Calgary in the 1920’s was a small town with very distinct class structures. My grandparents were just about as far apart on the social spectrum as possible. This is an imaginary moment when their paths may have crossed years before my parents actually met.

The smell of whiskey and hot, fried food with just a sour hint of indigestion comes in through the cab window. A large man climbs into the back seat throwing around a loud voice, directions, belches and curses about being thrown out of better places.

The driver turns and, in heavily accented english, asks again for the address.

“Awwwh, Cheerist, yer not one of them damn frogs are ya? Shit, man, what the hell is happening back east you gotta be everywhere here?”

“Please, sir, da address?”

More mutters and rumbles from deep in the guts bubbles out with a street and number.

“Dat’s out towards da Banff road, eh?”

The man harshly mimics the quebecois accent, “Yas, Dhats out dere, fer sure, sacray blues…do ya understand it better if I try to parlez frog?. Did they teach you how to drive properly where yer from, eh frenchie?”

“Yes sir, I know how to drive. I just make sure where we go.”

It’s a quiet ride, the cabbie focused on coaxing the best out of his old Ford. He keeps trying to sneak glances over his shoulder, checking if his passenger has finally fallen asleep or is getting ready to vomit. When they go quiet it can be either. Sometimes it’s both.

There is a growl from the dark shape, “what you lookin at, garlic eater? Just watch the road.”

Finally, not soon enough for the cabbie, the street comes into view. It’s out on the outskirts of the growing town, well beyond the street lights.

“Hey! stop here…damn frog. The house is back there.”

The man has his hand on the door handle, obviously getting ready to jump and run. The cabbie reaches into his vest and pulls out a small 7-shot pistol.

“Hold on der, mister. That’ll be 2 dollar.”

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