“I’ll trade you a slice of pie for a brownie.”
“You’re on man.”
The guy hands the other a greasy portion of a Little Caesar’s hot and ready for a section of brownie. They chew each other’s traded goods.
There is a bitch sitting across the way. Not more than 15 years old. On her neck is a hicky so pronounced you’d swear that a set of lips were tattooed there in bright purple.
A lolly pop rolls on to the street. The bus doors let it off like a fare paying passenger.
I sit, closing a distance.
The brownie trader grabs his bike off the front of the bus. “I’m getting off here.”
The bus driver shakes his head. The young girl in the wheelchair refuses to get strapped in. “I’m safe, just like someone standing.” She looks out the window. Her eyebrows form a triangular pyramid like she’s watching something sad. It’s just the street, downtown Jasper avenue.
Leathery masks of flesh stretched on top of skulls, clutching buckets of cat litter or an over-stuffed brief case, stinking.
Elsewhere the skimpy whores on the patio are selling Crantini’s for 8 dollars a pop.
Impunity is a funny thing. The power to do whatever you want for what ever reason you want.
Amnesty released yet another damning report concerning governments that commit human rights abuses with impunity. Nobody seems to care.
People around here live with impunity.
Dear Slurpee Corp:
I enjoy your frozen beverages immensely. There isn’t anything better to have at midnight than a coke and grape Slurpee. The sweet taste adds an interesting sub-text to the stroll back home through the graveyard near the 7-11 where I purchase your drinks. I look at the tombstones and I am reminded how special it is to be alive to enjoy the feeling of a Slurpee induced brain-freeze. It is hard to enjoy anything as a corpse, you know?
However I’m increasingly concerned with the security at all-night 7-11’s. Tonight for instance, a van-load of middle-aged drunkards and whores pummeled a downtrodden man in the parking lot. He got his already filthy jean jacket even dirtier because they kicked and spit at him over an oil puddle left by some bleeding car. They even tipped over his shopping cart. Edmonton is a dangerous place.
I drank my Slurpee in relative peace as I walked toward the graveyard, so I shouldn’t complain I suppose. But I didn’t feel the environment was healthy for frozen beverage consumption. None of the individuals were holding Slurpees either. Maybe that was why they were so violent.
I propose that you create a Slurpee security task force in order to protect the safe and tidy distribution of your product. You could enlist the help of Slurpee aficionados across the nation. I’d even lend my services to assist the administration and implementation of said organization.
Thanks for your consideration.
Yours in perpetuity,
Paintings of street people in an finished basement. Poems are scrawled onto the spaces between the filthy portraits.
Yesterday was a good day. I acquired a free tie, two bottles of malt liquor and some new carpet from a drunk guy who had a box full of carpet for some strange reason.
I owe Mingus money. He paid for me to get into the Commerical; an old bar and likely candidate for Edmonton’s next historical fire. I’ll need to bring him a bottle of Wild Turkey and buy a copy of his book the next time I see him.
A bearded guy in a leather beenie bounced me for stumbling over my shoes and sort of twisting my ankle. I didn’t even spill my beer, let alone fall. The best part: The guy didn’t bounce me earlier after I fell on my face after tripping on a chair. I typically leave bars on my own volition, so being escorted out by an old biker signals a change in my constitution. I hope I’m not getting soft. Maybe it was the Big Bear. I’m unable to remember if I became obnoxious or not.
Malt liquor fills one with an acute sense of shame and regret. Not like wine or bourbon at all. Big Bear is a hellish broth. But what the hell? It was thematic.
I shouldn’t work so high up. I see the windowwashers dangling on little platforms connected to wires connected in turn to the roof.
I often stare out over the city. Up here on the 23rd floor, I can see most of the city. I can even see Canada’s largest mall out west. Then I stare at the windows themselves. I wonder if they are able to support the weight of a human body being flung against it. I think they could. But I’m too afraid to chance it. One needs to be prepared for the possibility of the window giving out.
Canadian politics. Somehow those words seem alien to look at together. When the phrase is mentioned I am reminded of an episode of the Simpsons; the one with the hurricane. I see a bowling alley teetering on the tip of a mountain. That is what Canadian politics reminds me off.
“Don’t fucking move,” his hands on my shoulders. “Give me your fucking wallet now!”
I didn’t think he could be serious. He wears a generic mall store bandana over his face like a TV old-west villain. Somebody is holding a 9mm to my head, a finger on the trigger. I hand him all my money. I think it’s serious.
“It’s all I”ve got.”
“What the fuck is this?” He looks at the five dollars folded in his hand.
I’ve never been robbed before. Nor have I had a gun pointed at my skull. It could have been fake. I’m not sure. The gun looked real enough not to take any chances. No bullets in the head please. Still knives scare me more. Knives don’t make loud bangs that wake up the neighbourhood; people who can phone for an ambulance. I’m glad I didn’t notice a knife. The third guy could have been holding a knife. I didn’t see. The gun looked real enough not to take any chances. They only got off with five bucks.
Rituals. People who work in offices do them everyday. Make copies. Fax things. Drink coffee. Shit like that.
However, one of my favourite things professionals have made a serious ritual is to lie. Not regular lying. But lying to panhandle who sit beside the polished marble columns that line the bottom of mirrored towers.
The ritual goes like this: The panhandle ask for spare change. The professional office worker lies and says they don’t have any.
Imagine this scenario: “Hey buddy, can you help a guy out with some spare change?”
“Sorry, but I only carry twenties and fifties.”
People in offices have more money than they know what to do with. Some cultivate destructive addictions to consumer goods. A few brilliant ones cultivate self-destructive addictions to fine coke.
I’ve been asked for change everyday this week. More than once in a single trip sometimes. I had change. But it isn’t exactly spare, so I lied.
I’m going to spend it on beer. Normally I’d consider that selfish. But a good panhandle wants beer too.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.
Besides, I am after all, a professional.