I was on the blue couch, watching Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman, when she called.

My sister. Not Doctor Quinn.

“Is that Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman? What the fuck Bro!?”

It was the big Christmas episode. I had taped it on the 18th.

“Any-wayze!” she snorted. “You still coming to meet me at the restaurant?”

I nodded.

“You remember the address?”

Of course I did. 5737 Côte-des-neiges.

“Cool. See you later Bro. Midnight.”

That was the plan.

In the meantime, I went back to Doctor Quinn.

She wheeled me gently toward departure time.

***

I took the Orange Line to Snowdon and the Blue to Côte-des-neiges. During the first leg of the journey, I had the pleasure of rubbing elbows with Don—a reddened old rumhead with no teeth, but more than enough beard to make up for it.

“How you like this motherfucken blizzard, eh kid?” Don inquired. “Baby Jesis gonna freeze his baby penis off tonight!”

I was a lot more concerned about Don’s dried up old goods—the man had on nothing but a Canadiens jersey.

“It’s an official one. Fuckin’ thing cost more than my favourite hooker. I’m not coverin’ it up.”

Don drove a hard barkin’. He had a lot of nerve, and no functional nerve endings. He would have come in handy that evening, mushing down the street as my herald, breaking wind in the storm.

But Don had a date at Diana Bar.

So I slushed to the restaurant alone.

Four blocks later, I burst through the dirty smoked door. I claimed a booth with my coat, ordered coffee and pizza, and dashed off to defrost my forehead. At the payphone near the men’s room, a slobbering fuck-up declared:

“Don’t… make me… come home… for nuthin’!”

‘Tis better to give shit than receive it.

There were snowman-shaped moth-cakes in the urinal.

I always fought for a seat near the mural. You’ll hear a lot of talk around town about the $1.99 breakfast, the weekend 4 AM booze, the Russian waitress brigade—but there’s a reason they call it “Blanche-Neige.” The Disney demoiselle (with her species-spanning crew) just illuminates the room. Without ‘em you’d be lost in the wood-panneling. But the point is you can’t look away. Once you’ve dealt with the dwarfs, there’s the rabbit to face, not to mention his sidekick the squirrel. That’s a quorum of the craziest eyeballs in creation. The deer and the birds are more restful to contemplate, and Snow White is chill in a one-eyed queen pose. But then off in the distance, at stage upper left, is the champion mindfuck of all. Out of the haze of cerulean blue, dabbed on during Duplessis’ dotage, Castle What’s-Wrong-With-It? looms. I won’t keep you in suspense—there’s no support for the tower-tops. They just float there like disembodied dunce caps.

“Here’s your food Bro,” my sister brought it herself. “I told them to put extra mushrooms.”

I thanked her and made with the teeth. Their pizza’s really good. Tastes like it’s got sugar in the crust.

“So!” she lit a cigarette. “I get off in ten minutes. Then we exchange presents, take naps, and catch the metro for Mom’s. I told her we’d be there by 6:30.”

It all sounded very organized. She’d called up the Info-Bus and everything.

“Kukla!” a slick voice beckoned. “Can I speak to you a second?”

It was Nick, the restaurant’s very own Walt Disney, sporting a jet black mullet-wig. He pulled my sister into a huddle with Oksana, the Russian waitress/girlfriend du jour. Nick put his all into those meetings. Real “hands-on” management.

A few minutes later, she stalked back to my booth, with an uncertain look on her face. Then she peeked back at Nick, who brandished his sleaziest smile.

“Think of the money, Kukla!”

She made excited gestures with her elbows:

“The snowmen are coming! The snowmen are coming!”

(The snowmen are municipal street cleaners.)

“I’m gonna have to work until five.”

I ordered more coffee and cracked open my book.

The storm troopers plowed in around 12:40.

Blanche-Neige isn’t very big, and most city workers are. You don’t burn many calories hauling snow. But you do get freakin’ hungry—and parched for a brew. Took some effort to find places for that crew. I scored a boothmate named Hugo.

“You know,” he pointed at the wall, “at Christmastime, those dwarvis becomes elvis. I don’ mean Elvis-‘ound-dogue. I mean elvis-Norde-pole. Tu comprends?”

I did.

“Dis one,” he put a finger on Doc’s beard, “is le gros Père Noël. And dat,” he reached up and got a hand on Snow’s chest, “is Maman Noël. When dey finish makin’ de toys… Maman Noël… she foque de elvis. Every one.”

And the rabbit?

“De rabbite?” he thought for a moment. “Ben oui, she foque ‘im too. She done it before, you can see it in ‘is eye.”

Through it all I kept wondering: Why’s this ribalding asshole gettin’ all fresco with me?

Lisa smacked his sparse pate:

“Hugo! Leave my brother alone! He’s reading Christmas stories.”

J’l’sais,” Hugo chuckled. “I give ‘im a new one!”

He tipped her ten bucks when he left.

I re-gifted the story.

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