"A gentleman who lacks gravity does not inspire awe." -
River Valley, British Columbia
the aborted hot springs effort, we make good time to Fort Nelson by getting an
early start to the day. We drive past more roaming elk and more herds of wild
buffalo but smaller in number. A few hours out of Liard River Hot Springs I see
a black bear at the edge of the forest looking at a crow poised on the opposite
side of the road as if they are talking to each other. When I pass the crow
flaps its wings and flies away and the bear runs back into the woods. It
confirms in my mind that the forest is teeming with black bears, which for me
is like a forest crawling with poisonous snakes. A beautiful jungle with
tarantulas, an enticing bay full of box jellyfish, or an attractive forest full
of Grizzly bears, they're all luring but scary when one knows what lies behind
the facade. And like these landscapes, I am scared at what I suspect lies
behind Remy's battered eye and fair beard. Paranoia of spy satellites and
electronic devices in his arm is not a normal state of mind.
beats me to Fort Nelson. I spot his rig parked on a side street running
parallel to the highway so I pull up beside him where I discover him drinking
beer and organizing his medicines. I don't like the darkness of the side street
where a cop could pull up beside us any time, so we depart for the nearest pub.
Remy talks to a hippy Indian as I play pool against a surly short man with a
moustache. With twenty people standing around the table, I find the quiet atmosphere
tentative and oppressive. No laughter or merriment, funeral bleak and grey and
flat. I lose a dismal game of billiards. When I join Remy, the hippy tells us
that there's a better bar with a cooler vibe up the street. He says it's the
old tavern in town where the railway tracks cross the main street. Outside I
follow Remy to the Fort Hotel beside the railway tracks where we go inside -
dark, smelly and smoky - to discover strippers on a dance floor in the centre
of the room. A glass wall separates the smoking room from the dance floor where
we find a table right in front of the glass. On the wall there is a handmade
poster that reads:
YOUNG FOR PRESIDENT
dancer appears on the dance floor and does her routine. At one point she offers
her body as a target range where coins and bills land on her breasts and her
bush. It's too comical to watch. After a few more beers and some madcap
laughter on our part, the waitress delivers two cold bottles of Molson Canadian
to our table. We're still halfway through our beers.
are from that guy over there," says the waitress. She motions to the corner of
the smoking room where there is a man with a huge moustache, a little bigger
than mine, looking just like the hockey player Lanny MacDonald.
the brothers!" He raises his bottle from where he sits at a table with two
others. "You are brothers aren't cha?" Both Remy and I raise our beers, nod and
can tell from your laugh," he says. "It's the same. And it's making me laugh.
So cheers!" Infectious laughter garners free beer. I must say this is a first.
decide to go outside for a joint but when we leave the smoking room, Remy is so
drunk that he puts his arm around my shoulder both for support and to push and
pull me as we walk down the corridor to the front door with maudlin sloppiness.
We shimmy from wall to wall down the hallway laughing but Remy pushes me a bit
too hard and I bump into an old stained window that shatters. The crash of the
glass stops the music in the other room where the dancer is stripping. A few
guys run from the bar to see what has happened, most likely expecting a fight.
Remy is laughing and I'm checking my arm for sliced arteries but there's only a
superficial scratch near my ear. The shattered window is thick and heavy and in
pieces on the musty carpet of the hotel lobby, more evidence of our reckless
behaviour, the wake of destruction now strewn all across British Columbia.
can't believe it broke!" says Remy, when his laughter ceases enough so he can
speak. "Must've been old. I didn't body-check you that hard did I?" A porter from the hotel lobby walks up to us with
a firm expression on his red face.
how do you gentlemen expect to pay for this?" He's a large man, not with muscle
but from potato chips and chocolate bars and ice cream and Twinkies.
how much is it?" I ask trying to avoid a call to the police. He thinks for a
a bit much," says Remy. The woman behind the check-in desk clears her throat
and nods to the porter in agreement with Remy.
not that much Steve," she says, trying to look busy. The fat man sighs and
re-adjusts the fee.
hundred because the window is smaller." I pull out ten twenty-dollar bills from
my wallet and hand them to the porter. Remy tells me he'll pay me back but I
know it's only drunken lip service and I'll never see the money.
you like a receipt?"
what?" I say. The moustached man who bought us beer appears beside us holding
both of our jackets.
