Cheeseburger Brown CHEESEBURGER BROWN: Novelist & Story-wallah
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A life-like adventure from Cheeseburger Brown

We were standing on the balcony sipping chilled white wine and watching the bats swoop out over our heads to eat bugs out of the sky. Littlestar was holding on to my belt as I leaned out over the yard and tried to fathom the future deck she was describing to me. "Who could we get to build such a deck?" I asked, craning my head out and making her moan about the potential for falling.

"Doesn't Rusty build decks?"

"Rusty? You mean Kuro5hin Rusty?" I asked, taking my seat again and furrowing my brow. "I guess so. I think so. You think we should ask Rusty to build our deck for us?"

"Why not?"

I rubbed my chin thoughtfully and sipped my wine. "That's just so crazy it might work. We'd have to fly his ass up from Maine, though."

"How much could that cost?"

I shrugged. "No clue. But you know, just yesterday a bunch of people were saying on Hulver's Site that if they found themselves in our backyard with a pile of lumber, we'd likely as not have a deck before too long. Free labour."

She nodded. "So maybe we should invite some people over, get Rusty out here, and have a deck-building party."

"That would be nifty," I agreed, two bats making a narrow miss of my head as they wheeled around the balcony. "The power of the Scooposphere expressed in meatspace!"

"Let's do it," said Littlestar.

And though the deck would not be built, it was with this seed that the notion of HuSistock was born.

Thursday 30 June 2005

I pulled up to the ticket dispenser at the airport parking building and spent an embarrassing couple of minutes trying to figure out how to lower the windows of my step-father Beurre d'Arachide's car. Then I gave up and opened the door against the machine, fishing my arm out awkwardly to grab the little paper tongue sticking out of it. The attendant, a young Tamil, looked over and giggled at my gymnastics. "What is Six Oh Six?" he wanted to know, pointing to the cardboard sign on the dashboard.

"Tomorrow's winning lottery numbers," I told him.

I then proceeded to sit in a traffic jam inside the parking building for the better part of an hour. Surly and bemused by bad signage, I was eventually able to park on the roof and find my way with some experimentation to the terminal. There I wandered around like an idiot, flashing my little cardboard sign at strangers and smiling hopefully.

"Matthew?" said somebody.

I reacted, for Matthew is my hu-mon name.

I did not have much trouble matching up the fellow walking toward me with the South Park avatar I'd seen, tipped off by the standard-issue IT Van Dyke beard. "Six Oh Six! My goodness how are you? I'm sorry I'm so late."

We shook hands and walked back to the parking building while I monologued semi-coherently about my adventures in the indoor traffic jam, and then we took turns hefting 606's impressively dense duffelbag as I led us along a merry chase in search of where I'd left the car. Exacerbating the situation was the fact that I couldn't remember what the car looked like, as I'd only gotten into it two hours earlier.

"Shit," I said as we stood on the roof and looked around. "I could've sworn I parked in Mickey."

The car was found and we slogged through holiday traffic back up north, cutting across Newmarket to avoid the worst of the cottagers and their godforsaken city-style driving. At the Bradford Beer Store we met up with Littlestar and Spacejack, and hefted into the trunk just under seven hundred dollars' worth of India pale ale.

"That's a lot of beer," noted 606.

Littlestar and Spacejack jumped in our purple Nissan and 606 and I followed them north to Gilford. As we rounded Colson's Hill the village spread out beneath us, the steeple of the church and the top of our belfry sticking up above the trees. We rounded the corner I saw 606 take in the old schoolhouse as we passed through the gate into the yard. "So," he declared with a charmed giggle, "you weren't making it all up."

"As real as veal," I said.

We all helped lug two of the unwieldly metal kegs into a blue plastic sleigh full of ice, and then Scarlet installed the last keg inside a device called the keginator -- a combination refrigerator and C02-driven tap on loan from a local Latvian summer camp. We sampled the pour and declared it good.

Spacejack's tent was the first to go up. I grilled up a couple of juicy, rare steaks and we ate at the picnic table by the firepit with Mlle. J. The sun dipped below the horizon and we were chased away by hordes of mosquitos who seemed to take a particular fancy to Spacejack.

We chatted and drank and cavorted in the Great Room until midnight, and then showed everyone to their beds (including Spacejack, whom we didn't have the heart to send out into the humid, sticky night when there were still beds available). Littlestar successfully dissuaded me from ringing the schoolhouse bell, even though I was excited to hear it after clambering out along the apex of the roof that morning to unhitch the restraining chains. A long and tropically hot day ended, and I passed out dreamlessly.

