Archive | June, 2017

Chapter 4 } Bikes, Shotguns and White Rabbits

8 Jun

Being Held Up in the Safest Little Town

{ Being held at Gunpoint at 15 years of age }

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“Shit. There’s rapids below me anyways. I think. Which bridge am I on? Fuck. Are those rapids at the mill or here? I can’t look over to see. I’d die anyways at that height. Wait. I’ve jumped off the highest diving board at Sawmill creek swimming pool. How high is that? Is that the same height? Would I make it? Fuck. I gotta run. And then my worst nightmare came true. Both. You know the nightmare where you have to run and your feet are frozen to the ground?”

Victoria Day Fireworks weekend –  1988. This was it. I mean, this was the highlight of Manotick’s social events for the year. All right, maybe Dickinson Day, but that was a whole other kind of water gun mania event. Victoria Day was a long weekend of freedom. A weekend for summer romances, confessing summer crushes and being a well a teenager . I wanted to go. I grew up outside of Manotick – on the fringe really – near Ottawa. I lived in a large beautiful home that my father designed and built himself with his father, his cousins and the contracted professionals. As a kid, it felt like it was in the middle of butt farg Idaho though. I wasn’t any different then most of my schoolmates mind you living in the outskirts of Ottawa.  Anytime I had the chance to ride into town with my parents for errands, I would. “What? There’s more people that exist outside of my 280 acres of field existence?”  There was a plus side to living out here. I couldn’t really be grounded. Really. This didn’t stop my parents from yelling it though.

“Katie, you’re grounded.”

“Uhuh.”

“Don’t you uhuh me child. You’re grounded.”

“Okay ma. I’m grounded.”

I’d go back up to my room where I spent most of my free time staring out the window and the hay fields that went on forever into eternity. I used to think if I followed the creek it would lead me to the Sahara Desert. “Grounded from what”?” I’d say out loud to myself. The non-existent store around the corner? My next-door neighbors 5 miles down the road? There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to get into mischief. It all required a vehicle and an adult to get you there. My parents did a lot of driving. I have a twin brother. There was always soccer, hockey, gymnastics etc. A friend of mine who lived even further out then I did was over visiting. We decided we wanted to bike into Manotick for the Victoria Day ballgame and fireworks. My older brother had bought my brother and I real purdy matching blue 10 speed bikes. We planned to ride them the 5 country roads it would take us to get into town. I asked my mother if we could go.

“No”

“Please?”

“No.”

“Come onnnn Mom. Please”

“Pretty please?”

“Nooo. I said No and that’s it.”

“Why not? Why can’t we go?”

“I just don’t want you go there.”

“Why not. You don’t trust us?”

“I said No and that’s my final answer.”

“Mom! Why not? We’ll be fine.” I interrupted her.

“It’s not you I don’t trust Katie.”

I was relentless. “Mom!”

“It’s everyone else out there I don’t trust Katie.” She yelled over me.

“Come on! It’s Manotick!”

“Alright fine. Go. But take the sidewalks. Don’t talk to anyone and you’re calling me from the payphone when you get there…and you’re home before dark.”

“Mom! The fireworks don’t start until it gets dark.”

“You’ll come home and I will drive you back in then. The road are not lit and there is no chance in H- – I am letting you ride back alone in the dark on those roads.”

We agreed and ran off giggling in 15 yearold hysterics and got ready to go. This was a big deal. First time out of the house on my own and on bikes! I had walked 5 fields down for tobogganing and summers with some childhood friends, but never this kind of distance. It was the summer of ’88. Cut off jean shorts were in. There is an undercurrent of how significant this event in my life was and what it would mean for me down the road. We were in the beginning prime of our teenage years, our puberty, our sexuality, our freedom. My parents were always protective. They had almost lost me once and I don’t think they ever wanted to take chances with me again. They were finally letting me go out on my own. This was a big deal. I was so excited.

