The Enfolding

The Enfolding

when I say

I sleep around

I really mean

I have regular sex

with the same different men

I don’t actually sleep

I’m quite awake when I’m with them

they on the other hand

sometimes fall asleep

in my arms on my bed

not out of boredom

or even exhaustion

but out of comfort

 

men who take this opportunity

to step away from the stressors

of their lives

for a few hours

escaping lovers wives kids jobs

where they can leave behind definitions 

to be naked 

held

safe

to be nothing but enfolded


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Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

this grief

changes shape

as my sense of the world

changes shape

like water

as Bruce Lee said

it takes the shape of the vessel

yet remains water

regardless of the vessel

 

Bruce Lee was a vessel

for my sexual awareness

the shape of his body

was not contained by the films he made

but by my perception of it

the face

the shirtless torso

filled my jack-off fantasies

then his abrupt death

that grief

a deep sense of loss

 

I didn’t grieve the films he’d never make

but the opportunity lost

of ever having sex with him

opportunity lost to fulfill

a fantasy even then 

I knew would go unfulfilled

a bowl of grief

never emptied 

but eventually forgotten

I wrote this piece after seeing the excellent biography ‘I Am Bruce Lee.’ It featured clips from his movies, clips him being interviewed (he proved to be shy but very articulate) & an array of talking heads reflecting on his fight technique, his films, & they mystery surrounding his sudden death. None of them commented on his stature as an Asian actor, & there was no mention of him as being fucking gorgeous 🙂

I was working for Famous Players in Sydney when Enter The Dragon was released. It was a huge hit. I saw parts of it repeatedly. He was magnetic even with the crappy dubbing & the idiotic sound fx. I kept a couple of stills of him from Enter – shirtless in with black pants. Sweaty, ripped and hands raised ready to fight. I loved those pictures as I could look a his body as long as I wanted to. On film he was too fast, the camera never had a change to ‘ogle’ his body.

The biography brought back a wave of nostalgia for me. At this time I was already a Mishima fan – too bad Lee never got to make the Mishima film – he would have been an excellent choice – but he was never considered an actor of emotional depth. The interviews in the documentary make it very clear he was more than a fighting machine. But like many performers Hollywood Taiwan wouldn’t allow him opportunities that  didn’t include his fists.

I have tried to watch his films & they come across as cheesy & oddly sexless. Crappy lighting & bad camera work doesn’t help. Fast-forward certainly helps zip through the minimal plot & character development to the good bits 🙂 I was grieved by the end of the biography for the waste of his life. It was the same grief I felt when he died & for some of the same reasons – opportunity lost. 

 


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Chapter XLIII – Lillian  Seeks Advice

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter XLIII

Lillian 

Seeks Advice

Lillian waited with Dr. Drummond, outside the modest Protestant church that was so unlike St. Agatha’s she would have mistaken it for an oversized storage barn where not for the arched windows on the sides and the crucifix over the front double-doors.

Birk and his mother came out from the funeral service. Three pine box coffins preceded them. Each followed by its own grieving family.

“I was so sorry to hear about Sal.” She came over to console his mother.

“One gets used to these things.” His mother gently pushed Lillian away and nodded to Dr. Drummond. “Sad to say. Sad to say. We get used to these things.”

Lillian and the Doctor fell into step with them as they walked to the cemetery. She saw that none of the families were particularly tearful, more grim and sullen than caught up in sorrow.

She didn’t go in to the cemetery though. She knew that being so connected to St. Agatha’s she wouldn’t be welcome there at such a time.

When she’d heard from Dr. Drummond that Sal had died she couldn’t believe it. She had been with the girls earlier in the week. Both of them looked healthy enough and eager to keep learning. Perhaps if she had done more, brought them food, more vegetables from the garden. But even the O’Dowell’s were stretching out what goods they had.

Shortly the families left the cemetery nodded to Dr. Drummond as they walked around hime and Lillian. None of them acknowledging her presence. Birk and his mother stopped a few yards along and spoke quietly. He came to her as the rest went on their way.

