Merity sat beside Gordan near the front of the brand new College streetcar humming a local hip hop tune as the rain poured down. “I’m so in love, Gordan.” Merity’s whimsical gaze lifted off the magazine cover of Rob Ford’s solemn mug. Gordan chose not to say anything, thinking Merity was referring to the cover image when, in actuality, she was referring to the tiny photo of Brent Butt near the barcode. The Corner Gas Movie was coming out soon.!
Gordan interrupted Merity’s daydream with a permeating, “We’re getting off at the next one!” He nudged Merity, expecting her to stand, but she didn’t budge. Instead, she lifted her pointer finger to his face and whispered, “Waaaaai-t.” Little specks of spit landed on Gordan’s knee as she pronounced the ‘t’ and he obliged. Following her eye-line, Gordan expected to see something interesting but nothing unordinary happened. Nothing until their bodies lurched forward as the car stopped to let an old woman with a plastic head scarf hobble on. Under her armpit, a life-size cardboard cut-out concealed under a clear plastic bag. Like a hawk, Merity’s gaze pierced the unsuspecting figure as its owner shuffled past them to the back of the streetcar. !
A slurred “we’aveta-get-off-merity” came from Gordan as he pushed past her in haste and headed to the back doors. Merity moved slyly after him as oncoming commuters settled into seats. Quiet but protective barks began to emerge from the old woman as Merity passed the exit and made way to the arm-pitted figure. “You,” Merity mouthed, pointing at its hidden face. The woman’s demands for distance grew louder and began to catch the attention of her fellow travellers, but Merity seemed not to notice.
She approached the arm pitted figure, pulled the bag taught over its face and — “I KNEW IT!” — she yelled, causing everyone to jump in unison. She locked eyes with as many onlookers as possible, nodding solidly when sound. She was proud of her internal — and accurate — prediction; the warm, squinted gaze of Barack Obama stared at her through that plastic veil as she nodded to it, too, proclaiming, “Good day, President!” before heading for the exit. She was as proud as though the Ark of the Covenant had been unveiled. Merity stepped down toward Gordan who was holding the doors open with difficulty to prevent the streetcar from leaving. She nodded at him too.
“You’re all wet, Gordan,” Merity said, now in the pouring rain but under an umbrella she’d pulled from her purse. They moved to the sidewalk as she watched the dark speckles grow and connect, turning into wet patches on Gordan’s jacket. She invited him to stand under the umbrella with her, as though it was the easiest decision in the world. “But you—” Gordan reacted, pausing slightly to wonder how much effort he should put into this. “You’re wearing an umbrella hat, Merity.” She smiled, but was already onto something new. A sopping piece of paper on the sidewalk. A lotto ticket.
Peeling it up and laying it across her palm as though it were a delicate butterfly, she stared at it as though it might die. “Do you think it’s a winner, Gordan?” She held it near her chin; an effort to keep it dry under what little dry space was offered by her umbrella hat. “Only one way to find out,” he shrugged, pointing to the corner store up ahead. Inside, a retrospective of the Apollo 11 played on a tiny TV behind the counter. The clerk punched the lotto ticket’s numbers into a machine as it began to light up; an electronic trumpet blared. Both Gordan and Merity screamed and jumped with joy before Merity sprinted toward the door and outside, disappearing from their triumphant dance. “Where—” Gordan paused, looking toward the door, but his question faded. Exchanging glances with the blank-faced clerk, his mind swelled in thought: his life with Merity, a multi-million dollar woman. Bills rained down around them, when Merity poked her head back inside. Shooting a hopeful gaze at Gordan, she wondered what he was still doing standing there: “Didn’t you hear the ice cream bell, Gord?”