Friday 1 July 2005 - Canada Day

Since Mlle. J. has been staying with us I have become used to the idea of having to cover my nudity while I hop out to take a piss first thing come dawn, so that base was covered. Nevertheless, I was still too sleepy to really appreciate why there was a man sleeping in the drawing room and someone snoring in Littlestar's studio. Startled and mostly asleep I puzzled it out for a few seconds while 606 drew himself up into a foetal position and turned over. "Oh right," I mumbled to myself. "Geeks."

I rubbed my eyes and cinched my robe. HuSistock dawns!

After a cuppa tea I was dispatched in Beurre d'Arachide's Land Rover to fetch a handful of HuShi'ites from the Ein Stein pub where Littlestar, Scarlet and Slozo work. After a raunchy fight through holiday traffic broiling under a mean sun I arrived. I parked on the sidewalk and was fishing through the car for a shirt to put on when a dark-haired young man took a few steps toward me. "Hi?" he said.

"Hello!" I said, pulling a T-shirt over my head and thrusting out my hand. "I'm Matthew."

"I'm D____," he smiled as we shook hands. After a moment he added, "Or Driusan, I guess."

"Driusan!" I cried. "A pleasure to meet you! Did I pronounce your nick right? Did you just get here? Why don't we go inside and see who else has accumulated?" Together we passed down the steps into the shady interior and I immediately spotted 256's orange mohawk bouncing as he laughed beside misslake. Across from them was a stubble-headed, pale fellow who was saying something that was making everyone giggle. "Hello!" I called. "D____! C_____! How are you? And..."

"Ni," said ni, pushing his hand over the table to shake.

"A pleasure to meet you, ni," I sat down and pulled off my satchel with a sigh. "What a drive! Slozo, is there any way I can get a half-pint? The only hitch is that I don't own any money. Can we put it on, tab?"

Slozo pushed a full pint over the bar. "Forget about it."

Ni told us about life in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia while 256 drank coffee and laughed, kicking out his legs which were girdled by a wide, heavy-looking skirt of various hacked-together materials. When I'd drained my beer we piled into the Land Rover and cruised back north, out from under the smog-dome of our friendly neighbourhood megalopolis and into the exciting traffic-jams clogging the way across the Oak Ridges Morraine.

As we pulled up into the yard we spotted a big fellow unloading camping baubles and drinking bric-a-brac from the back of his silver car. I jumped out of the Land Rover and jogged up, my hand outstretched. "Hello! Who are you?" I grinned.

"I'm S____," he said, pumping my hand with a strong grip. "Gedvondur."

He had a lightly frosted goatee and sparkling little eyes. "Where'd you come up from?" I asked him.

"Wisconsin," he said.

"Jesus Murphy Brown, thanks for coming!"

And so next came a fellow bathed in five o'clock shadow, tanned to a ruddy tone, and wearing a little red cap like somebody out of The Life Aquatic. "Sir Cheeseburger!" he hailed me with a broad grin. He shook my hand warmly, pulled me into a hug and introduced himself: "Aphrael."

So too janra and MostlyHarmless, representing the province of British Columbia as a tag team until Greener arrived in his ailing car. MostlyHarmless had a broad oiled cotton hat a bit like Indiana Jones, and an impressive-looking camera around his neck. Janra was thin and fair and a little bit freckled, permanently showing us her teeth in a seemingly fixed smile. What a jolly girl!

I hopped up on a short concrete piling and made an announcement about fireworks, which basically amounted to this: "Anyone have a few bucks to kick in so we can blow some stuff up real good?"

A dozen people rushed forward and pushed colourful Canadian bills into my hands. "Holy shit!" I said. "That ought to do the trick."

So ni and I drove into town and spent everything I'd collected and then a little bit more, cruising the strip of fireworks stalls in Bradford while listening to the Beastie Boys' Ill Communications. We shopped through boxes propped up under a tarp at the side of the highway, trying to select a nice variety for the evening's show. "Would it be bad karma to get a burning schoolhouse?" ni asked. I thought not, so we got one. We also got jumbo sparklers and many Roman candles, as requested. We asked if the proprietor would be proffering fireworks over the weekend for Independence Day; he said many people had asked the same thing and he intended to suggest the idea to his boss. All signs point to yes.

So armed we returned to the schoolhouse compound, which had blossomed into a village of tents. Old Oak and Aphrael were building a support structure off the side of the porch to support Aphrael's hammock, sweating under a mean sun. Scarlet arrived with two nice, very talented boys from a band called King Tobias and with their patient direction I set up the speakers, mics and powered mixing board rented from Long & McQuaide. The stage was made of pressboard on 2x4 slats, arrayed under three gazeboes lashed to the gas pipe along the northern face of our old schoolhouse. Beyond was the hill of tents, the dip beneath with a few late-comer tents, to the right the ring of stones enclosing the fire-pit and the pegged-ropes outlining the volleyball court.

