20 February 2007

In Which Sarge Makes a Digression After a Long Walk Past the Shipwrecks...


Immediately after I received your communication I was in touch with Smitty and Morebeeck, the Dutchman, they both assured me a medical team was there within hours, yet my confusion at the turn of events deeply troubled me. I called to Cody who was chasing blue tongued lizards and skinks, he bounded over to me and we took a walk along the shores of the great ocean.

The waves pounded the shoreline, the sky was a sheet of grey. The wind whipped at my windbreaker and Cody dashed in and out of breaking water, barking sometimes at the gulls. I thought about the oddities of your message. A GPS? Not the dossier on Boigny and his bases of operation? The list of his spies throughout the neighborhood? On how many fronts do the Canucks sneak? Too soon my questions had to take a backseat to my responsibilities here. My shift at the restaurant was due to begin.

I called to Cody and we returned to the house. The rain came as I changed and windowpanes rattled as if all the dead sailors were pleading entrance from the elements. The ocean roared.

Today I moved through the shift as if in a dream. Once I went to a table with their order, but I looked at them all stupidly. They looked back at me, wondering what I was doing with their food by just holding it there. I had no idea who had ordered what. Less than fifteen minutes and it seemed like they had ordered last year. Do I offend the woman by giving her the steak? Or will it be more offensive to guess she had the salad? One thing I've learned in my short while as a waiter is this, if you don't act like their eating is exactly why you exist, they will treat you as if you had just rolled around in shit. Meanwhile, I was thinking about you and Nwargo. I could not bring myself away from fears and questions about what was going on in Africa. I wondered frequently if when I next addressed you I would be addressing a corpse.

Not a pleasant thought amigo.

But a letter is an act of faith, and Cody's joy at my return buoyed my spirits. I decided I would try to lift your spirits as well. Along with this missive that only offers puzzlement and worry, I add some music. It is a woefully inadequate consolation unless you consider my complete faith in your abilities otherwise to extricate yourself from the position given you. And you and I have both learned to take what we can get. Remember that night we spent humming old Beatles songs in Jagat? The cold seemed to be alive, breathing frost through the uninsulated windows and doorways, the lame barman sang the choruses of "She Loves You" and "Let it Be" with us; sometimes I believe the reward of this job lies in the memories and the memories lie in the songs.

Take my advice, if you would, and get Nwargo to Cairo for treatment and then let him disappear again. Use any doctors there he suggests, I don't believe we want to trust any of our own right now. Meanwhile, I will try and set up a new line of communication so that we may continue to communicate with Nwargo. I believe I will refrain from informing Ottawa of any of this. If you believe I double-crossed you, think back to what happened the next morning in Jagat. Sometimes the rosy fingers of dawn streak blood.

The Playlist to accompany this missive:

Side A:
1. Tokyo Witch - Beach House
They play this song at the restaurant a lot. One of the college girls who works there sings along with it sometimes.
2. (I'm) Stranded - the Saints
3. No More Heroes - the Stranglers
4. It's a Man's Man's Man's World - James Brown
When Murrow aced Fourquais in Calgary she swears she was humming this song.
5. Spellbound - Siouxie and the Banshees
6. Step into the Realm - the Roots
When I was in Paris, my next door neighbor would play this song every morning. The walls would shake. He was a good kid, eventually I had him do a few errands for the Maple Leaf. Nothing major.
7. Rose Rouge - St. Germain
8. I'm On My Way - Mahilia Jackson
During the worst days at Freetown I would catch myself singing this over and over again. The piano swirls; looking out over the Atlantic from Freetown one can see where the hurricanes are born.
9. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
10. The Sniper Song - Naked Raygun
11. B.O.B. - Outkast

Side B:
12. Solitary Man - Neil Diamond
Another one from Tallinn.
13. Dirty Boots - Sonic Youth
Our lives have been built out of mud. Let others have the illusion that their lives are potentially of a purity. The world is too dirty for us to fool ourselves of any nonsense.
14. Fire and Rain - James Taylor
15. Mad World - Gary Jules
When the chorus at Notre Dame sang this at McAlpern's funeral, I think all of Montreal teared up. He was a good man, Calrissian insists his was a careless death, but you, Ranger and I know better.
16. You Gonna Wreck My Life - Howlin' Wolf
17. Going Underground - the Jam
18. Who Knows - Marion Black
This is on many of my tapes for long trips.
19. The Glamorous Life - Sheila E.
20. Some Velvet Morning - Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
Well, another Tallinn song.
21. Life During Wartime - the Talking Heads
22. The Pin in the Night - Nathan Johnson
We don't see a lot of movies, I know, the damn life, but I saw this movie Brick, the soundtrack seemed one for our own lives. Full of sudden pitfalls and tempo changes and then moments of unadorned beauty, sometimes not in that order.
23. Africa - Toto
24. Keep on Loving You - Reo Speedwagon
Sometimes the Maple Leaf seems a symbol of contradiction and unmet ideals bordering on the lost, and then, there's that moment, for me it is often found when I cross the Lions' Gate Bridge at dawn, just in from God knows where and happy finally, for the light of dawn, when I feel this is not a sacrifice we make, but an honour. Vancouver stretches out then, like a string of pearls hung on the morning.

There is work to be done I know Cpl., but there are roads to travel, and now more than ever, we cannot lose our way in a fog of despair. Know, that even without the GPS, Boigny was closing fast on Nwargo. The prize is real, and they know that.

with thanks for your continued good health and Nwargo's good fortune,


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