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"He's a lame dog -- somebody put the fuck out -- slam a mercy bullet into that miserable skull -- I just don't think this guy's a very happy lifeform."
I look around to get a crash-site-drive-by as we walk past the bank machine lounge. The occupant is lurking in the front window -- standing towards the outside in some sort of voodoo zombie trance -- a luxurious layer of grime outfits him in the kind of filth that would make a coal miner itch. Slouched outwards, his forehead leans against the glass and rides on the handy lubrication provided by his lustrous hair. His eyes lazily scrunched close. His shoulders rhythm to and fro. His head pops out of synch with the choreography and twitches in a patently psychotic jolt before falling gracefully back into the well greased 500-lap-forehead-track on the roboteller vault window. His face is etch-a-sketched into my brain for a few seconds before it fades into the collection of images stored there -- filed under banks.
"It's not a job I'd want. ..." I said looking back over at Kenny "... and I don't even want to meet the goon who takes it. You know -- I'm as fond of euthanasia as the next guy -- but a Crown Ministry of Mercy Killing is not on my check list of appropriate societal agencies -- could you imagine the fuckups who would end up running it?"
"No man -- It would have to be volunteers -- vigilante angels of the mercy kill -- the victims wouldn't be so hard to stake out -- you could bring relief to a dozen desperate souls in one carefully planned murderous night on the town." One night in Heaven
There really is no good synonym for 'laugh' -- chuckle, chortle, titter -- anyway ... I laughed, briefly -- "Sure, go for it, just don't get caught with the bloody route map in your mitts -- and I won't turn you in."
"Could you image surviving his psychology? .. Hey -- I know -- I wanna mind-meld with the bank window and twitch like a fuckhead for few hours" Kenny did his best grime-soaked-rubby-trance face. "Well he must be semi lucid sometimes -- lucid enough that they don't keep ya' in the ward full time." He said after dropping the rubby act.
" ... And too stupid to realize that he should just stay there anyway. Yeah -- the human race -- wow -- but he's been in there for a bunch of years -- something keeps him alive -- some primordial drive to see yet another day of mainlining household cleansers -- what a freaked out reality he must live in".
"Definitely an abortion posterboy -- great slogan potential -- This could be the life you save -- so come on -- let's bring another unwanted gutter prodigy into the beverages section of Jack's Hardware -- shit, maybe just start stocking Lysol in single serving portions -- or cute little four packs for dates." Ken winked and pointed at me like a kitchen gadget huckster at the flee market.
We did the chuckle thing again.
"You're a fucked up elitist, you know, high on the uberman kick -- been hanging out at white power wanker barbecues?." I would have raised an eyebrow for punctuation -- but I don't have that kind of eyebrow dexterity. I lit a cigarette and smirked at him.
"Fuck off -- it's me now -- you're the fucking megalomaniac, remember ? I'm a Nazi, right -- that's why I hang out with a wigged out Jew boy like you?" He replied.
"Well you know -- you Roman Catholics are just a gentile cult of Jew worshipers." I remarked -- engaging my most modest eastern European arrogant look -- lips slightly pursed in a tight smile. Chuckle, titter, whatever. "You got hooked on a Jew boy peasant with a truck load of stoic truisms and made him into one of your demented pagan gods -- the offspring of an innocent earth girl impregnated by the unleashed virility of a meandering God."
"It was his fellow Jew boys that sold him to us that way. You got it all wrong -- Yeah I'm a Catholic -- I like cats."
"You like to lick cats, you mean."
"Fuck you," he sneered " ... man .. are we almost there yet?"
"It's just up here." I pointed at the black door coming up on our left.
The peek-a-boo hole in the door darkened briefly after we rang the doorbell. The chubby door attendant momentarily left his perch in front of the little black and white television, suspended by some makeshift coat hanger apparatus two feet in front of his face, to open the door and steal us inside. "Two bucks each, guys," he said. Booz Can
Kenny gave the guy four bucks and we walked down the stairs into the can, greeted by the delirious pounding of drugged out bongo players. The bongo is without a doubt the most masturbatory instrument in the history of humanity. Everybody thinks they're a star. And in their usual bliss the bongoheads jammed ham fisted right over the band -- who, undeterred, banged out the least sexy version of black magic woman I have ever heard in my life -- the sweet Spanish guitar was replaced with some vague facsimile that's better suited to accompany a car exhaust suicide than a romantic rendezvous.
Kenny and I stood there for a while, looking around in a daze, adjusting to the new atmosphere, he looked over at me "This is the life, eh?" he said raising his eyebrows in a quick oh-well-what-the-fuck jerk.
"Beer?" he asked shrugging "or are we just here for the ambiance?"
"Go for it -- fight your way to the bar, it's a glorious journey," I said looking at the insane crunch of people leading up the alcohol dispensary counter . Kenny gave me a two finger salute and plunged into the chaotic beer queue.
The place was ridiculously crowded -- an endless sea of bobbing heads swimming in the dark smoky air. People stood around ecstatically dancing on the spot, baked out on various forms of intoxicants mixed with the requisite beer. Joints flew around. Conversations where sheltered by the ersatz musicians taking their turn subjecting the crowd to their mostly improvised half assed renditions of classic rock tunes accompanied by the unstoppable bongo ba-boom-boom-pitty-pat. The volume was such that to talk to someone you had to bring your face right into their personal space. This immediately rules out group conversations. One on one. And if you got stuck with the wrong one, you could find yourself a little too close to a gregarious dirtbag spitting some sort of mumble in your general direction. Familiar Face
I spotted a familiar face just over from my current position, gave a customary smirk of recognition and squirmed by a few people to get within talking radius.
