The first come-from-away
By Ryan Van Horne 23 September 2017 Share this story
Note: Not historically accurate. The Mi’kmaq were the first settlers of Nova Scotia. The Trogs are a fictional people. Sort of.
Somewhere in ancient Nova Scotia. A person comes riding over a hill on a bicycle and approaches a Trog struggling to get a wagon out of a quagmire on a dirt road.
CIEFE: Ola, mi amigo!
CIEFE: Oh, you speak English? I said “hello.” My name is Ciefe what is your name?
CRANK: Uh, my name Crank. What your name again?
CIEFE: Ciefe, it’s like if you pronounce the letters C, F, and A, but with an emphasis on the F.
CIEFE: Sort of. You just need to emphasize the F, see-EFF-ay, like that.
CIEFE: Close enough. So, you seem to be having some difficulty. Can I help you?
CRANK: Yeah, my wagon stuck.
CIEFE: I see that. It’s very muddy here and the road is in terrible shape.
CRANK: Yeah, square wheels. [Points at the wheels, and then at the road which is full of pockmarks]. They hurt road.
CIEFE: Square wheels! You mean you haven’t switched to round wheels yet?
CRANK: No, we like square ones. It hilly here and things don’t roll away when you have square wheels.
Along comes another Trog, who makes a friendly grunt toward Crank but casts a suspicious eye at Ciefe.
GRONK: Crank, who this?
CRANK: He CFA. He come from over mountain. Talk funny, not like us.
GRONK: Look at wheels. Funny round wheels and only two.
The two Trogs share a hearty laugh as if Gronk has delivered the ultimate zinger.
CIEFE: What? Have you two have never seen a bicycle?
CIEFE: A bicycle. Some people just call them bikes, you might find the shorter version easier to remember.
GRONK: That not a wagon!? You can’t ride that on road. Road for wagons, not bikes. You want ride bike, build bike road.
CIEFE: We do have bike roads where I live, do you have any here?
CRANK: No, no bike roads, that cost money. We poor.
CIEFE: I see. How much do you spend repairing all the damage caused by square wheels?
GRONK: Lots, but that paid for by wagon tax.
CIEFE: Wagon tax? What’s that.
CRANK: Tax we pay to use wagons on road.
CIEFE: Oh, so you do pay for the repairs to the road?
GRONK: No, I said wagon tax pay for it.
CIEFE: But you pay the wagon tax?
CIEFE: And the wagon tax pays for repairs to the road caused by the square wheels?
CIEFE: So, you do pay for the repairs, you just do it indirectly.
CRANK: I told you, we not pay for repairs.
CIEFE: OK, calm down. Look, don’t you think it would be smarter to switch to round wheels though?
CIEFE: Well, they would cause less damage to your roads.
CRANK: But then wagon would roll away. It too hilly here. I told you that.
CIEFE: Yes, you mentioned that, but you could put a brake on them. I can show you how.
GRONK: Hey! Why you want to break our wagons?
CIEFE: No, I don’t want to break them, I want to put a brake on them.
CRANK: What difference?
CIEFE: If I break them, they won’t work. If I put a brake on them, it will stop them from rolling away.
GRONK: Ha-ha-ha-ha! How you do that? Flatten hills? You not strong enough for that.
Crank joins in again as the two delight in peals of laughter.
CRANK: Gronk, you funny guy. Hey, CFA, why you not laugh? Gronk made good joke.
CIEFE: It wasn’t that funny.
GRONK: Hey, CFA! If you don’t like my jokes, go back where you come from.
CIEFE: Oh, but I’m going to university here, and I’ve fallen in love with this place. I’m planning to stay after I graduate and apply some of the new ideas I’ve learned in my program.
CRANK: We not need new ideas. We just need less rain so square wheels don’t get stuck in mud so easy.
CIEFE: You’ll be waiting a long time for that, amigo. I suggest you try some new ideas, just explore the world a bit, and see what’s working elsewhere.
GRONK: That not mean they work here.
CIEFE: Why wouldn’t they?
CRANK: It very rainy. Salty fog. Leaders say new ideas get rusty.
CIEFE: That’s loco. If they get rusty, it’s only because they don’t get used. Hasta luego, gringos.
This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.
Ryan Van Horne is a reporter, photographer, columnist, and editor based in Halifax.
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