The Canadian years,33, the dust stoppers

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Sunday 14 December 16:48


Neighbor Bile

The bear was processed into portions that were still suitable for a family meal. My father, cut and boned out and my brother and me turned the crank of the meat grinder until we had a paralyzed arm. Meat has an unpleasant smell and I would not have made a good butcher. I had no sympathy with the bear. It was hunt and be hunted. He would certainly have slain me if he would have had the chance. Eventually we were ready and the bear was processed and converted into hams and strips off his back and lay frozen in the freezer. The snow was gone now, only 'Up North' where we had hunted, it was still pitifully cold. My father had told the bear story at the table and he praised me for my shot, that had struck the bear first. To my sisters, he said, ‘and your brother did not run away, he stood waiting for the bear, which requires courage ..’ In truth, I had been frozen in terror. My sisters looked at me astonished. ‘Were you  not scared,'  asked the oldest of the little ones to me? I wanted to  answer but my father beat me to it, ‘when you hunt,’ he said, ‘you're always afraid.’ I thought that was an odd statement, but I understood him, you were just ruler over life and death and held that in your hands when you pulled the trigger.

A rising sound was fast approaching, and my father looked out the kitchen window, ‘that must stop’, he muttered. A long trail of dust raised up now, hung over the 'alley', caused by neighbor Bile, who thought it was great fun to race his small half ton truck through the alley and then watch in his rearview mirror the dust bellowing up behind him. The ground was dry, very dry, after months of frost and the neighbor liked to rush through the "alley" and thereby cause great dust clouds. ‘It’ll make my car dusty’, my father said gloomily, ’that man has no manners.’ My father had spoken to him a few times, and then Bile replied invariably, ‘it's a free world, neighbor, what are you going to do about it?’ Then he parked his small truck and walked through the gate into his elongated garden, past his vegetable beds and to his back door. Supposedly funny he would wave to my father. My father felt the not meant greeting and realized that it was intended as an insult, and it surprised me that he shrugged his shoulders at a certain time and waved back. That was so not like him.

My father saw my puzzled look and asked, ‘what do you notice about neighbor Bile?’ I started with, 'he does not take you very serious and he always rushes down the alley at the same time'. ’ ‘Brilliant’, said my father,’ if you cannot do anything else, than you can always still contact the police’.’ Yes,’ my father continued, ‘never underestimate your enemies, then your days are counted. My father was so terribly stuck in power thinking. ‘You're planning something’, I asked cautiously? ‘I'm going to take him out,’ my father said simply.

I could feel the annoyance build up in him as he looked out the kitchen window. ‘Tomorrow this comes to an end’, he said.’ Please,’ he asked me, ‘bring me tomorrow from Safeways, a large paper shopping bag.’ I nodded obediently. I did not know what my father was up to, but it could not be much good and it had to do with neighbor Bile.’ In my mind I saw him jump on Bile, pull the bag over his head, beat him up and then ask, ‘what are you going to do about it?’ ‘It is a free world.’


On the way home I stopped at Safeways, my colleagues greeted me from behind the counter and I took a big paper bag. "Safeway, worthy of your trust" it said in red letters on the side. My father took it from me when I got home and said, ‘walk along you are about to learn something useful.’. He looked at his watch, ‘five minutes to go’, he said, ‘ till our neighbor comes conjuring up dusty storms.’ He unfolded the bag and walked to the back path. I saw him looking with a measuring eye. ‘Here’, he spoke at last,' this will do' and he put the bag on the ground, right in the track hardened by many passing tires. ‘Keep it as open, so it does not blow away, will you.’ He walked to the trunk of his car, and pulled out a big heavy boulder. ‘I just found it,’ he said, ‘from the Bowriver, huh?’

The boulder fit in the bag and my father twisted the top of the bag into a spout. Now there was an accidental brown, blown about bag, on the path.’ No’, I said, ‘Dad , you can’t do this, Bile might crash. ‘That is most feasible,’ said my father,’ but yes, then again it is a free world. We cannot live his life for him. He is free to drive over the bag or not. You should never hinder people in their choices.’ I knew for sure now, my father was dangerously intelligent, life threatening dangerous. He was capable of terrible things if he could only justify them to himself.’ It is not in our hands’, now he had made me a partaker, by the word 'our'.’ It is now irreversible’, said my father,’ if you want to remove the bag and he’ll come charging down he’ll see you.’ ‘Fate will determine his ways’. And fate determined the trajectory of neighbor Bile and how!! ‘Won’t you rather go inside,’ I asked? ‘No, I  like him to see me,’ said my father, ‘so he’ll know where the blow comes from and then I can wave at him.’

There was a rumble of a heavy car that came racing down the alley, dust was being raised and neighbor Bile came charging down. ‘We are first row boy’, said my father, proudly and he put his hand on my shoulder. The right front wheel of the half ton truck hit the bag and the steering wheel flew from the hands of neighbor Bile, who by then had plowed through his own wooden fence and sank halfway through his garden, to the axles in a vegetable bed. The engine conked out. We saw that neighbor Bile had smashed his head into his windshield. ‘Gosh’, my father, ‘ he has got a hard head, that was  safety glass.’ This was the time when safety belts yet had to make their appearance. ‘Look fate is favorable to him,’ said my father, ‘he's alive.’ A neighbor Bile with a bleeding head came rolling out of his cabin. He clutched his forehead and then looked in disbelief at his bloodied hand. ‘What the fuck happened,’ asked neighbor Bile, as he looked with great astonished eyes at my father.’ Yes,’ my father said, ‘from what I saw, you forgot to brake, nice day neighbor,’ and he waved to him with a happy smile.’ ‘Come on boy’, my father said, ‘we cannot stand about chatting with neighbors all day. ‘There are always at least two ways to solve a problem’, my father said, as we walked to the back door. ‘This was the right way.’

San Daniel 2014

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