Native Cigarettes

Posted: April 25, 2019 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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14 September 2012

This morning was pleasant. Metro greeted me waving a newspaper, “Good morning, Dennis. Are you going to keep out of trouble this weekend?”

“Not if I can help it, Metro. Have a good day.”

“Joy’s down there.”

“Great, thanks Metro.”

“Hi Joy, how did you sleep?”

“Great, when I woke up I thought it was 5:15, my usual time, but it was 6:15. I really had to scramble to get everything together. When I got outside the door, I realized that my keys were at the bottom of my bag. So, I just left the door unlocked. We always used to leave the door unlocked. We never had any problems.”

“Weren’t you afraid that someone would steal Chester?”

“They can have him. He was all pissed off last night because I came home late.”

“Why, on earth, should he care what time you come home?”

“Ever since he fell down the stone steps, backwards, he hasn’t been right in the head. Every woman he’s been involved with, in any way, he falls in love with. Sometimes, I hear him talking in his sleep, ‘Joy, I love you.'”

“Has he made any arrangements, with the Health Department, for an exterminator?”

“Yeah, somebody is supposed to come by on Monday, but I told Chester, ‘I don’t care. If everything goes well at my appointment this afternoon, I’ll be out of here soon — maybe, even next week.’

“He may come by later. He’s out of cigarettes, so he’ll probably be doing a butt run. He’ll be wanting to bum a cigarette from me as well; but I smoke natives, he prefers a stronger cigarette.”

“What are natives?” I asked.

“They’re made from the scraps of what they use to make tailor-mades. The tobacco is supposed to be for ceremonial purposes. It’s not meant for human consumption.”

“Who makes them?”

“Natives.”

“At $20 a carton, some young entrepreneurs from the Kanasatake reserve near Montreal are selling a lot of cigarettes. The brands they are pushing may be unfamiliar to most people – Native and Mohawk Blend – but they come from a manufacturing plant on the American side of the Mohawk reserve in Akwasasne.”

“Making cigarettes has become an important business in Akwasasne. There are two manufacturing plants employing a couple of hundred people. The cigarettes are sold in native communities all across the United States, and now in some Canadian communities as well.

“I was talking to Timmy the other day. He said that smoking them gives him the dry heaves in the morning, and he’s been coughing up blood. He figures it’s not the liquor that gives him a hangover, it’s the native cigarettes.

“On the number fourteen bus last night I saw, Kit’s brother, Ronny. He must live ear where Little Jake moved in, and where Irene move out.”

“I don’t want to live near any of those people. My worker was surprised that I wanted to live in Vanier. She said a lot of hookers are moving from Vanier to Carlington, but there are still a lot in Vanier. I probably know them all. Jacques won’t live in Vanier. I’ve never had any problems there.”

I said, “I’ve lived in Vanier. I liked it. I never had any problems.

“I couldn’t believe how quiet Shakes was yesterday,” I said.

“Yeah, that was something, wasn’t it? I think he’s still upset about being robbed. I’ve told those guys that sleep at the Sheps, or the Mission, “Don’t store money in your socks.” I said, “Put it in a plastic baggie and stuff it in your underwear. If someone touches your crotch, you’re going to wake up.”

“It’s strange that Shakes and Andre were both robbed within days of each other.”

Joy said, “I think it was Sharron who got Andre’s money. When she was at the park I saw her rearranging her bra a few times, as if something felt uncomfortable. I think that’s where she hid Andre’s money.” Andre said, ‘I had my hand down her top a few times. I’d have noticed if it was there.’ I said, ‘If she had it right at the bottom of her cup, you’d never know it.’

I said, “Andre told me that he was robbed by two guys and one of them kicked him in the head.”

Joy said, “He put up a fight when the money was taken from his sock, but I kicked him in the head. He kept touching me. I warned him, “Next time you do that you’re going to regret it. He put his hand on my thigh. I stood up and kicked him in the head. He tried it a second time, I kicked him again. You think he’d learn. He put his hand right on my crotch. I got up and kicked him with all my might. The third kick was the best. It connected with the back of his head, his head snapped foreward and bobbled — just like one of those bobble-headed figures. He was out cold. Chester and I left shortly after that. He said, ‘Do you think he’s okay? Maybe he has a broken neck. I said, ‘I don’t care if he has.” Then we left.

“He was by here this morning, he’s okay. He was hanging around — I finally had to tell him to move on. This is Friday, it’s government pay week. I’ve got to make some money.”

“Maybe I should move on.”

“Whatever you like. You could go talk to Andre. I saw him going around the corner. He’s probably panning in front of Timmy Ho’s. I’ll see you this afternoon anyway, I have to be at the park to meet my worker. She’s coming at 2:00.”

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