Month: January 2014

My double is evil!

They say everyone has a double. Some believe it to be true, some deny it. I know it to be true. Ask anyone here in this small town, they will agree…

My double lives in the same town as I do….and he is a criminal, a con artist, and an outright idiot. Every time I get a haircut, he seems to do the same. Everywhere I go I am asked whether I have a twin or if I am related to this jerk. Once, I almost got killed because someone that he ripped off thought I was him. I had to show ID before the big ape would let go of my neck.

You may think I am joking, I am not. I am totally serious. I don’t actually see the resemblance, but enough people have mistaken me for this guy that it makes me wonder. I have to admit, it is scary to say the least.

Once, this guy sold a poor family his minivan. Problem was, he didn’t own it in the first place. He had a loan from the bank, and without a single payment, he unloaded the thing on the unsuspecting family who desperately needed it. When asked, the guy said that he bought it because he knew I was an honest man, and that he thought he was buying it from ME. He didn’t know me very well…I would never own a Dodge, I am a Toyota Man.

This dumbass who is lucky enough to look like me has been getting me in trouble all my life. When I was just seventeen, the two of us were dating sisters. That’s how I met the guy. When someone seen him cheating on his girl, they mistakenly identified me as the cheater. My girl wouldn’t believe me, seeing how it was her MOTHER who seen him with this other girl.

I almost lost a job once because this guy came into my place of employment and STOLE something in broad daylight. The new guy at work figured he was me. Next day I get called into the front office by the boss as he urged me to confess. Of course I wasn’t even in town on that day.

Just seeing him walk up the street makes me sick. When people approach me and ask if I am related to him, or if I am him, I could scream. So annoying. Thankfully my lady doesn’t see the resemblance. She said that while he is my height and build, she doesn’t think I look like him…or he looks like me. God Love her!

Right now I am waiting for something. Last time I seen him, he had a huge bald spot on the back of his head. Any day now, the rest of his hair will fall out and we will look different…unless some stupid person comes up and comments me on my new wig! ARRRGH!

Krazy Karpets, Sno-Skates and Mini Skis

When I was a kid,  I didn’t spend my holidays or weekends indoors during winter like kids  these days. We went outside slidin’.

Behind my grandfather’s house, across the cow pasture, there was a gigantic hill, about a mile long. the hill was created when my grandfather took his dog team up the mountain to haul firewood during winter. He cut the path out and from then on, it became ‘Teddy’s Hill’. My dad used to slide there as a kid, and so did I.

The hill wasn’t without danger, as halfway down there was a giant rock that stuck out. When the kids played on the hill, my grandfather would first go out and using his shovel, he created a bank around the rock. When kids hit the bank, they made a jump that led them over the rock and on down the hill. My dad said that they couldn’t afford sleds, so the made due with the hood from one of Grappy’s old pickup trucks, waxed with animal fat.

Of course, we didn’t need the truck hood, we had modern sleds. First we had wooden  toboggans. I remember climbing on a ten foot toboggan, along with six or more other kids, and flying down the hill. The walk back up wasn’t easy, and took almost twenty minutes, but it gave us kids time to chat and plan our next trip down the hill.

During the later winter months, when the snow became sticky, we fashioned jumps toward the bottom of the hill. Again, several kids on one sled, the added weight hurling us even faster down the hill, but when we hit our ramps, kids went everywhere. Can you say FUN?

One Christmas, I was lucky enough to get a Krazy Karpet from Santa. Whoa! This thing was cool! A thin piece of space age plastic that rolled up under your arm until you were ready to use it. No longer did I need to drag a heavy wooden toboggan up the steep hill, I could walk effortlessly with my sled rolled up under my arm. And Go! Did it ever go, it flew! The trip  down the hill went at least two times as fast. I was the envy of the other kids. Imagine, me being the envy…in no  time,  all my friends had these cool Krazy Karpets, each a different color.

One day I seen an  ad on television for the newest sliding sensation. The ad was from K-Tel, and it  was the latest craze for kids. Mini-Skis.

