A Miller’s Tale Part 1

I have a 4cd mp3 collection of San Francisco’s Steve Miller Band. The first covers 68-72: Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love. On it is also Dino Valente (aka Chet Powers Jr); Sir Douglas Quintet: Honkey Blues, Mendocino. The second covers 72-77: Live 73-76; Recall The Beginning, Beginning, Living in the USA, Book of Dreams. Along with Bob Lind: Elusive Butterfly of Love ep; The Holy Modal Rounders: Anthology (New York); Delaney & Bonny: On Tour With Eric Clapton; Clinton John Leon: Clinton Vancouver BC.

So you might think I’m a fan. I certainly enjoy all the music I have by him but unlike, say The Doors, I don’t find myself coming back to him & only listen when he comes up in my play rotation.On first cd is: Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Your Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love. On the second is: Live 73-76; Recall The Beginning, Living in the USA, Book of Dreams.

I had cassette’s of Brave New World, Your Saving Grace that I picked up at Radio Shack. The early work is what I am most familiar with, some songs have become iconic i.e. Living In The USA. Looking at the titles of some of these I can hear the song in my head. Solid, radio friendly pop music with a sense of humour that isn’t jokey. 

To round these first two compilations I added a solo lp by Dino Valente, or Valenti (aka Chet Powers Jr) of Quicksilver Messenger Service. As Powers he wrote the anthemic “Get Together.” A peace-love song covered by nearly every California band. The lp is sweet, folk rock, but nothing special.  Another Cali-band here is  Sir Douglas Quintet: Honkey Blues, Mendocino. Rock with a Texan twang & a little bar blues. Good time music.  

Wait there’s more with an ep of Bob Lind: Elusive Butterfly of Love. A massive one hit wonder that nearly destroyed Lind. The Holy Modal Rounders: Anthology New York folk music revival and psychedelia – a bit jug band & fun. Delaney & Bonny: On Tour With Eric Clapton – boogie blues with Clapton recovering from Cream. 

Finally Vancouver BC’s Clinton John Leon: Clinton. Someone I’ve actually met – he played at Word Jam at the Free Times Cafe a couple of time in the last decade. I bought his eps, cds, when he was in Toronto. Folk rock with a define urban horror twist with songs about zombies & stalkers. Makers me miss those good old open stage days.

Arts und Krafts

Kind readers one thing that I neglected to mention in my wee report yesterday was the Christmas Arts und Krafts display at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral’s Fun Fair. Like many of you I have seen my share of knitted booties for rifle stocks and candle holders made out of moose dung but there were some very fine pieces from the near by College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers of Palmixalitato County.

I am well aware of the rivalry that has been going on between the students in that county and our own but remember we did trounce them the last three years in the Provincial Open Court Peach Pit Curling Play Off. So we can afford to allow them to excel at something and excel they did at the Fun Fair.

There were many charming crystallized bones pieces from the Anatomy of Design classes there. I was particularly taken by the crystallized moose bone reproductions of the Departments of the Cross that one Leslie Ann Marie Betty McDellon had created. 

I can’t imagine what sort of skill it takes to do such fine work but I can certainty respect the work that it took. 

Also many were charmed by the spiderwood furniture Gregh O’Treple has wrought there. A sturdy eight legged rocking chair with a fine webbed seat and back was very comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. He hopes to follow in the family footsteps and may be opening his own furniture and restraints shoppe right here in Crab Apple Corners. He will surely be missed in Palmixalitato County. But their misery is always our gain.

Another feature of the Fun Fair that cannot be neglected was the food pavilion. Over 20,000 were seated at one time for a fine feeding of Trish Creamly’s delicious sprung bark toffee pie. Trish you have out done yourself this year. Just save that recipe for my wedding reception. I know if you keep your hands on the crust you’ll keep them off my man – just kidding folks.

The children at the Fun Fair were also treated to a production by the local Armature Theatre Guild. They performed tragic scenes from various plays. The beheading of John the Baptist brought the crowd to their feet and kudos must go to Hank Grebly who did a fine job in the title role of that piece.

