Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont in Purgatory
It’s been a while since they hanged Louis Riel in Regina. Almost as long since Gabe passed on to the Great Beyond.
Louis expected a few years in purgatory, especially since he’d once set up his own religion. That sort of thing doesn’t go over well Up There.
He was a little surprised to find out that purgatory involved wandering the earth as a shade for the assigned term.
“Big deal,” he said, until he found out how tough it is not being able to have a cold beer.
“Could have been worse,” Gabe commented as they sat beside a heatless campfire one day, “We coulda gone to Hell.”
“And just how would that be worse?” Louis asked darkly, in his one hundred and sixteenth year of ghosthood. As a practicing Catholic, he had a good idea of how much worse it could have been, but he didn’t always like to admit it.
“I think,” said Gabe. “that in Hell I’d have been forced to listen to your story of what you should have done at Batoche, over and over until the end of time.”
“You want to hear it again?” the Métis leader asked.
In the century since they started on their wanderings, Louis and Gabe have watched the world change. They’ve changed, too.
Louis is still an optimist, although somewhat less likely to show it than he was in life. And he still cares passionately about “his” people.
Gabe has become the true cynic of the pair. He’s watched a few too many changes to believe in anything but putting in his time in this place.
From the backwoods of northern Manitoba to the hard streets of Toronto, these two see much to comment on in Canadian society.
Here’s a couple of samples from the book.
He grew up as leader of the free, wandering Métis, traveling the prairie. He ended up with a store and a ferry, at the bottom of a valley, horizons close upon him. Madeline taught school at Batoche. It’s a wonder he lasted there as long as he did. He left the valley to start a war.
For a few years we owned the ferry
on the North Saskatchewan
my arms growing massive
pulling people across to their futures
or back to their pasts.
The river never stopped.
Nor the prairie wind.
One day, I found the neighbor’s kid
at the top of a cottonwood.
“Hey, boy!” I shouted
“What do you see up there?”
“I see distances,” he said,
“I see lands beyond the river!”
That day I saw my first surveyor
Measuring the prairie, and I thought.
I am Métis; I am rivers; I am winds.
After that it was buffalo and wild prophets and
Killing and dying and rivers of blood and
Crazy dreams in the hot prairie wind.
I am Fire and Shadow
I am fire
And the shadow of fire
Some people see ashes
Shadows and ashes
The can be no ashes
Unless there was flame
The can be no shadow
Unless there is light
When cloudshadow falls on the grain
When the campfire is lit by the shelter
Remember Louis Riel
He was the flame you made
He is the shadow on the dark trees
About Lenny Everson
See more books from this Author
Published March 31, 2011
Literature & Fiction.