The Crossing

The Earth, according to Sir Isaac Newton, is constantly spiraling through space in perpetual motion with respect to the sun, but I thought the Earth should stop dead in its tracks. Maybe, like in the 1978 Superman movie, I could make the Earth spin backwards and my parents wouldn’t have to die. I wouldn’t become a murderer. I wouldn’t become a King’s Horseman like in the vision I saw. I could continue along with the life I had planned and still be a robotics engineer. There sure was enough time left on the planet as the Earth is only middle-aged and I’m in my early twenties. The planet is 4.5 billion years old and the Sun is halfway through its life-cycle giving us 4.5 billion years before going Super Nova which will destroy the world with its explosion. In the middle of the Earth’s existence, recorded history has set things into motion that will unfold into the future and not even the mythical Superman can help.

Three individuals are about to kill my parents and there is nothing I can do about it. My family will forever change and I will, for some reason, kill the ones who have committed the murders. Three more dead people… Three more of God’s miraculous creatures terminated. Why though? Why did I kill them? I can only assume that the law failed to enact justice… The cops investigating might not have been able to charge them and I decided to kill them myself.

Who ever started the events must pay up when the time comes and I will exact payment. How long ago have they set the future in stone? How long have the evil forces colluded against me and my family just to draw me into the underworld? I changed overnight as I drove from Grand Forks to Winnipeg. It has taken me three and a half days to get this far and I only have two hours to go after crossing the border. My arduous journey would be over soon, or was it just starting?

The vision of the Universe had not mentioned that God made everything, or even tried to prove it to me… It had just presented Big Bang as we knew it. It had been Jesus who told me that everything had been made through me and my spiritual strength. He also said that bad things had happened through me when I was in a spiritual slumber. Who had put me to spiritual sleep? If I was God himself I guess they would want control over me and control over those processes. I could imagine that maybe the three people who were about to kill my parents were involved. They might have tried to usurp my authority…. Tried to take over and become God through me…. Maybe instead of me. They wanted to destroy it all and recreate the Universe in their own image. Recreate humans to be their slaves… To be their people… Their special species created to rule over the world in dominion of all else.

Checking my speed, I thought the human voyage has just begun as the human separation from various Chimpanzee species began only six to eight million years ago. This may sound like a lot of time, but the scope we are dealing with when considering the history of earth is 4.5 billion years. I once heard the beginning of a lecture on TV about CRISPR that started with Robert Sinsheimer giving a lecture on October 26, 1966 that started with the following: “In this land the rivers have carved great gorges, and on the sheer cliffs of these gorges one can read a billion years of the history of this earth. On that immense scale a foot represents the passage of perhaps a billion years. All of man’s recorded history took place as an inch was deposited, all of organized science a millimeter, all of genetics a few tenths of microns.”

We have appeared as modern hominids for only about two hundred fifty thousand years a mere smudge on the scale presented by the planet itself. We scattered from Africa to settle the world starting fifty thousand years ago. Jarred laughed to himself and remembered an old Trailer Park Boys Movie titled Out of the Park: Europe where Bubbles, Ricky and Julian went to London and had to do different challenges for money. One was to steal the Queen’s underwear, one was to take nude pictures in a certain park, and another was to tack down a local celebrity who happened to be known as Sir Noel to the duo. Jarred thought Sir Noel looked a lot like Leonardo da Vinci but he had a sidekick that was reminiscent of a primate. He was only known as Monkey but was about three and a half feet tall. Jared imagined that this cleaver little fellow could have been somewhat like one of the first hominids to walk upright and may in fact resemble the so called missing link talked about by Darwinians.

Whatever school of thought you followed in the battle of church VS science you can conclude that we are modern humans and have had many different incarnations leading to Homo sapiens being the only living type of hominoid. There have been 7 major classifications of hominoids including Homo. Sahelanthopus is the oldest and came about 7 million years ago, shortly followed by the Orrorin subclass who learned to walk upright. Ardipithecus was next up to bat between 5.8 and 5.3 million years ago followed by Australopithecus 4.2 million to 1.98 million years ago. While the Ausralopithecus was still around the Kenyanthropus class of human came into being 3.5 million years ago but was short lived as a species. Also during the time of Austropithecus we seen the creation and destruction of Paranthropus 2.3 to 1.2 million years ago.

Finally the first of the Homo subspecies came into being about 1.9 million years ago and was called Homo rudolfensis. Where the Homo rudolfensis left off we have the Homo erectus that lasted from 1.89 million years to 110,000 years ago. They are the oldest subspecies with modern human body proportions of legs/arms to torso. There is evidence that they cared for weak and old members of their society. Next up is the Homo heidelbergensis which existed from 700,000 years ago till 200,000 years ago. They were the first to adapt to cold climates through creating simple wooden shelters and also noted as the first to hunt large animals. Another subspecies, living from 100,000 to 60,000 years ago, was the Homo floresiensis nicknamed the Hobbit due to it’s dwarf-like size of three foot six inches on average. Homo neandertholensis existed from 400,000 to 40,000 years ago. They are the closest extinct relative to Homo sapiens, the first to wear clothing, the first to use symbolic/ornamental objects, and also the first to bury their dead. Lastly before Homo sapiens were the Homo naledi who lived from 335,000 to 236,000 years ago.