thought you brothers might want these. A few of the boys inside aren't too
happy with that stunt so you best be going." Remy is still laughing and shaking
his head in disbelief so I grab both jackets, thank him and we leave for the
rough feel of Fort Nelson's streets.
lighting a cigarette outside when a young guy with black hair comes up to us.
you guys were the ones who crashed that glass?" He must of run out of the strip
club from another exit
wants to know?" I reply, suspicious that he wants trouble despite the fact he's
younger than us.
no cop, man." He pulls out a smoke and lights it. "Naw, I saw you brothers in
there and wanted to come over to talk but you just got up and left. And then I
hear the crash of the window breaking so I thought I'd come out here to see if
you were still around."
so?" I'm still sceptical, but he seems like an innocent chap.
it's no fun in there and I just finished a contract up north driving a rig and
want to blow off some steam, you know. And you two look like you're having a
have a knack for that."
just about to roll up a joint. Care for a puff?" says Remy.
Is it good stuff? I have some crack." I make a move to leave but Remy's
interest is tweaked.
we have some good weed. Speckled Alder
- a tall deciduous shrub up to four metres in length," Remy deadpans. The guy
with black hair invites us back to party in his hotel room above the bar so the
three of us flick our cigarettes on the road and run through the lobby where
the porter is cleaning up the broken glass. Up in the hotel room Remy is now
very drunk and moving his head to the music coming from the television. The guy
with black hair looks at me and motions with his eyes at Remy.
worry about him. He's just a little loose in the steering."
do deaf, dumb and blind people have on those with all their senses?" he asks
me. In the light it looks like he has already sampled the product.
never have to pay attention." It's a lame joke but I nod in appreciation to
encourage him. He looks lonely up here so far north in a town without charm
overrun by contract workers with fat wallets from working in the oil fields. I
watch him construct a makeshift pipe out of an empty can of Sprite and he
begins puffing at it expertly. He hands the homemade crack pipe to Remy who
smokes it expertly, and when it's handed to me, I smoke it awkwardly. First
time with this drug. He introduces himself as Trevor.
my friends call me Jesus," he says.
why's that?" I ask.
I am Jesus. My friends believe I am
the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And I have come during the time predicted by
the Hopi prophecies." There is something spine-chilling in hearing these words.
you Métis?" Remy asks. Trevor's face reddens in warmth and recognition and
I'm half Indian."
Métis too, part Ojibway on our mother's side." We smoke and talk about being
Métis and about spiritual beliefs and religion. Remy and Trevor talk in a
language of prophecies and places with Biblical names and about negative forces
in society and how it's imperative to defend yourself with armour that repels the negative. Trevor becomes so
overwhelmed by what comes out of Remy's mouth that he is soon belittled through
sheer awe at the edifice of knowledge that stands before him. Coincidences of
birth, zodiac signs, background, race and being identical twins and a hundred
other coincidences explained by Remy in rapid-fire succession make Trevor think
twice whether he is the Second Coming or not. He thought he was the stand-alone
Messiah before, but now he sees someone who has dedicated his life to living as
the Pahana. Instead of an uneasiness
hearing the Messiah-speak come from my brother's mouth, I am surprised to feel
the warmth of pride, but also a nagging fear. Granted it's a form of extremism
and any form of extremism is dangerous, he's become awfully good at expressing
his beliefs. I wonder if that might be the secret to prophets and messengers of
God throughout history: a thorough belief and unmoving faith in themselves? Was
it not William James who said: ‘The only reason for failure is man's lack of
faith in his true self?'
realize I have heard a lot of what Trevor says from Remy, but when Remy asks
Trevor what his message is, that's when Trevor falters. He has said his spiel
about being the Messiah but when he cannot explicitly enunciate what his
message is, it's Remy's turn to talk.
each have the light of God in us," says Remy. "It is an energy un-harnessed
until we nurture it. But there needs to be that awakening, that spark, and I am
the one who gives first light. And to ignite the light you need to know that
the essence of the Creator is our essence." Trevor nods. He is thrilled to talk
about the Hopi prophecies.
must see," Remy continues, "that it is crucial to keep all timelines harmonious
and truthful because when we graduate into the spirit world, we will still see
those people we knew down here while we were living. All of our ancestor
spirits are working around us all the time, translating our prayers into a
spirit language - a language which we have no ability to understand. Our
ancestor spirits are the messengers who bring the Creator's reply to us. He
smiles upon us when we honour the Creator's gifts."
on. Louis Riel knew that," says Trevor. "He was prophet of a religion based on
Christianity and Native American Animism." Hearing Trevor speak, who we met
only because Remy steered me through a window, I wonder if there is a whole
underground movement devoted to this cult of the Second Coming of the Messiah -
the True White Brother.