Those short plastic skis were made from the same space age material that made the Krazy Karpets fly so fast, but molded in a tough, sturdy style. The skis were red in colour and although  they were only about a foot and a half in length, standing on them was fairly easy….at least they were in the ads.

I asked  mom and dad for a pair, but being  so poor, I had to wait for Santa. On Christmas morning, I was the first to get up, and the first under the tree. I ripped my gift open, excited to find my cherry red mini-skis, only to find…..

Sno-Skates. Stupid Sno-Skates. Essentially Krazy Karpets that tied to each foot. I remember the ad on TV. A kid headed down a hill, a terrified look on his face. He only had a few teeth in his mouth, possibly from some Sno-Skating accident. I almost  cried.

“Mom, what the hell?” I pleaded.

“Santa said the store was sold out, but these are better.” My mom assured.

Reluctantly, I headed up the hill that Christmas day, trying to make the best of my disappointing Christmas morning. The other kids laughed their asses off at my stupid gift. Like the kid in the ad, I too headed down the hill with a terrified look on my face. I only wish I would have made it to the bottom of the hill. I didn’t. I went face and eyes into the rock. The same rock that our Krazy Karpets and our toboggans and even our cheap plastic sleds were able to avoid. The Sno-Skates took me head on into the rock. When I was dug out of the snow by laughing kids, I was surprised to find that one of my Sno-Skates had broken. I wasn’t all that sad.

Later that winter I did manage to buy a set of Mini-Skis. Well they weren’t actual Mini-Skis, at least not the ones made by K-tel. They were called Super-Skis. Some Japanese knock off of the originals, but it didn’t matter, they were all that I expected them to be. Down the hills, over jumps, even  being towed across the fields by a  ski-doo, I used my Super-Skis until the bottoms were all but worn out. What fun.

Ah to be a kid again.

These days the hills are but barren  mounds of dirt.  Kids these  days don’t  ski or slide. They play video games. Boring!

What I Wanted

 

What I got

 

Crazy Billy and the Aliens

I woke up early this morning, fresh out of some strange dream. I got up and had to write this crazy story down. Last time I eat spicy food before bedtime!

Billy Borden  was a young man who always had questions for his ma. He used to wonder why the townspeople called him crazy.

When Billy was young, Aliens took his pa away. He remembers playing in the kitchen with his little brother when suddenly a large brass container appeared between the stove and the wall. He remembers his little brother going close to the object and a door opening. Billy can still remember that day.  In fear for the smallest child, Billy’s dad pulled the baby from the opening and went in himself. The door closed, and the thing disappeared, taking his father away forever. The aliens came back one night and took his little brother too.

Billy still remembers posting signs on the wall, begging the aliens to return his dad. He spent so many nights staring at the night sky, wishing those horrible creatures would bring his father home to him and his ma. Oh, they took his kid brother as well!

Growing up wasn’t easy for Billy, who was treated as a nutcase by the people in town. Everyone sang the same song, Crazy Billy and the aliens. This made Billy ashamed, and eventually he became a shut in. Now at twenty four, Billy met a girl. She had been working with the town nurse, visiting homes and vaccinating kids for some disease. Billy was smitten with the young lass, and the two of them hit it off.

Everything was going great until she asked Billy why his mother lived alone. Billy’s reply? “Dad was taken by aliens!” Cathy laughed in his face. “Aliens, c’mon, I was just curious, you don’t have to tell the truth, but aliens?”

With this, Billy ran away from the girl and home to his now aging mother. “Mom, how did Daddy really die? Did Aliens really take him away?” he asked.

His old mother took Billy in her arms and began to cry. With that, Billy screamed at the ceiling. “Damn aliens, why did you take daddy?”

His mother held him tightly. “Ellen Colson” she said.

Ellen Colson was a lady who lived a few houses down the road. Her house still stands, now in ruins. A long abandoned shack on the side of the road.

“Ellen Colson? Did aliens take her as well? Those damn aliens” Billy shouted.

