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With strength forged by years of enduring schoolyard bullying and neglect at the hands of a promiscuous carefree mother, Malcolm Stewart learns to stand up for himself and for his friends. But sometime between his years growing up in Scotland, with his staunch Scottish father and his adulthood in Canada, Malcolm gave up on life. When beautiful Heather, with her red hair, wearing a t-shirt that reads “I Am the Revolution,” and combat boots enters his life - everything in his world changes. Malcolm falls in love with Heather. And after hearing about her abusive childhood and the daughter she was forced to leave behind, Malcolm knows he must help her get the little girl back. He has no choice– that’s what heroes do. Their journey takes them to a remote corner of Canada, where Malcolm faces trouble from being accused of kidnapping to being run off of a snowy road by an enraged psycho. Heather's story proves to be more tragic than Malcolm ever imagined. But his love for her and a little girl he has never met, gives Malcolm an opportunity to become the hero he never thought he could be.
They’re just local boys, probably not much older than I am, but they play in a band, a real band, and that’s something that I’ve never seen before. George explains to me about festival seating. That means the earlier you get there, the better seating, or standing in this case, you can count on. It doesn’t matter though; we don’t have to line up for seats. He knows a guy. George always knows a guy. When we arrive, our local park looks as though it has been taken over by some kind of a circus. There are large green tents set up with young women selling beer and pop, and a stage has been erected in the middle of a cluster of trees where crowds of excited young people press up against each other, waiting, waiting for something to happen. He can see my look of concern and answers before I can even ask. “Don’t worry, I told you. I know a guy.” He almost smiles, and I try to smile back. It’s the best that I’ve seen him in days, and all of a sudden it almost feels like me and George again, me and George riding to work in his big car, listening to loud music.
With his big hand gently pushing on my back, he leads me to the back of the stage. Then, with a nod to a man who is even larger than George, we slide past generators that are humming and step over large power cords until we are standing directly off to the side. There are a couple of young men pulling on cords and checking wires, but for the most part we are alone. We have the perfect view and our timing is ideal. George pushes me in front of him, and I put my hands on the lip of the stage, just as the boys pick up their instruments and the drummer half stands, half sits, and bangs his sticks together in time. I don’t know if they are good or bad. There are two of them playing electric guitars. One stays towards the back, and then sheepishly ventures out from time to time, before retreating back to his microphone. The other is more flamboyant and winks at the girls, while wandering along the front, tilting his guitar towards the crowd. He sings most of the songs. There is another boy who sports a very fine wispy moustache, playing what looks like an electric piano, and he sings too. And of course the drummer is at the back, in a world of his own, hitting his drums with amazing accuracy and rhythm. The young people in the crowd grow noisier and yell louder when the popular songs of the day are played, but offer only polite applause when the band announces their own, original music. I enjoy it all.
I enjoy watching them each contribute in their own way to the sound, and I enjoy feeling George’s hand resting on my shoulder from time to time. It isn’t until near the end of their show, when they play their last song, that I start to feel it though. I start to feel the way that I felt that first time in George’s car. The lead singer is controlling the music this time. Smiling playfully, he nods to each of his band mates for a moment, before a final definitive nod to the drummer, who’s waiting patiently, perched once again, half-standing, half-sitting, on his little stool behind the drums. Then, with his nod, the music begins, but it doesn’t sound like it did before. It doesn’t sound like four young boys each playing their own instruments. Instead, it sounds like one solid piece of music blasting in waves from the stage right over me and into the whole park. There are no gaps as the sound from the guitars meets the melody of the piano while the rhythm of the drums holds it all together. I don’t know the song and it doesn’t matter. It’s all just music. It just sounds right, and I realize that I’m holding onto the stage as though letting go would cause me to fall. The flamboyant guitar player sings the song, but never seems to forget about the other boys in the band.
They’re all a part of every word that comes out of his mouth, as he looks almost pleadingly towards them, coaxing the right music from their instruments. He wanders towards the other guitar player, or the keyboard player, and somehow pulls them into the song by smiling a secretive smile at them, or just nodding, nodding as though there’s something going on that only they can sense, only they can feel. He’s wrong of course because I can feel it too. I feel part of it, part of whatever magical thing is happening up on the stage. Finally at the end he looks over at the drummer, and from our vantage point I can tell what he’s doing. I can tell what he’s saying to the drummer, even though there are no words exchanged. He’s asking him if it’s time. He’s asking if it’s time to stop, or do they keep going, keep whatever it is that they’ve just created alive for a moment or two longer. Somehow an agreement is made and with sweeping thumps along every drum that is balanced in front of him, the drummer ends the song while the guitar player looks one last time at each of the other members, before flipping his sweaty head towards the crowd and mock bowing to the applause. It’s not just the music. The music is important, I can see that, but it’s more than that. The music is just part of it. It’s the relationships. It’s the relationship that the music forms between the boys that are playing, and it’s what they do with it.
They played music all night, but somehow in that last song, for four or five minutes, they created something else, and that was what George had wanted me to experience. That’s why he brought me, that part I know for sure. The crowd edges its way over towards us and there are young people now standing beside me, witnessing the music, calling out for more. I have to almost pry my hands from the stage, as I’ve been so intent on listening to the band, feeling their music; that I forgot for a moment where I was or what has been happening for the past few days. George’s hand is gone from my shoulder and when I look back his face is wet with tears. When he tries to speak the big man has to lean down and press his head against mine so that I can hear him, as the crowd around us keeps cheering for more. “It’s got nothing to do with you and me, Mal. It’s got nothing to do with us, remember that. It’s her and me, and you and her, but it’s not me and you. Me and you is a different thing, a different thing altogether. You and me is here and now, and that last song, and how it makes us feel, and there’s nothing, Mal, nothing, that she can do to change that.” Tears run down his face as he speaks to me, and I can feel their wetness against my own cheeks. I don’t even try to stop from crying.
I just let the tears come. And when he puts his arm around me, leading us away from the crowd and back to his car, I let him, wishing that we could just stay that way for a long, long time. Never underestimate the healing power of a torrential Scottish rainstorm. It really is a wonderful thing to behold. As we ride the bus home from the airport, my Dad is telling me about the changes that he’s made since I left, while I watch the rain falling angrily from the magnificent black sky. He’s working as a janitor now. The pay is higher and the work is regular. Things are better now, much better. We might be able to move to a bigger place, get our own phone line installed, and perhaps even buy an automobile. He’s right of course. Things will be better. I can tell already. He talks about Celtic, our fitba team, and all of the things that have happened in the neighbourhood. He pauses from time to time, and I expect him to ask me about Canada, or why I’ve come home early, but he doesn’t. Mercifully, he just keeps telling me, in his own way, that he’s missed me. I’m too tired from the flight to turn towards him, so I just rest my head against the window and listen.
The rain buckets down, and lashes against the houses that we pass, as though it’s trying to wipe the greyness right off them. I’m dressed in clothes that George has bought for me, a pair of shorts that I seem to be outgrowing already and a tee-shirt from the concert the night before. The music is fainter in my head now, and it’s not boys jumping up and down on a stage that I see. It’s rain, just rain, bleeding its wondrous colours through the mud of the Kilmarnock streets. I know these streets and what happens on them. There are few surprises here, and when I think about Canada and Brutus and George and Terry and Marvin, and of course my mother and all the things that happened, none of it really makes any sense to me. So, I decide that I’m glad to be home. I’m glad to be back in the safety of my black and white world. I’m glad to be back with my Dad.
My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie Win a pdf copy of this book
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