Screeching In and stealing booze until the pants fall off. Now, where’s Johno?

We set up the tent on the grassy field and talked to a couple from Australia who were travelling around the world. After this it was south America. They’d hitchhiked a bit, done the train planes and automobiles thing and were ready to move on.

There was an Austrian guy camped beside us, go figure. I’d have been surprised if there hadn’t been. The Germans and Austrians are everywhere. We spoke for a minute about the East Coast trail which starts near Fort Amherst. This piste is 540 km long, a series of trails linked along the southern coast of NL, and hardly anyone knows about it. Peculiarities include abandoned towns and hamlets [due to re-settlement during the 50’s to 70’s, an initiative by the government to centralize the island’s populace] and the world’s most southern Caribou herd. There are living towns along this trail as well, so opportunities to re-supply exist. Its long been on my do-before-I-die list.

We took the bikes downtown and locked up outside the TD building. I locked my bike to Johno’s with the cable we’d got that afternoon. The separation plan [because I knew this was inevitable] was to leave my bike here under the cable and combo lock.

Sailor Jerry left the bottle cage and walked with us on George St.

“Okay, I’m cold,” Johno said, “give me another.” It was only ten o’clock and everyone would be drinking in their homes still and the most bar-dense street in North America was only getting the buzz on. Be warned by the way, George St. is truly excellent, but if you’re there for the first time during the day it’ll be an anticlimax: Its a wide back alley only two blocks long, a pedestrian-only street like in Europe except between eight a.m. and noon when trucks are allowed in to fill the cellars.

Somewhere along the cobblestones we had good chat with a wannabe beer-wench named Tina or Gina, or something with -ina and she told us where to go later on. Then it was a stroll by the water on Harbor Drive, Sailor Jerry diminishing quickly, the fast taste of the rum not so fast anymore. It was time to begin pacing ourselves a bit. At Johno’s suggestion I jumped onto a moored tugboat and started doing something, then realized he was trying to get me in trouble and jumped back again.

At eleven maybe eleven thirty the game was on. On a corner we met Callie and Brad, 19 year-old Lethbridge originals, going to school and working at Safeway, who’d been at the uni for two nights. They’d taken two weeks off at the end of may, hopped in Callie’s old Neon, seen the prairies, seen Niagra and eventualy showed up here. Lethbridge is a town that fate has denied me. I’ve been everywhere around and close to it, hear it’s an okay place, but all I really know about it is what I read from Andy Russell who pens tribute to a time when all there was to do in Southern AB was put up fences and break wild horses to the saddle. But Callie and Brad were cool, and above all, not officially together yet, though it was obvious that the latter had designs on relationship. All it means is that, as far as things had gone, I was free enough to take Callie by the arm and make her my first dancing victim. And this brunette with hair down to her shoulders, a very regular looking girl, very wholesome I’m sure, made a pretty good swing of things.

We’d talked on the corner for a bit and Johno and I pimped out Sailor Jerry’s to them to make a good start. Brad was DD tonight, and stoic, but all I could think was that it was only a matter of time.

We went to a place called Rob Roy’s [I ran to some bushes and stashed Mr. Jerry, who only had an inch left anyway], a club with two floors and a precarious wooden balcony, and got our stamps but it was to early for this kind of recklessness so in a few minute we went across to another place where the maritime music was wailing up a storm. The storm included a fiddle, and the lead guy was an animated guitarist who was making a Goliath out of himself and challenging the crowd for a dance.

The short-haired waitress was the one that Screeched us in. She even said she was a local, a ‘townie’, but I almost doubt it. She didn’t seem like a Newfie to me.

I’ll run you through this quickly: It’s the tourist thing obviously, but if you go to Newfoundland you have to get Screeched In. Screech is rum associated with NL though it originated in Jamaica. It’s blended and bottled on the Rock by the Newfoundland And Labrador Liquor Corporation but most of the really good stuff, I’m told, is put together in basements behind locked doors. To Screech In you have to drink like a Newfie, talk like a Newfie and socialize like one which means taking a shot, swearing allegiance and kissing a nice dead, room-temperature codfish that arrives at your table wrapped in tin-foil and lying king-like on a plastic liquor tray.

“I puke after shots,” Callie whispered, and I told her to go last. She wasn’t joking but held it in like a trooper all the way to the toilet downstairs. Her finest moment with me, which is always a bonding one. For lunch she’d had pasta. I held her hair and afterwards we danced.

Johno, tied up as he is with a girl he loves, played a good distraction and kept Brad talking. Never did I think I’d see johno sitting at a table covered in half-done jaager-bombs with another dude and talking up a storm. What a hero. Brad had that look a guy gets when an alfa steals his chick for the night, but come on, these two are going to get married anyway, so let me have her for an hour.