Littlestar called. The reception was terrible. "Can you hear me now?" I shouted, my finger in my opposite ear. Millman's flight had apparently been cancelled. She was at the airport at a loss. I checked my gmail and called her back, reporting that Millman would be along in a couple more hours. Littlestar used the waiting time to pick up Slozo's friend J____ from the city.

Aphrael and I walked down the road to the village pizza shop and placed our order for much pizza, which had been promised to the owner in exchange for the use of his parking lot throughout the long weekend for our vehicular overflow. Aphrael told me a bit about California while we waited, and we tried to find the historical picture of our schoolhouse in the pizza shop but somebody had moved it or taken it down. The Serbian pizza shop lady gave us a discount because ni's vegan pizza contained no cheese, but I think she double-charged us for pepperoni.

Curly-haired Greener had arrived exhausted upon our return, and so we inserted pizza into him to revive him. He told us about how he had been chased by a vicious cold front halfway across the continent, drowning him in a wet chill from Saskatchewan to Thunder Bay. Then his car broke down. Many dollars later Greener had finally rolled into our yard in Gilford...and unbeknownst to anyone his car was carelessly pissing brake fluid into the grass.

I let the pony-sized dogs out of their fenced-in zone beneath the copse of trees so they could run around and stretch their legs a bit. They stampeded across the compound to shove their noses into various people's crotches. Persephone ran in circles and tried to tackle people playing frisbee, and then Kaija snuffed her way into 256 and misslake's tent and ate then elastics out of misslake's hair while she slept. When sufficient chaos had been sowed the dogs were corralled back into their pen and given treats.

My sister Xena arrived on her boyfriend's motorbike. Much beer was poured. The band settled in and laid into their set, starting off slow and bluesy and then twanging it up folk-rock styles as they got their motors running. I set up a bank of rainbow lights behind them, to add dazzle to the funk. My soon-to-be-brother-in-law stuck flaming tiki torches into the lawn, spraying burning oil hither and yon in his drunken deftlessness.

Littlestar and Millman arrived, and more beer was poured. Fireworks were unleashed, with pop and sizzle and bang. "All hail Canadia!" shouted someone.

The sun set and the night cooled. Slozo started a blazing bonfire with the railroad ties and telephone poles we had...acquired...for the purpose, and everyone reconvened around the firepit, clapping and hooting whenever the band up on the hill paused for breath. I bummed American tobacco off the unswervingly generous cheesehead Gedvondur and he told me about the world of technical writing while we threw back shots of peppermint schnapps.

I think it might have been 606 who spotted the headlights sweeping across the driveway. "Somebody new!"

I sprinted across the HuSistock compound, through the gate and out into the driveway where a convertible had pulled up. A large shadow exploded out of the backseat and skidded into a graceful face-plant in the gravel. He bounced up a moment later and extolled the sky with shaking fists and a pleading yowl, "Oh my God I'm in Soviet fucking Canuckistan! Holy fuck! We're finally here!"

I shook my head and smiled. "Atreides!" I called, and pulled him into a hug.

"I can't believe we're finally fucking here!" he rejoiced, jumping up and down.
"Holy shit! Mister Cheeseburger, can I ask you something?"


"Do you have a sink where I can wash the blood and gravel out of my palms?"

"Right this way."

LilFlightTest and nstenz were greeted next, weary and stiff from long driving -- a situation ni set to correcting by the administration of a couple of blazingly strong drinks. Atreides rinsed his wounds and then set to introducing himself enthusiastically to everyone he could find, working his way up one side of the Great Room and down the other. When I got back outside with him a crew of helpful HuShi'ites had assisted LilFlightTest and nstenz in erecting their tent in the deep country dark of the yard.

Our friend P___ arrived, and set to proffering marijuana and psychotropic mushrooms. He did a brisk business, then folded his money away and started drinking.

Swift clouds rolled in, blotting out the stars and blowing out the stale heat. The bonfire piled higher, the babble of conversation interrupted by the meatspace equivalent of rating a comment up: laughter.

I begged off before too long, trying to ensure that I would have enough juice to keep me going for the coming days. Littlestar and I walked out to on the balcony before we bedded down, watching the group roar and gibber around the bonfire for a while from above.

"It's just like I imagined," I said, leaning on the railing.

"Me too," she said. "Don't lean on the railing."

Down below Atreides shouted something profane and everyone laughed, fireworks cracking and echoing in the distance.

