Con­fes­sions of a Moun­tie

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - -CLASSIFIEDSOCIAL - Harold Wal­ters Book Re­marks

I was half­way through high school be­fore I re­al­ized that I didn’t re­ally want to grow up to be a Moun­tie.

Once upon a Ca­reer Day a mem­ber of the lo­cal Labrador City de­tach­ment vis­ited Labrador City Col­le­giate and gave a pre­sen­ta­tion that dis­ap­pointed me. For frig sake, i t put me on the road not taken.

Still seared into my nog­gin is the im­age of one of the slides the Moun­tie showed our class — a stack of books so high a cat couldn’t jump over it.

You needed to study to be­come a Moun­tie!

That sin­gle im­age gunned down my de­sire to join the RCMP.

To think that all my life, from the time I was a wee bay­boy’ I’d dreamed of reach­ing man­hood and jump­ing into Moun­tie boots to be­come a rootin’- tootin’ gun- shootin’ Moun­tie just like Sergeant Pre­ston.

Yes, Sergeant Pre­ston, eh b’ys?

Sergeant Pre­ston of the Yukon sat tall in the sad­dle of Rex, his Moun­tie mount. Along with his faith­ful po­lice dog, Yukon King, he fought crime page af­ter page in his very own comic books.

Truly, my dream stemmed from the ad­ven­tures of Sergeant Pre­ston…

…Sergeant Pre­ston and the Moun­tie from Clarenville who oc­ca­sion­ally drove his po­lice cruiser down over the is­land “show­ing the flag” to para­phrase Frank Pitts in his book Con­fes­sions of a Moun­tie [Flanker Press].

As do many erst­while New­found­land bay-boys, Frank Pitts and I share child­hood … well, not fears I s’pose, but com­mon threats to our naughty boys’ well-be­ing.

When Frank’s mother found him guilty of steal­ing a hu­la­hoop she threat­ened the Moun­ties on him: “What will your grand­fa­ther think when I tell him the Moun­ties have taken you to jail?”

I can’t re­mem­ber what crime I com­mit­ted. I’m not con­fess­ing to steal­ing a cou­ple of soft- cen­tered candy from the shop­keeper up the road but maybe Mammy was con­vinced I had been a sweet­toothed thief when she caught me by the scruff of the neck, shook me a shake and said, “My son, the Moun­tie is go­ing to come down from Clarenville and take you to Re­form School.”

Oddly, p’raps, I was never threat­ened with jail as Frank was. It was al­ways Re­form School for me. Al­ways. Well, the time or two I was ac­cused any­way.

Frank Pitts’ Con­fes­sions are de­liv­ered in a f or­thright man­ner, not at all like some­one bar­ing his chest and plead­ing for any kind of mercy.

He speaks hon­estly in the voice he might use if he was sit­ting across the sup­per ta­ble from you, his chair pushed back, a cup of tea in hand and chit-chat­ting about his life as a Moun­tie.

I can imag­ine Frank chuck­ling as he re­counts amus­ing sto­ries. I’m think­ing of one in which Frank faced an axe- wield­ing, foam­ing- at- the mouth drunk and rec­og­nized the man was a New­found­lan­der. Frank told the rag­ing man that he also was from New­found­land, Bell Is­land, in fact. “Go on, b’y!” said the drunk. Sit­u­a­tion de­fused. I imag­ine Frank’s voice qui­eten­ing, be­com­ing solemnly hushed as he tells with grotesquely graphic de­tails about some of the hor­rors he wit­nessed as a Moun­tie.

I’m think­ing ex­plic­itly of the scene of a high­way ac­ci­dent at which Frank viewed a child’s de­stroyed face, a sight so hor­ri­ble that his mind re­fused to con­sciously reg­is­ter the fa­tal wound, choos­ing to pro­tect Frank’s san­ity and al­low him to cope by show­ing him the child’s face with­out the ruin.

I es­pe­cially l ike the way Frank Pitt’s has struc­tured his con­fes­sions. Chap­ter by chap­ter he re­turns to a stand­off in which bad guy Burt con­fronts him, wav­ing a machete and crazily de­mand­ing to be shot.

Ev­ery time he re­turns to this stand-off I want to bawl out and say, “Frank, shoot the machete out of his hand, b’y!”

Sergeant Pre­ston would’ve winged Burt and caused him to drop the machete or Yukon King would’ve leaped and chomped Burt’s wrist.

Even­tu­ally Frank shuts me up: “Some would even ask, ‘Why didn’t he shoot the machete out of his hand?’ They’ve seen that in the movies.” Or in comic books. I say this with re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion: Con­fes­sions of a Moun­tie is a nice and sim­ple lit­tle book. It has fewer than two hun­dred pages. Its prose is straight­for­ward and un­pre­ten­tious. Its con­tent is hon­est, even mod­est.

Likely Con­fes­sions of a Moun­tie will never share a shelf with pow­er­ful lit­tle books such as The Old Man and the sea or Of Mice and Men. Frank Pitts is nei­ther Hem­ing­way nor Stein­beck, yet Con­fes­sions of a Moun­tie is a gem- dandy book nonethe­less.

Thank you for read­ing.

Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com

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