“Miss McTavish, Ma thanks you for all you did for the girls, but thinks it best you don’t put yourself out anymore on our account.”

“I understand. How’s Maddy? She’s not ailing too?”

“No. She was too busted up to be with us. The Malones is minding her.”

“I am sorry that …”

“Sorry won’t bring Sal or any of the other children back.”

“I know that, but Birk, this is none of my doing.”

“I know.” He turned and started back into the cemetery. “I have to finish things now.”

“Finish?” Dr. Drummond asked.

“We bury our own. I dug the grave this morning ‘fore the service. Same with the other families. Digging in the earth again. Joe says he hoped we didn’t find coal or the company would stop us from burying our dead. They would too, if they thought they could.”

“They couldn’t do that.” Lillian said.

“They owns all the coal here abouts regardless of whose land it’s on. If you find coal digging your garden that coal belongs to the company not to you. So, if you don’t mind me Miss, I have a sister to bury.” 

She watched him go in the graveyard.

“Thank you for accompanying me Dr. Drummond.” Lillian said as she walked back with Dr. Drummond to the pier.

“It was my pleasure though I was bit puzzled when you sent the request to me.”

“I … needed someone to talk with. Someone who knew something of my situation here. I feel I can trust you.”

“I’m pleased you thought of me Miss McTavish.”

“I have to tell you something that no one is aware of.”

“I am used to the confidences of my patients.”

Lillian took the newspaper clipping of her death notice out of her purse and give it him.

“My word.” He said after reading it through. “How is this possible?”

“I am not that familiar with the …. legalities of this matter.” Lillian said. “I was hoping that you, as a Doctor, might advise on how to proceed.”

“I would say in this case there has to be at least a death certificate of some sort to act as proof of your passing away.”

“Death certificate?”

“Yes that is a document signed by a medical practitioner that serves as  legal record of a death.”

“Oh. Who would issue such a document? I had no attending doctor until you were called upon.”

“I can check with the Provincial Registry where all births and deaths have to submitted. I can find out who signed your certificate. Might I ask if you have your birth certificate?”

“I’m not sure.” Lillian tried to remember what personal papers of hers she had in her trunks.

“Or any other proof of who you are. If ,as this notice says, you are deceased, to contest it you’ll need some documentation to prove who you are. Have you written your family?”

She gave him the letter her father had written to her uncle.

“This is unbelievable” He said after the read the letter. “Who knows about this?”

“Everyone in Boston knows I’m dead. I don’t know who else my father had used to insure his political success.” Lillian put her documents back in her purse.

“I never thought Father McTavish was such a scoundrel as to cooperate in such a subterfuge. But after seeing his physical abuse of you, it comes as no surprise either.”

The Dingle Dandy arrival horn sounded.

“Thank you for your understanding Dr. Drummond. I didn’t know who to turn to.”

“You will need someone more knowledgeable about the law. You are comfortable with the O’Dowells?”

“Oh, yes! They have been most welcoming.”

“Perhaps you might consider Steven. He is a lawyer.”

The ferry’s departure horn sounded.

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you again.”

The only other passengers on the Dingle Derry were some of the troops now stationed in the area to keep peace. She overheard them talking about the ‘armed insurrection’ of the fool miners the previous night.

“Pardon me,” she went over to their bench. “I couldn’t help but overhear you mention an incident last night?”

“Yes, ma’am.” The heavier set of the soldiers lifted his cap. “We were in a convoy bringing replacement miners to the colliery here.”

“Yes.” the other stood and kicked his friend to do the same. “We have been detailed to go to North Sydney for more provisions.”

She could tell by their eager smiles they found her attractive.

“Was it a serious incident?” she asked.

“One fool Bolshi got shot dead. Sent to his maker.”

“Daniel! We were told to watch which locals we told what to.”

“Sorry, Miss?”

“I’m not a local. I’m visiting friends in North Sydney at the moment.”

“Perhaps we might call on you if we have time?” 

“I’m sure Colonel Strickland would rather you do your duty and return directly.” she said.

“You know the Colonel?”

