May Long Part I
Paco Villa Lobos was on his third trip around the block and was beginning to feel a red-hot rage filling his guts when a large gap in the loading zone in front of London House Flats finally came available. He steered the big 1982 Winnebago into the space, in tight behind a silver Honda Accord that was sitting empty with its amber hazards flashing. The massive RV almost didn’t fit in the spot, so Paco had to pull the front wheel on to the sidewalk and leave a portion of the back end sticking out slightly into traffic. Slightly, no more than a foot really, but enough to elicit a few angry honks from passing motorists.
“I’ll be right back!” Paco said over his shoulder towards the girls seated in the back of the RV. He stepped out the door and hopped down to the sidewalk, sprinting to the front doors of the building. He skidded to a halt as a door swung open and two girls stepped out, nattering away to each other, completely oblivious of their surroundings, one of them crashed shoulder first into Paco’s huge, muscular chest. She looked up at him in disgust as if it was somehow his fault she wasn’t looking where she was going.
“Hey! Watch where your going pendejo!” the shorter of the two spat in Paco’s direction.
Paco stared back at her, a seething anger building behind his eyes, knuckles cracking as he flexed his fingers into fists. He slowly exhaled.
“How very rude of you young lady. I trust you don’t kiss your mother with such a mouth.” He said, then turned and opened the front door to Lond Ho. The girl stared at him for a moment stunned, then shook her head and continued on with her friend. Paco turned to the right and stepped towards the call panel and slowly depressed the button marked “1401.” He waited a full three seconds, then pressed it six or seven more times.
A voice crackled over the intercom, “Yeah?”
Paco moved in closer to the mic, “It’s me! Get down here youse guys!”
Bill Williams turned from the intercom up in flat #1401, and pulled on his Canadian Forces Parka.
“Hunter!” He called out into the apartment, “Come on and get your shit together! We gotta go!”
There was the sound of a flush, then the bathroom sink turned on and off, the doorknob turned and Joe Cornelius Hunter emerged from the loo.
“Yeah, yeah, keep your hair on. You do know there are no modern conveniences where we’re headed right? So don’t blame me for taking a little extra time…”
Bill shook his head, as Hunter gathered his gear, and “got his shit together.”
“Hunter, I understand this means nothing to you because you operate on your own goddamn schedule, but Paco is already ten minutes late, that means you were nowhere near ready when he was supposed to be here picking us up!”
“Relax, pal lets get moving!” Hunter dragged the huge, white Coleman cooler out the door of the flat, his green rucksack slipping off his shoulder by the time he stopped.
Bill locked the door, slung his black and grey back pack over one shoulder and grabbed the other handle on the cooler.
“You’re sure this was all we were supposed to bring? My parent’s cooler full of beer and ice?” Hunter asked as the boys dragged the massive item down the hall, towards the elevators.
“Yup, just the beer and ice.” Bill answered for what he thought might have been the tenth time that day.
“Just the beer, then right.”
“Well, beer and whatever else you felt like drinking.”
“Ah, so beer then, good.”
“I figure we got that covered,” Bill said as they stopped at the elevators just as the door to the building manager’s flat opened, and Doris emerged wearing a faux fur fitted jacket, and a leather mini skirt, the ever present More Menthol 120 betwixt her lips. Hunter stabbed the call button with his middle finger.
“Oh, afternoon boys. Going camping for the May Long?”
Bill answered quickly, “No, not really we just enjoy hauling a five-hundred tonne cooler around town with us.”
Doris gave a titter at his sarcasm, as Hunter impatiently hit the elevator call button a second time.
“I can’t even remember the last time I went camping,” she continued, probably the ‘80s!”
The lift arrived with a “ding!” and the doors slid open. Nobody was inside.
“You need help with that boys?” Doris asked, pointing at the cooler with her cigarette.
Of course they did, but they would never admit it, “No, no we’re fine thanks!” Bill said, dragging the wood and rope handle, while Hunter pushed from the other side, almost losing his rucksack off his shoulder again. Bill hit the button for the lobby, and Hunter sat on the cooler as Doris stepped in through the rapidly closing lift doors.
“Where you heading?” Hunter asked out of sheer politeness, and nothing more.
Doris seemed happy for the conversation, “Oh, I’ve got a meeting with my lawyer and my ex, and his lawyer… he’s getting re-married to some skank, my ex I mean not his lawyer.”
Bill, who wasn’t paying attention, straightened his back and stretched. “Jesus Hunter, you think you could have borrowed a bigger cooler?”
Hunter stood up and stretched a little himself, “Could you have bought less beer?”
Bill looked at him as if he was certifiable, “Of course not.”
“Well, there you are then.”
The lift jerked to a halt at the lobby a good two inches below the floor line, then slowly raised itself to level. Many a time in their early days at Lond Ho had Bill and Hunter tripped getting out of the lift when it did this. They complained a few times at the beginning, then stopped when it became clear the management company planned to do nothing about it. Doris stepped out and lit her ciggie in the lobby before heading out the front doors.
“See ya when ya get back boys, maybe we can have that beer you promised!”
