Susan Reece

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The Gildré family's three story house was in ruins to Jed's left. Two unkempt children played out on the front yard among broken-down lawnmowers and motorboat engines. To his right, a shingle displayed the hours of Doctor Cartier's office. Behind the sign lay a spacious green split-back, freshly painted. Jed passed Dubeau's large, faded-white house at the top of the hill on the other side of the street. The Dubeau's son, Pierre, was a former schoolmate who had failed to make grade eleven this last year, unlike Jed, who had passed–if just barely. Jed knew Pierre's younger sister, Maria, who was 'starting to find her figure,' their drunkard of a father, Lennard, and his lovely wife, Majeses, whom the old man slapped around during his drinking binges.

The sidewalk was broken in places and the shadows of trees fell before him, occasionally blocking out the sun. From Red Street, he went to Edward Street. Stan's Taxi Stand, a one-room shack with a chair and a bed, came into sight. It leaned up against Joseph's Car Depot, a dirty, ill-maintained brick garage, the eyesore of the town. Every week one more rusting wreck was added to its ugly collection.

When the main corner came into view, a wave of anxiety passed through him, but this dread was so normal that he hardly noticed it. On the southwest corner stood a boarded-up store, Cotés Clothiers; the clock on the tower still worked and showed 4 pm. On his northwest stood Marcel's Gas and Milk; across from the traffic lights on the other side sat a building from the forties, The Nova Scotia Bank. On the southeast side sat a small shoe store, The Toiler; above it were two apartments and a small dingy dentist's office. A stained and torn Canadian flag snapped in the wind on its front portico.

He saw a group of his friends making their way south and shouted to them. The first to stop was Ken Depresé, an overweight nineteen-year-old who everyone knew as Turk. He was dressed in a cotton short-sleeved shirt and a pair of faded oversized jeans. He looked like a plump ragamuffin, especially with his bright, curly red hair.

"What's up?" Turk said in a rough, nasal voice when Jed caught up. Jed was taller than him by maybe ten inches, even though he was four years his junior.

Jed shrugged, and they all shook hands. One of the four, Jacques Lablance, was an outsider to this group, if such a thing could be said in Bonavista, even though he was a close friend of Jed's. He had light-blond, neatly-cut hair, and he wore a form-fitting shirt and expensive dress pants. His clothes separated him, not only from Turk, but from the rest of them as well, even Jed. Jacques had his right ear pierced with a shining diamond stud, and a small, plain metal ring hung on the lobe. His blue eyes shone with intelligence, and his angular face was striking. Jed's mother had once told him that Jacques was considered the most handsome young man in Bonavista. Jacques patted Jed on the back and the whole group began to walk again.

"I don't work tonight," Jed said boisterously. "I've got to be happy about that." He looked at Jacques. "What brings you around?"

"He wants to be among heterosexual men for a change," answered Pat Rideau, another of the four answered.

Pat was in a working-class black muscle shirt. A half-dozen silver studs jeweled each ear. He also had tattoos of small green serpents across both knuckles, and "Tough Guy" written in large purple letters on his upper right arm. He had a small crucifix on his neck and an even smaller one hanging from his right ear lobe, plus he wore three studs on his right eyebrow and one on his left. That day, he had streaked his short black hair with emerald green specks. A small strip of skin showed above the elastic band of his underwear, which showed above his pants.

"The only real men in Bonavista," Jacques returned with an accent, "are the ones who have left or the ones who are planning to leave."

Matt Belangé was the tallest of them, and his eyes brightened at this remark. He didn't have Jacques' fine features or Pat's handsome toughness. His height gave him little elegance, and his face had no solidity. Unlike Pat or Jacques, he dressed in loose, sloppy clothing and had his hair in long, messy curls at the back as though he didn't care about his appearance at all. Matt produced a loud fart and then openly guffawed.

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