She nodded as if to say yes.

“Perhaps I can convey your regards to him.” the heavy set soldier asked.

Lillian found herself enjoying the interest these men were taking in her. Because of her uncle most of the men had kept a cool distance from her.

“You can tell him that Miss McTavish …”

“McTavish!” the other soldier said. “Not related to that priest?”

“My uncle, I’m afraid to say. Please don’t hold that against me.”

“No ma’am. We sure hope he wasn’t hurt too bad. I mean I didn’t mean to bash him so hard when he came rushing in at me.”

“I’m sure he forgives you.” Lillian said. She wished she had been there to see her uncle get bashed. “His head is hard. He can take it.”

The ferry docked and she directed the soldiers to a dry goods store, one that was opposite way from the one she was taking.

On the ferry back to North Sydney she was relived that her attempts to befriend Birk had been futile. Punishing her Uncle would have only confined her to the dreary life these men lived. Even Dr. Drummond was threadbare. He was unlike the well-to-do doctors in Boston. It was as if everyone had taken a vow of poverty.

She walked along the main street. The few open shops were empty of people and goods. Even the O’Dowell’s had closed off portions of their department store. Without the money generated by the mines some shops had been shut down and even boarded up. She hadn’t realized how many were dependant on mining industry. Up to now she has only seen the actual miners struggling. The struggled rippled out to nearly everyone in the area.  

“Miss Lillian.” It was Mrs. Seldon, who used to the manage the company store. “Wasn’t that ambush business some terrible. It’s a wonder so few were hurt bad. Damned fools, if you ask me, trying stop those outsiders from getting into the colliery. How’s Father Patrick?”

“His head is as hard you’d expect.” Lillian forced herself to smile. Part of her had been glad to hear her uncle got what was coming to him.

“It was brave of him to even try to make some peace when the miners saw they were out-manned.”

“He was never one to stand down.” Lillian resisted blurting out what a hypocrite her uncle had turned out to be.

“I hear you are no longer tending to him?”

“No. I’m with the O’Dowell’s here in North Sydney for the time being. My uncle and I felt it was ….”

“I’m surprised you haven’t returned to your family in Boston by now Miss.”

“One day perhaps.” She couldn’t see herself back there now even if they hadn’t had announced her death; even she could prove she wasn’t dead. Revenge didn’t tempt her. “I’d best be on my way.”

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Glass

I can’t say that I’m a Philip Glass fan but I do have several works by him scattered though my collection: Koyaanisqatsi; Mishima as MP3 (along with works by w: Shivkumar Sharma: Call of the Valley; Sanjay Mishra: Blue Incantation; Abhijit Banerjee: Phases; Ravi Shankar: Chants of India; The Art of the Hurdy-Gurdy); as a stand-alone Hydrogen Jukebox; mp3 of his Piano Music; and The Book Of Longing: a collaboration with Leonard Cohen. 

Like many I first heard of him thanks to his soundtrack for Koyaanisqatsi – sweeping strings & choral work that doesn’t need visuals to be effective. Propulsive music that sold millions of soundtrack lps. Unlike, say, Bernard Hermann, he was more than a soundtrack composer he was a ‘serious’ modern composer. Mishima is energetic & shows a greater range of textures.

I find Hydrogen Jukebox (Ginsberg) and The Book Of Longing (Cohen) to be more liturgical than contemporary. As much as I enjoy Jukebox it fails to grasp the energy of Ginsberg’s use of language and becomes turgid and repetitive. His work with Cohen has more life but again moves like molasses. Both are more Gregorian than contemporary. The solo piano music is delightful & more emotionally engaging.

To round out the mp3 collection I added works by Shivkumar Sharma: Call of the Valley; Sanjay Mishra: Blue Incantation; Abhijit Banerjee: Phases; Ravi Shankar: Chants of India; The Art of the Hurdy-Gurdy. Mostly world music, nearly classical in its way, out of India. Some edging into new age & some very traditional. The Hurdy-Gurdy is an lp to mp3 transfer of an MHS lp I found 2nd hand. I plunked here for fun.

