The hidden years in Canada 173, for always young

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Tuesday 08 September 19:31

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For always young

We drove off with full tanks and we stared ahead of us, none of us felt any need to say anything. The engine growled and the heavy combination pulled across the ice roads to the next stop. After the apple pie that had tasted quite good, we had just walked past the coffin and my boss had even touched the coffin and had muttered to himself, ‘safe journey, dear boy.’ It was probably the closest that Bill would come to a prayer. White plains unrolled before us and we looked out over the lake and we switched places. When I was about to drive onto the ice, Bill spoke for the first time. ‘Big Mother, have you not learned anything from me in these last few weeks? There is some drilling to be done, just to make sure, now that the thaw has set in. People disappear under the ice for example, and they are immortalized with the fish. Stop this monster and measure the thickness'

Moments later we stood outside in the cold, while the drill itself slowly bit itself into the ice, there was a tiny thin layer of water on the ice now and I realized that my boss had seen it well, the thaw had made its appearance. There was also slight change, the cold was a damp cold now, rather wet than dry, there was water in the air.'Fifty five centimeters, this will hold us, ‘growled my boss through his teeth,’ in the cabin and away we go. ‘ I drove onto the ice and the  wheels fought to get a grip. We had been driving again for a long time, when Bill first broke the silence.

 ’You know’ he said, ‘that Andy is not so bad off, he is okay with a broken neck in his coffin, but any next of kin can still come by, to say goodbye. It seems terrible if someone stays young forever under the ice and the family knows it, but can not do anything about it. It is a nasty idea to lie with frozen blood and bulging eyes on the bottom of a lake, forever. Without going to waste, you know? ‘ I nodded and looked ahead of me over the plain where the water layer shone like a mirror. I understood that my boss was concerned about the thaw and if Bill was worried than there was probably a good reason.

We first drove hours and they became days, we’d  unload a cargo here and brought another cargo to a mining complex, only to return again once more to be loaded up anew. It had been a crazy six weeks, we had become timeless, watches were not consulted, our timekeeping was the trip odometer and the fuel level in the tanks. It was with joy that I saw that we were back to refuel, the last week was almost behind us. In the distance we saw as a big exclamation mark, the black plume coming from the chimney of the happy moose. That gave me joy because the tiny layer of melting water had now becoming splashing water wherever we drove and I would be happy if I’d be happy to be on the embankment again. I sent our monster to the side and saw that the road in front of me was one glittering plain, like glass, where the sun's blinding rays reflected back up. The thaw was in a serious way trying to attack our roads.

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I parked the combi and Bill took over. We glistened in all directions, from left to right led till the combination reached normal speed and my boss sent her with a smile through bends where my heart almost stopped beating. As he guided the monster into the parking lot and he looked for a power pole, the combi slid forward a bit and knocked the pole over. ‘So,’ Bill said as he got out, ‘that will teach Beardy not to throw a bit of gravel around the posts. It does wonders. With a few steps we were at the door and when the door swung open, the heat came floating out to meet us. The coffin was gone, picked up, I assumed and everything looked snug and cozy.

 ’Why,’ cried a familiar voice loud, it was Beardy, with a black ribbon in his hand, ‘now we have had everything and then comes in Arctic with big  Mother '. He walked up to us and started pounding us on our backs. ‘ Is that a ribbon that you are taking away or one that you are adding, ‘I asked. No, unfortunately, ‘said the landlord, one of the boys has entered the eternal cold. This one I am adding. ‘ ‘Someone we know,’ Bill wanted to know? ‘Yes, I'm afraid so,’ Beardy said as he stroked his mustache. ‘Because the ice collapsed, hey, you can expect that now, so late in the season.’ Bill nodded and said, ‘So who was it?’ Earney said the bar owner, Eskimo Earney. Now my boss looked shocked. 'how can you be so sure he wanted to know? ‘

 ’I know it because of Dangerous Sam McCee,’ said the landlord, ‘you ‘ll get some coffee first, I'm just taking a fresh apple pie from the oven .. and so Sam  and the revelation had to wait until two huge pieces, still steaming apple pie were cut off. ‘Sam,’ said Beardy, 'and Earney arrived half an hour after each other and sat off half an hour after each the other way. ‘ Bill looked up and took a sip of coffee. Who was first to go, ‘he wanted to know?’ ‘Sam was leaving early, he is always in a rush, the barman laughed. Earney was still munching his steak. They were both going over Smalley lake to a mining complex. ‘Smalley lake,’ I asked? ‘Yes,’ said Bill, ‘that is one you don’t know, it is a small lake of only 200 miles long. It is very deep, it goes to mining areas. Sam arrived and Earney never showed up. On the way back he noticed a new ice patch with a different color. Approximately about 100 meters from the shore. That must have been Earney.

Bill looked at me and I guess we thought the same. Sam had gone full speed onto the ice gain and the shockwave had broken the ice sheet, which had become detached from the shore, so that it no longer could be relied on. The half an hour later when Earney came past, had not been enough to restore it to its former strength  ‘Well,’ Bill said, ‘we are finished here and I'm glad for that, we’ll fill up and go home.’ He put two dollars on the counter. ‘No need to pay,’ said Beardy and he pushed the money back to Bill, ‘this was Earney’s last round.’ He'd left money in case something would happen to him and he entered on a pad of paper; two coffee and two pie, two dollars. In that case he wanted to give a last round to his friends, the rest when settled, with his wages will go to a little church in Yellowknife.

That's great gesture, I thought, over the grave, he has given a round to his friends. I shuddered when I thought of him at the bottom of the lake, deeply frozen, forever young. ‘Thank you Earney,’ I said to myself. ‘Well thanks for everything,’ said my boss, ‘we are go again’ and he wanted to shake hands with Beardy. ‘Whoa, wait a minute, not so fast,’ laughed Beardy, you see that man in the corner, with his newspaper, he has been here already three days, he wants to talk to drivers, he has  proposition. ‘I do not know that man,’ Bill said, and he motioned for me, ‘Come on big mother we are going.’ The man jumped  to his feet now, he looked far too slick compared to us and came towards us. ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, gentlemen, ‘not so fast I have a proposition that you can not refuse.

San Daniel 2015

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