Winter Dreams (the Continuing Adventures of Rick Miller)
A Sequel to Summer Dreams
Rick Miller was sitting alone in a booth at The Red Top Restaurant. The year was 1969 and it was a cold, windy December morning in the Canadian Prairies. He had just arrived as his geography class at Maplewood Collegiate ended. It only took him a few minutes to walk across the street from the high school to the restaurant. He lit up a Rothmans cigarette and began to daydream about Sasha, his former summer love. He had to admit that he missed her now that all was said and done, but he was beginning a new chapter of his life. Shirley, the waitress approached his booth.
“What will it be today Rick, the usual?”
“Yep, my favorite, hot chocolate,” Rick answered with a smile.
Rick figured that Shirley was in her mid-forties. She had gained a bit of weight over the years, but was still relatively attractive for someone her age. Rick noticed that Shirley had a short pinky finger on her right hand. The finger must have been amputated, but Rick didn’t allow his curiosity over-ride his impeccable good manners. He had never asked Shirley about what happened to her finger.
Rick’s high school was just across the street from The Red Top. Just as Shirley brought Rick his hot chocolate someone walked in the door of the restaurant. The new customer was a very thin young man roughly Rick’s age. He had long, dirty, unkempt strawberry blond hair. He stopped in front of Rick’s booth and asked if he could join him. Rick was a little surprised as had never seen this fellow before, but he motioned for him to sit down.
“Thanks for letting me join you, man. My name is Peyton Ramparts. I have a spare this period and felt like I needed a cup of java. I was up until two in the morning last night. My band had a really bitchin’ good practise.”
Peyton wore a long black coat with gold striping on the side. It looked like he could have stolen it from Jimi Hendrix.
“What’s your band’s name?” Rick asked.
“Winter Dreams,” Peyton answered. “Hey man, can I bum a smoke off you?”
“Yeah, no problem. I hope you like Rothmans. I smoke whatever brand my dad is smoking at the time.”
Peyton started to laugh as he pulled out a cigarette from Rick’s pack.
“How did you come up with the name Winter Dreams for your band?”
“I can’t remember for sure. A guy from my band came up with it during a break from practise. We were all passing around a joint at the time while looking out the living room window. All I remember is watching a heavy snowfall. Then Pick said, “This is sort of like a winter dream and Chevy said that it sounded like a great name for our band.”
Rick was just about ready to ask Peyton another question when both boys felt a sudden rush of cold air breeze through the restaurant. They both looked towards the door and saw a young attractive female come through the door.
“Sorry I’m late, Peyton. I had to ask Mr. Pierce for an extension on my research paper for history class. Who’s your friend?” the girl asked.
“I don’t know his name yet. We just met a few minutes ago. Peyton reached across the table to shake Rick’s hand. “Sorry I should have introduced myself. I’m Peyton Ramparts.”
“And I’m Rick Miller.”
“Let me introduce you to my girlfriend, Sabrina Davis,” Peyton said as Sabrina slid right next to him on the booth.
“I think I’ve seen you at school Rick. You’re in grade twelve aren’t you? I hear people talking about you in the halls all the time. You’re the Cougars star goalie,” Sabrina said brushing some snow off her navy blue coat.
“I don’t know if I’m a star, but I try to play my best for the team,” Rick responded with true humility.
Peyton was already starting to feel comfortable with Rick. He felt that he could trust Rick and be real with him. Rick was sensing the same thing about Peyton. They both had the feeling that they could be honest with one another.
“So how did your meeting with Mr. Pierce go? Is he going to give you an extension on your homework assignment?”
“Yeah, no problem. I told him about my grandmother moving into our house and that she needed me to do things for her. I told Mr. Pierce that my extra duties were causing me to get behind in my studies.”
“What did he say about that?” Rick asked as he put his cup of hot chocolate back on the table. He was starting to feel right at home with Peyton and Sabrina.
“Oh, he said that he understood and would give me an extra week to work on my paper. He said that there was a time in his life when his mother was very sick and he needed to help her out a lot. Of course, it also helps that I’m very cute. All the girls in my class have noticed the way that Mr. Pierce looks at us. He definitely has a thing going for young high school chicks,” Sabrina answered with a chuckle.
“You sure know how to play him,” Peyton said with a bit of admiration. He always felt that Sabrina was smarter than him. She certainly got much better grades in school than he did. Peyton had very little interest in school. He attended the minimum of his required courses basically to keep his parents off his case and to be with Sabrina.
“Rick, do you know that Peyton is in a band. He plays lead guitar as well as writing some original material for the band. His group is called Winter Dreams and one day they are going to make it big. Record a single and an album. The whole nine yards,” Sabrina said proudly.
“We’re not as great as Sabrina says, but we’re not bad for a group that’s only been together for three months. We’re playing a gig tonight at Maplewood Community Center. Why don’t you drop by and check us out, Rick?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s been a blast meeting you guys, but I have to get back to the school for my American history class.” Rick said as he put on his white down filled parka and got ready for a biting rush of cold winter air.