 

Theoretical Talk

‘Are there any more questions?’

Dyna surveyed the class. The rows of seats rose in tiers around her. She felt small in the centre of the semi-circular room. Her slide projected behind her seemed so massive. She was happy to see that most of the faces she encountered were still awake. A hand fluttered in the tenth row.

‘Yes. Casey Stelle, isn’t it?’ 

Dyna liked to demonstrate her ability to remember names.

‘Yes. I wanted to know if … well … how could such a crime go undetected for so long.’

‘Casey, you have to put it into its proper cultural context. At that time people didn’t talk about such things. It was a closely guarded secret.’

‘Yes,’ another hand shot up. ‘but it had such a deep resonance at the time. How could it go undetected.’

‘Jeff, that isn’t so strange. The fact that it wasn’t talked about doesn’t mean it was undetected. People knew of it, but out of shame or other cultural conditioning didn’t deal with. They didn’t ignore it but at the same time they turned their back on the events. Went on as if it hadn’t happened.’

She stepped from the podium and looked over the students once more. Books were being closed and backpacks being back-packed. As sure a sign as any that this part of the class had come to an end. As usual a few students descend to talk to her. She turned off the projector was was glad to have the gloom of the room return. The brightness of the slides made her feel on display.

The first to reach her was Jeff.

‘Miss Dark. I didn’t want to get into this in front of the class. Not enough time left anyway as it turns out, but I still don’t quite buy your theory.’

‘It’s not for sale Jeff. I merely presented one of several approaches to the circumstances. After all, wife beating once wasn’t a crime. Women who complained about it were shunned for being unfaithful to their husbands. Today that has reversed Women who don’t complain get shunned.’

‘But this case isn’t at that scale.’

‘Now it’s me who doesn’t buy your theory.’

‘You could at least hear it out.’

‘Okay Jeff I’m listening.’

Their eyes locked. Jeff’s face reddened. Dyna knew she had this power to silence and wasn’t unwilling to use it now.

‘Another time.’ Jeff glared back at her and started up the stairs to exit the classroom. He tripped on the first one and fell.

‘Serves him right.’ Dyna thought with a small laugh.

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Forgiveness = Victim Blaming

TOpoet

17-green-01A self-righteous person (usually cismale) opens fire with a weapon of choice and kills people. There is shock, tears, reporters asking witness/survivors ‘how did you feel’ moments after – as if someone is going to say ‘oh, I felt we deserved it. we had it coming.’ This is quickly followed by the call to forgive the alleged perpetrator because without forgiveness the healing can’t begin.

17-green-02Without forgiveness the victim now is blamed for their choice to feel anger or vengeance. This pattern repeats with variations. A woman who was raped presses charges & is asked why she hasn’t forgiven her rapist. When did forgiveness become letting the allegedly guilty party off the hook. How did letting people face the consequence of their actions become unfair & unreasonable.

17-green-03Several years ago a ‘straight’ man who was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of a gay man was released because the…

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A Love Supreme – #Coltrane is God

TOpoet

If you follow me on Facebook you know I’m a music fan – I post there every morning what I happened to be listening to from my collection at that moment. On Mondays I have been posting here on WordPress reviews of every cd in my record collection.  I love a lot of jazz. Here are some of my favorite sax players – performers & in some cases specific cd’s.

runners.01

First & foremost there is John Coltrane: in 1996 I directed a stage production of Pinter’s The Servant. I wanted house and incidental music that captured the feel of the 60’s – something that would remind me of British TV shows like The Avengers, Danger Man – but with more jazz coolness – I had a double Lp of best of Coltrane – that lead me to the CD of Blue Train – which was perfect for my purposes –

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Bad Sex But a Great Time

On a recent Disability After Dark podcast, Andrew Gurza talks about his emotional responses to great sex. His frankness is always refreshing, especially in an online culture in which naming names – calling ‘oral sex’ a ‘blow job’ is considered against community standards. The podcast looks at how frustrating he finds his physical limitations when it comes to the free-and-easy play that often is sex. How these limitations cause him to question his masculinity.

