Tuesday, September 26, 2006

FWG's back-on-track more-excellent all-week adventure - Tuesday

Day 4

10:00 AM

Woe is me.

I awake with a world-record-breaking headache and a delightful taste-o-puke at the back of my very dry mouth. Ah! The life of an unpublished fantasy writer! Aren’t you jealous?

It takes an hour to brush, shower, pack and brush again. I’ll be checking out right at the deadline.

I suddenly remember something wonderful and I stop to process the memory – desperately trying to extract it from the scotch-flavored anarchy that is my brain. I saw artwork last night more beautiful than I realized art could be. So amazing that it changed my perception of art. There was one piece in particular that shattered me and I had stared at it until a tear threatened to fall. Granted I was stone drunk but still. I can picture it now. Two white horses. Two fishes. Three or four trees and a flock of black birds. So harmonious and radiant with joy these creatures seemed to me that they outshone the giant yellow sun.

Wait. Did I take a photo of it? I stumble around and find the digital camera. I hit the ‘review’ button and there on the display is the image of two dogs toting pink accessories. Pink eyeglasses. A pink ball. What the fuck? I have no recollection of this. Did I join a circus last night?

I hit the ‘back’ button and there it is. The masterpiece. I’m sober now and the image still moves me.

Oh my lord! Did I purchase this piece? It’s not in the room. Did I purchase it and then lose it somewhere? That would be so like me. No. No, I didn’t. The memory solidifies. I tried to buy it and the restaurant manager declined.

“Come back tomorrow when you’re sober and I’ll sell it to you.”

Thank gawd. What a fine gentleman. It was two thousand dollars. It would have ruined me. I also find a business card for an artist by the name of Mark Graham. I pray that he has prints for sale. I’ll definitely be Googling him and giving him a call.

Head pounding, I descend and check out.

“I hope you enjoyed your stay,” says Mr. Day Shift.

“It was lovely until the hangover. It’s been a bit of a trial since then.”

I steer the banana boat onto Highway 15 north (Ottawa bound). I’m back off at the first variety store where I scoop a coffee and a danish and a 24-pack of Advil. I immediately reduce the inventory to 21.

The drive is generally nice – a typical Ontario highway with great carvings through the Canadian shield. The not-so-nice portion comes in this form:

At the end of a passing zone I’m generous and remain in the break-down lane to the very end – allowing one more vehicle to pass. However, the next vehicle after that – some land pirate in an Oldsmobile or something – decides that I am purely expendable in relation to his imperious agenda and viciously tailgates and drives me onto the shoulder. Miraculously I contain myself, figuring this to be some kind of karmic payback for last night’s debauchery. I do take notice of the license plate though. A habit I’ve fallen into whenever marking another motorist for possible future assassination.

Welcome to
Smith Falls
Proud home of Canada’s 278th Wal-Mart

In Smith Falls highway 15 necessitates four turns at local intersections. The first of which is another near-death experience when another Oldsmobile-or-something makes an impromptu left-hand turn from the straight lane while I’m in the left lane jumping all over my brakes.

“Mother f-!” Oh. But did I say another Oldsmobile? Pardon me. It’s the same damn car! You’d think I’d be fit to kill at this point and be trying to run him into a telephone pole but I’m so utterly amazed that I just sit there in a daze, shaking my head. At the next lights I snapped a photo of him though – just so I can get the word out. If anyone happens to be acquainted with this particular creature of darkness – please say a warm hello from me – oh and drive a stake through his heart for me too. Thanks!

Welcome to
Wonder twin powers – activate!

And twice as arn since

Welcome to
Don’t feed the Grits

There’s a huge demonstration in front of the House of Commons as I arrive in the capital. I hope nothing goes terribly awry resulting in the death or serious injury of the Prime Minister. That would be mildly unfortunate.

I cross the big bridge into Gatineau, Quebec where the Hotel Du Chevalier awaits.

“Bonjour – Hello,” I say to the woman behind the front desk. This is my way of saying, ‘Greetings. I’m English but I’m making an effort, see?’ She seems to understand. We swap documents.

“Monsieur Landriault,” she says, pronouncing my name in the purest Frenchest accent possible. “You ‘ave a French name but you speak English.” She says this in a sultry voice and with the faintest hint of a smile and a devlish gleam in her eye. She’s right out of a James Bond movie. ‘We shall make love and then I shall kill you,’ I fear she will say but she doesn’t need to. Her gleamy eyes say it all.

I hit the room. It’s nice and has a balcony. A good place to do some writing with a stogie and a bottle of plonk for company. Perhaps later. For now I unpack, freshen up and depart for Ottawa’s downtown ‘market’ district.

After a long walk, some people-watching, window shopping and menu-reading I settle on The Keg of all places. I know! I know! Seems a terrible waste coming all this way to dine at a chain restaurant but I’m seriously in the mood for good steak and I just don’t see another reliable steakhouse option. I choose a small table by the bar and settle in for a four-hour bout of writing (in a notebook of course). It also seems strange ordering the calamari having just sampled the best calamari ever at Windmills the night prior but I do and am rewarded. Windmills falls to second spot after only 24 hours in the limelight. The Keg’s new calamari dish is utterly – and I mean utterly – to die for. I won’t even describe it. Just go. Promise me you’ll go to the Keg and try it.

I consider two more orders of calamari as my dinner but instead I get the Keg-sized prime rib with au jus, horseradish, garlic mash and crispy coated onion bits. I stack it all carefully into a 5-tier sandwich fit for the gods. Tonight I finish a bottle of Twin Fin Cabernet Sauvignon (it’s tasty but a bit wishy-washy – seems more like a pinot or zinfandel to me) and migrate to coffee rather than scotch. Regular coffee. Not boozy coffee. It’s 9 PM. I’m falling asleep. So I call it an early night, keen to rise early next morning and do some exploring before leaving for Montreal.

Good night.

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