There was a time when it was just another day on Finn Slough when the littlest shit happened but people were very in to it.
In the elevated box of a home named “Dinner Plate Island School” Garry Perry had awoken and walked out to fill his bird feeder when realised the warm Lulu air had a strong bitter scent to it. He examined the patio as he did every morning and then gave his dog Coloru a hearty pat on the crown of his head. He liked the way it felt on his hand. Over by the front gate was his flower bed, lined up so lovingly on the fence he never missed looking at them before his morning walk. Things weren’t good in the old flower box. His lilies had lost their lives the night before and were now not much more than a wilted rumour of spring
“Whadaya naw, Coloru” he said sadden by his floral failure. He took one quick look at the bed and then clutched one of the dead lilies in his hand to get a sense of the death. “Watered ya un everything.”
People kept walking down Dyke Rd as they did everyday, lost as Clay Biffley used to say before he himself disappeared. The story around the Slough was that poor Clay Biffley was last scene picking berries out of the bushes near Horseshoe Slough, whistling to himself in the middle of night. No one knew what happened to him that evening. Theories abound in Finn Slough that he was murdered for his great Salmon Fishin’ ball cap, or maybe it was for his whale tooth necklace, even though everyone in the Slough knew it was fake maybe the people outside the Slough didn’t know this to be true and wanted it. Sloughians argued loudly about his disappearance but this much was certain: he did not return. Clay Biffley was sorely missed, that much was agreed upon by the people of Finn Slough.
A man walked out of the back of a white delivery truck stuck in a pleasant monologue that was meant only for his own ears but Garry Perry could here it good and clear. Garry Perry had quality ears. The man was thin, had stubble on his chin and wore a t-shirt that was for too big for his non-existent belly. He wore a BC Lions cap that was faded and covered in sweat lines from a wet scalp. The man made heavy breathing noises as he tried to pull the rusted door down quietly and the work made his face scrunch and strain but he did not quit. Garry Perry watched this work go on for ten minutes until and then returned to his flower bed. There was work to do.
“Well, id no a good-ah thinga this,” and he dug the soil out of the bed one slow scoop at a time, dumping each scoop in to the Slough bay.
He became melancholy after scooping the last bit and examined the inside of the box. His forearm grew tired and so he put the wooden box down and sat on his red camping chair and wiped his head. The word in the Slough was that Garry Perry had not been the same since Clay Biffley disappeared. Words were spread about how he had rarely left his deck and when he did he never spoke to anyone. Then again, words were always spread around the Slough for weeks about anything and rarely did the last word correlate to the first one. Whatever the truth was, his pleasant return greetings had covered any deeper understanding about how Clay Biffley’s death had affected him. If it was brought up, he would normally change the subject with a quick, “oh, fuga-loo” turn. He was a brave man this much was known. The incident at Richmond City Hall had spoken highly of his courage and fortitude and he was built broadly with long black hair that was glossy as a horse’s. But no one knew how he was holding up at all.
“And how’s it go Mr. Perry,” the man from the delivery truck asked. The door had finally been shut and his face looked worn but his voice was in strong spirit.
“Spledud Breadman,” Perry said waving his mammoth hand dutifully at his neighbour. “Spledud indeed!”
“I hurd you gonna git that boat next week, true, false?” the Breadman said.
“Naw where did hear ‘dis, huh?”
“Char McCool spoke it de udder day-a,” said the Breadman popping his sluggish shoulders up a minute. “She spoke a good storm ‘bout ‘da 45-footer. You gonna do ‘er?”
Garry Perry grew a smile and bent his head down to his knees. He then slapped his knee cap loudly and shot a look over to the Breadman that asked further information for more answers.
“Yah, I was widi in a pleasing way the udder day-a and we’s been gulping ‘dem ryes when she spoke a little bitty-da-ear. She spoke that you gotta boat coming-a-shore the next week, true, false?”
Garry Perry came over to his deck railing to hear more clearly the Breadman’s own peculiar Slough langue and cupped his ear.
“True, s’pose,” Garry Perry said in a direct voice.
