Blackhumouristpress's Blog

June 1, 2016

Timebombs

It isn’t possible to send out E-vites before expiring and passing on to heaven, another life or nothing, depending on what you believe.  There are no parties with tears and hugs before getting on to a helicopter and waving goodbye to everyone the way President Nixon did when he resigned.  No smile, wave and peace symbols flashed with your fingers before passing on.  It happens suddenly or it drags on.  It happens peacefully or we agonize and panic.  There really is no good way out.  We really are time bombs and don’t know when it is that we go off.
Andrew Millar received the news that he was going to die from cancerous polyps in his intestine, throughout his colon and into his blood stream.  He felt as he always felt but upon finding blood in his shit quite often, he decided to visit the doctor who sent him for tests.  In the same time in the same town, there was a man name Andrew Miller who was also worried about blood in the stool, saw his doctor and was sent in for testing.  The oncologist that was reading the results of Millar and Miller, mixed the two up.  The doctor told Millar that he should wrap up anything he needed to get done in the next six weeks when actually he just had anal fissures and nothing more and told Miller that he was absolutely fine when in reality, he had about six weeks to live.  It was an honest mistake brought on by the distraction that the FDA and FBI were about to bust the onocologist for prescribing unsanctioned, cheap Canadian drugs that were not approved so that he could make more money than if he purchased the cancer drugs through approved sources in the United States.  Who doesn’t want to save money?
Now Millar was a Jazz guitarist that never quite cracked the fame ceiling and was able to sustain himself just on playing music.  Millar had to teach guitar to young men who wanted to learn Led Zepplin riffs, play Glen Miller ( no pun intended ) songs at nursing homes and Kool and the Gang songs at weddings.  To really pay the bills, Millar was a substitute teacher in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.  Millar usually brought his guitar to try to calm the high school age kids.  He would ask them to name songs and he would play them and as time went on, kids no longer listened to much music that required guitar.  They would throw out Ariana Grande, Justin Beiber or other syrupy, bubble gum stuff that really didn’t have guitar in it.  The youngsters were not impressed with his talent.  He was just a dumpy old man who looked like he hated the world.  Millar wore frayed jeans with a collared shirt untucked so as to not accentuate his second trimester belly fat.  He had a receding hair-line and he hated that life seemed to be changing for the worse for people like him- white, male, under employed, baby boomers.  Jazz was his sanctuary.  He would show up for Jazz jams around the city where a couple or two would listen to really great musicians play out of a bible of memorized standards.  It really was the same shit over and over.  It seems that all the Jazz that anyone ever played, was created during a 15 year period which ended with the Bossa Nova fling in the 1960’s.  Other than that, Millar really did not like his life.  Being a substitute teacher is what he loathed the most in life.
Upon receiving the news that he was going to die soon.  Millar was getting ready to sell everything on Craig’s List that he could get rid of and move to Amsterdam until he died.  He was going to smoke hash when the cancer really took hold, fuck prostitutes without protection and play Jazz is some really cool clubs in a very seemingly cool country.  The phone rang early on a Monday morning.
“Listen…  I’m going to die very soon…  You know what I’m saying?  In six weeks or less, it’s taps for me.  I don’t need the sixty bucks a day after taxes just to put up with little fucks who think they have it all figured out.”
“Just this one last time…  I’m absolutely in dire straits right now.  I have illness, births, deaths and not enough people to watch these rooms…  What can I do to sweeten the deal?”
A bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and the day’s pay.  Millar walked into the room to find the students sitting on top of desks, shouting, talking on cell phones and one young black man was dancing in front of a mirror.  The students were part of a “special” class where they were all just incident away from possibly becoming part of true special education environment.  Millar, moved the desks into a circle and then told the students to sit where ever they want.  Millar stood in the middle.  The students quieted down.  They were intrigued by the seating arrangement.  Millar looked down and supported his chin with his thumb and index finger.  He looked both troubled and deep in thought.  A female finally asked him what was going on.
“No bullshit busy work today.  Your regular teacher is dying or giving birth or just blowing this off because she is frazzled.  I have no idea why and it doesn’t matter to me.  I have my own cross to burn today…  I want you each to look at me and tell me one thing that comes to mind about me.  We will go clockwise…  You sir…  You’re first.”
“Old, fat, sloppy, angry, tired, lazy, white, poor, ugly, stupid, racist…”
“Very good…  You’re getting the game.  So let’s back up and guess what I was like as a ninth grader like all of you.  I was a nineth back in 1982!  Before cellphones, graphic porn, PCs, laptops and a slew of other things that have managed to baby sit all of you today…  Sir…  Start again.”
“Nerdy, skinny, small, scared, pasty, introverted, nose picker, masturbator, momma’s boy…”
“Well…  It’s as if you were all right there with me back in 1982…  Okay, now it’s my turn.”
Millar rolled up his sleeves, took out a small bottle of Woodford Reserve from his pocket, took a swig, wiped his mouth like a pirate, exhaled loudly, clapped his hands and then rubbed them together.
“You there…  Art chick.  Tall and blonde, nice brand new body on you.  You may have gone lesbian for shock value or will by the time you enter into a college.  Once the shock of lesbian wares off, you’ll have a black guy.  Not the safe Uncle Tom types that take up ice hockey and if you close your eyes, you’d swear you were talking to a nerdy white guy…  You know what I’m talking about homey, dontcha?”
Millar pointed to the young black man with braids, sitting with his legs spread and his arms crossed, wondering where this was going.  And wondering more- why?
“The oreo type that uses words like awesome after everything.  Maybe calls guys bro or dude.  He likes skiing and salsa dancing with his really white girlfriend.  They’ll take a cooking class together and Lamaze someday when they decide to spawn little zebras…  No not that type of safe black man.  I’m talking about the guy who washes his car daily, with special rims and a special stereo system that sounds like bombs falling on London with the deep bass.  His white gym shoes are a cherrished possession.  Maybe was in a gang or is in a gang.  Lives a rough and tumble life in south central LA but gets bused all the way out to Woodland Hills just so he gets to see where really white whites hide away from the real world.  Tattoos, malt liquor, weed and speaks in mumbling, unintelligible half sentences and could never look the young white art chick’s dad in the eye and say, “pleased to meet you”.  Not pleased to meet you actually…  Dude…  What else do we have here?  Ah yes…  You there.”
A muscular white guy with his team football jersey on who was squinting and picking at his nails.  He was intrigued.
“You young man…  The proverbial boy next door.  You won’t probably make it to division I or II football.  You’re too slow, too white and not meaty enough.  You need to put on about 100 lbs and six inches just so you can stand on a line and bash your helmet into another equally grotesquely large man until someday voices in your head tell you to kill yourself.  No, you won’t go pro but you could wind up a bouncer for a really chic dance club near Hollywood.  You’ll marry some petite shrew, divorce, see your kids two weekends a month, sell cars or real estate and learn that you’re not a salesman…  You’ll have an epiphany at the age of like 28 that you should go back to school to become a PE teacher and get a gig as a…  ready for this?  A high school football coach!  My advice- don’t wait until you cannot sell cars or homes.  Go to college and become a PE teacher right away…  What else have we here?  Ah you…”
A chubby Mexican boy wearing shiny black shoes, dress pants, a plain white T-shirt and a blue flannel shirt buttoned only at the top.  Millar walked by and put his hand on his shoulder before going to the chalk  board and wrote a word in large letters.
ASSIMILATE
“Vato…  What is this word in Spanish?  Someday when I’m long gone and white people go the way of the Dodo Bird, it will be a moot word.  A word not necessary anymore.  Y’see…  Old white fucks like me go home and watch old television reruns and wonder where that America went.  Half the shit in this city is written in Spanish.  The Germans, Dutch, French, Italians all learned English.  The Koreans, Polish and Russians have all muddled along but not the Mexicans.  We need to write polite versions of be smart and don’t run on a wet floor in Spanish.  Why not Dutch or German?  Because they Came here and learned the language and became part of America.  Who created Donald Trump?…  Excuse the expression…  You people by not assimilating.  ASSIMILATE…  The word of the day.  Not because you’re rapists and murderers or taking jobs beneath all other Americans…  None of that shit.  For every white or black or Asian children born, there are three Latinos, Hispanics…  Primarily Mexicans being born.  Blacks don’t realize yet that at 12% of the population, they are the minorities.  Not the Latinos…  And that tag makes me laugh.  What exactly is Latin about Mayans who were conquered by Spaniards and forced to learn a European language…  So you, gordo…  You got a charp Chevy Chort…  Maybe a 1964 Impala lowered to about three inches off the ground.  You hang out in your barrio and try to kill others who are not from your barrio, right, essay…  Who have I left out?  Oh yes…  The Asian.”
A smallish Filipino boy sat with his arms folded and was in awe of what was being spewed by the substitute teacher.
“So you speak like you’re black and love the hip-hop culture.  You drive around in a little noisy Honda all souped up to race around with other smaller Asian lads on weekends.  You have a Spanish surname, sound like you’re black and will wind up going to college to become a nurse.  You’ll marry another Asian and get together with only other Asians and will live happily as can be.  That is provided you don’t get a divorce and decide to return to Manila, dress like a broad and sing bad Madonna covers in lounges as a career…  If you do, things are all set up for you here now.  You can piss wherever you want.  You got a cock but feel like there’s a woman trying to get out of you…  Fucking piss anywhere you want.  In fact, I’d claim to be LBG or T just to get a civil servant job.  That new group will be in the front row for any sort of new affirmative action…  Well I could go on and on really.  I hope that I have reached you all in some small way and let you know how we older people see you.  Know that the best years of your life are right now and that when you have to fend for yourself, it will suck.  Can’t wait to be 21 so you can drink?  You’ll need a drink to deal with life in America…  The greatest, strongest, smartest, most witty nation in the world and that is only our opinion of ourselves… where everyone aspires to be just like us except people like this young lady here with the head scarf.  Maybe she will find the love of her life in a camp in Syria, strap a bomb to her chest and take out the French or holiday workers in San Bernardino.  You say that is racist and unfair?  How many Hindus or Buddhists are beheading westerners in the name of their religion?  So unfair to think that way…  I know, I know.  They come here to wear blue jeans and drink Starbucks just like the rest of us.  Maybe they’re just trying to keep us from being more miserable and fucking things up more than we already are.  Picture this as a commencement speech from an angry old man that is dying.  I’m dying and will be dead long before all of you provided you don’t keep your heads up your asses.  Stereotypes aside- you are what makes America what it is.  Love it or go fuck yourself…  I think the bell will ring soon.  Whatever you do, just try to be happy.  Life is short and one day you get to be my age and look at the youth and want to just slap them into reality.  I hope I’ve done that today…  Either way, you won’t forget me for a while…  Class dismissed.”
Millar got home and saw the number 2 blinking on his answering machine that he purchased back in 1988 that was linked to his landline telephone.  Millar had a suspicion about one of the calls and he was right.  It was the school principal and he sounded like he was going to have a heart attack or stroke.
“What the fuck did you do today?  You are not getting paid for today. You are not getting any Scotch. You are not coming back to this school.  You will probably get sued and wind up on the news.  I guess if there is any saving grace to any of this shit is that you didn’t show up with a gun and just kill us all.  You may have killed my job and any chance of becoming a superintendent someday and for that I have to say fuck you, you fucking dick.  You twisted fuck.”
Millar poured himself a drink turned on the computer and checked email.  There was a bunch of junk from the Mayo Clinic, invites to play gigs for twenty dollars here or there and then one from one of the students.  Millar read it and then re-read it.  He turned off his computer and then turned it back on and re-read it one more time.
“Dear Mr. Millar,
I won’t let you know who I am.  I don’t want to be categorized further.  I just want to let you know that maybe we were wrong about you and maybe you were wrong about us.  You are right that we won’t soon forget you.  I cliqued on the link to your music page and you are a great guitarist.  I’m not a Jazz fan but liked what you play.  We all would have liked to hear you play instead of try to stereotype us.  Whatever…  It’s done now.  Just thought you should know that just because you’ve lived longer, it doesn’t mean you have it all figured out and you certainly don’t have all the answers.  That’s all.
 Millar forgot to play the second message on his answering machine.  He went back and hit play several times.
“Mr. Millar, I would like a call back from you but in the interim, I have some good news for you.  You are not going to die in six weeks from cancer.  You results were mixed up with another man with a very similar name to you.  You are absolutely fine and should live a long and happy life.  Call me if you wish to discuss this further.  Please let me know that you received this message.”
Message received.  All of them.
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August 14, 2012

