Chapter 40: Go West
“And I ran, I ran so far away
I just ran, I ran all night and day
I couldn’t get away.”
– Flock of Seagulls
The application to Chateau Lake Louise was accepted within a couple of weeks. For pre-Internet 1991, that was freaking quick. I now had one month to pack everything I owned into a used lunch-bag and get the heck out of Manitoba. Alberta was now calling. Junior Mint had already departed and would pave the way for me like a discount Elijah.
I sat on the empty living room floor of my apartment for an hour trying to give a name to my feelings but the best I could articulate was numbness, like what I was about to do hadn’t quite hit home yet. I remembered horribly awkward dates and movie nights with the guys till the early hours of the morning. But that was over, and it was time to go. Nothing was here anymore but ghosts and cola stains on the carpet. Thankfully I got the damage deposit back.
Merlin, that little hairball, went to live with my sister. At least he would stay in the family. His backside hanging out of the litter box and missing would be her problem now.
You generally don’t feel nostalgia as a nineteen-year-old, so there was not a lot of emotional feedback. But I was ready. Like “The Mint” had so bluntly said, there was nothing for me here anymore. I don’t remember any long goodbyes. I just sort of faded away, which I think is a lost art since the dawn of social media. You’ll be glad to know me and my Omni drove quietly into the sunset.
Packing everything I owned into that bucket was a challenging task. Most of my stuff had to go to pay for the gas to get out there. My Commodore Amiga 500 computer went to a good home and covered my travel expenses. Everything else got unloaded at a pawn shop so that I could survive the lull between paychecks.
Packing that bucket was a task not seen since stuffing soldiers in the Trojan horse. Fortunately, Omni’s are a hatchback. So I dropped the rear seats to maximize the cargo potential.
In the trunk and within the folds of the lowered seat I see a long tube of crushed paper. Upon close inspection, it’s a dried up and very much dead wrapped flower. It must have been lying there for months…
In my past anger, I had forgotten it was there. I let out a labored sigh as I pick up the crumpled mass and read the card. I already knew what it said. One name written in fancy writing. I had intended to give it to her on the night she chose Door #2 and swallowed the face of John Stamos’ clone.
I just stood there like a dope for five minutes holding a dead rose. I remembered not having enough money to buy a dozen, so I pestering the Safeway clerk to get the nicest pink rose in the flower fridge. Had to be pink, you see. Red is too forward, and implies wanting to combine DNA at the earliest possible opportunity. Pink is much tamer, and cordially asks for a shot at second base. I was a gentleman, after all.
Fascinating how that day just a couple months earlier started so hopeful and ended here, with me leaving town. It was also a good reminder to perform more regular cleaning of my automobile.
Jake is standing behind me. He had parked around the corner, and probably was wondering if I had slipped into a coma.
“This? This is just a, uh…”
Jake is used to my over-the-top approach to women, so a flower likely didn’t faze him too much. “If you have someone to give that to, might want to get on it.”
“Not this time. Just found it in the trunk. Must have been here since June.”
He gives me a moment, which is about as much as you can expect from a guy who doesn’t have a lot of time for sentimental bullshit.
“So, that night you really were going to go ahead with it?”
I shrug, “Yeah. Wow, can you imagine?”
Jake laughs at the idea. “You should stop it with the roses. It’s like the kiss of death for you.”
“My friend, I could not agree more.”
Next to my car was the apartment dumpster. Considering the condition of my ride, they made for matching bookends. I took one last look at the long-dead flower before sending it flying in the air, and having it land alongside the rest of the trash. That was exactly where it belonged. I look back at Jake with a cocky smile that served to cover my repressed inner turmoil.
“Any other garbage you need thrown out?”
My parents show up a minutes later to give me a send-off. Mom cries because she knows her boy is leaving two provinces away. Dad slips me a few bills and likewise gives some parting words. I hand them the keys to the apartment which they offered to return to the landlord. I was now officially homeless.
Me and Jake fired up our rattletraps and tested our CB radios. Naturally, we chose handles for ourselves. He was Gangsta and I was Pope John because even as a Catholic traitor, I had a sense of irony. The road now lay open before us. Time to get going, as our mid-way point was at least an eight hours’ drive.
So we pulled out of Brandon, my home for the last several years. But we consoled ourselves on how we were going to be kings of the resort. We would be rolling in cash and the bad taste of the past would be washed away. We’d have a girl in each arm and I would make a jukebox play just by hitting it.