“No aliens Billy, it was just easier to tell you back then. You remember Ellen, don’t you? Pretty lady, never went nowhere, and suddenly she was having a baby? It was your fathers baby. He and Ellen had the baby and expected me to raise it. You never had a little brother, at least I didn’t give birth to him. He was the son of your father, your half- brother. The son of a bitch expected to bring his mistress and THEIR child to live with the two of us. At first I went along, mostly out of fear that he would beat me. When I could no longer take the lies, I kicked your father and his slutty mistress out of the house, along with the child. That damn kid, couldn’t look at the little bastard. That’s what made me so bitter.

I couldn’t tell you what your father was. You were so young, I knew it would hurt you, so I made up the alien story.

“Mom! All those years. All the time being picked on for believing that dad was taken by creatures from the sky. Always wondering what happened to my little brother. I thought they took him too. Being called Crazy Billy. You could have told me the truth, you should have!” Billy pleaded, tears in his eyes.

“I could have, and should have. I guess all this time I didn’t want to believe it myself.  I have letters that he wrote, and I did send him pictures, but I wouldn’t let him come see you, and I never spoke to him face to face since he left.”

“What about the big column that appeared and took him? Was that made up too?”

“You don’t remember the old stove. It was so long ago. We had a hot water tank hooked to the wood stove. It was always red hot. We told you guys not to touch it, or you would get hurt. That was the thing you remember as the space ship that took your dad.” She explained

“Oh Ma” Billy cried as he held his mother in his arms. “I love you, always have. I know how you feel, somehow it is easier to remember dad as the wonderful man who was taken by aliens. At least now I can stop waiting for them to bring him back.”

My dad’s guitar

He picked the Wildwood  Flower and the Orange Blossom Special when I was a kid. Mom says that when dad used to play, I would kick up a fuss while in my crib. I would do this until he put the old Gibson Jumbo guitar away. Growing older, I used to love it when dad played music in the house. He bought all the picking records he could find, and just as he taught himself to play guitar, he taught himself to pick out the tunes as well.

Years working, everything from a logger to a construction worker has all but ended his guitar playing. His fingers, twisted and gnarled  from the abuse hard work tolls on a person can no longer move fast enough for him to play the way that he used to. The guitar that provided so many great times for family and friends now collects dust from hanging on the wall, a memory from the days that my dad made the strings ring to the hits of yesterday.

Dad always sang while he played. His voice today is still as soft as it was back then, but he rarely sings anymore. Since he can no longer play the guitar, it is almost as if he hurts too much to sing.

He doesn’t talk much about playing anymore. Just the other day my son asked if he would play him a tune. My dad quickly changed the subject and offered him candy instead.

Often I feel selfish. Here I am with long slender  fingers that are capable of typing over 70 words per minute on my computer, but yet I lack the skills to play his guitar. I wish for one moment I could offer the speed and limber of my fingers to my dad so that once again, he could play his heart out on the guitar. This is but a wish however, because knowing my dad and the kindness that his heart holds, he wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen, not even for one  minute.

I guess I am fortunate to have the memories of my dad’s tunes. As I sit here, my eyes closed, I am taken back to a time when I was but a wee child. My dad is sitting on the couch, the body of his jumbo guitar resting on one knee. His fingers work the strings like an expert, and the beautiful melody that is emitted from his instrument eases everything around me. Thanks for the music Dad.

a bitter end

…as he plucked the strings on his old flattop guitar, it gave him time to think. At first he was glad that they let him bring it in here, but lately he was beginning to regret it. As he played his tunes, memories filled his mind. Memories about the life he once had, his loves and his kids. He thought about the way he handled his troubles, often turning to the bottle before turning to the woman who loved him. At first, booze made everything alright, but that didn’t last long. Eventually the booze brought its own problems, and then where did he turn?

His music used to be a way for him to get away from his pain, but here, locked behind those bars, he had nowhere to run. The others in Cell Block 13 all waited for Roy to pick up his guitar and sing, but if they really listened, they would hear the hurt, confusion and pain in the words.

That damn night! If only he could relive it, everything would be different. Too much to drink, her cheating, the gun; before he knew it, the deed was done. He finished the bottle and turned himself in to the police. Who would have thought that Big Roy Canning, a celebrity in this little town would sink low enough to end the life of his sweet little Madeline?