Nighthawks

Filed under: Ethnicity,obama,Short Story — blackhumouristpress @ 6:15 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mathilde, a name she created for herself, decided when she opened up her Jazz club, that she would only speak French to her bartender, whom she was sleeping with on nights when she really wanted to have sex.  Jasper would then watch Mathilde light a cigarette, flick her wrist towards Jasper and say, “va t’en…”

Mathilde inherited money from the husband of her grandmother who had married the last of five husbands. George never had children and had saved well after serving in World War II.  Mathilde lived in Paris for a year and then returned to the states to claim her money and open her club.

Mathilde was into Film Noir and a look among women and men of days gone by.  She tried hard to recreate something that didn’t exist any longer.  Jasper wore a red sports coat and a thin black tie.  The television screens in the club were from the 1950’s and only played old movies.  Mathilde could speak perfect English but chose to only speak French upon returning from France.  The job description online for a bartender was that he not she, had to be fluent in French.  Jasper was born in Montreal.  Jasper was not French but had to learn French in a French-speaking city.  Jasper found Mathilde amusing.  He did not mind fucking the thin woman with tangerine shaped tits when the mood caught her.

“Sir, there are very few people in this day in age that would selflessly give to their country and join the armed forces.  I have chosen the infantry so that given the opportunity; I can send those Allah loving towel heads up to heaven to get their 72 virgins in the afterlife.  I feel very strongly about this sir.”

“How old are you, son?”

“21 today, sir.”

“Well thanks for that.  I forgot to check your ID.  I used to live in Los Angeles, West Los Angeles to be exact.  I used to take a number 2 Santa Monica bus from Westwood near UCLA down Wilshire Boulevard to where I lived.  The bus would cut through the VA and cemetery where thousands of boys laid silent.  Boys just like you.  I hope you make it back and go on with your life, kid.”

“Sir, it is what god has chosen for me.”

“Another mango rum, kid?”

“Better make it two.”

Mathilde sat on a stool in the center of the bar and listened to all the patrons speak to Jasper.  She would comment to Jasper in French.  Of course.

“Pourquoi?  Il est tres jeune et beau …”

“Right…  Like Rousseau said; a blank slate.”

“These Jazz dudes think they got it all figured out.  They all tend to play the same shit from a ten-year period where colored dudes were shooting heroin and turning Benny Goodman on his head.  This was the American classic period, man.  This is Beethoven, Mozart and Bach for Americana.  Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane and these young white dudes play it and play it.  Don’t get me wrong, man.  I dig it.”

