There is this place in Banff, in Alberta, Canada that has a Thing you must see, if in fact you want to see it. It’s not mentioned in tourist pamphlets and it’s barely on any map you’ll find up there. It’s an open secret that, it seems, the locals either chuckle knowingly at or ignore completely. Keeping up appearances, letting it slide to slip it right in.
As you enter town via the TransCanada Highway, turning left onto Mount Norquay Road, just follow this road as it turns into Gopher Street, then Lynx Street and, finally, Bear Street. Take the left onto Buffalo Street, then the right on Banff Avenue. All the way down, keep going, across the bridge. There, on the right. Birch Avenue. Cave Avenue.
Enter the doors between the totem poles. You’re welcome.
Past the bisected goats and the mounted moose heads. To the back, keep going back.
Away from the snarling wolves and scattered fowl and pronghorns, but close to the grizzly that once embraced a nervous Marilyn Monroe.
Turn towards the opposite wall, following the dangling dreamcatchers along the way. Look down, down. Below, and you’ll find it.
It may not be a real mermaid. It may be a fake mermaid (or merman as it is also called), if in fact mermaids (or mermen) are real. It’s real fake. Fiji mermaid, “FeeJee Mermaid”, though maybe it’s from Japan. Half-fish, half-simian-Thing, some papier-mâché, perhaps? Promising to give you Things that it may not have to promise you at all. Unless you want it to.
Even if you don’t, it’s there.
Petrified. Unconcerned. Busy.