The golden voice
of the Laurentians

A nostalgic and entertaining coming of age short story

By Wayne Larsen

Previously published in

The Camerons bought the cottage next to ours the spring after Mrs. Stewart died of incredibly old age. When my parents and I arrived up at Pine Lake that St. Jean Baptiste weekend, we saw a station wagon and a shiny white Cadillac parked on the dirt road outside the Stewart place. Once we’d hurried through the annual ritual of unloading the car and airing out our cottage — finally leaving me free to dash off on my bike in search of Clayton and James — my parents strolled next door to greet the new people.

“She seems very nice, but I’m not so sure about him,” my mother said that night.

“He’s an asshole,” my father replied. “Phony as an eight-dollar bill.”

“At least their kids seem fine.” She turned to me. “They have a boy your age, and a daughter. You should go over and play with them tomorrow. They seem shy.”

I had to take exception to her remark about playing. My friends and I didn’t play; we crammed every minute of our summers with swimming, mountain climbing, trout fishing, snake hunting, baseball, and racing our bikes around the lake — all with an agility and skill any adult would envy. Still, I agreed to check out the new kid in case he turned out to be all right.

But Ian Cameron was not all right. He was certainly no idiot, but be was hopeless. He wore thick glasses and his big ears stuck out at odd angles. But what got to us right away was his far-out imagination. While some of what tumbled out of his mouth were simple embellishments of the truth, the rest was just plain bullshit — prompting James to dub him the King of Crap by the end of the first day.

If his tall tales weren’t enough, Ian was constantly annoying us by likening anything we did to some historic event or literary episode he’d read about. If we climbed one of the nearby mountains, he’d be Sir Edmund Hillary conquering the snowy peaks of Everest. If we went hiking in the woods, he’d be Henry Morton Stanley hacking his way through darkest Africa in search of Dr. Livingston. If we took James’s father’s rowboat out on the lake, he’d be Captain Ahab scanning the waves for Moby Dick. If we went down to the haunted house by the swamp, he’d be Dr. Van Helsing stalking Count Dracula at Carfax Abbey. Once, when we got ambushed into a nasty rock fight with some French kids at the railway bridge near St. Ozias, Ian saw that we were heavily outnumbered and went into his Custer’s Last Stand act. He stood up and waved his imaginary cavalry sabre, screaming at us to charge. He got drilled in the forehead and his mother had to rush him up to Ste. Agathe General for stitches.

We probably wouldn’t have bothered with Ian at all if not for his sister, Sandra, who was a year older but very shy. She followed her brother everywhere, which meant tagging along after us. We had no problem with that at all. Although Clayton, James and I were all eleven — still at that awkward age when girls are as interesting as French verbs — Sandra was awakening some urges we could neither explain nor talk about. She had long brown hair and big fawn-like eyes. But best of all, she was as precocious physically as her brother was intellectually. The three of us would suddenly turn into Larry, Moe and Shemp whenever she was around, falling over each other to help her climb a tree or get over a fence. We found ourselves forming a tight circle around her whenever we swam in the lake, just in case one of her parts brushed against one of ours under the water. Sandra didn’t speak much, no matter how hard we tried to include her in our conversations. Instead, she seemed content to stay quietly in Ian’s shadow, which we couldn’t understand.

Although Clayton, James and I were all eleven — still at that awkward age when girls are as interesting as French verbs — Sandra was awakening some urges we could neither explain nor talk about.

Every Dominion Day long weekend, my parents would throw a big combination barbecue, corn roast and bonfire for everyone on our side of the lake — a tradition started by my grandparents when my father was a kid. It was always a loud, maple-leaf festooned affair that lasted long into the night. This time it would be the occasion when the neighbours would meet Ian and Sandra’s father, who, according to his son’s dubious account, was some bigshot car salesman with a chain of Cadillac dealerships all over Montreal. The Camerons seemed to fit right in at first, socializing with the other parents the way new people do, even though Mr. Cameron raised a few eyebrows by arriving in a pair of loud Bermuda shorts and an open shirt exposing his hairy chest and a glittering array of gold necklaces. A huge man with a pot belly and elaborately coiffed black hair that seemed too long for anyone his age, he wasted no time in barging up to everyone and introducing himself in a booming voice, with a movie star smile and an iron-gripped handshake. I knew right away what my father had meant when he’d said the guy was a phony.