“Colored…  Now that takes me back to a simpler time.  Pay phones, UHF and Richard Nixon.  Say Mack… Why the Steven Segal look?  Nixon had a similar hairline to you.  He would never have pulled it back in a pony tail, had a vodka with a splash of cranberry and called a colored an African-American.”

“You’re right about that, Jasper…  It is sort of redundant, isn’t it?  I mean they all came from Africa so why always push that back in their faces every time you refer to one of them with the obvious?  Am I right, Jas?”

“Who could argue with that logic?  Another splash of cranberry with your vodka?”

“Easy on the ice and easy on the cranberry…”

“Doucement avec l’alcool…  la coute pour ca c’est trop cher.”

“Jasper…  You are an ageless creature.  You must be a half-century but look to be under the age of thirty-five.  How do you do it?”

“Well, I eat well, exercise and try to keep in mind that everything happening here is transitory.”

“Transitory…  I like that word.  It is a polite way of saying that everything doesn’t really mean shit, correct?”

“Righto mate…  Some slob stood in this bar 100 years ago and discussed the Titanic slipping into the sea and breaking up the huge monopolies like US Steel and Standard Oil.  Guys like you ordered a whiskey for under a nickel and guys like me made thirty cents a day and lived in a flophouse.  I live in an apartment and make…  not that much more than thirty cents a day and is it really living versus existing?  Le plus les choses changent, le plus ils sont le meme…”

“My exact words…  Another Hemingway, please.  Absinthe with a hint of champagne, please.”

“Tu gagne beaucoups d’argent et les autres chose sont plus important que d’argent, mon vieux.”

“Bien sur, madam…”

“Romney picked wisely.  I think the kid looks presidential actually.  So Romney takes a job that nobody should ever want.  One of these smelly punks who sit in parks, strumming guitars, worrying about the rich, suddenly becomes furious that their hope has changed and buys a gun from the same guy who is hooking them up with drugs and kills Romney.  This leaves the job to the kid from Wisconsin.  Mind you that this hippie assassin, this modern day Lee Harvey Oswald’s family is contributing to a Protestant church somewhere in suburbia and is also one of those families who gave  $250.00 to help Romney defeat the incumbent while also sending money to their bust out son who lives in a park somewhere, protesting  everything…  What do you think?”

“I think that any restaurant that only offers you two choices on the menu, cannot be too good.”

“That sounds very communist.”

“Freedom or the illusion of freedom is the heroin of the masses…  I think Marx said that, didn’t he?”

“Never mind…  Give me another one of those Belgian beers.”

“Of course.  That sounds very American.”

“Jill…  I don’t mind the whole French thing in front of the consumers but you don’t need to do that when we’re alone.  We both speak English as a first language.   Why don’t you tell me what’s really on your mind just once?”

Mathilde spoke in a clear Midwestern accent while laying on her side, smoking a cigarette out of a holder while listening to Nat King Cole sing in French.

“Life sounds better in French…  Even if it is not even close to being ideal.”

Jasper lifted his eyebrows as he slipped on his pants and readied himself to leave Mathilde’s house for the night.

“D’accord…  C’est votre vie et j’habite etre avec vous…”

December 14, 2009

Il Fait Chaud

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 11:43 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Il Fait Chaud

I don’t remember it ever being this hot in Canada. I’ve had to adjust again to this

archaic standard of measurements. Feet, yards, miles and Fahrenheit. I think we stopped

using them up in Canada around 1980. When the British abandoned their own system,

we figured it was time to get sensible too.

It was almost nine in the morning and I spent the night at my girlfriend’s

apartment. She lives in a village called Oak Park, which is directly ten miles west of the

giant buildings that make up the skyline of downtown Chicago.

I stepped outside in a fog. The fog is in my head. I tossed and turned all night. It

was way too hot and too humid to get comfortable enough to sleep. I tried freezing my

sheets and taking a cold shower, but that only helped for a little while. If I slept, it was

fleeting and felt as though I never descended to that deep level where you dream about

sitting on a teeter totter across from Abraham Lincoln. I kept looking at the digital clock

and listened to the ceiling fan make a clicking sound at one second intervals. My

girlfriend slept like an angel in my Québec t shirt with the phrase underneath that reads,

“Je me souviens”, which is I remember my French heritage. She is African-American or

black and I am a blend of French and Irish. I have difficulty sleeping in extreme heat

even if I’m naked and she has no problem sleeping in a t shirt.

The roof of the eighty year old apartment building, is flat and is covered with

black tar and tiny rocks. When the temperature exceeds ninety degrees Fahrenheit, the

roof heats up like a hot plate and makes life on the third floor inhumane. My girlfriend

doesn’t believe in air conditioning. She thinks it ruins the vintage feeling of the

apartment. She tells me constantly that there was no air conditioning in apartments or

homes in the pre-Depression era. I have asked a few people old enough to remember that

era and they told me on extremely hot nights, they would go to Lake Michigan and camp

out near the water. With crime being what it is today, such a thing would not be safe. I

told my girlfriend this and she just shrugged her shoulders. She smiled at me, well rested

and a bit frisky and I told her that I would not be spending the night again until the

weather gets better unless she gets air conditioning. We separated this morning a little

cold towards one another on the hottest day of the summer.

America, just celebrated it’s independence from Great Britain last week and since

then the weather has been beastly. The air conditioning stopped working in my minivan

and so even though I showered less than an hour ago, I already have that not so fresh

feeling.

I checked my voice mail and had three messages before nine in the morning. My

job is to face people who are angry and disgruntled. I work for a developer who buys up

old apartment buildings and converts them into condominiums. My job is to answer

complaints of new owners who have discovered shoddy work.

Call number one. First message was from an irate homosexual named David who

left me a message at 6:15 this morning. If I had not turned off my phone, he would have

been the first voice I heard this morning.

David was able to marry his partner in Boston a few years back and refers to his

partner as his husband. David is a stay at home wife.

“Listen, Luc! I need you to come by this morning and look at the damage to my

walls! I have mold growing in my closet and I am highly allergic to dust and mold. I

have been suffering all night. If this is not taken care of today, I will be spending the

night in a hotel of my choice and I will send you the bill via certified mail. My husband,

who has to work early, was up with me half the night due to my asthma … My walls are

alive with living spores. If I do not hear from you today, I will be going to the village.”

Message two from a trust fund child who has never worked a day in her life and

calls me on a weekly basis to complain about everything. Today it was about noise.

“Luc? This is Mrs. Watkins… Look! Something has got to be done about that

woman upstairs and her two goddamn racing dogs. She owns two greyhounds which she

bought from a society that attempts to save former race dogs. Well I have news for you;

they’re still racing. They chase each other around all night and she is a night nurse and

has no idea what is happening. I have asked her to buy oriental rugs and she just tells me

that she prefers the look of hardwood floors. I’m at my wits end. I’m not getting sleep.

I cannot concentrate during the day and I’ve had problems with migraines and ulcers. I

need to know how you will resolve this.”

Message three. Somebody removed someone’s lock and then took out all of their

belongings from a storage locker in the basement. The man who called happened to be an

attorney.

“This message is for Luc! I have called twice now and the next correspondence

will be through the courts. My belongings are scattered all over the laundry room floor…

Okay… This has to be resolved one way or another… Okay. You were supposed

to mark all the storage lockers and it was not done… Okay. Our board specifically asked

to have laminated placards, 3X3 in size, stating clearly who’s locker is who’s… I need a

call from you today… Okay. I would really appreciate it.”
Um… Okay.

