The Coppersmith Cowboy goes to Ottawa.
Well I have returned from my insane week up in Ottawa where I built a big lead coated copper dormer at a private residence for a surgeon and his wife. They had a huge house in the forest and were very nice people fussing about the place and picking up each little piece of copper that dropped from the roof into the garden.
Jeff the retired stripper, Steevo the Deevo and myself shared a room in a hotel. On the first night we arrived we played a game of pool to see who would have to sleep on the little fold out bed on the floor.
I was winning and I was on the black ball. I was playing Steevo and he was supposed to be a big shot pool player, he was even wearing his Las Vegas 2002 pool player’s tournament qualifier T-shirt. He still had one ball on the table and he was getting angrier and angrier as I calmly sunk ball after ball. I had been playing quite a bit of pool out at the goth clubs and fancied myself as a bit of a COMPLETE POOL PLAYING LEGEND…
So I was in top form …but then I kind of realized that if I beat Steevo and forced him to sleep on the little bed he may be so demoralized he may not recover and I would have to work with his sad sulking ass the rest of the week, and surely he would try to plot to get me back some how.
So in the interests of a calm peaceful stress free week I flunked the last very easy shot and grinning and happy Steevo took me down.
The little fold out bed was a million times more comfortable than my bench anyway.
So work went sanely enough as I was by myself 90 % of the time.
The night consisted of me quickly having a shower and bolting down to hide in the restaurant while they stayed in the room, watched hokey, sunk beer after beer and Jeff smoked fat joints of weed he would whiz up in a coffee grinder (another reason it was good I got the little bed, there was no ventilation or operable windows in the room and I could sleep with my head practically out in the hallway away from the stench of manky socks, stale farts, ciggies put out in beer bottles, festering buckets of KFC and reeking dope pong).
Then I would meet them in the Bar, watch them play pool and engage in heartily faked camaraderie to establish myself as one of the team (the other option is one of the enemies), and you do not want to be an enemy of guys as loony as men who find enjoyment in shooting the nail gun at each other and throwing ice filled snowballs at you when you are hanging precariously on to the top of a 44 foot ladder.
I would then sit by the fire and have a smoke then take off up to the room to watch a movie on cable.
An hour later they would stumble into the room, two incoherent Canadians clutching beers and dead set on tainting me by forcing me to go along to the strip club with them.
My intense training as a master of communication would kick in steering them away from their original plan and after they had fueled up on dope and beers they would be rambling back into the corridor by themselves and off to the strip bar leaving me in peace….
The other factor was the Mad French Canadian guys who were doing the shingle roof of the house in the forest we were working on…well kind of “working”… the first day we were there they said it was “too wet” (It sprinkled in the morning, lightly for a hour) So they took off back to the hotel for some serious drinking and T.V watching.
The next day it was “too windy” (a gentle breeze and no more)…
So more drinking, bar hopping and strip club going too was in order for them.
The last day we were there they had no excuses left so they managed about four hours of stripping the roof of shingles with pitchforks before deciding that it was Good Friday and a holiday and the boss was gone and they needed him to tell them what to do next so off they went.
What was really going on was that they were “Too hungover”. The lady of the house had told me that they told her they all had food poisoning from some bad hotdogs, and that was the reason they hadn’t had as much done as they wanted too. I resisted the urge to say ” well they seemed healthy enough at three am when they were singing some sort of garbled French songs up and down the hotel hallway.”
Their crew consisted of two supposedly “in charge” 40 or so year old weathered looking beaten down roofers who wore denim, gold chains, rings and cowboy boots when heading out on the town.
And three young severely derelict looking weasels, 18 or 19 years old, going on 30 they seemed and wore mostly ragged hoodies, ragged shoes and ragged jeans, they all had bad teeth and ragged beards as well. The only thing about them that didn’t seem ragged was any new case of beer as they carried it up the stairs to their room. But that too would be ragged as they ripped it to pieces to get to the liquid treasure within.
I made the mistake of going in to their room just for the whole young French Canadian derelict traveling roofer buzz.
I am quite sure what I experienced will haunt me forever.
First thing I see is two of the young guys with their arms round each other and bottles in hand singing a garbled Metallica song in heavily accented French.
The other beardy ragamuffin was standing on the bed wobbling back and forth and reading the bible out loud to the other two.
Then I was accosted by a whisky bottle holding old timer who proceeded to tell me how one of the blond girls at the strip bar could put her legs behind her head “jesuschristfuckingchristallmaightjesus” he said as way of emphasis…
And he also went on (complete with hand motions and air drawings) to describe various parts of her private anatomy that were on display while she did this. I will spare you the details …luckily I was spared most of them as in his excitement he lapsed into French with out knowing it and I kept him at bay by nodding and smiling as I backed out the door and ran down the hall to the sanctuary of my room.
On the second night Jeff and Steevo brought a harried looking skinny 30 something blond up to our room for drinks.
Her story was that she was hiding from a psycho ex.
She went on a lot about how all her past boyfriends had treated her really badly and she drew pictures of some ex’s deformed penis to show us.
What I gathered from everything she said was that she was a useless idiot whose dad owned a towing company and thus she was brought up rough and was as rough as the rest of them and she could drink like any one and had had a hard life and all the ex’s thought I was fat and ugly and I think Im fat and ugly and I have a reputation for being a slut but Im really not and I don’t know what Im really doing with my life Im in a rut and I cant get out and can I have another smoke Im soo sorry, and I forget my bag everywhere where is it I think I left it in the bar oh no there it is, What’s this strange music your listening to Wow where are you from ohhh and I’ve had a hard life and all the guys say Im fat and Im not a slut no matter what any one says.
Jeff the charmer laid on the compliments and the advice which of course where answered with “Do you really think so? … Really?
Steevo sat on the bed and chain smoked with a stupid grin on his face.
I smiled and nodded filing it all away as material for the latest chapter of “The adventures of the Undercover Coppersmith”.
They gave her a lift home and she sat between them in the truck and with her hands out to the sides gave them both a hand job for being so nice to her.
Because that is what good Tow truck Drivers Daughters from small towns on the outskirts of Ottawa who aren’t sluts, do.
Friday afternoon we packed up all the gear into the truck, long ladders, 27 feet of guttering, all the tools, all of our stuff …us and ROARED off back to Toronto.
Roared back, while they listened to Shania Twain at full volume, sank beers, smoked joints and played the guitar.
Sometimes they would pause the CD, imitate Shania Twain and then laugh so hard and long bending themselves over and shutting their eyes, that I was sure that we were going to veer across the motorway into other cars and die.
For a terrifying half an hour Steevo tried to keep pace with a flash new Pontiac at 150 ks. I said “What are you doing bro?!”
And he said “Were gunna make good time if I can pass this guy!”
I was so sure we were going to crash with the ladders and tools wobbling about in such a furious fashion, that I put my seat belt on…
Usually I go for the “thrown clear of the burning wreckage while everyone else struggles with their flaming seat belts, theory”.
But this time terror overrode all my silly theories.
I survived; they took the truck down the main street of town with the ladders and guttering threatening to decapitate unwary pedestrians at every corner.
I got out near the movie theater and fled …in to the night…
The shakes stopped a few hours later.