This, as his podcasts often do, makes me look at how my performance, or my partner’s performance effects the the quality of the sex act. I say ‘sex act’ because there is more to sex than the coming … oops, I guess I should say ‘ejaculation’ to avoid conflict with community standards. It also lead me to think on great sex in general. Technically proficient sex isn’t always great sex.

I’ve had good sex but a bad time; I’ve also had bad sex but a great time; I usually have great sex & a great time. ‘good sex but a bad time’ is about guys who want praise after the act, who figure what gets them off gets you off too & if it doesn’t the problem is you; guys who suck dick but flinch at being kissed – these are usually ‘straight’ or ‘bi’ guys. ‘bad sex but a great time’ – there is one married-with-children guy I see occasionally, usually after a week or so of texting, on-line sexy chat – when he arrives he is so pent up that often he comes taking my pants off – like many guys his energy wanes after orgasm – he likes to cuddle though. Another good time bad sex guy spends more time fussing with condoms and lubes that by the time we start he has to wash up and go. 

Andrew talks about the connection between sex and sense of masculinity. I see this manifest in how rough sex is considered more masculine – that tops are more manly than bottoms. I lost interest in one guy who sent a dick pic with the message ‘are you man enough to deal with this.’ First off, I wasn’t sure it was his dick in the pic; secondly, if all you got to show is a dick pic you aren’t up to my community standards 🙂

 

Go to iTunes and download Andrew’s podcast on great sex. 

Chocolates

this is the week

when the universal currency is

flowers chocolates hearts and regrets

that get traded with eager expectations

I’ll give you a glimpse of this

if you give me a glimpse of that

I’ll put up with your doing that 

if you allow me to do do this

I’ll treat you like crap 

love you and put up with your crap

because you love me

we exchange these representations

of our willingness to continue 

our little patterns of regret dispute 

in the name of tender loving 

compassionate cooperation

because our relationship is perfect

bouquet trade-offs

of explanations for reality

how far we are willing to compromise 

our teenage ideals 

for our forty-year-old realities

as so many of us

are still ruled by bitter teenagers

who didn’t get the pretty girl 

or great guy we idolized in high school

we still cart that fractured dream

around as a measure of what we want

as if we’d stop some teenager 

in the street today and ask 

‘is this the one for me’

 

(not that a stranger 

can actually to talk 

to a teenager in the street today

without getting charged for something

but that’s another story

another compromise

to protect us from one another

so where was I)

 

ah yes

the new universal currency

of regrets fears retribution 

being more satisfying than love

who wants things flow simple and easy 

without the elegant 

encumbrance of expectations 

without the sunny 

undercurrent of resentment

that mental telepathy doesn’t work

and it is your fault

I should not have to tell you 

what I want

you should just know

from the way I wear my hat

oh right, I don’t wear hats

well that should tell you something

 

it tells you I love you

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August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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O Patriot

O Patriot

it wasn’t a war

of ideology our defence 

it was a battle

for the sake of the economy

manufacturing jobs for profit

selecting the undesirable 

sending them off to die

to reduce the surplus population

to spare those that could

afford not to go to war

so they could stay at home

reap the financial rewards

of others’ sacrifices

 

if you were a true patriot

you wouldn’t resent their sneers

real men die

to improve the lot of others

whose lot

is already better than theirs

and are grateful for the opportunity

to prove they are good for something

 

it wasn’t a war

to prove what a patriot you were

or to make a man of you

all the thanks you’ll get

are divisive sneers

for your Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

stop being a cry-baby

it makes them feel guilty

about their profit margins


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The Pleasure of No

The Pleasure of No

this was the power dynamic

my pleasure

was to be in getting him off

that’s it

nothing was given in return

except the opportunity

to get him off

 

he felt that was enough

that it should be enough

yet it wasn’t enough

for me

after the first few times

 

when I said no

he didn’t ask what could he do

to shift this power dynamic

so I told him anyway

but he wasn’t interested

in what didn’t get him off

so I wasn’t interested

which became my fault

wasn’t his cock nice enough

didn’t he thank me enough

 

my answer was yes yes

but I wanted more

in this exchange 

when that more wasn’t forth coming

my pleasure 

was the power of no

 

 

Entitlement manifests in many ways: if you are wealthy enough rules of politeness do not apply to you; if you are white & cute enough to can get away with murder (literally). I read of one politician who refused to pay for food at a restaurant because his reputation was so great people would flock to that place eat because he had eaten there – now that’s entitlement in action.

