This went to Michael Green, best friend, Calgary theatric, and
co-founder of One Yellow Rabbit, Canada’s premiere theatre company.
So this morning, which was really yesterday morning, when That Mike and I said goodbye at the airport, he said to be careful, there’s some crazy people out there, I laughed because he was being a goof. I take it back. Next time he says that, I will still laugh, but for 100% different reasons. Someone pulled a gun.
So I was waving bon voyage with my toque, being silly and grinning to see him get stuck in the metal detector, when this rather governmental looking fellow stood next to me and waved to what looked like a delegation of rather tired lawyers. “There’s something deeply satisfying about waving goodbye over a distance, isn’t there?” I said to him, and he replied, “There really is. It never hurts to wave.” I pointed Mike out and said, “look, there’s mine, the fellow with the long hair and the funny hat.” He told me that his were a batch of Czech diplomats, coming to visit Edmonton because it was sister city to wherever they were from, and then he asked what I was doing. “Waiting until dawn,” I said, “so I can call some friends at a slightly more reasonable hour and go crash on their couch in the city until my flight later tonight.”
Next thing I know, I’ve been introduced to a bodyguard chauffeur, I’m stowing my bag in the back of a rather posh government bus, turning down expensive whiskey, and blessing my propensity for talking to strangers. They treated me a little like I was an exotic species, me with my dyed hair and lazily black sense of humour, and showed me postcards that the diplomats had given them from their city, pictures of little story-book architecture buildings with colourful red roofs, as we drove into town. It took about half an hour, fourty five minutes until we were downtown again, and I was dropped off at the exact Tim Horton’s that Mike and I almost went to for coffee before the gig, within sight of the venue, at 102nd and Jarvis.
My thought is that it would be criminal to be calling anyone so early in the morning, no matter how much I want to sleep, (oh blessed sleep), so I settle in, buy some dubious drink, (I had one, and yet – I still don’t know what a hot smoothie is. It’s such a contradiction of terms!), dig out my book of short stories, and settle in to wait at least until there’s light in the sky. I seemed like almost every table sat someone else who looked as exhausted as me. Everyone there was either incredibly tired or just waking up, in that dark gray zone between the all nighters and the early late shift. (I think the truck driver one table over, upright, leaning against the wall, was asleep underneath his sunglasses.) We’re in there because it’s the only thing open, because it will keep us warm, because we have no where else to go.
After about an hour, a trio of Native kids walks in, can’t be more than seventeen, two guys and a girl, obviously a couple and their friend. They sit down over to my right, I don’t even notice them, but then a wigger kid smarmily walks in from the door to my left. Oversized clothes, glitter glass stud earrings, a little blue nylon skull cap, a dark blue jacket so big it must have been made for two Americans to wear simultaneously, walking like his pants were going to fall down, walking like he’d seen too many rap videos and knew how to look cool.
Boyfriend kid immediately springs up, bristling, full of angry energy, and starts saying “fuck” more times than I could ever count, like ‘fuckin fuck you fuck you fucking fuckin here fuck, what’re fucking think you’re fucking doing, fucker, being fucking in here, fucker”. Like that, like… wow, like, “how does he do that?” (Seriously, I’m trying to write this as verbatim as I can, but there was likely about 10,000% more swearing than I’m typing).
So now I’m looking, everyone is, and the other boy leaves in that “man, my friend’s a jerk, I’m outta here” way, but the girlfriend stays sitting. Her face has gone hard, as if she’s had to deal with this sort of thing too many times before. Boyfriend kid moves so that he’s standing directly in front of her, facing the new kid, so now she can’t see anything. Which is great, because Boyfriend’s swearing takes a turn, “you fuck, fucking dressing like a fucker, you fucking mobster fuck, you fucking poseur fuck, fucker, fucking dressing, you fuck, like you’re fucking a fucker with a fucking gun, fuck, fucker should fucking pull it out, fucking shoot me, fucking poseur, fuck off, fuck you, fuck out of here, you fucking fuck”
And, with a little grin, Wigger kid slides a gun out of his right hand pocket. Just like that.
And no one even blinks. No one reacts. We’re all too tired. There’s not going to be any Springing Into Action, no Leaping To The Rescue. I’m not even going to try anything, I’m just too tired. I’ve been essentially up and awake for three days, I’m at the point where I’m looking right at this potentially dangerous kid and I can’t even CARE. The only person who moves is Cussing Boyfriend, who keeps swearing, (the word “fuck” has lost all meaning, except as punctuation), and all he does is one of those angry asshole half-step stomping motions, like he’s trying to scare Wigger kid like he’s a growling dog instead of a smirking idiot with a firearm.
Wigger kid, he’s more awake than the rest of us, but he won’t make eye contact. His eyes just slide around everyone, like he’s practised his look in front of a mirror but hasn’t really thought it out. The gun in his hand is steady, though, and he swings it slowly over everybody in a classic Hollywood blockbuster, “back off, I could take you”.
No one else does anything, not even look nervous, but when it points at me, I LAUGH.
(Because I thought it was ridiculous when he told me to be careful at the airport, yet here I am, not even two hours later, in this super Canadian doughnut shop, first thing in the morning, with a gun pointed at my head. Like, what?)
Which, apparently, was the perfect thing to do. It seems to remind him that, uh, yeah, here we all are, in an Edmonton Tim Horton’s for crying out loud, this isn’t an appropriate setting for this kind of scene. (I think he was embarrassed a little, especially that no one seems to care.) The grin on his face shifted from ego-delight to chagrin, he slid the gun back into his ridiculously oversized jacket and then took off. Sleazily walks back out the door, then books it. We could hear his feet begin running.
Then the girlfriend, who hadn’t seen a thing, gets up, annoyed at Boyfriend kid’s constant stream of swearing, (amazing), tells him he’s an asshole, then stalks out the other door. He follows her, someone pipes up “better they fight outside”, and that was it. That was the only reaction. No one called the police, nothing. It was insanely Canadian. The guy at the next table over slept through the entire thing. I went back to reading my book.