Waiting for Joe
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After you've lost it all — job, house, savings, future —what have you got left? A piercing new novel of our times by one of Canada's finest fiction writers.
On a chilly early morning in late spring, Joe Beaudry and his wife, Laurie, wake up in circumstances that would challenge saints: they are on the lam in a stolen motorhome on the edge of a Walmart parking lot in Regina, Saskatchewan. They've gone bust, spectacularly: lost the house that was Joe's gift from his dad, lost the business Joe started when he got married, and stuck his ancient father in a nursing home in Winnipeg so they could flee their creditors. Joe knows the reality of the situation, and is trying to raise enough cash to get them both to Fort McMurray where he hopes he can find work. But Laurie, even though she watched Joe trash their high-end appliances with a sledgehammer when the yard sale didn't deliver enough cash, somehow thinks it's only temporary, and maxes out their last credit card on wardrobe and hair dye and wishes and dreams. For Joe, it's the last straw in a marriage that once seemed star-crossed and now seems simply unworkable.
Pushed to figure out what to do next, Joe simply takes off hitchhiking, leaving Laurie waiting for Joe, and Joe wondering how he will ever find meaning in a world that has disappointed his every expectation. The road for both of them provides surprising answers...
believing she would make a collage of the postcards to give to Alfred when she sees him. It will add colour to his otherwise drab and small room. When next she sees him. Which may be never. I will make a collage, Laurie vows, even as she admits to herself that likely she will not. It’s not something Alfred would want, and yet he’d make a big show over it, knowing that she was hungry for his approval. She looks up at a loud sizzling and sees the cloud of steam rising from the grill at Edo, the
out of the van and heads off toward the garage and Joe follows, leaving Keith at the gas pump. Bryce’s stride is long and energetic; he has the physique of a runner, Joe thinks, and he must hurry to catch the door before it closes behind him. He follows Bryce along an aisle toward the sign indicating the presence of washrooms. He waits off to one side of the door in a corridor made even narrower by the stack of boxes along one wall. The gas station with its overstocked shelves and carousels of
garbage can at the foot of the bureau, crammed with fast-food wrappers. “At night Jordan cries. It’s hot in here, eh, and the rash gets bad,” Helen said. She perched on the side of the bed and stared at her sandals, her thick toes looking dusty, though the nails seemed wet with red polish. “They bang on the door. Tell us to keep him quiet. I take him into bed with us, but it gets hot, and then he gets more itchy.” Steve said something to her in Cree and she laughed, her face a plum blush of
that suggests she has saved showing it until the last, and for a reason. They go up some steps to a large open space with windows the full length of the house, revealing the side of the hill and the dripping, green tangle of vegetation beyond. Joe hears soft music, water trickling across stones. He sees two young women at the far end of the room seated in front of computers. “Hey gals, I want you to meet one of my favourite people,” Maryanne calls out, and they both rise and come toward him,
to nine o’clock in Winnipeg, late to call, he knows, and yet his stomach clenches as the telephone continues to go unanswered. What are his wishes regarding his father’s health care, the supervisor will want to know, if he calls the desk. In the event of impending death due to pneumonia, the friend of the elderly on their final ride. He’s heard it can overcome the old within hours. Likely what the supervisor meant to ask was did he want his father to be taken to the hospital, or be made