The characters in this story belong to Alliance and no copyright enfringement is intended.
Rated: G, Holiday, Turnbull warning.
Warning: Some anti American sentiments are expressed. Note: Smarties are candy, rather like M&M's, only smaller and tastier.
It was very quiet at the Consulate. Turnbull stood like a statue, not even sweating despite the heat and bright sunshine. His expression was properly Mountie-like, stern and a little wooden.
The red serge was perfect and his stance was perfect. Nothing in either the uniform or in the body language of the person in it to indicate the seething emotions inside.
July 1. Canada Day. And nobody in this stupid, insular, uneducated, uncaring city cared. It was agony for him, to stand at attention, just as if this was any other day, knowing that three days hence, the city would explode in patriotic fervour. But didn't anyone realise that today was the national holiday for their neighbour to the north? Did any of them even realise that their neighbour to the north existed? Or that it was a country of its own, with every bit as much pride as this one?
He reflected in a brief moment of logic that he was being entirely unreasonable. This WAS the United States of America, after all. They had a right to be ignorant and insular if they wanted to. No, that wasn't fair. He had no real reason to be angry that foreigners wouldn't celebrate his country's holiday.
Except that the anger kept the homesickness at bay. For a moment, his stance faltered.
Unlike Constable Fraser, he hadn't been snatched from the wilds of the Northwest Territories where there was nothing but snow and cold. Unlike Constable Cooper, he wasn't a Prairie boy, used to miles of farmland. He was a city boy, born and bred in Ottawa. People might laugh at Ottawa and call it the most boring place in the world, but they were wrong. It was different from Chicago, but not boring.
Ottawa had galleries and museums and theatres and dance bars and world class shops and all sorts of things that you'd find in any American city. It did not have the dirt, filth, squalor or crime that Chicago faced every day. No, that was unfair - Ottawa did have its problems, just not on the same scale.
Ottawa would be celebrating Canada Day today. The streets from Sussex to Bank and Albert to Wellington would be closed to traffic, leaving the Hill open for the hundred thousand or more people who crowded to celebrate. At noon everywhere, people would stand up on buses and in cafes and on the streets to sing "Oh, Canada" and listen to the majestic carillon and bells toll out the hour.
He could almost smell the grease from the dozens of chip wagons and the spices of sausages barbequing. He could see the kids laughing and running away from anxious parents, all with maple leaves drawn in red on their faces.
He could hear the speech from the Prime Minister, in his idiosyncratic, fractured English and his equally idiosycratic French. And feel the passionate pride that always eminated from the man whenever he spoke about Canada.
He could hear the cheers and see the hundreds of flags waving. He could see the Snowbirds flying by and the concerts of Canadian artists, most of whom he'd never heard of.
Most of all, he could feel the grass under his feet as darkness fell and the fireworks started. The jokes, the drunken cheers, the impatience in waiting for the first bursts of colour in the sky over the Ottawa River.
Most of the year, Canadians went about their business, quietly smug in their knowledge that Canada was the best place in the world to live - the UN acknowldged that fact for the last four years. There was only one day in the year when Canada exploded into intense patriotic pride, leaving behind the reticence and restraint that so characterised the country, and that was today. And he was standing here, in front of a closed office, alone and feeling very, very homesick.
A few minutes more and he could go change out of the uniform and seek out the one or two places were homesick Canadians foregathered to cheer for their country. He almost sighed as a very familiar car pulled up to the curb. A green Riviera, driven by the Chicago cop who terrified him with his explosive temper.
The cop wasn't with Constable Fraser, which puzzled him. Why would he be here without Fraser?
"Hey, Turnbull." Ray greeted the Mountie statue. He was
used to talking to statues, so he didn't bother to wait for an acknowledgement. "Since you got stuck with standing out here today, I brought you a few things. I taped the Canada Day celebrations from Ottawa off cable. I thought you might want to see it." Ray pulled out a videotape, a package of sparklers, a small cake with a Canadian flag in icing and, to top it all off, a box of Smarties.
"It isn't much, but it beats not celebrating at all, right?" Ray set the stuff on the top step behind Turnbull. "And if you feel like it, c'mon over to my place about seven thirty. Fraser's feeling kinda low about being away from home, too, so we're having a Canada Day dinner. All Canadian dishes, although I drew the line on carabou."
With a jaunty semi salute, Ray jumped into his car and drove away, just in time to avoid seeing a grown Mountie sniffle. Turnbull glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then pulled out his handkerchief and blew his nose.
America has to be the nicest place in the world - next to Canada - he thought. He resumed his stance, but not before snatching up the box of Smarties and slippng a few into his mouth. The last few minutes of his shift were sweetened by the candy, but also by the warmth in his homesick heart.
-- Adrienne firstname.lastname@example.org