Stubborn Town is a story of seven chapters, posted serially by me, your disorganized host, Cheeseburger Brown.
I've officially upgraded this story to seven chapters. The mystery is deeper than I thought.
Old Gord is white and grouchy, and his home is known as the Edge House because it stands equidistant between the old site of S. Inlet and the new. Edge House is the only building not relocated, emptied or razed during the great move. All Gord had to do was take up sitting on his backyard porch instead of his front porch, in order to have sight of the church steeple while putting away beers and frowning judgmentally at the passersby, as is his wont.
He narrows his eyes with menace as he spots Aglakti and the stranger approach, the latter limping and stumping along stiffly like someone in the final stages of syphilis.
This observation informs Gord's opening remarks, belting out across the street in a gravelly baritone: "Why don't you go see a doctor, you goddamn pervert?"
He horks in the grass as punctuation.
"Hi Gord," calls Aglakti. "Can we talk to you a sec?"
"This is Mr. Mississauga, from the Ministry of the Environment. He's here to help us out -- trying to get to the bottom of things, and whatever." She pushes her glasses up on her forehead and flashes the old man a girlish smile.
Old Gord frowns. "Why should I give a shit, young lady?"
Mr. Mississauga takes a lurching step forward. "Without a solution to this problem, the tourists will stay away. Without tourists, your town will die, sir."
"I wouldn't want you getting no syphilis on my doorknobs."
"I don't have syphilis, sir."
"So why do you walk like a crank then, taxman?"
"I have two artificial legs, sir," explains Mr. Mississauga. He tugs up the hem of his trousers, exposing the plastic and metal shaft of his left shin.
Old Gord's face softens. He lifts his own left leg which ends above the ankle. "I lost mine in Korea. What about you?"
"Thalidomide poisoning, sir."
"Huh," says Old Gord thoughtfully. He picks up his cane and pushes himself upright. "That's a goddamn crying shame. Come on in why don't you? Don't dawdle with the screen open -- it lets in those Christ-forsaken black flies."
The inside of the Edge House is musty. Sun-bleached black and white photographs line the walls, long dead people staring out through soft vignettes in wooden frames painted with flaking gold leaf: some are somber women tied into Burqua-like Victorian dresses, some are dirty-faced soldiers grinning around cigarettes, arms on each other's shoulders or making the V sign. In the livingroom there are medals pinned over the fireplace in a neat row underlining a massive oil portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II.
Old Gord lowers himself into the middle of a loveseat, gestures at two dusty easychairs for his guests. "So what can I do you for?" he wheezes, resting his cane against a porcelain statue of Mother Mary whose bosom has been stained dark by repeated contact with the cane's mouldering leather handle.
Mr. Mississauga has his bright yellow notebook ready. "I understand you've been experiencing nothing out of the ordinary during the nights, sir."
"That's so. I'm a Christian."
Mr. Mississauga stares into Gord's face, his chocolate brown eyes uncritical. Gord shifts in the loveseat, sniffs, and then decides to continue: "I know you government bastards think we're all trying to pull one over on the world, but I'm here to tell you it ain't the case. There's no trick to it, but there is a pattern. It ain't random, if you follow me, what happens at night. It ain't random at all."
Aglakti furrows her brow. "What pattern, Gord? What are you talking about?"
"That's enough sass, young lady," snaps Gord. He turns back to face Mr. Mississauga. "It's the sinners, Mr. Miyagi. Them what has Christ in their hearts aren't troubled at all, and them what's lost inside are flitting around at night in the Devil's canoe. It's just that goddamn simple. I don't know why you eggheads in Ottawa can't figure that out when it's plain as day."
Mr. Mississauga makes a note...
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