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Patriotism

Patriotism 

it wasn’t a war

of ideology 

or for 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 thin the population

to spare those who could

afford not to go to war


so they could stay at home

reap the financial rewards

of others’ sacrifice

<>

it wasn’t a war

to prove what a patriot you were

but to keep fat wallets

from thinning

On one of my trips to Washington DC I made a point of visiting Arlington National Cemetery. It was a standard hot & humid day so I was spared the ambiance of those overcast or just after the rain photos. I was moved all the same by the rippling shifting patterns of the endless rows of crosses as I walked through. Some had roses tucked to the tops, or wreaths, even one with photos left at the base. I experienced a sense of a loss that spans centuries. 

https://topoet.ca/2016/06/02/arlington/

I also knew a bit about the racial nature of demographics the draft in the USA. War is big business – military production pulled Canada & USA out of the depression. Wars have been declared solely to bolster the reputations of national leaders & divert attention from domestic issues (which in the USA haven’t been successfully addressed since the Civil War).

I find it dismaying when a head of state praises the patriotism of the services from the comfortable security of his million dollar office while those in the services struggle with the physical & psychological damage of war. If they choose not to be exploited they are unpatriotic.

The fact of war, being a soldier is something I can imagine but most of my imagination has been fed by films, by the rhetoric of brave men & women fighting for my freedom. I had considered, at the end of high school, enlisting but being a little queer boy knew it was ultimately not the place for me. I had no examples of lgbt serving in the forces to encourage me either. I’ve read enough about the history of lgbt in both the US & Canadian services to know we did exist there, but just like all minorities, we were okay as long we served a purpose then we could be drummed out for our sexuality without pensions etc.

What wallets did that pension money end up in?


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Picture Perfect 44

Picture Perfect 44

“You’re doing great Dan.” Baxter came out from behind Cliff. “I dropped by to see how things were going.”

“Thanks.” Dan said. He wasn’t going to let Baxter know how difficult it was to stick to the ‘script.’ “I feel for this guy.”

“If you care then the viewers will too.” 

“We were just getting to these.” Dan gestured to the photo album. “After all, this what you’re really paying me for.”

“Thats’ right the photo whisperer.” Baxter snapped his fingers. “Fuck that’s a great title of the show. What do you think? Better than East Coast Cold.”

“I think we can take the interview outside.” Stephane said. “The back porch has a postcard view onto the orchard. The sun is amazing. It’ll give the viewers a real feel for the location. Kitchens are fine but this is even better.”

“Too bad we can’t have apple pickers in the back ground.” Dan joked. “Or cows. It is still a dairy farm isn’t it?”

The back porch floor boards creaked underfoot. 

“Not too noisy?” Dan asked.


“You’re going to sit out here.” Stephane said. “Not do a hoedown. These chairs’ll be perfect.”

There were two rocking chairs on either side of a small round table.

“I’ll see if I can find a couple of pillows for them, something for the backs too, so they won’t look too rural. Come with me.” she said to one of  the crew. They went back into the house.

“Where did our Dad go?” Baxter asked.

“Last I saw, Cameron was on his trail.” Dan put the photo album on the table.

“Anything in there?” Baxter asked.

“Haven’t looked yet. Or have you planted something?”

“Us? No! We might set the scene a little to make it easier for our audience to get a feel for the location. But that’s it.”

“This is part of setting the scene, right.” Dan pulled at his shirt collar. “Did you supply his shirt as well?”

“Just yours. Looks good on you.” Baxter reached out to help.

“Not going to happen.” Dan swatted his hand aside.

“Okay! Okay!” Baxter stepped back.

Mark came around the corner of the house with Cameron walking beside him. 

“I’m ready. Like I was saying it’s been ages since I really thought about those days, this month’s when all this happened.”

“It can’t be easy,” Baxter put his arm around Mark’s shoulder. “You’ll never forget.” He guided Mark to one of the rocking chairs. “But maybe this can help put some of those … ghosts … to rest.”

“That’s what I’m hopin’.”

