DATELINE: 22 September 1965: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Let me paint you a picture of the place where I grew up.
We lived on the highway in a house in back of a Texaco gas station and the Idylwyd Diner. My mother managed the diner. My father ran the gas station. He was a mechanic. Our home was meagre, a small bungalow with three bedrooms. With my sisters long gone, Don, Brian and I shared a room. James had his own room.
Our home was located four miles from the heart of Saskatoon on a highway stretching out of town.
Driving up the highway a mile away from our home, you come to a fork in the road. If you veer left onto the Yellowhead Highway, the next big city, three-hundred-twenty-five miles away, is Edmonton, the place of my birth.
If you continued right, you’d head straight north ninety miles to Prince Albert; with each mile closer to Prince Albert, the Northern Lights glow brighter and dance gleefully in all of their glory on clear nights.
The gas station and diner faced the highway. The gas pumps were located thirty feet directly in front of their entrances, and another thirty feet from the highway’s blacktop. Sweeping around the right side of the garage was a line of tractors; occasionally we would find one of our missing pets dead inside the workings of the machinery.
At the right side of the diner was the door of our home. About thirty feet from the door, a collection of dirt hills in various sizes made a mountainous playground for us kids to explore.
Just beyond the last hill, the horizon dropped sharply into the waters of a slough. I imagined purchasing a submarine like the one pictured on the back of a comic book and navigating its waterways.
I almost forgot, directly across the highway lay the runway of Saskatoon’s airport. Planes flew overhead on a regular basis, rattling the walls and windows of our home.
The garage and diner bustled during the day with farm families stopping by for a quick bite, or to fill up with gas on their way back to their homesteads after a day in the big city.
Closing Time: 6 PM.
Within one hour of closing, the highway was empty with the exception of an occasional vehicle.
Our closest neighbour lived at least three miles away.
The first five years of my life are a blank slate. It’s as if everything prior to this chilly September night had been erased.
On this evening, around 6:30 when my parent’s left to enjoy a rare night on the town, I watched the tail-lights of the family Buick fade away as they drove down the highway toward Saskatoon. Clouds hung low over the Saskatoon skyline, the glow from the lights of the city reflecting off the clouds to create a brilliant city silhouette.
When the lights of the car disappeared from view, I turned around to go back indoors, I heard the loud click of our house door being locked. I ran to the door. I banged on it. I screamed as loudly as I could. Let me in!
I had been locked out of the house for about thirty minutes when the light from a light standard located at the left entrance of the gas station lot began to flicker, hissing and crackling as if it was about to expire…though somehow, it never did. Insects buzzed around its dim glow. With the exception of the city lights off in the distance, this was the only light around.
With darkness, came the cold. I began to shiver. Thirty minutes turned into what seemed like an eternity. Darkness fell fast.
A dog began to howl in the distance… or could it have been a hungry coyote?
I was terrified. I banged on the door once more with every ounce of my might.
When the darkness turned to pitch black, I heard the clack of the lock again. The door opened. I rushed inside. The house was draped in blackness. My shivers turned into trembling.
James, Donald and Brian began chanting together in a continuous loop.
Lindsay, we are going to get you. Lindsay, you are not one of us.
When my parents returned home that night I was hiding under the couch shuddering and crying.
I rushed into my mother’s arms.
I told her that my brothers said I’m not one of them.
She assured me I was.
My brothers were 9, 13 and 17 at the time.
I was 5.
- Excerpt from upcoming meta-memoir: Driving in Reverse — The Life I Almost Missed
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Lindsay Wincherauk is a Vancouver based author. He is currently in the process of finding a publishing home for his provocative, playful, disturbing, edgy… disruptive meta-memoir: Driving in Reverse — The Life I Almost Missed.