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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

South of Moosonee 9

Updated: Apr 4, 2023



-11F/-20F

9

John lived on Maple Street. The street was shaped like a half moon. We were best friends for a while. Sometimes I would go over to his house to visit. It scared the shit out of me. His brothers and sisters fought and were scary loud. Every now and then one of his sisters’ knees would slip out and she would scream. Her knee would be at the side of her leg like a loose lump. I can still hear her screaming. She would be holding her knee like it was going to fall off. Then she would pop it back into place. Everyone would just continue eating, usually cereal, the same cereal they were fighting over when she popped her knee out of place. It was survival of the fittest, or loudest, or strongest…I won’t last a day there.

John had extreme asthma and psoriasis… He had itchy skin on his wrists. The ambulance was constantly being called to their house when John could hardly breath. I think the ambulance was also called for his sisters’ knee when she couldn’t pop it back in place.

John invited me along to visit his grandfather once. He lived in a one room house deep in the forest. There was a small lake beside the house that he would fish in. Everything about his family was mysterious and larger than life, even his grandfather. How did anyone survive alone in the woods? How do you handle the loneliness, the darkness at night? I don’t think I would ever be able to be that isolated, my brain would eat me alive.

*

Tinkerbell

Our cat was stabbed and skinned.

My sister heard some kids at school bragging about how they killed our cat. They said they were high on acid. They thought it was funny.

She was a beautiful long haired calico cat that didn’t fear people, which probably killed her. She should have been afraid. All people are dangerous.

I hope she was stabbed before she was skinned.

*

Louis

In grade four Louis came to a track and field competition at East view public school drunk and angry. He was near my grade, but not in my class. I saw the teachers taking him off the field and felt a bit jealous of the attention he was getting, until I found out why. Someone told me his father just killed his mother and hung himself… or shot himself. I’m not sure if he saw it, but either way, pretty fucking awful. I try to imagine, even now, what a house that fucked up would be like. Was there constant yelling and fighting, hitting, punching? Or was all that tension just under the surface, held down with enough distractions until it just blew up. As least he didn’t kill his kids, but I guess, in a way he did.

*

We finally did our Moonbeam gig. It was a small bar, no real stage. We were tucked away in the corner of what felt like a very large living room. The room had that stale beer smell that was probably coming from the dirty blue carpeted floor. Eventually the beer smell was overpowered by cigarette smoke. You could see a thin cloud form around the lights near the ceiling. I loved it. I imagined I was in some small place in a foreign country. Which is how everything feels to me.

When I am famous, people can read this and know where I started. I’ll talk about it on the Merv Griffin show, I will explain where I’m from and no one will know where it is or how I managed to make it. People from Kap will see the show and wonder why they never knew who I was.

Mark played his Dylan stuff and Crystal played Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac.

*

When we picked our brother up from Ottawa, he would pretend to speak French in the car. All the way home. His family is from Ottawa. He came from a foster home with 11 kids.

*

The girl friend of Snowball hung herself in her basement. Her parents found her. She lived on Cedar Street.

*

My sister learned to drive in her boyfriend’s car. The car was fat with a big bum, it was called a Pacer. I would watch her drive around the square in front of our house. It would wiggle and bounce when she changed gears. It must be nice to have someone who shows you how to do things. Being in a couple makes the world less scary, sometimes. I will never be in a real couple, I can feel it.

*

I did a gig at the arena with Crystal and Michael last summer. Mike got really stoned before the show. While we were walking through this field on the way to the arena he started freaking out because he thought his hands were turning into rubber. At first we laughed, but then he was scared. We played the show and Mike looked terrified and confused, like his hands took over with a mind of their own. He said they already knew what to do.

*

The hum of the fluorescent lights in class makes everything seem unreal. Like I can’t trust my eyes, or my brain. Like what I’m seeing isn’t really there. It feels like we are in something that doesn’t exist.

*

The Agulefos

I think she was about 16 or 17. My mom didn’t know what to do when she showed up at our door with a suitcase, wanting to move in. She lived two doors down. We didn’t know her, or her family. Her father was the new doctor in town. They were also new to the country, from Africa, I think. I couldn’t imagine how weird it must be to move from there to here. I think new doctors to the country have to go where they are needed first, then they go where they want. This is definitely not where they wanted to go. I’m sure they didn’t have any way to know what they were getting into. There are no National Geographic magazines with articles exploring the exotic and exciting life of a shit hole in northern Ontario. A brave reporter gearing up with a camera, pencil, and paper, ready to explore the wilds of a place so boring that there are animals that sleep all winter. The reporter would explore rumours of early age drinking and unusually high pot consumption. A summer so short that if you blink, you’ll miss it. Winter darkness, summer black flies and a lot of death. People would read the article and think, boy, I want to drive endless hours north to get there and stare at nothing for days. Tourism would boom.

But here she was, standing in front of my mother asking, in her demanding way, to live in our house. My mother is a kind-hearted person, we take strays in all the time. They would wander into our attached garage, seeking the warmth of the heat that leaked out of the house, their last-ditch attempt at surviving before freezing to death. But this was too much. She had to send her home. She might have explored the reason she wanted to leave if she knew how to talk to the family. But everything about them was a mystery, including the structure of their family. So my mom made her go back, wanting to believe it was just a childish fit.

That same year this girl entered a talent show at the school and did a strip tease. I think she was good, but the teachers stopped her. She had a thirst for attention that bordered on crazy, which interested me. I like crazy, it is more real than normal.

Her brother Cheetah, was in my grade. He managed to fit into the world of cool. His lack of wanting to know me and looking down at me made me realize he would survive very well. All the cool guys thought he was super cool, and he knew how to take advantage of that. I guess we all survive in our own way.

They put in their time and left. No beet fields for them.

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shirleyahampton
2023年3月29日

Wow what year was the class pic? That's my lil sis in there🙂. You 2 were good friends when you were small. I am so sad to read thru your story telling how many suicide/deaths occurred that you knew directly about 😢😢. I remember when Tinkerbell was found 😱😢 .. we cried😢😢.

Drugs were (& I think continue to be) rife in our tiny town. Many lost their live. Alot of domestic violence & childhood abuse, neglect took place behind closed doors 😢😢. Your memories are riddled with sadness Hun, so very sorry to hear, though so glad you can now allow them to be shared. Not sure when your healing journey began however really happy that it continues through…

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