“We all set to continue?” Baxter called into the house.

It took another twenty minutes to get the camera to rest on the porch, to get the furniture staged to Brenda’s satisfaction. Lace doily for the table. The redistributed weight of cameras and crew kept the floor boards from creaking as much.

“I’ll leave you to it.” Baxter said. “I’m heading on to the next location.”

“You have some more photos of your children you’d like me to see?” Dan asked.

“Yes.” Mark opened the album. “They were taken just a few days before, you know.” He handed an envelope of photos to Dan. “We didn’t have them developed for months later. We forgot we even had them, you know.”

Dan turned the pictures over one at a time.

“They were taken at Ma G’s birthday picnic. There’s a mess of people there I hardly remembered. Over a hundred. All her other nieces and nephews.” He leaned over to pause Dan at one picture. “That’s me and Marie.”

“She’s very pretty.” Dan peered the photograph. “Too bad it has that matte finish though. I never really understood why people liked this grainy quality.” Mark was smiling at the camera with Marie leaning on his chest in front of him, her head on his shoulder. She was holding her hand out so the two of them could see something on one of her fingers. 

“I’d won some sterling silver ring with a real opal at the circus the day before. Some spin and win game.” Mark laughed. “The ring turned her finger black and the opal fell out when she was doing the dishes.”

“You both look happy.” Dan said. “That’s Madeline reaching up?”

“Oh yeah. She was always one for attention. This is one of the few pictures without the kids all over us.”

Dan looked at the pictures. There was nothing in them beyond being photos of a fun family time. He reached for the album “What else do we have in here?”

“Not much really. We weren’t picture takers. Might hav been if we had a camera an’ time to use it. Ones you just saw were taken by someone else at the party. Some wedding pictures. Baby pictures of Madeline and Gerrard.” He handed the album to Dan.

Dan opened to the middle where there was some loose prints. He recognized them from the back as ones his Dad had taken.

“Hey! School picture days.” He said turning them over.

“What a day that was.” Mark said. “Marie spent the morning trying things on. She settled on that daisy dress Marie made for her.”

Dan hadn’t seen any of his Dad’s school pictures since they had moved from the east coast. There was no mistaking the backdrop his Dad carted from town to town. 

“It’s the same one she was wearing when she … left us.” Mark said. 

There was a large version of the picture as well as a page with four wallet-size pictures. Gerrard’s had the same standard set. The pictures were crisp. Gerrard had a lopsided grin, dark curly hair and scar on the cheek under his left eye. They didn’t tell Dan anything though, nothing new that might lead to more. They were relics not clues. 

“Were these taken that summer.” Mark said.

“After school was finished for the year?”

“Nope. It was the last week of classes. There are a couple of the whole class too.”

“What about the scar on Gerrard?”

“Happened when he was about three. Fell. Climbing trees. He was a climber. Love ladders.”

So, his Dad had had some contact with these children. Like Timmy Dunlop. But he wasn’t in this area when they disappeared. Was he? 

Dan tired to remember the dates in his Dad’s travel notes.

“The worse of it was later though.” Mark went on. “When things quieted down after the searching didn’t find anything. When we stopped being suspects. We hadn’t heard about them other kids either. If we’d known maybe they wouldn’t have thought was us. The neighbours I mean. They acted as if we’d done it for years. That’s what did Marie in.”

“Let’s take a break,” Stephane said. “There’s fresh coffee from Tim’s for you Mr. Forestier. Not as strong as what I made.” 

Mark went into the house.

She took Dan aside. “What was with those school pics?”

“Nothing.” Dan said.

“You changed when you looked at them.”

“I did? My … There were taken by my father’s company. James Scholastic School Photos.” He didn’t want to say that they were taken by his Dad personally. 

“Really!”

“They did that all over the Maritimes in small places like this. Class pictures, weddings, funerals, banquets. That sort of thing.”

“He surely wasn’t the only one doing that, was he?”

“No. I recognized the paper. The pose was one of his favourites as well. Not quite staring into the lens so they’d look less like mug shots and more like kids who just didn’t want their pictures taken in the first place.”

