After leaving Lethbirdge and my misguided friend who was setting out on a journey to nowhere with his standup comedy career, I drove through the night to Calgary to see my oil and gas workaholic buddy and maybe settle in for some R&R in that little cow-town in the foothills. I was feeling exhausted by the time I pulled into his driveway and was very grateful that he left the back door open for me, I let myself in, found one of the spare bedrooms on the ground floor of his house and drifted off to sleep until 3:00 PM the next day. I woke up to find a beautiful sunny day almost over and decided to go pick up some Cuban rum at one of the many liquor stores in his neighborhood in southwest Calgary.
I needed a coffee before my shopping trip and stopped in to one of the many malls in that town to find one. Aaaaahh, there’s nothing like a double espresso in the morning, well afternoon in this case, and as I sat down to do some people watching I heard a bit of a commotion coming my way. There was a small family walking towards the bench I was sitting on and the loudest sound echoing down the hall was coming from this crying 4 or 5 year old boy who had just fallen down and was yanked back to his feet by his father who had an irritated demeanor and an even louder voice as he set his bags down on my bench, shook his son and told him that trouble was in his future when they got to the car. The fuming man picked up his bags and then directed his frightened family to the nearest exit.
I was speechless and felt disgusted at this man’s behavior towards his young son when I looked over beside me and saw that a bag had been left behind. When I looked at the writing on the bag and then looked inside I found myself at a moral crossroads because of it’s contents. The bag was from a cigar store and what I found inside were 3 lovely, longer length cigars with Cohiba bands in a sturdy zip-lock bag and a small box of wooden matches. There was a receipt in the bag saying that these were Esplendidos and I felt that if I didn’t hurry to return these cigars to their rightful owner I’d be too late. This was where I took a wrong turn down one of life’s many highways and instead of chasing after this Joseph Stalinesque despot I sat there and re-lived all of the moments in my youth when authoritative figures had been unfair and heavy handed towards me.
With a few bottles of dark rum and my new found 7 inch freebie cigars I returned back to my friend’s expansive home for a great dinner, some beautiful red wine and stories of some of the more foolish moments of our youth before settling into his smoke-friendly den. I thought I detected the subtle stench of sulfur enter the room and you could see and feel things rapidly change as soon as the flames from our torches licked the feet of these Cohibas. We continued to laugh and reminisce, and I have to say, these were very tasty cigars but, in no time, the hair on the back of my neck started to rise and my skin went cold. The phone rang….
I watched the color drain from my friend’s face as spoke into the phone and blankly stare at me as he kept repeating, ” I’ll kill him…… I’m going to kill him!” I continued to hear this mantra when my own cel phone vibrated in my shirt pocket, I hit the green button and strained to make sense out of the screaming on the other end of the line saying something about a flying outboard boat motor and lawyers surgically removing my scalp with some rusty garden shears. After a moment or two I recognized that I was talking to my next door neighbor telling me about some runaway dump-truck careening across my lawn, smashing into my “uninsured” boat in my driveway and launching my brand new 90 horse outboard engine over our hedge and through the windshield of his Lexus which was now on fire. I tried to explain that I wasn’t hiding upstairs with my curtains closed but out of town and that maybe instead of calling the law firm of Damian, Beelzebub and Lucifer, the fire department should be contacted. I told him that I’d be home in a few days and that there was no need to exact any revenge, we were bigger than that and could settle this like adults.
My host hung up his phone about the same time I hit the red button on mine and for the next few moments we sat in silence smoking what could be the best Cohibas we’d ever run across. He then stood up , carefully set his cigar into the ashtray without knocking off the ash, took a sip from his rock glass of rum then hurled it past my head into the shattering mirror on the wall behind the leather chair I was sitting in. I sat without moving while my friend took another puff all the while being mindful of the ash which was still intact then told me that the comptroller of his company went into the safe, removed about $900,000 in cash and stock certificates then left town. My phone rang again and this time I was speaking to a very angry dump truck driver saying that my lawn was overly wet and slick and that I owed him for a new dump truck.
I hung up my cel phone, turned it off, put it back into it’s leather case, went over to the wet bar and opened a can of cola. I found a beautiful fresh lime in the small refrigerator under the bar, cut a generous wedge, squeezed it and dropped it into a tall glass then reached for the rum. This was a rather expensive 15 year old Metusalem Gran Reserva and maybe should be consumed without any mix but this was a special occasion and I was in a special mood, I thought 3 ounces would be just about perfect. After dropping 3 or 4 ice cubes into the rum I reached for the cola and poured almost half the can into the glass. I took my cel phone and placed it into the glass of rum, lime and ice then topped up the drink with a bit more cola.
I wondered what would have happened if I would have hurried out the door of the mall to return the forgotten cigars to the tyrant and his family. Would this evening’s events been a little less memorable? Perhaps I unknowingly opened the gates of hell and unleashed demons into my Calgarian friend’s den and life would never be the same for the both of us. I sat down with my drink and finished the final third of the best cigar I have ever smoked and will probably ever smoke in my life…. Well I did have 1 left………..