Road Trip to Alberta, Chapter Seven

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Gila is angry.

“Ian, what the fuck are you doing? Where are you?”

“Gila, you know I hate that question. Besides, you know exactly where I am: getting the hell out of town!”

“That isn’t a place, dumbshit. And why didn’t you take me?”

I have to admit, I am completely stumped by this question.

“Gila, I am running away from a bad situation… you don’t want any part of this!”

“This is why we can’t be a thing. You just make decisions like this and leave me out of everything!”

“I had no idea we were a thing.”

“I just said we aren’t. Now what the hell do you want.”

“Gila, I really thought you weren’t interested…”

“I’m not. I’m hanging up.”

“No! Wait, Gila, I really need your help. Are you at the Endboss?”

It’s a dumb question, I can hear the gamblers and the chips clicking. The problem is, she knows it’s a stupid thing to say, so she’s going to hang up. I have to move, fast.

“Gila, I need you to go to my house and fetch Marx and Hegel.”

“Excuse me?”

“You know, the dogs. Grandma’s dogs.”

“That’s not your house. And those aren’t your dogs. And why do you want her dogs.”

“I don’t have time to bicker. I need help. I can’t go there. Suh Ju or Mwin might be watching.”

“Oh, so you think I can go and get in trouble? And why are you stealing your grandma’s dogs?”

“I’m not stealing them, I have to take them with us.”

“Us? Ian, just fuck off. If you are running away with the money, you should have included me, not one of your culo friends.”

“Oh so it’s the money.”

Wrong, wrong move.

“Gila? No friends with me, just Grandma! I don’t even have any friends except you!”

But she was already off the phone. I see the back of her black head of hair in my mind.

“Sir, we’re closing.” I practically jump in surprise. It’s a worker from Angel’s with a tiny moustache and a donut greasy baldish head. Yep, I’m getting kicked out of the donut shop. He stares at me seriously, but those eyebrows doing some sort of concern-crinkle.

Right, sorry, I tell him. I start to collect Grandma.

And I’m going to be honest with you: some of my attitude up until now has been bravado. I sense my own nervousness. My stomach feels weak and alarmed. Maybe I’m just a little sick still.

I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed.

And I’m going back to Grandma’s for her dogs?

And I apparently I screwed things up with Gila without even knowing it?

“Sir…” the donut dude is trying to be nice but I hear it. His moustache is so thin and his eyebrows so thick.

“Yes, I’m leaving.”

I stuff our trash into the waxy paper bag. It’s all paper and crumbs and powdered sugar and debris and wax; why does it take so much stuff to serve a pastry? Grandma watches me, but it’s aggravating this time.

You know Grandma, I could use an encouraging word. Just one time.

Nothing.

Maybe I’m not up for this trip. I could just call Soh Ju. I can imagine the conversation working out:

Yes, of course, we just want the money. Just don’t tell anyone about the electronics the Hills game and we’re even. Yes, come back, come back and come inside and hey it’s Mwin Stache is that a baseball bat? Who are these Chinese guys?

I look at Grandma. Her eyes are black. She seems alright.

Why do you want death with dignity, Grandma? Why did you give me that pamphlet? Can’t you speak?

I don’t think I can do it any longer. I don’t think I can go to Alberta for you or for me.

“Sir?”

“Yes! I’m leaving! Gimme a break!” I’ve lost my patience.

“Sir, have free donuts. No one bought fritters today. Free. For you and mom.”

I look at Grandma again. Delicate and old. The closest thing I have to a parent and all she wants is to go somewhere they’ll let her die.

I reach out and grab the free apple fritters from the donut guy. He’s got a combover and long stringy hair, like he’s labored at the donut wheel forever. He’s telling me something.

It’s a sign.

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