Harold C. Jones
2017 Harold C. Jones and Long Cool One Books
Design: J. Thornton
following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person living
or deceased, or to any places or events, is purely coincidental.
Names, places, settings, characters and incidents are the product of
the author’s imagination. The author’s moral rights to the
proceeds of this work have been asserted.
Harold C. Jones
Harold C. Jones
It was a kind of
madness that overcame him.
That was the only
One day, he was
drifting through life in the big city, collecting his shitty little
disability pension, scraping for nickels and dimes, and for whatever
reason, he’d gotten sick of it all. Just
another old man dying of cancer—the
Pink Floyd lyric had haunted him. Finally he’d started browsing the
online classifieds. He was looking for, of all things, a cabin, or a
shack, a cave in the woods, anything really different, and
ultimately, winding up with an RV in a seasonal park a few kilometres
outside of North Bay.
It had all happened
so quickly. He must have been nuts—
He’d chucked it
Exactly nothing, not
much of anything really, but it was his existence, his known life up
to that point, and he’d chucked it nonetheless.
James had ditched a
lot of things.
He’d ditched most
of his furniture. In the photos, in the ad, the place he bought, if
that was the right word, was furnished. He owned the vehicle and a
couple of small structures, although it sat on leased land. It had a
miniature fridge and stove, sleeping for six allegedly, and there was
a kind of glazed Florida room built onto the side of the actual
vehicle, which might be mobile but the seller claimed it needed a new
battery. If you were a good driver, you could turn the wheel a half
inch to the left, drive a few feet and a quarter inch to the left.
Just drive away…getting it back in might be another story, but if
you were gentle and patient it could be done. This was how it had
been explained to him.
running condition. So the man said, and James was taking it on trust
that it didn’t need much.
He knew so much and
nothing more. Just a new battery. That’s all it would take. James
didn’t take it all that seriously, not at the low, low price of
$6,700.00. He was afraid to look too closely. It was a 1994 Mountain
Cruiser from Amco.
Like an idiot, he’d
looked up the company on Wiki. It was all very reassuring…lots of
happy people and RVs standing in front of mountain ranges,
picturesque lake scenes and of course the Grand Canyon and the
deserts of the southwest.
What little he still
had in the way of personal possessions, fit nicely into a storage
unit on the edge of town. The plan was to come back after a relaxing
summer up north. He’d leave it on site, and find some sort of
crummy apartment back home to get him through the winter. Hell, he
could get a one-roomer and tough it out…eating in restaurants as
much as possible rather than share a kitchen with someone. Sharing a
bathroom with a bunch of thieves, crackheads and the mentally-ill
would be tough. There was always the soup kitchen. In a pinch, he
could stay in his mother’s back room or even camp out in his
sister’s basement. It was all concrete blocks and dampness. She’d
been talking about making it into some kind of an income suite and he
could maybe help her with that. He could give some of his labour in
exchange for rent. He’d at least done that kind of work before.
When he came in the
gate, told them who he was and made a monthly payment on the lot
fees, he’d been kind of scared as much as anything. That one shrank
the bankroll considerably. When he actually saw the place—saw what
he had bought,
pulling in beside it on the sandy little parking place, number
one-eighty-seven, his heart really started to sink at that point.
That was my life
The minivan ticked
and maybe even settled into the sand a bit as it cooled in the sun.
The leaves were mostly out, and there would be shade morning and
evening. Mid-afternoon, it was definitely bright.
It wasn’t even
hardly summer yet, and yet there were people everywhere. It was the
first real good weekend of spring, and maybe that was it. James was
hyper-alert, he just couldn’t help it.
He was the big
stranger in town…
James had been
waiting for, and dreading, this moment. All of his fears were
irrational, but knowing that didn’t seem to help much sometimes.
There were little
kids, old people, pudgy, balding men and their fat little wives. They
were literally twenty feet away in some cases, walking past on the
road, although the trailer beside his seemed quiet. His mouth opened
but not too many words came out as someone waved and began talking.
He couldn’t quite make out what she was saying…smile and wave,
She was still going,
still engaging him as they walked along. All you could do was nod and
Finally that one
turned back to her man, mouth still going. If he was lucky, they’d
go home on Sundays, or better yet, die in a horrible car-crash on the
400 in the near future.
Why am I so
And you thought you
You could never
really escape yourself, could you?
And all of those
No one next door was
about and he was grateful for that, as he opened up the old Dodge and
then went to unlock the RV door. He’d have a look around and try
and figure out the best place to put his computer before dragging it
The phone vibrated
in his pocket. If that wasn’t his mother, he would be very much
She would be worried
sick about him, of course.
Ignoring his mother,
he made his way into the dim interior. The front end, with its
captain’s chairs, drink holders, big front window and half-decent
looking beige shag rug was somewhat reassuring. The thoughts of
licensing the thing and taking it out on the road somewhere, maybe
not so much—
That would be a
quick road to oblivion, for him and the vehicle.
Even he knew that.
The place smelled
musty after being unoccupied for a couple of seasons.
There was a lot of
dead skin and old people in that smell.
He knew that after
talking to them on the phone.
Am I going to grow
Probably not, but if
that is the case, what in the hell was he doing there in the first
There was no good
answer to this question.
