Finally, a Little Fear and Maybe Way Too Much Loathing on the Way, a Way Out to Old Collin’s Bay
I got the first sort of frightening dose of good old fashioned fear on Christmas Day morning. Excited as any little boy would be on this glorious of all mornings, I jumped into CAR 29 and bolted straight down to the boatyard. Happily wondering what presents might await me there this morning. Maybe a goose or a low flying duck, maybe one magic little star peaking out from behind this myst. There'd be no stars out on this morning as I stood in the cloud covered darkness, I heard something, what was it? People talking loudly over by the Place Des Armes Condos? A Christmas morning domestic? A little too much eggnog… again, sadly I couldn't get that lucky… The sound was a deranged Bumblebee man coming quite quickly towards me. Strolling alone from the far shore. He was muttering to himself, breathing heavily, sniffling and grunt punching the air as if faced with some imaginary boxing match foe. I kept CAR 29 between myself and this Bumblebee man as he walked by, while I still tugging away on the morning’s wake me up smoke. Bumblebee man caused an uneasy feeling, but mostly I felt unfairly interrupted in this special place I've grown to call, my very own. This special place now being invaded, on this most glorious of all mornings, by some muttering idiot raising inside my still somewhat unawakened mind, just a little twinge of fear.
This particular Bumblebee man was wearing a wholly soaking wet ratty old yellow and black striped parka, unzipped and open. He was wearing no hat against the windy wet weather that had mangled his hair… He could just as easily sweated it wet as by simply being out far too long on a long damp night. Who knows, and who know why I would have to face this F’n mess of a fella on this, my special Christmas morning in CAR 29. Why’d I have to put up with this shit, on this day of all days? All of suddenly like he broke from stride, his mutterings stopping, his air punching trance ending as if he'd just boxed his way out of a corner. He took notice of me and moved towards the CAR... I jumped into it and with an “…I don’t need this shit” momentum and sped out of my boatyard quick, like a jumpy little bunny… thinking well, damn this really dampened what should have been a very jolly good start to my day. As I spun onto Wellington, I got my first call... over to one of the patient visitors “stay over” places, those boarding house like guest homes over behind the Hotel Dieu Hospital on Johnson… I sat out in front, in what was a now dreary rainfall and dreamed of a trip out of town… turned out to be a NOW SHOW… oh, what a glorious way to start this day… this day of all days.
After about a half hour of mindlessly cruising around the pretty old part of this little city; looking at the few pretty twinkling lights folks had left on overnight. I figured Bumblebee man would have wandered off by now. I swung back into the boatyard, straight to what I’ll now call Amen Corner, over by the little tree next to the little bench where, a few nights back, a good pal and I had watch a full moon’s halo make an eyeball of itself in the more brightly lit up early night's sky. I didn’t get the chance to even get out of the CAR, taking the time to do a little reading. I flicked on the overhead lights on, blinding me to the outside; didn’t hear even the slightest of rustling when all of a sudden there was Bumblebee man blurred through the rain smudges of the window, pulling at the passenger side door handle. A click of the locks as I popped CAR 29 into drive, hit the gas and got the hell outta there… just as mad as I was startled... fast as I can.
It wouldn’t be until the sun was quite a bit further up n’ behind the thick cloud bank that greeted Kingston on this Christmas Day morning that I’d bother heading back to my boatyard. A smeared yellowish dot softly lighting up the grey drizzly day as tried once again to stand there, as I do every morning, alone in my thoughts at Amen Corner while having the morning’s most relaxing of smokes. I did notice that Bumblebee Man was still there. He'd made his way all the way out to the end of the jetty, the breakwater. No worries, I figured it would have taken him at least ten minutes to walk in from out there. Then as if properly wound up, like clockwork, damn if he didn’t start coming back towards me… like an overly n' poorly programmed wind-up toy zombie-like android, he had noticed CAR 29 and… he just kept right on coming.
I watched him stutter stumble on back; far too far out there to hear him, I just assumed he was still sniffling and grunting as he air-punched and ducked in and around the boats all nestled on shore, up on their cradles and wrapped up in tarps for winter. I figured I had time enough to finish my smoke; when Bumblebee man went out of sight behind some old work sheds, I stepped back into the CAR and finally headed off for good into what turned out to be a pretty marvellous day shuffling folks from Mom’s Christmas to Dad’s… by the end, I’d pretty much forgotten about Bumblebee man. Was he was having his own special Crystalline Christmas? My guess, who knows, perhaps he'd slipped into the Cataraqui and floated off to greet his own special Jesus on that glorious morning. Nothing about it in the papers but, who reads the papers anymore and with so few of them writing up stories about fucked up stoned losers who fall into rivers.... who'd really care.