The trial was quick, his lawyer tried to get him off, but Roy threw himself at the mercy of the Lord himself and pleaded guilty. An angry and disappointed judge sent  him in for good. At 57, a twenty five year sentence was as good as a death sentence anyway.

Now the world has forgotten  him. All the gold records, all the fans…all gone. The man who hid behind the music was all that was left. His kids never forgave him, and aside from the occasional fame hungry reporter, Roy never had a visitor. These four walls were his only friends. Cold, damp and lonely, he sounded like a line from one of his hit songs.

When he had days like this, he sat on the floor next to the dingy cement walls. With a small hook that he created from a broken fork, he scratched lyrics from songs he had written in to the walls. Writing always gave Roy a release from the harsh reality of the world outside, and for the last few years of his life, a release was just the thing that kept him going. The old crooner lived  out the rest of his days in this old brick building. His body cremated, his ashes spread on Music Row by a few loyal fans who remembered him in the good old days. A few speckles of dust in the wind and Roy was gone.

As for the many songs he wrote, so many of them brought joy and happiness to those who listened. While he lived out his life in prison, his songs hit the tops of the charts. Roy may have given up on himself, but his fans didn’t. The lyrics and music that he had written, especially the ones that he left for his fans…scratched on the prison walls were recorded by the newest artists, all proceeds left to his kids and their families. This was the last request that he made to the world; a way to hopefully repay the world for all the trouble the old singer brought into their lives.

no place like home: Trifecta

Years ago, my Aunt Bridgette met an American soldier and moved to California. She would write my grandmother a few letters, mostly bragging about her wealthy lifestyle and her rich husband. My grandmother was never impressed with her snobby sister, and the letters were seldom read.

Nearly fourty years after she left, Bridgette decided to pay her relatives in Newfoundland a visit. She called ahead so that the family could prepare for her arrival. She instructed everyone that she no longer enjoyed boring food she ate as a child, and that the family had better ensure that proper food was prepared.. My grandmother made a pot of baked beans and molasses, and a few buns of white bread. Everyone was excited to dig into the food, more excited perhaps, than the visitor who requested the ‘fancy’ food.

When Bridgette stepped into the house, dressed in her fur coat and patent leather shoes, she became faint. My grandmother,  being the older  sister, rushed to her rescue and sat her sister at the table. When she came  to, she turned  up her nose at the food. My grandmother explained how she slaved over the stove for hours to make this meal, and the reply she got from her spoiled sister was ‘How quaint!’. With that, using a fork and a knife, Bridgette cut one bean in two and ate it. She then left the table and went to her room.

“Well, how about that? She certainly changed! When she was a kid,  she could clean the entire  pot in one  sitting!” My grandmother recalled.

The next morning, when the kids got up for a baked beans and fried egg breakfast, they were surprised to find that the entire pot of beans was gone. Bridgette was found sleeping on the chair, bean sauce all over her face.  My grandmother said “Well, ain’t that quaint, too stuck up to eat in front of us, but still as greedy as when she was young.”

this is my entry into this week’s Trifecta Challenge. The word is ‘Quaint’.

Trifecta 109: The burning car

This true story of an automobile tragedy is my entry into Trifecta week 109. The word is ‘Whatever’

When I was a kid, my uncle used to paint cars. Back then, cars were cool, and the owners took special pride in just owning them. On one occasion, my uncle, who was much older than I was, and usually treated me like a small child even though I was almost eleven, asked if I would like to see his car.

When he brought me into the garage, my eyes almost burst! Here was his pride and joy, a 1969 Camaro, sitting as graceful as a swan under a spotlight that he had mounted on the ceiling. Below the car was a sign with pictures of the car’s progress from a junker to a work of beauty. He had the car painted cool black with red and orange flames running along the hood and on the sides of the car. Even at eleven, I knew this was cool. Every day I visited him, I would constantly talk about his cool car, almost to the point of driving him crazy.

One day, while he was talking to a client about painting his car, I walked past him and onto the garage. When I got there, I saw smoke billowing from the garage door. Upon  further inspection, I seen that his beautiful car was engulfed in flames. I ran out to warn  my uncle.

