The hidden years in Canada 9, the Queen's

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 12 March 09:50

 

The Queen’s

The premises were smoky and began to fill up with the expectant buzz of a night out. The waiter came over and looked questioningly at us, ‘ gentlemen.?’ ‘A round,’ I said and my finger made a circle  around the table. The man nodded and walked away, it would be a long evening and a long night for him. The first sounds of a cowboy band found their way across the tables. A cowboy with a buckskin jacket with long fringes and a white Stetson, walked forward. He just tapped the microphone while he said 'testing. '‘Tok, tok,’ it sounded hard and loud from the speaker boxes. The volume level was really high. But as the evening would you would hear the band only as background thump and the murmur would resemble a Jewish church and talking to each other was limited  to the most necessary and bent forward, because otherwise you would not understand each other. The human henhouse and the poor acoustics of the room made sure of that.

The band started playing ‘the fugitive,’ and I understood why drifters and cowboys applied for it so often. The text was a tearjerker, being lonely and on the run. After every road there is always one more city .. The fugitive touched on many situations from the downside of life  and the song came licking neatly from the boxes. At the last chords a couple of cowboys started yelling at the bar. ‘Yoo hoo’ and they uttered cries of encouragement in the spirit of 'ride em cowboy.' The atmosphere began to get smoky. The waiter put down a large tray with 10 pints on it and that was good as we were with five. I settled the round and Freddy sipped with an eagerness that betrayed the alcoholic in him. Unnoticed the bar began filling up with cowboys and washed and shaven workers. The band now set in 'running bear'. Yep, cowboy folk want cowboy songs.

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After two rounds, we had become timeless and we laughed relaxed about all kinds of nonsense. The only one who had a bad drink, himself was Freddy, he became quieter and darkness started to hang around him. With a shock, I realized that it was a long time since I felt coming darkness. But he spread it around. There was something in the air and we should have left but didn’t. After a while, a few Indians came in. They remained close are joined together and where they were standing at the bar was room. ‘There are the bastards,’ Freddy said gloomily,’ in a white man's world, in his own bar. He downed his pint in a gulp and let a loud long stretched burp echo. To a passing waiter, he made a gesture of a round.

I had often noticed at work, the dumber the people, the more they discriminated. Something like a last stand in life, you could do stupid work but you were at least white and then immediately followed the stories about jungle bunnies, it was only after a few times and following  sentences that I had understood that a jungle bunny was a nickname for a Negro. After a few months, you knew that a coon, a nigger, a jungle bunny, all were names for coloureds. A Wop was a nickname for an Italian variant of humanity. A kike was a Jewish Canadian and there were only cuss words and jokes about Ucranians. The low-skilled workers saw hardworking immigrants come in and felt threatened and then you have to give that fear a name to diminish it. I've never had to deal with more discrimination than in construction in Canada.

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‘Look,’ said Freddy, ‘we can not allow that, and he pointed to a large Indian who tried to chat up one of the hookers. She pushed him away and had her attention to a group of cowboys that typically had come to spend their money in the big city. The man was huge and had a bowie knife hanging from a belt, pressed against his body. A trapper I assumed. Two feathers sported  the back of his head, from a band that was pulled tightly around his forehead. The Indian was not discouraged and tried to pull her to him. ‘What do you see in him,’ said Freddy? ‘Nothing special,’ I replied. Freddy looked through an alcoholic haze at me in surprise. ‘ He is right handed, ‘said Freddy,’ because he holds his beer in his right hand.‘ ‘Yes,’ I said? ‘His knife is left under his belt, he is now vulnerable. If your hand is filled with beer you can never pull your knife and he has a problem because he wants to be cool with white bitches. ‘

Freddy got up, 'no huh, ‘said the lip,’ it was just fun, the way it was. ‘ The band began to play the fugitive again. ‘Come here, 'he said to me and fool that I was, I got up, without really realizing what Freddy was planning. ‘Hey Big Chief, ‘Freddy now called to the bar,’ I'm standing up and so is my friend. I don’t like your red gob. ‘ The Indian almost choked with anger. ‘ You are hasseling my squaw. ‘ He turned around and slowly walked towards us. ‘We can not allow that you want to mount my squaw.’ A second Indian turned and walked a few steps away from the bar. ‘Are there no more squaws in your teepee,’ cried Freddy. Is it the fire water, don’t you get  get it up anymore? What is your name, floppy spear?'

