Wordcarpenter Books
The Motorcycle Inn

6

leg: (ME leg, legge, fr. ON leggr leg, bone; akin to OE lira fleshy part of the body, L lacertus muscles, upper arm, lacerta lizard, GR lax with the foot)

 3. One of the branches of a forked or jointed object.

 &

 

Legge awakened by the sound of clattering feet, like fingernails tapping on wood twice as many as a man's. He followed the sound from the kitchen to the parlor and up the stairs until he saw a dog push his bedroom door open, huge body black as raven's hair, penetrating red-brown eyes curious and trusting. The tail like a baseball bat knocking his pants off the arm of the chair.

Harry snug in his sleeping bag in the bottom bunk of the room across the hall, the sun streaking in through the east window. Legge stood at the doorway and smiled. "Your aunt's here. This must be Penny." The Lab jumped onto him and licked his face.

Moving in the kitchen with ease, Gail served eggs and toast and sliced potatoes from the frying pan. The ceiling was so high it was like a dining hall with a huge antique table that suited a medieval castle.

"You could run it as a bed and breakfast you know. All this space begs to be used. Besides it's a good business to get into here on the island. You could work from home." Dealing with too many people, he thought, or maybe not.

"There's a market for that here?"

"No chains here, no McDonalds, no Holiday Inns. All guesthouses are locally run. I'll tell you, if I were you I'd run a guesthouse. And I'd get that motorcycle up and running. Then you can get to know the Island." Gail suggesting the thing he most wanted to do so casually as if to pull it out of him.

"They say the motorcycle is the best way to see the island. I wouldn't know but that's what they say. Uncle Harold was like that. That motorcycle of yours has seen a lot of miles I bet. Some summers that's all he did was ride. He'd work a little and then take the long way home. Folks say they used to hear him laughing as he rode by." Legge laughed. Good, genuine laughter was what he liked best about his uncle.

"So the bike knows the roads well." Forklift recollections pushed fears of riding a motorcycle away. Less traffic than the city.

"Be easy to run a B&B. Cater to motor-bikers. You got five bedrooms here. All you need are linens and a sign in the front and a positive attitude. Be friendly and it'll come." Easier to work from here than to go somewhere else to work for someone else. Ride it and they will come.

The aunt hit her stride with the idea. "Old Doug has some extra beds I'm sure. I'll talk to him. There's always stuff to be re-used. If you wanted a second refrigerator, the Anglican Church is a good place. They have a sale this weekend at the rectory."

"You must be busy with your own life. I mean I don't want you to do too much." Had jumped into this with only a vague notion of what to do, hoping for signs along the way. Motorcycle B&B. Better than working at the hardware store.

"Sure I have things to do but they can wait," she replied. "Knitting." She held up her hands crooked from knitting, indented marks in the fingertips. "I know a man who make signs. Need one in town I reckon. Always saw this place as a bed and breakfast. Has the space certainly in the kitchen.

"What do you think Harry? Mind living here and renting out those bedrooms to travelers passing through?" Pressed his lips together and frowned. Momentarily pensive. Then shrugged his shoulders, non-confrontational like his father.

Outside the breeze from the lake picked up. She tightened her scarf in the chill and saw her breath when she exhaled. "It's gonna rain. I can smell it."

"Naw, I don't think so." Small droplets of rain hit his face.

"Rains at the drop of a hat here on this point. Just the way the clouds are forced up the cliffs to the west. Wind comes from the prairies for the most part."

Legge looked at this strange new setting just out of sight from the lighthouse and protected by the cove. The rocks on the horizon skewed gray in the light rain, his skin moist and clean.

"If you're going to have up to six people a night staying here in the high season, you'll need to widen that driveway at the end. Needs more parking space. Say three or four cars. I think I saw some excess gravel in the back of the lot. Could use that maybe. And I should get Old Doug's son Kyle to fix up garage before it falls down." Clouds moved south from the North Channel bringing thunder.

