October 2006

A Little Less Than Evil...

I live on “Crack Corner”

Calgary is getting to be (much to my chagrin) a big city. The small town city that I once knew has faded into the shadows and disfigurations that only come with a major metropolis. In my months downtown I have seen shootings and stabbings and been turned away by the city police when I have tried to lend my eyewitness account.

And yet, I believe in the people of this city.

I do not believe in the city any longer. I have seen enough middle class gangsters and their parents to know that the vast majority of this city cannot help but blind themselves to the truth of the city in which I now live. I have seen enough people turn from the reality to some cosmopolitan illusion to know that the gulf between the haves and the have nots only widens on a daily basis.

Ironically, the only solace, the only hope that I can find in this town of wasted dreams is in those that are the most wasted.

I live in a building of refugees.

That is not a metaphorical statement designed to create some sort of wistful state. Quite the opposite. In my building, on crack corner there are the peoples of more nations that I can name who have come to call Canada home in the hopes that they might not only be able to escape the rapes and murders of their homeland, but that they might be able to earn enough to save some of their family members that same fate.

And then they end up on Crack Corner.

Take for example, the sandwich artist that mad me my sub tonight.

I would have put her in her mid thirties at first sight. African descent to the eye, all of that. The trick of it was that I decided to talk to her. I asked her how her thanksgiving was.

And she answered.

She was from eastern Africa. She had a very nice thanksgiving with her friends and would I like onions with that?

I said no.

Not a fan of onions I’m afraid…

Nonetheless, she made the sub and in the course of the conversation it came up that the reason she was working the most dangerous shift at one of the most dangerous sandwich places in the city was because she was trying to earn enough money to bring some more of her family to Canada.

And with that I stopped in my tracks.

After determining that this particular sandwich shoppe does not allow for tips on debit I made my way to the bank machine on the lower floor.

And I took out a twenty.

And then I walked back up the stairs and handed it to the east African lady and said thank you.

There were of course the obligatory protests, that twenty dollars was too much for a sandwich, but I had stubbornness on my side and a counter between us, so I had the getaway on my side.

I wished her a Happy Thanksgiving, and walked away.

I know that I can’t buy a plane ticket for her family, and I know that the horrors that thi sandwich artist has seen certainly outweigh anything my first world complaints could ever hold a candle to, but that wasn’t the point.

The point was, and I hope still is, that people can be decent. If only 100 more people shared that same decency I have no doubts that she would be able to get a good chunk of her family away from random rapes and murders.

The horror is of course, that 100 people won’t. From her reaction I can safely say that I was the first.

And what a sin that is.

Still…

Best twenty dollars I have spent in a good long time.

Walter (Part VI))

Gordon Smiled.

In the yellow light of the living room, Gordon couldn?t help himself.

He sat on the couch staring at the pale frame of the old man. He had been visiting for weeks now, every week caring for Mr. Hendrickson. It had been sad at times, watching this man slowly fail at being a human being. Mr. Hendrickson was once a proud businessman in the community. He had owned the car dealership that had brought many a reliable vehicle to many of the people in the town and it?s many surrounding townships.

Mr. Hendrickson was a man that had never forgotten the community from whence he came. He had made the bulk of his fortune well before the depression hit, and while he could have easily stood immune to it?s effects he had been one of the driving forces between many community initiatives. Mr. Hendrickson had never hesitated to help his fellow man. During the hard years he ran a large soup kitchen to ensure that all of those around him had at the very least, enough to eat.

Many of the more affluent community had often questioned the wisdom of Mr. Hendrickson?s actions. In a hard time, how wise could it be to risk ones own financial well being for those that lacked the foresight or the luck to prepare themselves?

Mr. Hendrickson did not care to ask such questions.

He was far more concerned with his fellow man. Sleeping at night did not come easy to Mr. Hendrickson. It came with the knowledge that he had done what he could, and no sooner.

So he gave.

Even when the banks began to question whether or not he would be bale to sustain himself, Mr. Hendrickson did not hesitate.

He simply gave.

And when the depression turned to war, and when the war turned to spectacular prosperity, he saw the rewards of his kindness. However unintentionally, when the financial tides of the town turned, the name that he had incidentally created as one that had saved many of the town brought him legendary success. All of the farmers and townsfolk that had seen their lives turn to dust believed that they owed an unpayable debt to Mr. Hendrickson.

But try to pay it they did.

And for a good many year, Hendrickson automotive was the only business in town that sold a car or a truck or a tractor.

And so, in the prosperity that followed the sorrow, Mr. Hendrickson saw great success, and he made back all he had given to the townsfolk and he saw more riches than ever.

Some people might have stopped giving at that point. But not him.

He opened centres for the youth. He held sock hops. He did everything he could to make sure that his town not only prospered, but that is shined.

And now?

Two years ago he was diagnosed with a malignant growth. He was given six weeks.

He never stopped.

It was only in the last couple of weeks when Gordon would come by to care for Mr. Hendrickson that Gordon realised what had to be done.

Seeing the man who was once and still in many ways was the pride of the community reduced to waiting for a man like Gordon to clean the feces out from underneath him made Gordon see.

And what Gordon saw was an offensive waste.

Here was a man who had given his all for the community and yet his reward was the inability to not lie in his own waste.

Something had to be done.

Which is why Gordon had made the tea that day with an extra ingredient.

Which is why Gordon has watched as the old kind man had gently fallen asleep.