Mr. Cameron got even louder as the evening wore on, speaking authoritatively on any subject that came up, from ground beef to Quebec separatism, with equal conviction, oblivious to all the rolling eyes around him. Mrs. Cameron, a thin, mousey woman with a long nose and glasses, could only shrink in mounting embarrassment as her husband spouted off.

Later, after the other kids had been sent home and the adults sat around the fire beneath a huge Canadian flag suspended from the trees, Clayton and James helped me run the makeshift bar my father had set up over our well. Everyone had brought so much booze that keeping track of it all was impossible, so the three of us were pretty much tanked in no time, boldly pouring ourselves doubles and triples while our parents carried on just a few feet away. Mr. Cameron was putting on such a show that no one noticed us slurring our words as we staggered back and forth with their drinks, ice cubes, and bug lotion.

At one point Mr. Cameron, who’d been downing a steady succession of double martinis, got up and sauntered over to us. He introduced himself loudly again, with more white teeth and handshakes, then slapped three ten-dollar bills down on the plywood bar. “Fast service, fellas,” he boomed, snapping his fingers like castanets. “Gimme fast service and there’ll be plenty more where these came from!” He turned to leave, then spun around and came back, jabbing a pudgy thumb into his hairy chest. “Remember, George Cameron’s the name! Take care of me and I’ll take care of you!”

The three of us burst out laughing, but only after Mr. Cameron sat back down and launched into an angry tirade against Prime Minister Trudeau — again oblivious to the glares and grinding teeth around him. We hadn’t seen an adult make such a jackass of himself since the summer before when old Mr. Burnside had a nasty flashback to World War One and ran amok down our road, denting parked cars with a two-by-four.

We hadn’t seen an adult make such a jackass of himself since the summer before when old Mr. Burnside had a nasty flashback to World War One and ran amok down our road, denting parked cars with a two-by-four.

“Too bad someone nice as Sandra’s got such a prick for an old man,” James slurred as we each pocketed our money.

“She’s not half bad,” I had to admit.

“Not bad?!” Clayton howled. “She’s fantastic!”

Before we knew it, we were each confessing our deepest burning desires for her, encouraged by each other’s sudden openness. We all had the hots for her pretty badly — although James insisted he was the most sincere — but we didn’t know what to do about it.

We were interrupted a few minutes later by an outburst from the adults’ circle. George Cameron lurched to his feet and, swaying awkwardly, challenged everyone present to make as much money as he did in the next year. “You can’t do it,” he drawled. “And ya wanna know why? ’Cause you’re all fuckin’ losers!”

Mrs. Cameron desperately grabbed at her husband’s arm as he pointed to each face around the fire, but he pushed her away. “You heard me — you’re all losers!”

My mother looked over at my father, and he got up with a grunt of disgust. Clayton and James’s fathers quickly closed ranks behind him and they approached Mr. Cameron soberly.

“Whatcha doin’?!” Cameron cried, backing up on unsteady legs. “See what I mean by losers?! It takes three of yas to do a man’s job!”

We all felt sorry for Mrs. Cameron as she dashed around, frantically apologizing to everyone. Tears welled up behind her glasses, and she looked ghastly pale — as if she wanted to crawl under a rock and die. No matter how many people assured her it wasn’t her fault, she had no choice but to flee behind her husband.

“But you’re all losers,” George Cameron’s voice insisted from the darkness as our fathers half-carried him past the big flag and through the trees next door.

A few days later we spent the morning on a snake hunt, scouring the ditches on either side of the railway tracks. We had the whole thing down to a science, knowing where they lurked and how to grab them behind the head without getting bitten. Ian was very much a city kid with a natural fear of any wildlife, so he stayed safely up on the tracks, acting as a spotter — which meant we had to put up with Papa Hemingway on safari, sounding the alarm for pythons, cobras and boa constrictors while we overturned rocks and kicked at the bushes. By noon we had collected about a dozen, and the bottom of Clayton’s old garbage can was a writhing mass of garter and grass snakes. Sandra, who had been hovering in the background the whole time, came forward and snuck a peek at our catch, then jumped back in horror.

A toad hopped by and Clayton grabbed it, but Ian stopped him before he could toss it in with the snakes. Suddenly he was a Roman emperor presiding over the trial of a Christian slave. After all kinds of pomp and ceremony that included bits of Latin gibberish, Ian finally brought down the sentence of death. “Thou shalt be thrown to the serpents for thy sins against the State,’ he proclaimed, then jerked his thumb downward in front of the toad’s expressionless face. Clayton then dropped it into the garbage can and we all gathered to watch it hop around atop the slithering tangle of snakes.