Finally we arrive at the Homo sapiens, or modern human, about 300,000 years ago. Seems like an awful lot of science going into the creation of humans, or at least trying to explain them. Anthropology and Archeology have determined that many different types of hominoids existed… But according to the Bible humans were created in God’s image. They all resemble one another to an extent.. All the Homos walked upright for example. But NONE of them resembled modern humans… Not even early Homo sapiens. I checked the side mirrors and then the rear view mirror noting that there was a bunch of nothing to be seen.

Looking back to the road, I thought there was more evidence in favour of Evolution then I could possibly over look. The different species of human progressively redefined their attributes through several subspecies in ways that I can only imagine refined their ability to exist. They continually adapted to new surroundings as they spread the world and I can only conclude that if my spiritual ability was used to create humans it was through evolution of the apes like Darwin said. We were created from another species. Don’t get me wrong I still see myself as God… I mean Jesus himself told me so, but still created? There is too much scientific evidence that we evolved I thought as I looked to the ditch on my right.

Looking back to the road I checked my speed on the dashboard and noted I was still going 60 Mph. Taking time to tune the radio I thought about modern humans. In the vision I seen highlights of our technological breakthroughs… Quite a pile of achievements. We humans have managed to make the planet bend to our will. Still looking for a channel that had decent music, I thought we learned the environment and learned to adapt as the theory says, but we also transgressed the garden according to Genesis and were thrown out to feel pain. If Eve bit the apple and then gave Adam a bite causing us to feel pain, then technology was definitely worth the trade off. Finally deciding it was taking to long to find a station, I put the radio tuner into scan mode and turned back to the road with full attention.

Noting a dead rabbit on the shoulder, I thought Acetaminophen dulls pain for a while and conveniently has been derived from natural sources like so many other drugs we have come up with. We have adapted to living in cities of hundreds of thousands to millions of people and our homes vary as you travel around. We live in Apartment buildings, side by sides, mobile homes, not just classical houses. Again that’s possible because of our understanding of science, not God’s doing. Our sciences have given us the ability to do pretty much anything we believe in… We drive cars, we fly, we have landed on the moon, we have a Space Station orbiting the planet. Hearing a good song on a Rock and Roll station from Grand Forks I hit the scan button again.

The radio stopped scanning and locked onto the chosen station. Blowing in the Wind, sung by Bob Dylan, was playing in the background leading me to think of the last five hundred years of technology. We have achieved flight, gasoline-powered vehicles, electricity, nuclear power, computers, robotics, space flight, and we can explain much about our universe. The development of Classical Mechanics and Relativity made it all possible. In high school Isaac Newton’s laws told me how objects interact with forces that are applied to them. How friction eats at the applied force and slows down an object in motion, but still we are exploding in technological terms… We must have a growing impulse being applied to our mechanical system. Perhaps it’s the potential of the Second Coming that is providing the push… Perhaps it’s true… God returned and gave us Divine knowledge.

All energy-matter interactions on our planet can be described by Newton’s Laws of Motion, including the mechanics of a bullet spiraling through the air. The impulse applied to a handgun’s trigger would shatter my world. Gunpowder, an ancient Chinese invention from the 9th century, and a firearm, first invented in the 14th century, would lead to my parent’s deaths. It was not the inventions that murdered my parents, but the three people who performed the act. The law should decide what their punishment is, but they are likely too well thought out and too successful at what they do. Jesus mentioned that they feel they are above the law and it will take intervention to complete the task so I will judge them.

The Actus Reus was pulling the trigger, and the Mens Rea was the decision to pull the trigger. The courts should prove this, but I already knew that I would be the one to hand down justice. Where was God’s hand in all this? Why must I sacrifice my life? I know Jesus said it was up to me to fix things and I would have help, but piss off… I already have a life… Had. There was little chance that what I saw could change, even if I ignored the vision and wrote Jesus off as a hallucination. My raison d’être would change because of the actions of three people I have yet to meet, and I was to murder them in retaliation for my parent’s death. The impossible had happened and an instantaneous one hundred eighty degree shift of momentum had occurred, as if the system failed to obey the law of momentum conservation. A new song came on the radio, One by Metallica.

My thoughts were drowned out for a second, then I turned down the volume and continued thinking. The consequences of my parents being shot and having to kill them would mess with my world, which was smaller than our Earth, never mind smaller than the universe. Maybe that was why my world readily changed. It used to be comprised of Electrical Engineering, working out, dating, Wing Chun, and now I was to be a King’s Horsemen instead. I thought I could keep some of the old life going…. Dating… Win Chun… Working out. I wouldn’t have lost it all, but I’d have to learn to adapt like the early humans… Evolve. I seen a blue sign on the side of the road telling me it was 50 miles to Pembina.

