. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . where ImagInatIon comes to play

Sunday 27 January 2008

Histoires de la rivière aux rats//Stories From the Rat River

JACK JONES: part ii

Jack had arrived in the small town a penniless man, his wages up North spent more quickly than his need for bourbon required. Having stumbled upon an old shack by the river, he made his way to the farm house above the banks of the Rat to ask the landowner’s permission if he could stay there a while. The owner was my Uncle Robert, Roger’s dad. Mon oncle is a kind-hearted, generous man and so it isn’t difficult for me to imagine him offering the coloured stranger a piece of land on his riverbank. He agreed to accept the man’s help with menial labour in exchange for the land. Mr. Jones became a gardener that day.

After some time in the community he chose to call home, Jack was accepted into the church and baptized by water with the parishioners looking on. Jack was now a full-fledged Roman Catholic. I wonder if he hoped that the blessed water might cure him of his drink. Well, despite his attempts at embracing sobriety, it wasn’t long before Jack fell off his blessed wagon and began one of his three week binges.

The bottles emptied, he managed somehow to find his way home, and when he did, he quickly fell onto the straw mattress and into a very deep sleep. He didn’t have the presence of mind to light a fire or to close the door to his shack. It was a bitter-cold winter night, the kind only a person raised on the prairies would know with any amount of intimacy. None of Jack’s toes could be saved, though many say he was lucky to get away with his life.

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