb Gusick, and o l d Scarface h i m s e l f — , " and on she went, k i c k i n g the ground. She to  sat up a g a i n ,  so I t o l d her,  b u i l d a sauna down at the l a k e . "  "Today I'm going  Jesus C h r i s t , back she  112  fell  again, screaming about the c l e a n e s t  b o o t l e g g e r s i n the  w o r l d , pink cheeked blonde ones, none o f your sallow oh my god  Sicilians,  —.  To stop her, I poured out a drink and handed i t t o her,  but even at that  she kept breaking out i n t o  giggles  u n t i l e v e r y t h i n g was packed f o r the l a k e . Whatever she f i r s t out  brilliantly —  thought o f i t , the sauna t u r n e d  a transparent p l a s t i c  sheet cone  set on  cedar p o l e s , and a l l  sutured t o g e t h e r m e t i c u l o u s l y w i t h  n e a t l y spaced l i t t l e  pegs.  The lake water was too warm t o  plunge i n t o a f t e r the steam, but Vara was d e l i g h t e d anyway. That  night we  when we l e f t  slept i n i t a f t e r d r i n k i n g t o my  success, and  i n the morning, the sauna remained behind us  i n the c l e a r i n g where the c a b i n had stood.  It looked  beautiful there.  The  bus back t o Vancouver was  s t i f l i n g , and I  kept b l i n k i n g back from the heat o f the rocks, t r y i n g t o keep awake.  Vara dozed w i t h my arm around her, g e t t i n g  ready she s a i d f o r the newest jewel i n the S i n and G i n C a p i t a l o f the West.  Over and over, when she i n s i s t e d on  coming, I t r i e d t o say t h a t the house was s l e a z y wreck, and that  no one  spoke E n g l i s h t h e r e .  oh no, j u s t t o give the p l a c e c l a s s , V i o l e t t a , the P a i n t e d Woman. her  ass just f o r that.  would happen,  nothing but a But  she was coming as  Helga would t o s s her out on  As f o r my mother, god knows what  but she would be at the Loggers Dance u n t i l  113  midnight o r so, and i n t h e meantime Vara c o u l d have her peek and be h u s t l e d o f f w i t h excuses about h a v i n g t o get t o work i n the morning. She took a t a x i from the bus depot, and i n s t e a d o f going d i r e c t l y e a s t , I went down past V i c t o r y A f t e r t h e mountains,  Square.  the c i t y l a y under i t s brown haze  the bums f l o p p e d i n the Square among t h e dusty  like  rhododendrons.  Two b l o c k s westward t h e massed f l a g s o f Morgans stood i n s i l e n t a t t e n t i o n o f e r t h e empty p a r k i n g meters. A f t e r the hang dog s t r e e t s , I expected everybody a t H y s t e r i a Cottage t o be passed out t o o , surrounded by overf l o w i n g a s h t r a y s and g l a s s e s o f r y e o r goof. l i k e a steam bath i n s i d e ,  The house was  but when I g l a n c e d i n t o t h e rose  c o l o u r e d darkness o f t h e l i v i n g room, the f l o o r glowed l i k e a sheet o f i c e .  A ruby vase f i l l e d w i t h f l o w e r s r e s t e d on  the shiny c o f f e e t a b l e , o t h e r s were tucked i n t o the f e r n s i n the f i r e p l a c e .  Nowhere was t h e r e a c a r e l e s s l y l e f t  newspaper, much l e s s a l i q u o r g l a s s . on the w a l l s ?  But what t h e h e l l was  I went i n , i t was my p a i n t i n g s and o i l  sketches, almost everyc?one o f them by the l o o k o f i t , but C h r i s t Almighty, framed i n pink and r e d crepe paper, w i t h bows and r i b b o n s at t h e c o r n e r s , and a s a f i n a l w a l l behind, t h e e n t i r e w a l l  blow t h e  s u r f a c e , was covered w i t h a  p a t t e r n o f paper r o s e s , a l t e r n a t e l y pink and red, stuck on at neat i n t e r v a l s r i g h t  down the c e n t r e o f each  silver  s t r i p e o f the w a l l p a p e r , from f l o o r t o c e i l i n g . I sat down on t h e couch, t o l o o k at t h e w a l l s , those p a i n t i n g s b u r i e d i n banks o f f l o w e r s .  Vara would go f o r  114  that,  saying t h a t we had l o s t  h a l f our mob.  at t h e c e i l i n g , and my God, t h a t t o o l every one o f the s i l v e r  I n the centre o f  s t a r s was a r o s e , a white one.  " P r e t t y n i c e , eh?" the h a l l .  I g l a n c e d up  Huutala was i n t h e doorway t o  He must have been i n the k i t c h e n .  work hard t o f i x him up l i k e t h a t . " something t o say when he went on, o t h e r room t o o . "  He whizzed  "We  sure  I was t h i n k i n g o f "Take a l o o k i n t h e  out o f sight toward the  k i t c h e n , and was a l r e a d y w a i t i n g at the o t h e r door when I got through the archway.  Here the r o s e s were t u r q u o i s e ,  hundreds o f them, w i t h huge bows o f r o y a l blue stuck the p a n e l s o f the w a i n s c o t i n g , w i t h another f l o a t i n g above, among the r o s e s . he  row o f them  "We r u n out o f your p i c t u r e s , "  s a i d , n o t i c i n g where I was l o o k i n g .  on your  into  "You make some more  trip?" "No.  I didn»t stay i n one p l a c e .  I s there a drink?"  " I get i t . You stand t h e r e and l o o k at what we make.  Your mother work hard t o make e v e r y t h i n g nice f o r  you."  