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11:11 – Chapter 10Posted: January 18, 2012

Nov. 23, 2011

After a nice breakfast, Carrie and I discussed what we were going to do next. It was all so normal. Dab toast into egg yolk – “so what you want to do today?”

So many options offering pretty much nothing.

We decided that we should head to Vancouver before heading south to Iowa. It’s closer and warmer and Old Man Winter was apparently trying to get a head start by intruding in late autumn. But the exhausting prospect of driving across B.C. forced us to declare that today would be a day off.

A lazy snow fell the night before, barely enough to cover the driveway with a thin veneer of white.

While I lackadaisically pushed the snow away, my eyes drifted down hill to neighbouring condos and further to the streets at the bottom of our hill. Empty houses all; no life nowhere.

After I shoveled the driveway, I grabbed the .303, one of the .22s and shells, as well as a dozen eggs, some cans and bottles and other targets and spent an hour building an elaborate shooting range in the kids’ park about 100-metres from home. I then rocked the crystal clear silence of a completely muted small mountain city with rapid gunfire. The first few shots made me feel uneasy, as if I were being an irresponsible tool.

While I busied myself destroying things and doing nothing, Carrie was calculating our future in this new strange world.

When I returned from my gun fun, Carrie and I walked to the hospital and loaded a small suitcase with as many useful medicines as we could think of — using the still-operational Internet — good old Google — to research what would be best to have in case we needed it.

Carrie had sketched out a series of scenarios, each one increasingly dire and it made plain sense to us to have penicillin, Tylenol 3s and other medicines one wouldn’t normally have in a pinch.

It was a useful exercise but we became sullen at the thought that such things could happen. The possibility of broken bones, severe cuts, burns, diseases, infections etc. and there being no doctors or nurses or professional help around, hit home like a slap to the back of our heads.

I thought of gun play and shivered at the thought something happened. I mean, shit happens, even to people who know what they are doing with guns. Famed columnist Mike Royko was always writing hilarious pieces about how dimbulbs with guns would harm themselves in a wide variety of snicker-inducing ways.

That could be me, I thought. I like to drink when I shoot things.

Carrie had also begun to fret about something happening to me and being left alone and, secretly, I did the same. It made me nauseous to consider what this vacant hell would be like without the love of my life by my side.

That night, for no other reason than the fact that I was pissed like a pirate, I lit a large bonfire on the grass circle in the turn-around of the cul de sac in the centre of our condominium project. Using wooden furniture from nearby condos, which I had taken to rooting through out of boredom, as well as great wads of cardboard and paper from a recycling bin, I built a fire that would have produced intense criminal charges 12 days earlier.

Carrie didn’t join me. She urged me to be careful and went to bed. Another cycle of grief was hitting us. She needed to be alone and cry now and I needed to take my anger out like a teenaged vandal.

Ignoring her plea to be careful, I began to add more and more stuff to the fire, the drunker I got. At one point I dragged a couch out of a condo and poured two bottles of vodka on it before tipping it down onto the fire. I danced wobbly and badly around the fire and fired my .303 into the air, howling and yelping.

Carrie had her iPod on, listening to some shyster swine drone on about how one can take control of his/her life and make positive life decisions, rather than give in and become a part of the unwashed mob.

I was the unwashed mob. The fire roared in a dark, empty Cranbrook night, and it attracted a couple of crows, which wisely kept their distance from me. I may have been drunk but I could still shoot. I wondered what crow tasted like: the real kind. I’d eaten enough crow before, being an overly opinionated journalist.

Always the smartest of birds, the crows seemed to sense my growing curiosity and disappeared.

It took me back to being a boy in Manitoba. I grew up in the country outside Winnipeg and guns were always a part of my childhood and younger years. Before I wrestled my bloodlust under control, at about the age of 16 or so, I hunted and saw nothing wrong with shooting anything that strayed into my sites. But try as I may, and I tried many times, I could never close enough to a cawing crow, or crows, to shoot one. Later in life, I grew to respect crows and ravens so much that they became totems for me.

Now I drunkenly wondered if that was why I was left on Earth with them. A plethora of goofy reasons flooded through my addled head, as to why we were experiencing this living hell, and the more of them I thought about, the angrier I became.

Eventually, time not known, I wore myself out and decided to head home to bed.

Before I left the blaze and stumbled back to pass out, I shot a front door off a condo across from the turn-around, before a sticky feeling took hold of the back of my throat and I guiltily beat a retreat.

It took six shots to knock the door off its hinges. After the sixth shot, it creaked and tipped outward with a snap. The snap brought me back around from the dark side of the moon and guilt once again pounded through me. What if everyone is just… on the other side of some dimensional doorway and they come back? How would I like it if one of the people entrusted to look after the world had shot my front door off in a drunken stupor?

I tried to stack the door back up and seal the apartment from the elements as best as I could in my condition, but alas… no could do.

With a pessimistic snort I decided to forget about it and staggered up the hill to a warm, welcome bed.

A flickering orange glow rimmed the semi-circle of condos, which up to a dozen days previously, had been home to nurses, medical technicians, police officers, college students, city workers, foresters and business owners.

My fire burned through the night.

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