My first stop was at a Jiffy Lube. I stopped there for an air conditioning recharge

and they told me that my system won’t hold the Freon. The smallish blue collared man

with really yellowish teeth and a tattoo on his neck of a spider, seemed almost pleased to

announce this. He looked like a transplant from the deep south and had a twang to his

voice that one finds as soon as you reach Chicago’s southern suburbs.

“My best advice to you is to sell this thing… Better yet, hang on to it. It’s a

collector’s item. They stopped making Plymouth a few years ago. You can fix this up

and sell it in like twenty years,” said the man with a foolish grin as he picked at his

yellow teeth with a toothpick. His hands were very dirty too. I was thinking that a good

strep infection would take the smile off his face.

Now on top of the problem of my vehicle’s incapability to keep Freon, I got into

an accident a year ago and my fan got crunched. On hot days in heavy traffic, I would

have to run the heater on high to relieve some of the heat from the engine. Picture the

nearly hundred degree temperature Fahrenheit and then a heater blowing full blast while

the traffic is dead stopped. I was praying that this would not happen but low and behold

there was a ten foot patch of street being repaired on Harlem Avenue. The cars queued

up for over a mile. When I got up to the spot where they were working on the street,

there was a black man with a shovel while three fat white men stood around watching. I

wanted to scream at them. I was sweating profusely now. The back of my shirt was

soaked and I had wet rings under the arms and a line running down the middle of my

shirt. I was already crabby and it was 9:30 AM.

I stopped at the hardware store and listened to a cashier talk on her phone for

nearly five minutes. She had huge thighs and was wearing polyester pants with an elastic

waist band. I could not imagine being so fat that conventional pants with zippers and

buttons, would not fit. She had a face that was so bloated that her eyes disappeared when

she smiled. She pulled back her hair like a Sumo wrestler and had mutton chops. She

had a pretty strong moustache going on too. I must note that her nails looked flawless

though. She hung up the phone and looked at me as if I had been eavesdropping.

“Is there something you need, sir?”

“Yeah, I could really use some air-conditioning. Do you have any window units

left?”

She laughed and slapped her enormous thigh that looked like two of mine put

together. Her eyes disappeared and the skin under her chin shook like Jell-O. I have to

point out that Americans are the most obese people in the world. We have Tim Horton

donut shops on every corner and yet the people in Canada are not so grotesque. I wanted

to snap at her for being so insensitive and rude. Instead I just looked at her blankly.

“You people never do the smart thing and buy something like this in the winter…

You’ll probably need a shovel during a snowstorm… I think we got a few left but the

BTUs are low. You’re gonna have to sleep right on top of it to stay cool…” she said as

she giggled.

By 10:00 AM, I had to deal with two really ignorant human beings that find

humor in discomfort. I could only hope one day to be nearby in a lawn chair with a six

pack when misfortune hits them. It would bring me great pleasure. It is but a fantasy.

I got to the first building where the homosexual called. He was waiting at the

door with his hands on his hips. His hair was bleached white until it was blue and was

spiked every which way as if squirrels had wrestled upon his head. He had really hip

horned rim glasses that one could tell were just glass, no prescription. He had a smart

assed comment too.

“Were you running in your work clothes? Your all sweated up. Do you want

water or a towel or something?”

“Um… I’ll be okay. Can I see the damage?”

There was a tiny bubble on the ceiling that had a tiny blotch of spores. This spot

was the size of those fifty cent coins with John F. Kennedy’s face on it or a two dollar

double loony coin in Canada. This is what was causing this person to have asthmatic

conditions? There are people living in shacks in seventy percent of the world with no

heat, air-conditioning or in door plumbing and this guy is crying about a spot on the

ceiling. I called the janitor and had him clean the spot with bleach and then called a

heating and air conditioning guy to look at the unit on the roof. The man insisted I take a

bottle water with me and so I did.

Without boring you with the details of problem solving little insignificant things

that mean nothing in the larger scheme of things. I went back to my girlfriend’s

apartment to put in the unit. I carried it up three flights of stairs. I continued to perspire.

I fought with the old window that had probably been painted a hundred times in the past

eighty plus years. I had to hit it with a hammer to get it to open with the humidity .

I placed the unit in the window and held it with my right hand and pulled on the window

which was stuck in the open position, with the other hand. The hammer was on the bed

and I could not reach it and hold the unit in place. I needed another two inches to reach

it.

I kicked the bed until it fell to the floor. As I was stretching to reach it, the air

conditioner started to slip away and fell three floors to the cement path below and broke

in numerous pieces. I didn’t know if I should cry or punch a hole in the wall. I almost

began to cry in frustration. I just lost $200.00. I got downstairs and the janitor was

stupidly looking up at the sky as if a bird possibly shit it out. I walked by as if I didn’t

know what happened. I really wanted to just stop everything I was doing and just go to

the beach.

I got to the car and realized that I had locked my keys in the apartment. I was

really ready to punch the window of my car but instead I asked the janitor to let me into

the apartment. He gave me a bit of a hard time.

“Are you on the lease?”

“No, it’s my girlfriend’s place but I stay with her half the week… You’ve never

seen me before?”

“Oh yeah… Oh yeah… That one girl… On the third floor, right?”

“Right, right. The tall girl of African descent.”

“Right, right.”

Oak Park is overly politically correct. It has the highest percentage of

homosexuals per capita in the country and I think for that reason, everyone is very careful

to not say anything to offend or discriminate. Between two white dudes, saying that

someone is black should not be too difficult. At any rate, I got my keys. The janitor

stood in the doorway and shook his head up and down while making a frown with his

mouth and squinting his eyes. The apartment was spotless.

“Very clean! That’s a nice surprise.”
“They don’t live in trees anymore… They’re much cleaner than they used to be

when they were barefoot in the bush or picking cotton.”

“Oh no! I didn’t mean to insinuate nothing… I’m really sorry sir.”

I felt bad then. This guy was going to spend the rest of his day worrying about

whether or not I would call his boss to report race discrimination. I couldn’t let him think

that was going to happen. He was nice enough to let me in.

“Don’t sweat it, I’m just having a tough day. I just dropped that A/C unit laying

in the courtyard… I have no air-conditioning in my car and I didn’t sleep last night.”

“I have some at one of the other buildings that someone left. I’ll give them to

you… No problem, sir.”

I always feel sort of sad for old men who call me sir. I’m under forty and he’s

over fifty. He should call me kid or son or dude but not sir.

My brother remained in Canada. He lives outside of Toronto and runs the

Zamboni at a rink. He plays hockey six days a week and sits up in the bar above the ice

rink and watches other hockey games. He has a really pretty wife that was his high

school sweetheart. They have a little boy and my brother is so happy. He told me that he

secretly wants his son to play for the Habs ( Montreal ) instead of the Maple Leafs. That

had more to do with the fact that we loved our grandfather. My mother’s parents

lived in Quebec and spoke only French to us. We spent nearly every summer with them

up in a small town called Chicoutimi which is about two hundred miles north and east of

Quebec City. Nobody up there speaks English. My mother got a job after college with

Air Canada since she was bilingual. She met my father in Toronto where she was

working at the time and the rest is history. In any case, I bring up my brother because he

is happy and not hurried. He never went to college and never wanted to. He coaches ice

hockey, plays it and works at the rink. His whole life is hockey and he loves it. His wife

loves it. They live very simple. If my brother were here he would commandeer the car

and drive straight to Lake Michigan. My grandfather, who was exactly like my brother,

would have done the same thing. He loved to fish. He fished everyday after retiring.

Grandpere would wake in the morning and give my grandmere a kiss and say, “Il fait

beau…” and she would say in her grouchy way, “Non. Il fait chaud…” My grandfather

always said it was beautiful and my grandmother would declare that it was too hot. I

found myself mumbling a few times to myself the same words that my grandmother used.

