the true stories
Love and passion. The pitch, the swing and the high fly ball. One still has three bases to negotiate before arriving home. Passion will get you the fly ball but only love will see you home safe. Both are necessary and the order of operations is key. Love will run the bases once the ball is airborne but only passion will knock it out of the park.
At least that is one way of looking at things. I am no stranger to passion and I experienced a great deal of it during my second marriage. Passion is energetic. Like electric energy it can light your way or fry you like a chicken leg. Sometimes both at the same time. After ten passionate years I found myself having to make the difficult decision to end my marriage.
Because of the passionate nature of the relationship, there were as many sparks coming apart as there were coming together. During the coming apart time, I was walking the good old Trail. My divorce was a very lengthy and expensive one by my reckoning and it brought out the best and worst in all involved.
I grabbed the good stainless steel cookware only to have my cherished red tool box held hostage for the safe return of the pots. This kind of thing went on back and forth and with twenty years of hindsight, I can smile at this aspect of the whole episode.
My wife at the time was a very passionate person. She was also very fond of shoes. No, she was passionate about them. Imelda Marcos may have had more money and a bigger closet, but she did not own more shoes than my girl did. No sir. It became a bur under my saddle to think of it everyday.
Along about this time there were waves of immigrants invited to Canada from Indonesia, southern India and environs. One apartment building on the Trail had taken on scores of these same people. It was a massive old building previously filled with welfare recipients of the local variety and not a few junkies. It would do the place good I thought, to get some honest, working, family-oriented folks on board to set an example for the rest of them.
The lobby was a mailman's nightmare in that it had two thirty foot long banks of mailboxes on opposite walls. Three quarters of them had been pried open with screwdrivers. On welfare day I had to coerce all the throng stand back by the elevators by threatening to walk out with the cheques. This was to prevent a hundred hands reaching into any and every open box.
The lighting was poor, the building smelled like a grease-trap behind a restaurant and everybody had a “valid” Manitoba fishing license to use for identification. Except for the new arrivals. They were mostly short of stature, had dark mahogany skin and jet hair. Their eyes were deep brown and their teeth were the most beautiful pearl white I had ever seen. The women were on average larger than the men.
One day I had a parcel for a suite on the third floor. I knocked at the door. I heard a great commotion within and presently a woman opened the door slowly. She wore a cotton batik-style cloth wrapped unceremoniously around her hips and belly. She had an open sleeveless vest, milk-heavy breasts and she was barefoot. A baby on her hip was busy suckling. She knew no English but when I pronounced the name on the package she smiled and revealed those incandescent teeth, four of which had cunningly been filed to sharp points.
Our girls did the same with their nails. It is nature I reckoned and it makes sense. In behind the woman was another young woman on a bare blue stained mattress. She was surrounded by three more young crawling about her legs and also had an infant at her breast. There was nothing else in the room but an old pot with some oatmeal dried up on the bottom. A man, barefoot and clad in a cotton breech-clout came out of the kitchen to see what was up. He held a toddler's hand. He smiled and I was relieved to see his teeth weren't filed into points as well.
I made my exit, taking the long way down the stairwells to the lobby. I checked to make sure I hadn't picked up any stray babies. Before I reached the front door I knew that I was going to do what came next. I am neither proud nor ashamed of it. At the time I was passionate about it.
My own house was unoccupied due to the passionate nature of the divorce. I had rented an apartment on the advice of an idiot lawyer and my wife had moved home to her parents. I went to the spooky abode and crept around the wreckage before going home to my apartment. The next morning my driver dropped off the bags of mail as usual to the relay boxes outside that big building. He probably swore at the fact that were six when there were usually two.
I arrived to the call and hustled two of the bags inside and delivered them as quickly as I could. It wasn't a cheque day and the lobby was clear. I went back outside to the relay box and dragged the four remaining bags inside. I opened the string-pulls and got to work. It took about ten minutes. It was highly enjoyable, cathartic and at the time, humorous to me.
I had a half dozen parcels for various upper floors and I dashed upstairs, not trusting the elevator due to previous experience. Doors opened, babies cried, babies suckled and ladies smiled flashing pointy teeth. I must have been about fifteen minutes all told. Halfway down the stairs I saw the first one. She was about thirty years old, I estimated and dressed like the others I had seen. The way she was wobbling on her new stiletto heels, I was thankful that she had no baby yet to carry.
By the time I got to the lobby there were only four pairs left. I had lined them up side by side down each thirty-foot row of boxes. Within a week everyone had learned to walk in them. They complemented the dental fashion I told myself.
Copyright © 2015 by Michael A. Hawes. All Rights Reserved.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.