There never would
There was a dark
blue couch, and a kind of built-in place for the dining table. There
were three or four potted plants in this end, all dead. Dead, dried
up, brown and crumbling to the touch.
Curtains, the usual
bad floral sort of stuff, was evidence of a woman’s influence, some
next in line in the long, narrow space, was actually pretty nice
although the appliances, the fridge and the sink were small. Flipping
a switch, a bunch of LED pot lights came on and it was surprisingly
cheerful. Back home, now gone, it just wasn’t that bright. His
kitchen cubicle in the old apartment had no window. Everything ran on
propane, apparently, or the electrical hook-up from the park, and he
sort of wondered if there would be problems. He knew nothing about
that sort of thing. Old man Beasley, the guy who owned the park,
would have to help him with that one. It was interesting to see soups
and tinned items in the cupboards. There were some long-dead plastic
packets of condiments in the door of the fridge. A couple of small
plastic forks, still in the wrapper. They were in the little
butter-container in the door. There was bottled water, all lined up
along the back wall. An empty ice-cube tray in the freezer
compartment. Opening more doors, all walnut-stained particle-board,
he saw plates, cups, all kinds of cooking gear. Home. What a word.
With a sour grin, he
saw that nothing really matched—it was all stuff gleaned out of the
kitchen junk drawer, back at the original owner’s hopefully much
nicer place in T.O. or somewhere. Two soup bowls, one of which was
cracked but they’d still been using it. The summer home, on a beer
budget. There were some plastic plates and bowls, which might have
been used for the kids or the dogs.
This was the fishing
camp up north the guy bragged about at work.
The one that no one
ever actually saw—just pictures of him and the wife, on a dock,
proudly holding up their prize catches.
This was what it
meant to buy a place, including contents. Even so, sheets and towels
were expensive, and theoretically, he wouldn’t need to buy a thing.
What a stroke of
luck that was—
It was all his,
now. He’d get to know them two a little better when he cleaned out
the drawers. It was the thought of a philosopher. The hallway, quite
narrow, was on the left. There was something there in behind slatted
bi-fold doors and he had a look. It turned out to be a tiny gas
furnace and a hot water tank, which looked okay to his untrained eye.
It was warm to the touch. There was an air conditioner up on the
roof, but he would look at that later. The next door, very narrow,
was the bathroom. It was small, but clean and modern looking…a lot
of greens and golds, bits of chrome. The shower stall looked very
small, and it was a wonder how fat people ever managed, or all those
elderly people camping out for six months of the year down in
Florida. Coming back once a year to maintain their benefits…food
for thought, there.
It didn’t have
to be Canada.
Next on the right
was an open arch into what was clearly a kid’s room, with a pair of
small bunks and a tall dresser painted in bright red. The end walls
couldn’t be much over five feet. There were cutesy little animals
in a border up near the ceiling and the beds were neatly made with
children’s patterns in bright colours. There was a heavy curtain to
close it off for privacy, but no real door. Thankfully, the drawers
were mostly empty except for some cheap watercolour paints, and
stickers that he vaguely realized were Pokemon.
And the Dollar
That’s the name of
my rock band.
This at least had a
window. And the last door, right on the end, would be the master
Just like in the
pictures, the bed appeared vast in comparison to the room itself. If
he had any real money, it would almost be nice to get a smaller
bed—it would just be him after all. He didn’t have a dog or even
a cat. He supposed people did, and maybe he should. With a bed like
that, they probably did have a dog sleeping on it with them. Maybe
even two. Maybe that’s what that smell was.
Maybe he should get
a dog or something. Faint sounds came in from outdoors and with the
thin walls he wondered just how quiet the place would be when the
long weekends came around.
That left the
sunroom and a small shed to examine. There was a canoe up on
sawhorses out there and that was his too. He opened the bedroom
window a crack to let the place air a bit. There was a stick there,
and he basically just jammed one end in rather than use it
Back outside, he
decided to leave the shed for later, and began pulling bags, boxes
and other stuff out of the vehicle.
This time of year,
on a weekday, he had no idea of when stores would close, or what.
It would be smart to
get a few basic groceries in there—milk, for instance, and maybe an
effing big bottle of rye and some ginger ale. On that thought, he
went back out and filled up the ice-cube tray. Looking again, there
were some high-ball and Pilsner-style beer glasses in the end
It always pays to
There was enough
work to be done that he could forget his problems for a while.
Finding fresh sheets in a closet and holding them up to his nose,
there was still the faint trace of soap and fabric softener. Making
up the bed, he would at least have that much to look forward to—that
and setting up his computer, although he had his doubts about the
wi-fi hook-up. All of that and a book. A handful of old favourites
had been all he could really bring but it would have to do. It’s
not like he hadn’t read them all ten times each. They were good
books, otherwise he wouldn’t have hung onto them. A book, a big mug
of milk and some cookies. It was still light, although at this time
of year, surprisingly late in the day. Just this once, he decided to
go back to town and lay in some real groceries. He’d call in at
some point and get television, cable or satellite, but he wanted to
get a feel for the finances first. He could only afford to burn so
much gas in a month.
That was for sure.
He’d looked it all
up on the internet. He had it all written down in a notebook. The
grocery store was open until ten, and being the person he was, or had
become in the last few years, he had a couple of plastic bags in the
side pocket of the van door. That would save a couple of dimes at