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Father's Day Excerpt: Like Rum-Drunk Angels

Father’s Day is just around the corner, so we’re sharing some dad- and father figure-related excerpts.

Remember, we’re offering 20% off our Father’s Day collection with code DAD20, and free shipping on orders over $25!

This week, we’re looking in on this hilarious sequence from Like Rum-Drunk Angels by Tyler Enfield. Bob Temple, the unlikely father figure of the gang, struggles to keep the boys in line when they start tripping. There’s some big dad energy here — Bob Temple is pretty done with their nonsense, but remains patient with them nonetheless. You don’t need to be a father to be a dad.


Within the hour a palpable weirdness descends upon the camp. The old man sits with eyes closed, rocking to and fro. The three boys sit in the dirt, all in a row. They stare unblinking into the desert. They are at once quietly absorbed and acutely distractible. They turn their heads to the least nuance of sound. Also, they are stupid with sensation — mere imprints of humanity upon the softplate of consciousness. This is the first phase.

Renaissance clouds and their shadows pass in tandem over the earth. There are imperturbable beetles, and the pulse of embers in the fire, and other wonders too; tiny, greedy wonders that shock the beam of attention like a sheetsnap.

The wheeling silhouette of a condor blinks against the sun, and it matters. It matters like never before.

Ned laughs abruptly and goes quiet, his eyes wide with fascination. “Whoa . . .” he says. The others nod in solemn understanding.

Samuel begins sniffing at the air. “What’s that smell?” he says.

No one responds.

“What’s that smell?” he says again.

Bob Temple is packing his kit. He is not impressed. He pauses to sniff about and then returns to his task. “It’s nothing,” he says. “It’s in your head.”

“It’s in my head?” shrieks Samuel, his eyes bulging with panic.

“No it’s . . . There is no smell, you’re imagining it,” says Temple.

“I am sleeping in my belly,” says Francis.

“I can smell my brain,” says Samuel, pinching at clouds.

“I am alive.”

“Damn it. Will you all just . . . let’s pull it together,” says Temple.

Francis stands up. He doesn’t go anywhere, he’s just standing now.

Ned is all the while laughing hysterically, his face expressionless, sitting straddle-legged in the dirt.

“I’m going out,” declares Francis.

“Out where,” says Temple. “There ain’t nothing out there. I’m ready to leave.”

But Francis is already wandering into the desert. It’s as though someone knows where he is going, though Francis is not that someone.

It doesn’t matter much to Francis who that someone is. He trusts them emphatically.

*

Francis walks until he stops walking. He turns in place and the only features in this desert are his own footsteps leading back to wherever he came from. Francis stares at the prints. Francis is breathing through his eyes. He stares at the prints and he is breathing through his eyes, and he stares at the heat sprays on the horizon. It is chanting. The horizon is chanting.

Francis hears a soft padding behind him and when he turns about there is a gigantic cat trotting directly across his footpath, and it watches Francis as it trots, carving an unhurried circle about his person. The cat is gold with black markings. It watches Francis as it circles, and Francis watches it. Francis is a peg planted in the centre of the world. Francis is a peg turning and turning with a fantastical cat going round, and after two such revolutions the cat drifts from its orbit and veers north across the hardpan, glancing over its shoulder once before padding off into the whitely glistening oblivion of wilderness.

Francis stands there for many moments, watching the cat grow stranger in the distant heat.

“Hot damn,” he says.

Francis discovers he is waving.

He discovers he is crying with his hands.

*

Bob Temple finally accepts the day is a wash. The gang is divided, frothing like cretins or else wandering the desert, and there is no use trying to corral them toward anything useful till the cactus runs its course.

He takes his pistol and goes out a ways and stacks up stones.

The sound of his pistol fire has an improbable quality, oddly muted against the hugeness of his surroundings.

His hand is numb and ringing when he stops and stares at the stacks, spilled as they are. He stands in place, looking about. He is alone.

An unfamiliar line of thinking introduces itself. It seems to come out of nowhere.

Bob Temple wonders, for the first time in his life, what it would be like if he were not himself. If he were someone else, per se, though still in this body.

Who would he be?

A wrong question, perhaps. The question is: What would he be?

Indeed, what would he be?

What would he be?

Bob Temple scratches his head with the barrel of his pistol.


Francis Blackstone has fallen for the governor’s daughter and resolves to make his mark, and his fortune, to win her favour. And what better way than to rob a Manhattan Company Bank? Enter Bob Temple, the volatile outlaw who takes Francis under his wing — though not without a degree of suspicion — and so begins the adventures of the Blackstone Temple Gang as they crisscross the west in search of treasure, redemption, and the possibility of requited love.

At once a tribute to boyhood enthusiasm and the heroes of classical quests, Like Rum-Drunk Angels is an offbeat, slightly magical, entirely original retelling of Aladdin as an American western.

Why not pick up a copy for Father’s Day? Get 20% off with code DAD20.

Tyler Enfield is a writer, photographer, and film director from Edmonton, Alberta. He is the author of Madder Carmine and three young adult novels, the winner of the High Plains Book Award and a finalist for the Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Award. His film Invisible World, produced by the NFB and co-written with Madeleine Thien, is the winner of three Alberta Screen awards, including best director.

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