Saturday 2 July 2005

I awoke alone. Rubbing my eyes and yawning I sat up and tried to remember why I was so sore. Then I heard car doors slamming outside, and the chatter of voices. Oh yeah -- HuSistock.

I pulled on a pair of shorts and was fishing my necklace over my head as I stepped out onto the balcony to survey the scene. I blinked in the sunlight and smacked my lips blearily, leaning into the railing. Somebody shouted from below, "Behold: the king steps out to look over his realm! Cheeseburger!"

I rolled my fists in my eye sockets and blinked again. A red-headed girl and a goateed guy stood on the lawn looking up at me. I noticed that his T-shirt said I EAT PUSSY, letting me identify the couple quickly thanks to ucblockhead's South Park avatar key. "Rizzo!" I yelled. "Molasses!"

"Get your lazy ass down here, Cheeseburger!" bellowed Molasses. Rizzo snickered.

Experiencing an uncomfortable flashback to Monty Python's Life of Brian I zipped up my fly sheepishly and headed downstairs. Atreides was building horse-shoe pits and ni was drinking and grinning. LilFlightTest was at the grill doing up some scrambled eggs and MostlyHarmless was taking pictures of the rapidly expanding tent village. I took a turn cooking breakfast sausages brought by LilFlightTest and nstenz while receiving a pointed critique on my driving directions from Molasses.

"Is that a joint behind your ear?" asked Rizzo, squinting at me.

"I admit that it is," I said.

"You're a bad man," Rizzo told me seriously. Then he held out a lighter. "That should be on fire."

Molasses and I then took a baked wander along the meandering path Old Oak and I have cut through the outfield. We didn't make it all the way to the creek, and a couple of times I got turned around on account of the marijuana cigarette we had just smoked. On the way back she asked me to point out the "bare feet risk area" I had warned everyone about, and I showed her how its borders were demarked by little plastic butterflies on lengths of wire stuck into the ground. "Always remember," I intoned darkly, "at HuSistock butterflies mean danger."

Atreides and Littlestar played a match of horseshoes while Driusan and I spectated and drank beers. At MostlyHarmless' suggestion I set up the wireless access point donated by ti dave on the porch, sheltered by Popsicle's little yellow parasol. 606 asked for my Apple iRipoff camera and then set up a webcam taped to a speaker stand, uploading regular stills to mns' domain (thank you kindly, mns). Molasses and Rizzo's netted-enclosed gazebo was erected for shade, and we sat under it to watch some volleyball comedy involving janra, Slozo, 256, Littlestar and others.

The boys from King Tobias emerged from comatose sleep sometime after lunch. LilFlightTest told me one of them had spent part of the evening barfing into the firepit. "What kinda fun did you boys have last night, eh?" I asked.

"Magic mushrooms," they told me, smiling weakly and looking faint.

"Did you have a good time?"

"Hell yeah!" said the first boy. The second boy blinked his magnified eyes behind thick glasses and belched. "Mostly," he said.

After I'd helped load Scarlet's SUV with their gear I found P___ peeling himself off of the couch in the Great Room. He smacked his lips and frowned. "Mushrooms and beer. Nice taste to wake up to. I feel like I just gave a camel a nut-job."

Scarlet pulled away, off to drop off last night's band and then to pick up tonight's entertainment. Mlle. J. wandered out with Popsicle, who immediately recognized 256 from the last time she'd seen him and thereafter followed him around like a groupie. "Wo my friend D___?" she asked whenever he was out of sight. "Wo my friend go?"

Gedvondur cleaned and oiled our shearer and then gave misslake a haircut, thereby reducing her need for elastics. Ni put on an orange bandana that make him look like a gansta. Burgers of beef and curd were grilled. I got in trouble from Littlestar for forgetting to put out the potato salad and coleslaw, and then she scolded me for wearing no sunscreen. Janra gave me some of hers.

In the afternoon Old Oak took eight or nine folks out for a pleasure cruise through windy Cook's Bay on Lake Simcoe. Spacejack and others walked down to the village's diminutive beach for a swim. Littlestar and I drove into Barrie and picked up Commodore Redacted from the bus station.

For dinner we had chili, both meated and not. LilFlightTest prepared the delicious beer brats and Slozo barbecued them. My brother Isosceles Cat and his pal T___ arrived with Scarlet and set up their gear for generating live electronica music, which counter-intuitively required a lot more equipment than the boys who had brought dozens of instruments. Isosceles Cat wore a miner's helmet, and studied over his console as the day waned. The rest of his crew pitched their tents between the horseshoe pits, filling out the yard.