“Il fait chaud.”

I ran around the rest of the day like any other worker ant does. I did my part for

society and worked hard to keep the wheels of the giant machine moving. I dealt with

hornets, squirrels and rodents inside of units. I dealt with mold and dog shit. I mediated

between a woman with two racing dogs and a woman who hates animals. I watched

plumbers unclog drains, toilets and sewers. I went up on hot roofs to find the source of

leaks. Nothing unusual and the same sort of complaints will come tomorrow. The

difference is that on no sleep, it is difficult to face the world. I don’t know what would

be worse, to not sleep or to not eat. I know now know vividly what no sleep is like with a

good dose of frustration.

I finished my day at a condominium board meeting where people without much to

do, agonized over the cost of cleaning the carpeting in foyer versus new carpet. I needed

clothes pins on my eyelids to make it through the hour meeting with people who

averaged eighty years of age. I felt like getting up and saying something very frank.

“Listen! You are very old and have very little time left on this earth. Worrying

about replacing carpeting versus washing it, should be a minimal thing in your lives. Go

to the zoo. Go to a museum. Go see a play. Look for people you used to know sixty

years ago and stimulate your memories with things you haven’t thought about in ages.

Enjoy each day as if it were your last because one day really soon, you will be gone…

But the carpet will remain.”

I didn’t say that. Instead I looked at an old woman who instructed me to get three

estimates for new carpet and three for carpet cleaning and they would discuss and choose

the best course of action. I thought about all the things going on in my life and hoped to

heck that mundane things like carpeting, would never stir passion within me. With global

warming, wars, nuclear proliferation and starvation in the world, how could we be

worrying about carpeting, air conditioning, mold spores, dog shit and storage lockers?

When you don’t have to worry about survival, you can turn your attention to many things

that mean very little.

I was too tired to go to my apartment across town. I was going to take a cold

shower and go to sleep before my body heated up. I walked in to my girlfriend’s place

and there was a window air-conditioning unit in the living room and another in the

bedroom. It was in the sixties in the apartment with very low humidity. The janitor found

two units and installed them for me, free of charge and without killing them in the

courtyard below. It was the nicest thing to have happened to me all day. I owed the guy

a huge thank you and a gift card to Starbucks or a local restaurant.

I went to bed that night and my girlfriend put on flannel pants and socks to go

with my Quebec shirt. She pulled the comforter up to her chin around her head and

poked her nose out. I laid there in my hybrid underwear that is neither a boxer nor a

brief. It is neither 100% cotton nor 100% spandex. I laid there smiling ready to sleep

like I had not slept in a long time because I had not. I was almost excited. My girlfriend

whispered to me.

“It’s cold…”

I whispered back in French.

“Non. Il fait beau…”

December 8, 2009

Like Bill and Tiger

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 7:29 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Monique de la Croix came from Haiti in 1986 with her son Elmer in tow. They braved the seas between Haiti and Florida and played a bizarre game on the shores of Miami where by if a refugee could touch dry land, they could stay. The coast guard would try to force the people from Haiti back to their make shift boats or put them on coast guard ships before they could touch dry land. Monique, with her son Elmer strapped to her back, ran as hard and as fast as she could through the crashing waves and fell face first onto dry land as she laughed and cried. It had been days since she ate or drank water and she had nothing but the clothes she was wearing and her two year old son with her.
Catholic charities placed Monique in Montreal since she spoke French and Creole exclusively. It was in Montreal that Monique met and married a white man who adopted Elmer and taught him to play the game of ice hockey.
Elmer grew to be a hair over six feet in height and a little over two hundred pounds. Elmer was lean, fast and quite capable as an ice hockey player. He went early in the NHL draft and wound up playing for Nashville. Nashville signed Elmer to a multiyear contract whereby he made millions at the age of 21. By age twenty two, Elmer had married Canadian figure skating Olympian Jeanette Devereux and lived comfortably in Nashville, Miami and Montreal. Everything was going great for Elmer until one crazy night.
Jeanette had been taking anti-depression drugs for a while and fluctuated between being unable to get out of bed and not being able to sleep for days. On manic days, Jeanette might stay out drinking all night with friends, have breakfast and come home to break things in the house and cry. One day Jeanette would send text messages that she wanted to die, other days she wanted Elmer to die quickly followed up with messages of I love you, when will you be home?
Being a black man in a white dominated sport and a superstar at that was a love hate sort of thing for the fans of Nashville. The good ole boys liked the speed and physical nature of the sport of ice hockey but had a difficult time at first with having their big star a black man with a strong French accent. They did like the finesse of Elmer and his willingness to fight when necessary.
After one particular home game around Thanksgiving in the states, Elmer had gone out with a few players to a steak house to eat. It was there that Elmer met Christy, a devil with face of an angel and a body of a goddess. Now Elmer had practiced really good self restraint throughout the duration of his marriage and opportunity for infidelity knocked almost nightly for Elmer. One particular Wednesday evening, Elmer became weak and succumbed to primal urges that could not easily be quelled. Often in these situations, the sports figure goes one way and the female goes the other and nothing is spoken of again until maybe the next time in town. Christy had fallen deeply and madly in love.
Christy grew up in rural Tennessee and left home at fourteen to find a job in Memphis. Christy lied about her age and was able to land a job as a waitress at a steak house in Memphis. At sixteen, Christy lived like a woman several years older than her and nobody knew or questioned the fact that Christy had not reached adulthood. Christy was built like a woman from head to toe. Christy had a certain Marilyn Monroe quality about her that irresistible to men. Christy had a thing for men who could speak French. Elmer was talking to Jeanette on the phone in French when Christy walked by.
« Jeanette! Ecoutez bien! Ce n’est pas possible maintenant. J’ai deux matches ce semaine. Nous jouons en Montreal en Janvier. J’ai trois jours apres Noel. Venez… Venez.. Tu est ma femme… Je t’aime, Jeanette… D’accord… Je vais telephoner demain apres le match… A bien tot. »
Christy stood and listened as Elmer spoke to his wife. After ending his call, Christy realized who Elmer was. Elmer’s value went up about 1000%.
“Bon jour miss-you… You’re that French hockey player that everyone is all crazy for right now, aren’t you?”
“Yes thaat ees me, madam… And who are you, if hi might axe?” Asked Elmer.
Christy finished work and the other players that Elmer was dining with, went home for the night. Elmer took Christy to a Jazz club where they had a few drinks and spoke to one another. Elmer learned that Christy was poor and her father died when she was eight and that her step father was a dirty pig who tried to sleep with her several times. Christy learned that Elmer was born in Haiti and had been a refugee and that he grew up in Canada, learned to play hockey well and became quite wealthy. Christ thought about how her whole life could easily change if she could just find a way to have Elmer fall head over heels for her. It wasn’t hard at all. Every time Elmer came back to town, he would pick up Christy and they would have wild passionate sex all night. Elmer liked her ivory colored skin and nearly platinum hair. He liked her extremely fit, young body and Christy was intrigued by being with a black man. Back in nowhere Tennessee, people all had strong negative opinions about black people that went back hundreds of years. Elmer was without much body fat and full of muscles. He had an interesting accent and smelled of cologne. His things were all neat and he drove a really nice car.
The Disneyland relationship between Elmer and Christy went on for quite some time and they were both content with the relationship. Christy kept the relationship quiet except for sharing with her own sister via the internet all that was transpiring between her and Elmer. Clara had no ill will towards her sister and trusted that her secret would remain such and it would have had she not forgotten to log off of the computer before leaving home one day. The girl’s mother read every sordid detail and got to thinking that she would contact Elmer about the affair. Every attempt at coming in contact with Elmer failed. Beulah, the mother of Christy and Clara, contacted a tabloid with the story with the promise of money. For a little more than $5,000.00, Beulah brought Elmer’s world crashing down.

