Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Couch

Fred gestures roughly towards the love seat in front of the shuttered building and bids me to sit. Before us are two big box bins holding space on a couple of parking stalls. I perch on the couch's solid arm. He glares at me: “Not there!” and I am bullied onto the pillowy softness beside him. I sit straight-backed fearful of bedbugs.

Fred tells me he is moving again. He’s been sleeping at the church but lately the noise had gotten to him—daycare begins early and do-gooders are there till sometimes past eleven. “And the minister wants to have lunch with me!”

“Maybe you should go and complain about the other tenants,” I say. Despite my misgivings my back has relaxed into its natural slouch against the cushions.

“I am thinking of bedding down here,” he says, “best place in town when the sun is shining.” His voice has softened with the warmth of the morning but his long white hair and beard has the look of Moses come down from Mount Sinai.

“Beer?” asks Fred, gesturing to his own. I decline as my old boss walks by. I wave. He smiles uncomfortably and walks on. I laugh as I tell Fred and sink deeper.

Fred and I’ve known each other for twenty years. He once defended me against a bully when I worked in a homeless shelter and now lives a few blocks from me in this rather tony neighbourhood. He still takes care of me. “Want some veggies?” he asks as I get ready to leave. Ignoring my protests that I have already done my shopping we walk to the back of the building where shade keeps the air chilly. 

“You pay too much for your food," he says, "IGA dumps out whatever’s not perfect and its all free.” I look inside the black garbage half filled with greens. Mold has taken over the bountiful fare. “Guess it needs some sorting,” he mumbles.

I nod in silence and drive away.

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