“So you recognized those kids?”

“No! He took thousands of these. Used to send them away to get developed, then, to save money, began to process them himself. I’d help out in the dark room.”

“Can we get back on with this.” Mark Forestier said. “I do have things to do around here.”

They sat back on the porch.

“When was Ma G’s birthday?” Dan asked to get the interview going again.

“About a month before they …”

“Was there anything else going on around at the time.”

“There was the Agricultural Fair in St. John. I went on my own. We used to take the kids but they were at an age where they took too much attention when I was wanting to see about dairy stuff, they’d want to be doing something else.”

“What do you think happened to them?”

“They was took and …” he began to sob. “I never wanted to think about what happened. I wanted to think about them being brought back to me. I’d dream Ma G was at the door with Gerrard wrapped in a blanket to keep him warm, with his face covered and Mad hiding behind her because she felt bad about letting them get lost. I’d try to move the blanket so I could see his face. But it was too wet for me hold. It would slip between my fingers. I had that dream for months.”

“Did your cousin keep you informed of what the Mounties were doing?”

“He said he wasn’t supposed to talk much to me to keep from influencing things. Conflicts of something.”

“Conflict of interest.”

“Yeah. He didn’t help us much. Like no one ever said to us they were sorry about what happened. Just to be hopeful. Hope didn’t keep Marie alive, you know.”

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November 2020 Recap

Over the month my TOpoet.ca blog following grew to 410! The December WP map show my hits have come from around the world. That the USA tops the list is a sign of election fatigue :-). Bangladesh (একটি উষ্ণ স্বাগত) & Italy (Un caldo benvenuto) are now in the top 10! My Tumblr is at 294. Twitter is at 229 followers.

Picture Perfect: 43 sections, about 66,000 words posted so far with 120,000 approx remaining to be edited then posted. I got a little tripped up in sequence & had to double back, as it were, to get the flow back in order. My rough drafts aren’t all done in chronological sequence so when I started this draft I put the individual drafts in order but messed up a bit. Such is life.

everyone’s a critic

TV viewing: Brave New World & War of the Worlds both came to an end. Brave certainly had the look with, for the men, smart costume design – I could believe those futurist business suits & overcoats; but the women suffered from standard illogical, uncomfortable, super-tight dreck. The plot was a bit of a mess & it’s too bad they based it so loosely on its source material. Final episode was clearly open for a season two (which isn’t going to happen.)

At least the Brave wasn’t saddled with the trite backstory family-turmoil that War of the Worlds drowned in. Again very loosely based on the source material but I am enjoying the diversity of the cast, the diversity of locations. Apparently it has been renewed for a second season which I’ll probably keep an eye out for, despite the disappointing reveal in the last minutes. 

Watched an amazing movie: Madeinusa – Spanish, set in Peru. A stranger is stranded in a small mountain village in the midst of one of their religious festivals. The festival reflects the Latino mash up of their ancient beliefs & Catholicism & is stunning. The ritual cutting of the neckties took my breath away. Exceptional & worth searching out.

November was relatively uneventful. Lockdown reduced my outside social distancing even more. The only ripple was an unexpected flare of psoriases – of which I have no previous experience. One morning a trip to emerg to get a rash looked at- they told me what it wasn’t but did know what it was. Referral to dermatology clinic that I went to the next day. The Dr. there took one look & knew what it was. Whew, I guess. It appears as spots not flakes. Anyone want to rub lotion on my back?

