By Heather Lowe
This is the third of many excerpts from Heather Lowe’s novella titled Catharine.It explores her love affair with downtown St. Catharines through a series of shamelessly exaggerated vignettes.
The pub seemed to be a clubhouse, a gathering for the minds and loins of the revolutionaries. A congregation of newsboy caps, unkempt beards, rockabilly haircuts and red plaid. On some evenings, from a certain angle it may have looked like a cult. Ale brewed in-house infested the veins and minds of the congregation and made us dance. It seemed as though flirtation and creativity flowed from the very taps and changed the air inside. The pub smelled of wood and sweat and smoked pork. The bands in the corner are always far too loud but no one seems to care, really. In regards to the bands, they always seem to sing of love and loss and triumph and it is a comfort to us.
A storm of outrageous sorts hits us like we’re Dorothy and Toto. Trees lie sleeping or suffering in the middle of the city streets and unfortunately strewn on freshly painted automobiles. The city and surrounding area hit a standstill. Children celebrate the lack of school only to be cooped up indoors and told, “for the last time, stay away from the damn window!” I stare out the window of an empty cafe and contemplate my treacherous walk home. A small scale celebrity plays for no one in a local amphitheatre and wonders how the hell he was talked into this. The rain and angry winds visit for days while the discount store down the street triples their sales on umbrellas and brightly coloured ponchos.
The end of the rain is met with a mouth-drying, skin-scorching heat. Locals and townies sit for hours in their sauna-like apartments, strategically posed in front of struggling fans that only seem to rush around hot air. The only welcome to such a heat spell is beer. Regardless of the pangs of dehydration or the skull krushing headache that may follow, we drink our rent away in the old wooden pub that seems to sweat along with us. The days melt together and the heat makes everything unbearable. We lose track of time and people and . . .
Then suddenly and without warning the winds change again and something wonderful blows our way.