Noise, Thieves and Masks


Camp and I met by the dock and brought our beers and peeves along.

‘Now that the weather is warmer and it’s light until ten o’clock at night it also means that everything is growing in wild profusion: grass, lawns, shrubs, flowers, gardens and noise,’ Camp said.

‘Noise? You mean the birds and frogs?’

‘No, I love the birds and frogs, the barking sea lions and even the crows. I’m talking about the annoying sounds of summer, the racket and clamour of lawnmowers, whipper snippers, power washers, leaf blowers, jet boats and Harleys.’

‘You mean Harley Davidson’s.?

‘Yes, I just don’t understand why Harley’s have to sound like they have amplifiers in their exhaust systems, so they can be heard from miles away and wake up entire neighborhoods.’

‘I never really understood that either. I always thought mufflers are for muffling.’

‘On another note, did you read that up to 200’000 fraudulent claims for covid relief have been paid out by the federal government?’

‘What do you expect,’ Camp said, ever the cynic. ‘People are always gaming the system, be it through taxes, false info or downright fraud. As long as they get away with it, they will do it. Common thieves are what they are.’

‘We all look like thieves with these silly masks. I don’t see you wearing one Camp.

‘By not wearing one I’m teleporting that I’m not sick.’

‘Sheeple vs. Covidiots,’ I said. ‘Those are the teams. Apparently, you can be an asymptomatic carrier. That’s why the mask in public. Clare has been sewing them and I’m here to present yours. Notice the beer motive, it’s from an old apron. Cotton, very comfy and washable.’

‘I don’t know what to say,’ Camp said, handling the mask as if it was a rodent. He put it in his pocket.

‘Thank you, Clare,’ would be fine, I said, showing him my mask, black and white with the peace sign pattern, fashioned from an old T-shirt.’

We both emptied our first can of beer and cracked the next one, looking out at the sparkling waters of Howe Sound.

‘Gun Violence Archive, an NGO based in Washington, DC, counted more than 2,000 shooting deaths in the US between March 1st and April 19th – a 6% increase over the average in the same period during the past three years. Now those are real, not presumptive deaths, and nobody was wearing any masks,’ Camp said.

A sad fact neither one of us could do anything about. Unlike masks.

‘What do you make of people heaping abuse on Airbnb providers who take in guests, even though they’re visiting family members and are completely separate?’ I asked.

‘It’s the same ignorant rabble who protest under the flag of righteousness against people coming here from other parts. ‘Not in my back yard,’ is always their myopic motto, and they’re all wearing masks, so nobody can identify them.’

‘We know the post-covid world will be a lot different but will it be a better one than before,’ I wondered aloud.

‘I don’t think so,’ Camp said. ‘More restrictions, less social interactions and an even bigger divide between the rich and the poor.’

‘Some people have called this pandemic the big leveller, meaning that it will even out discrepancies between rich and poor.’

‘I see it going the other way. In my humble opinion Covid-19 is the big divider and we’re already seeing that the majority of Covid victims are vulnerable communities, meaning the old and sick, the poor, the illiterate and black and brown populations.’ Camp  said, shaking his head of long grey curls. Something else that’s growing unchecked these days: Hair, I thought to myself.

‘Remember, I mentioned my neighbours with the young kids having the time of their lives. Dad’s home and it’s the longest spring break ever!’ I said.

‘Well, our neighbour is a single mom with a teenage daughter. It’s not quite as happy a place. I surprised the teen at the mailbox the other day, in the early afternoon. She was still in her pj’s. I think it was her I overheard that night: ‘Fuck this, I’m out of here. This shit covid is ruining my fucking life, it’s a geezer disease and I’m sick of staying home, sick of you telling me I can’t go out or see my friends or do anything. You’re all control freaks. You’re taking everything away from us and I don’t see anybody dying.’ There was more of the same but you get the gist,’ Camp said. ‘I felt sorry for the mom.’

‘On a happier note, the province is opening up the parks and letting some businesses open their doors.’

‘Which means more tourists and more people everywhere,’ Camp said. ‘Hopefully more people at the book store, although I can’t complain. We’ve been relatively busy.’

‘You and the liquor and pot stores are keeping us sane,’ I said.

‘To sanity,’ Camp toasted and emptied his can.

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