It’s a holiday weekend here in the States, so I’m glad to rest a bit — short introduction, you see — and simply present our smart weekly Sunday guest column from my Canadian friend, Paul Curran.
Welcome to the weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today, and I’m happy to be here at Mark Bialczak’s Little Bitty in Syracuse, New York. Please come in and go through to the living room. Mark, his wife Karen and their pooch Ellie B, have prepared a nice, cool, comfy place for us so I can tend to your needs for a cuppa, and sweets. The weather this morning is rainy with a high just over 85 F. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our worldwide readership and adult beverages for those who wish something stronger. We can relax with a cuppa in the air conditioning while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. Ellie likes to be patted, so please indulge her when she greets you. How has your week been? Have a piece of cake (or any of the sweets on the next table) – electronic sweets are all calorie-free!
This week I’d like to write another chapter in our “Front Porch” series – this one is quite amusing and actually took place on my back porch.
Last month one of the locals – we’ll call him John – came to visit at my back door in the last week of the month. John is about 55 and around 6 foot tall. He keeps himself clean and he is an astounding cook. He has made meals that would put 4-star restaurants to shame. He is on Ontario Disability and receives his cheque in the last two days of the month and I am on Canada Pension and receive my check five business days before the end of the month. He knew I had gotten my check and wanted to know if I could front him some cigarettes until his cheque came in. I had gotten my supply for the month so I loaned him a carton (I get them on the “gray” market very cheap) and told him I expected it back when his cheque arrived – we had done similar transactions in the past and he was very good at repaying as soon as he was able.
A few days later as I was getting into a cab to go to dialysis John came up and gave me the money for the cigarettes he had borrowed. I frowned and informed him that I wanted the cigarettes – what I had given him – not the money. I bought in bulk so it would be much more expensive for me to replace one carton. He said that he had switched to tobacco and was rolling his own so he didn’t have the cigarettes. I told him that I was disappointed and that was not the agreement we had made. He seemed to think that it was settled as he just repeated that he no longer bought cigarettes. He refused to take back the money and get cigarettes so I left.
He normally showed up at my back porch a few times a week but I hadn’t seen him all month. John is a bit eccentric and he had a very rough past. He used to do steroids and drugs and now he has a difficult time thinking – much puzzles him. He declares himself to be a Christian and yet he seldom engages in any activity that doesn’t benefit himself in the end. Whenever he offers anything you can be assured that he will show up to borrow something else in short order. For that reason he has few friends in the area – in fact my other friend and I are about his only two. But he is quite soft-spoken and has never done me any harm so I used to invite him in and chat whenever he appeared.
Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a sweet? I was checking blogs this morning about 7:15 a.m. and had my back door ajar with a fan running to cool off when there was a knock on the door frame. John asked if he could talk to me. I told him to come in but he would only stand in the doorway and talk. He wanted to know if I was angry with him as he hadn’t seen me around. I didn’t point out that he always came to see me and that I didn’t even know where he lived. I just explained again that I was disappointed that he had not returned the cigarettes last month. (In all honesty I would never loan him what I couldn’t afford to lose.) John then launched into the most farfetched story I had ever heard – and it started off with the fact that he was trying to protect my health. As a smoker I had heard many stories start that way.
According to John the last carton of cigarettes he had bought was poisoned. He said that was so because there was a hit ordered on him and they were closing in. I asked why they would poison his cigarettes rather than, say, shoot him. He explained that they didn’t want any evidence left that led to them. John said that the last carton he bought made him sick and he spent all night throwing up and sitting on the toilet – as well as having a nose bleed. I told him there was a flu bug going around and pointed out that vomiting upped the blood pressure and could easily cause nose bleeds if there was a weak vessel.
John was convinced the cigarettes had been poisoned (even though we all use the same supplier) and said that he had given samples to the Secret Service to have analyzed. I told him there was no Secret Service in Canada and he told me there was a Secret Service in every country. I assumed he meant our Canadian Security Intelligence Service – CSIS – and explained that they only dealt with international matters. John told me that the hit was originally on his family and his mother was from the U.K., so it was the Secret Service who had to be involved.
I expressed an interest in the “Secret Service” report and asked that he bring me a copy of the results – even if it was negative. He assured me that he would do that and said he wouldn’t bother me any more – although he has three more days before his cheque so I am sure he will be back before the weekend is out. Later in the day I heard that John was explaining to everyone that we were friends and he had saved me from being poisoned. Ha!
That’s about all we have room for this week folks, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and pat Ellie B. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Mark, Karen and Ellie B for their invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Mark’s other posts while you’re here. Have a great week.