Matt walked through the freshly painted red doorway, stooping as he entered. He breathed out the dry winter air and gave a harsh cough, brushed the snow off his jacket, and stood in the doorway.

A row of bearded, burly locals with checkered shirts and trucker caps sat at the bar, watching hockey on TV. Two more patrons in the middle of a pool game stopped, turned, and looked blankly at Matt as he hung up his pom-pom beanie, then returned back to their game.

A bartender cleaned glassware in front of a huge, sagging, wall-mounted Canadian flag. The air was hot in the bar, smelled richly of beer and frying oil, and sang with laughter and chatter. He was months into his desperate search for Derrick, who had long been reported missing.

Refusing to give up, Matt had tracked his lost friend to this small Canadian bar.

“What took you so long?”, a familiar voice croaked.

Derrick sat in the corner over a half-finished plate of pancakes. He wiped maple syrup from his mouth with a square napkin. Dust motes swirled and floated curiously in the air as he looked up from his jug of beer, one eye covered with a black eye patch.

He wore a baggy Mighty Ducks hockey jersey and his beard had grown thick and bushy. He drank the whole beer quickly, winced at the cold, and slammed the glass upside-down onto the table.

He stood unsteadily, walked across the room to Matt, and considered him with a cold stare. The tension lifted with a laugh, and their hands collided with a slap, a fierce handshake. “Derrick, you son of a bitch, you’re alive!”

A monkey with a tiny red fez on Derrick’s shoulder shrieked with excitement. “That doesn’t make sense”, Matt thought.


OK there’s some (probably) nonsensical Canadian sterotypes, but i’m headed to English/French speaking Montreal in a few days to begin an exciting new phase of travel in the Americas.

Cindy will be hot on my heels, finishing up her Paris work contract, and with our soon-to-be-processed (hopefully!) working visas, we plan on making Montreal our new home for a while!

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