The hidden years in Canada 169, the eternal men

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Monday 07 September 08:27

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The eternal men

We had been driving a long while, taking turns and had regained control over the big combo. What was discussed evaporated after a few minutes and then you drove on in silence. ‘These are the lakes of boredom,’ Bill said, and I understood what he meant, you were on the run with your thoughts  until they slowly came to a standstill and then it seemed that your thoughts came through a layer of cotton wool. At times you’d look on the day counter only to look at the counter a few moments later again, either to see if you were making headway or stupidly enough because you had already forgotten  the reading.

‘Pretty soon we can park this great mother,’ laughed Bill. ‘There are the three sisters 'and he pointed to a mountain which seemed to split into three,' it can’t be far now.’ We saw a plume of smoke rising up in the distance, ‘the happy moose,’ Bill thought 'just follow the track out of the lake and then park this big monster. So I came a little later out of the lake and brought the giant to a halt.

The smoke was farther away than I expected and it took what seemed to me an eternity, until we came to a stop at a power pole outside the happy moose. I plugged the lorry in and soon we walked the last few meters to the outpost of civilization. The door swung open and Bill walked in filling up the doorway. A few men looked up and then turned the attention back to their plates. ‘Now, we've had everything,’ the voice of the bearded man shouted at us, 'Arctic Bill and big mother! ‘I had an unconscious chuckle, it seemed like such a greeting that you had at castles where a herald announced arriving nobility. Beardy had a ribbon in his hands, a black ribbon. ‘Oh oh,’ Bill said, 'Who is it this time? ‘

The barman looked serious, ‘a bunch of young guys,’ he replied, greenhorns ‘who should never have been allowed on the ice. The first year then you just ride with someone who does not make mistakes. You learn from them, but they come for the big money, easy money and believe me it does not exist, there is always a price to pay ‘  We nodded wisely and looked at the bar for a place close to the roaring fireplace. There were really very many ribbons on the board and I was caught by Beardy who followed my gaze.'You should not end up there, boy, he said, then you will join the eternal men, men who do not perish and who remain the same age forever. ‘ ‘What do you say to that’, so I nodded again, and made a grimace that had to express something of understanding. With a pen he wrote under the ribbon ‘RIP, Johnny and Jim.’

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My eye was still obsessed by the board. ‘What will it be,’ asked Beardy now in a professional tone again? ‘Coffee, please,’ Bill said, and I added that we also wanted a piece of apple pie. ‘What are you looking at, big mother,’ asked the landlord, when I squinted my eyes a bit to see some names on the ribbon plate. ‘Right,’ I said, I just wanted to read it a bit better, ‘how long have these ribbons been there, I mean, how much time do they cover?’ ‘Eternity,’ the man laughed scornfully, ‘it is from now to eternity.’ ‘Yes,’ I said earnestly, ‘and it goes back to ..?’ ‘Last year,’ Beardy said in a serious tone. There is always quite some progress. But those who have taken their last ride are decorated here by me and they get their medal. ‘Precisely, ‘I said, ‘it is all a lot clearer now.

‘Now it's time for coffee,’ he continued, ‘and push the nasty stuff far away from you.’ It was a strange tough world, I thought. Here people were commemorated and elsewhere they would not be missed. It made the last stop into a kind of church. An outpost of civilization, Beardy could not control what was happened beyond this point, but he could remember the permanent client that would never come past again. ‘What happens if the board is full,’ I wondered aloud? ‘ Then I take ribbons down and wipe off the names and I start again, the landlord explained. Otherwise you can just keep buying ribbons, under each ribbon are a few names that have not left the lost lands. I got more and more disgusted with this area that devoured men if they did not not pay attention. The land that hypnotized the men until they died through their own faults. ‘Is this a busy year ribbons wise,’ I said as I came to the conclusion that I’d counted 22 ribbons. ‘Not really, replied Beardy, I’ve seen busier years when the thaw sets in 'and he poured out the coffee.

San Daniel 2015

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