A toad hopped by and Clayton grabbed it, but Ian stopped him before he could toss it in with the snakes. Suddenly he was a Roman emperor presiding over the trial of a Christian slave.

Ian grabbed an imaginary microphone and launched into an excited sportscaster’s play-by-play, mimicking Howard Cosell calling the action at a heavyweight championship bout. The toad’s luck ran out a few seconds later when a big garter zeroed in and struck, seizing it in mid-hop. This set into motion a phenomenon of nature that never failed to amaze us, and we all watched in silent awe as the snake swallowed something five times the size of its own head.

“My dad got a job at the hotel,” Ian announced once the snake’s jaw retracted back to normal and it rolled lazily off to the side with a huge bulge in its neck.

“Don’t give us that crap,” James moaned. “Isn’t he some bullshit car salesman or something?”

“Yes, but this is on weekends.”

“What is he — a bellhop?”

The three of us exploded with laughter but suddenly stopped when we noticed Sandra wasn’t smiling. “For your information, he’s singing,” Ian said. This was even funnier, of course, but we didn’t dare snicker.

“What does he sing?” I asked with a painfully straight face, trying to sound sincere. Inside, I was rolling around on the ground as I pictured big George Cameron warbling into a microphone — not that he needed one, of course.

Ian’s face turned crimson and the stitches in his forehead nearly burst open. Instead of answering, he grabbed his sister’s hand and stormed off, muttering something about it being lunchtime. The three of us looked at each other and shrugged, sure it was just another one of Ian’s wild tales. Still, the idea amused us enough for James to croon “I’m a Big Fat Fuck” in his best George Cameron baritone as we carried the snakes can back to Clayton’s place.

Amazingly, it turned out to be true. As I sat on our front porch with a sandwich, my father came in chuckling to himself. “You’ll never guess what I just saw outside the hotel,” he said. “There’s a big sign in the parking lot in French — ‘Appearing Friday and Saturday night, George Cameron — the Golden Voice of the Laurentians!’”

“The Golden Voice of Bullshit,” I offered.

My father laughed instead of swatting me. “Can you believe that?!”

“We should go over and watch him one night,” my mother said.

“I’d rather dig out the cesspool.”

“You’re right. We’d probably be the only ones in the place.”

“Are you kidding?!” my father cried. “The Joes really go for that sort of thing. If they think Jerry Lewis is funny, wait’ll they get a load of this sonofabitch!” He nodded toward next door, where we could see Mr. Cameron through the trees, sunning himself like a hairy Beluga whale in a tiny bikini bathing suit, his gold chains glittering brightly.

Every Friday night we had a big game of hide-and-seek. There were a lot more kids around then because some families only came up on weekends and others had friends or relatives visiting. These games were usually all-out affairs with up to twenty kids hiding in an area roughly the size of two city blocks — from the edge of the woods to Lambert’s Field to Campbell’s corral to the beach — with an old spruce tree by the railway crossing serving as home base. There were so many places to hide that whoever was It had their work cut out for them. Of course Clayton, James and I took our hide-and-seek very seriously, turning it into a highly strategic competition where speed, endurance and cunning were everything.

Naturally, we all wanted to hide with Sandra, preferably in some dark, snug place like under the MacGregors’ porch or in the bushes behind Frenchy Blanchard’s shed. She really got into the game and was terrified of being caught, so it was quite a thrill to smell her hair and feel her warm body pressing against you for protection whenever It’s footsteps drew near.

James usually got dibs on Sandra at the start of each round, but when it was finally his turn to be It, I quickly grabbed her hand and led her toward the darkened beach as he began counting against the tree. What happened next was one of those magical moments when everything comes together perfectly. Sandra and I crawled into the dry recess under the wharf and clung to each other in a spot I knew even James would never think to look. Night had fallen, and with romantic music drifting over from the hotel across the lake, we settled in for a long, luxurious cuddle.

Just my luck! No sooner had I manoeuvred my arm around her than we heard James calling us all in. Some parents had gone up to the tree where he was counting and ordered him to end the game on account of darkness. As most of the kids dispersed, we were left standing around with nothing to do. It was only nine o’clock and we didn’t have to be in for another hour. Sandra went home, but Ian didn’t seem to be going anywhere. “Doesn’t the King of Crap have to be back in Bullshit Palace now?” James taunted him, hoping he’d go away.

