He had always liked Montreal. Very old, very European, foreign….Didn’t always feel welcome by its inhabitants, but he wasn’t one that worried a hell of a lot about what others thought. He had been up north, in the mines, trying to keep the old fifty and hundred ton Cat mine dumps running under some not-so-pleasant conditions. Civilization felt good, and he needed come new work clothing; safety boots, coat and such as that. The cold and harsh environment had caught him by surprise. Wouldn’t hurt to have a couple extra pair of eye and sunglasses, he made a mental note to see the doc for a new ‘scrip. New knife, too, he had broken the end off of the one he had trying to use it for a prybar.
He tried to shake off work, continued feeding the pigeons with the scraps of a late lunch. Enjoying the setting sun and the laid back and relaxed atmosphere of the old inner-city park. He tossed what was left of lunch in the trash receptacle, got up and slowly started walking to the subway station several blocks away. Enjoying the sights, sounds, and aromas of the big city. At least something besides diesel fuel, motor oil and brake dust of the maintenance shops, when he was lucky enough to be indoors. He stopped by a newstand at the entrance of the subway to pick up a copy of the Gazette, he thought about Le Journal de Montreal but had his moments reading French. She could read both.
The hissing of the steel and glass door closing, accelerating out of the station deep underground. Train rocking, the slight smell of ozone and rubber. He enjoyed the jaunts on the subway, wasn’t sure why he had bought the paper as the ride would not be a long one. The dull voice announcing each station. One had better be hanging on when they punch the throttle or brake on this sucker….
He let himself in the front of the gray stone building, almost gothic in its outside appearance. As well as inside. Very used, but very clean. Climbing the stairs to the second floor, down the hall, unlocking the heavy varnished wooden door. Flipping on the light switch to the small chandelier in the center of the room and tossing the barely read paper on the couch. The small apartment had fresh paint on the plaster walls. Rich wood trim and dark walnut furniture, heavy tile floors, thick rug in the center of the living room with a sofa and two comfortable armchairs with small round coffee tables on either side. The faint aromas of perfume, wax, tobacco and lovemaking. He sat down in one of the well-worn but serviceable chairs. He took out one of the Du Mauriers out of the crystal glass on the table, lighting it with his scratched and dented Zippo. Exhaling, enjoying the bright almost gaudy colors of the upholstered furniture. He thought about her.
Hell, they had nothing in common, or so he had thought. Dressed in tall low heeled boots, the long belted dark skirt, light loose sweater, heavy gold chain on one wrist. Tall and slender, heavy on top, walked with a dancers grace. Athletic. Slumming that night, coming into a working class tavern with her friends many months ago. With the silver salt and pepper hair and reading glasses propped on her nose she had looked like a professor at McGill University or an engineer for the mining outfit he worked for. How they had ever stuck up a friendship was beyond him.
She loved the bike. Touring the countryside, lakes and parks with him when time permitted. Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. She was taking care of it while he was gone, maybe she rode the fucking thing herself. She took a keen interest in his time in the military, the Middle East, and the war. The details, not the “hairy chested” stories that many guys used to chase pussy . The technical stuff; the weapons but especially the supply side, logistics and transportation. He didn’t understand that. Mata Hari, or this being Canada, Laura Secord? Wrong end of the rank structure for that sort of thing. He thought of her as his female James Bond. Maybe a fucking Mountie he laughed to himself.
He really didn’t know a lot about her job, just a position of some sort in the federal government. Something to do with aviation he thought. Bilingual and he suspected more. Spoke English with a slight Canadian accent and the French….Well, it sure as hell sounded good to him. Was even sounding better himself, between her and work.
He had got up and walked in to the spotlessly clean kitchen behind him, grabbing an ice-cold Labatt out of the fridge. Not much cooking going on in here, usually ate out. He headed for the bathroom noticing the night-light dimly glowing through the crack of the slightly opened door.
Ah, the bidet. After trying to stick his foot in it and teasing her about trying to use it for a drinking fountain….Well, it was one of the very few times she didn’t have a wicked comeback; she was speechless. Between it and the “hi-rise” commode with the chain pull handle, he had plenty of opportunities for lavatory humor of the crudest variety.
He nudged the door open, popped the cap off of the beer and handed it to her as she relaxed in the old-fashioned tub full of bubble bath. One pale calf on the edge of the tub, light blue eyes seemingly bright even in the dim light. Relaxed, cigarette between the slender fingers of one hand. Mona Lisa smile….
What’s for dinner?
He awoke with a start. One of the pilots nudging him awake, telling him that they would be landing soon. Cool, even with all the clothing on. The rumbling throb of the ancient turbo-compounds making it difficult to hear for old ears. The vibration wanting to lull him back to sleep. Worn seating just behind the cockpit, small lavatory and kitchenette on either side. Spare parts and supplies netted, tied down behind. For the uncivilized world.