Why the hunted look, Bill?” said Andrew Jackson. He gave Bill Elliot a searching look as he pulled up a chair and sat down at the usual table next to the window of the café. A cold wind blew raindrops noisily against the pane outside as a steady rain fell from the low, grey clouds. Bill looked nervously around the room and when he spoke it was almost in a whisper.
“I have a gun,” he said.
Andrew raised an eyebrow. “Where?” he said. “In your cowboy boot?”
Bill shook his head. “In my attic,” he said.
Andrew thought about that for a second. “So what?” he said.
Grant Toews who was sitting across from
Bill piped up. “The gun’s not registered,” he said. “That makes Bill a criminal.”
“Hmm,” said Andrew thoughtfully. “Well, if you get caught Bill,” he continued conspiratorially, “I’ll be happy to testify against you.”
“Me too,” said Grant. “I’m a witness.”
“You guys are not making me feel better,” said Bill.
“I’ll visit you in the penitentiary,” said
Andrew. “I’ll get Rose to bake fresh apple pies for you with stuff in them that you’ll need. Like hand sanitizer. And aftershave. The last thing you want in prison is to get germs all over your hands.”
“Why aftershave?” asked Grant.
“Why not?” said Andrew. “Just because you’re in prison you should stop worrying about how you smell?”
“Bill doesn’t worry about how he smells now,” said Grant. “Why would he worry in prison?”
“Still not making me feel better,” said Bill.
“Think of something encouraging to say Andrew,” said Grant.
Andrew pondered that for a moment.
“Don’t worry Bill,” he said. “I’m sure they won’t put you in maximum security with the really scary people, like murderers or hit men or people who didn’t fill out their census forms.”
Bill went from apprehensive to panicked. “They put people in prison for not filling out their census forms?” he said. “I am so screwed.”
“Again,” said Andrew, “don’t worry. As long as Harper’s the prime minister you got nothing to worry about. According to him it’s only the Liberals and the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party and the police who want to put you in jail for that. Harper wants to build bigger prisons sure, but he doesn’t want to fill them with ordinary criminals like you.”
“Really? What kind of criminals does he want to fill them with?” asked Bill.
“Same ones who are there now,” said Grant. “But he wants them to stay in longer, which means he’ll need more room for new ones.”
“Wow,” said Bill. “What happens if Harper loses the next election? Then we’ll have all those long-term prisoners already in jail and there won’t be any room for the census non-filler-outers and the gun nonregisterers. Where will Ignatieff send all of them?”
“I think Ignatieff’s plan is to establish a prison island,” said Andrew. “Like Alcatraz.”
“Or Australia,” added Grant. “Probably in P. E. I.,” said Andrew.
“Because he wouldn’t even have to change the name,” said Grant. “It’ll still be P. E. I., but it’ll be short for Prisoners Educational Institute.”
“Because that’s what the Liberals do,” said Andrew. “They give things names that make them sound better than they really are.”
“Like calling the long-gun registry a “long gun-registry” instead of a “gigantic waste of money” which is what it actually is,” said Grant. “Or calling their famous Red Book a “Red Book” when it was actually a “book of promises they made to help them get elected but which they never intended to keep.”
“In fairness though,” said Andrew, “things need to have shorter names that people can remember.”
“So they could have called the Red Book ‘Lies’ and the gun registry ‘Stupid,’ said Grant. “Easy to remember and accurate.”
“I’m still worried about the gun in my attic,” said Bill. “It’s my uncle’s old army rifle and I didn’t even know it was there till last week.”
“You know what you have to do,” said Andrew.
“Do I?” said Bill.
“You need to head to Mexico.”
“Mexico?” said Bill. “Run away to Mexico? Doesn’t that seem a little drastic?”
“Who said anything about running away?” said Andrew. “You need to go to Mexico for the same reason we all need to go to Mexico. Because the weather here sucks. But when the weather gets better you come back and register your rifle and fill out your census forms and live the life of an honest man.”
“I think I’d rather run away and not come back,” said Bill.
“Wouldn’t we all,” said Grant. “Wouldn’t we all.”
to see where Rollin Penner will be appearing next with his friends.