Jean Pierre’s Story Part Two
Test For Echo
I guess it would make a lot of sense that Dominique’s heroes in this world would be much different than the ones I grew up with. Admittedly, she does view many musicians with high regard, surprisingly though, most are those that I used to listen to when I was her age. Even those that were popular when she was born. Still, there are some she looks to today that perform. Her dream is to have a jam session with Jim Cuddy, Tom Cochrane and Joni Mitchell. Or at least just to talk to them, and learn from their own experiences. That day may come.
But she also has her own political view points, as she has taken a great awareness of the world she lives in. Even with the technology of today, Dominique will step away from the screen of a computer to go be a part of the world. She learns about her environment, she takes certain things very seriously, like recycling and renewing the land. So it makes sense that when she sees a program with Doctor David Suzuki, she hangs onto his every word.
Even as a child she used to sit glued to the television when the Nature of Things would come, even if it was past her usual bed time. At least it was something educational. And at least she learned from it. Over the years, Dominique became very active in the awareness of the environment, recycling and buying less in order to waste less. Thanks to Dominique, our home became the first to become environmentally friendly on our block in the small Montreal suburb we lived in. Of course, this all happened between practise with her band.
It helped, mind you, that her band mates were just as equally conscious about the environment. Michelle Villeneuve was a friend that Dominique had made quickly when she began Grade 7. They stayed friends, even after finding new groups and fashions and ideals. It may have been the common goals they each had in life, but I believe in truth it was the fact they just enjoyed each other’s company. Even if they were completely different.
Whereas Dominique would often wear semi ratty clothing, often jeans with patches sewn into the knees (a choice of her own, mind you), Michelle began to enter Montreal’s goth scene. Monika and I were worried at first, never having experienced that scene, but as we soon discovered, Michelle was in no fear at all. As I learned, it was more a poet’s society, but Michelle took to heart the entire thing. That is, without dying her hair black, which her blonde hair was in sharp contrast to her black clothes and black makeup. I have learned over the years never to judge someone based on appearances, and Michelle was one of those.
Michelle would often invite Dominique to some of the gatherings, and soon Dominique’s own writing ability began to grow. She even would take her guitar and take poems she’d write and set them to music. As Michelle described it, Dominique was the scene’s grunge hippie who fit right in.
Not long after Dominique and Michelle became friends, the two met Yves and Jacqueline Manderville. Yves and Jacqueline were first generation Canadians, their parents escaping the political hardships of Haiti. A young couple that arrived in Montreal in the early 80’s and had Yves, then Jacqueline not long after. Yves was the charmer, a trendsetter who always thought he was a bit of a ladies man, but always treated his close friends with respect. Ever since the day Dominique rushed home crying on her sixteenth birthday, Yves has also been her biggest defender and somewhat of a fan.
Jacqueline was a bit quieter and seemed much more humble than her older brother. But then, she would let her feet speak for her. A gifted sprinter, she was always at the forefront of track and field events throughout the country. And while the Olympics was something that she had often strived to achieve, it was not something disappointing to her if she did not compete at that level. Not only did she have track, she also raced on the ice oval, and became an accomplished speed skater.
Those four have been almost inseparable. Probably the reason why they formed their band, Blanc Noir. Each had their own musical talent; Michelle had been a drummer in her school band and did percussion on her own time. Jacqueline had learned to play the cello and bass guitar. Yves was an accomplished pianist and could sing very well. Dominique was the lead guitarist, a position she was naturally fit to be in. They began at an early age, as well, practising in the garage when they were all just fourteen years old. To say they were perfect from the start would be a stretch. They went through some trying times, but worked hard and long. Eventually they saw it all pay off.
To say they have achieved success can be taken in different ways. They haven’t exactly made the riches and fame that many superstars from the United States have. You know, the extremely popular stars that make tabloid headlines. As a father, I am very glad that they have not made it to the cover of a tabloid newspaper. As Yves once told me, as long as they have enough money for gas, food and a little bit extra then they are happy.
One thing that the four of them do together as a band is try to attend events and protests that are trying to bring about awareness of some societal plight. They’ll usually contact the organizers and have a free stage set up. As a part of the call for peaceful protests, they engage people with songs filled with meaning. Some are cover tunes from artists who have written poetic verse about the society while others are songs of their own creation. They even sell their own compilation CD’s at each venue in order to make the gas money and money for food when they go out. Monika is trying to convince them to save up some money and get a professional CD released, as right now it’s all recorded in Michelle’s parent’s garage. They continually say that the sound comes out pure when they record in there.
You might wonder how a lead guitarist who moonlights as a costumed crime fighter can lead the dual life. Well, as it turned out, not very easily. Dominique tried, very hard to keep it a secret, to keep it from her friends, but that came to a halt one night when Yves, Jacqueline and Michelle all confronted her about how tired she looked and how she seemed to be making mistakes when they practised. I was there, I heard and saw the whole thing.