“Not tonight,” Ian shot back. “My dad’s singing and…” Seconds later the four of us were racing around the lake on our bikes, Ian bringing up the rear as he called the action like the track announcer at the Kentucky Derby.

The parking lot outside the Pine Lake Hotel was jammed with cars, and a bright spotlight shone on the sign my father had seen, attracting every flying insect for miles. It was actually a king-sized bedsheet tied to the trees with clothesline, decorated with glittering stars and musical notes:

Hôtel Lac des Pins
Les vendredi et samedi soirs
en spectacle
“La Voix Dorée des Laurentides”

We could hear music as we coasted around back to where all the deck chairs and pedal boats were lined up along the hotel’s private beach. When we took turns climbing onto each other’s shoulders and peering into the big picture window of the Petit Voyageur Lounge, there he was. George Cameron, or at least some French imposter named Georges Caméron, was strolling from table to table with a mike in one hand and a bunch of red roses in the other. A bright spotlight followed him, making his white tuxedo glow in the dark, crowded room. Backed by a small band up on the stage, Mr. Cameron was belting out “Besamé Mucho” while handing a rose to each lady in the audience, occasionally bending to kiss one of them between verses. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, in fact the only people we could see who weren’t smiling were George, who was taking the whole thing very seriously, and Mrs. Cameron, who sat alone in the corner watching her husband kiss all the women. Once the song ended and the place went wild with applause, George took a grand bow and blew more kisses all around.

We switched places again and Ian got on my shoulders as his father bounded back up onto the stage and launched into “The Impossible Dream,” but he didn’t get to see much because just then a busboy came outside with empty beer cases and chased us away from the window. Shrieking with laughter, we took off on our bikes. James kept us entertained with a loud rendition of “The Impossible Slob” all the way home, but Ian never said a word.

“What’s wrong, Ian?” Clayton asked as we bumped over the railway crossing. “I thought he was great!”

“Number one on the bullshit parade,” James added.

“C’mon, Ian,” I said. “It was like we were espionage guys in the war, spying on the enemy…”

“Fuck off.”

From then on we began seeing all kinds of publicity for the Golden Voice, as if he were an overnight sensation. His mimeographed picture was plastered on poles along the Rue Principale in St. Ozias and around the lake. The Montreal Star even devoted a whole paragraph to him in a Saturday feature entitled “What’s Hot Up North” — going so far as to call him Quebec’s answer to Tom Jones. To top it off, Clayton swore he saw a couple of elderly tourists from the hotel strolling around the lake in matching Georges Caméron T-shirts.

Although he still sold Cadillacs all week, driving up to Pine Lake each Friday afternoon to be onstage by nine o’clock, Mr. Cameron got all caught up in his new role. Now he was too good to speak to anyone on the beach, and he would float around for hours on an expensive air mattress that could barely support him, still wearing all his glittering chains and rings.

On Saturday afternoons he would host lively barbecues of his own, inviting rowdy gangs of his admirers from the hotel. It was loud music, laughter and shouting in French — something that didn’t ring too well in our parents’ ears. The French belonged on their side of the lake, or better yet in St. Ozias, and here he was inviting them into our midst every weekend. But as much as my father hated to admit it, until beer bottles came flying over onto our property or one of us kids was run over by a drunk driver, there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Ian became less of a chatterbox as the summer progressed, then stopped hanging around with us altogether. He and Sandra seemed too embarrassed to come out of their cottage, even on the most beautiful days. We couldn’t blame them, and to be honest we didn’t miss Ian’s bullshit at all, but not having Sandra around was beginning to drive us crazy. James finally decided to remedy the situation. We were fishing off the wharf one drizzly Saturday evening when he suddenly dropped it on us. “I think I’ll ask her out,” he said firmly. “I mean, what the fuck, she can only say yes or no, right?”

“She can tell you to go take a flying…”

“Yeah, well I’ll take my chances. I’ve still got her old man’s ten bucks stashed away, so what’s wrong with taking her up to the highway for a burger? In fact I think I’ll go ask her right now.” With that, he put down his rod and marched off down the wharf.

Clayton and I watched him go, wondering why neither of us had had the courage to do it first. “What are the odds?” I asked.

“Even money,” Clayton replied with a shrug.

