At Home In Cape Breton (Nova Scotia)

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At the Tavern

Billy: It’s true bye. This used to be a separate kingdom. I read about it in the Cape Bretoner’s Christmas issue.

Bobby: B.S. You mean like there was a King of Cape Breton! That’s B.S.

Billy: No. What I mean is, we were separate from Nova Scotia. We were our own place. We were even separate from Canada. Well. In fact there wasn’t even a Canada then. We’re older than Canada!

Bobby: I think yer full of the best crap I’ve heard of since those guys said there was gold in the peat bog over near L’Ardoise. You’re sayin’ that this place. Right here. Was once on its own. Like, ‘independent!?’

Billy: Yeah it was……wait now…..I got it. It was a ‘colony.’ Just like Newfoundland, and Bermuda.

Bobby: Personally I’d take Bermuda.

Billy: Yeah. Yeah. But listen. We had our own Governor fer chrissakes. We were gonna have our own money even.

Bobby: What….’Puffin Bucks?’ Ha ha.

Billly: Now get serious will ya and listen to me. We had ‘er by the bag man. We could have done whatever we wanted. We cudda done like them South Sea islands do. They make their own postage stamps and money and they sells them to collectors. In some of those places, they are all rich and they don’t pay taxes.

Bobby: No shit. Rich, and no taxes?

Billy: You got it. If you’re an independent place, you can do that. You can make your  own money and stamps, and stuff like booze. And you can have legalized gambling. And do all sorts of stuff they don’t let you do now.

Bobby: And like where’s the RCMP and the Cape Breton-Regional-Police-Establishment in all this?

Billy: They works fer us man. But there’s no RCMP. They wouldn’t be allowed across the causeway bye. Not without a passport. And we sells passports for money. If we don’t like ya, you don’t get one.

Bobby: So lemme see if I got this straight bye. We was independent. We could have done whatever we wanted. Made our own money even. Brewed our own booze. Charged people ta come here. And no cops getting in thuh way. No taxes. And – tell me if I got this right – we gave this all up, right?

Billy: Well no, not exactly Bobby-Boy. Halifax sent a letter and said, ‘the games over you bunch of Capers – yer with us now.’ And that was the end of that.

Bobby: Didn’t we at least send a nasty letter back to them with a puffin stamp on it?

At The Wrecker’s

Al: So you got a transmission for a 67 Dodge or not?

Gord: I tole you. Even if I had one you couldn’t afford it.

Al: Listin. Are you with Rev-en-yew Canada or what? How do you know how much I got? Or ain’t? This here is Cape Breton pal, and you got to deal with me, not the revenooers.

Gord: It’s not the money buddy. There isn’t a 67 Dodge anywhere in Cape Breton. Leastwise one that got a transmission on it that’s not rusted to dust.

Al: Look. I drove all the way out here, cause the guys at Harvey’s Shell said you got everything. They even showed me a calendar you sent out. It says, ‘We got everything.’ And now you tell me you haven’t got a transmission for a 67 Dodge. How come your poster doesn’t say ‘Everything but a transmission for a 67 Dodge?’

Gord: What are you doin with a 67 Dodge anyway? That piece of junk shouldn’t be on the road. If I sold you a transmission for it, I could be charged by the cops with accessory to murder. Yours.

Al: So! You think I haven’t got the money. And you think you know better than I do about what I should or shouldn’t do. What is this, ‘The First Church of Automobile Morality?’ Just sell me that transmission and let me outta here.

Gord: OK. I’ll sell it to ya but don’t you tell anyone that I did. I don’t wanna have to answer for helpin you get that piece of junk back on the road. <pause> Here it is. That’ll be $185 plus tax.

Al: $185. Are you crazy? I knew I shudda known better. I can get one almost new over to Bras D’Or for half that. See ya round. Ya crook.

At the Grocery Store

Arnold: Are you the manager?

Manager: Yes sir, I am. Thank you for shopping at Sob-laws. How may I help you?

Arnold: I’m here looking for dog food.

Manager: Well, we have lots of that. In fact we have a special on this week. Just over there.