We exchanged "Hey Mans" and shook hands. There was a time when a quick mano-a-mano handshake was all that was required. Now a simple handshake was just not enough, the complicated handshake has moved from being an amusing option to being a mandatory custom, if the routine doesn't include at least two or three distinct grips it could easily be taken for a snub, we took it all the way, four maybe five grips ending in a crescendo of juvenile patty cake silly slapping.
"So what's up Shane?" I asked.
"Ummm, this, that, you know, like always -- hey -- you'll like this." He said as he started searching though his backpack.
He pulled out a dog eared large paperback text book sized volume -- it had this crazy picture of this guy on a motorcycle in the middle of giant field of sunflowers, no shirt, no helmet, hair blowing in the wind, smiling like a demented scientist.
"It's Hugh Le Caine," Shane explained, "This guy invented the world's first thing that could be compared to a synthesizer -- and he's from Calgary"
"The synth was invented in Canada?" I asked, he was right I did like this "why the fuck does nobody know that?"
"Well it's not exactly a synth," Shane flipped through the book and handed it to me pointing at a picture "The Electronic Sackbutt" he announced.
The image in the book was of this crazy contraption, all pulleys and tape and wires hooked up to a synth style keyboard.
"Its like a self contained tape loop studio operated by a keyboard." Shane explained, his round face beaming at me with maniacal ardor. "He put out some albums too - crazed shit -- tape elctro nightmare symphonies. He was an electrical engineer, working for Radar Canada and lived alone on this immense sunflower farm making his deranged music with his invention -- the Sackbutt, man. This guy was out there. -- way beyond his time. I can just imagine him in his little farm house -- sending his far out cacophony wafting across the fields of giant yellow flowers in the middle of fucking Alberta." Shane smiled like a madman, shaking his head in bliss enjoying the mental image of Hugh Le Caine in the sunflowers.
"The Electronic Sackbutt huh? That's great, man -- nifty moniker, where the fuck did he pick up the word Sackbutt?"
"It's some kind of old Scottish instrument."
Kenny squished through the crowd over to us, beer proudly in hand, a trophy from his heroic journey. "It's fucking crazy out there -- do you know what the really sad and ironic thing about this place is?" he said "The band, deep down inside their heart of hearts, really, truly believe that these people are all here to see them -- and all these people are just fucking here because there isn't anywhere else to go and get boozed up at four in the morning. They don't give a fuck about the band -- except the ones that are so smashed that they're in serious bake out mode -- you'll shake their booty to anything in that state."
"It's good that they have this little avenue for self expression, even if it is a captive audience" I said as I rummaged through my cigarette pack. I pulled out a joint and presented it to Shane.
"Honors?" I asked.
"Sure" He handed the Le Caine book to Kenny.
Kenny looked at cover, smiled, flipped it over and started reading the blurb on the back cover, squinting and holding the book inches in front of hid face so he could read in the smoky darkness.
Shane sparked the joint.
"This is fucking cool he said -- where the hell is this thing now? It should be in museum."
Shane was coughing hysterically as he passed the joint to me. Slapping his chest, he caught his breath.
"It's in the U of T, man, in some studio -- covered in cobwebs -- I don't think anybody has touched for years."
I was now convulsing in coughs but I managed to squeeze out "Do you know where in the University?" while hacking.
"Yup" Shane said, grinning with pride.
I passed the joint to Kenny.
"Let's fucking steal it." He said before putting the joint in his lips.
Kenny took his turn coughing his head off.

Saturday, two in the afternoon, I found myself awake in bed, starting at the various constellations in my ceiling cracks. Why the hell not get up? I did, went out to my living room to find Kenny, either already awake, or awakened by entry into the room.
"In the future" he said, looking over at me "even people with excellent bladder control will where protective under garments. Think of the convenience -- never leave what you're doing just to go to the toilet, I've got the campaign; 'Depends' -- you're time is valuable, why stop when you have to go?"
I don't know if it was because I wasn't fully awake yet, but this made sense to me. "It wouldn't be. Depends, though, somebody would slap a Gouchi label on your adult diaper -- It would have to be fashionable, they'd be designed to stick out past the top of your pants, so everyone could see the Moschino billboard."
"Right .." Kenny agreed " .. it would be matter of prestige to have your diaper, the most embarrassing question you could ask at a fancy soiree would be 'where's the bathroom'."
We laughed.
"Did Shane take off yesterday?" I asked.
"No -- he crashed here too, but left a couple of hours ago, he said to meet him at the Future Bakery, he didn't say what or why -- but said he had to go to the University."
"Breakfast?" I asked.
We got our act together and head out, leaving my apartment.
"It's funny huh, I mean we all know the words Melotrone, Theramin, Moog, but never heard of the Sackbutt -- and it pre-dated them all." I said. "Well of course nobody has heard of it, it's Canadian, nobody cares."
"Still thinking about that thing?" Kenny asked "..so you want to steal it or what -- I'm in, why the fuck not, if it's just gathering dust at the U of T, it's not exactly being revered as a cultural relic, we should have the damn thing."
"Well I bet they'll freak right out if we take it, could you imagine the headlines the next morning, 'Sackbutt Stolen! Priceless early Canadian electronic artifact taken from U of T', at least then they'd finally know about it." made sense to me "We could just turn our selves in with a press conference and claim the whole thing was a practical joke to draw attention to the genius of Hugh Le Caine and Canadian Ingenuity -- what would they do to us?"
"Nothing ..." Kenny speculated "they'd flag wave like a bunch of crazed mall dwellers and probably make a National Film Board cartoon about us."
"Then give us a Canada Council Grant to figure out how to work the thing."
We walked up the street, I was imaganing Operation Sackbutt, I liked it.



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