A Picturesque Portrait to Ponder
An excerpt from Sheila Horne’s Contemporary Novel Sunshine Girls:
Sometime during the day the conversation always turned to friends who had died in Vietnam, the rights of draft dodgers and the great concerts people had attended. Soon the talk would change to a moaning session about the demise of Yorkville, Toronto’s hippie community. Peter tried to explain his theory. The teenagers who frequented the coffee shops had grown up and started to go to the bars around the city. There wasn’t enough money to keep the businesses open, and those hippies that wanted to continue the lifestyle moved to communes. No one wanted to hear what he thought. The others in the house argued that it was the establishment, “the man” who had sold them out and pushed them out of Yorkville.
Peter laughed and said, “Well the man’s going to make money anyway he can.” He’d finished his science fiction script and started another about draft dodgers and military deserters struggling to forge a new life in Canada. He wrote frantically amid the drone of news on the television about Water Gate and Richard Nixon’s attempted cover up while Led Zeppelin blared on the record player.
I left the apartment in the mornings to get away from the confusion and walked to Kitsilano beach or sat in the Naam Café. I missed Raynie, Meg and even Jessie, and as much as I didn’t want to think about him, I wondered if Jim had noticed I hadn’t been back to Wasaga Beach.
I woke up to someone knocking on our bedroom door. I sat up and shook Peter awake. Someone I’d never seen and who had obviously shown up after I’d gone to bed the night before, stuck his head in our room.
“You two ready for breakfast?” he asked.
“Yeah sure,” Peter said.
“We were going to talk,” I said.
“We will later.” He went into the bathroom.
I threw the pillow against the door and rolled over. I wasn’t sure what I would find when I came to Vancouver but this was not what I’d imagined.
“Sorry,” Peter said, coming back into the room. He picked up his notebook and pen. “I want to interview that guy, he’s a little out there but I promise we’ll talk this evening.”
“They’re all strange,” I shouted after him. I got dressed and went into the kitchen. Peter and the new person were talking about the Jesus movement spreading from the United States to the west coast.
“Ella this is Seth,” Peter said. It turned out Seth and his two disciples who had dropped in for something to eat were Jesus People. Seth wasn’t his real name, it was the name the Lord had given him. He’d come to Vancouver from Seattle to spread the word like John the Baptist.
Connie hurried into the kitchen, buttoning her shirt. Seth had broken her cardinal rule about only the chosen few being allowed to cook. She glared at him and checked the consistency of the oatmeal. Satisfied that it was good enough to eat, she poured it into bowls. After breakfast Seth talked about his version of the bible, which included the word groovy, and apparently the use of marijuana since he and his friends didn’t refuse when Ricky passed a joint to them. Tired of listening, I walked to Gastown. Compared to Toronto, Vancouver moved at a slower pace and everyone seemed more relaxed. The sky was bluer and the air cleaner, not to mention the mountains were beautiful. But I missed Toronto.
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Be sure to check out Sheila’s reading at the JUZDIZRTS Author Event on Saturday April 26th at On The Bean coffee shop in Aurora, starting a 3pm.