The next time I rounded the corner toward the front yard more people had arrived: ti dave, ammoniacal and calla! Ti dave being one of the guests many people had an interest in talking with, he was quickly surrounded by a knot of yammering geeks. "One question! One question!" shouted Atreides, pushing in through the scrum. "You know what question I have for you, tea dave."

"What question is that?" asked ti dave, regarding the impassioned Texan with a raised brow and a smirk.

Atreides shouted for silence and then asked whether or not there was a real human being behind the postings of the infamous sweetie. Ti dave chuckled, and then excused himself on the grounds that he needed to get a drink in him. Atreides sighed, and the scrum dissolved.

Millman, Atreides and I started hauling out wood for a fresh bonfire, which was dubbed "the editorial fire." Up on stage Littlestar was singing one of the vocal tracks live from a multi-layered piece by my brother's band, Syntax Error. While 606 stayed up on the hill to enjoy the show at close proximity, most of the group wandered down to the firepit as the evening chill settled into the air. A bottle of Sambuca was passed around. Rizzo and Atreides ate magic mushrooms, as did my brother's crew, giving them all a share of inspirational delusions about the interconnectedness of all things. "Holy shit!" screamed Atreides, his powerful voice carrying out into the fields, "I'm on fucking mushrooms!"

Ni put back an impressive squadron of drinks as he sat by the fire in a long black coat that made him look a little bit like the dude from Hellraiser, except without the pins stuck in his face. He also bore a passing resemblance to the bald guys who mop up after the Guild Navigator in the David Lynch version of Dune. He was detailing the drinking prowess of some of the English HuShi'ites he knew, which prompted me to ask about a rumour I'd heard about stringy and tasteless British beef. "I tried not to eat while I was there," reported ni. "The things you've heard are true, and worse."

Molasses constructed a device out of bong-parts and a 2 litre pop bottle. She called it a "lung" and said its purpose was to force ridiculous quantities of marijuana smoke into a human being in one fell squeeze. This effect was then demonstrated, with myself as a subject. "Thanks kindly," I croaked.

There was a lot of laughing, especially when ti dave got going or when Atreides decided to mount his mushroom pulpit to shout colourfully about whatever happened to be on his mind at that particular second. "Let me just fucking assure you," he hollered; "Me on fucking mushrooms is just like me fucking drunk, only LOUDER AND MORE FUCKING PROFANE!"

And on and on and on. It became a blur. My sides hurt from laughing. Eventually Littlestar and I stumbled back up into the schoolhouse and, after watching the bonfire from afire for a while, climbed gratefully into bed and passed out like the dead.

Sunday 3 July 2005

Frere Cheeseburger, Frere Cheeseburger,
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matinas, sonnez les matinas:
Ding-dang-dong! Ding-dang-dong!

I awoke to the sound of a bell violently peeling, knocking against the side of the belfry and sending vibrations through the wood of our four-poster bed. A moment later a cluster of HuShi'ites burst into my bedroom shouting, "Wake up Cheeseburger!"

I rubbed my eyes and sat up, making some attempt to conceal my nudity. "Moo?"

"We've been up for hours!" cheeered Molasses. "We've already had breakfast and everything. Get out of bed, Cheeseburger!"

"Fock," I commented, yawning. Scarlet woke up from inside the closet and threw me a pair of underwear. "Thanks," I said.

Out in the yard Gedvondur had plugged his MP3 library into the PA system and was thereby serenading us all as folks sat in small knots to snack and drink and chatter. I passed by a circle of debate concerning johnny's freaky mind as expressed in Acts of the Apostles and then I got into a discussion about 256's Lysergically Yours. I downed just one beer before I learned that I was expected to truck Isosceles Cat's music equipment back into the city, so we hopped in the Land Rover and talked about Simon of Space while we sat in traffic.

Isosceles had given the keys to his wife, whom had made for home earlier. Due to her evening of magic mushrooms she had crashed hard, and we could not rouse her to open the door. Thus, instead of just hauling all of the gear to the lobby I was obliged to help my brother lug it up three flights of stairs to his door, so he could wait in vigil with it until his wife woke up or he succeeded in waking her up. This was especially enjoyable since the stairwell had southern exposure; thus, as we ran up and down the stairs bathed in sweat we did not suffer from want of sunlight. On the way back through Bradford I stopped to get fireworks for Independence Day, but all of the highway-side stalls were gone. Bastards.

Broiled and hungry I hooked into a car with a Bradford-West Gwillimbury bumper sticker and composed the first half of this diary. I woke up at home to see a pair of large, bouncing breasts outside my window. "Cheeseburger!" shouted Molasses again.

I turned down the CD player (Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade) and finally understood that I was to move my car so she could drive to Gilford Beach. I parked down at the pizza store next to Aphrael's car and walked back.