The very next morning, Boxing Day as it's known here, before I was even able to get to my boatyard, I got my first call. An up late gang of just past being cute kids, still up and at it this early in the morning on something. A friendly bunch who decided to school me on Ecstasy …apparently they preferred pure MDMA, Molly as they now called it. I don’t know, I guess I must have missed something over the years. Good thing I’ve not been on the market for ages, who knows what I’d have got myself into asking for something not knowing of it’s name change. Bloody marketing guys, they’ll rebrand everything eventually if we don’t watch ‘em too closely.
As I listened to them ramble on about next to nothing, I overheard one of them mention a place called The Trap. Some rotten old flea bitten room in back of the vacant place beside the Tattoo Parlour in that slightly dilapidated row of old converted into retail row of houses just up from Division on Princess. Just as I dropped off the kids, a bit further up Princess, near Alfred, I got my next call for… the vacant place beside the Tattoo Parlour just up from Division on Princess… My guess at what the place called “The Trap” might have, that place they had mentioned, appeared to be bang on the money. As stepping into my CAR, early Boxing Day morning was none other than a trapped fella I could only describe a way to old to be this so stoned and sketchy, this early in the morning. Quite honestly the scariest, well to be totally honest, the only scary fare I’ve had in my CAR, so far.
Immediately inside Mr. Too Old n’ Sketchy started in with the standard fare nonsensical disjointed babble. I paused the CAR when he told me we’d have to stop at a convenience store as he had no money “…can I put this on my ODSP account?” I radioed his account number in knowing full well I wouldn’t get a confirmation from the confounded dispatcher. I just wanted the way too old, self inflicted scatter brained asshole in my back seat to be reminded that indeed I did have this radio contact. I politely told him we couldn’t use his disability account on account this wasn’t a trip to or from a methadone clinic, “…you know (saying under my breath, you fucking asshole) what this account of yours is assigned to you for.” After a bit of whining he shuffled through a wad of bills he had all along in his pocket and handed me two twenties to hold on to as I drove him all the way out to Collin’s Bay. A twenty or so minute drive I did all I could to cut to 15... or so. There but for the grace… I thought as I raced through the first of a few “...but officer It was yellow” lights…
A few days earlier, I’d picked up a couple of young fellas out there in Old Collin’s Bay. It was nearing the end of a shift when they asked me to whisk them, as fast as I could, all way through to the other end of the city so they could drop off an “expense report” to a welfare worker. One of them had just been paroled, the other, his older brother seemed to be coaching him on the finer points of making sure the money kept rolling in as he rolled out of Quinte, the smaller, local Pen where they park misdemeanor offenders; drunkards, the lit up n' high guys and semi-violent idiots who'd maybe taken a swing at the arresting officers when caught being too drunkenly stupid in public places on those special occasions of their own making. I was obligingly racing along Bath Road, near Queen Mary, towards the welfare office when they had me stop… they’d noticed something and decided they needed to pull into a friend's place… for something… you know, something or another.
I told ‘em they’d need to leave me something of value if they wanted to hold onto the car, have me wait as they visited this friend. I chuckled as the recently released jailbird, the boneheaded younger of brothers handed me his Tim Horton’s stuffed cookie, “…you’ll have to do better than this?” The older brother handed me two twenties as they got out and went on up inside one of Kingston’s joyless looking row-house low income apartments. I waited until it was really too late to make it to the welfare office before wandering up and knocking on the door. I asked the nice young lady who answered if these two young fellas would be re-joining me on this ride? The fare was getting bigger and we really had to go now if they wanted to get to the office to take care of the business of making sure they’d get more money. She went in then came right back to tell me to wait just a few minutes more.