 

This piece is about that power dynamic in dating/sexual interaction. Often I engage with men who feel that their cock size, or their sexual technique, permits them to be the centre of of my attention – yet if I objectify them as ‘big dick’ they feel used, they are a person after all. When I suggest I too have attention wants they are ‘you are too needy.’ Pointing out the paradox isn’t helpful.

I told one man that I wanted more than ‘a good fuck’ to keep me interested. His reply was that he understood, that we could become friends, with benefits (for him.) He didn’t ask – what more can I do to be more sexually engaging – he figured his dick was enough to satisfy all my sexual needs. I said, ‘you could suck my dick’ – he looked at me as if I was a fool to think he’d ever suck a dick.

 

I stopped responding to his messages. I’m not designed to be a sex educator, to be someone who teaches better communication skills to horned up men. One guy I did block opened a new profile with a new name and started messaging me again about how much his misses etc. New name but the same approach doesn’t equal entitlement. No.


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Chapter XLII – Birk Hides in the Bushes

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter XLII

Birk

Hides

in the Bushes

Birk pushed the piss jar back under his bed. By the shadow of the moonlight he figured it was about midnight. With the colliery closed there was no hourly reminder of the time. He rolled back into the bed and found the comfortable rut that held his body like a grave. 

A grave! That was what his bother Geo would say when they rolled into each other in the bad. ‘Get back to your grave!’

The door to the bedroom squeaked open.

“Birk!” Clancy whispered. “Are you awake?”

“Yes.” His sleepiness disappeared. Had Clancy snuck  into the house to get into bed with him? “They kick you out at Franklin’s?”

“Get yer pants on. There’s trouble brewing down at the colliery.”

“What?” Birk pushed off the bed and groped for his trousers.

“I overheard that Strickland talk with Bowden, the mine manager and they are going to sneak in the scabs tonight. I’ve already told Gregory. He’s getting some of the men together to give them a proper welcome.”

“Those bastards.” Birk laced up his boots and started for the door.

“Might put a shirt on though.” Clancy laughed under his breath.

“This’un will do.” He grabbed the work shirt that had been singed in the fire.

Outside there was a dozen or so men milling around at the corner of Birk’s lane and the Pitt Road. His eyes had adjusted to the darkness. He recognized Jake Malone, Jim McKlusky, and the cigar-puffing, union rep Willam Gregory.

“I’ve been in touch with the men in North Sydney and the scabs is coming by bus along the number 6 road. They have troops with them too.” Gregory told them. “They left about an hour ago so they should be here pretty soon.”

“None coming by the ferry?” Jake asked.

“Not as far as we know. After that face-off t’other day the Dingle doesn’t want to take the risk of their boat being scuttled.”

“He’ll take us from side to side but he ain’t taking sides.” One of them said and the others laughed.

“Guess the navy has enough sense to stay out of this.” One of the miners said.

“Quiet now.” Birk said. “If they want to surprise us we better extra quiet so we can surprise them.”

“Right.” Gregory said. “Here’s what I’m thinking. Some of us can take the ridge trail over to the turn off from Number Six road.”

“There’s that maple outcrop along there. We can block the road with some trees.” one of them suggested.

“Not have enough time for that much chopping.” McKlusky said. “How about we scatter broken glass. Cut up the tires.”

“Good plan, if we can get enough broken glass. What did you have in mind Mr. Gregory?” someone asked.

“I think if we make a show of force there to delay them, we can get ready for them here at the gate. Or maybe they’ll turn back once they see there’s no surprise.” He said.

