Prairie Problems: Fiction

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Having been born in the prairies, I was used to being stuck in the middle of nowhere. Being something of my birthright, it was easy to feel at home in every shittown that I roadtripped though. I always hoped that it would make for some decent conversation with an ambling stranger. But I also knew better than to talk to random dudes on their hometown turf – it was a knowledge that could save me from a beating, a broken tooth and an eye that puffed like a blackened marshmallow.

But unlike so many people I grew up with, I was proud to have sprung from the backwater loins of a low-rent uterus. The prairies may have been nowhere but it was still something.

Even so, I still had so many friends, who were now scattered across the country like kitchen crumbs, still claiming to be suffering a similar fate; it was hard to believe that anywhere could be the middle of nowhere.

Like Kirk.

Kirk lived in a town that was best described as the broken toenail of Southern Ontario. Everything interesting was just a deathmarch away.

“At least if you left you would have something to look forward to,” I reminded him. Some of us had a long walk with the only destination being wherever you chose to lay down and die.

Situated in a sturdy-but-cantankerous neighbourhood that possessed the town’s only 24-hour grocery store and strip club, I conjectured that Kirk never really had to leave. Besides eating and occasionally getting an obtuse glimpse at a sad sack of tit lovers, there wasn’t much to get ambitious about anyway. But he still liked to talk up a storm about getting the fuck out.

“Anywhere but here,” he stamped as we watched the patrons waft in and out of the peeler bar across the street.

“That’s what you said when you left home,” I’d sigh. “Maybe your standards are just too low.”

That’s the problem with trying to get out of nowhere fast – you end up spinning the tires and digging yourself a nice, comfortable rut. The way Kirk carried on you would think he had stalled in a gorge. But gorges tend to be beautiful; just a stone’s throw away from a bar that even alcoholics considered depressing, his situation was really more of a ditch. Or a gully at best.

Which, geographically speaking, is sort of compelling when you come from endless flatland.

-Photo from Flickr user “Thomas Hawk” – Creative Commons.