Hunter and Bill didn’t hear her as they struggled and grunted, dragging the cooler from the lift. Bill hiked his backpack on to his shoulder, as it had slipped down his arm again, and Hunter did the same as they struggled with both their gear and the huge Coleman. Half way across the lobby they stopped, exhausted. Bill sat on the cooler and jammed a cigarette into his mouth.
“Times such as these Hunter my boy, when I realize it may behove us both to try and get just a bit more exercise.”
“Well there’s a fakking understadement!” Said Paco, who had apparently entered the inner lobby when Doris had exited. “Fak youse guys, the fakking fat kid from Stand By Me is looking better than youse two these days!”
Paco was a 6’4” dark haired Latino from Chile whom the boys had known since high school. He was a tremendously talented artist who went to the Alberta College of Art yet still found the time to work out for three hours a day. A fact he rarely let Bill and Hunter forget.
Hunter spoke up, “Jerry O’Connell. He’s on Camp Wilder now.”
“I don care what his fakking name is! Get off the fakking cooler and hold the door for me!”
Bill stood up and watched as Paco, seemingly without even the slightest effort, grabbed both handles and lifted the cooler off the floor.
“Jesus,” Hunter’s eyes were saucers, and before he could get his rucksack back over his shoulder, Paco had the giant ice chest through the doors and almost loaded into the RV.
Hunter followed Bill out the front doors and helped, even though it wasn’t needed, to give the cooler a final shove into the Winnebago once all the hard work had already been done. Hunter looked up at Paco, and through heavy breaths said, “I don’t believe it…”
Paco looked down at his friend, “That is why you fail. Now both of you get in the fakking camper!”
“Shotgun!” Hunter called and opened the passenger door. He climbed up and collapsed into the beige leather captain’s chair and clicked his seatbelt into place. Bill stepped into the side door behind the cooler and settled in the “booth” style seat beside Sara, who was swigging from a two litre bottle of Rockaberry Cooler from the seat by the window.
Paco got in and slammed his door, “Lets hit the fakking road!” He said in his best Frank Booth voice which, even he would admit was pretty poor, but considering English was Paco’s fourth language behind Spanish, Portuguese, and French, everyone was willing to let it go. He threw the great monster RV into gear, signalled and pulled out without checking his mirrors. Behind them was the screeching of tires and the honking of horns. Bill was nearly thrown from his seat, but managed to steady himself in time.
“So that’s the kind of trip it’s going to be…” He turned his attention to Sara, another old friend of his from high school. Sara Bukowski was five feet ten inches with sharp, but not unattractive features, and long, straight, absurdly thick chestnut hair that she often dyed black. At the moment she was showing some brown roots, not that Bill cared.
“Hey Billy!” Sara reached over and gave Bill a hug around his neck. She was always a “hug hello” girl for as long as Bill had known her, and even though Bill hated being touched most of the time, he didn’t seem to mind when it was Sara. “So? Howiztbeen? I haven’t seen you for like a month or something? Whenever that last time at the Warehouse was?”
“Yeah, no same old, and how might you be young lady?”
“Oh totally awesome! Yeah, I got a new job, and it’s been great, yeah?” She said taking another drink from the big bottle. “Oh, sorry! You wanna drink?” She held the bottle out to Bill.
“Sure, yeah, lets get this party started. Uh, where is Kate by they way?” If he was honest with himself, Bill was hoping that Kate couldn’t make it, as it would have been all the better for Hunter not to have to deal with the stress of seeing her again.
“Oh, yeah, she’s just in the back bedroom changing, she brought like more clothes than Paco and me combined I think? So what are you doing now, I heard you got promoted?”
Bill swore under his breath then took a sip of the cloyingly sweet wine cooler beverage as Sara pushed a black crescent comb into her hair to keep it out of her eyes.
“Yeah, I’m now a manager at the Buy-Way store up in the north.”
“Oh, that one up by the Turbo?”
“Yeah, same one as before.”
“Magical really is the only word for it.”
The ruffled plastic curtain that separated the main area from the back bedroom of the RV slid aside with a wheezing, and groaning scrape that ended in a clatter, and Catelyn “Kate” Tottenham stepped out.
“Oh wow!” Sara exclaimed, “You look great!”
Kate was wearing a pair of tight, olive cargo pants with a military style webbing belt with several leather utility pouches attached around her waist. On top she was wearing a short cropped, tailored sheepskin jacket complete with woolly collar and cuffs. Her twirly, curly, strawberry blond hair seemed to bounce about her head as she walked up the aisle towards the cockpit. Bill thought she looked almost ridiculous for a weekend camping trip, but she was British after all, and to each their own he supposed.
“Billy,” she said as way of greeting as she passed Bill and Sara in the booth.
Up front, Paco and Hunter were having a conversation of their own, “…so every episode he cuts of a new baddie’s head?”
Hunter shook his head, “Well, not every show to be sure, sometimes he gets in other, non-immortal related adventures too, but-“
Two hands, smelling faintly of perfumed moisturizer closed over Hunter’s eyeglasses, and a voice breathed into his left ear.
A camping trip! An old girlfriend! Booze! Endless wood chopping! What could go wrong? Tune in next month to find out in Lond Ho Adventures: May Long part 2!