Monday, 19 February 2018

Parkdale Rasta

            On Sunday I finally got in touch with my upstairs neighbour, David, whom I’d been trying to connect with since Friday when my friend Nick told me he’d be able to come on Sunday to fix David’s doorframe. A couple of months before, David had locked his key inside and he came to me for help to get into his place. I used a hammer to push a chisel to where the lock catches, partially got it to release and then I pushed it the rest of the way with my shoulder, which caused a bit of damage, though the lock still functioned. Nick usually has several errands to do in Toronto on the rare occasion that he comes in from Hamilton, so he didn’t make it to my place until the early evening. I went upstairs to knock on David’s door but he didn’t answer so I kept on loudly banging for about ten sets of five because I knew he was in there and must have fallen asleep. I could hear the Olympics coverage of a hockey game going on behind his door. After five minutes or so he woke up and I brought Nick upstairs to meet him.
            Nick got right to work on the door with his hammer, his electric screwdriver, some glue and some screws. He told me that he finds curling more interesting than hockey because of childhood memories of his parents curling. He said that it was a pleasant environment for him as a kid and everyone was nice to him. The only person that I knew that curled when I was young was our Anglican Church minister.
It took Nick about ten minutes to get the frame solid again. David gave him two $20s for his trouble, though Nick tried to give him back one of them but David insisted. When I’d sent Nick the pictures I’d taken of the broken door a couple of weeks before he said he’d do it for $25, but when I gave David the quote his response was, “Oh please! I will pay more!” These immigrants just don’t know how to integrate.
Nick and I chatted for a few minutes at my place and then he headed out for his social butterfly destination, which was to have dinner with a friend who lives in a van. I assume the dinner was not in the vehicle, but I imagined a dining room table and lit candles taking up the whole back of the van.
Shortly after Nick left I heard shouting outside my east window. I looked out to see and hear the Rastafarian guy that hangs out with his dogs on O’Hara, telling a woman that was holding a toy poodle under her arm to go fuck herself. He was on the west side of O’Hara and she was on the east. I gathered from their back and forth that what had happened was, she had been walking with her dog on its leash south on O’Hara when his unleashed golden Labrador Retriever charged across the street towards her, though probably towards her dog, with friendly though overly enthusiastic intentions. She was startled and immediately scooped her spoonful of dog into her arms and then told the Rastafarian guy that he should keep his dog on a leash. This was what right away caused him to start repeatedly telling her to go fuck herself. She was trying to reason with him from the corner and then crossed the street towards him, continuing to try to make her point that she had been frightened and that he should keep a dog that size on a leash. “He’s just a puppy!” he argued and demanded to know how old her dog was. She said it didn’t matter. He told her, “This is a working dog!” I was leaning out the window by this time to listen and watch their exchange better and I could see that he’d leashed his dog since the argument began and that it was also wearing a harness. It had never occurred to me that the Rastafarian guy might be legally blind since he obviously has vision but I suppose it might be impaired enough to warrant having a guide dog. I’ve seen him on a bicycle though and he’s had dogs for years. He walked towards her, declaring, “I’ve been here for thirty years!” Frightened of him entering her personal space, she stepped over the knee-high wrought iron fence into the now winter-bare Colonel O’Hara Garden next to the donut shop to get away from him. He walked a little further away from her to the south side of the fence, but it clearly made him angrier that she had been frightened of him. He pointed at her accusingly and shouted, “You think you’re scared of me? I’m scared of you, you stupid white woman!” She stepped over the fence again and walked to the corner and looked up at the pole that holds the street signs for O’Hara and Queen, then she punched some numbers on her phone and told the Rastafarian guy that she was calling the police because maybe they could explain to him why he should keep his dog on a leash. He sat on the fence of the garden where it ran parallel to Queen and told her defiantly that he would wait for the police, assuring her, “They piss and shit just like everybody else!” She nodded and said, “Yes, we are all the same.” He said, “I’m from Africa. I’ve been here for 30 years! You’re a white supremacist! That’s why you have a white dog!” She responded, “You’ll notice I haven’t said anything hateful to you.” At this point a man and woman in their 40s stopped to talk with her. They looked like middle class Parkdale gentry, even more so than the woman with the dog. It kind of looked like it was this couple she’d walked down to Queen to meet. They asked her something but she responded, “I can’t! I have to wait for the police …” and then she proceeded to tell them the story, into which the Rastafarian would angrily interject from time to time, even at one point pointing accusingly at the couple that had just arrived. After a few minutes the woman with the dog walked east on Queen with the couple. The police never did arrive.
I made guacamole and had it with tortilla chips and a beer while watching an instalment of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. The story was about a guy named David that was obsessed with a woman named Anabelle. When she married somebody else he went over the deep end and refused to accept it. He continued to call and visit, even calling her “darling” in front of her husband, telling her that she’d just made a mistake to marry him and that it would all work out. He had secretly bought a house in the country under the name William Newmaster and filled the closets with expensive clothes for her and he kept sending her extravagant gifts, like a diamond broach. That present was the last straw for Anabel’s husband, who was poor and couldn’t afford to buy such things for her. He found out David’s secret address and went to confront him with an unloaded gun, just to scare him into staying away. They struggled and Anabel’s husband fell, hitting his head on a corner of the fireplace grating. He was only stunned but David saw it as an opportunity and pushed the man’s head hard several times onto the exact same corner until he was dead. Anabel was in shock on hearing that her husband had died and so wasn’t thinking when invited to the house where her husband had died. She was surprised to find David there, telling her, “We can be together now!” When Anabel told him she didn’t love him he declared, “You’re not Anabel!” and strangled her to death. At the end we see that he has put Anabel’s dead body on the bed and he’s holding her hand, talking about all the places they would go now that they are together, as the sirens get louder and louder.

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