Now no matter what it looks like out yer window, this is not a standard Friday night in town. There’s no rain, not a drop of wind, and you might even stay outside for a bit after your smoke is done.

The little friggers cleaned out Sobeys of all their eggs and are gettin’ ready to piss off a lot of fadders. It’s Hallowe’en, and as is usually the way, nobody knows what the fuck is on the go.

Down in New Orleans and most anywhere else, Mardi Gras is in February ‘cause it has to do with Jesus dyin’ or comin’ back or one of ‘em. But here on George, the street where you got more places to pound a few pints than anywhere else I’d ever heard tell of, they moves it to the last weekend of October. Instead of havin’ to pay cover at any of the twenty-odd bars, you pays a single queen to get on the street, where you can go wherever the hell you wants. This gets all the crowds hanging where they wouldn’t for the most part, and with the costumes and everything, it’s a decent mess down there. Good thing the bouncers are clueless, too, ‘cause everyone knows a way to sneak in, in case they’re short on cash or bored or whatever.

As usual around this time, men about town are recounting the legend of a real fine fella who goes by Donnie Wheeler. Apparently buddy could turn any hang with a few of his buddies into the sickest party you’d ever gone to. He even got a few turns of phrase named after him for when everything is right on the go — “on wheels”, which I even heard mainlanders say, and “on dons”, which you only hears on this side of the overpass. I’ve never actually seen Donnie, and no one I’d believe has either, but I’d been places where people were saying he was just there or was always on the way, and what a laugh those nights were.

I start priming at my buddy’s buddy Kenny’s house up near the mall, but the b’ys are mostly gaming and I couldn’t be more bored. We hears about a party on the go on Bates Hill, around the corner from the Republic. Since the plan is to end up downtown anyway, we figures we might as well check it out. I gets a cab downtown with Walshy, Fox, and Pete. Fox and his missus just broke up, but he seems alright about it. Either way, as soon as we gets there Pete hauls out a bottle of Baby Duck, and we knows we’re gettin’ on ‘er tonight. We polishes it off in the alley there, and then we heads in. I only know a few of the b’ys there, and the rest looks like a bunch of bros, so I spends most of the time wit’ the three fellas I showed up with.

None of us knows it right now, but by the end of da night, one of us is gonna be a goner. Dead meat. Boneeee bucket.

I’m dressed as one of those detectives in the FBI. Easy enough to throw together — basically only needs a windbreaker with some tape on the back, then a fake badge and gun. One of the bros camped out at the beer pong table is wearing pretty much the same thing, except he’s tellin’ everyone the FBI on him stands for some kind of butt inspector, and half the clowns here thinks it’s clever. Now I don’t care if he don’t care about how he looks to the rest of us, but I still stays far away from him so nobody thinks we’re dressed up together.

Walshy’s best kind normally, but he’s one of those b’ys who tries to finish what you’re saying before you even says it, like he knows the rest of the story you’re telling, which he don’t. And when he has a few too many, he thinks we’re all deaf and yells everything on his mind, so I figured it’s time to get out of there. I’m half in my head at this point and don’t even bother telling the b’ys I’m leaving, so I heads down to the street to see what else is on the go.

I’m half broke tonight and not in the mood to pay, so I go to the parking lot next to the fish store and hop down next to Trinity into the bushes. It’s still early enough but fun is being had, for sure. I’m itchin’ for a white Russian, which I barely ever am, so I starts ‘er off with a Lottie’s lap. Now she takes about a half hour, the place is so blocked, but I likes the vibe so I don’t mind. Without even trying, I ends up snagging a free drink from someone who said I looked like someone else. Once I get back to the door, across the way I sees Fox head into Trapper’s, so I head over to meet up with him. Once I gets inside, I can’t see any sign of him. She’s packed in here too. Gonna have to get used to this tonight. They’re Screechin’ in a few come from aways up at the bar, and a fella I went to CONA with who’s from Botwood is doing it too. Won’t be able to get a drink for a bit, but that’s likely for the best, with the blurs startin’ up in front of me.