"It's happening so fast, as if I don't have a choice." Shrugged his shoulders and couldn't let go of the knot in his stomach. Clenched like a fist for years.

&

In the car through Gore Bay, waves with whitecaps breaking on the sticks of the dock, pavement was smooth and slick. Legge and his aunt pulled in at the hardware store.

"Best thing about this store is that you can pour yourself a cup of coffee and browse. Donations for the coffee welcome. Honor system. Been working for years." She poured two cups as he watched cars stopping at the post office across the street, rain cascading down the window.

"Says it's gonna pick up a bit," said the man behind the counter with white sideburns, looking at their donation for the coffee. A gust hissed against the glass plane.

"Never can trust the weather ‘round here," said the man. "North Channel's famous for that." He knew a new face when he saw one.

Lightning struck down over the water, flickering light, mumbling thunder. Papers stapled to a telephone pole wavering in front of the post office, a man dipping his head into the wind on his way to his truck. Sheets of rain trampled the road with lightning, Gail's face serene in the flashing light like a theatrical effect.

"Is it usually like this?" Legge wondered what he was getting into.

"In the spring. It settles down."

Legge found some gloves and blankets and cutlery and pots, ordered more gravel for the driveway. The man impassive as he took the order. He knew where it was, just down the road from the lighthouse. Going upstairs he found a sign that said ‘The Motorcycle Inn' with a picture of an old Norton. Red with a black bike, the thick lettering in old west style. The silent man with the sideburns nodded at his choice. Legge bought three.

On the ride home the wind gusts shoved the car to the side like a toy, rain obscuring the view of the road. Gail fastened her seal belt, upper lip stiff, fingers clutching the door. The wind pushed them into the oncoming lane for a moment before the gust stopped. Aunt Gail cleared her throat and looked at him but did not speak. He drove slowly up the escarpment and then found solace in the thick forest before the lighthouse. It was beautiful in the rain.

&

The Motorcycle Inn sign moved little in the stirring winds, firm against the cedar post at the driveway entrance. Below it was a second sign that said: "Motorcycles, snowmobiles, quads and boats all welcome." White background, black lettering. Made it more inviting.

"Love that sign. As if it was all planned."

Gail was making a large supper, staying the night for fear of the storm. Mud in the boot room outside the kitchen, the smell of burning maple in the stove, house now cleaned and mopped. Legge took a shower, taking note of the solid water pressure. Tub needed re-caulking, old medications chucked out and new paint job. The new shower curtain was transparent and clean. He groaned and let the water warm his eyes. Adequate for usage.

"Keeps the heat inside doesn't it?" he said, relaxing on the couch.

"Siding that went on ten years back cost a arm and a leg he always said but worth it. Good insulation over the limestone. Best there was."

The old Clinton piano could be seen from anywhere on the first floor, right in the middle, the heart, looked small under the high ceilings. The living room full of sounds of Penny and Harry playing, the corner chair slobbered with some wear and tear. Noticed no curtains on the front window but there was no one outside to see in. He began to feel safe in his new house.

A tennis ball bounced into the kitchen with Penny chasing, mid bounce by the stove. Penny stood firm as Harry tried to tackle her, gave up and hugged her. Harry now looking adventurous about his new surroundings. New framed pictures up on the wall that gave the kitchen new life. Roast beef and gravy and potatoes and peas like little rubber balls, big and green, steamed on the table.

"Good to see Penny likes you," said Gail, proud of her canine. Penny pushed her wet nose against her hand demanding attention upon hearing her name.

"Dad can we get a dog?" Harry asked, breathless, the tennis ball in his hand. "We always talked about getting one but we never did." Legge brought his hand to his nose and pondered the idea. Good security for the house. Playmate for Harry.

"Know of a place with dogs for sale?" Harry threw himself at his father, arms outstretched, determined to show how grateful he was. Legge could feel his beating heart. The wood crackled in the woodstove

"There is a kennel that boards bogs. I think they have notices there for people who want to buy." She patted the rock-hard head and the floppy ears of her Black Lab.

