Will Ferguson's 419

by Shaun Hunter


Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

Calgary Stampede midway (Photo: Shelagh McHugh Cherak)

Calgary Stampede midway (Photo: Shelagh McHugh Cherak)

In the wake of her father’s apparent suicide, Calgarian Laura Curtis is “cataloguing memories, compiling an inventory of loss.” Who was this flawed, beloved man who got tangled in the deadly web of a Nigerian 419 scam? She remembers a childhood trip to the Stampede: the rough-and-tumble of the chuckwagon races, the clang and noise of midway rides, carneys touting games of chance. “Throw a ball, win a prize! It’s just that easy.” In her memory, Laura finds traces of the man her father was.

While waiting in line for mini-doughnuts – moist and warm and dusted with cinnamon, the highlight of any Stampede midway visit – Laura had walked ahead, down the line, while her dad held their spot. She’d peered seriously at the menu-board options, decided after great deliberation to get the Big Bag, and was hurrying back when she kicked something underfoot. A twenty-dollar bill.

She ran, breathless, back to her dad. “Look what I found!”

Her elation didn’t last, though. “Sweetie,” he said. “It’s not ours to keep.”

Will Ferguson, 419 (Penguin, 2012)