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 shits 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 case, 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 drink 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 queen to get inside 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 friggin’ mess down there. Good thing the bouncers are clueless, too, ‘cause everyone knows a way to sneak into the street for free, if they’re poor or whatever.
As usual around this time of year, men about town are recounting the legend of some real fine fella who goes by Donnie Wheeler. Buddy could turn any hang with a few buddies into the sickest party you’d ever gone to. He got a few terms named after him for when everything is right on the go. “On wheels”, which even the mainlanders says now, and “on dons”, which you only hears on this side of the overpass. Now I’ve never seen Donnie, but I’d been places where people said he was around, and what a laugh those nights were.
I start priming at my buddy’s buddy Kenny’s house up near MUN, but we hears about a party on the go up on Bates Hill, around the corner from the Republic. It’s right downtown anyway, so 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 the bottle of Baby Duck, and we knows we’re gettin’ on ‘er tonight. The bottle gest polished off in the alley there, and then we goes 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 Female 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 with each other.
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. He’s doing this enough that I figure it’s time to head down to the street, to see what else is on the go.
I does a Lottie’s lap but it takes a half hour, the place is so blocked. Without even trying, I ends up snagging a free white Russian. 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 even find 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. Won’t be able to get a drink for a bit, but that’s probably for the best.
Shite. Late Night Mel is here, over havin’ a scuff. She don’t see me, so I ducks back out to the road. Don’t need that tonight. There’s still a band on the stage, 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. A princess and a bride are stumblin’ down the road together.
I ends up 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. As soon as that gets clued up, with blood splattered but friendships somehow reinforced, I goes up to Walshy, who was watching from the other side of the scuffle. He’s right hammered and dying for a feed. 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, Luigi’s got his arm around Mario, who’s having a puke. I runs 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. The deck is the usual mixed crowd from the four bars, everyone smoking and leaning, none of ‘em having paid any attention to Hallowee’en. Not as many costumes here as on the street, and more than a few people don’t even seem to notice that the day. I flashes my stamped 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, and I’m outta gas, so I turns and heads for home by meself.
Somehow there’s not a soul on the lower end of Hamilton, but I sees a glow coming from that empty parking lot, 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 he is, but I do.
“Hello, little one,” he says to me. 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 and I lets him say whatever.
“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 is. He’s still glowin’ so I tells him his costume is wicked.
“It’s not a costume, my son. It is me.”
“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.
“You have uncovered me, and like all those before you, this means you must die, so that my legend lives on. The call of the party is more important than any one man. I’m sorry, but still, I am not sorry.”
My legs are stuck to the ground and I gets scared. Donnie reaches his glowing hand out and taps me right light on the top of the head. I feels every bit of fun that anyone’s ever had, all at once, but it gets to me too much and I collapses to the ground.
Sure, I might have died that night, but for everyone else, they keeps having all the fun, which they’ll be able to do as long as Donnie Wheeler lives on.