Monday, 12 September 2016

Four Boys, a Drunk, and a Train

Welcome to the way back machine, step right in.

Here is a story promised to not be told. But, enough time has passed, and now it can be.

And, so we go back to visit 1967.

A student, I was working mornings carrying and delivering The Province newspaper in Vancouver. The newspaper had a contest, selling new subscriptions door to door. The prize was a paid trip to Expo 67, the worlds’ fair in Montreal, followed by a trip to the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, on the way back home.

Myself and three other boys won. We were 15 and 16 years old, and were chaperoned by a manager from The Province circulation department.

Just how this man was selected was never really clear, he had a reputation of being a rabble rouser. I’m not going to use his real name here, though I’m pretty sure he’s gone on to his great reward in the afterlife by now. 

I’ll call him Mark.

The worlds’ fair part of the trip went smoothly, Expo was fantastic--so we flew out of Montreal to Winnipeg. The Pan Am games were great, the four boys had a wonderful time, the newspaper paid for everything  all was well, until the last night.

We were in a stadium watching a baseball game, the United States vs Cuba, a real rivalry.

Sitting next to us were two guys from the Barbados, with big pearly grins, and carrying a huge bottle of rum. Now our man Mark, could have closed out this tour without a scratch---except for that rum.
The men drank, and drank, and drank. There was a rain delay—so more drink. Then a second rain delay. Well , you can imagine these men were by then wetter on the inside than the outside, and it was well past midnight.

Mark just couldn’t get enough, so then we were off to find another bottle of rum and head over to the apartment of the Barbados guys to continue, four boys along for the ride, wondering how we were going to get out of this and board the train home.

Around 4:30 in the morning all of the men were pretty much incapacitated. Our train was to leave at 6:30.   So what to do?

It was time for a teenage revolution, so we took over this sorry looking slobbery mess of a man.
We picked his pockets, took his wallet, his cash, and the train tickets, called a taxi, bid goodbye to our hosts, and headed off to the train station.

The train station in Winnipeg was a big cavern of a place, with thick wooden benches. We deposited Mark on a bench. He slowly slid off it. We perched him back onto the bench, and this time we jammed something underneath him to keep him there.

Watching all of this was an elderly train porter who switched between laughing and shaking his head. He came over and asked what was going on. He really broke into laughter then and asked, “ So you boys are talking care of this full grown man and you need to get him back to Vancouver? Well that’s something”

He helped us get onto the train, and we stuffed Mark into bed in one of those private compartments where you get your own pull down bed. We each had compartments of our own nearby.

I think we were a couple of hours out of Winnipeg heading west when Mark showed the slightest hint of life. We’d been checking on him to make sure he was still alive. But at this point four boys have just about had enough, so we agreed upon two things. We would scare the hell out of Mark, and then we wouldn’t tell about it

So it was a badly hung over man awoke to the clattering sound of a train, a pounding head, and no sign of the four boys he was assigned to protect. 

We’d gone to hide. Mark was running up and down the train, out of his mind from worry, and couldn’t find us. We let this go on for about a half an hour, and then popped out and surprised him.

He begged us to not tell about this, he would have been fired instantly, no doubt about it.

But since he’s likely made the last train stop of life long before now, we’ll just blow the whistle, laugh, and shake our heads.

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