Looking back to the dash I noticed that it was 6:30AM and a blustery wind suddenly and unexpectedly swayed my Bronco. I reacted by sharply turning the steering wheel causing concern for a rollover as I knew the vehicle to roll in tight turns at high velocity. This was because of the high center of gravity associated with the lifted frame designed to give a good clearance for off-roading. As my vehicle settled back into its lane I thought of how complicated the machine was and felt relief that I had prevented my fears from coming true. The force that propelled my vehicle came from the pistons driving the camshaft that in turn fed the transmission ultimately turning the driveshaft. The force was transferred through planetary gears to the axles and ultimately the wheels. There was a lot of science behind vehicles… A lot of parts put together to make them work the way we intended. The force originally came from running a spark through gasoline mixed with oxygen.

The force behind my Bronco was equal to the vehicle’s mass times the acceleration of the vehicle. I can neglect my mass as it is negligible compared to the weight of the vehicle, even though I am needed to operate the vehicle. I control the acceleration of the vehicle through foot pedals via the accelerator and the brake. The steering wheel is used to direct the momentum of the vehicle and together with the gearshift these controls comprise the interface to operate a vehicle. In a standard, the driver must constantly adjust the gearing for the speed of travel, but in an automatic it happens without intervention. Through conscious thought I coordinate the accelerator, brake, steering wheel, and shifter to make the vehicle go where I want.

When I want to turn left, my freewill will allow that decision. When I want to turn right, I can turn right. Most anywhere I wanted I could backup or travel forwards. However free this seems there are still rules of the road that govern my ability to travel the roadways like speed limit signs, traffic control lights, no-turning signs, and painted lines on the road to tell me where to drive. I must follow the rules or risk the police handing out tickets for the infractions I have made. As I scanned for road signs, I thought back to the lessons of defensive driving they had given me when I got my licence. The instructor had told me that aggressive drivers would be more likely to speed, tailgate, run red lights, block lane changes, and change lanes excessively. It was as if being behind the wheel made them criminally dangerous, like they had suddenly gone off-roading where the rules changed.

My Bronco was rugged and designed for off-roading on the roughly hewn trails found just off the smooth and well-maintained highway. I preferred the highways and seldom travelled off-road, even though it seemed adventurous and I was an adventurous character. There are dangers associated with off-road travel like blind turns, sudden and unannounced washouts, fallen trees, and wild game crossings. Those that drive off-road, like criminals avoiding the law, must use more caution as side roads may not be as well maintained. Drivers with more skill, or those criminals with more experience, may have an easier time off-road and may go faster when on those types of roadways.

Criminals preferred the back roads, where they could easily shake a tail, find a hiding spot, or locate a stash house. They liked the anonymity that came with being unknown amongst the small towns and tourist havens scattered just off the main highways. It may be safer to travel the paved roads, but that does not mean travelling the well-maintained roads of society are problem free. Dead-end alleys, going the wrong way on one-way streets, those annoying Cul-de-Sacs that send you back to where you came from, roundabouts that are hard and annoying to navigate, poorly maintained roads that lead to construction, and detours through the rough areas of town are just a few of the perils many types of vehicles face daily. There were many vehicles such as Tractor-Trailers, Trucks, Buses, Vans, SUVs, Cars, Motorcycles, Dirt Bikes, Mopeds, and Scooters. Each, destined for a different use, could travel on paved roads, but not all could go off-road.

Each type of vehicle has a different value as a status symbol and holds a different place of worship in each of the cultures of Earth. I would like to buy one of Carol Shelby’s masterpieces. The car known as Elenor, the Shelby GT500, with six hundred fifty horsepower behind its drive. I could soup it up and run the quarter mile and perhaps beat the land speed record for that class of vehicle. Criminals made short work of legalities like property ownership by falsifying vehicle identification numbers and faking registration, or resorting to stolen plates, but the police were there to catch them and stop them dead in their tracks. I guess if one wanted a certain vehicle bad enough it wouldn’t be hard to get in our society and chop shops would sell you cheap parts or even whole vehicles to meet the ever growing demand from black market dealers.

In my mind this only led to unwanted attention from the law, which leads to court cases and jail time. I wanted to avoid that dead end in life as much as possible and stuck to the main thoroughfares in town where the decent people drove. If you drove the back roads, it was uncertain as to your fate and you could run into anyone, anything could happen, you may even get into an accident and end up uninsured. Legally purchased through a dealership, or from a private citizen, is how most people get vehicles. Even then a shady deal could happen, but you would have society’s help in recouping your loses. Crime could still get you a vehicle like through a car-jacking, or an auto theft, and criminals did it all the time in Winnipeg which was once known as the car theft capital of Canada.

I liked order to my life and desired a well-maintained existence complete with the trappings of modern society but didn’t want to become a criminal to get stuff. I enjoyed all that society could be, but partook in one infraction of the law, the indulgence of Marijuana. I would smoke while I drove, would get high at home, at school, at my friend’s houses, or when out just about anywhere. In High School I dealt small amounts of the substance but enjoyed little profit as I smoked my share instead of pocketing the cash. My friends had all gone big time with the drug scene, progressing through dealing Hashish, to LSD, to Ecstasy, to Methamphetamine, to Cocaine, and finally to lady H, or Heroin.