“They’ll have troops with them.” Clancy said. “Least ways that’s what I heard.”

“Let’s burn em up.” McKlusky suggested. “We can make some kerosine bombs and toss them.”

“We just want to stop them,” Birk said. “Not kill them.”

“Speak for yourself little man.” McKlusky said. “We gotta show them we really mean business.”

“Okay. Okay.” Gregory said. “Six of you head over that turn off and do what you can to delay them. The rest of us will go to the colliery gate to reinforce our guys there.”

“Alright.” McKlusky said. “I’m for the turn off. Who’s coming with me. Tommy Driscoll?”

“Yep. We can handle ‘em.” Tommy raised his fists.

“Fists and flat iron.” Another miner shook an ax over his head. 

“Good man Davy.” Tommy Driscoll shook Davy’s hand.

Birk and Clancy stepped forward. 

“I know the Ridge Trail.” Birk said. “Stick close to me and we can get there without using lights at all.”

“Good lads. We’ll show them Cape Breton miners are as tough as they come.” Tommy Driscoll said. 

They set off up Pitt St. with Tommy Driscoll in the lead.

“Wait here men.” McKlusky said. “Tommy and I have to pick up something from m’place.”

They returned shortly. Each with an ax and carrying wooden crate between them.

“That’s kerosene.” Birk said.

“Yes it is. We made these bottle bombs a while back in case we had a use for them.” Tommy said pulling out a bottle half filled with kerosene with a rag stuffed into it.

“Okay Birk lets get a move on.” McKlusky said.

Birk lead them toward the trail to Blue Lake but took a different path that ran at a right angle off it. The smell of the kerosene made him nauseous. 

“Careful here.” He slowed them down. “We’re almost at the culvert by the road. The earth is loose along here.”

“You couldn’t find a better way.” McKlusky said. “Shit.” He lost his footing, let go of his side of the crate and slid down the embankment.

“Good thing there hasn’t been much rain.” Birk said helping Tommy hold the crate. “We all might as well take the McKlusky short cut.”

They slid down and Birk made his way up to the road. He reached out to help Clancy up.

“There’s a spot on the other side where we can watch who’s coming up or down the road.”

They dashed across the road to a hillock of bramble bushes. 

“You think we’ll have long to wait?” Tommy asked. “Must be near three bloody o’clock in the morning.”

“Ye missing getting your piece of fun?” Davy said.

They all started to laugh.

“Shh.” Birk said. “I think I hear something.”

The men stilled and held their breath.

“Sounds like motors.” Clancy whispered.

“More than one.” McKlusky said.

The noise got louder. Lights appeared on the road as the vehicles approached.

“That has to be them.” McKlusky stood to look over the bramble.

Birk crept carefully around to get a clear view. He saw at least two set of headlights, then a third.

“What was the plan?” He asked McKlusky. “We jump out and say …”

“This.” McKlusky lit the rag in one of the bottles and tossed into the road in front of the first truck. It arched up and landed at the side of the road, shattered & burst into flame. The three trucks stopped as the flames burned lower and lower.

The tarp cover on the first truck flipped open and troops climbed out.

Another bottle flamed over from the opposite of the road and smashed on the roof of bus in the middle of the cortège. As the kerosene flames spread there was shouting inside the bus. Men shoved each other out the doors. some climbing out the windows.

Birk looked beside him and saw that Tommy wasn’t there. He must have run dashed to the other side while the troops were debarking.

Another bottle flew into the air and landed on the tarp covering the first transport. Two of the soldiers shot in the direction the bottle had come from.

“I said not to shoot.” One of the militia said. He stepped into the headlights of the transport. “This is Corporal Stevens. We are armed and have orders to do what we have to get these men to the colliery.”

“Turn back if you value your lives.” McKlusky shouted back.

“You have been given fair warning.” Stevens signalled his men. “In the air.”

The men discharged their guns into the air. Another bottle arched down on to them. A spotlight on the roof of the first transport’s cab went on and began to play across the trees on either side of the road. A similar light shone from the roof of the third transport.

