The hidden years in Canada, 21, the 'twitch' II

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Tuesday 24 March 20:21

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The twitch II

The last notes died away from Otis Redding, who sang how he was ‘sitting at the top of the bay,’ and I turned away CKXL. We glided through the night to the Queen's already looming up in front of us. The bar undeniably was in a bad neighborhood. The streets were poorly lit and it was one of the few drinking places behind the train station. Later in my life I have sometimes wondered how it is that you often have gritty bars around train stations. The Queen's was a gritty bar with neon lights over the threshold that you had to cross. It was a bar for the people who were rough in nature and who elsewhere felt less welcome.

The sign with the ladies, which announced that it was ladies night had flickering lights around it as you saw at times with cable lights around Christmas. It was Thursday evening you could not be mistaken. We walked away from the Pontiac and arrived at the double doors where the bouncer had to keep an eye on who was and who was not to enter. ‘So gentlemen,’ the man said in his usual greeting, ‘are we going to visit the little ladies tonight?’ He did not wait for an answer, ‘you must not forget the doorman 'and he held out his hand. Both Richard and I dropped a couple of quarters in his hand. ‘Have a nice evening men,’ the primate wished us and you know it right? ‘Stuff it before you snuff it!’ He meant well, but it was another proof for me that day that we were walking around in a wrong world.

The large drinking area was blue with smoke and a few cowboys stood about in neat shirts, already hoisting beer down at the bar. They had pushed their hats back. Suddenly I understood why ‘Toby's jug’ had a coat and hat stand, they just wanted to be a bar with a bit more class. Not like, I do not have time to take off my hat, I  just want to gulp down a few quick pints. Little things often make big differences. I saw the lip from a distance, he held court. Around him were Little Joe and mama Fuzz and a little apart from them Freddy McGee. ‘Hey you big mother,’ he shouted from afar and I felt a kind of sentimental attachment to them, while I wanted to turn and walk away. Everyone at work tried to stay on their feet in their own way. He waved exuberantly with one arm high in the air. I waved back and we walked over to the table.

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Freddy looked as though he was already sloshed. It was clear, he had not gone to wherever he lived to wash himself and change clothes. He looked shabby and  unshaven in his work clothes. He has come straight from the pawnshop here, I thought. He looked up and nodded at us. A cowboy band started playing ‘I walk the line’, from Johnny Cash. The typical Country Western, nasal voice began to sing why he found it easy to stay straight, right from prison. Yes I thought what love cannot achieve. The rounds of beer followed each other at a rate that was far too high. Before I knew it, I sank into a state of accepted oblivion. The door opened with a bang and three Indians stepped inside. I knew the first fully well, as he came bursting in provocatively. He stopped and looked around like if he was searching for someone. It was the man who had been ridiculed by Freddy.

He still had a feather in his headband, his eye wandered spying around and paused at our table for a second, then he turned and said something to his two companions. As they walked to the bar the door opened again overly hard and in stepped two more braves. Freddy looked up and clutched his head, 'oh the demons, ‘he said,’ my head is splitting in two. ‘‘ Waiter, ‘the lip called out,' do us a round here and he turned to Freddy,  ‘Fred no crap today, I want to have fun. ‘The waiter dropped the gigantic tray down and each of us had two more pints in front of him. I made the calculation that I would often do in bars, we were with six of us and Freddy was known to be dangerous. The Indians who were huddled together were with five.

I had a bad feeling that it was no coincidence that they had come this evening. There was something dark between us and them. I had felt that the big Indian had searched for us and had tracked us. It looked like they were drinking themselves some courage, they downed beers at an alarming rate. I intended to stay away from them and going to the toilet to empty my bladder, I decided to do so in the more distant toilets. Cowboys right and left of the Indians had moved away a few steps, sideways, and now the Indian group became the center group at the bar. Feather boy now turned around with his glass in his hand, he had not learned much since his last encounter with Freddy, he still held his glass in his right hand and his bowie knife was  stuck at the left in his belt. Freddy would have said ‘he is vulnerable, the man is right handed, and his knife is on his left hand side.’

A girl came walking in and looked about in a shy way and then walked to the bar, it was Shirly, the girlfriend of the pancake girl. She was not supposed to be here, she belonged in Toby's jug. The bartender put a Coke in front of her and I just thought, I'm going to greet her and invite her to our table when the great Indian put his arm around her. With a look of horror, she tried to free herself. I thought I'll go get her and got up. ‘Good show  big mother,’ cried Freddy. ‘We cannot allow the filthy bastard  groping our white women, 'and he jumped up. Holy shit, Freddy thought I was looking for a quarrel with the Indians. ‘Hey,’ he called out to the Indian. ‘You are the son of Chief shitting bull, stay away from our squaws. My friend is standing up and so am I. What is it with you red devils, don’t  you get the spear up with your own squaws?

