Jimmy Brown was my best friend when we lived on College Avenue. Right up until we moved. He lived at the end of the block. We played together lots, outside mostly, though I remember one time being invited into his house. His mom fed us lunch and we played. I wasn’t a big kid back then, in grade four. Jimmy was even slighter than me. Had a square jaw and tight cropped black hair. He was always smiling or laughing, always friendly. I think they were poor too. I missed him when we moved again, this time from Winnipeg to Calgary. But I did get to see him again, a couple years later, when we moved back.
I don’t know why we moved again. I suppose it was my father’s continuous search for the greener grass. I don’t remember much about the jobs he had in those earlier days, before grade four. But I do recall many of them from that time onward.
We traveled from Winnipeg to Calgary in a rented moving truck. One of the kind that is a U-Haul, big enough to carry all your furniture. I don’t recall it being crowded, in that truck, on the drive, but it must have been. There were five of us, though the Angel Monster wouldn’t have taken up much space. There were no seat belts in those days, of course. It was a long drive, but when you’re a kid, all drives are long. One time I was sent to the farm, for a bit of summer vacation. I was put on a Greyhound. The trip was just an hour long but it seemed like it took days. When I rode the Dayliner from Edmonton to La Pas to retrieve the Angel Monster from a stay with our father, the mind-numbing journey through endless miles of thick brush covered railway, took an eternity.
The two things I remember most about that journey to Calgary: driving along in the pitch-black night over the Trans Canada, a large black creature flew out of dense darkness and ricocheted off the truck windshield. Father said it was a crow but I think it was an owl or a demon.
The other thing I remember is arriving at my father’s friend’s place in Medicine Hat, where we stayed for the night, before finishing the trip into Calgary. We were fed a luxurious stew that he called Hungarian Goulash. I wondered if the bird we smashed on the highway was in the delicious supper.
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