NHL SUPERSTAR, DE LA CROIX HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH UNDERAGED GIRL IN MEMPHIS.

It was like spilling blood into the ocean around sharks. It was a feeding frenzy for the press. Before and after games, in front of Elmer’s home, at restaurants and at stores, there was always a camera man or more to snap photos and ask all sorts of questions. After weeks of hounding, Elmer decided to hold a press conference. All eyes and ears were on Elmer. It was carried live on ESPN and CBC English and French. Here is how it went;
“Okay… I’m ready for the cirque d’Amerique. I have a statement for all of you today” Declared Elmer, while leaning the palms of his hands on a podium in front of hundreds of cameras and microphones.
“Thees may or may not come as a surprise to all of you but I am going to let you know a leetle beet aboat me… I haav trouble being on time and keeping appointments. I lose things easily and forget things even more. I don’t like to clean my ouse and I don’t like to cook. Sometimes I forget to flush after going to the bathroom and I rarely wash my hands… I am a husband, father and a son and nobody could dispute that I haav not been first rate on all of those hats that I wear aside from a hockey helmet. I fell in love weeth a young lady whom I waas not aware of er age. I waas lead to believe that she waas twenty one years of age. I professed my love for thees person but haav been faced with the reality thaat I ham already married. My marriage ees not whaat eet should be and I ham not happy een my marriage for reasons thaat are nobody’s business. You ave been giving a relentless account of all the tings thaat could be dug up on me. You ave all you need to know. Now you should know thaat I ham not a monster or a bad man. I ham not sorry for whaat I ave done and it ees no reflection on my job anymore than whaat any of you do in your private lives. I can tell you een case eet comes up that I ham not a pedophile, a homosexual, one who wears female undergarments or one who sticks tings in his own asshole or the asshole of others. I ave never add a ménage a trois or any other sort of deviant sexual behavior. I would be interested to know among all of you what eet ees that you do when you are not working. I would like to write about eet and take pictures of you while you go home, go to work, go to eat. I would like to pose asinine questions while you are holding your child’s hand. I would like to make stupid jokes on late night television and discuss it with Larry King what eet ees thaat you all do… You can make the argument thaat I ham rich and famous… I say to all of you, so fucking what. Anyone who ees without sin cast the first stone… Anyone without blood on ees ands, raise your and for us all to see. Presidents, preachers and sports figures are all under the microscope een thees country. You ave whaat you’ve all been looking for… Now let me say thees clearly once and for all… Go fuck yourselves to the best of your ability and leave me the fuck alone. There ees no story ear that you aven’t already erred before… Merci beaucoups… Au revoir…”
Elmer was given a few days off by the team and Elmer took them. Elmer went to an undisclosed location in Maui for a few days. While there Elmer decided to play Golf to get his mind off of circus that constantly followed him. It was on the eighth hole that Elmer received a phone call. This is what the famous man said to Elmer;
“Hey man… That was beautiful what you did at the press conference. I would have never thought of doing such a thing. You’ve blazed a trail for the rest of us. Next time I’m anywhere near you, we need to meet… Sure, sure… My wife has a pretty important cabinet job right now, but I’ll tell you what… One of these days our paths will cross and we got to set down and talk… You’re my type of man… I’ll let you go now but I just wanted to thank you more than anything. You’re my hero… God bless.”

August 3, 2009

Wine with the Prime Minister

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 4:24 am
Tags: , , , ,

After 225 years of French rule in North America, a battle on the Plains of Abraham ended all that. A general for the British by the name of Wolfe, defeated a French general by the name of Montcalme at the Battle of Quebec in 1759. At the Treaty of Paris in 1763, New France was named Quebec. France was left with two islands near Newfoundland. The British sought to have all French inhabitants assimilate into British ways. In 1774, fearing that the French citizens of Quebec might team up with George Washington and company, the British passed the Quebec Act which recognized French law, language, culture and the Roman Catholic Church. Assimilation was impossible after the passage of that act. French culture continued in Quebec.
In October of 1995, the 30th to be exact, the future of Canada as we know it presently, was being decided. The province of Quebec was voting on a referendum to decide if Quebec should be a sovereign nation. Two weeks before the casting of the vote in Quebec, the sovereign vote was ahead in the polls by nearly five percent. The night of the election, everyone was on the edge of their seats, in Canada only.
93% of eligible voters turned out to vote making it close to 4.7 million voters in Quebec. 53,498 people out of 4.7 million were the difference in Quebec becoming a sovereign nation and seceding from Canada. Most of the 53,000 people were foreign born non-French and non-English speaking immigrants. For the Parti Quebecois, it was a defeat to be sure. There to this day are grumblings and strong feelings in Quebec about going it alone where French could be spoken by French without having to ever speak English. Where stop signs would forever say Arête and any Americanized, English words would and could be abolished once and for all. The preservation of French culture would have been mandated by law instead of the French and English that now exists in the province of Quebec. Not very interesting? Not many people took notice outside of Canada at the time and today not many know that the future of Canada was being decided the day before Halloween in 1995. But this really is not the story. The story is the story within the story, which is usually the case. It’s not the substance that mattered it was the drama and tension as a result of the referendum.
To protect his identity and to keep me from being sued, I have altered the name of the Parti Quebecois member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing an area not far from the Ontario border in Quebec by the name of Etienne Cadeau.
Etienne was short and portly. His dark hair was receding and he had a large gap between his two front teeth. Etienne had a gift for being able to talk to anyone about anything and seem interested. It is a trait which is necessary to be a politician.
Mr. Cadeau was born and raised in the Atlantic coast city of Gaspe not far from where Jacques Cartier planted a cross for France back in 1534.
Etienne’s father was a fisherman and his mother raised nine children. Etienne was an above average student who went to Laval in Quebec City and became a lawyer. While is college, Etienne met and married a woman by the name of Jeanette who was born in the city of Gatineau, not far from the nation’s capital of Ottawa in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Cadeau left the Liberal Party to join the Bloc Quebecois in 1990 and became a member of parliament representing a region of western Quebec. Things looked good for those that wanted sovereignty for Quebec. Mr. Cadeau saw himself as a possible candidate for the first president of the Republic of Quebec. He could be the French George Washington and forever live on coins and paper money. The night of the election, Etienne watched the results from a bar that was frequented by French Canadian politicians and other various separatists. On the wall were pictures of Rene Levesque and Charles de Galle, the French Canadian flag and the words, “Je me souviens” which translates to mean in English, I remember or I remember my French heritage.
As the hours passed, Etienne and others became more drunk and disappointed. Etienne sat at a table with other MPs of French extraction that were looking forward to a new nation for North American Francophones. It became clear late in the evening that the referendum had been defeated by a 50.6 to 49.4 percent. One percent of the province was the difference. Etienne was so upset that he threw down his Canadian money with the English queen on it and staggered out into the night. The air was cold with a hint of winter that was about to come to that part of Canada. Etienne got into his Citroen that he imported from France and drove towards the bridge that would take him across to Ottawa where he lived during sessions of parliament.