After his last class of the afternoon was over Rick headed home. It was about a three block walk from Maplewood Collegiate to his home. There was a light snowfall. While the snowflakes landed on the branches of the trees Rick revelled in the beauty of the winter scene. The sun was shining brightly and this added to Rick’s aesthetic joy. He loved the snow and he loved the winter season. He even liked the crunching sound that his boots made when they pressed down into the snow on the sidewalk.
As it was a Friday with the weekend to look forward to, Rick had a spontaneous idea. He would walk to the neighborhood library and look for something to read when he got some free time on the weekend. Very few people knew how much Rick loved books and libraries. It was just a few blocks out of his way to the local branch of The Winnipeg Public Library.
When Rick arrived at the library he stomped his feet on the red carpet at the entrance. He was careful not to bring any snow into the library. As soon as he stepped inside Rick was overtaken by the captivating scent of books. He had very acute sensory perceptions. These senses would either produce a positive or negative emotional response in Rick. The special odor that one encountered only in libraries always gave Rick’s spirits a lift.
He had developed am interest in a wide variety of topics. The subjects that Rick liked to explore included history, literature, politics and psychology. His pattern was to study a specific topic for about a month at a time. Over the summer months Rick had become engrossed in the topic of current political, social and cultural changes that were presently taking place in The United States. He devoured the pages of the new underground magazine, Rolling Stone. Rick not only found the stories to be fascinating. He loved the look and smell of Rolling Stone as it was a magazine that looked and smelled like a newspaper.
As Rick entered the main foray of the library he was greeted by Denise Carr, the librarian. Rick had been to this branch of the library so many times that Denise knew Rick by name.
“So what are we looking for today Rick?” the attractive thirty-five-year-old brunette asked.
Rick answered in a distracted manner, “I’m not sure yet. I’ll probably be checking out the new releases. I want to see if I can find anything on the cultural revolution happening in the United States.”
“You’re such an intellectual, Rick. I’ll have a look myself to see what I can come up with,” Denise said.
It didn’t take Rick long to find the cart that contained the new releases. Over the summer Rick had read a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Although Rick was on the university entrance track at Maplewood Collegiate he would often be intrigued by what the students in the general course stream were reading as part of their prescribed curriculum. Rick discovered that he liked the novels in the general course better than he liked his university entrance novels. Classic novels like The Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World intrigued him. As far as non fiction choices went, Rick was drawn to any books that dealt with the burgeoning nineteen-sixties counter culture.
As Rick checked out the new releases he found a book written by one of his favorite authors, Norman Mailer. He eagerly picked up Mailer’s new book, The Armies of the Night.
As Rick moved onto the regular book stacks he noticed that he had lost track of the time. He realized that he would be late for supper if he didn’t leave the library soon.
Rick looked up to check the time on the library’s clock. It read 5:03 PM. Rick put on his parka and black toque and headed out the front door of the library. The wind was strong and it felt to Rick that it must be at least twenty below zero. He pulled out a cigarette from the side pocket of his parka and attempted to light it with a pack of matches, As the wind was high Rick moved close to the wall of the library and tried cupping his hands around the cigarette and matches. It took Rick three tries to successfully light his Rothman’s cigarette.
It was already dark outside when Rick left the library. He knew that he would have to keep up a quick pace to keep warm on his five block walk to his parents’ house. The street lights were already turned on and Rick liked how they reflected off the snowbanks next to the sidewalk. He also enjoyed the crunching sound that his winter boots made as they pushed into the snow.
When Rick arrived at his house he saw his father sitting on his favorite sofa reading the paper. He heard his mother calling from the kitchen. “Supper’s ready. Let’s get moving to the dining room.”
Rick and his dad immediately walked towards the dining room. They both knew how frustrated Mrs. Miller could get if her family waited too long before they got up for their meals. Rick’s mother was in her early fifties and still retained an attractive figure. She continued to wear her dark brown hair long as that was what her husband wanted. Rick was the eldest of the Miller children. He had a younger brother named David and an even younger sister called Beth.
As the family passed the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and peas down the line, Rick was deep in thought. When he passed a bowl of peas over to his father he was reminded of the dreadful experience he had over the summer working at his dad’s printing plant. His father had tried to help Rick out by hiring him as summer help. Who knows? If things had worked out for Rick, he might still be working at the printing plant today.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out. Rick was just not cut out to be a blue collar, factory worker. He was not well coordinated and had great difficulty performing most manual labor tasks especially those that required fine motor skills or spatial reasoning. No matter what tasks his foreman assigned to him Rick could not get the hang of it and performed poorly on these jobs. Rick worked with a small crew of other young adults who laughed at Rick and berated him as he struggled with his assignments. They told him that they could train a monkey to do his job. After three frustrating and humiliating days on the job Rick told his father that he was quitting his job. He told his dad why he was resigning and apologized if he had embarrassed his father. His dad was very understanding and was not really surprised by Rick’s decision to leave his position.