The Tale of Xander IV
Every road has bridges.
And so this was where Xander found himself now, on the way to the city named for a queen, Regina. This was much better than its former name--Pile O' Bones--when the place was first settled piles of alabaster bison and cattle bones lay next to the rails. It seems that the pioneering spirit required a great deal of protein--red meat--and bison hides for the fashionistas back in the day.
As his father had piloted the family car, a brown station wagon that ran on used vegetable oil from any fast food joint that would give away their used oil, Samson had tried to pass on some fatherly advice to his sojourning son. The car always smelled of fried chicken to Xander--he couldn't eat the stuff.
He had listened to his father's sporadic tips...they seemed to pop more frequently after they'd left the boundaries of Winnipeg.
"Drink lots of milk."
"Don't talk back...first do...listen...then do better."
"Don't mess with the girls, treat them like ladies."
Xander didn't mind his father's seemingly mindless tips...he knew how much the short-haired Samson would miss him--they'd worked together since Xander was eleven--not all the time, just part-time, except for the last three years, but Xander had grown into a strong youth being a cribber's son. Samson was also a gifted stone mason and when he had apprenticed with his father, the conversations had always been fascinating.
"Why don't carmakers just build one car model...and improve it every year?" Xander would ask.
"That's a good question, son," Samson replied.
"If they worked out the bugs of a really, sweet ride...sooner or later they'd come up with the perfect car." Xander had concluded.
"You could be a car designer, Xander," his father had finished. This was a sampling of their long dialogues--they could discuss theoretical machinations for hours. There was a comfort between them when they talked--a weaving of family blood--a mortaring of two souls...tho' very different souls.
The only time Xander had infuriated his patriarch was the day before church services, when Xander was sixteen, and he had announced, "There is no god!"
"Who do you think you are? Nietszche? John Lennon? Freud?" His father had bellowed.
"How can a god just let this shit happen," Xander had replied.
"It's all a test, Xander," his father was sturdy, steadfast, "God is always out there...always listening...always knowing. He weeps when we humans do the wrong things."
"I don't know, Dad," Xander had murmured, "it just don't seem right...or real."
Xander had adored magic--the mystical--the unbelievable. His feeling for the mythical was brought alive, sharpened...enhanced by books like The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland...Edgar Allan Poe's Rue Morgue...Stephen King's stuff--like The Stand. This was the stuff of magic...not the humdrum pattern of a jealous god in a strange land doing strange things...at least, not in Xander's opinion. He'd let it slide after discussing his atheistic tendencies...he began leaning toward agnosticism...it was actually more accurate Xander discovered as he moved through high school.
One couldn't prove there was no god; one cannot prove a negative. Xander couldn't prove there was a god--so being able to say, "I don't know about god's existence...and I can't prove it." was a better option. It made Life easier to move through, unless you ran into a staunch bible thumper--in many cases, they could just thump the interest right out of all Life--Xander's path veered away from the thumpers.
As they passed through the city of Brandon, two hours into their six hour journey, Samson's quips and tips increased their pace.
"Brush your teeth...never leave the seat of the toilet up...wash your hands."
Xander just nodded his head as his father's lips moved with tawdry information that Xander was well aware of--he'd always listened to the cultured etiquette that one should display in public--he parents had demanded it...Xander had embraced it when necessary. He looked out of his passenger side window. There were several bridges along the route of Highway 1--the Trans-Canada Highway. Canada's only cross country route that stretched from coast to coast.
The rivers, creeks and streams that meandered across the lazy prairie were as multitudinous as the stars. Bridge after bridge they crossed, some mere culverts, others grand arching structures remembering the work of long-dead labourers from a time long ago.
Xander started to think about how many metaphorical bridges he had built in his short life. He'd bridged the generation gap, the Black gap, the Chinese gap, hell, the whole racial/ethnic gap, the Gay gap, the Lesbian gap, the AIDS gap...all the gorges that were available to humanity he'd tried to bridge and learn to understand those who were not like him.
Xander's olive skin and light green eyes had given him an exotic look...his bright white hair rose like flames from his amber-skinned skull. He wasn't tall, but he wasn't shot--his look was simply unique. His body was covered in a fine white covering of properly placed body hair...with none on his back...back hair was gross to Xander's way of thinking.
He stood out in a crowd, but his easy manner and loving concern for all of the planet's inhabitants, human, animal or plant allowed him easy construction as he built his bridges.
He wondered how many tips his father would have and started to count each tidbit of information his father offered inside of his head. He turned his handsome face to his father and asked as they neared the oil capital of Manitoba, Virden, "You hungry, Dad? I'm famished...let's pull over and eat something...I'll buy."
His father shook his head and laughed, "You are a growing boy...yep...I guess we should feed our college-bound boy, but you need to save your money. I'll treat you. Where should we stop?"
"Let's hit a truck stop...Husky...they always have the best food. You taught me that."
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Chapter One Man on Fire--The Tale of Xander
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