"Maybe we can get a sheep dog," Harry said.

"And what would its name be?"

"Not Penny" he answered. The aunt laughed.

"He's a quick kid, that one," she said.

"Floppy ‘cause it would be floppy at the beginning." She laughed again.

&

During the night Harry had a dream, ran into Legge's room and pulled him arm to wake him. "Someone's in the house. I saw him with a beard."

"Where?"

"I think he's in the other room." Legge stood up and took his hand, rubbing his eyes. The hall was quiet, the hardwood floor creaking undertow. Flicked on the light to see a computer still unpacked.

"No one here sport. Are you sure you saw someone or was it a dream maybe?" Harry drew his chin in and put on his thinker's frown, considering it.

"Maybe," his voice grave. "He looked like a sailor and stank of alcohol. He walked into the room and stood over me." Hands on the hips. "I should have closed the door."

Tucked in and with an added wool blanket, Legge closed the door and wondered about the dog.

&

The morning moist and warm, dried twigs littered after the winds. On the back patio he went to the garage and took out the YAMAHA. Tires full of air. Harry approached slowly, watching how to handle 700 pounds of speed. Half a brake lever missing, the headlight bent. He retrieved the helmet, bright orange, completing the seventies motif. He found uncle Harold's riding gloves on the counter.

"Does it go?" Harry licked his lips at the wonder of machinery.

For the entire morning Harry looked at it. Legge wasn't bothered yet with finding the key so he drank coffee with Gail not discussing the conflict he was working through. Gail brought out sandwiches and placed the motorcycle key beside the plate and a scarf on the chair.

"Just turn the key, switch on the engine and kick start it. Remember to give her some gas." She pointed at the motorcycle. "Just go slow."

"The roads will still be wet." Hand to nose, lifting his eyeglasses.

"No they're fine. That's a dry sun today. Be dry in twenty minutes."

Legge took the key, inserted it, turned the engine switch to ‘on' and mounted. Kicked down the starter and caught the first try. Vibration sizzled up his spine to his head. Eased the throttle and shot forward on one of the most dangerous motorcycles ever built. Crows flew out of oak tree across at the water's edge.

7

leg: (ME leg, legge, fr. ON leggr leg, bone; akin to OE lira fleshy part of the body, L lacertus muscles, upper arm, lacerta lizard, GR lax with the foot)

 4. The part of a garment, esp. of a pair of trousers, that covers the leg.

 &

 

The motorcycle fit like an old pair of leather boots. The bike heavy and tough to balance, the turns slow and throttle quick. Pickled by an overwhelming accomplishment, heart pumping like a piston, emboldened like a child, dizzy with expectation whizzing down the vacant road.

Through Kagawong he cruised across open plains and escarpment between Ice Lake to Gore Bay. Boardwalk and tennis courts, sailboats and seagulls. He rode through town, houses with third-floor balconies, gardens and cedar hedges. A courthouse built when Jesse James still lived, stone churches with bell towers. Just off the main road behind a realtor office a weathered sign read: SMALL ENGINES AND SERVICE. Some pick-up trucks in various stages of repair, two motorcycles parked beside the entrance. A Quaker State sticker in the window of the open wooden doors.

Legge hung his helmet on the handlebars. A plaque hung crooked, ‘THE WICK' written in black paint, an image of a burning candle. Faded by the hand of time. Rock music played somewhere inside, two motorcycles side-by-side, one with the seat off and the other a Harley Davidson. The clanging of tools offset with laughter around a corner he could not see. Stepping out of the sun he saw the mechanic. Red toque, white stubble, deep scars along a cheek slightly redder than the other.

"You come in on that RD?" he asked, good cheek showing. "That's a good bike. Collector's item. I seen it before. I'm Chuck Patterson, chief mechanic and full-time babysitter for bikers who want to talk shop. Come here to get parts so they can go back home and screw it up. Know what I mean? I tell'em it's best to stay right here and git it done. Never listen. You a friend of Legge over near Kagawong way?" Rumors and neighbor's business, loved it like a salmon loves an open stream to spawn. His bread and butter trade.