Arnold: I saw your special. But it’s only for dogs with no name. Says so right on the package. ‘No Name Dog Food.’  My dog’s got a name. I calls him ‘Spot.’

Manager: No, no sir you misunderstand. That is what we call a ‘generic’ product. ‘No Name’ means that the product doesn’t have a name.

Arnold: But my dog wouldn’t know that! He’d see that big package dumped in the house. And he’d be on to it right off. He used to think he was adopted you know, but I finally got him off that.  Now if I show up with No Name Dog Food, he’ll think that I been lyin’ to him all these years about his name. You want me to have a mentally ill dog on my hands?

Manager: Sir, I think I can see your point. Do you happen to know the other grocery store just two blocks down the street…..the one with the big new flashy sign on it that calls itself the largest grocery store east of Montreal? Yes? Great. Will you just go down there and ask to see the manager personally. His name is Freddy. He’ll be happy to give you just what you want. Tell him I sent you.

At Billy’s Garage

Billy: Yeah. I’ll put er in for ya. Cost ya 300 bucks. Cash.

Al: But the transmission only cost me 85 bucks – thanks to a guy in Bras D’Or who’s not a crook like the East Bay wrecker who wanted $300. And you want more than three times that to put it in? Look that thing cost original about a thousand. It’s a prime piece of work. Clean as a whistle. All you gotta do is drop her in and tighten a couple of nuts. Take you what, 2, 3 hours? If the wrecker can give me $100 off on the transmission you should be able to knock down the installin’ to one and a quarter.

Billy: I got expenses. And I’m busy. Got 12 cars lined up in the yard. See? And if you want that transmission in it’ll cost ya. You can go down the road to the dealer if ya want. And they’ll want $800. Up front. Just to open the bonnet.

Al: Ok. can ya start right now?

Billy: Right now?! I tole ya I got 12 cars lined up in the yard. Bring her in tomorrow.

(Later) At Billy’s Garage

 Al: Whaddaya mean it’s the wrong transmission?

Billy: I’ll spell it out for ya Al. W-R-O-N-G. It don’t fit.

Al: But that tranny cost me good money over Bras D’Or way. Guy promised me. Said it was just took out two weeks ago. Even had ‘67 Dodge’ written on it in white paint.

Billy: Yeah. I seen the paint. And what I’m seein’ is a transmission for a ‘86 Chrysler.

Al: Well can ya, like, fix it?

Billy: One’s two feet shorter than the other Al. And besides, the reverse is gone in this one. And second’s about to go. Show me the one in your car and we can compare them.

Al: Well, there’s no transmission in the Dodge Billy.

Billy: Well where is it? Maybe we can fix it. What you got here is just no good.

Al: There was no transmission when I got the car. Guy took $100 off cause it didn’t have a transmission.

Billy: You bought a car without a transmission?

Al: Well I got a real good deal.

Billy: Look Al. You go back to that guy and get your money back. Or you go to a wrecker, and get the right transmission. And then you come back here, and I’ll put her in. For 300. Cash.

Al: But the only one on the Island is owned by a guy over in East Bay. And, I sorta insulted him.

Billy: Well you better go over there and eat a little crow Al baby. Cause this little Dodge ain’t goin nowhere without the right parts.

At The Wrecker’s

Al: Whaddaya mean $600? You tole me you’d sell me that for $185 just a week ago.

Gord: Well since then I found out this is the only one left on the Island. So it’s worth lots. And sides, I got someone comin’ over to look at it. Tomorrow.

Al: Listin buddy. I’m not payin’ any 600 lousy bucks for a second hand piece of junk. But I’ll tell ya what I’ll do. I’ll give ya $50 and throw in a beautiful transmission for an 86 Chrysler. Whadda ya say. Even-steven? That’s almost 20 years newer than the one I want.

Gord: Well lemme look at it. Hmmmm. So where’d ya get this?

Al: Got it from a guy that runs a classic car restoration company. He’s brilliant. Makes millions on this stuff.

Gord: Did he tell ya that reverse is gone? And second’s about shot?

Al: Whaddaya talkin about? That is in prime condition. Got a buddy who fixes cars who said ya could put that in and go, like in about 30 minutes.