My friends had joined organized crime syndicates like the King’s Horsemen, the Apache Cross, the Santos Family, the Worldly Warriors, or even Death’s Doorstep. I feared those organizations and imagined myself selling drugs, extorting local businesses, running bookmaking operations, dealing in prostitution, or even dealing in illegal loansharking, and ending up shot, stabbed, whacked, or in jail. I guess I can get used to it I though as I scanned the horizon ahead of me and settled into the seat. I’ll have to know that my life is changing I thought as I tapped my right hand on the steering wheel in time to the music. The Pusher was currently playing and I thought that I’ll be the dealer… Yeah… With a sweet, sweet bag of green.

With no ambition to continue dealing beyond graduation, I became like a beam of light travelling through the vacuum of space, straight and narrow, and meant to continue in straight lines for ever and ever. I was like a planet to its sun, constantly free-falling through space, never to collide with the nuclear source that shines on us all to reveal truth and honour. According to the Law of Universal Gravitation set forth by Sir Isaac Newton, the mass of both bodies and the proximity of one to the other determines the magnitude of the force of attraction between them. If my lack of contact with the police force was something, and it was minuscule, it proved how distanced I was from my friends’ type of life.

Being small and single-bodied compared to the massive law enforcement network in North America, I would have quickly been overpowered and sucked in to crash-land in jail if I had gotten out of hand and followed the path of some of my friends. Associating with an organization like the King’s Horsemen would be like getting sucked into a black hole. It would change you in ways that physics and science in general can only theorize about. As I was accelerated towards them I would transform from heavy weighing bradyons to weightless luxons and then finally into tachyons made of antimatter. For now all I had to contend with was the pull of the moon responsible for the reflected sunshine that partially lit up the highway in front of me.

I guess the moon existed to guarantee that we wouldn’t lose our paths through the night. We would maintain our path in life up the same roads and possibly glimpse the next day as the sun reflected off of the moon’s surface to remind us of our futures and the return of the perpetual sunshine the next day. Even when the clouds came and covered it up, we would still have a bit of starlight from billions of other suns to keep our lives in focus. The moon had its way of coming through for us… That shining surface… It seems to deny cloud cover and show us the truth repeatedly by even weakly penetrating the thickest of clouds. A gust of wind pushed a large cloud over the moon, darkening the road ahead and put my theory to the test. I looked up to the sky and surly the light shone through the thin cloud, illuminating it… giving it life of its own.

Looking back to the road I seen three hitchhikers up ahead of me, silhouetted by the headlights, standing at the side of the road. Like in the Tell Tale Heart, my heart started beating… First weakly… Then stronger… Then I thought others could hear it… It grew louder and louder… I thought the border guards would soon hear as it grew so loud. Then as I neared I could see better, and realized that they were the ghosts I had viewed before. Pale in the moonlight, not so saving now, eerie and odd, but still the future was seen. I again wondered why I had to be the one to kill them? Wondered why the cops had not caught them like they should have. I thought it was a sick and twisted game I would get caught up in… Something out of a horror novel, something Steven King may have written. Something that may happen to a man in that town… What was it again… Castle something… Castle… Castle… Oh yeah, Castle Rock. My life was to become a nightmare… An incongruity within the darkest recesses of life… A trip to the darkest of boreal forests where only dirt roads and mountain men existed.

As I drew nearer still one started waving. The tall one… With the gut shot. The other two smiled as I passed, staring at me standing idly on the shoulder. The one with his head blown off was pointing to his injury as the third held a finger pistol to his friend’s head and mimicked pulling a trigger. The tall one clearly mouthed: We want to reckon with you. They were wildlife waiting for a tourist to pull over and click a picture of remembrance to show friends and family. They were still there in my mind, stuck in the recesses of my subconscious, a reminder of deeds I had not yet committed, the murderer I had not yet become became clear in my mind… I would not let them harm again. They must have had it coming to them, the trio of life-stealing bandits who stole my parents not their belongings, not their money. They had taken from me and I had taken from them, it was that simple… Them’s the brakes… You guys don’t get another chance to redeem yourselves. I half wondered if they were the spirits responsible for my mental condition.

I remembered the aliens… What I thought had been aliens… My stop at the side of the road. I realized it must have been those three who had something to do with the missing time… But what? Why did they haunt me? Surly it couldn’t simply be because they were dead and I was alive. They must be, from what passes as the afterlife, trying to communicate with me. I doubted they were remorseful… I doubted they wanted to forgive me.. I bet they wanted to complete whatever nefarious task they had set in motion. They hobbled my life… They set me back and I bet they had done it to others… Taken from other lives… Other families. Then the cloud passed and once again the highway lit up and I could see the moon. It always presents the same face to us… The moon does not revolve… It just orbits the Earth and we see the same side continually.

