You asked last night at supper, “Do you miss anyone? Don’t you miss Mary, or Mary and the girls at the market.” I said I didn’t rather quickly, still so very excited about being in a different province with the promise of a shared life together. The night continued as it does and the ten o’clock train whistle found me outside seeking the large headlight of the engine. The train passes by here every night around that time. Constantly moving, this little town with a main highway leading further north and south. And I thought I do miss someone. And not the obvious, family or close friends, but John.
I have written about John before, a native who pumps gas on the local reserve. With a floppy hat, silver mirrored, midnight sunglasses get up, he is a scary sight for sure. But I thought of him and how I would go Sunday mornings or when I just needed to get out to the station and buy smokes, chat the girls up behind the counter and head outside, peel the wrapper off the new pack and offer a smoke to John. He didn’t even know my name. He called me ‘Buddy’ or ‘Man’. We would talk about nothing really, most of the time. He has a son and plenty of women around him. He would tell me stories about his women but it always came around to him speaking of his son and it warmed me. I spoke of you to John and going to you. He would be happy to hear my stories. In those times, when I was alone and didn’t speak to anyone face to face for days on in, these conversations became very important. In those times, when I was alone, keeping to myself was a good choice for me. But I did need that contact and John carried me then; he carried me through afternoons and into new weeks.
I saw him the day before I left Cape Breton. I was heading up to Hawkesbury to pick up last minute things. There he was as usual sitting in his truck by the pumps waiting for the next customer. His foot up between the open door and the frame, floppy hat and sunglasses silver scary as ever, he carried me even then, as I drove by.
I dropped in on my way back and he had left for the day. I was a little sad. So, to answer your question truly, “ I miss John.” I wish him the best always, for he has helped me through.