Thursday, 29 September 2016

I like weather

The first instalment of the much anticipated new series of weather-related fact sheets, and which will undoubtedly include many other interesting facts about how to humour uncles, squirrel soufflé recipes, and the best time of day to shine one's shoes, by Gail F. Wyndes

Instalment #2016-1Ai: North and South

I like weather. I like reading about weather and watching weather related news. I like talking about the weather with people on the bus or at bus stops, the blood donor bus, and many other bus-related places. School buses are good if you can get on them. Don’t forget about busing tables in restaurants; that not only affords you the chance to chat all things weather with a wide range of people, you also get paid to do it! Unless you are the bus boy in a biker bar, in which case, best to keep your trap shut, your eyes open, and your sneakers laced and ready to run. Or so my Uncle Hemlock used to tell me all the time whilst taking a shit with the door open in our family’s cottage outhouse.

I like experiencing certain types of weather and most definitely I like experiencing certain types of weather much more than others.

The one that really pickles my walnuts is the classic north-south match up.

Have you ever had the pleasure of standing on my porch of a late September evening when a warm southern front meets up with its cooler cousin from the north? Of course you haven’t. We don’t know each other. If you were on my porch and I saw you there, I would ask what you wanted, or not, depending on whether you were a) holding a gun b) holding a puppy c) holding a gun to a puppy’s head. But back to the weather.

As a Canadian, and therefore a weather expert, I wouldn’t lie to you. I might ramble on incoherently, apropos of nothing, non sequiturially, thesaurus in hand, or rather, in what was once a rather chic black leather knapsack, perhaps four hundred years ago, but which has now been so abused that it’s a wonder it stays together at all. I suppose it’s because of the children. But I would never lie.

I shall now relate how I first came to admire, then love this exquisite yet maddeningly too infrequent event.

So. I was standing on my porch of a late September evening. The thermometer read 14 Celsius, which I knew to be our country's secret code for 57 Fahrenheit, but it felt a bit clammy so I wore my heavy fleece jacket. Humidity rising could only mean one thing, I thought: Moisture from the south. As though to reward me for my conclusion (and for being able to even think the word “moisture” without gagging), a warm and flirty wind lovingly caressed my armpit. But the moment the thought was thunk, and the caressed carunked, a shiver ran down my left arm as a north wind suddenly socked me in the bicep, the kind you get from a long lost buddy to whom you still owe $500. Friendly, but with a hint of barely controlled hatred.

After some embarrassing trials and errors, which included many secret, semi-naked meteorological rituals, and which, thankfully, the neighbours didn’t see, I discovered that, by keeping my left arm inside the jacket and my right arm out of it, and tucking the right sleeve, which would otherwise be dangling dangerously by my side, ever threatening to expose my vulnerable left side to the increasingly crotchety north wind, into the waistband of my jeans, I could keep myself at a perfectly even temperature. Slightly warm on one side. Slightly cool on the other. This is a most delicious feeling. I recommend it highly. It may take years before you experience it, so be patient. It is well worth the wait. Like a good soufflĂ© at a fancy restaurant.

Although... I suppose one could create a facsimilous experience if one employed a hot water bottle filled with warm Earl Grey tea on one side of one’s body and a bag of spring time fresh frozen peas that has been allowed to thaw in the reference section of your nearest library for exactly 37 minutes on the other. All I ask it that you don’t do it on my porch.

That’s all for this instalment of I like weather.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Knock knock!

Written for the June 17, 2016 Flash Fiction Challenge:

Knock knock!

I hear the sound of someone rapping at my door. But not. There is no vibration of knuckles on wood. Only the sound, a recorded voice, saying the words.

Knock knock!

I peer out the small frosted window but can't make anything out in the driving snow. It doesn't matter. I know what's behind the door. I pick up the baseball bat with my right hand and unlock then open the door with my left.

Knock knock!

This one hovers, like a hummingbird, in the cold air and snow. When I open the door wide, it corrects itself, backs up and lowers itself to my eyeline. This is a dumb thing to do. I hear the micro-pause just before the phone connects to the voice behind the drone, take a step onto the front porch and swing the bat downwards. I immediately change my stance as the drone loses altitude and almost hits the snow covered deck, but like a fly swatted not hard enough it recovers in time and is on its way back up when I swing again and send it flying into the trunk of a red maple. It smashes to pieces and hits the ground; in less than a minute the detritus is covered over with a fine layer of snow as the lights from within its mangled contents continue to flash.

I retreat inside, lock the door and knock the snow off my slippers. I change into boots and put on my winter coat. I set the kettle to boil, then go to the basement for the bleach. I mix bleach and hot water in a heavy duty plastic spray bottle and go back outside.

A half centimetre of snow now covers the drone and the lights flicker infrequent and choppy. If I didn't know better, I'd feel bad for it. Like maiming an animal and allowing it to suffer a long and painful death. But it's not an animal. It's a drone, sent to hound me, shriek at me, make me break down.

I spray the carcass. It sparks a few times then goes dark. I twist open the spray bottle top and dump the contents onto the remaining pieces. The snow immediately begins covering them up again.

The first two drones they sent I blasted with a shotgun. After the first one, I got a nasty call telling me that the destruction of their property, i.e., the drone, would be added to my bill. After I shot the second drone into a thousand pieces over the yard I was robbed. The garage lock was jimmied and all of my weapons, which had been neatly stored in foam forms in a metal locker, were taken.

After the robbery, I amassed other, less conventional weapons. The baseball bat was an obvious choice but I also placed gardening tools and large kitchen knives throughout rooms in the house along with dozens of undone wire hangers that could be used as whips. The rag mop I left in the kitchen; it was still a useful cleaning tool but I could also see how its dreadlocks could be used to lasso a drone and bring it down like an errant calf.

Sometimes I stop and admire the absurdity that all this is happening because I can't pay a lousy hospital bill. Ten grand it cost when my appendix burst. I was only supposed to be here for a year, and four months in, bam! This happens. The excruciating pain prevented me from asking the ambulance driver to take me to another hospital, anywhere but Amazon General. I'd read the news stories. But that was the closest one. Or the driver was on the Amazon payroll. That wouldn't surprise me.

I am thankful that the doctors at AmGen knew what they were doing and I had no post-operative complications and went home the day after the surgery with a list of do's and don'ts, a prescription for a mild painkiller and one for antibiotics, and an admonishment to take it easy. I followed their diet and took the meds but taking it easy was going to be impossible if I had to fight collection drones every day.

I go back inside. Before I even get my boots off, I've made up my mind. This third drone is the charm that convinces me. They won't stop coming and they could get worse. Much worse. I'd read the news stories.

There is only one sensible thing to do.

It takes three days—three days of fending off multiple drones with the bat, wire whips and a garden spade—but the transport has finally arrived. I'm going home.

After the initial take off and the always jarring leap into hyperspace, I get up from my seat and go to one of the bed cabins. All I want is to sleep but my body is too keyed up and instead I stare out the porthole at the dark space and the stars for what seems forever. Eventually, my muscles relax and my eyelids start to droop.

They shoot open at the sound.

Knock knock!