James returned a few minutes later like a whipped dog. He sat back down on the wharf with us, re-baited his hook, and casted out. “They’ve gone back to the city for a week.”

“All of them?”

“Asshole’s still here, all decked out in his stupid tux. Told me they’d be back up next weekend… Shit.”

The fish weren’t biting and it was too wet to do anything else, so we decided to catch the Golden Voice’s first set from the hotel window and call it a night.

Clayton’s bike chain kept coming off, forcing us to stop several times along the way, so Mr. Cameron was well into his show when we arrived. By now he was performing like a seasoned pro, only this time the Petit Voyageur Lounge was nearly empty. After “Close to You,” during which he did his flowers-and-kissing routine, he unbuttoned his tux and crooned “Chances Are” in a voice that sounded like one of Mr. MacPherson’s homemade moose calls. With a steady stream of sweat pouring down his face, drenching his jet black hair and the chains on his chest, he sang a medley of all the songs that played on our parents’ favourite radio station. He danced around awkwardly and gyrated his wide hips during the fast numbers and flipped his mike cord seductively during the slower, mushy songs. Finally, as the band struck up “Theme from A Summer Place” to end the set, George bowed to sparse applause, blowing kisses to empty tables, and bounced off the stage.

After “Close to You,” during which he did his flowers-and-kissing routine, he unbuttoned his tux and crooned “Chances Are” in a voice that sounded like one of Mr. MacPherson’s homemade moose calls.

Clayton’s chain was still giving him trouble, so the three of us knelt in the wet sand to fix it. We heard someone giggle in the trees off to the side and turned to see two figures making their way down to the water. One of them was none other than the Golden Voice himself, unmistakable in his white tux, with a drink in one hand and a woman in the other. The woman — who certainly wasn’t Mrs. Cameron — leaned against a tree as he began running his big hands all over her. She made faint squealing noises as his glittering rings slipped in and out from under her dress, and soon the two of them were going at it all hot and heavy.

“She must be awfully drunk,” Clayton whispered.

Mr. Cameron never saw us. We silently wheeled our bikes around the building and fixed Clayton’s chain under the spotlight in the parking lot, then got the hell out of there. None of us spoke as we rode home. Whatever we’d just seen — we knew we’d seen enough.

James, rogue that he was, never gave up on asking Sandra out. He waited all week like an excited puppy, constantly glancing over at the Cameron place for any sign of her return. When we came down from an afternoon in the mountains the following Friday, James saw the station wagon and, with a burst of joy, went sprinting up to their door to pop the big question.

While we were waiting, Clayton and I wandered around back and found Ian with a big bullfrog in his hand. “What are you doing?” I gasped, spotting a power cord and a metal bucket of water next to him. The plug end of the cord was intact, but the other end had been chopped off and the insulation peeled back to expose the bare wires.

“Sit down, gentleman,” Ian said coldly as he held up the frog. “Welcome to Pine Lake State Prison’s death row. As you can see, the prisoner has been read his last rites and…”

“You crazy bastard!” Clayton shrieked. “You’re gonna fry yourself!”

Ian ignored him and calmly dropped the frog into the water, then immersed the wire. Just as he was about to plug the other end into the outdoor wall socket, we jumped on him and grabbed it away. Ian screamed and wrestled viciously, but we knew no adult would blame us for stopping him. Sure enough, Mrs. Cameron came running outside, took one look at the wire and the bucket, and ordered Ian into the house.

James emerged a few minutes later, whistling and grinning. “Tomorrow afternoon at two o’clock,” he announced triumphantly.

“Can we come too?”

“Dream on, suckers.”

It was obvious that James was intent on rubbing our noses in it for the rest of the day, so I made some feeble excuse and went home through the trees. My timing was perfect because I walked in on one of my parents’ adult conversations. “She looked happy when she got out of the car,” my mother was saying.

“Anyone would be happy to get rid of him,” my father replied.

“I wonder what the lawyer said.”

“If gross stupidity were sufficient grounds, it’d be an open-and-shut case.”

“I guess they’ll be selling the cottage.”

“We can only hope.”

The following afternoon, as Clayton and I were lugging his garbage can back to the railway ditch to set free the snakes we’d kept for most of the summer, James came skidding up on his bike. His face was scrubbed and his usually shaggy blonde hair was wet and carefully combed back, but he was sweating through his new shirt. “Have you guys seen Sandra around?”