Nothing

nothing tastes as good as 

being thin feels

the first glance of anticipation

the sweetest kisses

all lose flavour

in favour of the cling tight snuggle 

skin shrink-wrapped around 

cheeks hipbones

smooth taut as drum

counting ribs more fun

than pulling the petals off a flower

he loves me   thin

<>

the skinny love 

slips between the sheets

cool and light  sheer as linen

that carves the shape of me

pale in the heavy thick night

I waver 

a glimpse of smoke

reach out to stroke

the breathing body beside me

corpulent sighs of pleasure’s resignation

the ghost of a glance come to roost 

for a few chancing movements

not heavy enough to dent the bed

perfection

<>

the weight of sunlight

makes it hard to walk

even buoyed by the adoring glances

of those who envy 

the soundless touch of these feet

on the mass of the earth

my blessed opportunity

to dust dance on mother earth

to float shadowless under father sky 

leave no carbon footprint

<>

my clothes weigh more than I do

wearing next to nothing

next to nothing

who could ask for more

boniness is next to adoration

now to get rid of these bones

become shapeless formless

<>

oh to be free of the body

the encumbrance of personality 

that is invested in this skin

deep in bone density

to lose the self

become the nothing

that tastes better than thin

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Snowy Show People

These were all taken Monday morning November 23. East Lynn Park is on the Danforth a few blocks west of Woodbine.

On Hanson Ave – love the carrot nose & the twig smile
East Lynn Park protector
cold hard abs of snow in East Lynn Park
cedar brows you’ll never forget in East Lynn Park
pop of colour in East Lynn Park
keeping warm in East Lynn Park
lone in the snow in East Lynn Park
faceless in East Lynn Park
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Modern Jazz Crusaders

Moving along the ‘j’ shelf of my jazz collection we come to the Jazz Crusaders. I have as stand alones: at the Light House, Chile Con Soul, Old Socks New Shoes. On a nearly 7 hours  Mp3 collection: Les McCann & the Jazz Crusaders: Jazz Waltz, & Way Back Home 4 cd set. plus; The Modern Jazz Quartet: Plastic Dreams, Bluesology, In Memoriam 1974. These groups represent opposite ends of the jazz spectrum.

One of my co-workers when I lived in Sydney was a major jazz fan. He loaned me many amazing lps by musicians, such a Hampton Hawes, whom I still love today. One lp was Tough Talk by the Jazz Crusaders. At the time I didn’t realize it was a best of compilation. I was taken by the use of harpsichord almost as a percussion instrument. I heard it often in pop by groups like the Left Banke, Procol Harum. 

At that time I made an lp to cassette copy of many of the lps I borrowed from him & eventually replaced them with cds, then mp3. I never did find Tough Talk 😦 But did come across a 4 cd collection of the Crusaders & then some stand alones of stuff not in the collection. The group’s sound was rooted in hard bop, but with a slant towards R&B and soul music; a jazzier version of Booker T & the MG’s. The sort of music that shows up in movie scenes set in hipster night clubs.

The Modern Jazz Quartet as their name indicates a ‘serious’ quartet playing more traditional jazz – not quite chamber music but very controlled & harmonious – not freeform experimental like say, Coltrane. Piano, vibes, upright bass, quiet drums. No jazz-rock-fusion here. 

I bought Plastic Dreams because of the amazing cover art. I had never heard of them before so wasn’t prepared for what I did hear.  Jazzed up Christmas carols, jazzed up classical music & originals. Not as bouncy as Brubeck but similar. Tasteful, controlled like a dry martini – whereas The Crusaders are funky, nearly juke-joint sloppy like a Singapore Sling. I enjoy them both. 

On The Exams

She was the first person I had met who had suffered the loss of an elbow. I had so many questions I wanted to ask but knew here in class wouldn’t be the right time or place. I had to know how did it happen. The nub was so smooth. Almost as if there had never been anything beyond it. Did she feel anything when it happened. Did she wake up in this morning and her elbow was gone.

A couple of the students had gone to the office to get the vice-principal. It felt like we were telling on her but something had to be done and we students didn’t know what to do.

Mr Jackson took her by the shoulders and gently lead her out of the room. “You boys behave. Someone will be with you directly.”