"I'm his nephew."

"Yeah. Thought I knew that RD. Rare them bikes." Fingers too grimy to shake hands. His piece said he bent down to his work.

A skinny man with a white ponytail and beard sauntered around the motorcycle holding a mug of coffee. Sunglasses with bug debris couldn't hide the heavy lids of his eyes. His jacket Harley Davidson, worn on the sleeves, creased to perfection around the elbows. Face lined from miles of riding, white beard protecting from further damage, fingers browned from smoking, rings on each finger suffocating circulation, his skin scratchy like sandpaper. He drank from a dirty mug and smoked his cigarette slowly, watching Legge from behind the bug guts.

"Morrell ken fix almost anything. The man who knows everything about every bike in the world but he just don't wanna share it. Comes here and lectures me, like to feel superior."

"Yer riding Harold's bike I see," he said, nasal voice dry as his hands. "Remember when she was without brakes? That Harold lived on the edge, man. Just geared down like a madman whenever he needed to stop. So he chose the roads where he wouldn't have ‘ta stop! That was his way all right. He had to ride that thing. Loved that bike. You gonna keep care of it for him?"

"He died about a month ago, so yeah." Morrel and Patterson looked at each other. "I'll be taking care of it."

"Good ‘cause they'll be lots of maintenance on that bike. Fastest two-stroke street bike ever made. Discontinued makin' ‘em because the kill ratio was so high. ‘Bout 79 they stopped. Can you handle her?" His crooked grin opened to a gum crevice. Legge nodded and looked away to not stare. Legge had never seen a toothless man smile before.

From around the corner a man with mat of red hair, freckles the color of ginger ale, nose a massive patch of red, remnants of a mustache uneven and forgotten in one-piece overalls stained with transmission fluid, burrowed his hands into a massive toolbox.

. Friendly blue eyes. The whites of his eyes clear and pure like albumin.

"Love ‘ta see that bike still getting mileage." Smooth Scottish accent revealed in the rolling Rs. "A classic. Modest she is, but strong. You know she has spunk!" He waved his dirty rag at Legge and kept looking for the right tool.

"Mac works on trucks that come in. Poor bugger came here from Scotland, can you believe it? A romance that never worked out. What? Loves the natives so much he stayed. Goes to all the powwows. His place is full of pipes and drums there's no place to sit."

"Which you always seem to wreck every time you come over."

"Surprised he doesn't live in a teepee."

"Bloody rat's ass you are Morrell."

He and Morrell followed Mac around the corner and saw a massive truck lifted on the hoist, bright light revealing its underbelly like a moonbeam in the night. Each part lying under each other in an array, a mathematical mind manifest on the oil-stained floor. A new gasket still white and unspoiled. Electric heater kept the air hot and made the smell of fuel and grease more palpable.

"You need to store them Indian beads and dream-catchers or getta bigger place."

"You still owe me an eagle feather. Still can't believe you sat on it." There was a serious look in his eye. "It's not good medicine to sit on an eagle feather." Shook his head in pity. "Simply boggles the mind. Boggles to think how little you know about the culture right in your backyard."

"They get too much money for my taste."

"I'm talking about the culture and he thinks about monthly cheques. Just can't bridge that gap. Never even been to a sweat lodge and he's been here his whole life." Morrell put his mug down on an old telephone book and picked up his gloves.

"You git any problems on that bike you look me up. I'm just outta town. Don't trust this man with anything more than a flat tire." Morrell gestured to the garage with bikes half worked-on at various stages of repair. "Never gits done." Outdated calendar above the tool bench.

"I don't know about motorcycles," said Legge. "It's runs well that's all I know."

"Harold knew that bike like his own son so you should be all right for a little while. Remember to put the choke back in after it starts. And don't ride the brakes too much. If I were you I'd learn whatcha need ta ride safe here on the Island. Watch out for deer. Lots of bikes comin' for the summer. Comin' soon." Morrell stepped outside to the Harley.

