Only The Wind Betrays The Calm

So, I’m binge-watching the 2016 television series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and last night, I pause the show to go outside for a smoke and there, on my back deck, lies a black glove…

I pause.

“What the hell?” I murmur to myself as I pick it up.

And thoughts flood my mind.

Where did this come from? Am I being Punk’d?  Who did this?

The thoughts turn darker… Is this a warning? Is someone going to frame me for a murder I did not commit?….

In the dark of night with a flashlight in my hand, I do a perimeter search of my home. I hone in on the dark recesses of my property. If someone is hiding in the bushes – watching my every move – I’ll find them….Nothing. Only the wind betrays the calm. The doors are locked and secured. The porch lights go on to stab at the shadows. I feel defended against the night…

**********************

The following morning, I awake to a dismal dawn as rain pelts the window. I feel sombre as my sleep was filled with images of blood and hurt. Death and destruction. The reflections of a time – 24 years ago, to be exact – when friends turned to mock savagery and talked of ruination and carnal desires…

I open the back door to again go out for a cigarette, and there, as before, lies another black glove…

I turn back inside the house and shut the door.  My breath quickens.

“Did I just see that ?”

I peer out into the break of day. It lies there still.

I hasten to retrieve the glove and place it with the other on the side table.

Now I know someone is taunting me. They’re watching me and laughing at me and ohmygodthey’regonnakillme…..

…and then, it dawns on me…

Those gloves were sitting on the chair! I remember now! My wife was using them the other day while doing yard work! Last nights’ wind must have blown them off…….

 

********************************************

 

 

Advertisements

Music in the 80’s

It’s the music that defines each generation, and the music produced in my formative years (1983 – 1988) is by far the best.

But, wait. Let me back up a bit…

Growing up in the 70’s, my aunts and uncles were a constant in my life. They were always at our house, or I at theirs. Amidst all of this, music filtered out of the background and into my young brain. I retained all of it. Memories are made with sounds…

I will forever associate the music of Max Webster and Kim Mitchell with my Dads two youngest brothers, Glen and Mark, as they played board games on Christmas morning, their bundles of gifts still sitting under the tree, waiting to be opened. (…and those same gifts were always “wrapped” in cloth bags, hand stitched by my loving grandmother.)

On my mothers’ side of the family, my uncle Raymond would be playing his records and I will always remember those days when I hear The Beatles, Wings and – more specifically – Paul McCartney. His “Band On The Run” was top of the charts when I came into this world in 1974…

Let’s now jump ahead into the decade of decadence – the 1980’s. The hair was big and so was the music. One day, my father came home with a portable device that – when you hooked it up to your television – would play MOVIES that were stored on a giant flat panel. They called it a LASERDISC! And the first movies my dad rented were Friday the 13th and Prince’s PURPLE RAIN. The first movie scared the pyjama pants off me (and, weirdly, initiated my love of horror movies), and the second movie instilled in me a love for 80’s pop songs.

*************************************

My sister would come home with all kinds of different records, and I could hear the sounds through the thin particle board walls of our home on Water’s Edge Road. Canadian bands were de rigeur back then , what with all the CanCon being pumped through the radio and television, and Gowan, Honeymoon Suite, The Box, Kim Mitchell, Platinum Blonde, and Corey Hart all became household words.

When my sister was out, I would sneak into her room and play those records and stare at the cover artwork. For some reason, she owned a copy of Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast, and their mascot “Eddie” became a source of wonder for me over the years. (Eventually, my sister would come to own an “Aces High” poster, and I would end up staring at this too for hours on end.) The title track of this album refers to 666, and – growing up in a Catholic house, with a Catholic mother – still makes me wonder how my sister got away with owning and listening to this album…

I too would have to hide certain records or turn down the music when a certain part would come on so that my mother wouldn’t hear. Run DMC’ s album Raising Hell is a prime example. “I cut the head off the devil, and I throw it at you”, “…listen while I’m dissin’ ’cause you’re pissin’ me off”  and   “ ..We  don’t play around, Pussy!”……..

….Yeah. “Pussy”. Apparently,  in my young juvenile mind, that word stood out as Run (or DMC) screamed it at me through my cheap Sears stereo speakers…

…it took me 32 years to learn the actual lyrics. Bust it.

They say “BUST IT”.

******************************************************

Music

It’s the music that defines each generation. As a young child in the late 70’s,  I remember aunts, uncles, cousins, and even my sister playing their records and me sitting there – entranced – listening to these wonderful songs.

I remember 45’s. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the basement of friends of the family and listening to Crimson and Clover by Tommy James & the Shondelles on a Mickey Mouse record player. You remember those? His arm was the needle….

My hippy aunt & uncle played Dylan and The Beatles, graduating to the hit solo albums like Ram, Imagine, and All Things Must Pass. This led the way to Wings, and to this day, when I hear Band On The Run, I think of them…

In 1979, an album was released that, when I first heard the booming “LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE!” , I was left speechless. Yeah, you know it. Pink Floyd’s The Wall ushered in the 80’s and ingrained itself into my brain, to be re-awakened years later…but first, let’s talk 80’s.

