It was a dark and stormy night. Two Saturday’s ago in our South Melville home, to be exact.
At 7 p.m. on said night, I backed our car out of the very muddy lane and felt the wheels begin to race and sink deeper and deeper into the ground. So I gunned it, and successfully tore out of the lane across the South Melville Road and straight into the ditch on the other side.
The result? My high beams were now searching the heavens in vain for the cloud-covered Milky Way, my stupid self positioned like an astronaut ready for liftoff. In the next five or 10 minutes, max, I learned that a lonely country road on a wintry, desolate Island night, is anything but.
After crawling out, or, more precisely, falling out of the passenger door, and on to my back and into the ditch, I squinted at the little-tag on my car-key chain that had the road-side assistance number on it. I made the call to an operator in a country an ocean or two away, who quickly assured me, after getting my VIN number (whatever that is) that a “local” tow truck company would call me back “as soon as possible.”
So it was time to admire the seemingly empty night in near complete silence. Or so I thought. Out of the fog a pickup truck appeared in 30 seconds or so.
“You got a rope or chain?” was the helpful greeting.
“Nope,” I answered.
“You sure? I could get you out . . . You sure?”
I assured him I was sure and that help was on the way. This seemed to deflate his generous soul a smidge, perhaps because being neighbourly is an instinct most of us like to follow through on from time-to-time. So off he went, somewhat unfulfilled. And so I returned to my mildly pompous pose as the lonely man in a quiet wilderness. Or so I thought.
One minute passed and neighbour number one arrived to suggest that neighbour number two was well equipped to haul me out with his tractor, and I should let him know the nose of my car looked like a wolf howling at the moon. Neighbour one was also assured by me that help was on the way, so there was no need to disturb neighbour number two. Off he went.
Now mildly cranky that my romantic view of the moment had been twice pierced, I became more determined to enjoy this smallest of crises, imagining how all those Arctic explorers must have felt, standing alone, and isolated against the elements. Then almost immediately, neighbour number three arrived. So much for channelling the fabled Franklin Expedition.
Neighbour number three was also full of sincere warmth, offering to fetch help to pull me out. Sadly, I once again had to decline the kindly offer because of the imminent call from the local tow company who had been contacted from road-side-assistance in a place where it was likely lunch-time, and anything but dark and stormy.
Neighbour number three asked about my number-one son, Louis Romero, having read about him in this column. We swapped a few stories, and then neighbour number three sped off, content that help was on the way.
So I was alone again, for maybe 20 seconds, on this not so isolated Island country road, when the phone rang. It was the local towing company.
“842 South Melville Road. Where’s that?” he enquired.
“It is at the end of the Sandy Point Road,” I answered.
“In Hampton, by the cottages?” he asked.
“No, at the other end of the Sandy Point Road, where it intersects with the South Melville Road,” I tried to clarify.
“Near DeSable?”, he said.
“Nope, about five kilometres from there,” I replied, starting to wish I had taken up the offers of neighbours one, two, and three and the guy who lacked a chain or rope.
Then a big pause on the line, as the tow truck operator’s wheels (in his head, not his truck) turned for a bit.
“How far are you from Moe’s?”, he said, a little bit excited at his quasi-eureka moment.
“Moe Monaghan?” I replied, somewhat elated that we were finally getting somewhere.
“About 200 metres.”
“See you in 10 minutes,” came the definitive reply.
And indeed Mr. Tow Truck Driver did arrive in 10 minutes, proving a new, or perhaps very old Island set of truisms:
The upside of being closely watched and scrutinized across every inch of our Island is that you are closely watched and scrutinized. There are no landmarks on the Island, only people, who serve as the landmarks. (Moe, you are one of them.)
Or put another way, all dark and stormy nights in a ditch in Prince Edward Island are incredibly well-lit.
By all of us.
Campbell Webster is a writer and producer of entertainment events. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.