Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Forty Nine

There is a village in the central parts of the Lost Quarter, not far from where I grew up, a desolate place with only a few houses and a lonely community hall. Once it was the most important town in the area, a hub on the rail line, with elevators, a church, a school, a lumber yard, a laundry and other stores. The hotel was a hive of activity, even in temperance days when the saloon could serve no alcohol. A fire changed all that, from which the town never recovered, with much that burned never being rebuilt.

The hotel still stands, but it is a dilapidated place now drifting into ruin. In the Lost Quarter buildings are rarely torn down it seems. People prefer to let the weather and the wind do the work for them, as it inevitably does. The hotel – at least the saloon portion – operated continuously, more or less, up until a few years ago when the place was essentially abandoned. In my time in the area they had strippers in regularly, to which a few locals would congregate, as well as kids from across the provincial border where the drinking age was higher.   

The same cannot be said of so many other buildings which have been torn. The church was already gone when I was young – I can remember playing in the remnants of its foundation – while the grain elevators were torn down when I was in high school. The local school was converted to an abattoir for a time, but it now stands empty and is moving to the same fate as the hotel. There was a post office, built in the shape of a tipi, like the ones Those Who Went Away used when they inhabited this land before their exile. It was closed and the building donated to a museum of a nearby town.

The village sits on a busy highway and for a time when I was a child there was a gas station and general store alongside it. My family knew the proprietor and would often stop by when we came into town to pick up the mail. He had a dog, Buffy, who always accompanied him while he was working. I looked forward to nothing more than a trip to see Buffy and can remember running around in the grass near the highway playing games with her.

The proprietor closed the place, retiring to another town, a few years later. No one was willing to take it over, so it was torn down and the land remediated. Driving by now there is no trace of any building and I cannot identify the places where Buffy and I used to run and play.

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