Phases of the moon are different because of the sun’s relative position to the earth and the moon. The moon orbits at a different rate than the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, and that’s why we occasionally see it during the daylight hours. All this creates an instability in the spiral of the Earth’s revolution that creates a wobble and affects the earth’s orbit around the sun. There were certain things that the moon did for the planet that could not happen if it wasn’t there, so it was okay to screw us up once in a while and give us a hotter or slightly cooler day. The tides ebb and flow because of the position of the moon, fish react differently during different phases of the moon, and the legendary werewolf can change form during full moons. The moon phases are used to guide the seasons, and in ancient times the people knew when to plant and harvest.

Joel 2:31 in the bible speaks of a certain full moon, the blood-red moon. We take this full moon as the precursor to Jesus Christ’s return during the second coming. There was a full moon on April 24, 2014, that was a blood-red moon. It was the beginning of a tetrad, or foursome of blood red moons. The last one happened on September 27, 2015, and concluded the series. Many thought that was a sign that the Second Coming could be upon us. Maybe that was why I had the weird visions. There could be some connection to the moon that affected me, I still believed Jesus and thought that it must be a connection that I couldn’t help, even if I was omnipotent.

Another factor affecting the stability of the Earth’s orbit was the proximity of the other planets of the Sol system. Even the proximity of other solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy that affected, via gravitational pull, the orbit of the Earth to a slighter degree. In 2017 there was a celestial alignment of a large magnitude as the constellation Virgo contained the sun, leading to Revelation 12:1 coming true: And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The nine stars of the constellation Leo were at her head with the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars and together this makes up the crown.

The planet Jupiter was also in the abdomen area of the constellation leading to Revelation 12:2 being true: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. According to popular interpretation this is symbolic of the tree of Jesse gaining a new branch and Revelation 12:5 coming true: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. This child was Emmanuel, the Lord, newborn anointed king.

I tied the weird visions I had to the alignment of the stars and the moon. The appearance of the ghosts had me spooked and I had come to believe that they were the ghosts of the guys I will kill. I thought they were already trying to change things after I had killed them so I took it to mean good. I thought that I was successfully changing the world for the better. There were some large organizations, resembling black holes, that I may join because of their singularities and the massive amounts of gravity that they carry. Even my straight-as-a-beam-of-light routine would bend and get sucked in past the event horizon.

Albert Einstein and his Theory of Relativity would take over and my mass would foreshorten as I approached the speed of light. Anything could happen at the speed of light, including time travel and teleportation because of near disintegration of matter. This involves matter conversion from sublight bradyons to lighter luxons or photons, particles that travel at the speed of light. As the speed of light is surpassed the matter reappears as tachyons having imaginary mass.

The King’s Horsemen were an organization that resembled a super massive black hole as they were a worldwide and notoriously known one percent outlaw biker club. They seemed to defy the natural order of things by moving faster than light and appearing out of nowhere by converting matter to antimatter and back again. They seem to travel through time at will, using several bradyons as a reference for the duality of a tachyon’s nature, where the particle seems to travel both forwards and reverse through time with respect to the observer. In other words they defied nature and could do the impossible.

I had incurred no debts to them nor had done business with them, but knew my ex-brother-in-law, Ernst Portman, had hung around several years ago. The local chapter had shown up in the mid-eighties and built up a presence in the city and throughout the province. They had squared off with the largest Native gang, the Apache Cross, and came out on top pummeling the Cross into submission. One concession was to leave the reserves and North End of Winnipeg alone for Apache Cross dominance.

The Horsemen had secured themselves as the top supplier of cocaine in the province and now distributed to pretty much anybody who dealt drugs in Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba. At least for the time being as soon the Apache Cross would find newer suppliers moving into the city through South American and Central American dominated gangs and Cartels. One of them was Jessie’s Raiders who formed in Oakland, California. They had solid supply lines with the Escobar Cartel through Mexico, up the Mississippi, up the Red River and right through to Winnipeg. A familiar song came on the radio and caught my attention.

I looked at the radio momentarily and then turned it up. It was Mary J. Blige and Family Affair. It seemed of little consequence either way to me, the strong, determined family man, whose sister, Victoria Portman, was a divorced nurse and had two school-aged children. Bill, twelve, was a bit of a troublemaker and was suspended twice for fighting. He was smart enough if he could stay in the desk long enough to learn; They had diagnosed him with ADHD. Bessie, eight, was more relaxed and subdued. She volunteered at the local shelter and shampooed strays as they came in, destroying the fleas that they may or may not have had. I scanned the sky looking for the cracking sun but could not yet find any sign of a sun rise then I looked at the dashboard.

Gas still looked good, speed was fine, engine temp was in the normal position and I had travelled a total of 78 miles since leaving Grand Forks. I think the distance to Emerson was 80.1 miles so I had to be getting close to the border. I thought of my parents and the many times I had crossed the border with them since childhood. I guess I’d not get the chance again as they were going to die. My parents owned a family grocery store, Reignyard Foods, that had put food on the table since my early childhood and was built on the family value of caring for other people. My parents, Silvia and Issac Reignyard, taught a hard-edged work ethic I use in all my endeavours. The more I thought of them the more I looked forward to going home just to partake in the family meal.