We did behave. We sat still, silent looking at the scattered smudge she had put on the blackboard. A few of us tried to copy it as exactly as we could. One never knew what was going to be on the exams

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Out of Control

Out of Control

I am a man

in a man’s body

there was a brief time

when I doubted this

a time when gender was fixed

by cultural controls

<>

to explain

variations in object desire

people were reduced

to data

that data was used to explain

what didn’t fit

so that men

in men’s bodies

who desired other men’s bodies

were actual women in men’s bodies

genders misplaced

trapped and looking for release

that a man would desire another man

was explained

in terms of heterosexual norms

because only a woman

could would should

have sexual desire for a man

<>

when I realized I desired men

I almost accepted the theory

that I was a woman 

trapped in a man’s body

though it never made sense

but it was deemed more acceptable

than man to man attraction

the data proved that

yet my human experience

refused to conform to that data

<>

facts spun to conform

not inform

a pervasive compulsion to control

what 

at least in my pants

in out of control

One of the things that Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam encouraged me to do was examine, in even greater detail, how our sense of sexual self is ‘created.’ Much of it comes from pop culture. Rampant heterosexuality dominated & even as the lgbtqia community was coming into the mainstream it often remained caught in those heterosexual behaviour constraints such as marriage for acceptance, being a good homo by adopting children to create the typical family.

Even sexual interactions were caught up in this coding – top, bottom, fem, butch, masc, whatever. This piece looks at some of the theories I read about in exploring sexuality – the wrong body has recently morphed into trans body diaspora, which, to me, it logical. But back in the day it was considered a fringe rationalization to make non-het sexuality acceptable.

Similar is the theory that one is haunted/possessed by the spirit of the opposite sex- so its really not me that likes men but the ghost of the woman that has taken over my body. 

Both theories that I find amusing as opposed to informative or definitive. I still live in a culture that is sex-a-phobic period. As much as there appears to be an appreciation, say, for women owning their own sexuality it’s still seen through the male gaze of acceptance. It’s also a culture in which suffering is deemed authentic & while pleasure is deemed intellectually shallow.

So I’ve stopped wondering about the puzzle of my sexuality & have opted to ignore any data, any attempt to explain it & choose to enjoy because I am fine with being intellectually shallow.

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Picture Perfect 43

(finally have this chapter in the right place)

Stephane quickly re-introduced Dan and Cliff, the camera person for this interview, then to Mark Forestier the father of Madeline and Gerrard the first children reported missing. 

“I’ll let you two talk a few minutes,” she said. “We won’t really start shooting for about half-an-hour. Brenda is still setting up the kitchen for the real interview.”

As she left Cliff stayed behind with his shoulder mount camera aimed at Dan and Mark.

“She said we’d be alone?” Mark asked.

“Yeah, yeah. But this is to get you used to being on camera. After awhile you’ll forget I’m here. Trust me.” Cliff explained.

Dan shrugged apologetically. “They never say what they mean. You’ve lived in the Valley all your life?”

“Yep. Place has been in the family since I don’t know when.” Mark began. “Once was more of it though. You know parts got sold off over the years till this is all we have fer now. Was the biggest dairy farm in d’region. Now all been took over by the big corporations. You from around these parts?”

They walked around the yard with Cliff following them.

“I was born in Cape Breton.” Dan said. “Moved to TO when I just a kid.”

“So yer da’s from here too?”

“Yes. My mother too. She was a McPhee from Dartmouth. Then she met my Dad.”

“Marie was a Beaudroux. Her mom was from Dartmouth.” Cliff sighed. He pulled a small flask out of his coat pocket and took a long swig. “She died a few years back. Never got over the loss of our kids, you know. Even though we had another, she was never the same. Left me, you know. Blamed me. Wasn’t my fault, you know.”

“I understand.”

“You understand? What the fuck do you think you understand?” Mark looked away from Dan. “Weren’t your life, was it.”

Cliff ’s camera followed Mark’s head as it turned. He nodded encouragingly at Dan. 

“No. I just meant that it must be hard to lose something, someone like that.”

“We’re ready for you.” Stephane called to them from the back door.

They went into the kitchen.

“This such a great room Mr. Forestier. Big and bright.” Brenda said. “You must cook up a lot of great meals in here. I hope you don’t mind we moved a couple of things around for better lighting.”

She sat them at a wooden kitchen table with a bowl of apples in the middle of it. There was photo album beside the bowl.

