There is no silence. The wind does not stop blowing. The wind ached with cancerous rage as it swept over Turtle Island and gripped tightest at the continent’s heart.
Having stampeded from the Arctic Circle to the centre of North America, the wind funnels head-smashed-in from Portage to Main like vengeful frozen ghosts of the billions slaughtered. We were being punished and whether you believe it to be an act of God or an act of Science the end is the same.
The man turned right from Main Street and walked east down Portage Avenue and into the wind. The grey of the day deepened as it came into being.
It would have been possible to enter the hamster maze below the street at the entrance in front of the Toronto Dominion. Everyone who walked these streets would have headed directly to the descending concrete stairs. It was city planning by Skinner. Staying warm is the cheese.
Ryan Golden should know that. He knew that. “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” his late grandmother’s words via his cousin’s mouth echo in his head.
With the continent from Saskatchewan east to the Atlantic Ocean locked in the third day of a raging polar vortex, Ryan knew he was outside by choice and not for failure to understand the situation; he couldn’t take the same path. Not two days in a row and definitely not on a travel day.
Now Stevie Wonder admonished him, but did so in a funky way that made Ryan feel better just for a moment, a heartbeat or two.
He lifted his hand in front of his face and kept pushing further on against the charging wind. He now heard Marion’s voice in his head. “You think the rules don’t apply to you. You’re the special one.”
He stopped walking, turned his back to the wind and tightened his hood, adjusted his scarf and googles. His leather coat provided little protection. He had lost the lining a few years ago, but it was still his favourite coat.
The tips of his ears were beginning to freeze. That’s not possible. He could hear the wind howling. Raging. Assault with intent.
A bomber jacket moved past him. Gary stitched on the arm. On the back, the embroidered logo God’s Rapids Cree Nation Powwow 2010. An eagle flies over blue water within a circle that is a drum.
His mind flashed to Gary Muswagon, his buddy from the high school hockey team. He was from that side.
The man was moving with purpose. He also had a hoodie pulled over his head. Ryan thought to yell and then caught his breath. He was starting to freeze. He could feel the warm coming over him.
He yelled, “Gary”.
He remembered guys in school back in Cranberry Portage who spent the whole winter in a jean jacket. They never complained. Thinking about it now, he wondered if that was all some could afford.
He yelled the name again but more a yelp like a coyote talking through the darkness and across a campfire. The wind whipped just then and took the sounds forward. Gary jacket stopped and turned, hoodie and dark sunglasses stared for moment and then raised one mitten, inside of which a Fuck you finger was surely raised. Gary jacket turned.
The wind came harder now and the frost skittered like spiders up from the frozen concrete and entered from the bottom of his feet up his spine and into his skull.
Gary jacket began to run and Ryan turned to face the wind.