Rosemary Nixon's Are You Ready to Be Lucky?

by Shaun Hunter


Calgary Through the eyes of writers

"Itching to live inner-city? This Mount Pleasant cutie is perfect for a first-time buyer's renovation project." This photo (and caption) appeared in a March 2014 Calgary Herald article, "What $400,000 will buy you in Calgary." (Photo: Calgary Real Estate Board)

"Itching to live inner-city? This Mount Pleasant cutie is perfect for a first-time buyer's renovation project." This photo (and caption) appeared in a March 2014 Calgary Herald article, "What $400,000 will buy you in Calgary." (Photo: Calgary Real Estate Board)

Roslyn’s second marriage is over. She’s back in Calgary, picking up the pieces of her life. She buys a handyman's special in Mount Pleasant: a house her contractor, Floyd says was built by “a goddamn wacko.” While Floyd transforms her place, Roslyn lives in her sister’s basement. If Roslyn had her druthers, she would put more space between herself and her sister’s steady stream of advice. But Calgary is booming and rent is sky high. “Accountants living in their cars, retired couples crashing on their grandkids’ floors.” And contractors are impossible to find. Her sister and her husband have connected her with Floyd, an old-fashioned builder from the Kootenays: a “house-savant” who is fixing not only Roslyn’s house, but mending her life.

 

“Would you care to read my novel?”

Roslyn jumps. Floyd is stuffing insulation into the two long rectangular holes in the living room wall – holes that served as built-in knick-knack shelves – forearms scratched red. He drapes the insulation in plastic.

“Six hundred pages so far.”

“You’ve written a novel?” Roslyn says.

“Written ‘er by hand. Don’t know why I bother with vapour barrier. Rest of the house doesn’t have it. Give it twenty, thirty years and this house will deteriorate because the builder didn’t have a plan. It concerns my ex. My second ex. The first wife was a dream.” He looks around the dusty living room scattered with tools. “Where did I lay my screw gun? The title? Father in Heaven, Daughter from hell. Minister’s daughter. I made her sign a prenup.” Floyd climbs the stepladder, dust streaking his nose likea swab of makeup. “One morning she turned over in bed and said, ‘You know that piece of paper you made me sign? It isn’t worth shit!” Got home one night not long after. Place was cleaned out. Kit and caboodle. Computer. Camera. Tools. She even took my heads.”

“Your what?”

“My trophies. She fetched fifteen hundred dollars for the antelope. Four thousand for the el. No point reporting it. She was banging the town cop.”

 

Rosemary Nixon, Are You Ready To Be Lucky? (Freehand Books, 2013)