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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

South of Moosonee 10

Updated: Mar 27, 2023







-17F/-23F

*

Writing Juttas’ Tape

(Click)

You want me to tell you about cutting hair? I’ll tell you about cutting hair… the only thing interesting about cutting hair is what the hair is attached to. I am thankful I live alone, because after listening to people talk to me about their problems all day, I want silence. (pause) I don’t know what it is about the intimacy of cutting hair that makes women want to tell you things they won’t tell anyone else. It doesn’t hurt that I am not very well known in the town, socially that is, I am known as a good hairdresser, and when people come to me, they are with me for life. (Throat clear) I have listened to women tell me about their husbands, children, parents… and everything else. I know when they go on holidays, who they are enemies with, who they are having affairs with. (Pause, something fell off the table, I think) That is the most talked about topic, who is sleeping with who. When they talk of others having an affair it is said with a true sense of moral superiority, but when it’s them, they speak of it as if they had no choice, that somehow, they are justified in ways no one else is. (Laugh, pause, mic movement) The excuses I hear. (pause) Relationships are a messy business, but I guess the alternative is loneliness. I feel like I have grown up with these people, these families. Some women come in once a month, others once a week, one woman comes in every morning before she teaches at school. (Moves back from microphone, her voice is a little distant.) Her hair is stringy, I puff it up like cotton candy and shape it, every weekday morning. (Moves back towards the mic. Volume is louder.) I like to think we are friends, but she would never see me outside of this place, which works for me…I know too much. When we see each other in the grocery store she smiles at me like I am familiar, but not too familiar. All hairdressers know everyones’ sins, we are priests, with scissors. (Door knock) Speaking of cutting hair, I have a client coming now. I also cut from home, but only on the weekend, and only a few clients…

(Click)

*

My mom wrote an article for the Northern Times. It was about how Tinkerbell died. She said the people that did this horrible thing will do other horrible things. I know what she is saying and I’m pretty sure they are already doing them. My Mom is a great writer. She has an insight I don’t really understand. There is a forgiveness to the way she writes that makes me angry, I don’t feel forgiveness, not for this. Our family pets are connected to us, they are a perfect distraction. Losing them is too painful to think about.

We buried what was left of Tinkerbell behind the apartment building. We made a marker with her name scratched on a piece of wood.

*

Glen

In grade four the kids would go to a huge pile of snow behind Eastview after school, climb it and try to throw each other off the top. Kind of a “King of the hill” thing. I watched them everyday when I left school. I wanted to be part of the game, the throwing, the laughing, the friendship. Everyday I played in my head, how I would go and join them, but I didn’t know them, even though they were in my class. Joining groups didn’t really work out for me. I become the game. But one time I just thought fuck it, I’m going. By the time I got the courage to go, there was no one left at the hill. I stayed at the hill, imagining climbing up and throwing someone off. Then I looked down and saw a pair of skates. I looked inside the skates and read the name Glen. I knew him, I knew where he lived. His house was on my way home. Sometimes they would be slightly ahead of me, and I know he lived right across from the short cut from Maple to Elm Street. If I bring him his skates, he will have to talk to me, maybe even be nice to me. We would become friends and I would finally be part of a group.

When I approached the house, I had to walk though an alley between the house and the garage to the back door. It felt too close, like I was going into their house without knocking. I imagined someone yelling at me, telling me to get out, but before I could turn back, I was knocking on the back door. The door opened and a short woman with a loud voice yelled at me. I told her I had Glens skates. She screamed at me to come in. Her words were friendly, but her voice was scary. She yelled, “Glen your little friend is here”. I wanted to correct her, I am not his friend, he barely knows me, but as she softened in front me, I could tell she was going to someone who liked me. Mothers like me, fathers hate me. Glen came, saw the skates, and thanked me for bringing them to his place. My plan worked. We became friends. I was included in his street group. That is how I also became friends with John, who is Glens’ neighbour.

Glen had two older brothers and an older sister. They were always nice to me. Their mother was tough but had to be. There was no father, he accidently shot himself while cleaning his gun in the basement. His brothers and sister found him. I try to imagine what it would be like for them, finding their father, but all I hear in my head is a slight ringing, that noise they put in movies when a bomb goes off and everyone runs around with broken ear drums.

I loved being at his place because there was no parents there. It felt like we could do anything, not that there was much to do. When I failed grade four, we lost touch. But one time when the choir went to St. Catharines for a competition in grade 9 Glens' older siblings showed up and took me out to see the town. I think one of them moved there. They were those kind of people, nice people. I don’t know why more people weren’t like that. It was worth it, bringing Glen his skates. I can still hear his mothers voice screaming, “Glen, your little friend is here!”

*

When the mill was on strike, a guy who works there said, “watch where you spit”, to this guy who was talking to my dad outside of Joes Smoke shop on the Circle. He said it in French, he didn’t know my dad spoke French. It must sound more insulting in French.

*

The streets are like snow hallways. The lights in the sky are back. You can see the heat leak out of the houses and go straight up. It’s weird to think that these little boxes save us from freezing to death. The outside world is dangerous.

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2 Comments


chorabik
Mar 30, 2023

You have such a unique style of writing. You are able to bring to life the people from our past in such an interesting way. Love

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Wellington Lambert
Wellington Lambert
Apr 05, 2023
Replying to

Thanks! I tried to express the memories in a unique but honest manner.

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