“Get back in the bus.” Stevens ordered the men. “Nothing more is going to happen.”

Birk kneeled and felt on the ground beneath him and found a stone. He stepped briefly into the light and threw it at the spotlight. It hit the bulb and it flickered out.

“Lower aim.” Stevens ordered.

The troops fired into the bushes on both sides of the road. 

Birk heard a ragged cry from the woods near him. 

“They must have hit Davy Rudenko.” McKlusky said. “You two get to the colliery and tell Gregory what’s happened here.”

“What about Tommy?” Clancy asked.

“He’s already hightailed it back the way we came. I’ll check on Davy.”

There was another round of shots. Bullets hit the dirt at Birk’s feet.

“Let’s get.” Clancy grabbed Birk by the shoulder and started to the wood behind them.

“This way.” Birk nudged him into a different direction to a well-used path that took them directly to Chestnut Street. 

When they got to the colliery Birk quickly explained what had happened. 

“You and Clancy best get back to your place Birk.” Gregory said. “You both stink of kerosine. Wash up as best you can when you get home.”

 

Birk woke to voices at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the second floor. At first he thought it was his mother talking with Sal then he remembered Sal was no longer with them. He rolled to get out of the bed and Clancy was there beside him. When they had gotten to the house it was too late for Clancy to go back to the boarding house without drawing attention to himself.

He got out of the other side of the bed and tip-toed to the door to listen. He recognized Mrs. Franklin’s voice.

“It’s best that you tell anyone who asks that Clancy Sinclair has been boarding with you since he returned.” she was saying. “If they find out it was him who alerted the miners there’ll be hell to pay.”

“Yes. I understand Mrs. Franklin.” he heard his mother say.

Birk got dressed silently and went down stairs.

“She gone?” He asked his mother.

“Yes. She brought Clancy’s kit bag over. That Colonel Strickland is convinced Clancy was spying on him. Davy Rudenko is dead, you know.”

“Yes’m I was there when it happened.” He quickly told her about trying to delay the cortege. 

“That’s why your clothes are hanging on line.” she said. “Yours and his.”

“Yeh. We must have got splashed with those kerosine bombs Jim McKlusky was tossing. We never handled them, Ma.”

“It’s all made a mess more trouble that it avoided.” she poured him a cup of tea. 

“I better take this up to Clancy.” Birk hefted the kitbag, “Or he’ll be coming down the stairs naked.”

“You mean you boys snuck in the house like that!”

“Yep. We were too tired to think beyond making sure our clothes was airing.”

He took the steps to his room two at a time. Clancy was still asleep.

“Getting near 10 m’boy.” Birk shook Clancy by the shoulder. 

“Like old times.” Clancy sat up.

“Here’s your gear. Mrs. Franklin brought over. Colonel Strickland is on your trail. So as of now,  you’ve been here since you got back from the mainland, right?”

“Sure. Any other news from last night.”

“Only what we know already. Davy Rudenko is dead.”

“You decent?” Blackie came into the room

“Yes Da.” Birk stood the closet door way to make room for his father.

“Thanks to the militia those scabs got into the colliery. There was a face off though. Father McTavish come down to try and get the strikers to see sense but he got bashed good on the head. That shut him up.”

“Bashed? That all.” Clancy said. “By one of his own parishioners.” 

“No one know for sure.” Blackie said. “There’s talk of murder though.”

“You mean Davy Rudenko?” Birk said.

“No. One of the new miners was shot out on the road.”

“What!” Clancy pulled a pair of pants out of his kit bag. “None of us had guns. Must have been one of the soldiers that shot him.”

“Don’t matter to BritCan, now does it? They’ll blame the union for everything.”

“Shit.” Clancy said.

“Except the fact that the miners they brought in don’t know what they’re doing. Most of them have never been near a mine in their lives. Most of them were recruited off the street in Halifax and Montreal.”

“Figures.” Birk shook his head.

“They’re sweeping up the yard until the company can get someone in who can teach’em how to wield a pick and rake underground.” 

“And set a blast.” Birk said.

 

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