"That's what I'm working on: continuing
that belief system," says Remy. "That's why Grandfather's teachings to the Lost
Generation is the key. It's the cornerstone of a Native American Métis belief
system and the foundation of our new religion. Like the religions of the past
that have fallen into extinction, such as moon worship of the original brunette
peoples of Europe and sun worship of the Celts, the current religions of
mankind based on the Indian Vedas, the Hebrew Bible and the Arabic Koran will
soon be replaced by this new comprehensive religious philosophy by the Métis
will be a religion that unites all of mankind and show him that he has the essence
of the Creator within himself, and that through his ancestor spirits can he be
in touch with the Creator. This is the whole point of the Messiah: to provide a
new divine morality led by the Métis. Riel's Métis movement was supported by
the church right from the beginning." Trevor is nodding like a crazy man.
in fact the local bishop was the one who selected Riel for a scholarship to
study in Montreal in 1859 - ten years before the Red River Rebellion. It was
always a religious movement in the cause of land rights and self-governance."
who Riel was: the religious leader of the Métis people. During the uprising of
1885, Riel didn't even bother with a rifle. He rode around with a large bronze
cross on his horse ignoring the hail of bullets whizzing by his head at the
Battle of Fish Creek. No rifle, just a cross and his divine leadership on a
horse. He was a prophet."
knew the Métis are a hardy stock capable of self-exploration," says Trevor.
"Riel knew we are a race of people born of the collision between east and west.
He hung to death for the Métis Rebellion of 1885 after giving a speech that is
found in all Canadian history textbooks." Trevor is pacing now, like Remy, each
on opposite sides of the room divided by a table. I sit wide-eyed on the bed
between them, watching each one speak as if at a tennis match.
he find himself in the position of being leader simply because he believed it
to be true?" I ask, trying to contribute.
struggled with it," says Trevor. "After he left Canada and was a school teacher
near Fort Benton at St. Peter's Mission in Montana, he still didn't want to
face his destiny as leader of the Métis. He struggled with it so much he
checked himself into a mental asylum in Quebec to try to determine his true calling.
His struggle was immense."
in the end he became the leader simply because he believed that that was his
true path," says Remy. "Although it was his handler Gabriel Dumont who was the
real hero of that rebellion. Sharpshooter, horseman, hunter, gambler, drinker,
he was a man who never went on a buffalo run on a Sunday! He was the Métis
people's chief in Saskatchewan and one of the best-ever Métis hunters. Yep,
Dumont was the guy who rode down to snag Riel in Montana that led to the
rebellion. Dumont - he's your man. He was the Real McCoy. Lived off the land
and travelled far on his horse. That's the real Canada man. He had
Jerry Potts too."
it sounds like Dumont never believed himself to be anything more divine than
what he was, while Riel basically went for the jugular," I say. "Like Cain,
Riel was cursed to wander the earth."
instead of a road buggy, he was on a horse," says Remy.
is our Métis leader - our first Messiah!" says Trevor.
Riel couldn't be the Pahana because he didn't have an
identical twin brother!" The revelation stuns Trevor into silence; all his
bluster is now gone. The room grows quiet and Remy looks over at me motioning
that we should go. Trevor looks as if he's been wounded, not with a knife but
with words. But there is a moral goodness in Remy's spontaneity and rhyme and
reason in his swirl of madness.
we leave the hotel room we find the indoor swimming pool on our way downstairs
completely empty in the morning light. Without a word, we both strip and plunge
into the water. Nothing could be more refreshing than a baptismal dip in the
pool after so long on the road. When I glance over at Remy the sun at that
moment shines on him through some high windows. The way his head is angled and
his arms are outstretched, he looks just like Jesus with his wet beard and his
hair wrapped around his head as if he is wearing a crown of thorns. It startles
me. The archetype of the saviour who suffered for the sins of mankind stands
next to me as if he were standing in the River Jordan