You could see it happenening and I had unwittingly become part of the whole. The music fell silent and the singer looked with interest from behind his microphone to the scene that was unfolding. The cowboys got away from the bar. The hooker a girl in her late twenties took a few steps away from the group and looked at us with attention. I would learn in a few months that women love it if there is a fight over them, which is something primal that has not been erased through evolution. ‘Honky hey, you speak with big mouth,’ said the Indian. Gradually a circle formed around us, I looked around me, where was the bouncer? He stood looking away, rolling with great concentration a cigarette and then searched his pockets for a fire, when he took his first puff, he looked with great attention the other way.

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‘I bet 10 to one on the Indian,’ a cowboy voice said. ‘ Taken, ‘said another man,’ that is dangerous Freddy. Now we had become major players in betting. Everything had gone too far, there was no way back, ride'em cowboy, there was no turning back. Freddy had become another man who studied the great Indian with deep intense attention. The Indian, stopped a few steps away from us and his mate walked up to me. ‘ Hey, ‘I said, 'this is between them, I have nothing against you. Stay out here. If you stay out of it, I will too. ‘ He took a step towards me. I planted my feet firmly on the ground. ‘Do your self a favor,’ I said, 'If you come any closer, I'll kill you so your mother won’t recognize you anymore. ‘ The button was pushed, I would not step back, I would sit out the ride, ride em cowboy, I was ready for it, however it would expire.

‘Try something fuck face,’ Freddy said, ‘are you a son of chief fuck face, or are you one of cowardly dog.’ ‘You will die,’ said the Indian, and he jumped forward. There was a flash through the air and glistening steel searched its way to the heart region. The Indian dropped his glass and looked in amazement at the breast pocket of his shirt, it was cut. In the hand of Freddy danced a knife along  with his wrist. I had learned to recognize the real knives artist. If you fold a fist around your knife, with your thumb above the blade then you can only stab up and if you hold your knife down so so that the blade, is the closest thing to you little finger, than you can only go stab down.

The danger lies in the person who holds the knife slightly, sideways located in hand. That knife has optimal mobility. It moves almost hypnotizingly with the joint of the wrist. Fred was an artist, a real artist, the blade made small circles with his wrist, and threatened with minor variations the face and the heart of the region, of the Indian that had gone pale. I saw the fear in his eyes, he realized what we all saw, Fred was a killer, his life was in Fred's hand, knife in hand. ‘Turn around if you want to live,’ hissed Fred. ‘Mister,’ said the Indian who stood in front of me, ‘ask your friend not to kill my nephew.’ ‘Shut up,’ I said, ‘I warn you, you're breaking the concentration.’

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Chief fuckface turn around, ‘ ordered Fred. He would surely not stab him in the back? Trembling, the Indian turned around, his life was now really in the hands of Fred. Beads of sweat stood out on his forehead. ‘This is the end of the line, fuck face. ‘ Fred stepped forward and pulled the Bowie knife from the belt of the Indian, he weighed it in hand and a whip movement of the wrist he threw the knife towards the bar. Trembling it was hanging with the tip deeply buried into the wood of the bar just above the foot rail. ‘ Three steps forward Big Chief and I want to hear you count, ‘Fred said aloud. The Indian counted loudly, one two and three and stopped. ‘Turn around big chief,’ said Freddy 'and look at me. Look me right to my head and  don’t forget my face, because if you see it again then you’re hanging off my knife. '

 

‘Get your shit and get out.’ With his eyes focused on the Indian. Fred now moved himself a few steps back. The man turned, walked to the bar and bent down and pulled his knife out of the wood. His friend, who was still standing in front of me said, ‘good luck.’ ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘the same to you.’ They both walked out under yells of abuse through the exit and a moment later they had left the white man's world. ‘That was a good laugh,’ Freddy said as he sat down again. I had just seen Freddy in action. 'Thanks for the back cover, ‘he continued, and in the meantime he waved to the girl. ‘Are you alright,’ he wanted to know, ‘take a drink then I’ll have a nice job for you. I had a mental picture of them. ‘You saved my honor,’ she laughed and I thought, we have come past a few years too late to do so . ‘We better get going,’ Rico said, and I agreed with him in that.

 

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