I went back i n t o t h e pink room while he shouted  the k i t c h e n , to  from  "Yeah, she sure work hard a l l r i g h t , you know,  s t i c k up your p i c t u r e s l i k e t h a t .  But you know what?"  "No." "She  wants you t o p a i n t something, what she isay,  n a t u r a l , next time. thing,  Horses and r o s e s .  She l i k e t h a t n a t u r a l  she says." "Where i s she now?" "Out  w i t h the l o g g e r s who going t o dance.  something t o eat?  You want  We got hard t a c k and p i c k l e h e r r i n g and  115  fish  stew." F i s h stew, the u l t i m a t e orgy.  And h o r s e s and r o s e s ,  f o r C h r i s t ' s sake, every time I t u r n around. someone s e t t l e f o r an honest t o God suddenly  beside me,  was  hand.  "Maybe  Maybe they come back  He h i m s e l f was wearing  an o l d p r e s s e d  w i t h an orange sport s h i r t open at the  suit  neck.  I took the d r i n k u p s t a i r s and t a s t e d i t . t h a t t o o was  can't  Huutala  pushing a g l a s s i n t o my  you change c l o t h e s f o r you mother. p r e t t y soon."  goat.  Why  The  tumbler,  e n c r u s t e d w i t h s t e n c i l l e d r o s e s , must have been  f i l l e d t o w i t h i n an i n c h o f the top w i t h rye, w i t h o n l y a dash o f mixer to b r i n g i t up t o the I l a y down on my k i d s were safe.  bed.  Down i n the playground  s h r i e k i n g at each o t h e r t h a t somebody was  I l o o k e d back at the d r i n k propped up on my  At l e a s t  i t wasn't a bucket,  some  out  or  chest.  so cheer up at t h a t c o n c e s s i o n  t o temperance and merchandising. one  brim.  But  Christ, i f that  was  d r i n k , we were a l r e a d y running at a f i v e hundred percent  loss.  The  culture.  o n l y house on the coast w i t h sextuple r y e s . None o f your r a f f i s h c a l e n d a r poppsies w i t h a  And fish  l u r e r a i s i n g the c u r t a i n on n e v e r - b e f o r e - r e v e a l e d p l e a s u r e s . No, p a i n t i n g s o f the the g a l a opening,  nervous s t r e e t s .  And as an e x t r a f o r  s t r a i g h t from her r o l e i n the West  End,  the one and o n l y V i o i s e t t a , La T r a v i a t a i n person! I f i n i s h e d the d r i n k i n t h r e e o r f o u r g u l p s and put my  head back on the p i l l o w f a r t h e r .  the h a s s l e about who  was  safe or out was  Out  on the  still  playground  going on,  116  c e n t e r i n g now on somebody c a l l e d C h a r l i e who e v i d e n t l y had s t a r t e d r u n n i n g before the b a l l l e f t the p i t c h e r ' s hand. F o r trhat he was being c a l l e d a f i n k and a r a t b a s t a r d . L y i n g t h e r e i n t h e heat and dim l i g h t , I was exhausted.  A l l night i n the teepee I had kept waking up,  t r y i n g t o keep under the s l e e p i n g bag w h i l e Vara r o l l e d over, t a k i n g i t w i t h her, u n t i l f i n a l l y I j u s t l a y there c l u t c h i n g a corner i n d e f i a n c e , w a i t i n g f o r morning, and t h e n making breakfast and c l e a n i n g up w h i l e she s l e p t a g a i n . whole t r i p ,  i t had come t o almost  I went downstairs.  And t h e  nothing.  Huutala was i n the k i t c h e n  p o k i n g a t a l a r g e pot o f f i s h stew, w i t h a rose decorated tumbler o f goof handy by t h e burner. "Saatanan hyva molikaa," he s a i d and h e l d up a spoonful f o r me. "No thanks, e i k i i t o s .  When are t h e y  supposed  t o get here?" "Soon, I t h i n k so. d r i n k about  Soon.  V i i t a n e n , he drop i n f o r  hour ago, and he say l o t s people come.  Maybe  on way now." "All  r i g h t , I'm going t o sleep f o r a w h i l e .  they come you wake me up.  Y e l l up the s t a i r s . "  "Okay, I do t h a t t h i n g .  And you come down."  "You're sure t h e y ' r e coming " V i i t a n e n say.  When  soon."  Maybe they on way now."  He went  back t o s t i r r i n g the stew. One one side o f t h e sink t h r e e rows o f t h e rose  117  decorated g l a s s e s stood a l o n g w i t h a j a r o f r o l l mops and a p l a t t e r o f hard t a c k f o r t h e orgy.  On the o t h e r s i d e ,  t u c k e d up a g a i n s t the splashboard were s i x b o t t l e s o f rye^ some mixer,  and a g a l l o n o f goof.  I n f r o n t was a h a l f empty  rye b o t t l e and a g a l l o n j u g w i t h l e s s t h a n a t h i r d i n i t . What must have been V i i t a n e n ' s g l a s s l a y i n the s i n k , another sextuple winner. percent  I poured  out a drink o f about two hundred  loss. Before I went u p s t a i r s I t o l d him, "You be a b s o l u t e l y  sure t o y e l l when they come."  He o n l y muttered  something i n  F i n n and went on s t i r r i n g h i s stew. Before I p u l l e d the b l i n d down, I glanced down on the playground t o see i f C h a r l i e was l y i n g t h e r e t o r n t o p i e c e s , w i t h the shadows o f the b u i l d i n g s c r e e p i n g toward him,  but e v e r y t h i n g was quiet w i t h the teams except  f o r some  k i d s who were y e l l i n g at a rummy on the t h i r d base l i n e t o fuck o f f . As I sat down on the bed, i t struck me. I  "Vilho,"  shouted. "Yeah, what you want, p o i k a ? " " I f nobody comes, V i l h o , you wake me i n two  hours."  "Okay, I do t h a t . " It was comfortable t h e r e i n the hot darkness.  I  moved t h e g l a s s around i n my hand and s t a r t e d counting the roses.  Seven rows o f f i v e .  T h i r t y - f i v e times ten, p l u s  seventy more t o make a dozen g l a s s e s i s 420.  I n the l i v i n g  room, at about f o u r i n c h e s a p a r t , v e r t i c a l l y t h e r e are about twenty-four,  and h o r i z o n t a l l y t h r e e rows t o a foot makes,  lis  say s e v e n t y - f i v e .  And  the archway t o the  corner, t h r e e t o the door, t h r e e t o the  front  f o r the w a l l s , about seven f e e t  corner, t h a t ' s t h i r t e e n , f o u r on both s i d e s o f the  f r o n t window, twenty-one, and two i s twenty-five.  and two  zeros.  back room.  At two  but no,  even t h i n k i n g about  hundred f o r t e n  nineteen hundred about f i f t e e n hours.  c u t t i n g the p e t a l s and I j u s t can't  caps.  hours,  With  Huutala  s t r e t c h i n g them between h i s thumbs,  see him  b u r i e d i n rose p e t a l s up t o the  Unless he's as c r a z y as everybody e l s e .  f e l l a s l e e p I saw  nineteen  roses t o the minute,  t h e r e ' d be 120 t o the hour, twelve f o r the  fireplace  C h r i s t , there were about  hundred r o s e s on the w a l l s alone, without the c e i l i n g and  by the  Three t w e n t y - f i v e s i s s e v e n t y - f i v e , d i v i d e  by f o u r and add two  hub  from  As I  Robinson and Vara dressed l i k e c h i l d r e n  i n an E a s t e r pageant, w i t h Vara as the p a i n t e d woman. Rob-inson was  s i t t i n g on the counter  saying, "He  i s not  here.  I n s t e a d o f coming, he went."  Somebody was  shaking me,  Arvo, p l e a s e , wake up, noise i n the There was was  dark.  home and I was  c a l l i n g my  come on."  I t was  bush, an owl or something.  street l i g h t I was  name,  Vara's v o i c e . "Arvo, wake  Some  up."  coming from the window, but the room  i n her apartment, but I had t o get up,  get dressed f o r work i n the morning.  a l r e a d y dressed, or s t i l l  But  go  somehow  dressed.  "Arvo, f o r heaven's sake. t u r n e d out to be,  "Arvo,  A f i n e bootlegger  you  s l e e p i n g while we've been m i n t i n g money."  119  At t h a t I sat up. "What time i s i t , what are you doing here?" "When you didn't meet me  and I didn't have the  address, I went l o o k i n g f o r you." "Where?" "You t o l d me  about the Loggers' Dance, so I went  t h e r e and had a h e l l o f a time g e t t i n g i n , but f i n a l l y the guy p o i n t e d out your mother." "How  d i d you know i t was  her?"  " F o r heaven's sake, Arvo, I j u s t t o l d "And what d i d she "She we  you."  say?"  s a i d she'd been w a i t i n g a l l day,  so I t o l d  j u s t got back, and t h e n one o f the guys she was  her  sitting  w i t h gave me t h i s address, and I took a t a x i , t h i n k i n g t h a t something had happened t o you." "Who  d i d you t e l l  her j u s t got  back?"  "Wei. What's the matter w i t h t h a t ? " Without  b o t h e r i n g w i t h the l i g h t s I s t a r t e d t e a r i n g  at my  boot l a c e s .  still  at the  That god damned Huutala anyway.  " I s she  dance?"  " I suppose  so."  " D i d you j u s t get here?" "About an hour "Why  ago."  i n f u c k ' s name didn't  somebody wake me  up then?"  " V i l h o v/as going t o , but I s a i d t o l e a v e i t f o r a while." "Huutala you mean."  120  "I still  guess so.  The man  i n the wheel c h a i r . "  I was  undoing the boots, yanking at those bloody l a c e s when  she went on.  "Man,  i s he  sexy.  I f he was even t e n y e a r s  younger you'd have, as they say, some s t i f f c o m p e t i t i o n . " "And  i f you drank f i f t y t i m e s as much, so would  I f l u n g the boot under the bed. know about  "And what the h e l l do  he." you  him anyway?"  Her v o i c e s h i f t e d t o a fake Jay, honey.  H i s orange  Her v o i c e s h i f t e d back, That was  s h i r t was "And  southern accent,  just  at l e a s t  "Why,  so b e a u t i f u l I bawled." he  stays awake."  enough, Huutala had p r o b a b l y been handing  her the sextuple s p e c i a l s .  "When I get dressed, we're  g e t t i n g out o f here and going o v e r t o your p l a c e , before t h e y get here." "They?" "Yes t h e y .  Everybody."  "You mean your mother, from what I've "Have i t your own way. about  your f a t h e r ? She  and mixed w i t h i t a cheap perfume.  That's i t , isn't  her black o u t l i n e l i f t  you can fuck t h a t  I was  it?  For C h r i s t ' s  sake."  an arm and take a d r i n k .  n o i s e , baby," she  hours t o get ready. just  And what  stood t h e r e i n the darkness b r e a t h i n g , and I  "Your mother.  me two  My mother then.  We*; re g e t t i n g out o f here."  c o u l d smell the whiskey,  I saw  heard."  And  said c o l d l y .  nobody stands me  s t u p i d enough t o worry about  "Well  " I t took up e i t h e r .  you."  Huutala c a l l e d her from downstairs, Varah.  "Comin'  1 2 1  honey," she c a l l e d back I n h e r fake a c c e n t . p o p u l a r your V i o l e t t a i s , honey? j u s t can't keep t h e i r l i t t l e move toward the door.  "You see how  A l l t h e gentlemen c a l l e r s  o l ' eyes o f f her."  I saw her  Huutala y e l l e d l o u d e r , from the bottom  o f the s t a i r s , Varahh.  "You j u s t  see how i t i s , honey?  Those gentlemen c a l l e r s j u s ' keep c a l l i n ' an' c a l l i n ' . " She y e l l e d down the s t a i r s ,  "Comin', Ashley, honey."  Her v o i c e t u r n e d t o me a g a i n . say t a t a t o T r a v i a t a . " the opera  "Now baby, you must  She skipped down the steps s i n g i n g  d r i n k i n g song.  I sat t h e r e on the bed s t u p i d l y , t h a t perfume almost  visible  i n the a i r .  hanging  A burst o f l a u g h t e r came from  downstairs, men's v o i c e s , t h e n Vara's v o i c e p i c k i n g up the d r i n k i n g song a g a i n .  I went back t o u n l a c i n g the boot.  I a b s o l u t e l y hated her, t h e drunken s l u t .  What t h e h e l l  was she doing down t h e r e anyway, i n s t e a d o f s t i c k i n g t o her f u c k i n g towers by the sea. The bloody v o l u p t u a r y w i t h h e r stage-set  screwing.  The whole l i v i n g room was f i l l e d w i t h an e e r i e r o s e coloured l i g h t  from t h e t i n t e d bulbs i n the lamps.  In the  pink dimness three o f t h e t r a v . e l l i n g a r t e x h i b i t p o r t e r s , Varila,  Suo and K e n t a l a  sat side by s i d e on t h e couch,  completely drunk, w i t h t h e i r rose decorated g l a s s e s .  Huutala  was parked i n the archway w i t h h i s g l a s s , h i s wine j u g between h i s knees. The  coffee table  had been c l e a r e d away, and Vara  was standing i n t h e centre o f the f l o o r d i r e c t l y under the  122  pink c e i l i n g l i g h t .  I couldn't recognize her.  She  padded out her b r e a s t s so t h a t t h e y pushed out a s monstrous uneven lumps i n s i d e her rjouse.  had  two  Her h a i r  was  p i l e d up from behind, p u f f e d i n t o a shabby p i l e and  then  decorated w i t h enormous sequins t h a t sent p o i n t s of l i g h t p i c k i n g a l o n g the c e i l i n g when she moved her head. Black eye l a s h e s about h a l f an i n c h l o n g were stuck t o the mauve-coloured e y e l i d s , and above, she had  redrawn  and lengthened out her eyebrows crookedly so t h a t her f o r e h e a d l o o k e d l o p s i d e d or deformed. r e p a i n t e d l a r g e and o f i t was  Her mouth t o o  s l i g h t l y o f f c e n t r e , and  a c i g a r e t t e h o l d e r almost  s t i c k i n g out  a foot l o n g , decorated  w i t h what l o o k e d l i k e r h i n e s t o n e s . Loggers Dance l o o k i n g l i k e t h a t .  was  She had gone to the No wonder she had a h e l l  o f a time g e t t i n g i n . She t u r n e d toward me, slightly.  c u r t s e y i n g , and  teetering  "Hyva i l t a j a t e r v e t u l o a , Herra Maki.",  snapped her f i n g e r s at Huutala and  said, " V i l h o , olkaa  hyva j a antaa p i e n i ryyppy p o j a l l e . " o f s i g h t , and r e t u r n e d almost  She  Huutala whizzed  immediately  with a  out  tumbler  o f rye and handed i t t o her. She brought must have drenched  i t t o me.  audience  She  h e r s e l f w i t h t h a t perfume.  "Vara, t h i s i s s i c k . "Not  "How's ray F i n n , baby?"  L e t ' s go.  y e t , baby, the f l o o r  i s clamouring  You're too drunk."  show's not over.  f o r an encore."  K e n t a l a , Suo  The and  V a r i l a were t r y i n g vaguely t o keep t h e i r eyes on her, not  123  q u i t e able t o . t h e d r i n k was  V a r i l a ' s g l a s s had t i p p e d over so f a r t h a t d r i b b l i n g on the couch.  She went over  and  clapped her hands i n f r o n t o f t h e i r f a c e s u n t i l they somehow got t h e i r eyes more o r l e s s back t o her.  Huutala watched  s m i l i n g from h i s p a r k i n g p l a c e . Back under the l i g h t , and announced, i n Barcelona. think.  she clapped her hands a g a i n  "Here's a number I p i c k e d up I t ' s c a l l e d the  near the  docks  Flamenco de l a s Putas —  I  Anyway, t r a n s l a t e d i t ' s the Whorehouse Stomp —  more c o r r e c t l y , the Gonorhea  or  Gavotte."  Snapping her f i n g e r s t o some obscure  rhythm,  she  s t a r t e d s i n g i n g the Habanera from Carmen o f f key, and  doing  a k i n d o f bump and g r i n d h u l a t o i t , stomping her f e e t at the end o f each phrase.  She  clomped her way  over t o  Suo,  V a r i l a , and K e n t a l a , and  clapped her hands i n t h e i r f a c e s  again. "Come on you cocksuckers,  sing.  L e t ' s hear i t f o r  o l d V i o l e t t a l " and t h e n over her shoulder,  "You  too,  motherfuckerI" O b e d i e n t l y the three Bizet into  s t a r t e d moaning something, but  soon being too i n t r i c a t e f o r them, t h e y d r i f t e d o f f some l u g u b r i o u s F i n n i s h f a v o u r i t e f o r a few  and t h e n p e t e r e d out one  by one  Back under-the l i g h t s , i t was,  t h a t was  f l o w e r s time.  bars,  i n t o numb s i l e n c e . she clapped a g a i n .  