Oil on canvas, 30x40
It was a gray, drizzly day, and Heather and I were on West Mabou Road on Cape Breton Island, waiting for the fog to lift.
We'd backed the van into a driveway, and were sitting there looking over the gorgeous landscape when the guy who owned the gorgeous landscape came into view.
Clearly, he was curious about who we were and what we were doing. Clearly, he didn't want us to think that he wanted to know who we were and what we were doing. I was tired, and just didn't want to deal with the guy, but Heather, abrim with optimism and cheery friendliness, got out of the car and approached him.
They talked and talked and talked and talked. I think I fell asleep for a while, and woke up, and they were still talking. Finally, he headed toward his house, and Heather came back to the car.
We had an invitation, she said, to visit him - in five minutes (why? To give him time to get the plastic blow-up doll off the couch and into the closet?). He wanted us to see some newspaper stories about the crop circles he'd mowed one summer on his land.
It did occur to me, as we were walking in his front door five minutes later, that maybe this wasn't a great idea, going into a strange man's house. But Heather and I could have taken this guy, and mostly, my guess was, the major danger was that we'd be talked to death by this guy.
This guy's house was awful. Just awful. It was a beautiful house - or had been, when his grandparents had built it. Had been, I'm sure, when his parents had lived in it and brought him up. Now was a different story. He had had a wife, and his wife had left him, and Heather and I figured that he hadn't cleaned, or swept, or washed a dish, since. We never found out when she'd left, but it must have been a few years ago.
He talked and talked and talked and talked, about the farm, about his job as a school-bus driver, about the crop circles. The stories were on the door of his refrigerator, and as soon as I could, I made a move to read them. As soon as we read them, I figured, we could leave.
He pulled a chair over to the refrigerator so we could sit and read. We did. Behind the stories, behind the photos, the refrigerator door (1950s vintage, I'd say), was covered with rust, literally. Covered.
We read the stories, looked at the pictures, oohed and aahed and then got the heck out of there. To this day, I am thankful that we got out before he opened that rusty refrigerator.