The Canadian years, 56 beasty

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Wednesday 14 January 08:50

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Beasty

My brother came in and spoke to me immediately. ‘So young man, we're going to get your Pontiac,’ he said.I had forgotten, we were going to get the Laurentian!’ How do we go about that,’ I wanted to know, ‘You can not drive two cars.’ ‘Of course not,’ my brother said,’ that would be incredibly clever.’  ‘You,’ and he pointed at me,’may use your learner's license only next to someone with a driving license, so us three will go.’ My sister dried her hands that she had just rinsed under the tap and said, ‘nice, let's go right away.’

There she was, shining in the sunlight, I saw her from afar, a big wide machine, as you see in gangster movies, but with faded, very faded paint. When we stopped, we walked around for a moment. On the dashboard was a white sign; 'sold', it read. There were strange red license plates on it. ‘Those are garage plates,’my brother pointed out, which I have put on today, because then the car is insured, say covered, from the garage to the house. When we get home, I'll take those plates off again and tomorrow they’ll be back here in the garage.’ Oh,’ I nodded, I had never heard of it before but it seemed like a good plan.

‘Don’t drive it until you have the license in your pocket and you have a car insurance, promise me you will not ride in the car without having paid insurance and tax. A car can be a murder weapon, especially one like this, which is a colossus’.’ I promise’, I said. ‘In my free time, I will give it a good check over and a tune up, so you can drive safely, that is, if you want me to,’ laughed my brother.. ‘Get in. ’Am I driving,’ I asked? ‘They're your wheels boy.’ My sister went to sit on the bench next to me. ‘Never let another one drive in your car,’ said my sister. I nodded and looked at the chrome dashbord. It had an elongated speed meter that ran above the steering wheel and I saw that it could could do 120 miles per hour.

  I turned the key and the engine immediately fired with a deep rumble that you hear only from American cars. I was hooked and addicted to the sound the moment it revealed itself. For the first time in my life I heard what techies in my family, called  "the ghost in the machine", the engine's inspiration and I understood it. ‘Give some gas,’ my brother said. He had heard a tap. The tapping sound ran along with the increasing engine roar. ‘Let go at once,’  he said, and I could hear the ticking decreasing along with the revolutions of the engine. ‘That is a combustion valve,’ he said, I will look at it, but I first need a valve cover gasket. It is not a bearing than you would hear a whistling sound.

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‘Come watch this,’ he said from under the big hood, the hoses to and from the cooling are in good condition. He pulled a dipstick from the engine.’ Black’, he said, ‘the oil is black. If it had been gray, then water would have mingled through cracks in the cylinder wall, water with oil, which is not the case, and you should be happy, otherwise you would have a leaking head.’  ‘Come with me to the back’. We stood at the exhaust pipes which were mounted both left and far right. ‘Pay attention’, he said. He pressed his palms over the openings. He took his hands away again. On his palms were two black circles.’ Look,’ my brother said, ‘no condense formation’ and he sniffed at his palms, ‘the combustion is good.’ If your driving home, turn your head,’ he continued, if you see a blue gray cloud  from the outlets than the compression is buggered and  it evaporates straight through clearance of the piston, the gas from the manifold.’

Suddenly I saw the similarity between my brother and my father. He truly loved mechanics and was a changed man as he stood there explaining to me  why the Pontiac had been a good buy. ‘Follow me’, he said, the heavy hood with a heavy steel kloongk sound dropped closed. I had to get used to the car, it was enormously wide and I went gently around curves and was glad I ended up with no dents in the back alley. My sister said that she felt that the car was too big and I had to admit it was a battleship. I got out and my brother drove the Laurentian backwards into the workshop. He took the dealer plates off and laid them in his mustang,.

‘She's beautiful’, I said. ‘Yes, ‘agreed, my brother, ‘she has something.’ I'm going to wash up inside now,’ said my brother, ‘but  before going in,  I’ll put two stones down here and you take place in my car, because you soon will ride off in my car and you park in reverse gear, always between two stones. I'll give you a tip. Take a fixed point in the mirror, drive backwards past the first stone, and if you're one third passed the stone, then turn sharply. Also make sure you have enough space width wise. If you must do the test, then you park between movable poles, if you hit the posts or the base of the posts, then you've flunked it

Fifteen minutes later, he came to see how things were going. ‘Park it in once more,’ he ordered. I estimated, because nerves, the distance wrong and touched the stone. ‘That was rubbish,’ my brother said. ‘Keep that stone in your side mirror, at a fixed point and insert sharp around.’ It immediately went well. ‘That was not bad at all,’ said my brother, ‘do it again.’ After five consecutive times of good parking, my brother said, ‘tomorrow you can go up for your test.’

