Naramata Road

“I have water for you. There’s a fountain down the road a little.”

“Thank you. You’re being very nice.”

“It’s the least I can do after trying to steal your bike.” The two men laugh gently.

“I’ll never forgive you for that.”

“I can live without forgiveness.” They laugh again.


Billy and Jim in the grasses sharing the shade-giving side of a tall bush, Billy laying in the grasses and propped on an elbow, Jim kneeling, Billy’s bicycle on it’s side by the roadway and the air above the roadway shimmering in the heat as cars speed by between the vineyards.


“We can rest here all day if you like. There’s no rush.” Jim slides his hand across Billy’s shaved head pushing the sweat down over his neck. He flicks his hand in the air to shake off the sweat and rubs Billy’s head again and strokes his stubbled cheek tenderly. Billy looks up and smiles and then closes his eyes. “That feels nice. It’s so hot today. The hottest day yet I think.”

“We can wait here until the sun is down a little. We’ll still have enough light to get to the farm, and there we can sleep at the fence until morning when they open the gate for the pickers.” Jim reaches down to untie his cracked and dusted boots. He pushes them from his feet with his toes, first one and then the other, and pushes the soles of his feet into the brown grasses and the sand. He flicks his toes in the dust and it sticks to the tops of his feet, and the dust raised from the tourist cars on the road marries against the sweat on his back and the back of his neck, and it sticks to the sweat on Billy’s head.


“Get a room, you bums!” “Homeless trash!” A car races by with two voices projecting out of it. Billy looks and it is silver and sleek and speeding off, but Jim doesn’t turn his head. “Assholes,” says Billy.

“They just don’t understand.”

“Understand what? They’re shitty rich people.”

“They don’t understand that one day this can happen to them.”

“They will never end up like us. People like that don’t end up like us.”

“It can happen to anyone, Jim. One day they will suffer something.” And Billy is tired from the argument and lays his head in the crook of his elbow under the shade of the bush. “I’m tired,” he says. “It sure is hot today.”

“I’ll get you some more water.”

“No. I don’t need water.”

“You need some more water. The heat is making you sick. I’ll get some more water. Do you think you can walk a little farther to the fountain? There’s some tall grasses we can lie in off the road there.”

“I just need to rest here for a bit. I’ll be fine in a bit. I think I need to stick to this shade. Is there anyone around that might kick us off?” His head bobs with his weakness.

“I don’t think so. Only cars on the road can see us. I think we’re safe here.”

The cars speed by one after the other, Naramata Road busy on a summer afternoon, tourists driving from vineyard to vineyard sampling over-poured samples of wine.

No thanks, I’m driving. Well just a little one for you then. Go ahead, when will you ever be visiting here again. Okay, just a small taste. Was it good? Would you like another? Okay, maybe just another small taste. Well maybe not that small. Can you still drive? Of course I can drive, they’re only small samples. One more for the road?

In the fields the grapes swell under the summer sun, fattening with water from the lake. They are coddled and coaxed into growing.


“Here’s some more water.” Billy sits down with a plastic bottle full of cold water but Jim doesn’t move. “Here, here’s some water. You need to drink something.” With one hand he lifts Jim’s head and Jim’s eyes open blearily, they are oval slits on his face. “Here. Just drink a little,” and Billy tilts the bottle for a dribble across Jim’s lips. His instinct purses his lips and licks to catch drops of moisture and the rest rolls down his cheeks into Billy’s fingers underneath. “We just need to rest here for a bit, Jim. I’ll help you drink some water.”

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