Typical fare for a family meal included: Fresh maple basted turkey with crisp skin and succulent meat from careful roasting preformed by my father, reminiscent of other family gatherings where he carefully selected and prepared the bird himself; Fresh from-the-bird stuffing seasoned with garden-grown herbs from the family garden in the backyard and picked fresh every fall, and mom’s homemade pumpernickel bread as the base; Fresh giblet gravy with a hint of garlic and sage for a taste that couldn’t be beat, complete with cornstarch to thicken it for my nephew as he can’t stand sauces thickened with flour; Cheese potatoes made with Sharp Cheddar, Romano, Parmesan, fresh cream, freshly whipped butter, green onions, and garlic; Buttered peaches and cream corn fresh from the family garden out back, picked and shelled just for the occasion, then drizzled with melted butter; Garden fresh baby carrots drizzled with olive oil and wild honey; French onion soup made with the freshest of garden-grown onions complete with mozzarella cheese and freshly baked baguette torn to shreds; Cabbage rolls made fresh the day before from grandma’s old country recipe, a classic rice, tomato and ground beef variety; Cheese and potato perogies baked in the oven dripping with melted butter and containing bits of fried bacon and fried onion pieces prepared from an aunt’s recipe with dough to die for as they were never tough; Paired with a bottle of 2009 vintage Châteauneuf-du-Pape saved just for the occasion; For dessert there would be Cherry Cha-Cha, a family favourite, made up of crushed graham wafers, cherry pie filling and topped with whipped cream and mini marshmallows, a recipe inherited from the mental health center I had attended.

I could not remember missing one of those all important meals in my entire life. It would take a complete disaster for one to not be held, I thought. Something of the magnitude of a death in the family would do it. If my parents were to die, it would shock me as they were both aged, but in great physical health. It would almost take a murder to set one or more of them aside and that would not happen as there had never even been a robbery at their store. It had always been a safe enough place for me, young Jarred, to go play in while they stocked the shelves and took care of the many regular customers who frequented the place. There was a gang build-up in the North End, but there was a popular belief that if you just ignored them and didn’t hassle them to leave, they would leave you alone. Besides, they seemed more interested in selling drugs and pimping prostitutes then in robbing old people’s grocery stores.

The gang scene in Winnipeg was of little consequence for myself as I saw a blue highway sign that announced the border ahead and then I thought the two countries were one there. A collusion of cultures; A mixing pot where all people came together for a common purpose. Even criminals had to find a way across these common points to succeed at smuggling, whatever their cargo was, be it humans, drugs, designer jeans, or even stolen artwork. The common roads that led there accreted like the addition of mass to a black hole where all matter gathers to find no way out creating a culture of its own. The Americans and Canadians who met at the border were different, but somehow at the crossing point they equated as equals. Both sides required identification supplied by their country of origin, and this amounted to a passport with your photo and travel history in a computer. The border guards on either side will scan your name into a computer and get at your permanent record to emblazon it with another crossing from one side to the other.

I pulled up to the border wicket and rolled down my window to talk to the guard, the radio playing in the background forecasting the day’s weather. I turned down the volume and pulled out my licence. There are always the same questions:

“Where are you headed?”

“Do you have any alcohol or tobacco?”

“How long do you plan on staying?”

“Where are you from?”

“Do you have a criminal record?”

“Do you have any firearms?”.

I was quickly waved through thinking about the differences and the similarities between the two countries. I appreciated the rights afforded to me as a student on a temporary visa, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that Canada was a better nation for me for permanent status. My thoughts wandered and I considered many things about the two nations. Coming from the American side, you may freely bear arms, including assault rifles and handguns, and they guarantee it through the Constitution. Coming from the Canadian side of the border there were several restrictions placed on handguns and a ban on most assault rifles, and you did not have the ingrained right to bear arms.

Per capita, the residents of the United States own more guns than there are people, in fact there are close to one hundred and twenty guns for every one hundred people. This is the highest of all civilized countries on Earth. In Canada, the number of guns per capita is closer to thirty-seven guns per one hundred people. Jarred wondered if this difference was the primary cause of the differing levels of gun violence between the United States and Canada, where there are far more violent crimes involving firearms in the United States where you find the militias and the survivalist groups thrive. Perhaps if the police had done their job I wouldn’t have gotten a gun, but they are so easily obtained through the black market.