Rizzo and I shot the shit about special effects compositing and then we piled into a round of cars to drive up the highway to the Innisfil Indy for the HuSi500. I had to haggle a bit to get the group-price down to something almost reasonable, but we met with eventual success despite the fact that Aphrael lost his ticket. This was all sorted out between the Italian lady behind the counter and the wife-beater wearing white Hip Hop youth who supervised the track, and then we sat in our red karts and strapped on our helmets.

The all clear was given and we chugged out of the queue. I was off to a good start, passing MillMan, Slozo and Atreides early in the race, but as the laps went by I dropped further and further behind until I was last. I hooted and cheered as I wrenched the little thing around the hard corners, skidding across the asphalt and coming within inches of crashing into nstenz. Atreides and I fought for position for a while but he took it from me after clipping my car as we rounded a hairpin curve. I careened across the course and narrowly avoided T-boning MillMan. "Sorry!" I called.

In the end it was Slozo was claimed first prize (Littlestar will post the complete list of results), and me who took last. We met janra's sister at the track and then left MostlyHarmless and the rest of their party behind for more karting as the majority of us returned to the schoolhouse to resume drinking more beer.

We came upon the compound and found that we had been graced by a cameo from no less than the elusive HuSi edititrix me0w herself, smiling and dimpled with dark hair and a nose-ring as she sat beside her friendly boyfriend and politely refused any invitation to share in dinner. We sat under the gazebos and looked through digital pictures ni had taken of LilFlightTest's cleavage. A good time was had by all.

After another round of Canadians had been taken home in order to be up for work the next day by Scarlet ("Goodbye 256 and misslake! See you at HuSiTO Drinks!"), I joined Littlestar in the kitchen to chop vegetables for the evening's repast of steak, chicken, salad and scalloped potatoes. Molasses cooked eggplant for ni and calla.

"Wo my friend?" Popsicle wanted to know.

"He went home," I said.

"He come back?" she asked hopefully.

"Not today."

She frowned. "But I don't like it."

I gave her a hug. "Love can be cruel, cute-sauce."

After the slapstick tragicomedy of trying to cut our steaks with plastic knives a poker game started up in Molasses and Rizzo's screened gazebo. I wandered down to the firepit and ignited another blaze, pulling back the tarp to reveal the last of the firewood. In no time the flames were broad and high, flushing briefly brighter as I tossed in a box of paper HuSistock garbage.

I revisited the hill in order to make a short and ill-formed speech expressing my gratitude for everyone's attendance, generosity and charm. I was and remain blown away at the sweetness of everyone I met. Atreides initiated a hearty round of applause especially for Littlestar.

Calla, Molasses and I sat around the pit first, covering various subjects from Molasses' adoptive parents to calla's ex-husband's tenuous grasp on sanity and civility. Molasses told us about Peak's Island, where Rusty lives, and how the people there drive golf carts instead of cars. "Say, where is Rusty?" she asked suddenly. "I thought he was coming."

"Rusty optimist," I decided.

Janra had snuck up behind me, and she burst out laughing at that. "An optimist. I like it. That's perfect."

Ti dave and ammoniacal came over and took calla away for a spell, presumably to enjoy some mad threesome in their tent. Before they left they bickered about the propriety of an attached man eating chicken wings in a Hooter's restaurant, which was apparently the tail-end of a trial in progress in which ti dave was being persecuted for inappropriate lunching.

"Why did you even bring that up?" calla asked, annoyed.

"I was trolling you," claimed ti dave.

Just then another car pulled up on Gilford Road in front of the schoolhouse. I jogged over, reaching the gate in time to see a green taxicab from Barrie pull away. A stalky but unplump young man was standing at the curb, brushing down the front of his polo shirt and Dockers. He had short brown hair, slightly tussled. "Hello!" I called, startling him. "Welcome! Who are you?"

"My name is C____," he said quietly, playing with his watch as he walked over. His eyes flicked up briefly. "But some people call me rmg."

"Jesus Murphy Brown!"

A cry sounded out behind us as 606 won the poker game. "Is there somewhere I can tidy up?" asked rmg.

"By all means," I said, stepping back from the gate and gesturing to the compound. "Colour me shocked and tickled. You'll find a sink in the kitchen, up the porch."

"Thank you, Mr. Brown," he said.

I poured another beer and returned to the fire where ti dave was holding court on some subject, ni nearly falling off his chair as he actually gained some colour in his face from laughing so hard. Driusan was quiet, chatting locally. Atreides shouted over the fire at everyone. Gedvondur smoked and smoked. Janra and 606 were talking Scoop code, and then 606 pushed a wad of folded bills into my hand. "I won the poker pot. Take it," he insisted. "It isn't much."