We told him we hadn’t seen any Camerons all day and that suited us fine.

“Shit! I went to pick her up for our date but there’s nobody home.”

“Women,” Clayton said.

“Go figure,” I added, choosing to ignore the freshly cut wildflowers James clutched against his handlebars.

“This is serious, man. Where’d she go?”

It wasn’t long before we got our answer. After bringing the empty garbage can back to Clayton’s, we hopped on our bikes and followed James to the beach. Sure enough, there was Sandra sitting alone on the wharf, dangling her bare feet over the water. James wasted no time in riding out there to talk to her.

“What’s that mental case doing now?” Clayton moaned as he noticed Ian standing by the shore with a knapsack in the sand next to him. He was throwing rocks at something bobbing in the water about ten feet out, jabbering away to himself in some bullshit dialect. His target was a beer bottle.

We threw down our bikes and ran over to him, but he turned and held up a rock threateningly. “C’mon, Ian,” Clayton said as diplomatically as he could. “If you break that bottle, the glass’ll cut everyone’s feet…”

“I say, brilliant deduction, Holmes!” Ian shot back in a rich Nigel Bruce accent as he hurled the rock at the bottle. It fell wide of its target, and he accompanied its splash with a loud explosion sound and more wild gibberish. We realized he was bombing Pearl Harbor, squawking excitedly in pseudo-Japanese as his artillery rained down on the bobbing battleship. We had to stop him, but as we moved in he picked up another rock and stood defiantly, squinting his eyes and sticking out his front teeth in a grotesque parody of the World War Two movies he’d seen.

We had to stop him, but as we moved in he picked up another rock and stood defiantly, squinting his eyes and sticking out his front teeth in a grotesque parody of the World War Two movies he’d seen.

“Too rate,” he hissed, indicating the empty beer case further up the beach. “Rast survivor!” His next shot was right on — the bottle broke with a muted tinkle and disappeared. Ian jumped up and down, screaming “Tora! Tora! Tora!”

“You sonofabitch!” Clayton snarled. We were on him in an instant, but Ian didn’t even bother defending himself. The damage was done. The glass of a dozen shattered bottles now lay in the sand under three feet of water, right where everyone swam. He had permanently fucked up our beach. Even if we got rakes and diving masks, there would forever be a chance of someone slicing open their foot on one of the shards we’d inevitably miss.

We roughed him up pretty badly, but just then Mrs. Cameron pulled up in the station wagon and honked the horn. The back of the car was completely loaded, and two bikes were tied down on the roof. She didn’t seem to care that her son was getting the shit kicked out of him. She just sat there with a blank expression, honking over and over.

As Sandra walked slowly down the wharf with James wheeling his bike next to her, Ian picked himself up, found his glasses and wiped the blood from his mouth. “Sayanora, assholes!” he spat at us, then ran up to the car and jumped in.

The three of us stood on the beach, watching them go. Sandra kept her big eyes on us as she got in next to her brother. She pressed her face against the window and waved solemnly. Ian waited until they were safely pulling away before jerking his middle finger at us.

“Good riddance,” Clayton said.

James didn’t say a word. He kept gazing at the station wagon until it disappeared behind the trees. “Yup, good riddance,” he finally grunted, running a hand through his hair to get it back to its usual shagginess.Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre –“Hey, Ian forgot his knapsack,” I said, running over to where it lay a few feet from shore, stuffed so full that it couldn’t close. Of course we could have easily hopped on our bikes and caught up with the car, but the sight of the empty beer case killed that idea.

“What the hell…” James said as I pulled out a rolled-up bedsheet. We stretched it out on the sand and sure enough it was the banner from the hotel, with pieces of clothesline still knotted in each corner. A few stars and musical notes had fallen off, but it was otherwise intact — except someone had painted CANCELLÉE across it in foot-high red letters.

Once again, we looked at each other and shrugged. James slung the empty knapsack over this shoulder and we headed for our bikes, leaving the banner spread out on the beach. Fuck it. There was nothing left for us to do but go get our rakes and diving masks, then round up a few more kids to help us clean up Pearl Harbor.

Image: courtesy of Wayne Larsen

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Wayne Larsen

Wayne Larsen is a newspaper editor and columnist whose work has appeared in several print and online publications. His freelance career included work as a news and feature writer for The Gazette and an advance copy editor at Reader’s Digest Canada. From 2000 to 2010 he was editor-in-chief of the Westmount Examiner.

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