We took off on our bikes. Thank God helmets weren’t a thing yet. Yuck. Would have cost extra anyways. ‘Would have ruined our meticulously combed hair. Jackie and I were still incredibly innocent girls. Jackie was a gorgeous girl. A spotlight of the high school fashion show and leggier then me. I’m sure my mother wished our cut-off jean shorts were bermudas. How could she complain? They came from her generation and have never gone out of fashion since. We took off. Our biggest challenge was the big hill right close to my home on Limebank Rd. The hill seemed so much bigger on bike I learned. We biked our way up, chatting and goofing around on the way. Rideau road was windy and we were having fun swaying our back tires back and forth and tracing figure eights on the roadway. No traffic to speak of. When we got to Regional Road eight we had to be careful. It was a main thoroughfare and really busy with cars speeding most of the time. I’m sure it took as a small lifetime to get there. We arrived at the grounds and hung out with our friends from school who all lived a short walk away to the Manotick Arena. There was a big ballgame going on and a few concession stands to get lost in cotton candy at. I’m sure we dug into some french fries from the fry truck and flirted our innocent way around the swing set where the preteens were hanging out. We laughed, goofed around and had a ball. Dusk was setting in and I knew it was time to make the trek back. Never quite the same on the way home is it?

We headed home. We were still right in the middle of “downtown” Manotick and riding over the Main Street bridge that first brings traffic into the center of town. We had been riding the sidewalks as my mom instructed and I was just as happy to oblige being away from the cars. The sidewalk ended halfway over the bridge. Riding in tow I was in front of Jackie. I slowed down and threw my leg over and hopped off my bike. She did the same. We were waiting on the edge of the sidewalk watching the flow of traffic waiting for it to stop so we could hop back on our bikes and ride the road until the sidewalk would start up again. We thought.

In the flash of a second I was staring down the barrel of a shotgun. I had never done this before. It is bloody terrifying.

There was no warning, no before, just this moment. There is a man coming at me and intently pointing a big gun right at my face and he’s screaming bloody murder loud at the top of his lungs.

“Jump off of the bridge!”

I want to run hard! I want to run fast! I want to get out of here! My mind is racing a million miles a minute. Tons of bits of information is coming into my head clearly and quickly. I’m on a bridge. There is steel bridge rail behind me that is at least 41/2 feet high. I’d have to turn around and hoist my leg over the bridge and jump. That means my back would be to him. I don’t know what he’s going to do if I move. I won’t be able to see the gun. He’s now waving the gun up and down at me frantically in fits and spurts. There is no rhythm to it. There is no way to monitor his next move. He screams even louder at me,

“Jump off of the fucking bridge!”

Every time he said “fucking” he waved his gun eve more angrily just on that word. You don’t have to accentuate it buddy. I’m scared shitless already. The “F-word” isn’t gonna wanna make me jump any more or less! Shit. There’s rapids below me anyways. I think. Which bridge am I on? Fuck. Are those rapids at the mill bridge or here? I can’t look over to see. I’d die anyways at that height. Wait. I’ve jumped off the highest diving board at Sawmill creek swimming pool. How high is that? Is that the same height? Would I make it? Fuck. I gotta run. And then my worst nightmare came true. Both. You know the nightmare where you have to run and your feet are frozen to the ground? Where you want to scream but you can’t?

I try to move my feet. Maybe if I shuffle slow to the side, I can duck and dive under the car that is stopped there. Why is there a car stopped there? This guy stopped his car in the middle of the road? Of all the negative influences movies have, they do provide reference points in times of unbelievable events. Yah, I’ll dive 5 feet under a car like a Charlie’s Angel and the hard concrete will soften my fall. Well, still better then a bullet through my head. Cue Drew Barrymore’s produced Charlie’s Angels slow motion image of Kate flying through the air music now! { I met her once. Zaphods, Valentines Day with Tom Green. But that’s another story } I can’t move my feet. I am telling them to move and they’re not moving. Why aren’t the moving now of all times? He seems to be getting angrier that I’m not jumping of the bridge. He’s got a gun pointed at my face. Does he realize the predicament I’m in? Seriously. He yells furiously loud at me again,

“I told you. Jump off of the fucking bridge right now!”

I think I need to scream back. I need to scream. I want to scream. Will it shock him away? I try to scream. My mouth drops and nothing is coming out. No sound. Nothing. I can’t scream. Inside I am screaming and nothing is coming out. I was terrified. Fuck. What is going to happen? How am I going to get out of here? How do I get him to back away? However long these minutes lasted I was initially cognizant of Jackie, but then everything around me disappeared. Of all the things going on in these moments, this man’s screams, his waving shotgun, my desire to run or jump and scream, feeling the hot summer concrete below my converse sneakers, the only single thought in my head was, “I’m going to die. I want to live.”