"But you've already given!" I objected.

"Take it," he repeated. "It's the least I can do."

I took several more beers in quick succession, and then Driusan handed me a bottle of some kind which I drained. Littlestar and Scarlet arrived with marijuana cigarettes, which made us gigglier as the evening wore on. rmg took a seat on the periphery of the light and introduced himself to no one, quieting sipping from a canteen he produced from his own knapsack.

When all the stashes were spent Molasses retired her "lung" for good. The clouds slipped away and a golyrillion stars shone out, satellites crawling between them. I meant to try to steal a moment with ti dave for myself, but he slipped away with his entourage for more in-tent fuckery when I was too busy looking up. A few folks peered through my telescope and made appropriate oohs and aahs.

Sparklers blazed. More beer vanished. The laughter came easier and more frequently as we our ability to enunciate eroded. Driusan melted a liquor bottle in the fire on a long stick. Littlestar retired, then Scarlet and Slozo. One by one the people disappeared to their tents, determined to get one night of semi-decent rest before hitting the road the next day. I took a few terrible pictures.

"Hey 606," I said at one point. "You know who that is?"

"Isn't that your brother's friend?"

"No, that's rm-fucking-g."

"No way."


"You're fucking with me."

"I'm so not. Go ask him, fuck."

So we chatted with rmg for a while, and after some initial awkwardness I tried breaking the ice by saying how I had admired some of rmg's trolling gymnastics on K5 and HuSi. All he said was, "Of course. You have a discerning taste, Mr. Brown."

"I think you should introduce yourself to Gedvondur," suggested 606.

"Gedvondur's here?" said rmg, peering around the ring of chairs. "Where?" We pointed the big guy out. "He looks strong," considered rmg. "Maybe I should just lay low.

"I was just about to announce your presence, actually," I said.

Rmg snorted. "I'll deny it. Like 606 said, I'm your brother's friend. What's my name?"

"T___," supplied 606. "You're in an electronica band. You did mushrooms last night."

"See?" said rmg. "I even have backstory. I'm a Philistine with a narcotic problem."

I chuckled. "You do realize that anything you say here I get to render with proper capitals in my diary."

"If you insist. But I will deny ever having come."

I turned around to call Gedvondur over but he had already retired to his ample, three-room, America-sized tent. I sighed and held my tongue, exhausted and drunk and giddy. Rmg drained his canteen and stood up, wordlessly walking away into the dark. "Hey," I called, "do you have a tent?"

No reply.

I dragged a few more logs out and tossed them on the blistering fire, a column of sparks whorling up above the trees. 606 had disappeared, and so had ni. I drained my cup and staggered away toward my bed, the sun threatening to bloom on the eastern horizon. I do not even remember hitting the pillow.

Monday 5 July 2005 - Independence Day

"Hey, Matthew!"

I blinked and yawned. Gedvondur was sticking his head in through the bedroom door. "Hey, S_____," I mumbled. "Are you off?"

"Yeah, here. Proceeds from Spacejack's prints," he reported, stuffing a wad of folded bills into my hand. "See you online."

"Thanks for mumph-amumph," I murmured, lids threatening to close again. Gedvondur smiled and closed the door.

By the time I was ambulatory janra had gone off to catch her flight to work, and MostlyHarmless and nstenz were efficiently patrolling the compound in a fit of tidying up. Aphrael and Driusan ate magic mushrooms and sat under the gazebos smiling, their eyes glazed. Molasses and Rizzo began the messy and complicated process of repackulating the explosion of materiel they had brought with them, while nstenz wedged his and LilFlightTest's bags into the back his red convertible such as you'd need a shoe-horn to remove them. Atreides pushed down on the bags powerfully while nstenz perfected the alignment and tucked their corners into place. The whole dense package quivered like Jell-o.

I searched high and low but there was no sign of rmg. 606 shrugged. I also missed the departure of ti dave's party, which was a drag as I still had more to say to ti dave. Between Littlestar, Aphrael, Scarlet and myself we divided up the pool of people to be ferried into the city, or to the airport.

"I stink," I warned people, but they hugged me anyway. They said very sweet things to me and Littlestar. The tents came down to reveal our trampled lawn, the cars were packed, in then in threes and fours our guests began to dissipate. LilFlightTest and nstenz took Atreides (after he had made certain I had received one of the "Who See?" T-shirts sent courtesy of Hulver himself), the red convertible roaring off across the village and away.

