Big Billy – The bunga-bungalow

Me and Minnie are not world travellers by any stretch of the imagination. A trip into Sydney is a big deal, really.

Last Christmas Minnie was lookin’ for somethin’ in particular and she decided to try her luck out at the Sydney River Wal-mart. She talked about it for two days, made a big plan and everything and left ten minutes early so she could stop at the store and get a bottle of pop and a bag of chips – ‘Case the truck breaks down, she said.

Anyways, that’s all a way of sayin’ we never been the ones to go on a summer Big BIllyvacation. So when Minnie comes home the other night and says – I think we’ll go out Iona this weekend, I damn near fell off my chair.

When I was a young fella, every summer Murph would talk his second cousin into lettin’ us go out for a night and use a little bungalow they had on the Bras d’Or. And his cousin was never around, so we had the run of the place. We’d be out there, 16 or 17 years old, swimmin’ and playin’ horseshoes all day, and then doin’ all kinds of things you’re not supposed to do after dark. After about three years of us goin’ out there once or twice each summer, we found it funny Murph’s cousins were never around. And so did the cops, that time they found us havin’ a fire on the beach and we found out Murph never had a cousin at all. We were just kinda sneakin’ into a place the owners left unlocked.

Anyways, all I could picture was runnin’ around, takin’ a dip in the water, drinkin’ beer like there’s no tomorrow, and laughin’ our arses the whole time. So I was all in – sign me up, I says.

Of course, I shoulda known there was a catch. Turns out the place was owned by Minnie’s brother Cyril’s wife Joan’s friend Evelyn’s sister’s in-laws, and Evelyn (who neither one of them can stand) was basically invitin’ them out to show off. And Minnie and Joan only wanted to go out there so they could be nosey.

The idea of goin’ for a swim in the middle of July was so temptin’ even the kids said they wanted to come. Imagine that now – 16 and almost 13, and they’re willin’ to put up with their parents for a day. That’s how powerful the pull of a bungalow is.

Of course, it’s not easy to fit four of us across the front seat of the truck, so it was a bit of a squeeze. It’s pushin’ 30 degrees and we’re all crammed into a truck, and we were sick of each other before we got to the first stop sign.

Rosie kept complainin’ the hair on Little Bill’s leg was scratchin’ her.

Can’t help it, he said, rubbin’ the peach fuzz on his chin – I’m a big man now.

And Minnie kept leanin’ out the window and lettin’ out these burps that sounded kind of like Godzilla was chasin’ us.

*BWAAAAAP* I shouldna ate them egg sandwiches last night, she said. Nothin’ but heartburn ever since.

I also had gas, from eatin’ leftover spaghetti and meatballs. I wish I could tell ya I was burpin, but that wasn’t exactly my problem.

*HOOOONK* I let one go.

Oh my god! Rosie said, before we even got to Sydney. You know when you smell somethin’, your nose is pickin’ up the particles of whatever it is, right?

Whaddya mean, my little scientist? I said to her.

I mean when you fart and we smell it, it’s because there are particles of it goin’ into our noses, she said.

No, Minnie said, rubbin’ her guts and tryin’ to keep down egg sandwiches. Don’t make me think of that!

We all fought over the music on the radio, and we were sweatin’ through our clothes, and the wind through the open window beat you in the face like a sheet of plywood.

How much further is it? Little Bill said.

By this point we were drivin’ for god knows how long. All I knew is we were on the highway, but I couldn’t let on that I really didn’t know where we were goin’. I was just waitin’ for a big sign that said Iona, I guess.

*HOOOONK* on one side of the truck.

*BWAAAAAP* on the other.

I’m never going anywhere with any of you again, Rosie said, with her t-shirt pulled up completely over her face.
We kept drivin’.

And drivin’.

Eventually we had to stop and get gas. Everybody got out to stretch, and I went in to pay for the gas. When I came back out, Minnie wanted to know if I asked for directions.

What for? I said. I know where we’re goin’.

Famous last words. Fast forward abotu an hour and we’re still drivin’.

Were we supposed to turn off somewhere? Minnie said, between threats to come out of the water and destroy Japan.

Relax, I said, right confident. It won’t be too much longer now.

And it wasn’t, either.

We came around a bit of a bend and there was the Canso Causeway with the rotary in front of it.

The Causeway?! Minnie said. What in the hell are we doin’ here?

I had to think quick.

Well the kids never seen the Causeway, so I figured we’d swing by. There she is, kids.

Cool, they both mumbled.

Then ya just go around this here rotary thing, and it it points us right back the way we came, so we can go to Iona.

Minnie wanted to kill me. We got to Iona, but it was just as everybody was leavin’. Just long enough for Minnie to borrow $20 from Joan for gas so we’d be able to get back home.

Yup, nothin’ better than a trip to the bungalow.

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