In Canada a concealed gun permit is hard to get and is usually specific to jobs like wildlife officer or armoured car guard. There is allowance for permits if a person is in imminent danger and the police protection is inadequate. In the United States eighteen million six hundred and sixty thousand permits exist to carry concealed guns, however in states like Alaska where there is no right to carry a concealed firearm, there is a correlated reduction in violent crimes involving firearms. I must also take the relative populations into account, as there is a far greater number of people living in the United States. In the United States punishment used to be more lenient than in Canada for similar infractions of gun-related laws, bringing Jarred to believe that he’d rather be a criminal in the United States in the past. In Canada last year there were one hundred eighty-three stabbings that led to twenty-eight percent of all homicides in 2019. He’d probably be the guy to bring a knife to a gun fight anyway and in most urban centres in Canada you can overtly carry a knife of a certain length legally, so what did it matter? Besides, he thought guns were for hunting and not shooting other people.

The animal symbolic of each country varied with its nation’s identity. In the US you had the Eagle, a large majestic bird of prey, that joined in a mating couple for life, while in Canada you had the Beaver, a dutiful rodent, that built its own home by flooding land inside of a dam constructed from gnawed-upon logs that also served as food. The Eagle was a predator and hunted for food, killing its prey with its sharp beak after ensnaring it with its sharp claws, a fighting machine that dominated the airways above the land with sharp sight and keen instincts. The Beaver was industrious and a keen builder of homes, a docile creature that used its broad-flat tail to slap the water to warn of the presence of predators, and ate tree bark as its main source of nourishment. Comparing apples with oranges, the Eagles are peaceful and will only fight when pushed, and symbolic of power, courage and freedom, while the Beaver is a builder of the mind, body and soul and symbolizes creativity, creation, cooperation, persistence and harmony.

These differences in traits are clear in the role of each of the nation’s worldwide endeavours. America is an aggressor, often going to war and resorting to violence when negotiation fails. They have taken an active role as aggressor in most of the modern world-wide conflicts of recent times. This is because of the United States being the Superpower that has agreed to police the world in part through their idea of Manifest Destiny. Canada, not being a Superpower, does not have to defend itself as often as its ally and often takes on the role of Peacekeeper through the United Nations. Canada is better known for supplying humanitarian aid to war-torn countries rather than military muscle.

Canada’s muscle comes through sports, especially hockey on the world stage at all levels of play and is a great pipeline for players to the National Hockey League, after all it’s a Canadian dominated sport. The United States holds the bulk of the NHL’s franchises and draws in bigger contracts for the sport because of its larger market and greater number of large urban centres. Most of the NHL’s Hockey Hall of Fame inductees come from Canada and most likely will for some time. Canada won the world’s first Olympic Gold Medal in Men’s Hockey at the 1920 Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium, with a team of Icelandic immigrants from Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Falcons. Canada might not outshine the better-funded athletes of the United States in most Olympic sports, but when it came down to it, it was another way to fight and settle conflicts like in the ancient Greek times when the states of Greece would battle to see which state would lead the country till the next round of Olympics. I thought if left to Hockey, the United States would never lead North America, but who was I, eh?

All this is just ethnocentrism and I was sure my adopted American culture was about the same as my native Canadian culture, but there were fundamental differences. The Canadians were still part of the Commonwealth, and the Americans had that War of Independence to get rid of the Crown. They threw some tea in the Boston Harbor to protest King George’s new tax, and the next thing they knew Benjamin Franklin was in Europe trying to negotiate on their behalf. There was Laura Secord who travelled the night in peril to tell the Canadian authorities about an American plot to invade Canada during the War of 1812 and I don’t remember Canada ever trying to invade the United States. The Americans had their bloody Civil War that pitted brother against brother, and they enacted Slavery before Emancipation came from Lincoln. Canada had two rebellions through Louis Riel Jr, and there were the residential schools that scarred Canadian Native Americans. Both sides of the border went with Indian Reservations, but the Americans fought in many Indian Wars through the colonization of their wild west resulting in the slaughter of Indians. The exception was the Battle of Little Big Horn, where Custer and his men met ultimate demise. There was medical care too and I quickly decided that Canada won this round as they had Universal Health Care for all its citizens where medical care was free for the masses. The Americans had a public system, but it was understaffed and under-funded and many did not get adequate care due to the cost of private care.

I was glad to be going home, but at what cost? If I turned around and stayed in the United States, maybe it would be different, maybe the people to suffer wouldn’t have to, maybe I could avoid it all. I knew there was no chance at changing the future, but I had to try. It would be like escaping to earth’s orbit with no impulse. I did not want the life of a full patch biker. I would expect a gradual fall, but it seemed it would happen suddenly since I was only here for the weekend. I was not sure how I would court the King’s Horsemen… I thought they only liked seasoned criminals… People who could pull their own weight and what was I in this sea of stars?

Just a simple human… Small and insignificant… One amongst billions. I could never attract their attention. Jesus thought Ernst had the connections… Maybe he would know more… Maybe he would lead to them. There were the three ghosts he had seen with the gunshot wounds… Had I done that to them? I believed so. It must have been me who shot them. It looked brutal and I could understand how they would want vengeance, but still they must have deserved what they got. They might have drawn me in and made it unavoidable… Like a snare set to do me in. Who would do that to me though… Kill my parents just to upset my life? I couldn’t fathom anyone like that… At least not yet.