“What is wrong with you, Dom?” Yves asked her, his own frustration showing. “Dis is not like you usually are. It’s like… sorta… like you playin’ for de firs’ time ‘gain.” Dom remained quiet, seemingly like an animal trapped in a corner. I could see the hesitation in her face, the worry that had crept into her being. She wanted to explain everything, but worried what would happen. Finally, I stepped forward.
“Dominique,” I said with a calm and quiet voice as I reached into her duffel bag. I knew she always kept the suit there, and that was what I pulled out as I spoke. “Maybe you need to tell them.” I held the suit out to her, she took it with a heavy sigh. At the same time, I could tell there was a great weight that had been lifted from her shoulders, but at the same time she was incredibly nervous. Everyone had seen the news stories that Canadiens had come back, this time as a young woman. Dominique had kept it quiet, even from her friends.
Dominique expected anger, hatred, shouting, everything negative from her friends. That she had lied to them, kept secrets from them. But it was Michelle that first set the tone.
“You mean,” she began quietly. “You mean you a costumed super hero!” she exclaimed with a grin. Almost as though Dominique had just launched into the status of rock star like she’d always wanted.
“Not exactly super, Michelle,” Dominique replied with a small smile. “I only have my martial arts defence class to go with.”
“You mean you beat up crooks?” Yves asked, a slight tinge of worry in his voice. He stepped closer to Dominique and took her hands in his own. “You gonna hurt your hands.” There was a small chuckle that came from Jacqueline, as she knew Yves only response would be worry over whether or not Dominique could play. Worry or not, at least now she did not have to worry about her friends anymore. “I t’ink I’m gonna write a song about dis,” Yves said with a grin.
“Only if it got a heavy guitar riff,” Dominique replied with a smile. “I wanna rock.”
I did mention that I would tell you that day when Dominique found that uniform, hidden away in the attic among other odds and ends long forgotten. It pained me in a way, but it also helped. Pained, because I wanted to leave that life behind me, it was in the past and something that I did not need to burden my children with. It also helped, because it gave my daughters a lesson in history, things that happened in the past. It was former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker who said the man who does not remember the past can not live in the present and will do nothing for the future.
So, even though I did not wish Dominique to know of this past, I really had no choice. Instead of chastising her for sneaking into the attic and rooting through old things, I sat down with her, and read each clipping to her. She asked many questions, questions which came again when Chloe was older and Dominique read them to her. It was a passing fancy, at the time. Just something that they thought was their little secret.
I never knew that when Dominique turned sixteen, that it would become more than just a passing fancy. July first was her birthday, sixteen was a milestone in any person’s life. We had planned a big party with her friends. But something happened that would change things forever. Dominique came home alone, crying. She ran up to the attic, with me right behind her trying to get answers from her. As she grabbed the old uniform and thrust it into my arms, I began to realize what had happened.
“They beat him up,” she said through her tears. “Those … baiseurs! They have to pay for what dey did to Yves. Jus’ because he black. They beat him up jus’ for dat.”
“Dominique,” I said in a calm voice, holding back my own worry as I tried to keep her calm. “Yves was hurt?”
“He’s in the hospital,” she said as the words came out between choked gasps. “Michelle an’ Jacqueline an’ me, we already talk to the police. You put dat on,” she said pointing to the uniform. “You put dat on, an’ make dem pay for what dey did.”
She had fallen to her knees, her tears taking control of her. I knelt down beside her and held her close. Yves was a good friend, and it did not surprise me that she was so emotional. I did my best to comfort her, and eventually Monika and I took her to bed. It would not be for another week that we would celebrate her sixteenth birthday, after Yves had gotten out of the hospital.
It was shortly after that, Monika and I began to discuss what Dominique had kept trying to convince me.
“I don’t think she’s going to stop, Jean Pierre,” Monika said one night as we prepared for bed. “She’s dropping small hints that you should go out and find the ones who did this to Yves.”
“I’m not a young man anymore,” I said with a sigh. “I have other responsibilities to take care of. And this is a job for the police, not some man in a costume.”
“I know this,” she replied with a nod. “And you know this. But all Dominique sees is that three men got away with a crime. Against a friend of hers no less.”
“Just how long do you think she’ll keep this up?”
“You remember when she wanted to get that eight hundred dollar Fender?” she asked with a small smile. “It was a year, from the time she was twelve to the time she was thirteen before you finally sat her down and told her that if she wanted it, she had to earn it. An’ then a year after that she finally had the money to get one.” I nodded with a sigh, smiling slightly as I remembered.
That smile changed a bit as I realized Monika’s example. “You aren’t saying that we should…”
“Do you think she’s going to stop?” she said as she interrupted my train of thought.
Monika was right, as she usually was. Dominique was going to have to earn this, however, just like the guitar. But unlike the guitar, she had to understand that there were two things she needed to realize. This was not a game, it was very dangerous. She would have to take care of herself and always be on the defensive. She also had to realize that she could not do this for revenge, being Canadiens was not about revenge. It was something much more.
While I did not wish to admit it at the time, my wife and I had decided to set Dominique’s path on the road to becoming Canadiens.