Blackhumouristpress's Blog

February 24, 2010

The Love Child from Across the Border

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 6:51 pm
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Back in the sixties it was a curiosity and a novelty for Wade and his friends to cross over from Detroit on the Ambassador Bridge just to hang out and cause trouble in Windsor, Ontario.  As a boy, it was hard for Wade to understand that those people across the water were different and belonged to a different country and they had different money and put vinegar and gravy with cheese on their French Fries.  It wasn’t until Wade turned sixteen and had a car of his own did he ever cross the border to Canada.  When he got there, he was disappointed to find that the differences were so subtle that they were almost undetectable. 

            In 1966, Wade was supposed to be in high school as a sophomore but quit so that he could work as a mechanics assistant which meant that he patched tires, changed oil and pumped gas.  He wore his jet black hair in a pompadour and had cheap tattoos on his arms.  He loved Elvis, the United States, John Wayne and the idea of killing Communists for the common good of god fearing, god loving, democratic, and law abiding citizens anywhere.  Wade was just waiting until he turned seventeen so that with his parent’s permission, he could enlist to get on the front line of the Vietnam War. 

            Somewhere across the straits that separate The United States from Canada in Detroit, was a bored young woman who hated her home life and always felt like a frog out of water.  I say frog because her family had lived since the days of Napoleon in Quebec and had trekked west so that her father could work for the Ford Motor Company.  Her name was Antoinette and her family was a little darker than the others in the neighborhood and they spoke French to one another and attended a Catholic Church between Windsor and Chatham for French refugees from Quebec.  It was at a diner that Antoinette met Wade and raced around in his car with him and eventually consummated their amorous feelings for one another and spawned a baby.

            Now Wade didn’t want to be a father or a husband and he did his best to take his girlfriend out of Canada to the state of New York where abortions were legal.  It was around Toledo that Wade’s engine blew up like a bomb.  At first he heard metal banging fast and hard and then there was an explosion and nothing but black smoke.  Wade had changed his oil for the trip but had not thread the plug correctly to the oil pan and all the oil had leaked out.  A life was created and saved out of negligence.

            Antoinette did not want to move to Detroit and Wade really could not see himself living in Windsor although he gave it a try and even went to work with Antoinette’s father for six months at Ford.  As soon as Wade turned seventeen, he defected back to Detroit, got his parents to help him enlist and was in Vietnam faster than you could say Lyndon Baines Johnson.

            While Wade was hunting ghosts in Southeast Asia, Antoinette was experimenting with psychedelic drugs and music and wound up in Victoria Island while their son Patrick stayed behind in Windsor.

            Patrick learned to speak French and play hockey and love the Montreal Canadians even though the Detroit Red Wings were much much closer.  It was around the age of fifteen that Patrick began to smoke pot, began drinking, breaking into homes and even robbing people for small cash with some local hooligans whenever they weren’t playing hockey.  Patrick’s grandmother wrote a letter to Wade asking for help after almost fifteen years since he had left for Vietnam.  Wade thought about it and liked the idea of seeing his son after so many years.  If nothing else he wanted to see if the kid actually looked like him or one of his friends who might have popped Antoinette too when he wasn’t around.

            Patrick was really opposed to the idea of going to Detroit for a weekend with a stranger, but the threat of pulling hockey from him in the fall forced his hand.  When the man who looked like Charles Manson pulled up in an Oldsmobile 442 with the top down, Patrick was actually scared.  The man looked mean with intense eyes.

            Wade drove across the bridge and pulled over on interstate 75 and got out of the car and opened the passenger side door for Patrick to get out.

            “You got a license?”

            “No, sir…”

            “Well fuck it…  Now’s as good a time as any to start driving.”

            Patrick gripped the wheel of the fast automobile and tried to look through the spider web looking cracked glass on the windshield.  Patrick asked what happened.

            “Some fucking punks were throwing rocks from an over pass.  If the fucking rock would have cleared the windshield, it would have knocked my fucking head off…  Which reminds me, I wanna make a stop up north to get this glass fixed today.  Keep driving, I’ll tell you where to go.”

            America had always appeared to be the land of opportunity on television and the streets paved with gold and so on.  The streets that Patrick was driving down, had grass growing in the cracks of the sidewalks and there were burned down and boarded up homes everywhere.  It was dismal and as third world as anything Patrick had seen on television.  It was hard to believe that so much blight was possible in the United States and so close to Windsor.

            While the windshield was being fixed at the Five Mile Auto Glass, Wade and Patrick walked over to a Coney Island that was still run by an old white man in an all black neighborhood.  They ordered some burgers and talked.  Both without commenting saw something of themselves in the other such as facial expressions, cheek bone structure and the shapes of their eyes.  As they spoke four young men walked into the restaurant and began quietly robbing people from table to table.  They would surround people at each table and quietly told them to give whatever money they had or be shot.  The quartet reached the booth that Patrick and Wade shared.  Patrick’s teeth were chattering while Wade sat without any expression on his face.  A cocky young man with a black fist hair pick stuck in his hair and a tooth pick in his mouth sat across from Wade and dipped a fry into some catsup and put it in his mouth.

            “Say man…  We taken contributions today.  You contribute to the cause and we go bout our business,” said the ringleader while eating the French fry.

            “Boys let me explain something to you…  I went to Vietnam and carried a rifle everyday while walking through a jungle not knowing if the rice farmers I just passed would shoot me in the fucking back.  I walked in wet fucking boots, contracted the clap and Malaria just so I could come home and find that you motherfuckers burned up my city.  This was my city back when you were just a bunch of tadpoles in your father’s nut bag and now you are going to come in here and extract money from me and all these other people?  Do you feel that between your legs?  It’s a 357 magnum.  Listen to this…”

            Wade cocked the hammer back.

            “That sound your hearing is the last sound you’ll ever hear before your fucking balls fly through your asshole and splatter your friend’s faces…  Now set down all the shit you just took and back the fuck out of here before I decide to shoot you just for fucking sport.”

            Patrick couldn’t eat another bite nor drink another sip.  He watched the man who was his biological father light a cigarette and talk about cars and women and how he met his mom and how he actually came to be. He mentioned places he had been and cars he had owned and where he wanted to move to.   Patrick couldn’t help but think of the innocent people he and his buddies had robbed in front gas stations and banks in Windsor.  Patrick wondered if his grandmother had told his father about the break-ins and robberies.  Patrick wondered what he would do if he ever tried to rob the wrong guy, a guy like his father.

Wade and Patrick walked the block from the Coney Island to the glass shop to get the car and Wade never worried about being jumped by those that just sought to rob him.  They spent the weekend swimming in a small lake up near Waterford, Michigan and then Patrick returned to his life in Windsor as if he had never met Wade.  Wade wasn’t very sentimental but he did give his son some advice.

            “If you’re horsing around now, use a rubber and if the rubber breaks pray and if it’s too late for that… Make sure you check the oil…  I’ll see you kid.” 

            With that he winked, slipped a hundred dollar bill American in his hand and drove off.  Never to be seen again.

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