My Calgary buddy was a great host but after giving him the cursed Esplendido and hearing about his company’s comptroller cleaning him out I felt that maybe I should move on to the next stop in my “quickly becoming a total disaster” road trip…. REGINA….. The Queen city of the Plains… Home of the Saskatchewan ” Roughriders”…
My dentist buddy was really happy to hear that I was on my way to his town since his household was getting a bit tense between him and his wife after the demise of her pet gopher “Squeaky”. Seems Squeaky was catching a few rays in the back yard a few weeks ago and was carried off by a hawk that came screaming down from the clouds like a supersonic F-18. What made matters worse is that my friend’s wife was in the kitchen and saw the whole thing unfold. She ran into the back yard and heard her little gopher squeaking as it’s captor flew into their neighbor’s yard and sat perched on a telephone pole. She stood there and stared in horror as the hawk grasped the little gopher in its talons and tore it to shreds leaving tufts of hide and fur to come wafting to the ground for the crows to carry away.
The poor woman then joined a support group that helped give her closure but my buddy said that since that day she had been acting a little weird.
What was I walking into???
When I pulled up to their house my buddy was at work and his wife met me at the door, gave me a hug, and asked me if I would go with her to the church to help her pick up some boxes. She jumped into my car and we had a few laughs as we drove along but I could sense that something wasn’t quite right with how she kept staring at me. She seemed to look through me with this blank stare and kept saying that everything in her life is now complete ever since she met a group of new friends that really want to help her become all that she can be. Huh?? We drove up to the church and she led me down stairs into the church basement.
I noticed a musky smell in the church basement as we walked down a narrow dark hallway to a door that had a white paper sign saying, ” Power of our Galaxy “. My friends wife reached down to a cardboard box at the foot of the door and pulled out what looked like a pyramid fashioned out of a coat hanger which she put on her head. She knocked three times and then closed her eyes and started to howl like a tortured coyote. The door opened and the next thing I noticed was a very foul smell coming out of the dimly candle lit room we were walking into. Approximately 20 people, all wearing coat-hanger pyramid hats were standing in the room and as soon as we entered they all started howling like coyotes, making it official…. I had walked into a nightmare !
I was led to a chair in the middle of the room and told to have a seat. Everyone else dragged chairs into a circle surrounding me and it started to become apparent, I was the guest of honor. After sitting down I was handed a small shoe box and told to keep it closed until, “the moment of my cleansing”…. Huh??? I was also handed my own coat-hanger pyramid hat but when I refused to put it on my head the mood in the room changed for the worse. Almost on cue half the people were either barking and growling like rabid dogs and the rest started cawing like crows which finally ended when I put the pyramid on my head. After everyone in the room was seated and things settled down I heard a door open and some shuffling as someone dressed in a furry costume with a gigantic gopher head hopped into the circle of chairs and kept hopping up and down as it sprayed me with ketchup from a squeezable bottle. This lasted for about 30 seconds and I felt paralyzed until the stuff he was spraying on me started burning my skin and eyes. I jumped up and started tearing at my clothes, ripping them off so I could get this evil bloody burning sensation to come to an end when the barking, growling and cawing began again.
Now I’m totally naked and exposed to a bunch of strangers, and I mean strange, when the giant gopher yelled something about me being dirty which got the crowd chanting, “Dirty Dirty Dirty”. The giant gopher saw that I had dropped the taped up shoe box and motioned for me to pick it up and sit back down which seemed to relax the rest of the pyramid heads… The chanting stopped…. My friend’s wife stood up, walked over to me and asked me why I had made so many mistakes in my life and why I wanted the animals to suffer.. This seemed funny to me so I broke out in a nervous laughter….,. more barking, growling and cawing….. I stopped laughing…….
The mood in the room became more relaxed when the giant gopher asked everyone in the room to pick up the boxes under their chairs and put them on their laps. People started smiling and caressing their boxes, a few people were kissing them when I heard the giant gopher say, “Music…” and Joe Cocker’s ” You Are So Beautiful” started playing from a tinny sounding stereo somewhere in the back of the room. Everyone except the big gopher, who was still hopping up and down, stood up and danced around with their shoe boxes held over their heads until the song stopped and thats when the gopher asked me if I was clean….. Dead silence in the room………. This time a little louder, “ARE YOU CLEAN ? “….. I whimpered that yes, I WAS clean just so I could shut him up and thats when the door flew open and two smaller gophers ran into the room and soaked me with 2 pails of warm soapy water. I was given a stack of paper towels and told to dry myself off, which was the best thing that happened to me all day until I was told to get dressed after being handed a shopping bag that contained my own fuzzy gopher costume ! I was cold… The costume looked warm and fuzzy…… I put on the gopher costume…
If I thought that my day had been a bit weird so far, I was really in for a treat when I was told to open my shoe box. I wasn’t about to encourage any of the pyramid people to start barking, growling and cawing so after I sat back down I managed to get the top off the shoe box and almost lost my lunch. Inside my own personal shoe box I saw 3 or 4 ( I couldn’t tell) dead rotting gophers which appeared to have been scraped off a highway with a putty knife. The giant hopping gopher then asked me if I would pray over my gophers, love my gophers and give him $500 to be a part of the “Movement for the Advancement of Gopher Awareness in our Galaxy”.. I reached down to my red stained clothes on the floor beside me and found my wallet which had a few personal cheques inside and started writing ………. He stopped hopping and said that I’d have to stay at the church overnight until the cheque cleared which was a situation, I don’t mind saying, that just wasn’t working for me. I asked him if he’d settle for $160 cash and he seemed good with that and removed his giant gopher head and revealed who he was. No way…… It couldn’t be……….
I stopped dead in my tracks when the Joseph Stalinesque man stood before me. You know, the guy who was being mean to his kid at the mall….. You know, the guy who left his cigars beside me as he berated his kid………. You know…. THE CIGAR GUY FROM CALGARY !!!!!! This couldn’t be……. Did he just fly into town? He smiled, came over and looked me straight in the eye and said that I was family.. I was loved… I now belong….. I wanted to kill him……..
Someone announced that coffee and cake was being served upstairs in the church and, to be honest, I couldn’t wait to get out of that foul smelling chamber of road kill. I didn’t have much of an appetite but I wasn’t about to start irritating anyone, so cake it was……. I noticed that a few pyramid people were standing outside on the front steps of the church when I got an idea. I walked over to my car in the gopher suit and found the cursed Cohiba Esplendido, I knew that there was one cigar smoker in the congregation of pyramid weirdos and I knew it was HIS turn to take a walk into the darkness. I lit up a Siglo I and offered the Esplendido to Mr. Joseph Stalin Gopher-head. I didn’t care that I was the only one on the steps dressed like a gopher, I didn’t care that I was being sugary sweet to one of the biggest jerks I’d ever seen, I only wanted him to experience some catastrophe….. any catastrophe….. I’d kneel down and pray to a shoe box full of rotting gophers if I knew that he’d experience some sort of Catastrophe.. After a few minutes of smoking together he said that it was the best tasting cigar he had ever had the pleasure to smoke and I nodded and smiled and kept my fingers crossed.
He was very grateful that I offered him the Esplendido and started to tell me something about losing a few cigars yesterday when he looked over into the street and remarked on the number of crows that just landed on his car.