I still remember my confusion when I told him about his car. “Flames, its got flames everywhere!” I said.

He looked down at me and laughed. “Of course it does, I painted them  there!” he joked.

“But the flames are everywhere! Come look!” I hollered.

‘Whatever!” said my uncle, hushing me away so that he and his friend could talk.

Just  then, he glanced over to the garage to find the place on fire. The fire took everything, the car, the garage, and all his tools.

My uncle never mentioned his car afterwards, but one thing he did do, and that was learn to take me  more serious when I spoke.

Grappy and the cat

I visited my grandparents’ old place today. I have to admit, it just wasn’t the same. Now that the two of them have passed, things sure have changed. The house where I remember them most belongs to a stranger now, and I don’t feel welcome there. The old fence my grandfather painstakingly built from longers (To word guys like Archon, ‘longers’ are long, thin lengths of trees used mostly for fences)  he carried on his back from the woods is but a memory; a few lengths of the wood remain but most are rotted.

The storehouse that he built over the cellar barely stands, but if you look closely, you can still see the red ochre paint that he used to add color to the trim. My dad remembers when his dad built the storehouse. “He spent a week digging a hole because mom expressed that she needed a place to store her fresh vegetables. Dad went out with pick and shovel and began digging. In no time, mom sent us to help him. With eleven kids digging, it didn’t take as long as we figured to dig a hole that measured 8 x 10 and over fifteen feet deep. We were lucky that the land was as rich as it was. We barely hit any rocks.”

My dad went on to explain how my grandfather built a foundation around the hole, and then covered the hole with a floor of solid pine. Back then, pine grew abundantly on the island, and although it was a heavy timber, my grandfather used quite a lot of the stuff. “He would cut it with his bucksaw, stand it up in spring, and by summer he carried it home.” my father added. After the floor was built, my grandfather cut a hole in the middle and made a trap door so that the cold air stayed low. He built shelves in the shed to hold tools and other things that he wanted to keep  away from his children.

“He made us paint  the thing. One thing about your grandfather, he never wasted a cent. He didn’t have the money to waste. The paint brushes, the bristles were so short that if you didn’t pay attention, you ended up applying paint with your hands. Bad for splinters!” my dad said. I still love it when my dad reminisces about the ‘old days’.

The shed stood for quite some time. My dad remembers when his mom complained that there was something stirring in the cellar, eating on the carrots. She asked if my grandfather could do something about it. His first plan was to shoot the thing, but seeing how it was pitch black down there, he feared that he would just shoot holes in the potatoes and carrots. His next idea was one that my dad still laughs about.

“There was this stray cat. A big mean sucker. Ears half bit off, teeth missing. He was a bruiser. Dad used to be crazy because the damn thing used to piss on the house. That’s when the plan hit him. Catch the cat, toss him into the cellar, he eats the rat, problem solved. The cat had other ideas.”

Dad went on. “I remember that day as plain as it was yesterday. Dad had no problem catching the cat. He dangled a piece of trout on a string and the foolish animal almost jumped in his arms. With that, dad carried the cat with him to the shed while the hungry animal fed on the fish. When dad tried to drop the cat into the hole, he panicked and the cat clung to him. Seeing how this wasn’t going to work, he got me to hold the cat while he climbed down the ladder. When he was so far down, I was supposed to pass him the cat and he would put him down  gently in the cellar. Being a teenager at the time, I had better things to do than fool around with a sharp clawed savage, so rather than passing the cat to my dad, I dropped him past the open arms of my dad and into the hole. Being a cat, the old devil was fast. He caught the first thing he could on his way down and climbed up, claws out full force. The thing he clung to was my dad’s leg. Using my now very angry father as a ladder, he drove each claw into my dad, and scratched and clawed his way up to the top of the hole and ran away. My dad, bleeding and yelling his lungs out, wasn’t impressed. At the end of the day, he ended up going to town and buying some rat poison. On the bright side, the cat didn’t piss on the house anymore. We never seen the damn thing again.” My father laughed as he told the story.

