[Susan has come to pick up Walter in the airport. He is paying for his several martinis after having told Susan he’s had one.]
“You left two.” [twenties] Susan pointed.
“Airport prices.” Walter dismissed, shoving Susan away as she tried picking up the bill that wasn’t extra. “Tax and tip.”
“Alberta doesn’t have sales tax. so that’s a pretty big tip. Where’s your coat?”
“I didn’t bring one. We don’t need coats in May.”
“We do. If you would have bothered checking the weather before you left….It’s two degrees.”
“They said four on the plane.”
“That was hours ago. It’s cooled off.”
“In the middle of the afternoon?”
“It’s after six.”
“It’s still bright out.”
“Days are longer here. This time of year, it’s light till around ten.”
“Great. Longer days,” Walter muttered, following her through a maze of corridors lined with stores. Even an airport looked like a shopping mall. Something else masquerading as something it wasn’t.
“Wait here. I’ll go get the car.”
After about fifteen minutes, Susan pulled up in a toy. He stepped out the automatic doors into wind that bit. Susan popped the trunk open from inside, but still got out, probably to make sure he didn’t scratch her paint putting in his suitcase. “What the hell’s this? Looks like something a couple of kids should be playing with. You’re always bragging how much money you make.”
“This is a very expensive car.”
He let Susan contend with the stuffing in of his suitcase and opened the passenger door. When he sat, his ass didn’t stop when he expected it to and he dropped another half foot, leaving him looking up at the curb. He had more room on the plane. He choked on the dry air. “You got any gum?” he rasped.
“You? Want gum?”
“A desert would seem humid compared to this.”
Walter is at the airport being served martinis. He is struggling to read the Calgary paper without his reading glasses and sees a volcano on the front page. He is most disturbed bcz he didn’t think Canada had volcanoes. He checks out the window for smoke on the horizon but sees none. He is further puzzled bcz the volcano is surrounded by office towers. He is then able to read the caption:
“The Lava Rock Cafe.” A restaurant!? “Explodes at yesterday’s opening.” Which, judging by another picture, referred to the crowds lined up outside the door. Figures! A restaurant built to look like a volcano. Worse than a bikini bar. People didn’t care about good food anymore – only gimmicks. If he opened a new business now, he’d be ruined bcz he’d have nothing clever to offer; just good, old-fashioned food. To succeed, he’d have to compromise. Do something he didn’t want to do. He shivered at the thought. Or because he sensed Susan’s presence? Walter combined the martinis into one glass, and set the empty two upside down on a clean stack behind the bar. At least he didn’t need to earn a living. He’d saved.
“You could have mentioned which bar,” Susan impatiently snapped.
“You didn’t say anything when I said THE bar, so I assumed the airport had only one.”
“You said a bar.”
“Same thing. And even if I had known of more, how would I have known which one I’d find, or what it’d be called, when I’ve never been here before?”
Susan’s mouth opened, then closed. ‘How many have you had?”
“One.” Though four plastic swords guarded his cocktail napkin. “With extra olives. I was hungry.”
“You didn’t get lunch on the plane?”
“I must have slept through it. Looks like you skip a few meals.”
“I’ve always been this size.”
“My point. Middle aged women usually don’t stay at their high school weight.”
“I’m thirty-three. That’s not middle aged.”
Walter has arrived in Calgary & is at the airport waiting for Susan. But not where he was supposed to have been, so Susan went home. Walter phones.
“I thought you were picking me up at the airport.”
“I was just there. Why weren’t you on your flight?”
“I was, obviously, because I’m here. Look at your fancy phone. I’m calling from a 403 area code.”
“Then where were you? Screwing a flight attendant in the bathroom?”
“That would have made the trip a little more pleasant.”
“I’ll come back and get you. Wait there.”
Where’d she think he’d go? “Does this place have a bar?”
“I’ll be in it.”
Guided by instinct, he found it. .. [description]
“Do you make martinis?” Walter perched on a padded bar stool with a back-rest.
“Of course. Gin or vodka?”
“Gin! Vodka wouldn’t be a martini.”
“Some people like a twist.”
“Of lemon? Figures.” He shook his head. Another new trend, like bikini bars. He watched the bartender stir vigorously. “You’re bruising it!”
“What do you mean?”
“Never mind.” Walter grabbed his murky drink and stared at the TV.
[He has another while deliberating whether or not to open another restaurant himself. orders another. ]
“You know these are doubles,” the bartender cautioned.
“Martinis are, yes. I worked in this business longer than you’ve been alive. Do you have a newspaper?”
Ok, I don’t know when I’ll blog. Just more regularly than before.
So, we last saw Susan, deserted by Rob/d, expecting her father’s visit. So here he is, on the plane.
“Stupid seats.” Walter fidgeted, trying to put distance between himself and the man on his left, which brought him too close to the man on his right. An airborne Scylla and Charybdis, though the plane still sat on the ground. What was taking so long? Maybe the airlines, with their delays and confined seating, meant to make passengers impatient and uncomfortable so they wouldn’t panic about the possibility of plunging into the prairies and so made take-offs late on purpose.
