Chapter 1 – getting to know you
The last summer of the century. 1999. If the paranoid freaks were right, this was the last summer of life as we knew it. Y2K was fast approaching, and bringing with it the social collapse of the human race. Computers were going to go apes hit. System error… Banks, stock markets, governments; everything was going to crumble. And so it seemed foolish to treat this summer season as anything other than the last horrah. The final chapter of fun and excess.
I had just moved into an apartment in the town of strathvegas. The apartment wasn’t anything special. A one room shoebox, with a small living room, kitchen and bathroom. It was located on the second floor of a three storey walk-up. Mainly old people in the place. Except for the my place and the angry, bitter fat and fatter man hating lesbian couple that lived directly below me. They were less than enthusiastic about having myself and my roommates residing above them.
I did not cry myself to sleep at night over this fact.
There were numerous calls to the police about us being loud, unruly, and so on. Most of them unfounded. Consequently there were many heated debates in the hallways and stairwells. A bit like picking a fight with a rabid rhino some may say. But I had fun.
Strathvegas was a town of some 11,000 people. The central hub of the sprawling farming community that lay just past the city limits. We had everything essential for a small town: banks, grocery stores, a hospital, bars, restaurants, a police force, Tim Horton’s, hardware stores, etc… We even had a movie theatre with a hep coffee house attached. On the second floor of this coffee house was where one of Canada’s first internet radio stations was located, as well as it’s sibling, a local magazine. But we’ll get into that scene a little later.
There was also a handful of public and catholic elementary schools and a high school. S.D.C.I. – Strathvegas District Collegiate Institute. With an emphasis on the Institute. The building was older than sin. The oldest part of the building had two adjacent entrances for the students. One marked “boys” , the other “girls”. Old ass old. There had been several expansions over the decades; all apparently designed by by strict utilitarian-esque Dadaists high on glue fumes and cheap vodka. It was a labyrinth of hallways and lockers, stairwells and students. Most posters hung on classroom walls were load bearing. In one room there was a hole in the ceiling that granted curious souls an all access pass into the fascinating world of asbestos.
It was a dump, but half the student populace spent their days getting stoned in the conservation area across the road from the school; so no one really cared.
S.D.C.I. was centrally located. Backing onto the acidinhand river which ran through the middle of town. On one side there was the school, the conservation area and the lush recreation area known as Alexandria park. The park had a baseball diamond, some archaic playground equipment and some picnic tables. Sometimes used for family reunions, but most often than not used by the local potheads.
On the other side of the river was where all the commerce took place. The bars, stores, and eatery’s ; the downtown mecca that was Strathvegas!
The main street of the downtown core (front street), ran parallel to the river. The buildings that lined it truly spoke to the heritage of the town. Old, ornate multi-storey buildings with small stores at street level and smaller apartments above.
A very quiet, quaint town. Except for the second weekend of June when Turkeyfest takes place. It is the local booze bonanza where every drunk, stoner, asshole, and maggot crawls out of the woodwork to get their annual fix of anarchy and carnal release.
This town and I were going to get along just great I thought to myself that first night in my apartment, at two AM, as I sat smoking big bowlfuls of beauty; staring out the window at the street lamps, starlights, and bats hovering in the abyss of the night.