Well folks, thanks for sticking in. After the nauseating Straya Day flag thumping down at the beach yesterday I need to get back to another land and Calgary is good enough for the task. Also please excuse spelling mistakes. I can't be arsed with spellcheck. Not that your not worthy of it, I'm just really fucking lazy.
Kel's beer batter pancakes were a marvellous way of breaking a hungover fast. To make me feel welcome he put on a Bushwackers album. Now I've never been a big fan of bush music, thinking it a bit twee, but I did go to Redgum gigs back in the day and I knew a couple of the Bushwacker tunes, "Ryebuck Shearer" being one of them. I was taken aback that a bloke from Calgary would have heard of the Bushwackers then stumped up cash to buy one of their albums. Turned out that good 'ole Kel was a fan of things Australian. I ransacked my pack for trinkets and came up with a silver chain with a kangaroo on it (thanks to Marie at QANTAS), a coaster form the Occidental Hotel in Sydney and a Hood Gurus t-shirt. I also had a five dollar note, so it allbecame Kelly's. He was rapt and to celebrate went and grabbed a Blue (Labbatts) from the fridge. I was impressed. His attitude was definitely Antipodean.
We were a happy bunch when we went a caught a train into the fair grounds. A native village had been recreated alongside a frontier town. In amongst this we witnessed pig races. There was a casino where I lost ten bucks, decided to double up and came out out even. In the fronitier village we noticed a crowd building up. We moseyed on up and saw the beginnings of some trouble. Some bloke dressed in wild west attire was standing outside the fake saloon calling out for Luke. The gunlsinger looked mean so a few of us yelled out to Luke to stay inside. Silly bloody Luke didn't listen but came out guns blazing. He winged the gunman but was cut down in spectacular style, doing a front somersault with death roll from the verandah, over a trough and onto the dead, dusty earth. One of the crowd reminded Luke that he he should have listened to us. This was thirsty work so we hitched our gunbelts, tilted our hats and ambled back to our own saloon. On the way back we grabbed vids, pizza and beer before settlin' in at the ranch.
A belated breakfast at 10.00 saw us eager for some action. So we went to the local sports park, had a hit of tennis and then a game of slow pitch baseball. I was playing with Gary and Kel's wprk team against one of their other workplaces. Labbatts Blue goes well with baseball and it certainly inspired me to smacka couple of homers and snaffle an RBI. All in all a fun afternoon and I was happy that I didn't let the Oz sporting spirit down. We went to a restaurant called Denny Andrews, part of a chain of feed places which combined the ambience of a steakhouse with a pub. The steak was good and we sat around cracking jokes about Newfies (Newfoundland people) and figuring out whioh shooters were best. It must havebeen about three in the morning when I rolled myself into bed.
A painful birth into the next morning saw a repeat of the beer pancakes yet very little activity. All of us were pretty much shot birds. All we could manage was a pizza dinner and videos. Then out came the Grand Marnier and the rum. Oh yeah, that;s right it was my last night in Calgary and they were celebrating my departure. I remember hoisting a Molson in a round of cheers and thanks before being handed a glass of Jamaican rum punch, then another, then I can't remember. Surprisingly the next morning I didn't feel too bad. I went for a long walk around town to use up energy as I knew I had some long haul bus riding ahead of me. Kelly and I went for pints before heading off to his and Gary's workplace. They were activity directors for handicapped kids and they introduced me to a group of them. So I did some kangaroo hops, threw some balls around and tried to explain rugby league and Aussie Rules to them. Eventually it was time to leave and gary and Kelly drove me down to the Greyhound station. We said our goodbyes and I went and claimed my seat on the bus.
The all night ride finsihed for me at 7.00 a.m. the next morning. There was this joke about Saskatchewan about how boring the landscape is. One guy sees a tree and says "Told you there was something to see."
It summed up that province pretty well. I got off at Regina and walked around. I found a youth hostel, checked it out and got a bunk for the night. The hostel manager was intrigued by my Australianness and asked if I had any Oz money. I pulled out a ten buck note and he swapped me with a Canadian tenner. he was a currency buff so I got out before he had a chance to put corns on my ears. Regina had a museum, which was nice, a park which was nice and where I got involved in a chat with a couple of the local girls. They were nice. It was a nice town. After a burger for dinner I went to a bar and was sipping on my beer when the two young lasses walked in. I waved a beery hello to Christina and Judy and they took my bait. The fools. I plied them with beer, wine, spirits and we talked about the wonders of Saskatchewan, Expo '86 in Vancouver and I told them how Regina reminded me of Paris. Must have been the romantic atmosphere. On the pretext of me needing some fresh air and to stretch my legs after months of bus travel we went for a walk in the park. I positioned myself between them and did the arms over the shoulder drape thing. I kissed Judy, then Chris and then put my arms around their waists. They giggled in a girlish fashion and kissed me back and I started to get evil ideas. There was one question starting to form itself, there in the background, something important. As I kissed Chris again and she giggled girlishly again the question started a thumping at the door. It was very insistent so I went and opened it. The question said to my conscience,
"Age of consent in Canada. Angry fathers with guns. Police. Do these things mean anything?"
Hmmm. Do they? I mean these girls had been served drinks in a bar. Well, not much of an argument there I s'pose. Nothing for it but to work my around to the subject and be sharpish about it.
"Hey Judy, Chrissie. Are you two girls still at school?"
A chorus of giggles was the response. 'Nuff said. I kissed them both again, patted them on their cute little rumps and took them back to the bar. I slammed down a double Jack while the girls visited the bathroom. When they rejoined me it was to kiss me goodnight. Must have been past curfew time. 10.00 was pretty late for a couple of young'uns to be out in the wilds of Regina. Funny place.
I had a dream that night. Well, more of a nightmare really which I'll turm into a really short story.
"You don't know how to deal with a drunken, girl-chasing, goddam Australian sonofabitch until one gets after your daughter." This was what the local Ford dealer told the homicide detective as he tearfully handed over the Colt '45, the one his granpappy had given him back in 1955 and which could be traced back to 1886.
After walking around town the next mroning I caught the midday bus heading east. Another long haul got me to Brandon. I split a few beers with a hippy down at the bus terminal, walked around and decided this was not a place to stay in overnight. I needed a meal so I hit a cafe and had their steak special, washed down with a Blue. After that I noticed the hippy again and we sat around talking about hippy shit. Actually it wasn't hippy shit. This bloke had spent a couple of years hitching and bussing around Central America as well as the U.S., Canada and Europe. We shared a couple of hash joints before another bus came and waltzed me away to Winnipeg. The beat goes on.