Ah shit. Late Night Pam is here, over havin’ a scuff with a few of her girls. She don’t see me, so I ducks back out to the street. Don’t need to get into that tonight, but you never knows with me. There’s still a band playin’, and they sounds pretty wicked, but I only gets to hear their last song. The crowd clears away, at least, so I can get to the other end of the stage. It’s about time for a pint at Christian’s, I’d say.

It’s still early enough, but already there’s some solid drag-offs going on. If you even recognizes where someone’s costume is from, that’s usually enough to fall in love for the night. A princess and a bride are stumblin’ down the road together, grabbin’ each other’s butts in a sweet way. Maybe I’ll go see if Pam is still around.

Once I downs a Guinness and chats up the skipper who put Journey on the jukebox on repeat, I ends up back on the street, where a scrap is breaking out between a lumberjack and some fella dressed like buddy from some CBC show. It turns out their buddies gave ‘em each twenty bucks to go at it, buncha skeets. They beats the piss out of each other but ends up friends and hugs each other at the end. As soon as that’s clued up, I finds Walshy, who was watching from the other side of the scuffle. He’s right hammered and dying to put something into his body. Says he either needs a rip or a Big Zig if he’s gonna stay out for late night, and thank the jesus there was nudding to the fry line, so he gets served pretty much right away.

On the sidewalk next to Ziggy’s, a Luigi’s got his arm around his buddy Mario, who’s having a puke. I wants to run into CB’s real quick to see if Ness is still working, so I leaves Walshy alone with his poutine and tells him to wait, which he don’t have any trouble doing after sliding down the tree and endin’ up the ground. The deck is the usual mixed crowd from the different bars, everyone smoking and leaning, none of ‘em having paid any attention to Hallowee’en. Not one costume, as far as I can tell. I flashes the back of my hand, pretending I’d already been in this bar tonight, and I easily gets past buddy on the door. The first band just started, and they sounds like shit, and she’s right loud in here, so I couldn’t be bothered even trying to chat up Ness. No need for me to be here, so I don’t even get a beer before I’m gone again.

When I gets back, Walshy’s just finishing off the last of his fries. But I does a double take when I notices the bag’s from Winky’s. He was saying I took too long in there and he was standin’ around starving so he grabbed a poutine. I reminds him he just had Zig’s, but he had no memory of eating that first one. Buddy two-tined and didn’t even realize it. Either way, he can stand up on his own by now, and I’m outta gas, so I turns and heads for home on my own.

Somehow there’s not a soul on the lower end of Hamilton, but I sees a glow coming from that empty parking lot near Pitts, so I goes over to check it out. Turns out it’s a fella, and he got the face of a party monk. Don’t know how he pulled off that costume, or how I knows that’s even what a party monk, but I do.

“Hello, little one,” he says to me right quiet. Now I don’t let no one talk to me like that, especially with all this booze in me, but there’s something right weird goin’ on with him where there’s this glow coming off him so I lets him say whatever.

He keep going. “You must turn around. The night is not over. There is fun to be had, and where fun remains, so too must you. Let me guide you.”

I don’t know what he’s gettin’ on with, but I follows him into an alley and figures he must know where a good late night spot is. He’s still glowin’ so I tells him his costume is wicked.

“It’s not a costume, my son. It is me. I am here”

I squints but don’t recognize him one bit. But it clicks.

“Donnie? Donnie Wheeler? Is that you?”

I don’t even believe it as I says the name, but it’s gotta be. He laughs like he runs the whole show, which he probably do. He launches into this rant and I’m hangin’ on his every word.


Holy jesus. Holy.

“But you have waited here too long. Since you have uncovered me, like all those before you, the end is now coming for you. You must die, so that I can live on. The call of the party is more important than any one man. I’m sorry, but still, I am never sorry.”

It’s now that I realizes my legs are stuck to the ground and I gets half scared. Donnie don’t care though. He reaches his glowing hand out and taps me right light on the top of my head. Somehow, I completely feels every bit of fun that anyone’s ever had, all at once. But it gets to be too much and I collapses to the ground. I’m drained of all the life I ever had, but I don’t even mind.

Sure, I might have died that night, but for everyone else, they gets to keep having all the fun, which they’ll be able to do as long as the Legend of Donnie Wheeler lives on.

October 31 – Jon Wurster gets a George Street mystery
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