203 Slices
Medium 9781771870689

Green Honda

McLellan, Don Thistledown Press ePub


ARCHIE SPOTTED THE SCANNER AT A SWAP meet. The hawker evidently concluded that he wasn’t an undercover cop, because he leaned across the pile of swag and said, “It’s your lucky day, buddy.”

Lila dismissed the scanner, about the size of Archie’s shoe, as “just another stupid toy.”

Once he got the hang of things, though, Archie was eavesdropping on firefighters and paramedics, on the banter of security guards, construction crews, and bicycle couriers. But the hawker had been right: the police frequency was best.

After dinner most nights, Lila’s fanny parked in front of the flat screen, he’d lie in bed, the lights out, listening to police working stakeouts and drug busts, in pursuit of robbery suspects and car thieves.

The action was unedited and often profane.

Atmospheric interference sometimes made dialogue unintelligible. But when the sky was clear and the night air crisp, his evenings were high drama. The ticketing of teen dragsters and the separation of feuding couples. The search for peeping Toms, cat burglars, and fugitives. Reality radio. Of course he couldn’t see the “perps,” as the police called them. It was like listening to one of those taped books for the sightless: you had to imagine the cast of characters.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781771870641

Exercise Girls

Hobsbawn-Smith, dee Thistledown Press ePub


I WAS FIFTEEN WHEN I TRESPASSED up the long driveway to visit the horses grazing behind the fence. I’d studied those horses all spring while walking the half-mile home from the bus stop with my little sister Jill. Thoroughbreds, I guessed, what I’d want to be if I were a horse, so elegant and spare — a far cry from my own compact frame, more like a Welsh pony. The horses reminded me of Dad.

Dad had called me his pit pony whenever I’d drop my head and plug away at homework I didn’t quite get. “You don’t quit, do you, Fanny?” he’d tease, stroking my unruly hair as if it was a mane in need of grooming. I missed him so much my bones ached, a dull intermittent pain. Forty years later I still miss him, and I wonder how that year would have played out if he’d been alive.

One horse, long-legged, a dainty head like an Arab’s, perked his ears at me. I dropped to my knees beside the gate and was rummaging in my backpack when a man in faded Levis and denim jacket, tall and narrow as a hinge, strode from an adjacent field milling with Hereford cattle. He stood watching me from the far side of the gate. Beneath the tilt of his cowboy hat, his eyes were the brown of the slow-moving water in the nearby canal, and his hatchet face was creased like linen dried on the clothesline. Frayed cuffs left his wrists naked and I could see black hairs threading toward his knuckles. My breathing rasped unexpectedly and I could feel the skin of my throat get warm as I looked up at him. I had to look away, forty yards down the lane to where Jill was flipping the red flag up and down on the rusty mailbox at the driveway’s end, shifting from one foot to the other. I mouthed warnings at her, then turned back to the lanky man in blue.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781927068151

Green Jerseys

Hayes, Derek Thistledown Press ePub


IT IS MONDAY, JUNE 10, A COOL morning. There’s just one more week of school. I’m fifty years old and I’m flashing cards, homemade, blue ink on white Bristol board, at Bobby Fenner, who has his head in his arms. Tiny red pimples dot his cheeks.

Soup Kitchen.

“What’s the significance of this, Bobby?” My deep voice resonates off the blackboards.

“I don’t know,” he says lethargically.

“Hey Bobby, cheer up,” I say, my teeth clenched, rubbing my knuckles against the top of his greasy blond head to motivate him.

“Don’t do that,” he says. “Oh — I don’t know. That’s where people got free food because they were hungry.”

“That’s right, Bobby. How about this one?” Bennett Buggy.

“They didn’t have enough gas, so they hooked their cars up to horses.”

“Bingo, Bobby. Five for five.” The room is boisterous. Kids are turned around in their desks, squirming. Tanya Simmons is painting her chipped nails an awful shade of pink. Sara Roberts is looking in a mirror, covering her acne with blush. These kids are unruly. I’m going to have to rein them in one of these days. I’m only the educational assistant in this class. Stan Wakefield is the actual teacher, but he doesn’t have authority, and he’s not here now because he’s taken Lee Hendry down to the office for throwing gum at Tanya.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781771870825

Biographical Notes

Virgo, Seán Thistledown Press ePub


BRIAN BRETT was born in Vancouver, and spent his childhood on the road in his father’s truck, learning the Fraser Valley farm region, the native villages, and ocean and lakeside fishing camps. He ruined his knees walking over too many mountains, and has had too many opportunities to witness the destruction of the great raincoast cloud forest and the rich delta of the Fraser River. A poet, novelist, and journalist, the author of eleven books, his latest publication Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life won the 2009 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize. His natural habitat is limited to the climate region where the wild rhododendron grows. He has spent his adult life advocating the preservation of this ecology. Currently, he lives on an organic farm on Saltspring Island, British Columbia.

Novelist and poet BARRY CALLAGHAN is included in every major Canadian anthology and his fiction and poetry have been translated into seven languages. His works include The Hogg Poems and Drawings (General 1978), The Black Queen Stories (Lester & Orpen Dennys 1982), The Way The Angel Spreads Her Wings (Lester & Orpen Dennys 1989), When Things Get Worst (Little, Brown & Co. 1993), A Kiss Is Still A Kiss (Little, Brown & Co. 1995), Hogg, The Poems And Drawings (Carleton 1997), Barrelhouse Kings: A Memoir (Little, Brown & Co. 1998), and Hogg: The Seven Last Words. He has published translations of French, Serbian, and Latvian poetry, and has been writer-in-residence at the universities of Rome, Venice, and Bologna. He was a war correspondent in the Middle East and Africa in the 1970s, and at the same time began the internationally celebrated quarterly and press, Exile and Exile Editions.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781771870849

Arul Luthra’s Yard

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub


FOR FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER my religious and domestic upheavals, I lived a few steps from the bank of the South Saskatchewan River. My apartment was near the Pioneer Cemetery and Diefenbaker Park, the least developed of the city’s parkland, and I could often walk a circuit of five or six kilometres without meeting another human. The riverbank was my sanctuary — its chokecherry bushes, its porcupines and magpies, even an occasional deer within city limits, reminded me of the North Saskatchewan valley that had watered my roots, and was still my favourite place for a getaway.

When I met Larraine, who had been city born-and-bred, she soon observed that I was “a country boy but not a farm boy.” She moved in with me later; and when my daughters and sons-in-law began bringing their own kids to visit, the mile of riverbank remained my refuge from the city, and became a playground for our grandchildren as well.

Then the apartment block was sold to a business consortium whose only motive, it seemed, was to impose rent increases and let the building deteriorate. Larraine and I began looking for new quarters, and at the opposite end of Saskatoon found a townhouse priced within the means of an ESL teacher and a hopeful writer. And when we moved there in the spring of the year, I set out promptly to explore our new neighbourhood.

See All Chapters

See All Slices