Nal­cor heads for home … again

The Compass - - S22, -

When last we saw Lit­tle Nal­cor, Mizkat’s pet muskrat, he was look­ing at a set of plans show­ing how to bring nat­u­ral gas from the Grand Banks to Holy­rood in Con­cep­tion Bay and turn it into electricity. Ac­cord­ing to the plan, the electricity would be very much cheaper than the Muskrat Falls project, would cause no eco­log­i­cal dam­age and would pro­duce power un­til the Up­per Churchill hy­dro at Big Cigar Falls be­came avail­able once more.

Mizkat, Nal­cor’s nick­name for Kathy Dun­derdale, the premier of New­found­land and Labrador, Canada’s Rich and Poor prov­ince was be­gin­ning to lose faith in the Muskrat Falls project. At least she was in pri­vate, when she spoke to Nal­cor the Muskrat. She spilled her in­ner­most thoughts and re­vealed all her fears be­cause she was sure Nal­cor couldn’t un­der­stand a word she was say­ing.

Nal­cor was puz­zled. If Mizkat was say­ing all these things that she was sure he couldn’t un­der­stand, she must be­lieve they are true. It’s like think­ing out loud. You don’t lie to your­self in your thoughts, do you? A muskrat cer­tainly wouldn’t. So, if Grand Banks gas is a bet­ter way than Muskrat Falls, what was the prob­lem? Why not just aban­don Muskrat and go with the gas?

“Even a muskrat knows you don’t fol­low a path when you know it’s not the best way,” thought Nal­cor.

Hu­mans were puz­zling. They did things that didn’t pass the test of muskrat logic. For ex­am­ple, only a cou­ple of weeks ago, Nal­cor had watched tele­vi­sion in amaze­ment as one of Muskrat Falls’ big­gest boost­ers, seemed to change his mind in front of halfa-mil­lion view­ers.

This was Jerome the Gi­raffe, who had served in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Mizkat’s pre­de­ces­sor as premier, the An­gry Man who Talks Too Fast. The two of them had col­lab­o­rated closely with the boss man of Nal­cor, Ed with the White Head, in es­tab­lish­ing and pro­mot­ing Muskrat Falls as the only vi­able route to en­ergy se­cu­rity for the prov­ince. The three of them also agreed on the ad­di­tional ben­e­fit of out ma­noeu­vring the prov­ince just to the west of Muskrat Falls where they spoke a lan­guage that not one of the Gi­raffe, An­gry Man or Ed with the White Head un­der­stood. The very same prov­ince that cit­i­zens of Canada’s Rich and Poor prov­ince held the big­gest kind of grudge against for tak­ing them to the clean­ers at Big Cigar Falls.

All three men were 100 per cent be­hind the project, then sud­denly The Gi­raffe blurts out on the telly that he’s not wed­ded to Muskrat, that if some­thing bet­ter turns up he’d be pre­pared to go for it.

Nal­cor imag­ined how much an­grier the An­gry Man must have been af­ter that, and how much faster he was talk­ing now. As for Ed, if his head hadn’t al­ready been white, it cer­tainly would have turned it overnight.

It is said that gi­raffes, be­cause of their long necks, can see great dis­tances. Some say even far into the fu­ture. Maybe that was the case with Jerome. Maybe he saw the same truth about Muskrat Falls as Mizkat, who was be­gin­ning to sus­pect that Grand Banks nat­u­ral gas was a bet­ter way to go.

The dif­fer­ence was that Jerome the Gi­raffe wasn’t afraid to say so in public. Maybe, maybe not. Or maybe what the Gi­raffe was say­ing was just a trick, to fool the public into think­ing that other op­tions were truly be­ing con­sid­ered. With hu­mans, who could tell?

Nal­cor felt a headache com­ing on. He went into the wash­room, climbed onto the toi­let seat and reached to open the medicine cab­i­net be­hind the mir­ror, scar­ing him­self when he saw a muskrat reach­ing for him, un­til he re­al­ized it was his own re­flec­tion.

Man, I’ve got to get out of here, he thought. I’m los­ing it.

Nal­cor twisted open one of the bot­tles in the cab­i­net, tipped two pills into his paw, twisted the bot­tle shut, put it back on the shelf, closed the mir­ror and climbed down off the toi­let. He lifted the seat and lean­ing into the bowl took a good long drink to wash the pills down. He put the seat back down again, some­thing Mizkat in­sisted on, then headed for the back yard.

There, he chewed a length of stalk off one of Mizkat’s shrubs, nib­bled the branches off and went back in­side. In Mizkat’s be­d­room he opened the drawer where she kept her scarves. He chose an old scarf he knew she never wore any more. Tak­ing the few pos­ses­sions he cared to bring, he wrapped them in­side the scarf and knot­ted the loose ends of the bun­dle he’d made around the end of the stick he’d cut. He opened the front door, stepped out­side, closed the door, put the stick over his shoul­der, and started down the drive­way.

He mur­mured, “Good-bye Mizkat, thank you and good luck.”

… To be con­tin­ued.

Peter Pick­ers­gill is an artist and writer in Sal­vage, Bon­av­ista Bay. He can be reached by email at the fol­low­ing: pick­ers­

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