Heathens, Oct 1 2019
This is Freschco, an ordinary, low price, run of the mill grocery store located in the heart of suburbia, surrounded by middle class homes and well adjusted Canadians.
The person taking the picture is yours truly, I live in a low rise condo baby steps from the green building. Bunch of Heathens was inspired by this nondescript place.
How did I make the leap from placid grocery shopping to Dante’s Inferno? Read on.
Shopping carts in Canada go missing at an alarming rate. Store managers and executives brainstorm ways of curbing the epidemic. Freschco’s method is a payment system. You insert a coin or two and unlock the cart, when your done shopping you get your money back. Simple isn’t it, straightforward and elegant Who wouldn’t want there money back.
Bur It dosen’t work.
Abandoned shopping carts are still found in the streets and nearby bushes.
When I was waiting for the bus I saw an overturned shopping cart left by a neglectful earthling.
That’s when my creative wheels started spinning. I thought about all of the small acts of rebellion, from too many Items in the express lane, stolen shopping carts and the list goes on.
I believe in a final judgment, a heaven and Hell. I know call me old fashioned or a bible thumper, I have been called worst.
Acts of injustice should not go unpunished for the universe needs some kind of balance.
However there’s a lot of people who rely on there spiritual certificates, they know the latest prayers, and slip into the right social circles. They look down on the heathens and shake their heads.
I hope you enjoyed the episode, if you didn’t please let me know in the comments or on Twitter, but be gentle I bruise easily.
I received a message from Oprah Winfrey,
apparently she’s a big fan of this show and wants me to come to her studio.
I know I thought one of my listeners was pulling a prank so I rewinded the tape, hit play and rewinded it again.
The lady on the answering machine sounded convincing she had the same rhythm and cadence as Oprah, but why would she call and not her PR manager. I was suspicious.
After a couple of hours of rewinding the tape I gave it a break. I washed the dishes, worked on the household budget while watching Netflix. Coincidentally I was watching a show produced by oprah. The phone rang.
An ecstatic voice was heard on the other end, guess who was calling?
I restrained my enthusiasm, she jabbered about a book deal, an exclusive interview and a couple of shows in Vegas.
She wanted to make me famous like Tyler Perry. She had a plane ticket with my name on it, and a five star hotel suite at the Marriott, but I wasn’t buying it.
Who does she take me for, an idiot?
So I slammed down the receiver, I mean I slid my finger across the screen, but you get the idea.
I returned to the household budget, trying to pay the bills on a limited income and getting more frustrated by the minute as I’m thinking of working extra hours to make up the difference, and flicking through Netflix new releases. The phone rang.
Guess who was calling back?
No it wasn’t her, a more militant voice was on the other side.
“Mr Campbell I assure you this is not a joke,
Go to your mailbox.”
A purple envelope with the word Harpo was written on the upper left, that’s Oprah spelled backwards. Yeah I know, how original.
On the inside was a plane ticket, the ticket to meet with the goddess herself.
West Hollywood is a far cry from my home in the Ottawa Valley especially the dress code.
Canadians are not as fussy and it’s hard to look sexy in a snowsuit.
Speaking about clothes I purchased a new pair of slacks, dress shirt and tie for the special occasion. I looked cute but the California heat was a beast as I regretted my shirt and tie combination.
I was nervous, I never met a world famous celebrity. Say for instance I say something stupid or act socially awkward, or mumble and talk backwards.
The elevator door opened, a blonde girl the size of an NFL quarterback with ripped muscles and a chiseled face escorted me down the hallway.
She didn’t talk much, her conversational style included grunts and occasional head nodes. Sort of like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Connan movie.
Pictures of famous people graced the walls from Nelson Mandela to Maya Angelou, if everything goes well yours truly will have his face next to Beyonce.
The blonde quarterback grunted when we got to the double doors.
I stopped, she pooked her head in,
“Your 5:30 appointment has arrived.”
She turned to me, nodded and opened the door.
There she was the Queen of the media empire, the lady with the midas touch,
the one who launches obsecure authors into household names.
She seemed thinner and taller than her TV persona. Her dress style was casual in a fainted blue jeans and flora top.
She probably did this so I wouldn’t feel nervous but it did the opposite because I felt overdressed.
I noticed my book in her hand, and a smile on her face from here to Delaware.
In a nutshell she adored my book and wanted to republish it under her company’s name. I felt faint, I thought I was going to pass out.
“You mean my book”
I’m not sure if this was a question or a statement but whatever it was she said yes.
For any writer this is a dream of a lifetime. My book mixed with Oprah’s fame is certified gold. No more worrying over the budget or working extra hours just to make ends meet.
I could see it now, my book converted into a movie. Staring Denzel, Directed by Perry, and produced by Oprah, even if it’s just a Netflix original I will be famous.
I sat on a plush German leather chair.
One of her manservants poured me a tall glass of Screaming Eagle.
Another overtanned fellow in a Hawaiian shirt and expensive flipflops presented the contract.
My eyes glaced over the words and attached itself to the dollar symbol, particularly the 52 with a whole bunch of zeroes at the end.
To republish the book the cover had to change and the formatting restructured.
A new blurb at the back and a forward by Oprah herself.
I agreed to the terms until she mentioned ‘content changes’. She circled large sections of my book that may offend the readers and other sections that didn’t fit into a certain demographic.
My eyes gravitated to the dollar symbol.
My mind reflected on the fortunes and fame,
Was it worth it?
When you’re living to make ends meet it’s not an easy decision, but what type of person would I be?
Oprah sat still like a pretty penny and waited.
The blonde quarterback was standing by incase things got ugly.
I held the contract and the pen, found my name on the dotted line next to the X, took a deep breath and handed it back.
Maybe in a week from now I will kick myself especially when the rent is due. But at least I didn’t sacrifice my soul for a star on Hollywood.
Your Civic Duty
October 16, 2019
I sat in the back seat of an Uber thinking that in a week or two from now my country, the one with a maple leaf flag and a humble Beaver as our mascot, is poised to have a general election. Squaring off is three left wing parties and one conservative.
If your Canadian you have a burning sense of obligation to cast your vote, who wouldn’t want to participate in strengthening our democracy for future generations. You have to be a cold hearted, unpatriotic, slim bucket not to vote.
Some people in other countries risk hell and high water, fisticuffs and bullets to make it to the ballot box.
What do we risk in freedom loving Canada. Nothing. We bask in the glory of our universal health care and our endless supply of maple syrup.
I always pointed a dirty finger at the freeloaders who refuse to vote, but now I’m one of them. Reason? The party I pledged alliagence to has abandoned their values, they resemble all the other parties.
The Uber driver is from from Somalia, for me that sounds like another planet since their culture is so alien from mine. He talked about his government’s brutality and the former dictator that ruled with an iron fist. He wanted to vote but he’s new to this country at least he has a legitimate excuse.
When I got out of the Uber his speech lingered in my head and made me uncomfortable. To be honest I didn’t study all of the political parties, I went on half truths and questionable conclusions.
If I care for this country I need to have a say in how it’s governed. Dictators and demigods thrive when the citizens are silent. I don’t think Canada would turn into Somalia, but why take the chance.