Bill Stowe was a descendant of people who once lived in the colony which became the United States of America. They were loyalists and wanted to remain loyal to the crown. After the colonists gained their own country, Bill’s ancestors moved north. Over the course of two hundred years, Bill’s family never bred much with people over other persuasions. There was a Dutch woman and a Flemish Belgian man who married into the Stowe clan. For the most part, they were of Anglo-Saxon stock.
Bill had played hockey and was a stand out in the Ontario Hockey League until one too many concussions sidelined his career and forced him to seek other means to an end. Bill became a police officer in the OPP or Ontario Provincial Police.
Bill grew up in Ajax which was about 50 kilometers from the city of Toronto. Upon being hired into the OPP, Bill had to move to Windsor near the Detroit border and then all the way to Cornwall near the Quebec border. It had been five years that Bill had been living and working for the OPP near Ottawa. Bill liked Ottawa.
Bill sat sipping Tim Horton’s Coffee and talking to a fellow trooper on the citizen band radio about their men’s league hockey team that was taking a trip to Calgary to play against other police teams from all over Canada and the United States. The team to beat were the Mounties from near Edmonton. They had won the tournament three years in a row. This year, Bill’s team got some fresh blood. Two young rookies just got done playing in the Ontario Hockey League and were more than capable of helping the Ottawa OPP.
Coming off the bridge that leads from Hull, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario was the black Citroen. The Citroen’s wheels screeched as Etienne cornered. It was on Queen Elizabeth Street that Etienne cornered too fast and slammed head on into a lamppost. Bill had followed the screeching Citroen with Quebec plates, ever since the bridge. Etienne sat banging his head on the steering wheel of his car that was cleaved right up the center of the car. Etienne was able to start the car again. He put it in drive, thinking that he was in reverse and knocked the lamppost down onto two other parked cars. One of the parked cars had just some dents on the hood but the second one had the ornamental head of the lamp, resting on the front seat of the sedan after it had ripped through the windshield. Etienne got out of his car and kicked and punched as he swore in French. Unbeknownst to him, Bill walked up and flashed a light in Etienne’s eyes. Bill spoke first.
“Sir… Don’t move. I want to hear from you what just happened,” commanded Bill.
“What happened? I will tell you what appened… We lost our chance to be our own nation by less than one percentage point. Eef we aad won dee referendum, ah would not be eer raht now speaking to ahn English speaking cop een fucking Ottawa… Fucking dumb English prick,” said an inebriated Etienne, while staring at the light of the flash light.
“Sir, I need to know why it is that you were driving so fast that you lost control of your vehicle. Calling me names is not going to help you right now, eh? I need to see your driver’s license…”
Etienne had set his wallet down on the chair besides where he was sitting at the bar in Hull. Nobody would steal the wallet and it was probably being held by the bartender at that moment. Etienne let the officer know what had happened.
“Ah can geeve you the name and number of the bar een Hull. Ah left eet on a chair next to me… Een any event, I ham a MP. I leeve on Queens Street when I ham not leeving en Quebec,” said Etienne.
“Sir… I’m going to have to take you in to custody,” said Bill.
Etienne did not go down without a fight. He swore and punched Bill. Bill could be heard on the radio, calling for backup. Three other troopers showed within a minute to detain the member of the House of Commons. Later that morning, under the light of day, Etienne was released from OPP holding pen. Reporters from papers all over Canada as well as the CBC camped out to get a comment from the drunken driving Member of Parliament. Etienne refused to speak English. In French he made a statement in the form of questions. Here is the English translation;
“If I were an English speaking member of the House of Commons, would I have been arrested? Do you believe this is another symbolic statement by government officials that the French citizens of this nation will always be second class citizens within Canada? You need to answer these questions. The people of Quebec have voted by the thinnest of margins to remain part of Canada and who were the 50,000 who put the no vote over the top? Not French speaking citizens of Quebec whose lineage dates back three hundred years to France… That’s all I can say right now…”
A sharp witted columnist who had a syndicated column in English language newspapers throughout Canada commented on the incident. That more than anything else, fuelled the smoldering fire. In Quebec, separatists began to smash windows of businesses that had English sounding names. A five second film clip showed a group of separatists singing in French and burning the Canadian flag. The scene looked more like the taking of American hostages in Iran than something that could have happened in Canada. It was at that point that the prime minister had to step in.
Jean Chrétien, the 20th Prime Minister of the country which is Canada, tried to calm the situation. Luckily for Chretien at the time, there were no reporters around when he was told about the situation. He did say in French, “ Il est tres stupide…”. It wasn’t clear if the situation was stupid, The drunk member of parliament or the OPP police officer. In either case, the press was not present to hear the prime minister. The situation escalated without any help.
Jean Chretien, understood that even though the referendum had failed, the country could still be in crisis due to an individual incident that was quite symbolic; French discrimination from an English heavy hand. Chretien had invited the two men in question to meet on the Plains of Abraham to drink a bottle of wine from the province of Ontario and another from the province of Quebec. Red wine would be drunk by the three men from each province in a dark wooded room that overlooked the St. Lawrence River from the Chateau Frontenac. Bill Stowe, Etienne Cadeau and Jean Chrétien sat in the room and discussed the whole situation and the situation that occurred from the situation. Before both bottles were finished, the conversation turned to ice hockey. Bill graciously declared that Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was probably the best hockey player to have played the sport even though in his heart bill believed it to really be Gordie Howe. Etienne declared that the best player was difficult to declare but that it might have been Gordie Howe since he was able to play professionally into his fifties even though Etienne really believed the best of best was Maurice Richard. All men declared by the end of meeting that they would do all within their abilities to keep Canada intact. Seven years later at the invitation of the prime minister, Etienne and Bill watched Canada win the gold medal for Canada. The two men with lumps in their throats, stood as the national anthem played. Both men sang the words in their own languages as the flag was raised above all others in Utah. It was a proud moment for Canada. Oh Canada…

After 225 years of French rule in North America, a battle on the Plains of Abraham ended all that. A general for the British by the name of Wolfe, defeated a French general by the name of Montcalme at the Battle of Quebec in 1759. At the Treaty of Paris in 1763, New France was named Quebec. France was left with two islands near Newfoundland. The British sought to have all French inhabitants assimilate into British ways. In 1774, fearing that the French citizens of Quebec might team up with George Washington and company, the British passed the Quebec Act which recognized French law, language, culture and the Roman Catholic Church. Assimilation was impossible after the passage of that act. French culture continued in Quebec.
In October of 1995, the 30th to be exact, the future of Canada as we know it presently, was being decided. The province of Quebec was voting on a referendum to decide if Quebec should be a sovereign nation. Two weeks before the casting of the vote in Quebec, the sovereign vote was ahead in the polls by nearly five percent. The night of the election, everyone was on the edge of their seats, in Canada only.
93% of eligible voters turned out to vote making it close to 4.7 million voters in Quebec. 53,498 people out of 4.7 million were the difference in Quebec becoming a sovereign nation and seceding from Canada. Most of the 53,000 people were foreign born non-French and non-English speaking immigrants. For the Parti Quebecois, it was a defeat to be sure. There to this day are grumblings and strong feelings in Quebec about going it alone where French could be spoken by French without having to ever speak English. Where stop signs would forever say Arête and any Americanized, English words would and could be abolished once and for all. The preservation of French culture would have been mandated by law instead of the French and English that now exists in the province of Quebec. Not very interesting? Not many people took notice outside of Canada at the time and today not many know that the future of Canada was being decided the day before Halloween in 1995. But this really is not the story. The story is the story within the story, which is usually the case. It’s not the substance that mattered it was the drama and tension as a result of the referendum.
To protect his identity and to keep me from being sued, I have altered the name of the Parti Quebecois member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing an area not far from the Ontario border in Quebec by the name of Etienne Cadeau.
Etienne was short and portly. His dark hair was receding and he had a large gap between his two front teeth. Etienne had a gift for being able to talk to anyone about anything and seem interested. It is a trait which is necessary to be a politician.
Mr. Cadeau was born and raised in the Atlantic coast city of Gaspe not far from where Jacques Cartier planted a cross for France back in 1534.
Etienne’s father was a fisherman and his mother raised nine children. Etienne was an above average student who went to Laval in Quebec City and became a lawyer. While is college, Etienne met and married a woman by the name of Jeanette who was born in the city of Gatineau, not far from the nation’s capital of Ottawa in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Cadeau left the Liberal Party to join the Bloc Quebecois in 1990 and became a member of parliament representing a region of western Quebec. Things looked good for those that wanted sovereignty for Quebec. Mr. Cadeau saw himself as a possible candidate for the first president of the Republic of Quebec. He could be the French George Washington and forever live on coins and paper money. The night of the election, Etienne watched the results from a bar that was frequented by French Canadian politicians and other various separatists. On the wall were pictures of Rene Levesque and Charles de Galle, the French Canadian flag and the words, “Je me souviens” which translates to mean in English, I remember or I remember my French heritage.
As the hours passed, Etienne and others became more drunk and disappointed. Etienne sat at a table with other MPs of French extraction that were looking forward to a new nation for North American Francophones. It became clear late in the evening that the referendum had been defeated by a 50.6 to 49.4 percent. One percent of the province was the difference. Etienne was so upset that he threw down his Canadian money with the English queen on it and staggered out into the night. The air was cold with a hint of winter that was about to come to that part of Canada. Etienne got into his Citroen that he imported from France and drove towards the bridge that would take him across to Ottawa where he lived during sessions of parliament.