“So ‘dis mean you outta ‘da Slough?”
Garry Perry turned his back on the Breadman and examined his home top-to-bottom. Garry Perry had lived in Finn Slough for his whole life. His family had been stomping in these waters for a century if not more and it had been the only home he knew. He turned around and addressed the question matter-of-fact: “Thing-a –so. Pudding da box on ‘da block, so to speak.”
“Gonna missy ya-old-stink,” the Breadman said.
Garry Perry nodded his head in acknowledgment and smiled. The Breadman was new to the Slough having made the long trip from Calgary with his tired white delivery truck only a year before. When he arrived, Clay Biffley and Garry Perry were standing on Dyke Rd, sipping on a couple of Dude Beers. They did not know exactly what to make of the newcomer or if they were going to let him stay. Since the Biffley and Perry families were the oldest and longest tenured clans from the Slough, it was pretty much up to them to decide who stayed and who didn’t. They were not sure that the Breadman and his funny cowboy hat would fit in but Clay Biffley said he had a good feeling about the new guy and said if it was ok with Garry Perry then it was ok with him. Garry Perry would never shake his thick head in disagreement to Clay Biffley, who was more a big brother to him than a neighbour and friend. His real name was Curtis Lowe but since he arrived no one called him by that name. Clay Biffley named him the Breadman because the brand name and logo of Wonderbread Bread Co. had been weakly painted over with a thin white coat. And with the naming, the Breadman was one of them and soon had gradually learned their language and stories but had yet to create his own.
A loud crank-and-bang reverberated through the Slough. The backdoor of the truck had rolled up before the Breadman could lock it down.
“Heya, leme git down’er and helpalafool,” Garry Perry said and then thundered down the walk-bridge that led from his home to the road.
His thunderous steps sent the sitting ducks scattering for safety in the air. Most birds knew better then to stay near his clumsy steps and especially when Coloru was with him, who might have been the clumsiest the two.
“I gotta id,” the Breadman protested but Garry Perry still made his way to the delivery truck anyhow.
“Oh ya gotta not,” Garry Perry disagreed and marched over to the truck, tripping some.
The Breadman was a skinny little guy who wore many t-shirts that did not address his weight problem. His t-shirts tended to hang off him like shower curtains though he was quite proud of them. His faded blue t-shirt he wore this day skirted his knees giving him a damsel look that encouraged cat calls from passing foreigners. He was often seen in this un-stylish garb and had been encouraged by both Garry Perry and Clay Biffley to change it up a bit, to: “get-a-new.” But he seldom listened to advice for it seemed to him to be useless. He was a man who knew the answer before the question was asked even if the question rarely had anything to with the answer he provided. The Breadman was a resolute man and once his mind was made, it would be many seasons before his wind of thought would change. Oh, he would listen politely to words spoken towards him but he was no listener. When he spoke it was largely his own ideas that he wanted to express about the current events that he took no active part in, nor could he be persuaded to officially take a side in any Slough politics but he would share his opinion loudly in private conversations. He would gesture in a way that suggested it was all so simple.
Garry Perry lent his strong arms to closing the sliding door.
“Naw, id not the good-a-way,” The Breadman said in a teacher-like tone.
The door slammed shut and gave off a secure CLICK. Happy with the result, The Breadman turned to say hello to the passing foreigners with cameras attached to their chests but Gary Perry only brushed his sweaty brow and sighed deeply. Slowly he said to the Breadman:
“Ya sure… wanbe… inda trAc for long?”
The Breadman grimaced and patted his neighbour on the shoulder.
“Id coulda be a granda-lee-doo thought to move to one box,” Garry Perry continued pointing at the for sale signs dotting Dyke Rd.. “Be nice to had a thing.”
The Breadman was about to answer the question when the white sheen of an RCMP squad car rolled up Dyke Rd. and made an abrupt stop in front of the two Sloughians.
“Howdy,” the Constable said stepping controlled out of the car. “Howdy do you two do?”
Neither Garry Perry nor The Breadman made any gesture acknowledging the constable’s arrival.
ONE MORE SMOKE FOR THE ROAD
9 years ago