Wes Funk, novelist

Excerpt from Frostbite                                                                                                     Wes Funk

"Twyla sure enough is back in these parts." Deck's father looked at him hard. "Came out here a few months ago. Said she's had enough of big city life. Said she wants to finish raising her kids out in rural Saskatchewan. Besides that, her folks finally split. Twenty years too late, but they took the plunge. Her old man stayed here on the farm and that crazy mother of hers got herself a condo in Prince Albert.
Twyla's been helping' with the move."

Deck looked around the garage, found a banged-up stool and pulled it out. He sat. "Wow," was all he said.

"Yep," Edwin replied. "Must be rough, packin' up her mother's things and all. The old lady's still the wingy old bat she always was. Can't say I blame Grimard for wantin' 'er gone. So... how's life in the Toon, Son?"

"Not bad."

"Seein' anyone?"

"Uh... not anymore. Dad, what do you think of gay people?"

The old man applied the blue paint to the underside of the birdhouse, squinting. "Holy Dinah, Son! What are you trying to tell me? I know you've had a rough time lately but stick with what you already Know, Boy!”

Deck busted up laughing. "Jeez, Dad. I'm not gay! But it turns out Marla is. That's why she kicked me out. Discovered she prefers women."

Edwin plopped the paint brush aside, and sort of sagged against the counter. "Oh my. That is a pickle! Ain't nothin' wrong with anything anyone does in their own bedroom, just as long as no one gets hurt." He removed his bifocals and rubbed his eyes. "You and Marla never did look right as a twosome, if you ask me. Some couples just look like they belong side-by-side, some don't. You two always seemed... awkward together. Know what I mean?"

"I guess."

"Twyla's writin' for the local paper. She's workin' at the grocery store a couple days a week. She'd be there today. I mean... if you wanted to see 'er, that's where she'd be."

~~~

Deck eased his car into one of several empty stalls that lined the main drag of town. Nothing ever changed. The same rusted Orange Crush logo was on the Chinese café. The same putrid mint-green siding was on the post office. The same smashed glass in the sign over the grocery store. The grocery store! That's where his father said she'd be working. Deck looked at the short shopping list his mom had slipped him—milk, cheese, raisins—he wondered if his mom truly needed these items or were his parents setting something up. He climbed out of the Cadillac and powered back a cigarette before he even realized he'd sparked it up the lighter. The wind was chilly—he smoked fast—he'd forgotten his gloves and toque back at the farm.

The inside of the shop was much like he remembered it too—three orderly, well-stocked aisles complete with dairy, produce and even a small deli. The fluorescent lights were humming, the tiled floor was sparkling clean.

"Need help? You look like you do?" The voice was unfriendly and not familiar.

Deck spun around to face an older heavyset lady in a grocery smock. "Uh... yes, I do need a few things. But... I'm actually looking for Twyla Grimard. Is she... workin' today?"

The woman turned and attacked a shelf of dish-soap with a price gun. "The far aisle. You'll see her there unpacking boxes."

A jolt rippled through Deck's belly as he crossed the store. He could feel eyes upon him, though he didn't recognize any faces—three different older women—all taking a gawk at him but pretending they weren't. Third aisle. She wasn't difficult to spot at all. Twyla Grimard. The only one there.