The End of July

Dear Ruby, I am of course in Revelstoke now legs folded at the Chevron Town Pantry(newly constructed) on a freshly painted grey picnic table bench formerly reading Visions Of Cody with some difficulty and eating Corn Nuts and drinking Irish Cream coffee.

After speaking with you nervously on the phone yesterday I boarded the bus and wrote a haiku of haikus(an original after realization, though it's probably been done) 17 haikus of 17 syllables each. Without even noticing I pushed forth from my pen every thought that came to mind(they're really kinda crappy though). A short-haired blonde kept asking me for a light at the Chilliwack transfer and on the bus to Kamloops 5 of us sat(all in our own booths) and bullshitted the whole way there. I mostly kept silent and listened, telling an occasional dirty joke translated from French and so not as funny as Mathieu, but the girl(Jane, 16) gave her entire goofy 16 year old opinion on the earth and all the people in it, saying how she believed in no higher power but was an expert in Wiccan spellcrafting and other silly naive contradictions and insights, Vince(23) argued with her from his point of view as junky now straight but determined to get his hands on some alcohol(I didn't mention the pint of wine in my pocket), and on his way from one treatment center(in Abbotsford he was kicked out after testing positive for opiates, which he claimed must have come from someone else's cranberry juice he'd had a sip of earlier, heroin is an opiate as are morphine and codeine, and I oughtta know)(I also kept quiet about my own opiate experiences) to another in Kamloops to avoid violating his parole and going back to jail, Jane totally missing his point. "Cocaine good, heroin bad" she said chuckling. Kevin-or something from Clear Lake-or-something(17) listening intently saying in his small town way "isn't that something" or "don't that beat all" when the others would smoke at every five minute stop to me(smoking only when I wanted to, also running very low on smokes) and some other guy who sat behind Vince and didn't ever speak but somehow wound up in a taxi with Jane at Kamloops.

Kamloops to Salmon Arm I was alone on the bus in the dark, watching almost full moon light up the almost desert.

Salmon Arm got off grabbed rucksack walked across the highway to Shell bought Drum tobacco and Vogue papers(think I'll have one now) watched train going west rolled, smoked, walked up Trans-Canada to Tim Horton's ate 2 sour cream donuts and had an unsweetened grapefruit juice cause I was feeling a little bitter myself, recognized no one and recognized by no one there, walked down to railway crossing by the wharf waited for Eastbound train(none came) sat in newly finished sitting area you'd like it remember it was all dirt and benches? Now lots of flowers thought of you looked up at big moon(thought it was full, but tonight it's full) saw the Little Dipper got a little teary-eyed as I recalled our conversation being because we are so distant now, no matter geography decided not to sleep in the park by the wharf thinking of the Salmon Arm bum and his Hell's Angel friend and not feeling secure walked up hill past Turner Creek sign that I put there waving passing sticking my thumb out to all that rolled by, past Gateway Co-op and Rec Centre, past haney Heritage House and orchard out to Junction of #1 and 97b and then back to traffic lights watching moon drop and wearing safety vest with reflective strips pulled out harmonica and pretended to play, not fooling myself put it back and tried to sleep no luck finally 4:30 near dawn big white truck stopped driven by big man I thought to be Italian listening to sad bizarre country tapes later found out he's from Gravelbourg---Fransaskois like me yelling in French to me over the roar of the truck, me answering yelling my own madman bastard Fransaskois/Quebecois/High School Parisian dialect "Quoy, jy pah compris!"

"La travaille! Mon gars, il faut k'tu cherches la TRAVAILLE!"

Lets me off at Sicamous where #1 and 97 meet: "Y a plus d'traffique cite mon gars!" before he heads off to Vernon quarter after five now I seek a coffee at gas station but it doesn't open til six swearing at all the farmers who pass me by thinking how much more they'd hate me if they knew I had more farm blood than all of them---this big green beast of a truck with ladders all over it rounds the bend at six AM as I'm about to go get my well-deserved coffee and before I even stick my thumb out(no sign just thumb like any other bum) I say to myself(and this is gospel truth) "What insane monstrosity is this chariot come to carry me into Revelstoke?" Thumb stuck truck stops rucksack in back me in front: "My name's Jay! What's yours?"

"Guy"

"Well Guy, how are ya feelin?"

"Ein, not too bad"

"Could be worse, could be Bosnia!"

"that's true"

"How long were ya out there?"

"Oh just a little over half an hour, I..."

"NO! I meant Bosnia!"

"Oh...just over Christmas," and we went on from there, managing to to obliterate everything that came to mind, Hootie & the Blowfish classified no longer Light Rock but now Uninteresting Music, snow plows and how unexcited he was to see looming storm clouds the very day he had planned on dismantling the entire roof of an occupied tenement--- he dropped me off here at the Chevron wishing me luck with becoming the Great New Writer, and me wishing him the best of luck with finding excitement over storm clouds and roofless occupied tenements(it never did rain more than five lonely drops on the sidewalk and my battered shoes).