"Ferry just started up," said Patterson, "so business should be picking up."

Morrell's motorcycle started like a charm. His helmet barely covering his head.

"Heading to Meldrum today. I feel like riden' some."

Legge listened to the sound of the engine down the main road to the highway, stepped out to his bike and reached for the engine switch.

&

The rest of his first week was spent riding his motorcycle and fixing up his house. Harry settled into his new school to ride out the tail end of the school year. Legge took Morrell's advice and bought a good map showing every road and even intermittent paths and snowmobile trails. The limestone island shaped like a big trumpet lying on its side full of holes and cracks filled with water. He wondered if it was legal to have so few stop signs with so many miles of roadway. Only one traffic light at the swing bridge in Little Current; all else wide-open riding and small bridges over rivers and creeks. Culverts functional in ditches, farmland puckered between forests, old barns hanging on in variable degrees of destruction from the elements. Roads designed as if by a motorcyclist: corners engineered with angled precision, wide shoulders to allow for wildlife infringement with the bush cut thirty-three feet from the road's center line. Danger from deer and turtles necessitated careful manicuring of road peripherals, foliage to be cut to prevent frightened animals from blind-siding vehicles. 

Took a break from his ‘research' on the shores of Evansville, fortifying coffee, reading through The Manitoulin Expositor, the local paper since 1879. Articles on native funding for healthcare centers, local student achievements at school, community events and services a peek into the past: "Community Circle sewing group meeting at the Little Current United Church, Spring luncheon at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Support Group for Women, Parkinson's Disease Support Group in Mindemoya, Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings every Wednesday and Saturday at the rec center, Alzheimer Support Group, Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps meeting every Monday, Country Music Show at the Tehkummah Triangle Senior's Hall Saturday at 7pm, art lessons in Gore Bay at the old schoolhouse." 

Sound of a motorcycle outside parking. Coming through the door Morrell unzipped his jacket, walked to the table, boots hitting the wood floor with authority.

"How's she goin'? Saw yer RD thought I'd stop in. You getting' to know the newspaper too eh? Bloody gossip rag." Shook his head. "See those sections with the gossip?" Legge flustered. Couldn't remember seeing them.

"Where are they?" Morrell took the paper and laid it open on the table.

"See? ‘Tehkummah Talk and Times' and "Little Current News, Notes and Nonsense.' Huh, nonsense is right!" Legge skimmed: weather, music nights, new residents and recent deaths. Very casual writing style.

Morrell snatched it and pointed to a paragraph. Morrell drank hot coffee, sunglasses off. Legge read: 'The light of and in our lives was this Sunday's sermon. Marilyn Wohlberg was our organist while Elaine was hockey tournamenting in Sudbury this weekend. Next Sunday after church at Fairview our annual lunch at the church before our meeting at 1:30pm. Sandwiches and squares. I'll make a pot of soup.' Who writes these?" Showed his gums in all their glory when he smiled.

"One of the many old ladies who live here in the Island," he said. "They have their little world. Just don't dip yer toe in that soup! Never git your toe out, I reckon, at least in one piece. Or without being charged with somethin'." Dry laugh. "Why don'tcha read the euchre reports?"

He found them near the last page. "From Sheguiandah," he said:

"'Lloyd Taylor won high with 74 points and 6 lone hands. And can you believe this? Terry's score was even lower than last week (47). Really sad. For the ladies, Maria Willis won high score with 71 and 4 lone hands. Ruth McGregor won low prize with 44. Rick Gjos won the door prize.'

"Very local. And how about announcements of new residents?

‘I'm pleased to tell you that our town has three new residents. You may have seen them exercising down at Low Island. The distinctive thing about them is their boots. Aero wears pink and Popeye wears blue. I forgot to tell you these two are canine residents. They come from a warmer place so they need the boots to protect their feet. The sight of dogs wearing boots is so distracting that one driver had to swerve to avoid hitting them. They're a cute pair and so is their owner, and welcome to Little Current.'

