Friday, November 21, 2014

Adventurous George (2)


As far as police brutality goes this small riot, ancillary to a group of unionized Santa Clauses being replaced by some temporary foreign workers, was run of the mill. A few tear gas canisters whistled into the crowd and tanks came from all four directions blocking off all escape and gasping coughing folk were herded into backs of covered trucks girded by mightily armed soldiers who spoke not a word. George took a seat on the floor and as his wits slowly returned he took out his compass and watched as the needle spun from east to south to west and then back to south as he sat facing the rear amidst groans and cries of those with a few broken body parts. The food was good as they all settled into a field of military tents with guards posted unsparingly to keep the vagrants out. The referral process was unhurried as over the next several days everyone was stripped and hosed down and checked over for life threatening diseases. George was declared fit and given a neat grey uniform and a little bag containing his wallet and compass and dirty cloths. They all settled into a good routine of sleep and meals and exercise in the big field, and in the evenings the whole camp would join in song, the favourite being “Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya.”

George was almost saddened when a kind judge told him he was free to go, but he decided to make the best of it as the guards made him give back his grey uniform and he put on his dirty clothes and hoody. Out into the countryside he trudged, compass in hand. He headed south, that being the only road available. The only vehicles on the road seemed to be soldiers and guards in trucks going back and forth to the big city and they kept throwing things at him like oranges and old junk food which he was sort glad about because he was getting hungry after walking since before noon. But when he got hit with a beer can which sloshed all over his hoody he started hiding in the ditch whenever he heard a truck approach. As evening deepened a lake shore with no far off horizon other than blue water flirted with the roads sojourn, and George took to walking on the sandy beach. He found a ravine with wild raspberries and blue berries and some rhubarb and with that and a delightful salad of young dandelion leaves his tummy was full and he settled down in a sheltered overhang for the night. He slept like a log.

He awoke in the morning to the cheerful caw of a crow who was rather intrigued by this human sleeping under his favourite tree. George missed his throne. It had been the only seat in the bachelor pad which his worker had found for him after he became aware in the hospital. They'd found him a bed but it was no good for sitting on because the front edge sank to the floor with any weight. He'd spent many long hours seated on his throne, figuring out what had happened to him and what this world was all about. His worker had gotten him his bank card but he'd quit going into his bank because they always wanted id and all he had was his health card which they said wasn't good enough. His card with the magic number which he had to get just right worked really good for buying his groceries every few days anyway. That crow really was annoyed.

The lake shore was home to many fine things. George found a salvageable little pail with a handle which he straightened and washed out in the lake. It was soon overflowing with blue berries and choke cherries which seemed to thrive in the bush which often approached the lake. As he headed south, George checked his compass to make sure, the sun had a strength today which was almost uncomfortable and he was so proud when he found an old straw hat with most of the brim still in place. That kept the heat off his ears. While resting under a tree near an old shed which may have been a cabin before it sagged in the undergrowth, he spied a little motley orange creature with half an ear missing. It was watching him intently. As George continued on his way he became aware that it was following him, always at a good distance, but always somewhere in sight if he looked hard.

By evening George's pockets were bulging with neat stuff. He'd found two Bic lighters, one that still worked after he cleaned and dried it, and a jack knife with the blade rusted open, and even an old blanket which had hung itself up in a tree and which he tied over his shoulder to make a big pouch. He really needed a usable backpack, but that would be asking for a miracle. As night approached he came to a barrier of rock and brush which jutted way out into the water so he found a path well used by animals with longer legs than his for jumping over the dead falls, but he managed to work his way around through the bush and came out on the other side with barely a scratch.

As he settled down for the night on some grass between two boulders his little orange buddy emerged from the shadows and set a dead rabbit at his feet. And it sat there and looked at him. Well, George not wanting to be a snob, and acting on some knowledge buried in his forgotten past, sharpened up his rusty blade on a smooth rock and had that rabbit skinned and gutted in two minutes flat. His buddy Mottles was pigging out on the innards. They had a little fire going in no time and with the meat skewed on a green branch the smell was delectable. With full tummies they settled down for the night on their new blanket and Mottles curled up beside his feet.

(To be continued)
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