————————

White Pines Road

I wasn’t born here in White Sands. I was actually born in the city of Appleton, Ontario in 1974. My dad worked for Hydro and was working out of Appleton when I came into this world. I still have the birth announcement from the Hydro newsletter heralding my arrival to “journeyman” Robert Larmand and wife.

I don’t remember too much about the city itself, but glimpses of our house flash through my mind from time to time. Grey brick bungalow. A pine tree in the front yard. A big backyard with an above-ground pool and a swing set. Inside, The family meals with aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandfather, with a bottle of wine & fondue; the stairs leading to the basement that my older sister would push me down while I was in my baby walker…

But in 1977, my parents’ moved us back to their hometown of White Sands and my father built a home for us on White Pines Road. Back then, the land was cheap there. Nowadays though, rich people have bought it all up and built their summer mansions there. But the house my father built with his bare hands (and help from family and friends), still stands among the majestic pines. The forest and hills all around us allowed me to explore and learn. I remember walking through the bush when I was young and happening upon a freshly killed deer. The wolves were still circling the carcass. I backed away slowly, but they were not interested in me. That one moment in time, the wolves and I understood each other. It was survival, nothing more….. I never ended up hunting anything. Ever. But if I ever did, it would be for survival, nothing more.

—————-

   The house on White Pines Road was surrounded by cottages. But there were a few brave souls that hunkered down and stayed on throughout the year. My mother made friends with a lady down the road who also had 2 small children. Her son Danny and I became the best of friends; riding our bikes down the dirt road, meeting up at “Elephant Rock” and collecting clay and tadpoles from the river beds.

The beaches there were divided by massive piles of rocks, and one day while Danny and I were jumping from rock to rock, I slipped and smashed my forehead off one of them. Blood oozed down my face and when all was said and done, I required four stitches between my eyes. To this day, I still have the scar…

—————

The Red Dock

Red Dock was THE place to go on those hot, sweltering summer days in the 80’s. It was the finest beach in White Sands; with swings and playground equipment (The ROCKET!) and a snack bar selling burgers, hotdogs, fries, chips and pop . Picnic tables carved with teenagers’ initials sat under a concrete and wood pavilion where parents would make their kids eat “one last french fry” before heading back out into the cool, clear waters of Georgian Bay.

It was named Red Dock because well, there was a “red dock” anchored about 20 feet out…just past the first sandbar. The cool kids held court on this “raft” and never let the younger kids on it. So we huddled together in the water, waiting for the chance to get on and “be cool”. Oh, some of us managed to sneak on, only to be hurled right off by the unruly boys hanging out there. Unless my Uncle Mark was there. He was the tallest, coolest kid back in the day, and everyone liked him. He was just that kind of person. If he was with us, nobody could touch us, and we got to swim out and sit on the coveted Red Dock…

When none of us “losers” were around to harass,  the guys would bet each other to see who could swim out to Magazine Island and back . Apparently, this was a right-of-passage for many of White Sands’ boys: my father used to swim out to the island back in the 50’s….

——————

There is a photograph of my sister and I at Red Dock in the early 80’s. We are both on the swings, holding our inflatable whale and seal that our parents’ had purchased for us on our recent trip to Marineland. I don’t know where the photo is any more, but I remember it vividly. I remember the senses it made me feel: the warm sand, the cool breeze, the sound of seagulls that I will always associate with my grandmother, who adored them. It reminds me of simpler times. Carefree childhood dreams and long lost summers. I wish I could go back…..

————————–

Chummy The Bum

Chummy was a bum that hung around town all day, bumming spare change and cigarettes from anyone he came into contact with, even us kids riding our bikes down to the corner store. Truth be told, he wasn’t really a bum. He had a home. Well, he “lived” in a “home”. A home for mentally incapable seniors, I guess. They fed him at dawn and let him loose upon our small Ontario town of White Sands. He was to be back for supper at 4, but in the meantime, he was free to do whatever it is you do with no money and all day to do it…

Growing up, he was always there.

Eventually, as my friends and I grew into loser-know-it-all teenagers, we would hang out at James’ place of employment – the gas station on the corner – and taunt Chummy with promises of a cigarette if he would do a little dance for us. Or we would ask him if he wanted our shiny new “loonie” and proceed to roll it down the street  as he chased after it…

As an adult, I look back at these times and I feel ashamed. I hope that I can instill some goodness and compassion in my sons so that they don’t make the same mistakes that I made when I was young.

…AND IT BEGINS!

This is where I make my mark. This is where I make my stand…

I have the first page of my book. Not the acknowledgements page, mind you, but the first words readers will see that kind of explains my novel…and it is this:

Luke: There’s nothing to see. I used to live here, you know.

Han Solo: You’re going to die here, you know. Convenient.

Return Of The Jedi (1983)

For, you see, I plan to write about my home town. Well, my home town as I saw it growing up in the 80’s. The times, the places,the quirky characters, the whole shebang…

Wish me luck…