"Hope there isn't anything about me!"

"Wouldn't doubt it." A frank manner to Island life, blunt aspect acknowledging muddy boots, unpolished opinions, rusty snowplows and four-wheel drive ‘duellies.' Piped to its own rhythm and swam to its own pace. Don't even know where Detroit was. No reason. Land of Indian trading posts and Hudson Bay forts, stopover for les voyageurs going west. Never bought into Toronto life. A separate private Idaho.

&

The following week Old Doug dropped by with his truck full. Two beds. Tires crunched over new gravel, packing it down after the morning rain, parked. Limped to the door. Spoke to Legge as if they had been old friends.

"You need some beds?" Voice deep with hardened empiricism. Legge swallowed. Wore sandals and dirty shirt, afternoon nap. "Give me hand, easier with another pair of hands."

Old Doug, flannel shirt and boots tucked into denims, gloves on. Baseball hat greasy and folded. Wandering eye. Chin carved out of wood, jutting out under his visor. Led with his chin, wisps of hair around the edge of his hat. Loose-legged and gangly, eyes like gray steel, pit bull mean.

"Yer Harry's son?" Unlatched the back of the pick up.

"Nephew." Shook hands, his fingers smothered in a vice. Both looked at Legge's sandals.

"Makes sense. Didn't think you had the look of him. He was good people, yer uncle. Did what he said he would do, unlike most who talk a good yarn. I hear yer going to run an inn here, well good for you but you gotta git it done. I'll tell you about me for example. I'm old but still good fer a few years more." Picked up the end of the box spring and waited for Legge to back into the house. Stumbled in his sandals. "Better change your footwear son." Old Doug balanced the mattress on the new gravel. Legge brought his shoes to the deck.

"Grandfather landed here when theys was opening up land to white folk, bought here 100 acres just across the highway on the south side and farmed it. Early times were tough at first. Relied in the Injuns to give some food late winter. Mainly fish. He was respectful so the Injuns treated him fair. That's what ya gotta be: respectful. Not like those big cities where everyone's pissed off all the time. Can't survive here without yer neighbors. That's the truth too. Took to cattle and fishin' mainly. Granddad tried to go out on his own mostly, didn't like relying on the Injuns or his Christian neighbors. Stubborn like me, but he got it done. Fell through the ice more than one time and lived to tell about it. You don' wanna go through the ice never. But you keep it simple up here and yer' do fine." Shifted his weight from one leg to the other, favoring his right.

Legge felt out of his depth. Soft-kneed, bred on city luxuries, his chin marshmallow compared to Old Doug's. Shivered at the thought of falling through the ice.

"My folks made it but some don't. Yer clan is around these parts so you git yerself acquainted with her history here. I can tell you you got some history here boy. Me and yer uncle used to git in fights at the Saturday night dances. He could throw a punch but so could I. Still can." He lifted his fist, putting fright in his guts. "But we'z always slap each other on the back and drink a little bit more whiskey and got things right agin. Can't hold a grudge up here. It'll kill ya. But things are gettin' easy now. You gotcher supermarkets now and yer drugstores and clinics. And yer got these reservations that're spending money everywhere. It was good they closed the train down, left us alone. Ferry's bringing more people now and there's more people like you coming up from the cities. More competition for jobs. Government's tryin' but not really getting' it." Hand cupped his chin, showing a missing forefinger.

"Everyone thought the tourists would bring more money but they'z coming up here and buying properties. Wanna do stuff like fish and ride on their four-wheelers. None of ‘em do any work. Gettin' more expensive for us all is the only thing they done.

"But it's them bastards at the MNR that done the most harm."

"MNR?"