the Gonorhea Gavotte.  Now  it's  "Short  as  pin-on-the-  I t ' s the h i g h p o i n t o f the f i e s t a i n Cordova,  or r a t h e r on Cordova, a custom d e r i v i n g , I b e l i e v e , from  the  124  f o o t h i l l s o f the s i e r r a Madre, though t h e r e p l a y e d w i t h columbines." I took a couple o f swallows o f rye and watched.  She  p u l l e d one o f the r o s e s o f f the w a l l and stuck i t i n V a r i l a ' s hair,  solemnly s a y i n g ,  " F l o r e s p a r a l o s muertos."  She p u l l e d  another f o r Suo, t h e n f o r K e n t a l a , going back and f o r t h a l o n g the row, a d m i n i s t e r i n g , i n t o n i n g ,  "Flores, flores,  flores  para l o s muertos," u n t i l t h e i r heads were covered —  Suo's  and K e n t a l a ' s w i t h p i n k , and V a r i l a ' s , because he sat i n the middle, w i t h red.  P a r a l y z e d drunk w i t h the f l o w e r s , they  l o o k e d l i k e a throwback t o some U g r i c f e r t i l i t y She  rite.  snatched f o u r o r f i v e more o f f the w a l l , and  came over t o me.  "And now you.  f o r t h e deflowered." pushed her hand away.  Flowers, f l o w e r s , f l o w e r s  She reached up toward my head, and I "Thou were l e s s squeamish i n the  S i e r r a Madre." "Keep q u i e t , " I s a i d , "You don't doing.  know what  you're  Now p l e a s e , Vara, I ' l l take you home." "You weren't knocking y o u r s e l f out t h i s a f t e r n o o n  as u s u a l , when your wee t r u n d l e bed was more cuddly and secure." "Shutup, I went w i t h you f o r t h r e e days — " "When momma hankered "I said  shutup  and l e t me f i n i s h , and l i s t e n . "  She t u r n e d away. i n the bathroom. with V i l h o .  f o r her beamish boy?"  "Why don't  you go and j a c k o f f  I'm going t o borrow a bike and dance  Aren't I , V i l h o ? "  125  Huutala l i f t e d h i s g l a s s , She  "Skol!"  blew him an e l a b o r a t e k i s s , and went up t o the  t h r e e on the  couch.  drink s p i l l e d  K e n t a l a ' s head was  beside him.  straightened a l i t t l e ,  She  and  f l o p p e d down, h i s  shook him u n t i l h i s head  clapped her hands and poked at  the/si t h r e e o f them u n t i l t h e y were more o r l e s s l o o k i n g at h e r again.  She at l e a s t had three t o work w i t h , w i t h Moore  I had one.  I f i n i s h e d the  "Shake i t up, you over y e t .  Here l e t me  rye. bastards,  show you."  pin-the-flower tikietisn't She took a r e d rose  stuck i t on one o f those monstrous b r e a s t s . one on."  She  you put*  k n e l t down and poked K e n t a l a , but h i s head  had f l o p p e d down behind. She  "Now  and  " A l l r i g h t , two  s h i f t e d sideways, between Suo and  i s b e t t e r anyway."  Varila.  I reached over f o r an abandoned d r i n k on the armchair and emptied the g l a s s . what she d i d .  I t was  I didn't care anymore  j u s t a matter of w a i t i n g now  she wound down, and t h e n g e t t i n g a cab. that  until  As f o r her tomorrow,  didn't m a t t e r e i t h e r . She  breasts.  handed each o f them a rose and p o i n t e d at  She grabbed V a r i l a ' s hand, poking i t i n t o  u n t i l the rose stuck.  "And  Then the o t h e r does a>ne. by watching. She  now  you, the o t h e r guy,  That way  Monkey see, monkey  herself do  one.  learn  do."  s t a r t e d r e a c h i n g up f o r the r o s e s , t h e n k n e e l i n g  down, h o l d i n g them as V a r i l a and "A r e d one  the c h i l d r e n w i l l  her  f o r you, a p i n k one  Suo groped them i n t o p l a c e .  f o r you, a red one  f o r you,  126  a p i n k one  f o r you,"  coloured l i g h t . pink one, I  s t a n d i n g up and k n e e l i n g i n t h a t r o s e -  I took  Suo's d r i n k and f i n i s h e d i t .  and a red one,  a p i n k one,  and a red  "A  one."  became aware o f my mother standing i n the archway,  her face sagging, h a r d l y able t o stand.  She must have come  i n through the back. "YOU  FUCKEN WHORE, WHY  DON'T YOU  TAKE THIS  TOO."  She grabbed the nearest p a i n t i n g and threw i t skimming edgewise w i t h f u l l f o r c e . She  stood up  I t h i t Vara i n the f a c e .  screaming, my  god, my  god, my  god,  her  hands o v e r h e r f a c e , the blood p o u r i n g down her arms, on t h a t h o r r i b l e f l o w e r covered chest, screaming my shoving me  out o f the way,  her, opening the door,  god, my  god,  running past as I t r i e d t o  screaming,  t u r n e d t o f o l l o w her I heard,  and  "And  take t h i s , " and the p a n e l h i t me  running out.  grab  you f u c k e n pimp,  you  a c r o s s the back. She  standing t h e r e w i t h t h a t smug drunken smile.  I  As  was  I p i c k e d up  the p a i n t i n g and f l u n g i t as hard as I c o u l d at her head, and  ran out. Vara had disappeared.  ways.  