Lori Hahnel's "Good Friday, at the Westward"

by Shaun Hunter


Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

The Westward Inn at 119-12th Ave SW, in its previous incarnation as the New Noble Motor Hotel, circa 1950s. As the Westward, the bar was a hot-spot for touring bands like The Tragically Hip and Nirvana in the 1980s and early 1990s. These days as Hotel Arts, the place attracts a chic but no less hip clientele. (Photo: Glenbow Museum)

The Westward Inn at 119-12th Ave SW, in its previous incarnation as the New Noble Motor Hotel, circa 1950s. As the Westward, the bar was a hot-spot for touring bands like The Tragically Hip and Nirvana in the 1980s and early 1990s. These days as Hotel Arts, the place attracts a chic but no less hip clientele. (Photo: Glenbow Museum)

Cheryl and her friends start the night out with magic mushrooms in a dingy bar at the Westward Inn, their usual weekend hangout. Cheryl is anxious ­– “Mushrooms. A bar. On Good Friday.” Catholic guilt nags at the back of her mind. The bar at the Westward is dead. Her friend Will suggests they head over to the Bowness Hotel to see his friend’s band. Cheryl’s anxious about that, too. Vancouver has changed Will. Longer hair, a sparse beard he strokes obsessively, “a snob all of a sudden. If he didn’t still make my heart beat faster, I’d be mad at him.”

 

Before I know what’s happening we’re crammed in a cab, got a ticket for our destination, and the anxiety creeps back up again. This isn’t what we’d planned at all. We’d planned to take the mushrooms at Tess’ and my place, walk a few blocks to the Westward and see some bands. Now we’re on our way to the Bowness Hotel. It’s far away. And I’ve never been there before. Isn’t it scary, creepy, run-down, full of bikers and career drinkers? But the others seem calm, unworried. Of course, that’s not unusual for Will. Nothing ever ruffles him. He’s stubborn in his refusal to worry, or maybe that’s how he wants to come off. Sometimes I think he does it just to aggravate me. But. No point in being upset now. The Bowness Hotel it is. Big, wet snowflakes swirl out of a dull purple sky and I take a deep breath as we pull into the parking lot.

 

Lori Hahnel, “Good Friday, at the Westward,” The Prairie Journal (Fall 2012)