I turned up the radio and melted into the seat as I thought I would soon speed north past Emerson, through Morris, through Letelier, and finally through St. Norbert to arrive in Winnipeg. 92.1 CITI FM was playing Welcome to the Jungle and this seemed to fit my current attitude. I thought it was bad enough to have all the diseases for your money. Things like prostitution, drugs, and gambling, but I hadn’t seen graduation in the vision. I had seen myself as a full patch and was not sure what would transpire to turn myself into a drug dealer. I headed for the jungle of the North End where my parent’s store and their home was, certain that I would not return to the United States to finish my degree.

Something terrible would happen to my family and my dreams would collapse. It would force me down a detour I did not care for, a path through the rough streets of town. I was certain that things would change for the worse, even if in the long run they seemed to get better. Maybe I was just paranoid… At ill ease in the early morning… A time of witching… A time where the streets are barren to traffic and pedestrians… A time where only hauntings take place… The wee hours of the morning. In my head the dreams of robotics and an electrical engineering degree suddenly got foreshortened and the light of my life would bend as the King’s Horsemen drew me into the underworld to start a new life.

The song on the radio stopped playing and the announcers came back on. It was an announcement for a children’s charity.

“Well, it’s that time of year again.” said the first announcer.

“Yes. Time to give! Give! Give! Our annual drive for the Children’s Make a Wish Foundation is underway and you know what that means.” said the second announcer.

“It means that we have prize packages available for the grabbing. First prize this time is a 1995 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy donated by Harley-Davidson Winnipeg. The package is worth eight thousand dollars.” said the first announcer.

“Second prize this time is a trip for two to Los Angeles for two weeks, tickets to see Pink Floyd in concert, plus a thousand dollars spending money, and accommodations.” said the second announcer.

“Third prize is tickets for two to see Metallica in New York City with five hundred bucks spending money and accommodations.” said the first announcer.

“You know there are plenty of early bird prizes and draws to get in on. You have till December Twenty-Forth at midnight to buy your tickets. Tickets cost only One Hundred Dollars a piece and are available at select retail locations or right here at the station, so come on down and see us in the village.” said the second announcer.

“Not to mention all the other remaining prizes listed on the website. Please remember that all proceeds go to charity.” said the first announcer.

“Now it’s time to spin some tunes. Here’s a classic for your early morning drive, Highway to Hell.” said the second announcer.

The announcers faded out and the guitar riffs from Highway to Hell replaced their voices. I could agree that it wasn’t easy living free, especially since the vision from my future showed me doing differently from what I wanted to do. I could almost picture myself on that Fat Boy now, decked out in my vest complete with Patch, driving up the road with my fellow Full Patches. Like the Ostrich of millions of years ago, I wanted to stick my head in the sand in the face of danger until the threat had passed. Threats like the apparitions I had seen on the side of the road.

I believed in ghosts and their ability to communicate with the living and would have to figure out the whats, whys, whens, wheres, hows and whos as time passed. Until then I would be sure to embody the Skilful Warrior and adhere to the teachings of the Art of War, knowing myself and knowing my enemies to win one hundred percent of my battles. Only when I felt the need would I put myself on death ground and put a sheer rock cliff to my back with no hope of escape. I would kill those three… I would leave no choice, because they had left none.

If needed, I would rely on Che Guevara and his teachings of Guerrilla Warfare and take the conflict to a boiling point, creating the means where it does not exist to find my ultimate end. I would start a revolution in the streets through the engagement of guerrilla warfare against the popular social machine. In this case I supposed the police would fulfill that part. I would wait till certain things had happened, then take to the ‘countryside’ or in this case the back roads of society. In particular I would wait for the police to fail and then pounce like a Jaguar on a Dik-dik. I would crush the throat of my enemies in the night’s silence, cutting off their air supply and snuffing them out.

Like the Samurai of ancient Japan, I would exercise rectitude and decide the course of action to reestablish law and order without wavering. When the time comes to strike, I will use the teachings of Bushido and rebuild my family’s honour. I would show much courage and sincerity while restoring my family’s honour through my duty of loyalty to their lost lives. I would prove to my lost parents that I was worthy of looking out for my remaining family.

Losing my parents, and apparently my life to boot, reminded me of a C. S. Lewis poem, The Last Passenger, from the Poetry 180 collection by Billy Collins. The poem was about the Unicorn trying to gain entrance to Noah’s Arc after they lifted the ramp. He beat at the door and beat at the door, and Noah’s sons ignored him until Noah heard the thumping. Then they made up excuses for what the noise could be because they didn’t want to care for another animal. By the time Noah looked over the side of the boat, the poor retched creature was running away to die in the flood. Noah figured the animal would surely curse humans for being forgotten and left to die. I figured I was the Unicorn who had been left to die and would ride a Harley-Davidson with colors on my back, thus the scourge against mankind. Noah is a representative of society, like the mayor or the Premier, and his sons are the police officers who must have failed me and my family in its search for justice. I, like the Unicorn, would turn on mankind in ways that I had not dreamed of.

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