The  I r a n back t o l o o k down one  s t r e e t was empty  both  side o f the house, t h e n  behind t h e k i t c h e n , t h e n around the o t h e r s i d e , y e l l i n g name, and t h e n down t o the  s t r e e t a g a i n t o look i f she  her was  l y i n g behind the b a t t e r e d hedge somewhere. I  began l o o k i n g f o r b l o o d s t a i n s on the walk, when  the l i v i n g room window smashed out, t e a r i n g the p i n k p l a s t i c c u r t a i n along with i t ,  and a p a i n t i n g f l o p p e d on the ground  127  i n the broken g l a s s . "I  s a i d take i t , you f u c k e n pimp."  standing i n the window under t h e shredded the p i n k l i g h t .  My mother was c u r t a i n s , against  Suddenly she was screaming,  p a i n t i n g s o f f the w a l l , f l i n g i n g them at me.  ripping A l a r g e one  h i t me a c r o s s the shoulder, and I threw i t back. were going on i n the houses next  Lights  door, and I s t a r t e d w i l d l y  t h r o w i n g them a l l back, the Brunswick, the New F o u n t a i n , the  Stanley, the Marr, my p a i n t i n g s , skimming them  vertically,  s p i n n i n g them so t h e y would cut her i n h a l f , and ducking a s t h e y came s a i l i n g out, and r e c o v e r i n g them t o throw back. Then I was aiming them at everyone i n s i d e , the  smashing out  side p a n e l s o f window t o h i t Suo, V a r i l a ,  a r c i n g them up t o h i t Huutala.  o r Kentala,  When t h e r e were no more  p a i n t i n g s coming out, I threw the w h i t e - p a i n t e d rocks l i n i n g the walk, working my way m e t h o d i c a l l y down t h e row l i k e weird potato p i c k e r , l i s t e n i n g  some  as t h e y crashed a g a i n s t the  w a l l where Vara had p i c k e d the roses f o r her game.  The  house was p u l s i n g now w i t h r e d l i g h t , and a s I reached down, a foot  came down on the next r o c k .  fuck o f f .  I shoved i t away, y e l l i n g  I was grabbed and h e l d from behind, and s t a r t e d  k i c k i n g at whoever i t was, u n t i l I was punched i n t h e back. One o f the two policemen asked me f o r my name. " I t o l d you t o fuck o f f , " I s a i d . " I asked you what your name was." "And a name?"  I t o l d you t o fuck o f f .  What i f I don't  have  128  "Do  you l i v e here?"  I didn't  bother answering.  In  the p u l s i n g l i g h t o f the p o l i c e c a r , the p i n k glow o f the window f l a r e d out  steadily.  I n s i d e t h e r e wasn't a sound, i t must  have been l i k e a b a t t l e f i e l d i n t h e r e . c r o s s e d my mind, and I g i g l e d . with cold.  The Wars o f the Roses  Then I r e a l i z e d I was  I t o l d m y s e l f over and over t h a t i t was  s p r i n g n i g h t , but the s h i v e r i n g wouldn't  stop.  shivering  a warm  I tried  c o n c e n t r a t i n g on the b l i n k i n g p o l i c e car l i g h t , t h a t was  no  good e i t h e r . One  o f the p o l i c e  s a i d t o the o t h e r ,  he's i n p r e t t y rough shape. I'll  You take him i n on a drunk, and  l e d out t o the c a r , and d u r i n g the t h r e e blocks  down Cordova t o the p o l i c e c o n t r o l the  s t a t i o n , I was  s t i l l t r y i n g to  s h i v e r i n g by watching, f o r p l a c e s along the f e n c e s  and houses where the r e d l i g h t Several t i m e s on the way  struck, t h e n c o u n t i n g the and up the e l e v a t o r at the  back o f the s t a t i o n , the policeman asked me my address and where I worked.  name and  I didn't even l o o k at  On the t h i r d or f o u r t h f l o o r , j u s t we  looks like  check what the h e l l ' s going on i n here." I was  hits.  "He  him.  by the e l e v a t o r ,  stopped at a counter, and while the constable f i l l e d  some k i n d o f form, the man  on the o t h e r side asked me who  out  f o r my  name and i d e n t i f i c a t i o n .  Another man  must have been the  j a i l e r came up beside me,  and they both w a i t e d a s I stood  t h e r e s t a r i n g through the window behind the counter at the neon s i g n s and  street l i g h t s .  The p o l i c e m a n who  brought  me  pushed the form a c r o s s , and t h e n I heard the e l e v a t o r door  129  c l o s e , and t h e n a hum The man  as i t s t a r t e d down.  behind the c o u n t e r was  speaking.  going t o give us your name and i d e n t i f i c a t i o n . " s t a r i n g out the window.  No I won't give you my  i d e n t i f i c a t i o n or a n y t h i n g e l s e , here a l l n i g h t , u n t i l we t h i n g was  not i f we  a l l get f l a t  "Are  you  I kept name o r  have t o stand  feet.  The whole  s t u p i d , the three o f us standing t h e r e , i t was  c h i l d i s h and I knew i t . "Come on t h e n . " me  around.  Behind me,  "You  The  j a i l e r took my  arm and t u r n e d  get i n here u n t i l you come t o your  a c r o s s from the counter, was  e n c l o s u r e l i k e a zoo cage.  senses."  a heavy s t e e l wire  I stepped i n , monkey see,  monkey do. I sat down, l e a n i n g a g a i n s t the w a l l .  Vara's f a c e  covered w i t h blood, and t h a t tawdry costume w i t h the r o s e s on the b r e a s t s .  The  paper  edge o f the panel must have  smashed her nose r i g h t i n , c r u s h i n g the bones.  