Adam’s Summer Purgatory, 2008 (2013)

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Cam and I left camp before the van. It was the day off, and we were on our way to fill up the water barrels at a nearby logging camp. The rest of the crew was in the van, likely hungover, making for the comforts of town. This was in the morning.

Cam pulled his truck over at an intersection on the gravel road and started to roll a joint on the back of some insurance papers. I didn’t ask him why we were stopping, but I have seen him roll a joint with one hand while driving, so stopping for it was out of the ordinary.

I figured we were waiting for someone to show us where the logging camp was, so we could pick up more water for camp, an errand he had mentioned the day before.

Cam looked like he had not been sleeping well. He was halfway through rolling the joint when the van sped by, kicking up a thick, beige haze in its wake. Hurriedly, he handed me the insurance papers and the half-rolled joint and sped after the van, eventually riding its tail close enough for Jessie, the van's driver, to recognize that something was wrong. She pulled over.

Cam maneuvered his vehicle in front of the van, pinching them in. As he got out of the truck, leaving his door open, I could see the planters follow him with their eyes through the side window. He opened the sliding door of the van.

He pointed at Kathi.

He said, ‘You.’

He said, ‘Grab your stuff, let's go.’

Kathi obliged without protest or questions, shimmying out of the third row of seats with the backpack she had prepared for town. Cam asked the rest of the crew where they were heading.


Cam chain smoked cigarettes all the way back to our camp. I figured Kathi was getting fired. I got out of the truck and walked to my tent, opened my stationary box and began composing a letter to Lauren.

Across the river, Cam was instructing Kathi to pack up her tent. Kathi crossed her arms and evidently refused to take down her tent. I saw Cam walk around her and start to disassemble Kathi’s tent. After some time Kathi began to help him.

10 minutes later Cam and I were in the vehicle together looking for the logging camp. We filled a large white plastic drum with water and hoisted it into the bed of the pickup and drove straight back to camp. When we returned, Kathi was lying on a picnic table face up, looking at the treetops.

I helped her load her stuff into the pickup, and asked Cam where we were going.

He said ‘Drayton.’

We drove two hours to the Drayton Valley airport, where we couldn’t find Kathi a flight back to Montreal, so we drove another two hours to Edmonton.

Cam didn’t want to face any noise from the rest of the crew. He wanted this to be a clean break. Kathi never got the chance to say goodbye to her new friends.

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