Bruce Chaulk, Mystery Machine

“Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.”

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The burden of History drapes its heavy mantle on the shoulders of Bruce Chaulk. Some rough beast slouches toward St. John’s to be born and Bruce Chaulk is its midwife. Ill winds of pestilence have dispersed the voice of the people—the voice of God, Author of all Law—across the four corners of the world. Only the Chief Electoral Officer can meld the cacophony of each individual vote into the single harmonious command that grants authority and structure to government. He must deliver the ballots. He must count the ballots. Indeed he must become the ballot.

Bruce Chaulk has not prepared for this. No; there was no need for such a thing. He has been chosen for this moment and so made fit for incredible feats.

As the province entered lockdown and the election became infinite, many miraculous powers were unveiled. Powers of flight and invisibility, powers to know the minds of men and succor their discomfort. Powers to work wonders and destroy them with a whisper. Powers occluded to all but those initiated into the dread rites of administering provincial elections. It is not for us to know the mechanics or purpose of these arts; it is for us merely to see great works accomplished. Bruce Chaulk is accomplishing them; Bruce Chaulk has never ceased accomplishing them and will accomplish them forever.

Look; come and see. Bruce Chaulk is tripping up the steps of the Ziggurat of Ur, spilling paper everywhere, knocking over the offerings and smashing the idols of Nanna. Bruce Chaulk is flying up Kenmount Road in an ice cream truck on fire, bells clanging through the smoke. Bruce Chaulk is home alone, setting traps for burglars and eating a cheese pizza. Bruce Chaulk is visiting every construction site in the city, borrowing jackhammers, transmuting them into bees. Bruce Chaulk appears in faded family photos and the shadows in the ultrasound. Bruce Chaulk is breakdancing on the surface of the moon and the bottom of the ocean. Bruce Chaulk is building a gun out of old toasters. Bruce Chaulk is aligning his chakras.

Bruce Chaulk is calling Open Line; he is every caller on Open Line; he is the host of Open Line; he is the Host of Heaven. Everything else in lockdown is mirage; only Bruce Chaulk is real.

Bruce Chaulk is answering your emails; he is returning your phone calls; he is visiting your house for tea at three o’clock in the morning. You see him in your dreams. He is assuring you the ballots will arrive while you fall from improbable heights. He is personally delivering the ballots as he proctors your naked math exam. He becomes the ballot. His features flatten into a blank page onto which you project all desires and fears and secret pleasures of the past. Stars fall from their fixed places in the sky; gaze upon his smiling countenance and know that your vote matters.

People are getting their ballots. His promises are true. Ballots are arriving in the mailbox addressed to you, your mother, your first love, your hated nemesis, your imaginary friends and your children yet unborn. Some return envelopes are addressed to outports long dissolved, others already postmarked with the exact moment of your death. There is a ballot kit whose instructions reveal when the Leafs next win the Cup. Some envelopes are filled with gold and others, shards of tin. Some are to be inked in blood and others sealed with kisses. It is said that one ballot foretells the winner of this election and all elections, past and future, every answer: “Joey Smallwood.” Another lists the true and secret name of God; whosoever reads it shall be struck dead on the spot. (But if you can avert your gaze, you can exchange it at Pipers for 30% off.)

These are the wonders of the CEO and the powers of his office. Bruce Chaulk doesn’t actually care about voter turnout, and this has freed him from samsara.

The ballots will be cast; the ballots will be counted; the results will be known. Bruce Chaulk will sort the righteous from the unrighteous, the elect from the damned. He will burn them all in a great pyre of white smoke to signal the coming of a Premier with powers yet greater than his own. This will take several weeks longer than anywhere else in the country but such are the sacred mysteries. And who would ask that these wonders cease? Who wishes to escape this liminal space without a legislature? Who really wants direct confrontation with the province’s many problems? No; let us float down here forever and luxuriate in limbo. This is the blessing, the promise, the curse.

Bruce Chaulk is watching the skies. Bruce Chaulk is reading the tea leaves. Bruce Chaulk is extrapolating from the entrails spread out steaming on the ground. He knows the wheels have but begun to turn; he is attuned to the cosmic architecture. The election will end; the election will never end. The ballots will be counted and then there will be more ballots, more counting, more elections. It will be February 2021 forever, no matter as the snow melts and the flowers bloom and the leaves turn and the snow returns again. No; time is a flat circle, and Bruce Chaulk unwinds the clock. The immense burden of History sloughs weightless from his shoulders and onto the backs of the Newfoundland and Labrador people, who have always carried it and who will never cease to carry it.

Such is our lot, to bear the crosses of our betters; or so it has been said. Only Bruce Chaulk knows the truth for sure, and he is busy delivering the ballots. We cannot know when he will tell us. The whole world, after all, is filled only with notional deadlines.

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash.

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