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It was too late, the clock had been set in motion and ran out of sync with the times. The band stopped playing and I thought it looked like a damned  déjà vú, I was here but I wasn’t. Everything went slow motion, Little Joe stood next to Freddy and the lip sighed, straightened his back and then stood beside me. Fuzzy was not on, he muttered, ‘I don’t give a fuck what happens here, I’ll remain seated.’ Rico was half standing behind me. ‘Why are you doing this?’ He asked in a  surprised, but reproachful tone? ‘I wanted to invite Shirly and Mcgee and thought that I wanted to tackle the Indian.’ ‘No return,’ said Rico, 'we cannot back down. Then they’ll slaughter Freddy. ‘The Indian with the feather came slow mo towards us, it took  forever, he held his glass loosely in his right hand and then I saw why. The four others had left the bar and pulled each a knife and held it loosely in a relaxed manner and the blades moved hypnotically along with their wrists. Feather boy had brought four Indian Freddies from the reservation. They were knife fighters. My blood froze. Featherboy did not need to do anything, we would be cut to pieces.

‘So big boy,’ said the Indian, 'so you challenge me because I feel up your slut? ‘ He looked at me studying me and rocking his head back and forth. I picked up my glass without taking my gaze from feather boy and I thought one more step in my direction and I ‘ll break my glass on the back of my chair than at least I have something in my hands. That step came and I broke my glass. ‘Do not come any closer,’ I warned, and I kept the broken glass in front of me. ‘I have no problem with you. '‘ Rub it  in the face of chief fuck face, ‘Freddy advised me over loud, his eyes sparkling,’ rub it and twist it,’ Chief shitting bull stopped and nodded at his mates. Unwittingly, I had become the center of a conflict that was not mine. As if it was an illegal cockfight  the other bar visitors formed a wide circle around us, as not to miss anything. One brave stood beside the chief and the other three walked slowly towards me, intimidating me. They bent their backs and leaned forward holding out the knife hand at shoulder height, slowly stepping towards me as if they were searching for balance, splitting the air through which they moved.

The chief wanted to say something and raised his hand theatrically, his murderers were standing a few paces from me and looked at me with deep concentration. I heard beside me a glass break, on the same seat edge, ‘I stand beside you man,’ said Rico's voice, ‘if we go, we will always take a few with us.’ Fuzzy was livid at the table and pushed his chair back a little. ‘ Hauw white thrash, white junk, ‘the chief began,’ your earthly days are coming to an end. We are going to open you, big boy, and then we will watch your guts spill out and then will do your mates in. ‘ ‘Wait,’ Freddy said loudly, ‘I need to sit down.’ Everyone looked at him in surprise, this was so unexpected that all concentration dropped .. He fell back in his chair and leaned over the table, with his hand, he reached under the table and he jumped back on his feet, he charged with one smooth motion the Twitch. Click, click.. two barrels loaded.

'First drop all your knives otherwise I’ll blast Chief fuck face to his hunting grounds. ‘Feather boy stared with bulging eyes in to the two barrels of the elephant gun and barely visible, he nodded to his braves. Four knives clattered to the ground. ‘Put your glass down and sit down,’ said the lip, which I did, and the others followed example. ‘The bouncer is making a call,’ explained the lip. ‘Just all of you redskins, line neatly up in a row,’ said Freddy, ‘then chief fucking bull can suck the barrels and then we can see how many we can put down with one shot.’ The sweat was pouring down feather boy’s face ‘Open your mouth Big Chief,’ ordered Freddy, ‘or I will shoot your knee off.’ ‘Freeze,’ it sounded, ‘don't nobody move! ‘With guns drawn police came barging in from the various entrances. ‘What is going on here,’ came the gruff voice of a giant policeman. The lip rose to his feet slowly, very carefully. ‘ You can see it for yourself, ‘he said,’ five Indians against one of us. ‘

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Unlock your gun, ‘barked the man.’ Unlock your gun, ‘he barked louder now.’ I count to three and then we'll shoot you down like a dog. Unlock and place it at your feet. ‘ Two clicks shoved the security in place. 'On the ground! lay it on the ground, ‘roared the man. When Fred did so, he cried out ‘handcuff the Indians and the man and run all those mothers in.’ One policeman picked up the knives and another took the gun. Then they kicked and beat the prisoners to the exit. Shirly came running towards us. ‘Why are you here,’ I asked? ‘This is the cowboy bar, right, and it's ladies night. ‘ I thought I'd see you here. You did not call me! ‘ Then she changed tone, ‘that was very brave of you to protect my honor,no one has ever done something like that for me.’ I said nothing. ‘Come sit with us, ‘suggested the lip.’ Shall we go to Toby's, ‘said Shirly while she gave  the lip a disapproving glance and that seemed like a great idea to me.

San Daniel March 2015

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