Inside the flower shop, I walk upstairs and turn to the door on my left that is already nudged open; I push gently and I’m greeted by the most beautiful white cat in the world with large angelic eyes. The beat apartment is dusty with a toxic air that tugs at my throat; Goodfellas is playing on a television that rests on rotting brown shelves; a lone pull-out coach is in front of the television, the only furniture in the room. The apartment is shaped like a box, the kitchen has crumbs all over the counters.
“You don’t mind do you -- if there’s weed here and there?” My host Craig has appeared from the lone back bedroom.
“Ah, no man, it’s okay.”
“Cool. Do you smoke?”
“No, not really.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, I did once but my chest got all congested and I got a weird cough.”
“Yeah sometimes you cough up black shit.”
I hear him incorrectly. “Cough up blood!”
“No, black shit; blood only the odd time.”
“So what’s up Nagger?”
“Nothing I’m bored.”
“Me too, I’ve been on E.I. for a year now, busted up my shoulder, had a few surgeries on it so I can’t work.”
“That sucks, man. What do you do all day?”
“You’re looking at it”, as he motions to the sad couch and television. “I also get stoned. I’ve become a real pothead.”
“Yeah, like I do it every day, all day. People come my house all the time and all we do is get high: Dole, Brun, Brady”, he lists off the old road hockey crew from high school.
“Oh yeah, how are those guys doing?”
“Brun’s been to rehab twice now I think for coc.”
“Yeah, and Dole’s a dealer drug dealer now.”
“Yeah man, where do you think I get it? But he at least has a head on his shoulders; he’s going to go to school.”
“And Brady’s going to school too, right?”
“Yeah, Brady’s Brady. They all come over here and get high.”
“Do you like them coming over all the time”
“No. I like my quiet. That’s why sometimes I just tell them all to leave and they’re like, “What you’re kicking us out?” and I’m like “Yeah”.
“Hmm”. There was a pause in our conversation. “Where’s your girl?” I ask.
“At her sister’s.”
“By the railway tracks; it’s not bad”
“What’s she doing?”
“She had like three eye operations, but she works during the day, I’m not allowed to because of the whole E.I. disability thing, and she’s not my girl anymore either, we ended it, but we’ve been together five years and we still sleep together and stuff.”
“So what’s the probability of your shoulder getting fixed and you being able to go back to work?”
“I don’t know man, but I don’t really wanna go back to work. See, I have a physio appointment for 7:45 this morning but I missed it, screw it. You see, my philosophy is that I want to move away, just get out of here. I want to be able to open my door”, he gestures exaggeratedly, “and see the beach, the ocean. I don’t want to put on my coat in the winter, what’s that?”
I didn’t know. “Where are you thinking of going?”
“Thailand. I just want to go there and start over. Everyone says I’m crazy but I just want to go with nothing at all and walk around and get a job and everything.”
“So why not go now?”
“I’m behind on rent. I owe like a thousand dollars which isn’t so bad and I’ve been with Kate for six years. Six years. It’s not like high school anymore where after a month you can just quit.”
The cat rubs against my leg.
“Oh shit, excuse my language, I forgot you’re allergic to cats.”
“It’s all right man.”
“No. Mischa, get away from him.” He brushes her gently away from my leg; he treats her with great affection. He also has a monster lizard in a clear case that he says he can’t afford to feed anymore. I laugh until I realize he is serious.
“It’s three bucks a week for that thing, man, but I took him because my friend gave me him for free and I’ve always wanted a lizard.”
“I need a smoke now. Just stay there, I’ll go to the other side of room.” He crosses the room and fiddles with the lighter. “Oh sorry, I hate to do this, could you pass me the ash tray?”
“Sure”, I hand him a black ash tray.
Immediately as he lights the cigarette there is a knock on his door and he opens it to find a friend looking for a quick roach smoke.
Craig briefly introduces us and feels we should know one another from high school, we don’t, and he barely notices me as I introduce myself. Craig walks over into the kitchen and pulls a point off a shelf, with a bag a weed right up on the herb shelf as if it were a seasoner. “Mind if we smoke a little?”
“No, go ahead.”
Craig’s friend has a deep toke, Craig tells him to blow away from me. I ask the friend a question as he is exhaling and his face moves inward and his face is stone and he blows out and his slits rest on me and he is now intrigued by me because we know some of the same people from high school. Turns out he’s a dishwasher for a restaurant I dig in town, Frankie’s. The door shoves open again and another person walks in, I recognize him from school, Trevor Cakes, and Craig makes sure that we know one another.
“Got a stick”, Cakes asks.
“I thought you don’t smoke”.
“I don’t” and Cakes inhales on a tobacco cigarette.
“See,” Craig says with a smile, “People just come in and leave whenever they want.” I couldn’t tell if he was in his element or not. He takes a bottle cap, puts some weed in it, and somehow makes a bong out of a plastic Nestle bottle and they take turns inhaling. Before the friend inhales Craig asks if he’s walking, and he answers yes. “This will make your walk better.”
As smoke began swirling around the tiny apartment my eyes began to water, my contacts were drying out and I was afraid to smell of drugs. I told Craig that I had to take off but that we should get together some time for hockey. “Cool man, see you soon.”