“I made you fresh coffee. Should be better than Tim’s. Hope it isn’t too strong. Now you don’t have to drink it, really, but take a stop every now and then to bring it to your mouth. It’ll make this more casual. How does that look?” She asked Cameron, the other camera man. 

“Good frame.” he replied.

Dan sipped the coffee. It was strong. He glanced over his shoulder and on the kitchen counter behind them there was a couple of green glass vases placed to catch the sun.

Mark fidgeted in his chair, took another swig from his flask, then settled down.

“Place never look this tidy.” He said. He leaned over to whisper to Dan. “Stopped usin’ it much of late. Only when Stacy comes over.”

“Stacy?” Dan glanced down at his notes. “Right, your  other daughter. The one you had after …”

“Yeah, we though it might help us get over things but it didn’t. Nothing helped.”

“Okay,” Stephane said. “We’re all set. Don’t worry about pausing to think we can edit all that out to make it smooth. You don’t even have to make sense. That’s our job.”

Dan took another sip of his coffee and looked to Mark for a sign that he was ready to start. Mark smiled back.

“Thank you for letting us into your home Mr. Forestier.”

“I wish I could say it was a pleasure but no one likes to reach back into the past for unpleasant memories. But if this’ll help solve what happened I’m willing to try.”

“How old were your children that summer?” Dan asked.

“Mad was nine and Gerrard was seven. They got along so sweet, you know, fer bother and sister, that is. She’d help with his school work even though he didn’t want help. We thought she might …” he hesitated, “to grow up to … ” he wiped a tear away, “ … to be a school teacher.” He started to get out his flask, stopped and took a sip of his coffee.

“Take your time.” Dan said. He wondered about the nature of memory. How would his Dad have described his relationship with his sister Linda? All he could remember was how distant she was when she wasn’t tormenting him.

“You have some photos of them?” Dan asked. “I’ve only seen these pictures.” He put copies of the Unsolved Cold photos on the table.

“That’s the sundress Marie made for her. Man she loved them flowers. Daisies.” He looked Dan in the eyes. “That was taken just a few days before … whatever happened. They had been down at Ma G’s.”

“Ma G?” Dan consulted his notes. 

“My mother’s sister. She owned the farm over by ours. Raised me. More like a grandmother than an aunt. My mother died giving birth to the one after me.”

“They visited Ma G often?” Dan asked.

“They were always going over there when they could. Marie and I had so much to do around here, you know, we really didn’t have that much time to keep on eye on them every minute. Not that we ignored them or neglected them you know but we’ll … we let them run loose. That’s how I was brought up around here too you know. My folks had ten kids so there wasn’t always an eye on us anyway. You come from a big family?”

“No. There was just me and my sister. Unlike your Madeline, she hated to mind me. Came a time when she couldn’t even be bribed to babysit me.” I was so happy when that torment ended.

“Ma G was happy to do that. It wasn’t that far a walk there fer them. Short cut through the orchard took less than five minutes to get there. The road’ll take twenty minutes, at least.”

“They didn’t take the shortcut that day?”

“Nope. If they had it might have been different, you know. But the rain had made the stream into a swamp. Heavy rain always did that. It’s since dried right up. Thanks to … well, that’s a different thing isn’t it. How modernizing hasn’t really improved things much.”

“About that day.” Dan saw that he was going have keep this interview on track. “You didn’t realize they were missing right away?”

“No, they often stopped overnight with Ma G. So often, nothing need to be said. Ma G didn’t take to the phone. Christ, it was the 80’s, right. Anyone without a phone was just stubborn. If she had one we might have found out sooner. Different these days with cellphones and such.”

“Right.”

“Once we knew that wasn’t here we got ahold of Dave down in Shediac.”
“Dave?” Dan looked at his notes.

“My cousin Dave Forestier. He was in the RCMP there. They come over right away. Asking us lots of questions. Made me feel like they thought we knew more than we were saying. Making it seem it was our fault, or that we had done it. You know. Did away with our own kids.” He punched the table and the coffee mugs bounced into the air. Dan kept his from spilling over. 

