"Don't be here in ten years." – The Factory Line

Writing “Montreal” – Franglais as Literature.

Écrire Montreal c’est tough en criss. La langue a switch tout le temps. It’s even worse in Frenglish and the only way I can explain it is that if an Idea (a thought, a concept) feels better explained in French, then we’ll switch to French, if it’s better explained in English, then we’ll switch to English.

Mais le Franglais reste une “langue” parlée. On switche naturellement d’une langue à l’autre au fil des pauses dans la discussion. C’est un peu plus compliqué côté écriture.

When exactly do you switch?

It’s really hard to understand such a “young” language. Because it is THAT… a YOUNG LANGUAGE. Still.

Ces temps-ci, j’essaye d’écrire une nouvelle litéraire appelée “Montréal” ces temps-ci et c’est difficile sur papier mais une fois de temps en temps je nail une scene comme la suivante où je suis vraiment content. Alors voilà!

I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Excerpt from MONTREAL :

“Ah ben criss,” he heard and it snapped him out of his thoughts. It was his father walking back home with a Canadian Tire bag in his hands.

“Heille! S’t’une osti de belle surprise ça le grand. Comment ça va?”

“Hey dad, what’s up.”

“Ah! Parle donc en Français un peu.”

Eli wasn’t about to do that even if he couldn’t really tell why anymore so he just said, “We’ll see.”

“Ça fait tu longtemps que t’attends? Qu’est-ce tu fais ici. T’a tu faim, quelque chose?”

“What’s up with the car?”

“Forget the car, let’s get inside.”

But Eli didn’t exactly feel like going in, so he tossed his dad a bone instead by speaking French and said, “Assis-toi.”

“Ici?”

“Pourquoi pas,” he replied and the accent was thick.

“Heille, Tu parles vraiment comme un Anglo asteure.” his dad replied.

It was almost enough for him to up and leave but he didn’t. “My mother’s an Anglo,” he replied instead and that was the truth. “Assis-toi.”

“Alright, alright! Ok!”

“What’s in the bag?”

“Une coupe de cossins pour le char.”

“So the car is fucked.”

“Nothing I can’t fix.”

“Pis la job?”

“Correcte.”

“Bin’ d’la job?”

“Pas plus que d’habitude. On a une coupe de grosses commandes qui s’en viennent. Les chiffres sont bons.”

“Good!”

“Les comptes sont payés. Pis toi.”

“Meh! New day, Same bullshit,” he said, picking up a tiny piece of gravel from the porch and tossing it away. He didn’t know why he was here anymore. It felt heavy and awkward and shit. He just looked at a distance to nothing at all really.

“Les comptes se payent?” His dad asked.

“Un a fois.”

“Alright!” his dad replied. He didn’t know what to make of this neither. Ben! Tant mieux,” he tried but that didn’t stick. “Comment va ta mère?”

Eli wasn’t about to talk to his dad about his mom so maybe it was time to cut to the chase.

“I got offered a contract.”

“A contract? Doing what.”

“I sold a painting.”

“Pour vrai?” his dad replied, sincerely excited about the news. “Combiens?”

“Enough,” Eli said. “A lot,” he admitted. “It’s a pretty good paycheck.”

“Mais t’a pas l’air convaincu.”

“I don’t like the guy?”

“Why not?”

“Rich idiot playing art collector.”

“T’aime pas le gars fait que tu prendras pas son cash?”

“Ouins.”

“Osti que t’est con,” his dad laughed, calling him an idiot. Eli almost said ‘what?’ but his dad laughed out loud. “Osti t’est vraiment con. Tu fait quoi dans vie, Elliott?”

“Tu’l sais.”

“Exactement! Exaaaactement que je’l sais,” his dad continued he was in a really good mood. The kind of fuck the world mood you couldn’t fake unless you had been poor and working class all your life. “Laisse moi t’dire queck’ chose. Tu sais quoi, le char, là?  l’osti de char! Tu sais qu’est’ qu’y’a le char?”

“Non,” Eli replied. But he liked it. He needed to get his head slapped right now and his dad was doing just that metaphorically speaking of course, but a good slap just the same.

“Tsé, le p’tit bras qui tiens sur les bornes de la batterie? Ben’ le p’tit bras est loose. La vis a serre pus’ fait que quand j’pogne une bosse, le p’tit anneau y pop’ pis’ ma batterie à marche pus. C’est niaiseux en criss, hein. Pis tu sais quoi, ca coute 70$ changer le p’tit criss de bras mais J’ai pas 70$ dans le compte drette là pour le changer fait que tu sais quoi? j’ai marché jusqu’a Canadian Tire me trouver un boutte de tuyaux de copp’, pis j’ma le squeezer entre l’anneau pis la borne pour que la vis a serre dessus.”

“Sérieux?”

“Faut etre pauvre pis fatigué en tabarnak pour avoir a faire ca, Eli. How much is he giving you for your painting?”

“Four thousand.”

“QUATRE MILLE PIASSES?” his dad shouted. “Eli, Tabarnak!”

“I know.”

“Please tell me you’ll take the money.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Elliott!” he insisted.

“It’s the only answer I can give you now, dad.”

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