Greener drove his car up on the hill to give Rizzo and Molasses' battery a jump, and then discovered that his brakes no longer functioned. Luckily he discovered this without crashing into anything. He headed down to Trotter's garage (old Trotter went to school in this very schoolhouse as a boy).

I took MostlyHarmless to the airport to catch his flight back to Vancouver. As we chatted a twist of leaden grey cloud descended over the city. Our conversation meandered. I remember telling him that even though this year has been my poorest professionally in my whole career, it has also been one of the most joyous, exciting years I've ever lived -- in no small part because of amazing experiences like HuSistock. Moments after I dropped him off the sky opened and unleashed a torrential rainpour, multiple forks of lightning stabbing out across the horizon at once. Thunder rumbled. "Good timing," I said to the rain.

Back at the schoolhouse Old Oak and Slozo were smoking Gedvondur's cigars under the gazeboes, walls of warm water pouring down between the gaps in the roofs. 606 helped me haul in the speakers and mixer inside and then loaded his stuff into Aphrael's car. The hammock came down, and so did Aphrael and Driusan, both of whom looked tired but merry. There was another round of hugging (enthusiastically by Aphrael, with some awkwardness with Driusan), and then the final group was driving away and we were waving.

Slozo, Old Oak, Scarlet, Littlestar, me and Greener.

Oh yeah -- Greener. "How's your car, man?"

"He says he'll get to it late this afternoon or tomorrow. So I guess I'm staying over."

Littlestar shrugged. "At least tonight you get a bed."

For dinner we had another round of steaks while outside it rained and rained and rained, tropical-sized bullets of water falling out of the sky like a bucket upended. The sun dropped unseen behind the wall of clouds. Scarlet and Slozo turned on some American death-porn TV show called CSI, and I did some concept drawings for work and then started pecking out the post you are reading now.

Littlestar and I went upstairs before the others, so we could shag like wild animals having been for several days deprived by the proximity of our sleeping guests. Amen.

Before going to sleep I stepped out on the balcony, and looked at the dark yard. There was no bonfire, or tiki torches, or gabbing groups -- just the random patter of rain from windblown branches. "I think the yard is always going to seem very empty to me, now," I said.

"Wha huzzah?" Littlestar mumbled from bed.

"Nothing," I said. I closed the door and climbed into bed beside her, snuggling against her warmth and feeling my aching body slowly relax. I spent a long time thinking about everyone I'd met, and everything I'd heard. With a big smile on my face I sank deeper into the pillow, dropping through the bottom of it and into space with a burst of dream.

Tuesday 5 July 2005 - Aftermath

This document is a skeleton.

Like the way I knew so many of you before meeting you, it has bones but little meat. I cannot hope to cover a tenth of everything that happened, and I cannot hope to remember a hundredth part of all the engaging and hilarious conversations I was a part of over the days.

But as this morning's clouded sun rose I found myself left with a profound feeling of satisfaction and happiness. Acquaintances have been transmogrified to friends. Without exception the people who came to HuSistock were warm and generous of spirit, witty and easy conversationalists, interested and curious and intelligent. They made thoughtful and considerate guests, enthusiastic celebrators, and were willing helpers to any task.

I would also like to go on record saying that the ladies of HuSi are a bunch of hawtties. Contrary to what some may picture when they think "smart girls with great personalities", every one of them looked perfectly edible to me. Risking the wrath of their husbands and boyfriends, let me say without a word of lie that the shaggibility index was delightfully high. Good work, HuSimen.

The greatest tragedy, of course, was those who could not come. As just a few examples among many, I overheard several folks lamenting the lack of the likes of ByTheGraceOfGod and MrBadger, Phil the Canuck and duxup, theantix and Bob Abooey, ucblockhead and others; not to mention representatives of the English contingent like DrThrustgood, spiralx, breaker, gazbo, TPD, Hulver himself, and on and on and on. Atreides expressed much regret that we were without a webwench, and others commisserated with him. At one point while I was shouting something impassioned and moronic around the bonfire Molasses had shaken her head and said, "It really sucks that blixco couldn't be here, Cheeseburger -- you two would be like two fucking peas in a pod."

Huh. Next time, I guess.

So now you've tasted a slice of the CheeseburgerBrown and Littlestar experience. You've seen my tits, and eaten my wife's cooking. Many of us have shared drinks, and all of us have shared a laugh. The affair could not have gone better in my opinion (excepting the lack of a second round of things to blow up). The whole thing leaves me feeling blessed -- by the weather, by my life, and by the profound sweetness of all of you.

Are you HuSistocked? Have you ever been HuSistocked? Well, I have.

And I declare it good.


Ode to Littlestar | Simon of Space | Schoolhouse Social | Schoolhouse Rock | Three Visits

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