Bill Stowe was a descendant of people who once lived in the colony which became the United States of America. They were loyalists and wanted to remain loyal to the crown. After the colonists gained their own country, Bill’s ancestors moved north. Over the course of two hundred years, Bill’s family never bred much with people over other persuasions. There was a Dutch woman and a Flemish Belgian man who married into the Stowe clan. For the most part, they were of Anglo-Saxon stock.
Bill had played hockey and was a stand out in the Ontario Hockey League until one too many concussions sidelined his career and forced him to seek other means to an end. Bill became a police officer in the OPP or Ontario Provincial Police.
Bill grew up in Ajax which was about 50 kilometers from the city of Toronto. Upon being hired into the OPP, Bill had to move to Windsor near the Detroit border and then all the way to Cornwall near the Quebec border. It had been five years that Bill had been living and working for the OPP near Ottawa. Bill liked Ottawa.
Bill sat sipping Tim Horton’s Coffee and talking to a fellow trooper on the citizen band radio about their men’s league hockey team that was taking a trip to Calgary to play against other police teams from all over Canada and the United States. The team to beat were the Mounties from near Edmonton. They had won the tournament three years in a row. This year, Bill’s team got some fresh blood. Two young rookies just got done playing in the Ontario Hockey League and were more than capable of helping the Ottawa OPP.
Coming off the bridge that leads from Hull, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario was the black Citroen. The Citroen’s wheels screeched as Etienne cornered. It was on Queen Elizabeth Street that Etienne cornered too fast and slammed head on into a lamppost. Bill had followed the screeching Citroen with Quebec plates, ever since the bridge. Etienne sat banging his head on the steering wheel of his car that was cleaved right up the center of the car. Etienne was able to start the car again. He put it in drive, thinking that he was in reverse and knocked the lamppost down onto two other parked cars. One of the parked cars had just some dents on the hood but the second one had the ornamental head of the lamp, resting on the front seat of the sedan after it had ripped through the windshield. Etienne got out of his car and kicked and punched as he swore in French. Unbeknownst to him, Bill walked up and flashed a light in Etienne’s eyes. Bill spoke first.
“Sir… Don’t move. I want to hear from you what just happened,” commanded Bill.
“What happened? I will tell you what appened… We lost our chance to be our own nation by less than one percentage point. Eef we aad won dee referendum, ah would not be eer raht now speaking to ahn English speaking cop een fucking Ottawa… Fucking dumb English prick,” said an inebriated Etienne, while staring at the light of the flash light.
“Sir, I need to know why it is that you were driving so fast that you lost control of your vehicle. Calling me names is not going to help you right now, eh? I need to see your driver’s license…”
Etienne had set his wallet down on the chair besides where he was sitting at the bar in Hull. Nobody would steal the wallet and it was probably being held by the bartender at that moment. Etienne let the officer know what had happened.
“Ah can geeve you the name and number of the bar een Hull. Ah left eet on a chair next to me… Een any event, I ham a MP. I leeve on Queens Street when I ham not leeving en Quebec,” said Etienne.
“Sir… I’m going to have to take you in to custody,” said Bill.
Etienne did not go down without a fight. He swore and punched Bill. Bill could be heard on the radio, calling for backup. Three other troopers showed within a minute to detain the member of the House of Commons. Later that morning, under the light of day, Etienne was released from OPP holding pen. Reporters from papers all over Canada as well as the CBC camped out to get a comment from the drunken driving Member of Parliament. Etienne refused to speak English. In French he made a statement in the form of questions. Here is the English translation;
“If I were an English speaking member of the House of Commons, would I have been arrested? Do you believe this is another symbolic statement by government officials that the French citizens of this nation will always be second class citizens within Canada? You need to answer these questions. The people of Quebec have voted by the thinnest of margins to remain part of Canada and who were the 50,000 who put the no vote over the top? Not French speaking citizens of Quebec whose lineage dates back three hundred years to France… That’s all I can say right now…”
A sharp witted columnist who had a syndicated column in English language newspapers throughout Canada commented on the incident. That more than anything else, fuelled the smoldering fire. In Quebec, separatists began to smash windows of businesses that had English sounding names. A five second film clip showed a group of separatists singing in French and burning the Canadian flag. The scene looked more like the taking of American hostages in Iran than something that could have happened in Canada. It was at that point that the prime minister had to step in.
Jean Chrétien, the 20th Prime Minister of the country which is Canada, tried to calm the situation. Luckily for Chretien at the time, there were no reporters around when he was told about the situation. He did say in French, “ Il est tres stupide…”. It wasn’t clear if the situation was stupid, The drunk member of parliament or the OPP police officer. In either case, the press was not present to hear the prime minister. The situation escalated without any help.
Jean Chretien, understood that even though the referendum had failed, the country could still be in crisis due to an individual incident that was quite symbolic; French discrimination from an English heavy hand. Chretien had invited the two men in question to meet on the Plains of Abraham to drink a bottle of wine from the province of Ontario and another from the province of Quebec. Red wine would be drunk by the three men from each province in a dark wooded room that overlooked the St. Lawrence River from the Chateau Frontenac. Bill Stowe, Etienne Cadeau and Jean Chrétien sat in the room and discussed the whole situation and the situation that occurred from the situation. Before both bottles were finished, the conversation turned to ice hockey. Bill graciously declared that Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was probably the best hockey player to have played the sport even though in his heart bill believed it to really be Gordie Howe. Etienne declared that the best player was difficult to declare but that it might have been Gordie Howe since he was able to play professionally into his fifties even though Etienne really believed the best of best was Maurice Richard. All men declared by the end of meeting that they would do all within their abilities to keep Canada intact. Seven years later at the invitation of the prime minister, Etienne and Bill watched Canada win the gold medal for Canada. The two men with lumps in their throats, stood as the national anthem played. Both men sang the words in their own languages as the flag was raised above all others in Utah. It was a proud moment for Canada. Oh Canada…

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