It was 7 AM and I walked up the hill to Subway to enjoy a footlong veggie & cheese with everything except jalapenos on white as I have everyday since before I went to Nanaimo even. No better way to start a day---or continue yesterday as I still haven't slept. But Subway here doesn't open until nine. Feeling ahead of schedule since Calgary is only 4, 5, or 6 hour drive from here I decide to call Eden at 7:10 AM, "hey Eden watchadooin?" feeling a new excitement from my last ride and a little delirious from lack of sleep.

"Sleeping."

"But I thought Revelstoke was the city that NEVER sleeps!"

She knew it was me in an odd sort of way and immediately said she'd come pick me up and we'd go for breakfast. She showed up in some beige Nissan and we went to ABC's where she had some bagel and I all wild haired unshaven wild eyed from lack of sleep in my green shirt and khakis I picked up at a surplus on Granville last week had the 2-2-2 special(2 toast 2 egg 2 bacon) and we both drank miles and miles of hot coffee as the server came by every 3 minutes--- I in my lunatic way that must surely must be irresistible to some(even you) rambled and raved about anything that came to mind(like yesterday's haikus but much wilder) and she just that there and took it all in I guess--- then I decided we should go to the famous Railroad Museum and Ruby, you've got to see it! It's incredible! Everything is there even a painting of our old Ste-Agathe station that used to hang in the Revelstoke station and a whole wall for Sir Sanford Fleming! He invented standard time! And all the time zones! I didn't even go into the gift shop still sticking to my vow to only spend $100 form Vancouver to Calgary but I pretended to make coffee in the dining car and looked solemnly as my father would upon all the artifacts concerning the Brotherhood of Railway Men Union and we went outside and saw teenagers pulling weeds from between railroad ties like the ones we used to make bridges out of and then just like that they had a popsicle break because it was very hot in the midday sun.

Then Eden wanted me to meet her father for some reason, but I sure didn't want to looking and feeling like the madman just out of the Amazon Jungle or 3 weeks in the hole in Alcatraz or something but no matter what I said we drove to their family's restaurant/motel/gas bar and out he came, shook my hand asked questions and stuff. Then off we went to this waterfall at about 11:30 AM and Eden agreed to have me back at the popular hitch-hiking spot by 2:30 me saying that I had to get back on the road no later than. We got to the parking lot and she told me a story from her aunt how 40 years ago there was a bridge(now gone)at the bottom where the boys would drink and the stairs to the top where the girls would watch the boys drink--- somehow between the remnants of the bridge and the top of the waterfall Eden lost her car keys forever. Luckily the doors were not all locked so I could still get my gear if I had to and we decided we'd have to thumb back to town so she could get the other keys and come back to get the car, but we would do that later now we would sit at the pool of the chute and talk--- we talked about all kinds of worldly and local things. Then I decided to kiss her, I dunno I just felt the urge and remembering how upset you were when she came to see me in Salmon Arm and how happy you seemed to be with Otto October I decided to let go of what I lost way back when I left you at the side of the road in Nelson. So we necked into the afternoon, with such intensity that only comes form two people who have just found each other as they both go separate directions, then we hitched back into town where I finally grabbed my quota road meal of a 12" veggie and cheese sub with everything but hal hala jalapenos on white bread a cup of coffee another cup of coffee and it was time to head on out of Revelstoke. Now this was about 5:30 PM and I figured at least 4 hours to Calgary thought I'd be there by midnight Alberta time but nuh-uh. I talked with a couple of other guys down the road, Benoit, an engineer from Montreal who just got his degree and bummed the entire west coast learning English along the way, but I spoke to him in French since it seemed like it had been so long but was only about 36 hours since I left those great friends, Neal and Helene, back in Vancouver.

Eden rushed about getting me more coffee and some bubble gum and then went to retrieve her Nissan before catching the 11:30 bus to Vancouver--- I made her promise me a post card from the big city and then she was gone. As the sun set behind the mountains and hot day became cool evening(which has since become cold night) Benoit went to find a safe place to sleep and I went up the road to an intersection with traffic lights and everything and parked my thumb but soon it was too dark and I talked to a hobo with a beat up suitcase who told me my shoes looked like they've been there and I don't have to tell you that 'cause you were there with them most of the time. So here I am facing my second night of no sleep and damn! I didn't think it would get this cold at night, so I'll go get some more coffee in a minute.

So what you need to know is that I'm living the life I've been talking about, although too soon I'll be home to face familiarity alone and the anti-climax of autumn. And you Ruby? Where will you be as I in weeks ahead wage further East will I be in your thoughts or am I as forgotten as I felt talking to you on the phone?


—Emmet Matheson

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