Fast Eddy lives on a clay hill in a fieldstone house.
You get there along a half mile lane that cuts through a field planted to corn and leads to a plank bridge crossing a narrow stream. From there, the lane deteriorates into a rutted track, sunk between two lines of broken maples and the detritus of the past century, all of it rising to the prominence where Eddy exists on cans of Campbell Soup, tinned sardines, a weed-tangled garden and whatever he might plug.
It’s at the bridge where Jack, a gangly young man, starched and pressed in black and white, extricates himself from his Hyundai, cloth bag of supplies in one hand, worn bible in the other, and trudges skyward, occasionally slipping in the mud and whistling a tune from yesterday’s service to alert Eddy of his imminent arrival.
“Jesus boy, don’t you know Christ is out of fashion,” Eddy says, in way of a greeting.
A .22 leans against the door. Eddy is seated in sunlight on square-backed chair among a handful of brass cartridges scattered about the plywood stoop.
“I’ve got news and I’m not just talking about the radio. They called me,” he says.
The radio is constant, like the babble of the stream below. Tuned to Canada’s national broadcaster and perched atop the fridge inside, it’s Eddy’s sole source of information.
“Who called you?” Jack asks.
“A guy with the PC’s. Just yesterday. He said it was nice to find a real person at home rather than an answering machine. I listened politely for a piece and then he asked me if I’d be supporting Doug Ford. I told him it was none of his … business.”
Eddy had worked for years in tobacco, eventually graduating to boat driver at a farm down the road from Gobles. That’s where he got his name, though “steady” might have been closer to the truth, for work and whisky alike.
Eddy now lights a hand-rolled cigarette. Its lingering scent causes Jack to shift from one foot to the other.
“Sit down,” Eddy instructs, pointing to the top step. “This won’t hurt you. Not like the liquor. Soon to be legal they say.”
Jack settles, pulls bible to heart and waits. A small bird sounds among broken branches, a paced melodic trill.
“Pinkie always liked that sound,” Eddy murmurs and then, “He’s guilty you know. I mean Ford. And he will be found out. You’ll see, the radio will let me know.”
“They say his father was a nice man, civil-minded …,” Jack offers.
“Guilty!” Eddy repeats. “Then, again, everyone’s guilty of something. You know that, being up on the bible and all. The radio gives the others a wee bit more leeway, them being women. You know, that Dutton-girl Audrey McLaughlin and Kathleen Wynne.”
“You mean, Andrea Horvath and Kathleen Wynne?”
Eddy laughs, coughs and spits in the general direction of Toronto, which, unfortunately, lies beyond Jack’s seated figure. “That’s right, the leader of the socialists and the leader of the Liberals whose name we’ve heard far too much often.”
“Guilty as well?”
“Blow out your ears, Jack. All are guilty of something but that doesn’t mean they can’t be saved or aren’t worth voting for. Besides, you’ve got to consider the merits of the folks running here in our local riding regardless of their stripe. Sinners all, but they may have a spark of integrity. Besides, if you don’t vote, you got no right to bitch.”
“So, you need a lift on voting day, Eddy?”
“Damn right. I’ll be waiting for you. Just whistle a tune coming up the hill. You’ve got enough holes in you already.” ◊