A Stop in Lower Economy

It is probably time for another of these. I have about twenty more on this theme, but am afraid to use them too often. This is by John Barnstead. It’s long and shaggy. I’ll bet he forgot he wrote it.

It hasn’t been much more than an hour and a half since the blue and silver bus left the Acadia Lines Terminal on Almon Street headed (eventually) for Boston – it runs as an express between Halifax and Truro, but then takes a leisurely swing west and south for a bit before heading off to New Brunswick. The roads in this part of the province are particularly ill-repaired, the denizens of the area having voted against Doctor Savage in the last election (only the oldest among the Patronage-at-Large might be expected to raise an eyebrow, but yes: Nova Scotia’s Premier really IS Doc Savage…), and so neither Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat nor his faithful amanuensis and general factotum are particularly surprised when a sharp jolt and a panicked swerve bring them to an unscheduled halt just as they are passing through the little town of Lower Economy, the sole claim of which to any prominence outside the province is due to its fleeting mention in Elizabeth Bishop’s superb poem “The Moose”.

“It’ll be a while, folks — why don’t you stretch your legs a bit? There’s time enough for a smoke and a pint over at Father Perrin’s Pub…”

Pernicious and Barnstead stroll into the ramshackle gray clapboard house the bus driver has pointed to, and are shocked by the splendour which greets their eyes. From the outside the building is utterly nondescript, but inside someone has over the course of many years constructed with loving attention to detail a facsimile of an English Pub: from the hand-painted porcelain pulls marked “Buller’s pottery” to the incredible selection of beverages (ranging from Courage Ltd.’s Imperial Russian Stout, a favourite of the Barnstead family in Nova Scotia for over two hundred years, through strong Suffolk Greene King and Adnams’ Fisherman Brown Ale, Owd Rodger Barley Wine, Badger XXXX, J. Platt Puzzle Hall Home Brewed Stout, Young’s Special Ramrod Bitter, Bateman’s Wainfleet Nut Brown, and dozens of other imports from England, preserved (according to Father Perrin, who is Acadian and has a heavy French accent) by divine intercessory prayer for the voyage to Canada – to the usual Canadian brands and even a few bottles of American `beer’ – primarily Kentucky in origin – “Falls City” and “Oertel’s ’92” among them) — all is genially presided over by Father and a few monks from the monastery a little outside of town — the Pub being a source of steady income and the occasional postulant.

One of these latter has attracted the attention of Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat — he is a small man with a timid smile occasionally peering out from beneath a wispy moustache and thick spectacles, who quickly lowers his eyes if they make contact with those of a Patron. Pernicious nudges Barnstead, who inquires with Father Perrin about the history of the fellow.

“Ah, yes, brozer Gils… I’m afraid ‘e is not in our good graces at ze moment… ‘E was involved in a betting pool AGAINST ze baseball team of Montreal, and made contact wiz ze local group of people practicing ze Black Arts, and enlisted zer aid in ‘exing ze team. When ze fans found out zat evil additives ‘ad been put in ze champagne ze players splashed zemselves wiz after ze victory, zey wanted to take ME to court as ze responsible person and confiscate zis Pub…”

“I see,” replies Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat’s faithful amanuensis and general factotum. “I suppose they said something along the lines of “Let’s sue Pere – Frer Gils’ cabbalistic Expo allies doused us!”…

“Time to move on, folks!” came the voice of the busdriver. Pernicious the Musquodoboit Harbour Farm Cat and his faithful amanuensis and general factotum pay, leave, and Perrin’s warchest for sauce is better stocked in consequence…

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