Author, musician, impresario Jim Creighton is well known to people of the Campbell River area. His popular book, elkFaLLsbC Comic Imaginations of a Costal Town, is a regional classic depicting the characters and character of a fictitious coastal town. Creighton has revived his beloved town to present as a Christmas story. The Mirror is proud to publish An eLkFallsbC Christmas for your reading pleasure over the holidays. Part II will continue in our Boxing Day edition.
By Jim Creighton
High above the town of Elk Falls BC, the December stars shone down from their divine placement.
That little island town, bordered on one side by Barnacle Passage and on the other by the surrounding woods, was a busy place. Eavestroughs were hung with coloured lights with care, trees were decorated. Excited children avoided their schoolwork to make lists. All of the town’s inhabitants, some colourful and some even more colourful, were each contributing to the motion, the collective momentum that carried them all toward that one special day.
Down on the flats at the Totem Mall, a vagabond trio sat together on a chilly concrete bench.
“Somethin’s goin’ on,” announced Charlie Morgan through his scruffy brown beard, and he looked about him to the store windows which were all decked out in fancy decorations.
“Sure is,” offered Ace Coot.
Charlie watched the people scurrying from the stores to their cars, carrying shiny packages and shopping bags full of stuff.
“Yup,” said Izzy Debris, and he shifted his cold behind on the bench. “It’s that time of year.”
“What time of year?” asked Charlie, sometimes unsure as to the particular ‘where and when’ he was actually inhabiting.
His mind struggled. It was. It was.
“Time for free turkey dinner!” said Izzy Debris, for it was Izzy who held the Island record for the number of free turkey dinners consumed within a twenty-four hour period.
Three, it was. Four, if you counted the turkey sandwiches over at the Sally Ann Boxing Day lunch.
“Guys. Guys,” said Ace Coot, in an attempt at a proper perspective, “It’s more than just a free turkey dinner.”
And in his moment of inspiration he held up both his arms to indicate something too large to hold, and even more than that. Unfortunately his vocabulary of phraseology was on a break, and so he was able to offer only a smile, and a succinct conclusion.
“It’s Christmas!” he proclaimed.
“Ahhh, yes,” confirmed Izzy, and he felt almost guilty for allowing his empty stomach to control his thoughts, but not guilty enough to stop it from savouring the memories of Christmas past.
“Hey,” said Charlie. “Didja notice that they don’t actually say ‘Christmas’ any more? Didja notice that?” and he looked over at the store windows.
“Happy Holidays!” announced one. “Tis the season!” said another. “Santa’s Here!” proclaimed the jolly fat man himself as he held up a giant drumstick in the front window of the Totem Grocery and Gas.
“You’re right,” said Ace. “I did notice that. Hey, maybe they can’t say that word anymore,” he pondered. “Maybe it’s like, forbidden.”
“Forbidden by who?” asked Charlie Morgan, and this caused a long moment of silence within which the three men were allowed to sit and cogitate.
“Gotta be the cops,” concluded Ace. “Gotta be them,” he said.
“Well,” said Izzy Debris. “In that case, Merry Christmas!” he bellowed, and feeling empowered, he shouted out across the parking lot of the Totem Mall. “Merry Christmas!”
And so it was. It was Christmas in Elk Falls BC, and the stars of December shone brightly down. On everyone.
Up in the many houses on the hill, in the many kitchens of the town, many mothers were busy at their many stoves, producing many cakes and cookies, fruitcakes and shortbreads.
Sarah Sculpin wiped her brow. She’d been practicing preparing a plum pudding for her dinner guests. One more week, she thought. She’d never made a plum pudding before, but she’d decided to “go traditional” this year, after reading an article in the Elk Falls Examiner. “Go Traditional” it had said. “Get back to the real meaning of Christmas with some yummy recipes from the past.”
Just down the street lived the modern girl, Chantrelle Gill, recently married and proud new mother.
“Wr going traditional,” she texted a friend. “Derek will b bck frm Fort Mac just n time. He gts 1 wk,” and she had to relax her thumbs for a moment, for she’d spent more time texting than actually being traditional. “Making m own gifts!”
So far Chantrelle had managed to bake some cookies with sparkley sugar toppings that looked fairly acceptable, but she was new at this and you had to admire her spunk. Christmas wasn’t cheap. And darn that internet site! She’d just bought a new knitted top online, a red and green one with a cute little reindeer prancing across it, and when it finally arrived it was too darn small and that cute little reindeer was missing an antler!
Over on the next street, in a comfy little bungalow sat Inch Carter, the fisherman Inch Carter of the Brave Westerly, the “BeeDub” to the seafaring crowd. Inch was taking it easy after his heart attack, his brush with the grim reaper, his watershed moment when his lifetime of coffee drinking, cigarette smoking and the demands of the fishery had finally caught up with him.
“Here’s some nice ones,” his wife said, as he handed Inch a few colourful Christmas cards. “Make sure you send one to Doctor Palmar,” she offered. “If it wasn’t for him, you wouldn’t be here.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Inch, trying to look at the cards without taking his eyes off the Canucks vs. Sharks game on TV. “Yeah, sure,” he allowed, and in his mind he beheld the face of his surgeon, the very thoughtful Doctor Palmar.
Inch thought about the expensive new postal rates, and how the cost of each stamp would contribute to a rising sum that would only compete with the rising costs of keeping the BeeDub afloat and operational. Dang! The Canucks just took another penalty!
“And don’t forget your good friends at the DFO who helped you get off the boat and into the hospital that day,” his wife reminded him.
“Yeah, yeah,” said Inch, and in his mind he saw the expedient Eddy and Jack in their DFO uniforms, and the helicopter that had rescued him that fateful morning up at Naka Creek.
Inch could feel his throat tightening. Damn if he’d waste two stamps and the price of two whole fancy Christmas cards on anyone from the DFO!
“And of course there’s Danny and Bobby,” said his wife. “You can’t forget them.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Inch.
Forget the two laziest deckhands on the west coast? As if! They’re probably at some card game right now, he figured, throwing their money away on Texas hold ’em, and he was supposed to bankroll these losers? His heart rate beginning to accelerate. Dang! The Sharks just scored on the power play!
“Perhaps you could put a little something extra in their cards,” his wife suggested, but when she gave Inch her warm smile she could see that he was looking slightly distraught.
“Grrr…,” he growled. “I’ll give ‘em a little something extra!” and in his mind he could see himself marching into the card game, wherever the heck it was this week, and applying his size 12 romeo boot to their fat behinds.
And maybe not just them neither, thought Inch. Maybe a lot of other fat behinds too, and the throttle on his heart jumped up a notch. Like maybe them fish farmers! And them importers, he thought, and now he was cresting the wave of his discontent. And all o’ them land-lovin’ idiots that don’t know nothin’ about fishing! And then Inch Carter watched himself run out onto the ice at Rogers Arena and deliver a swift kick to a Canucks’ defenceman.