Okay, hire me!

Posted: December 16, 2018 in Prose
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29 June, 2012

It was hot at noon, with a pleasant breeze. A large crowd had gathered at the park. There was some concern that the size of the crowd may attract the police, so some of the regulars moved further down.

I sat beside Shark. I asked him, “This is the weekend that Irene moves, isn’t it?”

“No, a month from now, August first. She’s on her own now. She invited me over to her place for six o’clock last night. I brought pork chops, potatoes – two bags of groceries.

“She said, ‘Get out!’

“ ‘You mean right now?’ I asked.

“ ‘Get out!’

“ ‘Okay,’ I said, ‘I’m going, but don’t expect me back!’ I packed up the groceries and left.”

“Had she been drinking?” I asked.

“Had she ever. She was into the lemonade coolers that are only seven per cent alcohol. Then she added regular vodka which is thirty-seven percent. These things taste so good that, on a hot day, you tend to drink them like water.

“She phoned me at midnight, one o’clock, two o’clock. She phoned Buck at three o’clock.”

I asked Gaston how his life was going. He said, “My daughter is in Cambodia now. She’s trained for eleven years to become what’s called a medical engineer. That’s an interdisciplinary degree applying principles of engineering, medicine and biology. Her husband is a lawyer. She’s been there a week and says she feels comfortable living there permanently.

“I told her, ‘Give it six months, before you decide to buy a house, or take on any other long-term commitments.’ “

I said, “The last time we talked, you mentioned that you do some writing. Have you published any books or articles?”

“No, I have some started, but recently I’ve been attending a class in psychology and kinesiology at the university. I’ve previously taken them separately, but now they’ve combined them.

“I’m working on a history of my family, but many of the records were destroyed in a fire. That will be a long-term project. My father’s family is from Sudbury, my mother’s is from Val d’Or. Our family was living in Toronto, but went to visit family in Sudbury where I was born, January 1, 1950 – right on the dot of midnight.

“I have poor circulation. See the burst blood vessels in my ankles. I used to sleep with two pillows under my head and one under my feet. It’s easier on your heart if your feet are elevated. I raised the bottom of my bed, now I’m able to get rid of one pillow.”

Shark said, “I sleep with four pillows.”

I asked, “Is that so you don’t roll out of bed?”

“I still roll out of bed.”

“Gaston said, “I live on Elm Street. I can remember when there were trees on each side of the street arching over. It was like driving through a tunnel. The city decided to widen the street so they cut down all the trees. About five years later they came to the conclusion that there was too much traffic, so they narrowed the street again, but without the trees. It could have been done differently – circulating the traffic around the trees. We need the trees. They give off oxygen and take away carbon dioxide.”

Andre had been sitting in a cross-legged position, sound asleep. When he awoke he smiled and waved at me.

“So Shark,“ I asked, “you’re not moving?”

“I’ve talked to my landlord. I’d like to get a two bedroom apartment. When one becomes available, he’ll move me free of charge. We get along well.”

Joy said, “No Gene, I’m not coming on to your girlfriend, although I did have a wife for a year and a half while I was in prison.”

Andre said, “That big cop does not like Little Jake.”

“It’s because he’s always mouthing off,” said Joy. “He’s like a dog gnawing on a bone, he never quits.

“They have to be really careful with Jake because of his HIV. He always has open sores on his lips, or scrapes where he’s fallen down.

“Do you remember when there was the big hep c scare. I spit at a cop and got eighteen months for assault with a deadly weapon. I didn’t spit anywhere near him. That could happen to Jake if he isn’t careful.”

Andre said, “I was panning down the street yesterday. This suit passes me and says, ‘Get a job!’ I said, ‘Okay, hire me!’ He said, ‘Bathe first!’ You know, just because I don’t have access to a shower, doesn’t mean that I don’t wash – all over.”

Joy said, “That’s an image I don’t want in my head.”

“I’m just saying.”

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