“Sorry about that, still gets me steamed up. Dave was no help to us. Said those trained from the mainland felt they knew better than locals. I figure if they had done started a search faster instead of asking us questions and questions they might have found them. Gerrard was so excited about getting back to school you know. I can’t remember me ever being that excited about school. I hated it.”

“They didn’t find anything?”

“Nothing. No one saw them on the road or the highway or anywhere. It was as if those kids never existed. Except they did. I … it wasn’t until those Cold Canada people got in touch with me that I even looked at these.” He flipped open the photo album.

“Not that I forget what happened but after decades life goes on. Marie never did get over it though. She blamed me for trusting Ma G too much. What was I supposed to do? They’re both dead now, too. Ma G died of grief, I’m sure, before the end of the year. She never forgave herself. Never.” He got up from the table, yanked out his flask and drank. “I need to take a break.” Mark left the house. Cliff followed him.

The camera lights shut off. Ma G’s death was not in Dan’s notes. He knew Marie had died but there was nothing about the family after the disappearance. The part of picture you never get to see – where the people go after the wedding photo shoot.

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Upper Reaches

Time to continue the tour of my house as we move upstairs to bed & bath. The bathroom has remained one of the least ‘decorated’ rooms the house – too, much moisture for one thing. There are shelves of towels, body wash, shaving stuff so the room is cluttered enough as it is. 

This stained-glass star is in the bathroom window. Handmade by my partner before we met it is one of the oldest object d’art that isn’t shop bought. He made couple of such pieces at a workshop he took one summer. We did have remains of this stained glass supplies for decades & I got rid of them in my covid cleaning frenzy.

I won this sunset (or is it sunrise) train track photo in a GenX Bears fund-raising raffle in the early 2000’s. I think they were raising money for their Pride Parade float. A friend was a member of the group. It was, as I recall, a ‘blind’ raffle, in which I knew the range of prizes but they were assigned randomly. I was happy to get this & it was perfect for over the toilet – I can gaze down the endless track of life as I pizza my life away 🙂

Across the hall is my bedroom which is relatively uncluttered – unless you count the dressers, racks of cds, book case, shelves of frequently used clothes as clutter 🙂 This wonderful Tarzan poster what a birthday gift from my fans at Cabaret Noir. I have seen the film – Acquanetta fulfills hetero teen boy exotica fantasy, while Weissmuller & Sheffield fuelled many a confused lad’s sexuality as, like me, we wondered how they kept their junk hidden under those loincloths while swinging through the jungle.

While I’m going about exotica fantasy – these jungle ‘epics’ were where many saw an abundance of hairless male flesh in our formative years. In particular, when I’ve seen some of these recently, as well some set in the jungle serials – I am delighted by the abundance of bare chested native guides, bearers & tribal kings. I wonder if any historian of black performers in movies has looked at this pool of performers.

This Japanese noren was a gift from a Japanese friend. It is a door hanging, about half-a-door in length, split down the middle. The samurai protects my room from negative energy 🙂 While the celebrants usher in good vibes. The leaf leads to my Peace Lily. 

On the wall, by the door, is this marvellous piece of religious kitch. A print I bought framed at an antique store, not longer there, near Queen & Broadview. It was love at first sight. Early 1900’s. This was a very popular subject – there are dozens of variations of the trouble soul clinging to the rugged cross in the storms of life. I love the face of Christ at the top of the cross – almost like seeing him in a piece of toast.

You Never Know Where He’ll Pop Up Next

<>

you saw the face of Christ

in a piece of toast

yet you don’t own a toaster

you can’t even boil water

you have enough trouble

opening a granola bar

<>

why was it only the face

was the slice of bread

too small 

to hold His entire body

was the holy toaster

limited to specific body parts 

<>

was it the result of

ancient aliens

who after they built the pyramids 

designed a toaster

specifically to replicated

the face of Christ in toast

a face that seems rather caucasian

for an ancient alien

<>

beside you aren’t the first 

to have seen the face of Christ

where it doesn’t belong

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