Some Great Thing

Some Great Thing by Lawrence Hill

Book: Some Great Thing by Lawrence Hill Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lawrence Hill
Tags: Fiction, Literary
laughed, slapping his friend on the back.
    “Ca va me quoi?” asked Yoyo, who was unfamiliar with Goyette’s personal slang.
    “You know, it will loosen your bones, let your blood pump, show you a good time.”
    Yoyo nodded, unsure of what to expect. Georges Goyette, a man of many interests, was not one to invite only francophones to his parties. If certain language purists couldn’t cut their parties with anglos, then those purists, as far as Georges was concerned, could go roll hoops. Georges liked a party with two languages, loud music and wild jokes. His fridge never ran out. It seemed to get fuller as the night wore on. Asked about it, he would stroke his beard and refer to the Bible: “You have heard of the story of the multiplication of the bread? Well, this is the multiplication of the beer. Why not? Both have yeast, right?”
    Georges invited Mahatma Grafton to the party. Grafton had originally struck him as a bright young journalist, but he was now giving Georges reason to pause. Grafton had been producing silly crime stories lately. Georges would haveliked to talk about it, but Grafton couldn’t come to the party. Other journalists did come, however. Chuck Maxwell, a longtime drinking buddy of Georges’, came. And so did Norman Hailey. And Helen Savoie. So did Sandra Paquette and the mayor, John Novak, who had known Georges for a long time.
    Sandra met Yoyo, whom she found fascinating and whom she introduced to the mayor. The two men hit it off. They spoke passionately about world politics. Yoyo spoke at length about Cameroon. He equated the tensions between the English and the French there with those in Canada. The mayor said he would love to see Cameroon. Goyette jumped into the conversation until fiddles sounded from the barn. The farmhouse emptied. Everyone flocked to the music except Helen, who hesitated, knowing that Yoyo would want to dance with her and not wanting to make such a public declaration about their affair. To avoid meeting Yoyo, she slipped out of the farmhouse and walked down a country road. A man appeared beside her suddenly, giving her a start. “Take it easy,” said Chuck Maxwell, “it’s only me.” After a moment he added, “It’s sure getting a little heavy in there.”
    “Everywhere you turn, people are speaking French. It’s rude, if you ask me.”
    “Nobody’s asking you,” Helen said.
    “Don’t you think they could speak English when other people are around?”
    “It’s a party. The host is French-Canadian. So are half the guests. So what’s your problem? You want rules for party talk?”
    “They all can speak English, you know.”
    Helen sighed. “What do you say we just enjoy the nature?”
    “French extremists want the moon,” Chuck complained. “If they keep it up, Manitobans are gonna say, ‘Whoa! Enough’s enough. If you want to speak French everywhere, just move to Quebec!’”
    “Chuck!” Helen said softly.
    “You’re a good guy and you’re my friend. But you still haven’t figured out that this province, and this country, were founded by the French and the English. So spare me your bullshit, okay?”

    The temperature in Winnipeg dropped to -40 degrees Celsius, which was the same as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, on November 22, 1983. This was a record for the month of November. It was colder in rural Manitoba. Automobile gas lines froze. Block heaters had to be plugged in, but even then, many cars wouldn’t start. Yoyo was horrified. He feared the sub-zero merging of Celsius and Fahrenheit. Imagine! So cold that it didn’t even matter whether you were referring to one or the other! For a while, Yoyo refused to go outside. Inside, he wore a hat. He wondered what would happen if the heating system broke down in his house. He had stepped out two days before it hit -40. At that point, it was -20 and dropping. The cold had bitten his forehead. Yoyo had never suffered from headaches, but the stinging cold gave

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