Gord: The only place you’re gonna go with this transmission is nowhere. And it ain’t comin’ here either. Now you gonna give me $600 or what?

Al: How about 400?

Gord: One more minute and I’m goin up to eight.

Al: D’ya take Master Card?

At Billy’s Garage

 Billy: So. You went out there and did the right thing and got the right transmission. Good for you. So I’ll get right on it.

Al: But listen Billy, I paid a lot of money for that thing and I need a break.

Billy” I”ll give ya a break Al. You pay me $300 right now, and I won’t break your arm.

Al: OK, OK. Here’s the money.

Billy: You’re doin’ the right thing with this transmission. In a few hours, you’ll have the best installed transmission on a ’67 Dodge on Cape Breton Island.

Al: I knew I could count on you Billy. You’re the best.

Billy: I’m the only one you can trust Al, and that’s why I’m telling you right up front that I’m gonna give that car a full goin’ over after I put the transmission in. When she leaves here bye, she leaves in good shape.

At the Wrecker’s

 Freddie: So didja get rid of that – tell me again Gord – ’67 Dodge transmission?’ Ya know ya really break me up with that.

Gord: Yep. That transmission – whatcha call yer ‘generic product’ – designed to fit, with a little work – just about every Ford, GM and Chrysler product put out over the last 40 years – will do the job just fine. Listen Freddie, roll up another one to the front yard will ya.

At the Tavern

 Bobby: So what’ll we put on the stamps?

Billy: What stamps?

Bobby: The new Cape Breton stamps. You know. Like we talked about.

Billy: We can’t put stamps out Bob. We’d have to be….independent.

Bobby: Yeah!? Well let’s do that then.

Billy: That would, you know, like take a lot of work.

Bobby: Oh yeah. I guess it would. Well let’s just pretend anyway.

Billy: Pretend what?

Bobby: That we were, like, you know….independent. And we were in charge of the stamps. What would we put on ‘em?

Billy: Well I got one idea about what we don’t wanna do. I wouldn’t put Allan J. MacEachen or Dave Dingwall on them.

Bobby: Me neither. I don’t want any politicians on my stamps anywhere, anyhow. I want birds and things.

Billy: ‘Birds and things?’

Bobby: Yeah. You know. Like flamingoes. And penguins. And stuff.

Billy: But we don’t have them things here. They’re from away.

Bobby: So what? We use stamps with the Queen on them. And she’s from away.

Billy: I think you just don’t get it Bobby. If we’re gonna have Cape Breton stamps, then they gotta have a Cape Breton theme. Like something that means something to people here.

Bobby: Oh I get it. So we’ll just use UIC stamps on our letters then.

At Billy’s Garage

 Al: So. She fixed now?

Billy: I got good news and bad news.

Al: Alright, so what’s the good new?

Billy: That transmission’s in there and she’s gonna hum for a century.

Al: OK. So what’s the bad news?

Billy: Well that’s a truly beautiful transmission, but the car won’t start. Was she runnin’  before?

Al: I tole you. I bought her without a transmission. And no, I didn’t try to start her.

Billy: Well I think the engine’s seized. You want it fixed?

Al: What’ll that cost me?

Billy: Well I got an engine out back that’ll work. Made for that model and year. Let you have er for about a grand.

Al: A grand! I only paid 350 fer the damn car in the first place. And add on what you and that wrecker guy hit me up for. And the guy in Bras D’Or that I couldn’t find.

Billy: Well what do you want to do? I’m busy. I got 12 cars in the yard.

Al: I can’t afford a grand. I been outta work for three years.

Billy: I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I think the rear end is pretty good on this car. I’ll give you 50 bucks for it. But you gotta haul the body away.

Al: How am I gonna haul that away? On my back?

Billy: I’ll do it for ya for fifty dollars. Take it or leave it.

Al: I’ll tell ya what I’m gonna do Billy. I’m takin’ out my transmission. And I’m takin’ the rear end. And I’m takin’ the radio and seat covers. And I’m leaving the rest of that pile of crap right here in your yard. You can keep yer 50 bucks. And stick the rest of it in your rear end if that’ll make you feel good.


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