Part 1 of George St. ended well during a sag in the music. We were back at the table, Callie on my side, and she kept getting so many looks that finally she said she’d get in trouble if she stayed any longer. Hands were shaken, hugs given, good luck wished and that was the last we saw of them. It was half-past midnight and Rob Roys was calling.

This is where the separation plan came into effect.

I’d pushed my stamp in the bouncers face and took the stairs two at a time, enthusiastic about the waiting unknown. On the second floor the strobe lights were flashing and a black voice was bouncing out of the speakers in its pastell-coloured tone. The live band was down there, but the party was everywhere. Johno was behind me somewhere but i didn’t see him, and by the way things go I ended up in a flock of Bratz Dolls, generic blondes most of them, sloshed out of their minds. There was one brunette in this group, the smartest looking out of all of them. She had green eyes [weird that i could even notice] and a nice symetric nose and cheeks that had seen action, but not too much, from a compact earlier that night.

This gal Amanda and I found ourselves on the wooden balcony where the music poured out and met with the cool air, perfect for dancing, and a waist was held and lips met in the way strange lips sometimes do.

We’ve all been here right? To cut the story by half, more shots were done and a few of the girls went down and had to be pulled up by their arms so they wouldn’t get trampled. At three in the morning I was in a cab with six people who’d shown up from every point of the compass and a two minute drive had us at a house owned by a guy who thought he was damn suave in a dodgy black blazer. You sit with people, talk, drink wine and whatever else they have, talk music and places, fall asleep, wake back up, smoke, all that stuff. Amanda told me about living near Halifax and working with language students. Cool.

There was a bottle of Captain Morgan’s on the big-screen TV and I’d been eyeing it, knowing that it was meant for me. At six it was getting light outside and I had a moment of clarity that said I should go while the going was still good.

I was throwing my shoes on in the hallway very close to the door to the living room where the TV was and Blazer-Boy had appeared at the top of the stairs. We’d been eyeing each other all night the way two guys who are way to similar do when there’s girls around, measuring distance and odds. Generally we’d been getting on okay by not really saying much.

But when he showed up on the landing an altercation was had which is not worth repeating, ending in me saying something about ‘Did you even get your clothes off?” And him saying “shit,” stumbling a bit, and then “no.”

I was done here. The bottle of Morgan’s was a heart-beat away and I grabbed it thinking ‘yoink!’ and put a shoulder to the door, hit the concrete steps at full blast and was two inches away from doing ninety into a parked car. Maybe Blazer Boy yelled ‘hey’ or maybe he didn’t but all I could think of now was a hell-bent clip down the curving road towards Water St. The bottle sat well in the back pocket of the Diesel jeans which were doing a bad job staying up since i forgot the belt in Van. Johno had been making fun of my plumbers crack ever since we landed.

At a corner I stopped and took a piss, freaking out an old lady who was walking her dog. She should be used to it in this town. For some reason I actually remembered the bottle of Jerry’s stashed nearby and made to rescue it. It was still there and the new-comer bottle gave it a vile twist after a bit of a mix.

The bike was still at TD though Johno’s was gone and I made a quick weave back to the campsite.

The student boys were loving it.

“Your buddy came in two hours ago, someone said, and Johno was sleeping soundly when I got there.

“Let’s go!” I yelled, “it’s time to go! Let’s get this show on the road! Were biking across Canada!”

“Mmm…” He said. “Two hours. Get some sleep, you need sleep.”

“Let’s go right now!”

“Sleep. Did you get layed?”

“Hell no. There were a bunch of friends there. This is why i need you, this is the wing-man thing we were talking about. Did you get layed?”

“No. Of course not. Come on.”

“Where’d you go?”

Turns out Johno had sat for a while till I left with Amanda, then left, knowing there was nothing more he could do for me. He told me about being slightly sobered up and sitting at one of the tables in the club and watching the social side of things. Watching a club as an unattached observer, and what a weird thing that is. Because clubs are pretty strange places when you think about it. I wonder about this though: The park guy said he’d returned two hours earlier, but the club had closed at two.

This a tangent but some army guys I worked with did a road trip in the states once and Joey and Ess [last and only time they did a road trip together] met some girls who brought them to a gay bar. Joey was hanging with the chicks and wasn’t too bothered, but Ess disappeared for two hours [at this gay bar remember] and could never explain where he’d been. And he never heard the end of it. We always referred to it and Ess’s Lost Hour. So where was Johno for two hours?

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