Archive for May 13, 2015




13 May 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. How are you feeling?”

“Cold. It’s going to be worse tomorrow. I may not be here. I can’t take it. I just can’t fuckin’ take it anymore.  I’ve had enough. I’ll give it another month, then I just might pull the plug.”

I said, “Why don’t you take a few days off, until we get some warm weather?”

“It’s not the weather, it’s everything. My friend from Cornwall told me this morning that she has cancer. They’ve given her eighteen months at the most.  I said to her that I’d come over whenever she has a treatment. There’s not much else I can do. She stopped by this morning, bent over, kissed me on the cheek and said, ‘You know, I love you Chuck.’

“I guess you noticed that Ghyslain isn’t out this morning. He tells me that he’s from Sherbrooke. He says he’s got thousands put away in the bank. He also says that he’s got heart problems. I can believe the heart problems. He stands out there in the rain, all kinds of weather. He also says that he sleeps outdoors in the winter, behind bushes, in back of a parking lot. I don’t know what to believe.

“With him across the street it works out. He speaks French, so his regulars are French-speaking. If they’re English they’ll walk past, some come to me.

“I’ve been thinking of Alphonse lately. I don’t know why. I see Magdalene occasionally.  She’s probably a nice girl, but it makes me mad the way she treated him. It’s a different culture. When you’re from a small isolated community the rules are different. Fathers sleep with daughters, mothers with sons, brothers with sisters. The whole community is inbred. It’s the same anywhere if you get a couple of men stuck in a cabin over winter with no way to get out. There’s always something around to make booze out of.  When they’re drunk, urges take over, it’s only natural.

A historical look at the suicide rates show that they dropped many decades ago when people settled more or less permanently into villages, but in recent decades they have been rising. This pattern, of a rate dropping in the past, leveling off, then rising dramatically in recent decades, prompted the authors to review the literature to see if they could figure out what is going on.

They found that the literature is uneven. Some of the previous articles pose medical or organic explanations for suicides among the Inuit, such as suggestions about psychiatric disorders caused by inbreeding, or stresses due to adjustments to new social conditions, or problems relating to male female imbalances, and the like. (

“I started talking about Alphonse, many times I’d see him drunk as a skunk one day. The next day he’d collect some money and hitch-hike north to Iqaluit, where his folks live. I wish he’d stayed there.

“Well, Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow, Chuck — maybe not.”

“We’ll see.”

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