The brothers stumbled back into the CAR well after we’d run out of time to make it to the welfare office. They asked me to take them back home to Collin’s Bay, stopping first to pick up a phone card and to see if a pair of opening night Star Wars tickets might still be handy... and, didn’t that get them excited when they scored themselves seats for tomorrow night’s 4:30 opening day show. In our good mood the three of us helped out some homeless traveler outside the theatre. I gave him the leftovers in an old pack of cheap reservation cigarettes; the older brother gave him a twenty to help him get back to Toronto, for Christmas… They were all giggles as they wore their especially created and branded Star Wars Storm Trooper 3D glasses the rest of the way home. It was dark as I pulled into their poorly lit driveway, almost missing it as I pulled off the Bath Road, which out here is nearly a highway… We’d spent nearly an hour together so almost quite fondly I wished ‘em a gleeful goodnight, wishing them a Happy Christmas, telling ‘em I hope they enjoyed their Star Wars opening moment. Forty dollars or so richer, I logged out and headed CAR 29 in the direction of home.
…now let's get back in the CAR on Boxing Day morning. I was doing my best to keep old Mr. Twitchy, Too Sketchy calm and relaxed. If I’ve learned nothing, I know it takes very little to get a fella in the throes of a vein-banged or smoked up Crystal Meth high hopping, mad or erratic, even just a little plain crazed enough to start flailing, screaming or simply getting too out of control to be riding in the back seat of a cab in the dark on the way out to some unknown address that he promised we’d find along the way; a way out to Old Collin’s Bay. I’ve had far too many of my own conversations with overly-stoned-stupid drug addicts to know enough to keep the conversation from herkily-jerking away from the mission at hand; that of getting this asshole OUT OF MY CAR! I softly kept his babbling-ramblings roiling in a friendly direction; laughing with him at his inane proclamations, sharing best I could in his deranged delusion, always assuring him that he might be making sense, anything, just enough to keep him focussed on giving me directions to exactly where we were going… as quickly and politely as we could. I know enough to know, one wrong flinch and this fella could have easily started digging through his pockets, past the wad of bills he couldn't find earlier. Looking for something sharp n’ pointed... I kept him quiet and we eventually found the place we'd been headed towards.
As soon as he said “…hey turn left, right in here.” it immediately seemed all at once all too familiar. I knew exactly where we were. I told him I’d taken two boys for a ride through town from this exact place just the other day. His mood changed (again) immediately to one of, hey it might have even been joy… “Oh, for Christ sakes…” he chirped, “…so you've met my boys!” I asked him if they had enjoyed Star Wars, he mumbled something as I handed him the change from the two twenties he given me to keep the ride going earlier. Thankfully he simply stumbled out of the CAR as I wished him and his boys another Happy Christmas. As soon as he was clear of the CAR, headed off towards his door, I peeled out of his driveway and went straight to the Tim Horton’s just down the road… it wasn’t open, but I wanted to stop, decompress rest my mind for a bit, digest the moment and think about, what was it I was feeling? Was it old fashioned fear, or was I simply loathing… all these so totally lost in nasty drugged losers.
I asked myself... just what would I miss If I were to lose my life behind the wheel of this CAR 29? A crash, a wrecked misadventure or an inadvertent unprovoked slash of a pointy thingy poke from some meth head I'd pick up along my way. Not much I supose, the tip, the next fare the next nice conversation... so losing my life, is this what I fear? Or do I fear more my own growing loathing of what’s being stolen by these characters I’ve just met… Do I fear seeing another family of nutbars, two too boyishly young jailbirds destroyed by watching daddy stumbling home stoned out his mind after Christmas, out of his mind on the worst drug anyone could ever imagine? Do I fear my morning’s serenity being shattered by a wretched Bumblebee man who can’t leave me alone in my own place on a very special morning, that place I go each and almost every single morning and on those special full mooned eyeball evenings with a very special friend? Perhaps I fear most for the future these morons will leave for my son.
Honestly though, it’s really just Kingston and I truly don’t really don’t fear any of this all that much… And who wouldn’t loath having their garden-like little city being sullied by this kind of annoyance? Putting up with these far too strung-out and flung-out from the normal, totally lost people, wretchedly wandering around without any real purpose? Who doesn’t get tired of all those who say we can and should save ‘em then start by doing absolutely nothing about it all by themselves… I guess it’s my anger at this that has me fearing my thinking on this the most as… all I can do really is to get ‘em where they’re going while hoping they don’t get the notion to poke a hole in me and my imaginary impression that this place is any different than the other places I’ve been to… worse places that, if you can imagine, I can so easily recall and call all my own.