Lond Ho Adventures

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.

“Hello, sweetie…”

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!


Steve Britton's Writer Challenge

This micro tale that takes place at the height of the Last Great Format War in early 2008, is in reply to Steve Britton’s Writer’s Challenge posted on Twitter ( @scbritton ) on 04/12/2012.  Steve provided the opening line…

Back to the Wars

The sardines were packed as tight as the coach section of a 747, as Dave Armie twisted the small metal key, peeling back the lid of the greasy tinned snack.  Hunter shuddered as the smell of the canned fish packed in oil hit him full on in his olfactory sensors, making him twitch uncomfortably.

As the offending effluvium dispersed from an area of high concentration to low, the others sitting around the cheap, folding, card table set up in the corner of meeting room “B” expressed their own displeasure.  This of course only succeeded in encouraging Armie to reach out and wave the nasty snack tin under everyone’s noses and laugh like a lunatic at the same time.

Hunter shook his head, “I’m out.”  Even over the pleasing aroma of cigars and lager, the stink from the sardines was too much for him.  He threw his cards face down on the table, much to the annoyance of Tyler Pernell, who seemed to think so-called “table etiquette” was just so damn important, even at a friendly, after hours employee poker game.

“Hey!  Come ahn man!  Ya don’t jest throw yer cards onna table! Eh!?”

Hunter gave a dismissive wave of his hand and walked away from the table leaving Tyler, Sally, Akbar, Daphne and Dave to finish out the hand.  He picked up his bottle of Molson Canadian, and took a puff from his Macanudo Maduro Toro cigar and stepped into the hall. 

As he walked back towards his office, he could hear Armie telling the rest of the gathering that they were a “bunch of pussies” and they should really give the sardines a try as they “put hair on yer chest!”  Daphne, the service office assistant, told him she didn’t need or want any hair on her chest, and there was some laughter.  The door to the meeting room clicked shut behind him and the voices and noises of the poker game deadened as Hunter finished the last, warmish swig of lager.  He grabbed a fresh bottle from the employee beer fridge, then a quick left at the end of the hall and he was in his tiny, cramped office. 

He pulled the door closed and took a seat in the creaky, uncomfortable chair behind his cheap flat-pack desk that he assembled himself, popped the top on the Canadian, and took a pull, swallowed, then enjoyed another puff of his Maduro cigar.  As Hunter leaned back and blew the smoke towards the ceiling he realized he had nowhere to ash.  Quickly looking around his desk, he espied a small tea plate with the remains of a peanut butter sando on it left from lunch.  Hunter dumped the bread crusts into his circular file and used the dish to ash his cigar.  There was a muffled roar from meeting room “B,” where the poker match was continuing in earnest.  Hunter took a long puff from his stogie, detecting notes of spice and coco that he hadn’t noticed in the first third of the cigar, possibly due to the distractions of the card game.  Technically there was No Smoking of any kind allowed in the building, but it was 19:30 on a Friday and he was beyond caring about such things.

He opened up Internet Explorer on his slow-ass PC and searched for some info on the so-called “Last Great Format War.”  Hunter found he was leaning toward HD-DVD, not because he thought it was the superior format, which clearly it wasn’t with a mere 35gigs maximum data storage and the tendency towards lossy audio, but because in his experience the unwashed masses always tended towards the cheaper, inferior product.  Folks chose VHS over Betamax, then VHS again over LaserDiscs, and it seemed to Hunter the superior format always lost out in the end.  He would have been delighted if blu-ray pulled out a win in this latest home entertainment format war, if only because after the failure of Beta, and mini-discs Hunter thought Sony was due to win one.

Hunter shut down the computer after only a few minutes and took another long, satisfying pull on the Macanudo.  He shut his eyes for a second, and ran a hand over his stubbly, balding head and remembered back to the nineties when he had a big, thick, head of wavy blond hair.  Back then if asked, he would have said he expected to be published by the time he was in his mid thirties, but here at almost thirty-eight, and twenty-two rejections later he was beginning to wonder…

It was time to go.  He had already spent too much time at work on a Zero Tolerance Friday, and it was time he called it a day and hit the road.  He left the half-finished bottle on the desk and was pulling his black coat from the back of his chair when there came a knock on his door.  It opened without waiting for his reply and the head of marketing, Sally Nishimura stepped into the doorway, in her hand, an unlit Captain Black Cherry flavoured cigar.

“Hey, you coming back to the game?”

Hunter placed the last nub of his stogie on the tea plate to burn itself out, then pulled his coat on, “Nope.  I’m the hell outta here for tonight.”

“Oh, uh well Akbar gave me five bucks to tell you something-“

“And he couldn’t tell me himself for free?”  Hunter was intrigued.

“No, he couldn’t.  And it had to be me.  He said you would know what it meant.”  She smiled, and Hunter couldn’t tell if it was mischievous or slightly embarrassed, or maybe a little of both.

“Okay, shoot.”

Sally stood up straight, put one had on her hip and pointed at Hunter with the other, then wagging a finger she said in what Hunter assumed to be her best Japanese Anime girl “accent” 

“No Smoking on the bridge sir!”  She smiled and gave a nervous chuckle.

“Did I get it right?  Does that make sense?”  She wanted to know.

“Yeah, that was both awesome and amusing.  I hope you got the money up front!”

“Oh yeah, don’t worry he paid up.  You Otaku are a wacky bunch.”

“Absolutely.  Have a good weekend, Sally-chan!”

“You too Hunter-san, back to the wars on Monday!”  She turned back towards the meeting room and Hunter headed for the side door, the smell of sardines still lingering in his nostrils.

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