We walked home together and I was grateful to my brother, we were really good friends, but that stood to reason, we had also been through  a lot over the years ..’ I will miss you,’ I said, ‘ when you're gone to Edmonton.’ The appreciation I felt was possibly due to his coming departure, and increased by leaps for my brother. Now I saw besides some negative sides, a cluster of positive sides in him. I was glad he was going back to school, in addition to working at Air Canada and I thought it wise that he wanted to do mechanical engineering. ‘I will not miss you’ he said teasingly, ‘then I can finally use my own brylcreme and my aftershave and my pocket combs don’t go missing.’ So we came in laughing and all and we disappeared through the kitchen into the gloom.

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The table was laid out and my mother was already in her seat. ‘This boy,’ my father said to me, ‘is Betsy.’ I nodded, ‘pleased to meet you,’ I said. She said nothing back but gave me a peculiar look. ‘They have talked about me,’ I realized. and I decided to test her a bit. ‘I hope you'll be comfortable here’, I said. There was a gloom around her and a triumphant smile slipped on her face, ‘she thinks that she has wrapped me up,’ I thought. ‘Thank you,’ Betsy said, ‘I like this house.’ The remark struck me as being odd but I could not put my finger on it. ‘Well children,’ said Betsy, ‘hold your plate out.’ She scooped up the little ones, and then my brother and me and I thought, you can’t seriously call us children? My sister was eight years older than I was, and that would be about the difference with what Betsy had been. We let it happen. ’Right Big Dan’, she said to my father, ‘the best horse of the stable may not be forgotten.’

‘Good God,’ she had called my father by his first name in an easy, familiar way. She smiled at him and he smiled back and my mother poked at her food. This was absurd. ‘Mother goose will eat last when her family is satisfied,’ she joked now .. Boy did she take liberties, totally out of place. But I saw my father only smile. She had put her self after only a couple of hours at the place of my mother and I realized that this was more than strange. My father and Betsy were so relaxed with each other, they knew each other much better than from the occasional conversation about work, I was sure about it. She found, that we were all her family and you could only imagine that, if you had been prepared for such a situation. My stomach turned and I decided to observe them well.

‘Tomorrow,’ my father said, ‘Auntie Jet and Uncle Hank are coming to stay with us.’  ‘How nice,’ said Betsy,’ then I can meet them as well. One big happy family.’ This is insanity at its best, I thought, and I wanted to scream for help from my toes up to my creator, to stop this and not to allow this. I saw what was going to happen and I was powerless. ‘So you will need to cook some more’, Betsy said to my sister, who looked at her open-mouthed. ‘I have to do what,’ she asked Betsy? Cook more,’ Betsy said, ‘if more people come, then more will be eaten. ‘You,’ said my sister, ‘do not ever tell me again what I need to do.’ ‘I will repeat that slowly so you can understand that, right?’ God almighty, my sister was on the warpath. ‘Yes, my father said, with emphasis, ‘it still is a little different, than you might imagine. In my house I determine the rules and if Betsy says you should cook more, then it is wise for you to do so. Do you understand that or will I repeat that slowly for you?’

