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Rant #359
(published December 6, 2007)
They Found The Dog First
by Rhonda Parrish
They found the dog first. His cold little body, curled up amidst garbage bags crammed full of Barry's stuff at the back door . . .

Marie lived with Gordon and had two daughters with him, but she talked about Barry often, and in a way that made it all too obvious that she had a crush on him. The first time I ever saw him was at the village bar I worked at; a wild place that managed to be at once a completely typical rural Alberta hotel, and a unique world unto itself. He just happened to pop in for a quick drink and some off sales one day.

He seemed charming enough, in a rakish sort of way. He had long black hair, an automatic plus in my book, and a jagged scar that crossed the entire width of his throat which intrigued me. After the door slammed shut behind him, I made sure everyone in the bar had a fresh drink and then sat down at one of the tables full of regulars to gossip. The topic of conversation? You guessed it, Barry.

"He's going to kill someone someday!" David said, his mountainous frame jiggling with laughter. Turning to me, he gestured, "Hey, Wanda, did you see that scar on his neck?"

I nodded. "It was rather hard to miss, don't you think?"

He laughed again, as did the rest of the men at the table, and nodded. "Know how he got it?"

"No, but I bet you're going to tell me."

A few guys at the table snickered at my snarkiness, but the smile on my face told David I really did want to know, and he continued. "Well, some guy caught him with his wife and cut his throat with a broken beer bottle! But you know what Barry did? He picked himself up off the floor and drove himself to the hospital!"

"Dude!" I exclaimed, more than a little impressed. The story continued, complete with Barry being pulled over for speeding and receiving a police escort to the hospital. Of course now that part leaves me a little dubious, after all, what cop is going to let someone bleeding from his throat drive themselves to the hospital, but then I was eighteen and green — willing to believe almost anything.

"He really is going to kill somebody someday though — have you seen his guns?" Randy asked the table in general. Many of the regulars nodded — one even whistled under his breath, but a few of us, me included, shook our heads.

"He's got enough firepower out there in Nisku to supply a small army." What followed was an extensive list of guns, rifles and other weapons that Barry was said to possess. It seemed that in addition to the shotgun and .22 rifles that were almost required in rural Alberta, Barry had a collection that included a variety of handguns, automatic weapons and even a Tommy gun. Of course, gossip does tend to exaggerate, but these guys swore to have actually seen the weapons in question, and in some cases, to have fired them. I was very intrigued, especially by the fact he was said to have tracer bullets, which I thought might very well be the best thing since Sambucca.

For over an hour the men took turns telling tales of Barry's exploits. It sounded like he was a hard drinking guy who had a bit of a temper, but apparently was a lot of fun to party with if you could stay on his good side.

I never really saw him again after that, except perhaps when he came in once or twice to pick up more off-sales, so I don't truly know how much of their stories found their base in fact and how much were exaggeration. Truthfully, I never thought of him again either, not until that long weekend and even then the words that haunted me weren't anything he'd said, but rather David laughing and saying, again and again, "He's going to kill somebody someday" while the rest of the table nodded cheerfully in agreement.

A couple years after the conversation in the bar, Marie took her youngest daughter, Sierra, and moved into Barry's house in Shouldice.

The firemen were responding to reports of a broken water main when they arrived that day, and nothing in their experience could have prepared them for what they found.

They found the dog first. His cold little body, curled up amidst garbage bags crammed full of Barry's stuff at the back door. Down in the basement it became apparent that intense heat from a fire had been what caused the water main to burst, the water from that, in turn, extinguished the flames. Alas, the fire had been set in order to cover up the true tragedy.

Marie died first — the victim of three shotgun blasts at close range while her three year old little girl watched. Sierra died next. It only took one shot from the shotgun to destroy her tiny body. After that, Barry started the fire, no doubt hoping to hide the evidence of his monstrous crimes, before shooting himself once in the head with his rifle.

The fire was super hot, and burst the water mains, unfortunately not before the dog, struggling to escape the smoke and fire, succumbed to smoke inhalation at the door.

When the police investigated they recovered a large collection of guns — including an AR15 assault rifle. I don't know if they found a Tommy gun. The newspaper headlines said things like 'Unthinkable Tragedy!' or quoted people saying 'We Never Saw it Coming!' or 'No One Could Have Predicted this Would Happen!'

Oh. Really?

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