The hidden years in Canada 162, black ribbons in the snow

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Saturday 05 September 13:24


Black ribbons

The combination moaned over the flattened path that was not as flat as it seemed. You sometimes bounced a little to one side and then to the other side almost leaving the road. Bill was in his element, he grinned from ear to ear as he fought with the wheel at times. He laughed like a madman and heaved cowboy-like cries, his right hand going through the gears. It was contagious, you got right cheerful yourself, that giant of a man as happy as a child, jerking the steering wheel from left to right. There was a descent that froze my heart, there was a gentle curve to the left and I felt that the truck was carrying too much speed for the descent. I froze and put my feet braced waiting for what would come. Bill felt it too and did the right thing, he did not touch the brakes but his right hand slammed gears into lower slots, the truck protested loudly but kept it’s grip on the road. I knew what would happen, a blind man could see that. We would fly out of the bend and plow through trees and snow, thundering down a slope.

So this was how my life would end. My boss did not sing anymore but hung grimly behind the wheel, but there seemed no end to the descent. The engine screamed in pits that were too high for the speed of our combination. Oh God, I thought, soon the engine will blow up. The curve was at its lowest point and veered to the left and then the road rose again, it was a rollercoaster situation. Roaring with flute tones that came from under the hood, we slipped into the corner, Bill switched gears and now gave full throttle while he was glued to the wheel, the abyss sucked the Combi towards it and slowly in what seemed like an eternity the cabin went around the bend, shrieking in a low gear, while the trailer swung over the abyss. We ended up right in the bend and Bill's face was contorted into a grimace, a moment later, the combo straightened herself out in the coming climb. The hands of my boss were still gripped tightly to the wheel and with square eyes he looked ahead. Automatically he went through the gears until the speed was accompanied by the right sound. Satisfied growling  the heavy diesel  sought her way up.


‘Good God Bill,’ I said , when I could speak again, ‘ we were almost done for.’ My boss was still in a trance behind the wheel. Bill nodded and sweat stood on his forehead. I realized that we had looked death in the eyes. ‘Phew,’ he said, as he tried to talk calmly but his voice betrayed the ordeal that had just passed, ‘I should hope not, ‘he laughed and normalized business. ‘We were almost members of the black ribbons club.’ I looked at him sideways, ‘What exactly sort of club?’ I asked, knowing or at least suspecting the answer. ‘The bearded man's club of the happy moose, Bill laughed pretty relaxed now. It seemed like years since we had been in the last trading post. There we had met handy Andy and Eskimo Earney, I had already heard so much and learned so much, that it looked like I had moved around my whole life in this region.

‘He has a good relationship with all of us,’ continued my boss, 'it's not for nothing the last trading post? He keeps track of who does not come along caused by involuntary circumstances, ‘I glanced at Bill, who was staring very seriously ahead. ‘Conditions such as,’ I asked? 'Ah,' said Bill, you go missing and then freeze to death or perish in general, and then die.' 'Yes, 'I said,' and then you do not come along anymore. ‘ ‘If you belong to his club,’ reported Bill. Then your name  will written on the blackboard and he’ll tack it with a black ribbon.‘ ‘Great, ‘I said, 'because I don’t  want to hang there as a remembrance.’ ‘Nobody wants that’, thought Bill,’ but still there are a lot hanging there, like a final tribute . But we have almost reached the loading station ‘ and he pointed in the distance where the black smoke was rising up. I was relieved, I would be happy if we were there.

San Daniel 2015

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