Through the  s t e e l mesh the c o u n t e r stood w i t h a f l a p gate l i k e the at Morgans. even i f I was  The  one  court wouldn't open u n t i l l a t e i n the morning,  on a drunk charge.  By that time the draughting  o f f i c e would have been open f o r two hours, and a l l the mess c l e a n e d up by the  s e r v i c e department.  back behind h i s p a r t i t i o n ,  four foot  and Moore back a g a i n at h i s drawing  Robinson would be s i x w i t h a foot o f g l a s s ,  board measuring  i n c h f r a c t i o n s on d i m e n s i o n a l l y s t a b l e drawing  boards behind him empty.  sheets, the  out h i s two  Vara i n the h o s p i t a l ,  mother p r o b a b l y f a c e d w i t h an a s s a u l t  charge  i n the  next  my  130  few  days.  The  l i v i n g room must l o o k l i k e a rock quarry.  I  couldn't have h i t anybody, o r t h e r e would have been y e l l i n g inside.  Unsuspecting K e n t a l a , V a r i l a , and  Suo, two  pinks  and a red, l y i n g suddenly on the f l o o r as the r o c k s h u r t l e d a g a i n s t the w a l l , wondering what had  shattered t h e i r paradise  of d r i n k s , f l o o r show, hard tack and f i s h stew —  three  customers u n l i k e l y t o wander a g a i n o u t s i d e the o r b i t and t r u e  speakeasies. It was  s t u f f y and q u i e t .  r e a d a newspaper, and I was i n the  of t r i e d  The man  behind the  beginning t o doze.  counter  Down below  b u i l d i n g I heard the c l i c k o f the e l e v a t o r , the  of i t coming up, the  s l i d i n g door c l a c k open.  sharp c l i c k - c l i c k , and one person's e x p e c t i n g t o see the c o n s t a b l e who It was the  sound  There was  footsteps.  I looked  a up,  had a r r e s t e d me.  skateboard c r i p p l e  and he r e c o g n i z e d me  instantly. "Pig  Ass!" he  coincidence!"  He  p o i n t e d at me.  shouted j o y o u s l y ,  "What a eocksucken  spun around t o the man  at the c o u p t e r and  "Hey  He gave me t h i s . " at the f r o n t  o f the  Harry, t h a t ' s my  good f r i e n d P i g Ass.  He h e l d up the c o i l o f yellow n y l o n rope skateboard, t h e n shook h i s head dazedly.  "What a bloody eocksucken c o i n c i d e n c e . "  He  couldn't seem t o  get over the wonder o f i t a l l . F i n a l l y he l o o k e d up at the counter. he doing i n the  squirrel  "Harry.  cage?"  "He won't give us h i s name, George." " H i s name i s P i g Ass.  He's  a f r i e n d o f mine."  What's  131  "Is "Pig thing.  that h i s f i r s t  name o r l a s t ? "  A s s i s a l l I know.  Maybe he's a Greek o r some-  They got some funny names and he knows some wops.  Ask him." The man l o o k e d at me.  What was the use.  I was  defeated, and he must have guessed because he pushed a b u t t o n f o r the j a i l e r . While I gave my name, address, p l a c e o f employment, and gave the man my belt and w a l l e t t h a t were put i n a c l o t h bag, the c r i p p l e  c h a t t e d w i t h the j a i l e r .  slow here t o o , i t being the l a s t without  Business had been  day o f a h o l i d a y , and hot,  t o o much t r a f f i c , and the l i q u o r  s t o r e s and beer  parlours closed. The  jailer  glanced at t h e form f i l l e d out by t h e  booking o f f i c e r . . "Okay, l e t ' s go."  As I t u r n e d t o f o l l o w ,  the c r i p p l e yanked my pant: l e g and h e l d up t h e rope.  I took  i t and we moved o f f , i n t o t h e e l e v a t o r , up two f l o o r s , and down the smooth white and blue t i l e d f l o o r , past t h e c i g a r e t t e machine on the l e f t , t h e yellow n y l o n rope i n my hand, and the j a i l e r and the c r i p p l e amiably  s i x o r seven feet  behind,  conversing  about who had dropped i n d u r i n g the week. The  drunk tank was completely  i n white t i l e ,  except  covered, w a l l s and f l o o r s  f o r t h r e e d r a i n h o l e s a l o n g one w a l l ,  a u r i n a l i n the f a r corner, and high above i t , a narrow window. I sat down, l e a n i n g a g a i n s t t h e w a l l , my eyes beginning t o water from the d i s i n f e c t a n t . beside me, reached  The c r i p p l e  i n h i s pocket,  backed i n n e a t l y  s l i p p e d a rubber e r a s e r  under the f r o n t wheel o f the skateboard, and l e a n e d back.  132  "Smell's  not so b a d t o n i g h t , " he s a i d ,  s n i f f i n g the  air. "No, I g u e s s n o t . " He l i t behind  a c i g a r e t t e , puffed on i t ,  h i s head.  "Just l i k e  H i s v o i c e was r e m i n i s c e n t . this just i t was.  old times,  a n d p u t h i s hands  ain't i t P i g Ass,"  " Y o u a n d me  s i d e by s i d e  like  s h o o t i n g t h e s h i t , w i t h f u c k a l l e l s e t o do. S e l l i n g a f e w names w h e n we f e l t  like  Like  i t , knocking  o f f f o r a d r i n k a n y t i m e we g o t f e d up w i t h t h e r a t r a c e . Yeah, t h e y were t h e good t i m e s . "  He s i g h e d a n d s t a r e d o f f  i n t o t h e d i s t a n c e above t h e d r a i n h o l e s , l o s t "Remember t h a t wop f r i e n d o f y o u r s ? "  i n thought.  he a s k e d .  " Cellini?" "Yeah. guy  T h a t ' s him, yeah.  l i k e that, ain't i t ,just  voice  Too b a d a b o u t a y o u n g  s t a r t i n g out and a l l . "  d r i f t e d o f f , a n d he s i g h e d a g a i n .  His  " I t ' s n o t so b a d  maybe i f y o u g o t no a r t t a l e n t .  But t a l e n t o r no t a l e n t  poof.  happen."  Y o u n e v e r know w h e n i t ' l l  —  "No, I g u e s s y o u d o n ' t , " I s a i d . We  sat i n s i l e n c e s t a r i n g a t t h e t i l e w a l l ,  contem-  p l a t i n g e a c h i n o u r own way t h e v a n i t y o f human w i s h e s . snuffed. again.  The t h o u g h t o f C e l l i n i h a d b e e n t o o much f o r h i m He o p e n e d h i s f l y , r e a c h e d i n , a n d b r o u g h t o u t a b o t t l e  o f bay rum, t o o k a m o u t h f u l , Too  He  a n d h a n d e d i t t o me.  b a d i t ' s k i n d o f warm t h o u g h , f r o m  b e s i d e my  s i t t i n g down t h e r e  nuts."  "Not  right  now, t h a n k s , "  "Go a h e a d .  I s a i d weakly.  133  "Go ahead.  I got one o n t h e o t h e r side t o o l "  To  prove i t , he p a t t e d h i s c r o t c h , h o l d i n g t h e open b o t t l e out closer.  I thought o f t h a t scene i n t h e New F o u n t a i n , and  what i t w o u l d be l i k e b e i n g p u r s u e d t h e re st o f t h e n i g h t i f he went b e r s e r k .  I wiped the b o t t l e o f f using t h e l i q u i d  i t s e l f , and t o o k a g u l p .  The t a s t e was sharp and c l i n g i n g  l i k e g a s o l i n e , but t a s t i n g l i k e t h e o i l  from e v e r g r e e n s .  "Thanks," I s a i d . A f t e r t h a t , we s i p p e d at i t , t o each o t h e r .  offering i t politely  We l e a n e d back and t a l k e d about t h e o l d t i m e s ,  s i t t i n g t h e r e o n t h e c o r n e r , how bad b u s i n e s s was one day and good t h e n e x t , about t h e o n l y f i g h t we had, and how hot t h a t s i d e w a l k was t h a t t i m e . "Remember F r e d d y , P i g A s s ? " "Yeah, Freddy t h a t used t o be a t t h e New F o u n t a i n . " "Yeah, him. "No s h i t . "Yeah.  He's s t i l l  there."  I s he?"  He's q u i t e a guy."  We thought about Freddy, remembering t h e way he had with people.  "George," I a s k e d , "When do we go t o c o u r t ? "  "You don't have t o .  Abe pays f o r m e . "  "What Abe?" "Abe who r u n s t h e j u n k shop.  He pays t h e t e n bucks,  an' I pay him; back a buck o r so e x t r a . " "Would he pay f o r me?" "Oh s u r e .  J u s t pay him back a l i t t l e o n t h e s i d e .  But y o u shouldn't have g i v e n Harry frhat a l i a s name.  That  134  c o u l d cause  trouble."  "It  shouldn't."  "No. old  shit  their the  Maybe n o t , "  George  s a i d , " H a r r y ' s not a b a d  i n h i s own w a y . " We s a t  back a g a i n t h i n k i n g a b o u t  goodness  i n f i n i t e and e v e r l a s t i n g .  other bottle  f r o m h i s c r o t c h , a n d we  George set  softening of  the  I n a few h o u r s i t w o u l d be m o r n i n g .  "Yeah,  George,  said f i n a l l y .  what've  "I  "Yeah.  been t h i n k i n g . "  you been t h i n k i n g ? "  " A b o u t g o i n g back i n t o b u s i n e s s , "With s i l v e r  like  i n the  an a r t i s t ,  a n d so am I t o o .  c h i l d r e n o f a common m o t h e r . "  He t o o k a d r i n k , a n d  i n t o h i s sleeve at the thought  of  I  " N o , we got stared off  over the  the t e r r i t o r y . y o u r s was, his  days."  We're snuffled  us.  need a s k a t e b o a r d t o o ,  or  something?"  y o u a n ' me, a n ' t h i s y e l l o w r o p e . " drains.  "Wei c o u l d s p r e a d o u t ,  He  expand  Maybe e v e n i n c l u d e where t h a t wop f r i e n d o f  who d i e d .  Have y o u h e a r d o f a n y b o d y t a k i n g  over  corner?" "No,  I  old  wire?"  You're  "Wouldn't  out us.  night  George  brought between  grating,  "Pig Ass,"  first  it  Through the sky.  I c o u l d see t h e  Abe a n d H a r r y , w i t h  c o u l d get  I haven't."  I  sipped the  baysie.  a p a i r of r o l l e r skates then.  w i t h copper w i r e at "That  "George,  And maybe  practise  night."  sounds good,  P i g Ass,  " A n d maybe move o u t t o t h e  real  good."  shopping c e n t r e s  maybe  —"  135  M—  an' get closer to the customers that buy?"  "— and away from the downtown part altogether." As a patch of sky behind the grating brightened to a golden misty l i g h t , George and I finished off the bottle of bay rum, passing it back and forth, each respectful of the other's talent, and developing the vision of a new renaissance. Promptly at ten minutes before nine we were let out. Abe charged me fifteen dollars because he didn't know me, but we ended up on Main Street. across Burrard Inlet.  The haze s t i l l hung motionless  To the south lay L i t t l e Mountain,  and beyond i t , our first  shopping centre.  the New Fountain would be open.  In ten minutes  We'd have a couple with  Freddy, for old times' sake, and be on our way.  Perhaps  even stop i n at the General Hospital, and send some flowers up to Vara, daffodils, i f they were s t i l l i n season.  

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