The hidden years in Canada 68, tough boys

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Tuesday 23 June 07:35

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Tough boys

The juxebox vomited out Jambalaya when we stepped inside the coffee bar. The nasal voice of Hank Williams welcomed us. It was not crowded and we could have easily sat down at a table but we walked into the bar where Norma Jeanne was just walking around with a jug of steaming coffee.'Hi boys, ‘she shouted from afar,’ how are you doin’? ‘ ‘Hi Norma Jeanne,’ I said, ‘is there coffee today?’ ‘Ah,’ she said, ‘ boy is there coffee? It is steaming from the can! ‘ In that case do me two coffeee,’ I laughed, ‘and Norma Jeanne have you got  some sandwiches that we can take out?’ ‘Not ready,’ she said, ‘but tell me what you want on it and I’ll fix them for you.’ ‘We do not care as long as long as you don’t put milky stuff on them.’ ‘Hey,’ she asked? ‘Cheese and such, Norma Jeanne,’ I explained. ‘Till what time are you open,’ I wanted to know. ‘Maybe we can stop on the way back.’

‘Well,’ she said, ‘ normally Bobby Joe comes to pick me up around 11am but that won’t happen for some time, with his broken leg and arm and stuff.’ ‘Whew,’ said Rico, 'Stamper, eh? ‘ ‘Oh man,’ said Norma Jeanne, ‘that Bobby Joe just wanted to impress me and it's so stupid because I like him as he is. So he starts a little fight with some bear of a guy ‘ ‘The Stamper,’ Rico said again. ‘Hey,’ sounded a familiar voice behind us, ‘the city dudes are here again and chatting again with my girl, huh?’ A man had come limping along with one crutch under his arm, while the other arm was in plaster from the elbow down to the wrist. He made a heavy heel and moved with difficulty. ‘You look like Bobby Joe,’ was Rico’s contribution. ‘I see good signs,’ I said, 'your forehead has not been stomped upon. ‘ I saw that one eye was shut and his lip was torn and was swollen. ‘You don’t deserve the beauty prize, but he has not stomped you.’

‘How did it finish,’ Rico wanted to know, ‘you have surely not won from the Stamper? ‘Impossible,’ said Bobby Joe, ‘he is not a man he is a primitive beast. You hit him and he comes back at you.‘ ‘It was stopped,’ Norma Jeanne interfered, after five extensions the jury stopped the fight and the men were taken away. ‘ ‘The Stamper did not win,’ I asked in disbelief? ‘No, but he didn’t lose either ,’ said Bobby Joe in a sorry voice, we had to share the money.

‘I' rather have you in one piece, than the stupid money,’ said Norma, and she looked at him disapprovingly. ‘New truck she asked while pointing out?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘just a trailer behind it and it will remain so for a while.’ ‘Hi there,’ said a voice behind me, ‘is that your truck boy?’ ‘Yes, I'll drive it but no, it's the boss’s.’ ‘Long days, you do long days?’ ‘You bet,’ I said as I took a sip of coffee again. ‘Are you unloaded or have you got a Swamper,’ and he pointed at Rico, 'to unload everything by hand?' ‘We do it ourselves,’ I said, 'all by hand. ‘ ‘So long days,’ the man asked again? ‘Well today I reckon about 15 hours and tomorrow probably the same,’ I replied. ‘I'm Bill,’ the man said, ‘Bill Haybe, I'm parked right next to you. My name and number is on the side, if you want to drive different trucks and really earn some money, you want to write that number down. ‘ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘maybe I will. But we need to get cracking. ‘ ‘Whoa whoa cowboy,’ Bill laughed, ‘not so fast,’ Have got a steady girlfriend. ‘ ‘What is it to you,’ I asked? ‘Just yes or no,’ Bill said suddenly with a somewhat louder voice. ‘No,’ I said. ‘Do you live at home?’ I looked at him strangely and said no again. ‘Think about it Boy, there are better ways to make money than driving 15 hours and loading and unloading.’

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'Okay,' I said, 'but now I really have got to get going. ‘ 'Write it down, you hear, ‘and with that he betrayed himself as a prairieman who always adds behind the tag question. Bill turned and walked towards the toilets. Norma Jeanne gave some packed sandwiches, and Rico asked, ‘what are they for?’ I laughed and said, ‘That's for our dinner as the bars may be closed when we get back,’ I waved back at Norma Jeanne and Bobby Joe and we walked back to the big old truck. Besides the Artic I stopped and wrote Bill's name and number down, which was right under a slogan: long-distance hauls' the up North  specialist. I put it in my wallet and a moment later I fought my way through the gearbox.

San Daniel 2015

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