I had a place, the lower half of a duplex on Second Avenue a couple of blocks west of Burrard. I shared it with my buddy Petur. (That’s how it’s spelled. It’s Icelandic.) He drove a cab and I just hung around, as usual. Upstairs lived a thirteen year old named Debby who took a shine to me. One morning she let herself in, I was still in bed and I said no, I can’t talk to you, can’t see anyone till I’ve had some coffee. She left and was back ten minutes later with hot coffee. When summer came she’d make coffee every morning and bring it down, wake me up, hand me the cup and sit there on my bed talking to me. Her mom was some kind of white trash – not much older than me – and threatened to call the cops but nothing untoward was going on, despite my fantasies. All she knew for sure was her coffee mugs disappeared every day one by one. Debby was crazy about me for some reason and all summer long went around in a bikini (we were just a few blocks from the beach) and sometimes got me to rub suntan oil over her. My friends starting coming around and warned me about the jailbait sentences I was in for but I was not that stupid. I was cool – as cool as I had to be.
I first met her coming home early one morning after an allnighter. She was on her way out and I stopped to chat. She was stunning. She was headed to school and I walked her the few blocks. When I discovered it was an elementary school I about died. Well, so much for the blonde chick upstairs I thought! Later the mom would be pounding on the door, drunk and in the company of various sleazy boyfriends, yelling what’s going on? I’m calling the cops!
Petur’d be sleeping most of the day and out in his cab all night. He made good money and more than once I’d go to the Granville Street cafe where the cabbies all hung out and borrow a few dollars from him. He never turned me down and I never paid him back.
Around the corner on Burrard there was an all night diner, The Jolly Roger. Dan McLeod and George Bowering would drop by my place once in a while, usually the middle of the night, and we’d go to the Jolly Roger, have a bite, and play the jukebox. I got in the habit of ordering lime-flavoured milkshakes and for some reason George found this fascinating. Years later George lived in Calgary for a time and on a road trip across the country me and my road companions stopped to visit. George was away but I met his wife for the first time and she said, oh, you’re the guy with the lime milkshakes. But for now we’re hanging out at the Jolly Roger and one night we show up and grab a booth, the waitress comes over and looks straight at me and says we’re not serving you anymore. Just me. Why me, I asked. We’d all been model customers. We just talked, ate, drank, and played the jukebox. I had very long hair, and a beard. That was the sole reason. And it was final. The place was a bit of a dump, with the usual late-night characters – cops, cabdrivers, insomniacs, night people – but I was barred from the joint because I was just too darned handsome!
Dan went on to become publisher of the Georgia Straight. George wrote many books – fiction, poetry, history, tall tales, etc., and he became Canada’s first Poet Laureate. Debby became a prostitute, had seven kids, became a junkie and an alcoholic, and looked like seventy by the time she was thirty. Nah . . . I have no idea what happened to Debby.
Borgus, from New Orleans, wrote on June 24, 2008:
I enjoyed the story and was sorry it didn’t turn into a longer one.