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‘Ah, Big Dan,’ said Betsy,’ the girl meant well.’ She had called my sister, my beautiful caring sister, the loving sister of mine, in whom’s shadow she could never stand, she had labelled her, as a girl. I realized that in the first encounter between my sister and Betsy, my father had sided with Betsy and thus automatically he had turned against his eldest daughter. Betsy spoke from a dominant position, which could only take place, if there was trusted relationship between my father and her. ‘It is regrettable,’ said my sister, ‘ but I have other plans, I'm going out tomorrow with my boyfriend for dinner.’ I wondered whether Hans already knew and unwittingly I chuckled a little. ’You like that,’ my father asked me in a threatening way? I looked at my plate. ‘That does not change a thing,’ said Betsy, ‘then you’ll cook prior to going out , I am sure that Big Dan would agree to that, and then you go and eat elsewhere, if you want, so you only have to cook for one more.’ ‘My sister had reached the boiling point but contained herself. ‘That is possible,’ she said, ‘I have no problem with that. ‘Oh yeah’ Betsy said, ‘something else, I do not really like rice so do something nice with potatoes.’ My father who had always insisted on eating rice, nodded and agreed. ‘Yes,’ he smiled, ‘ that would be nice, and Aunt Jet and Uncle Hank don’t prefer to eat rice either.

Betsy had come in to our home and was immediately very present and she had shuffled the cards, the li’l ones din’t notice, bus us three older older ones did though. ‘Hmm, do I know your friend’, Betsy asked over playing her hand? ‘I hope not,’ said my sister, ‘have you known many men?’ Phew that hit home alright, Betsy turned bright red. ‘Right,’ my father said, ‘I think we've finished our meal, the table can be cleared.’ ‘I will help you’, I told my sister not to give her a chance to worsen things even more. ‘Thank you,’ she said, you're a good li’l boy.’ I froze, my sister was on the warpath and had stepped into a war dance , one from which there was no escape. ‘I’ll  help as well,’ said my brother and so the little ones disappeared to get a bath before turning in and Betsy? Betsy sat with my mother and my father at the table, ‘I'd like to help ‘but', she said, ‘I must take care of your poor sick mother’. ‘Hurt just one hair of her’s and you die,’ I thought. But I smiled, ‘she needs all the attention,’I said: ‘You are wise boy’, said Betsy with a laugh and again I thought, ‘she thinks that she has got me wrapped up.

My sister started, ‘you heard what ninny’ said to me? ‘Yes,’ I said, but you should not show your emotions so much’.. ‘I heard that and she is no good’. ‘Well, well’,  said my brother, ‘no good, those are big words’. I'll explain it to you slowly’, I said, with a sour grin. ‘Mom is disabled and Betsy is already taking her place, and that's absurd.’ ‘That I' will not permit,’ my brother said. ‘I am afraid it is only a formality now’, I replied, ‘and that we have very little to permit. What does she know about nursing or care? She is as old as Beverly man!’ ‘Who is that now’, asked my brother? ‘Ah, someone from my class’, I said. ‘Someone special,’ teased my brother? ‘No’, I said, ‘hmm actually yes, but that's not the point, she is as old as I am. Betsy already has a child, she has never worked in nursing. Where is that kid anyway?’ My sister looked at me, ‘tomorrow’ she spoke slowly, ’Betsy and Dad  are going to buy a dresser and a craddle and stuff. Now the baby is with a friend of Beasty.’ ‘You mean Betsy’, I asked, grinning? ‘Oh, what's in a name’ said my sister.? ‘Beasty or Betsy, it's the same person, only one name describes her better I think.’

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‘While we are here I want to discuss something else, something serious’, I said. ’You only discuss serious things,’ my brother said. ‘Man, let it go, you have got wheels, you should be occupied only by that simple fact.’ ’Yes, I like them very much,’I said, ‘but this is important.’ ‘Dad has been harassing her’ and I pointed to my sister.’What do you mean harassing,’ asked my brother? ‘Unwanted tricky touches and all.’ ‘ I can not believe that,’ my brother said, ‘are you insane’, and he looked at me intently. ‘It is true,’ said my sister,’ it's very unpleasant.’ ‘I will..will..,’began my brother ...’ No,’ I interrupted him, ‘you will do nothing, tomorrow I'll talk to you on the way to the driving test. I think I know how we can solve this. I wanted you to hear it firsthand.’

‘Man,’ my brother said, and he looked bewildered, is there no end to it, everything gets worse every day, what's happening?’ He sounded so desperate.’ That's why I'm leaving’, he suddenly said, and I knew he had given me the real reason. ‘There is too much going on, I can not handle it any longer.’ ‘Young ones,’ sounded Betsy's voice, ‘Dad and I are ready for coffee.’ ‘ Beasty has spoken’, said my sister.

San Daniel 2015

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