I never moved a foot. I never managed a sound from my mouth. My body was frozen. If I don’t move, maybe I will not disturb this man anymore then he already is. Then, out of nowhere, as fast as he was in front of us pointing his shotgun, something happened. Everything became very still and silent. All the sounds of summer I did here we gone. The background noise of a small town faded. It was clear I wasn’t budging or listening to his orders. Not that I was making decisions. It seemed like something was controlling me. If I jumped, I’d surely die. If I stayed, he’s going to blow my head off.  I tried running and couldn’t move. I guess I’ll just stay put then. Out of nowhere it seemed as though the air got lighter and brighter. I couldn’t see anything around us except for an isolated vision of this lunatic. A soft ball of light with no distinctive edges, just a fade disappearance into the atmosphere appeared around us, between him and I. He went from being frantic loud and crazy lunatic waving a shotgun at me in the middle of the busiest street in town, to slowly lowering his gun as though someone had gently laid their hand on his barrel and it lowered slowly to his side and he walked calmly in a daze back to his car, got into the driver’s side, started the car and began to drive off like nothing had ever happened. All in light of day in the one of the most charming rural towns on the Main street. My eyes seemed to follow him, protected by an imaginary shield and there on the side of the road closest to me was a longhaired blond woman sitting in the passenger seat. It was a small white rabbit car and there was a woman in the passenger seat the whole time this was happening?

Jackie and I turned our heads slowly and looked at one another for the first time in the minutes that seemed like hours that this holdup took place. We began to sheepishly laugh in the rhythm of a stalled stick shift car.

“Jackie…that, that, that was a gun!”

Jackie was still laughing, and managed, “I know.”

Our moods were interchanging between laughter and dead straight seriousness simultaneously. We needed to do something constructive now right? Unbeknownst to us. We were in shock.

“Jackie, we gotta get the license plate!” We both dropped our bikes, tires spinning, ran onto the road and ran down main street after this little white rabbit car. After thought: What’s a guy with a shotgun driving a rinky-dink shitbox like a white rabbit for anyhow? ‘Not a particularly masculating car now is it? Shouldn’t he have been driving a Chevy or Ford pick-up truck or something?

There weren’t any cars behind us so we were running in the middle of the bridge after this car. I squinted my eyes zoning in on the small plates and tried to read all 6 digits. I got the last 3 digits of the license place thinking Jackie had got the first 3. We ran as far as we could before the speed of the car had taken it far enough that we could not see it anymore. We both bent over and were panting in the middle of the road trying to catch our breath.

‘Did you get it?” we asked each other out of breath.

“U4N” we said gasping for air at the same time.

“Did you get the first three?” we said again under our breaths at the same time.

“No.” I thought you would.

“No.” I thought you would.

We laughed.

“Shit. Holy Shitttt! What the fuck just happened?”

Dusk was setting in.“Oh my God. It’s getting darker. We have to get home before dark or my mother is going to kill us.” We rode hard back the busy road, up the long side country roads, up Spratt to Rideau back to Limebank. Thank God the last part was all downhill this time. We slowed down near the driveway and turned into together.

“You going to tell your mom?” Jackie asked.

“Uh uh. No way! Are you kidding?”

“Yah, I guess she’d never let you out of the house again.”

“And how.”

We threw down our bikes, walked by the pool gate and tried to quietly walk into the house all sugar and spice like. My mother was most likely in the gazebo lounging where she spent most of the summer.

“Katie? Hi girls. Did you have a nice time?”

“Uhuh” we said in unison and closed the screen door behind us.


{ Cue theme music: It’s a toss up between 2 top hits for the summer of ‘ 88: “Good Thing” by Fine Young Cannibals for the bike ride in and my favorite at the time, “Sweet Child of Mine” buy Guns and Roses. How appropriate. }

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Kate
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By Kate Flood
• 5:17pm • Starbucks
State of Being: Whatever.
• Listening to : Dave Mathews, “Space Between”

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