By Paul MacPherson
October 18, 1972
Going through Mom’s old trunk full of memorabilia about my dad. Found this essay he wrote for an English assignment on stream of conscience narrative. Dad never finished high school but went back to school after he was married and had a young family at home. This was written while we were living in Moncton and he was going to college.
Hot, must be ninety. Broke, same as always, that’s why I’m pushing this old hack, trying to make enough for cigarettes.
Everybody else is vacationing, not me, never could afford it, haven’t been out of this stinking city since 1966.
Working every day at two jobs, oh, what the hell it’s pretty near midnight and the bar closes at one o’clock so I’ll make one more trip around the square, check in at the Belmont, and if I don’t catch a fare I’ll cash in and see if I can still get in the club for a beer.
City’s dead tonight, must be the middle of the month, nobody’s got a damn cent. Real dark out, cloudy, getting ready to rain. Hope if there is a fare at the Belmont it’s a good looking chick going north. Wife sure would be ugly* if she knew what I was thinking.
Well, there isn’t a damn soul on the square, my only hope now is the Belmont, seems to be a crowd around there, maybe my lucks changing.
Oh, oh, look what I stumbled into, the Uptown gang and they’re all stoned, looks like they want a taxi, my taxi, I’ll be lucky to get out of this alive.
Five of them, two in the front, three in the back, got open bottles on them. Hope the cops stop us, might be my only salvation. Come to think of it, the cops are afraid of them too. Having my usual run of luck tonight, all bad.
They want to go to the south end, of all places, guys wind up dead down there. Got to stop thinking like that, got to be cool. Hands shaking, steady, got to get it together, stay cool.
Wish that guy would stop flashing that knife, wonder if they will pay me, couldn’t care less, if they don’t and the boss gets tough, I’ll pay the damn fare myself, just as long as they get out and leave me in one piece.
Well, this is the address they gave me, what a neighbourhood, they’re starting to get out now, soon as the last guy is clear of the door I’m going to move this old tank out of here so fast I might leave the rear end here till daylight to-morrow.
Here it comes, the leader is making his way to my door, got his hand in his pocket, wonder if I can buy him off if I give him all the money I got, hell no, my $12.75 would just insult him, besides that would spoil his fun.
What has he got in that pocket, I see it now, a five-dollar bill, keep the change, he said.
All cashed in now, never driving a cab again, no that’s not true. I’m too stupid, I’ll just blow all my money again next payday and have to drive again. Wonder how long my luck will hold out. Think I’ll go to the club for that beer, or about six double rums.
*in Maritime slang, “ugly” can also mean “angry.”
Jody’s Note: I’d love to know what the “Uptown” gang might be in reference to — I’m sure it has meaning New Brunswickers of that era (60’s-70’s) would understand. And yes, Dad did drive a taxi so I’m sure this story is at least partly based in his own experiences.