"Ministry Natural Resources." Frowned. "Every chance they got they're pulling people over an' countin' fish, checking fishing licenses, and arrestin' poor fellas. See, they got quotas themselves and need to fine people, but tourists leave here and they never wanna come back and go through that agin. Bad taste in their mouth you know. You hear what I'm saying? The government wants to do right but their method is for the birds. Ass backwards if you ask me. Huntin' season is just as bad, pulling people outa their trucks and checking firearms. Random checks Rheinhardt callz it. I call it out of control boy. Too many damn laws if you ask me." Old Doug waved his finger, a piece of knotted wood.

"My sons got training from the government but they did good by choosing electrician and home building. More houses being built but it's good ‘cause the Island needs more homes along the shorelines. They done good. One boy is here, lives close to his old man. He's still lookin' fer oil. Lots here. That's why the white man broke the treaty with the Injuns you know. American oil companies were still here when I was a boy. Did find some but not enough. Though I know a few sons-of-bitches that are getting oil without no government knowledge either. Just keep yerself outa their way son and you'll get on.

"I was in Toronto for a while during the war. Couldn't fight ‘cause of my damn eye." Pointed to his glass eye. "Ten years roughly. I got trained in that industrial machinery. Worked construction driving bulldozers. Good pay. We built power plants, overpasses, shopping malls. Too much cement. But sees, that's the government doin' trainin' agin, tryin' to give the young guy a leg up. Didn't really work either. Couldn't git the work here. Went back to what I know. Fishin'. Sellin' minnows. You can eatcha damn paycheque."

Lifted the box spring and backed it into the house and up the stairs. Placed it in the small guest room.

"Some people say I only sell minnows but that's jus' one aspect. You gotta find sources of money from everywhere, not a single place. A little fishin' and a little from bait and a little from firewood. Maybe git someone ta work done on yer land. That's where it all comes from: the land. The fish or the wood or the rent. Real simple. I do most of it myself ‘cause I like workin' alone. Better that way, unless you get injured and there's no one aroun'." Creases appeared on his forehead.

"Right. Real simple." Took the rest of the beds upstairs and then retired to the driveway again. "Youse wanna beer?" Reached in, removed two bottles of Carling, handing one to Legge.

"Only drink after I done my work. After four." Raised the bottle and drank. "‘Been thinking that this here old place is good for an inn."

"For bikers."

"That's what Gail said. Lots of ‘em around here in summer. Can't think of any B&B that serves ‘em. Special breed those ‘uns. They'll come if youse get yer name out there. Just stay outa trouble with them police and MNR. Jus' gets worse every time you expose yerself to ‘em. Always git in trouble for nothing. And insurance: you need that. Might need commercial zoning. Who knows? Plenny to do to become li'jit."

"I don't mind the police," his voice suffused with beer.

"Don't talk to ‘em. Truss me. You don't wanna know them. If you do they'll keepa file on ya and know everythin' you do. Motorcycles can be a dark sort of business and so you keep your nose clean. Keep it clean if you can, son. You got any dark secrets and they'll come out."

"Small community here on the Island."

"Damn right it is." Drained his beer, looked at Legge's beer, hardly touched. Cheeks hollowed in the afternoon light. Legge handed him the beer because he thought Old Doug want all the empty bottles.

"You ain't drank it yet." Embarrassed, he tried to drink it all down but failed. "Whoa, jus' keep it and finish it in your own time." Climbed in his truck. "Living here is all about findin' yer own time. Don't let no one push ya ‘round none. They push ya once, they'll always push ya." The truck eased down the graveled driveway slowly, stones pinched under wheel.

&

Harry walked down the driveway after the school bus had dropped him.

"You must be Harry," said Old Doug, leaning out the window of his truck. "How old are you?"

"Twelve." Harry's hands pulled the knapsack tight on his back, studying the unusual face in front of him.

"Good to meetcha Harry. I'm Doug Campbell." Harry glanced away from the intruding chin. "You liking school?"

"It's all right. Boring right now though."

"'Course it's boring. Better to use the Island as your school. Learn from living in nature." He slipped it into drive. "Will sees you." Light tap of the pedal spun a divot in the gravel, the sound of beer bottles clanging in the back.

 
 

 

 

 
 
 

 
 

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