Which is why Gordon had silently sat in that antique couch in that antique room with the antique light as old Mr. Hendrickson finally was gifted with the death that he deserved.

A quiet one.

A dignified one.

Not one of an invalid, but one of a proud and good man.

Gordon had done good that day. And the goodness carried him as he dialled the local constabulary.

And Gordon simply said, ?I?m afraid Mr. Hendrickson has passed away?.

Wisdom

Gordon first heard his calling when his mother fell to consumption. She was a good woman, a proud Christian woman who was suffered by the suffocating blood in her lungs. Gordon could not stand by and watch as the woman who had given him all of his beliefs and convictions was forced to fade into nothing.

So he did the right thing.

He held her pillow over her mouth and freed her from her disease.

That was Gordon?s mission.

To free the good from the evils that they had thrust upon them.

And he was very good at it.

When Gordon first made the decision to become a nurse, he was of course subject to no lack of mockery. That was OK though, he knew his mission, he knew his cause and it was good.

And while the manly men around him would jeer and call him a woman, Gordon knew that he was being called to something that most of those manly men wouldn?t be able to stomach even on a good day.

Gordon was an angel, and he knew it.

He had the strength of God behind him, and he would take the mockery and the laughter and know that in the end, he would be the one at their bedside.

He would be the one to free them.

And Gordon saw through the school, and Gordon saw through the mockery. And he saw his first chance. She was an old woman, crippled by polio. And Gordon gave her morphine, and Gordon let a bubble into the line, and Gordon freed her from her prison.

And he would do it, again and again. The more you do the good work, the easier it becomes.

And it became all the easier for Gordon.

Because he was an angel.

Bulk...

For years Gordon did his good work. He sought out the best of souls and would set them free. The worst, well he would leave them to their fate.

There were more than a couple of wasted souls to whom Gordon left to their fate. There was the pedophile who had never been caught in the act who Gordon let drown in his own blood. Truth be told, Gordon had called for emergency assistance on more than one occasion to prolong the mans suffering.

And then there was the banker town council member who had taken advantage of the depression to buy up the suffering farmers land at the cheapest cost once he had foreclosed on them.

Gordon made certain that life rewarded him with the finest of cruelties before the final stoke ended him. When Gordon was spoon-feeding the man creamed apples, he knew that he was the hand of gods divine vengeance. Here was a man who once held the power of others lives to survive or wither away with the dust reduced to barely sucking back liquid apple.

Gordon made sure that as he changed the bankers diaper he was fully aware of the indignities that he deserved.

And Gordon watched with what he could only allow himself as glee as the banker finally suffered the loss of his life. Powerless and unable to even speak.

This, Gordon told himself, was justice.

Divine Justice.

Finality...

Gordon worked his way through the fold. He quickly became known for his compassion and his grace. When one goes to all lengths to save even the most hated of his community, how can he not?

And Gordon?s mission was good. He was able to free the worthy and punish those that deserved wrath.

And one day he found himself on the steps of the Robinson house.

Mr. Robinson was a good man, albeit a sad one.

He had lost his wife a few years earlier, a good woman, one who never failed to support her husbands will to help the dregs, the ones who had been overlooked.

And so Gordon found himself ready to bring his gift. Mr. Robinson had suffered a stroke years before and yet found the need to try and maintain his homestead despite the fact that he was barely able to pull himself down the stairs and that his daughter had been forced to hire a gardener.

Enough was enough, Gordon had decided.

This poor man, trapped inside his own body, had suffered far too much for a man who had cared and done as much as he had for his community.

He needed to be freed.

And so, on that most special of days when Gordon decided that time had gone on long enough, He took the steps knowing that today would be the day he set Mr. Robinson free.

And as Mr. Robinson lay on the recliner, Gordon grasped the lace throw pillow and placed it over his face.

?How dare he?? Gordon thought. This gift of freedom, this gift of escape was being resisted against.

And so he pushed all the harder.

It would have been simple.

It would have been easy.

But that irreverent bitch had to come in.

Evidently Mr. Robinson had heard the sounds of her fathers unwillingness to accept Gordon?s gift.

For the first time, Gordon found himself in a predicament to which he did not immediately know the answer.

But in a blind panic, he found it.

If he allowed this girl to stop him, if he allowed this girl to keep him from freeing her father how many other good people must suffer and how many other wicked must not?

So as she launched himself at him, he grabbed the lighter wrapped in marble that was sitting on the coffee table. She fell to the floor unconscious and as she did Gordon finished setting free Mr. Robinson.

And then he set upon her.

Gordon knew that she was a demon. She was an evil. How dare she try to stop Gordon in his holy mission of setting this man free? This man, this poor weak man who had only ever tried to help people was suffering. How dare she try and stop Gordon from freeing this man from pain?

And so she had to be destroyed.

As all evil does.

And so Gordon wrapped his righteous fingers around her neck and wrung her evil life from her.

And as she lay there, beneath him, Gordon did not once question how he would hide her evil demise. He did not think that he would have to reconcile her death with the authorities. His was the work of the lord, and those that confuse themselves with the need to explain such are only weak.

And so, when the front door swung open, Gordon could only be surprised.

And when the fists came at Gordon, he could only fall to them in shock.

And when the hands wrapped around Gordon?s neck, he could not but think that this was what he was fated for.

And when the skin of the knuckles wrinkled and wrung the life from him, Gordon could not help but smile.

He was now a martyr.

And once again, Walter was left with blood on his hands.