That was kinda stupid. I don’t wanna give you the wrong idea. I wasn’t into Wesley’s garbage. I really thought it was garbage. It was just entertaining, like a movie or music that makes your mind fly off and then you come back to reality. You never believe it means much, just a kinda trip.
And talking of strange ideas around then, I had another one around then. Dunno why it just came back to me.
I had an idea I’d like my dad to be here. Both my folks but, for some reason, mainly my dad. I had this fantasy him and ask him to join me out west. Go hitching with me, meet the people I met I’d and write the ideas I had, smoke up with us, go through a whole change like in a movie when some straight guy turns on. Then he’d understand what had been going on in my head when I was growing up a stranger to him. See from the inside what was shaking up the whole world —
Like I said, a fantasy. Another one of those crazy thoughts you play with that don’t mean anything.
So back to reality, one more time.
The reality was we needed money. Me and Gus had reached the end of the four weeks we’d paid board for. We were down to five bucks and thirty-five cents. Petra hadn’t asked us for more yet but she would have to, sooner or later. It was costing to feed us.
I decided I could handle working a bit. It’d just be temporary.
Gus had a lead on a guy who hired people for single days at a time. So the two of us took a bus downtown early one morning before the city was awake.
The address Gus had was in an area of rundown two-storey buildings jammed up against each other. Inside was a big old office with desks and typewriters and little rooms with glass doors.
A man wandered out of one of the small rooms. Business type but already with his sleeves rolled up and tie pulled loose, carrying a coffee, and asking if he could help us gentlemen.
“We’re here for work,” Gus said.
He looked at us. Our clothes, long hair. “Here?”
“I heard we could get some work. Like delivering stuff.”
“You mean Nick. He hires out back.”
“Through here?” Gus pointed towards a hall that led through the building.
“You have go around outside.”
We went to the end of the block. An old rubby turned into a lane running behind the buildings and we followed him. Some men were standing around a loading dock. None of them talked to each other, just stood there waiting. The crowd grew to maybe fifteen guys. A buncha old guys, though it was hard to tell with men like that. Looked like they’d slept on the street and drunk aftershave for breakfast. We two musta looked like choirboys.
A delivery truck backed up to the dock and this husky guy got out, jumped on the dock and banged on one of the building’s loading doors until it was rolled up from inside. Bundles of paper were pushed out. Then the guy turned to the group of men below him.
“I only need five today for flyers. You. You. You. You. Is Tiny here? Fucking Tiny, sleeping it off, eh? Someone else.”
“We used to load trucks,” Gus spoke out.
“I didn’t ask for your god-damn resume. You.” He pointed to another guy.
The chosen men clambered onto the dock and started carrying the bundles onto the truck. The rest left back down the alley, still without having said a word.
“I wouldn’t work for that asshole anyhow,” I said on the bus ride back.
I wasn’t going through it again. This was too low, even for me. Picking coins out of a fountain was better. But Gus was churning things over in his own mind and obviously didn’t need my comments. We could turn into those silent rundown old men, I thought.
Gus had a letter waiting for him at the house. His parents had enclosed a cheque for a hundred dollars. It was in answer to that joke I’d written on his postcard, saying to send money.
Of course Gus was embarrassed. I wouldn’t want my folks to think I needed their help either. It was just a joke.
But we kept the money. Gus signed the cheque over for another four weeks’ board for us and got forty bucks change.