As soon as the plane backed away from the gate, Walter’s stomach constricted, though if the aircraft did go down, at least he wouldn’t have to worry about what to do with the rest of his life. Just taxiing, the wings wobbled.
Finally, the plane slowed and stopped at one end of a long strip of pavement. A sudden rumbling of thunder from beneath him would have startled him out of his seat had the seatbelt not been holding him in. The whole cabin vibrated when the craft lumbered, the hurled itself down the runway. Vomit rose halfway up his throat. In mere seconds he’d lose touch with the ground. He felt his seat recline backward. Hell, the entire interior tilted. Only mere inches of industrial plastic was keeping the atmosphere out.
…[MORE AIRPLANE DISCOMBOBULATION]
He dozed off [and woke up when the pilot’s fuzzy voice announced the local time & temperature]. Four! Walter didn’t know Celsius very well, but that couldn’t be right. Not for May. “How cold is that?” he asked the man on his other side, the one whose nose had not touched him.
What kind of place was he coming to? At home [Southern Ontario. Remember, he’s on his way to Calgary] he’d had the air conditioning on.
…the wings flassped like a bird’s. Fine for a real bird because their wings couldn’t snap off, but all wrong for metal, which could. Flight wasn’t the effortless floating it seemed from on the ground.
So this was Calgary – a sea of brown grass, a clump of tall buildings on the horizon, nad beyond those, little purple bumps topped with snow.
[We left Susan in bed with Rob/d with the phone ringing and her parrot taking in the situation from his tree-stand in the bedroom. Rod/b is bothered by this.]
“It’s looking at me.” Rod stared at the bird.
Much as she loved Oscar…”He’s a bird!”
“It sounds human.”
[phone continues. both are annoyed. till Susan realizes,]
“It might be my dad.” The only other person who wouldn’t have given up after ten rings. “He never remembers what time it is here.” And maybe – because of advancing age – what day it was, either. Oscar started screeching. Susan finally reached for the cordless so both the bird and the phone would stop further aggravating Rob.
](this takes place in the 90’s, just as cell phones were coming out) Susan lives in Calgary; Walter, her father, in a small town Southern Ontario]
[Rob searches for his clothes]
Susan covered the mouthpiece and begged, “Don’t go!”
“This one spent the whole night? Must be serious.” Walter.
“And probably over, thanks to you.”
“What time is it there?”
“Seven o’clock.” Susan noticed Oscar climbing down from his tree.
“It’s nine here.”
“What are you doing tomorrow?”
“I don’t know. Why?”
Oscar dropped from the last branch onto the floor and waddled, toe nails clicking on the laminate, toward Rod’s feet, which he quickly retracted onto the bed, while swearing. Susan couldn’t help giggling.
“Call me back when you two are done.” Walter hung up.
But Rob wasn’t seeing the humour. “This is too fucking weird. You sleep with your parrot. You have one. Can you get him?”
[Rob leaves. Walter and Susan resume their conversation; Susan learns that her father’s lease wasn’t renewed on his restaurant he’s had since before Susan was born. At 62, Walter has become involuntarily retired, and bored, boards a plane for the first time to visit his daughter]
I forgot my clipboard at home (I do this from the library) containing the next installment of Walter & Susan and I promised myself I’d resume my blogging every Sat (tho the day may change to Tues as of next week. So I’ll comment on my experience as a participant in a Raw Artist gala as an exhibiting artist, as opposed to a performing artist. The musicians and dancers really made the show. We all had to buy out any of the 20 tickets we were each responsible for selling which we did not sell to friends and acquaintances. At least we with inventory could hope/try to recup some of our costs. Those performers were there as an event to put on their resumes to increase their chances of getting hired somewhere someday. They often fly around to other of the 60 RAW cities. Hats off to them. And if you see your friends advertising on FB to buy a ticket to RAW, come out and support them. Other people make events awesome and build others’ artistic careers.
The 20 year project is finally finished, edited, and ready for publication. Currently, I’m seeking a publisher. So I feel ready to share. I’ll be blogging the first page, or so, of each chapter.I had a lot of fun writing this. Why it took so long? I needed to experience better relationships so I could have an idea what they were so I could show growth in some of the characters, Susan specifically.
In the Days Before Cell Phones
The phone?! Who the hell would be calling on a Saturday morning? No one – which was why Susan hadn’t bothered turning her ringer off or the volume down on her answering machine prior to going out Friday night. Her father called Sunday mornings, and Doug only came by in the middle of the night without notice, but usually during the week.
Rod or Rob – the music in the bar had been too loud to hear which – opened his eyes from the pillow beside her. “Aren’t you going to get that?”
“No.” Susan gambled the caller would soon think she either wasn’t home, or already had company and would hang up.
“Why, who is it?”
Like Rod had a right to be jealous after six hours. Every man she mett in the bar had a few women on the go, so why shouldn’t she have other men? She reached over to fondle the one in her bed to show she’d chosen him over any possible former lover on the other end of the line.
“Hello?” Oscar fluffed his feathers on his tree of dead branches in a corner of the bedroom and mimicked Susan’s voice answering the phone, right down to the hopeful tone.
(I think I’m out of space)(or there’s a problem)