The hidden years in Canada 16, the 'twitch'

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Friday 20 March 06:50


The twitch

In the morning Rico still looked pale and we drove towards Place Concorde. ‘Do you fancy pancakes,’ I asked when we drove past Phills's? 'Magic Carpet Ride' came from the speaker of my radio, which was tuned to 114 CKXL. ‘Please do not speak to me about food,’ moaned Rico. ‘But to me it seems a good idea if you have something in your stomach,’ I said, and I realized how I was becoming my ‘brother’s  guardian. ‘That will just have to wait until the Drystale cart comes along, in the break time’, said Rico. ‘ Man, ‘I sighed,’ Steppenwolf Wolff is good, ‘when the last notes of the magic carpet ride ebbed away.

 Rico was in an awefull state and I was worried about him, while I was talking to the cranedriver over the walkie talkie. He got up with mama Fuzz tightening bolts and a strong wind started blowing. Occasionally we had to stop the crane. The crane swung in all directions. Freddy came stepping out of the skip with a double-barreled shotgun, he had been to the Drystale cart. You can never have a normal day, I wondered. ‘I wanna speak to you,’ said Freddy McGee. What have I done now, I thought? ‘Can you look after my twitch,’ he laughed. ‘Do what,’ I wanted to know? ‘My twitch, 303 twitch. I am going to bring it later to the pawnshop and I'll get it back on Thursday after catching my pay again. ‘ ‘Right,’ I said. ‘Why did you take it down to Drystale?’ ‘Then you do not have to stand in line. They all let you go in front. ‘I could picture that. In comes a man with bloodshot eyes caused by heavy drinking, sporting a 303 twitch under his arm, you don’t argue now, do you?


‘Why is it actually called a twitch,’ I asked as I looked in amazement at the barrel, what caliber was it? ‘It stops anything,’ Freddy said, ‘it's an elephant gun. I have inherited from my uncle who has been around a while in South Africa. ‘ ‘Did you just come like this on the bus,’ I asked, and I forgot the whole crane. ‘Yes,’ said Fred, ‘if I take my twitch to the pawnshop, I never have to pay, ‘said Fred. I had to chuckle. ‘Can you give me a ride after work, that  a way.’ I nodded and saw that I should have paid more attention.

The crane swung his load in way too fast. ‘Whoa,’ I called into the walkie talkie. ‘Stop! ‘The cargo like swing, swung on. I should have been more focused on the work and not on Fred and his stupid Twitch. The beam came in too quickly. ‘ Stoop, ‘I called out to mama and Fuzz, did so without hesitation and Rico, poor Rico was swept away. Out of reflex, he threw his arms around the steel beam and shrieked incessantly. If you took an imaginary clock and 6 would have been where the beam had been when it came for Rico and Fuzz than it swung now on to the seventh, one floor above me, slowly delaying its return, passing about 6 direction to 5 on the dial, and now Rico was suspended like a pendulum with beneath him 15 floors. ‘What the fuck,’ it sounded from the walkie talkie, ‘talk me in, quickly,’ the crane operator sounded panicky and I came back to myself. ‘Slowly a meter inside, left, left a meter, slightly. Not too much otherwise you’ll crush my mate. ‘I was myself again, if I gave away instructions as if I was not there, from some distant place without it affecting me.

Now Rico was almost  back on the beam. 'Let go Rico, ‘I yelled,’ if the wind swings the crane than you’re hanging out again. ‘ He only wailed and looked frozen. Mama Fuzz, crawled to him and pried his fingers loose from the beam and almost plunged into the depths. There they sat next to each other in the wind. ‘The beam cannot be unloaded,’ I said into the walkie talkie, 'there's too much wind. Put it back on the ramp, over’. ‘ ‘Okay,’ the voice came back, ‘then I’ll stop, I'm up here in all sorts of conditions, over and out.’


The beam was a meter or two from the building and then quite quickly fell out of the slings to the loading deck far below. Above me were Fuzz and Rico, ‘Down boy,’ I cried, ‘it's the weekend!’ ‘He does not dare to stand up,’ Fuzz replied. They had not clicked safety lines on. I put the panel on the floor next to the twitch and grabbed two dangling safety ropes and began to climb up. I could not click on a safety cord because I had no base belt. I had not expected to do anything else than to operate the panel with the walkie talkie, to talk the crane in. I climbed to the top of the beam and had to fight to keep my balance.

I finally got to the corner of their beam. The wind tugging and tearing at me now. ‘Fuzz,’ I cried, and he looked up. ‘Slide a bit towards me on your ass.’ Slowly he pushed himself away from Rico.'Catch ' I cried and threw him the one line, which he missed and good luck made it close enough on the way back that I could catch it again. ‘Come closer,’ Fuzz, I cried. Fuzz watched with great anxiety in his  eyes as if he could hear the words but did not understand. I tied the line to a corner bar and crawled on hands and knees across the bar to Fuzz. ‘Click on, damn it,’ I said as I handed him the line. Now I had to crawl back backwards and wind gusts tore and pulled at me, sideways on the bar I took a lot of wind, ‘Mama Fuzz, stand up you're safe,’ I said. We had to go down otherwise we would come  faster down than we would like.

‘Listen to me, you big mother,’ I said, 'here is line 2, you walk back and then get Rico , then you help him click on and stand up and if he does not succeed, then you kick him off the beam. Is that clear? ' Fuzz nodded blankly. He walked with uncertain steps leaning into the wind towards Rico. He bowed to click on the line and the wind fell away. He blocked the view of Rico. Suddenly came a whooping gust and Mama Fuzz slipped from his grip and stepped into space and with him Rico. At 1 meter height above the surface of the 14th they were hanging as a bunch of unsuccessful birds. Fate had spared Rico, he had clicked on just in time under the slipping Fuzz. Lip came stepping out of the elevator, ‘what is happening here,’ he asked.

‘Look,’ he said, ‘that's good, boys with strong winds always click your line on. Well, let them down or do we leave them dangling until Monday,‘ laughed the lip? Freddy and I released the ropes over the pulleys and the lip said, ‘Houston, we have touchdown.’


'Monday we have to work longer, boys,’ said Louis, ‘that floor can’t wait. ‘A little later we got out of the cage and Freddy took us to the car with his twitch. ‘I'd rather you keep it pointed at the ground,’ I said, and I thought of the elephants that had been felled by the cannon. The Pontiac started the first time I turned the key and the radio began immediately with ‘All Along the Watchtower,’ played by the man who a few years later would achieve fame as the best guitarist in the world, Jimmy Hendrix.

San Daniel March 2015

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