The roof on the old shed sags now, another winter will be the last. There are plans on bulldozing all my grandfather’s old  buildings, including the storehouse. What good are those old rotten buildings to the new owners, people who don’t have the memories of the kindly old couple who sat on their creaky old front step sipping tea and greeting guests with their love and happiness? Of course I have the memories of the place, I will always have that.

abandoned

The floorboards creaked with our every step, as we attempted to quietly maneuver throughout the old house. The only light is a beam of light seeping in from a cracked window, the light filled with dust particles. On the table, beneath several layers of dirt and cobwebs sat on a few once coveted items. I picked up an i-Pad 6 and blew the dust off the thing, revealing an engraving on the back. ‘To My Darling Eileen, The daughter of my dreams’.

In the living room things were much the same. A large television, perhaps measuring 90 inches or more hung on the wall, dust and cobwebs almost enveloping it completely. The once lavish chesterfield set sat against the back wall, the material now tattered from the chewings of some rodent, perhaps a rat.

Rats ran abundant here now, the new owners of the once prized home. Other homes along the street suffered a similar fate, as the owners quickly left to seek refuge in other locations.

I attempted to scale the stairway that led to the bedrooms, but my journey was quickly halted when the first step gave way, causing my foot to fall beneath the boards, tearing my flesh. With fresh blood came the rats, as rabid and dangerous as you could imagine. My friend quickly bandaged my leg with a piece of cloth that she found on the table. “This will keep you safe from the vermin, but be careful!” she warned.

With that, we journaled our findings and moved to the next house. We had to find out why all those people left; that way, we might be able to discover where our own families went.

It wasn’t always this way. This town  was once a beautiful place to live. Trees and shrubbery once adorned front lawns, and homes were proudly kept by the people who lived in them. Now the place looks as if it were abandoned hundreds of years ago. If that was only the case. Just one year ago, Cambridgetown was as it were in my dreams. Something caused this, and we were going to find out  just what it was.

to be continued…..

Welcomes and goodbyes

As we ring in the New Year, I was alerted that a good friend had passed on. Joe was the owner of a nightclub where I played many weddings and dances. He was found dead in his nightclub following a sell out crowd the night before…at The Viking  Lounge Annual New Years Eve Ball.Being a Disk Jockey, Joe was a mentor to me.

I began working as a mobile disk jockey back in the early 90’s. Armed with a few hundred tapes and CD’s, and an assortment of equipment, I thought I knew it all. This was, of course until I played my first dance. The truth was, I knew nothing. I showed up at the small nightclub known as The Viking Lounge. I set up my equipment and once the crowd had gathered, I began playing music. Thinking that I knew it all, I played the top 40 songs that our local AM radio station played, figuring that the floor would be packed, shoulder to shoulder. What ended up happening was a lot of jeering and screaming from the crowd. This had been an annual banquet for the local dart league, and despite the fact that they were all drunk and in the mood to party, I was not equipped to entertain them. This was the longest six hours I ever withstood.

When the party was over, Joe came over to talk to me. He said that he had been doing this for over twenty years, and that in that time, he learned a few things that helped him on nights like this. He sat with me and in the two hours that followed, he explained the ins and outs of the profession, as well as tricks that work to make the crowd want to party to the music. “It isn’t the music that gets them going” he said. “It’s how the music is presented and how you follow up on a song that keeps them on the floor. That’s your only goal of the night…keep them on the floor. If you are playing a song and everyone is dancing, you want this to continue. If they go sit down, you will work twice as hard to get them back on the floor. If you want to make a name for yourself in this business, word of mouth will either make you or break you.” I never forgot his words, and almost twenty five years in the business, they still ring true.

Joe’s mother purchased the night club for him, and one for his brother when she received an insurance settlement from a bus accident. With his natural people skills, Joe was able to turn the new place into a success. People from the tiny community where the club was situated, as well as people from surrounding communities frequented the place whenever a community event, a wedding, anniversary or any public function was being held. Joe was a fantastic cook who made the best suppers for these events, and his kind staff made everyone feel welcome. I played the club many times, and every time, Joe and I had splendid conversations about the industry and about people. I will miss Joe. I know the place wont be the same without him. Good-bye old friend, I know that right about now you are serving drinks to the angels.