The Baghdad of Canada
Calgary is not a city. It’s a war zone.
And Calgary is under siege.
But instead of barricades surrounding craters where suicide bombers once stood there are dinosauric cranes stabbing into the sky behind the razor wire. Construction is everywhere.
This much construction is a form of destruction.
Every other block there are men in hard hats digging behind the orange cones and the chain link fences.
Calgary is a city of orange cones.
And the hard hats are there to protect them from themselves. Their jackhammers crack the air.
The cranes groan their metal sounds.
And the wind doesn’t blow.
It is Fall.
And Calgary is squatting on the prairie and digging in for the Winter.
Meanwhile entire floors of the mustard colored office buildings lay florescent-lit and fallow, the forgotten furniture cocked at odd conversational angles and still as death.
And yet the construction continues.
With all its false optimism.
The gleaming smile of the glass windows of the new glass buildings they are building is a smile that smells of rictus.
A smile in the face of each Winter’s fresh doom.
And it being Canada, everyone has a gun.
In their glove compartments.
Or in their ankle holsters.
Or tucked cold and blue in the small of their backs. Or all three.
The traffic sludges around the construction sights in Calgary at a pace designed to inflict the maximum amount of road rage in the minimum of distance.
This all happens under a sky as grey and bright as a sinus headache.
Calgary is where cold goes from bitter to poisonous.
A cold that burns nostrils, splits lips, raises welts and sinks hopes.
A dry cold that turns hands into claws, kills cars and contracts sidewalks into slabs of indifferent grey steel.
Steel that they precede to jackhammer.
Sure, sometimes the sun cracks through the wind-scraped clouds but at this longitude the sun is a brutal white.
Not yellow or golden but white.
Like it is in places like Oslo and Moscow and McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
That kind of white.
And the clouds are grey.
The clouds in Calgary are so grey they create a new form of the color blue. That’s how grey they are.
A suicidal grey.
Meanwhile the Calgarians smile flintily.
They wear their shoulders high and tight like they’re trying to make earmuffs out of them but lack the anatomy.
They boast about how good their water is “straight from the tap”.
And it is.
They proudly display the teeth marks of the frostbite scars that battle for facial dominance with the brawl of bruises they sport from last night’s bar fight as tattoos climb like tendrils of criminality up their necks and they gaze blearily with eyes so downcast they bore into the frozen earth like twin power tools.
Welcome to Calgary, the City of Orange Cones and Chain Link Fences. Welcome to Calgary, where the sky isn’t a sky, it’s a blunt instrument. Welcome to this clanging barfight with Winter.
And Calgary is your ringside seat.
Welcome to Calgary. Here’s your gun.