First it was Garth, the effeminate dog owner who went bananas when George admonished him in his capacity as building manager to scoop up the dog poop on the back lawn; then the schizophrenic on the top floor went into a fury when he was asked to lower his stereo to put a damper on the fire storm of electric guitar squealing bursting through his unit front door. And then he had to hear the man’s usual threat. “Sure, I know who your lawyer is; you’ve told me endless times”, replied George to the man’s yelling, ” actually I forgot , is it God or the Pope?”
But today was different. Today, on his MP3 player, jazz artist, Hank Mobley was miaowing mellow lines out of a brass Saxophone, and the red sand was hot on his bare bottom, and the pale-skinned beauties on the beach seemed to formally invite him over to examine their astonishingly pink nipples.
Today was different. Today was not the day that Adele promised she would see him next Thursday as long as the sky was pink, her Anglophone unilingual mother phoned speaking Chinese, and her dog broke out singing the aria O Mio Bambino Caro in the Key of B Flat. George got the picture.
The problem was that George had an over-acute capacity for sadness. Some days the slightest thing could tip the scales. The words of Carl Jung seeped into his brain, “Nobody, as long as he moves about among the chaotic currents of life, is without trouble”. Yet he was well aware that he was sometimes the author of his own life’s tribulations. Why did he have to tell Adele, who is a dyed-in-the-wool Calvinist draped in a bulky Puritan frock – tell her as a joke mind you – about his sex life with his former wife.
” You see” said George to an already irritable Adele, “she noticed there was a Toronto Dominion Bank flag draped over my erect penis. I told her every time I sprang an erection and draped a TD flag over it, I got $5 off on every online purchase made with my TD credit card. All I had to do was take a picture of it, have her sign an affidavit to the effect and send it all off to TD Headquarters.” The joke of course flew like a giant lead balloon.
George had held so many building manager jobs that he hoped one day to be inducted into the Building Managers Hall of Fame but doubted it would happen soon.
Things could be worse was the philosophic exit door he chose to enter to avoid lingering hopelessness.
He could be working as a reporter for a left leaning low income citizens newsletter whose obese female editor alternated between being a socialist commentator and a man-eating shark. Indeed, before turning to the career of building manager, he had actually worked as a writer in Montreal, and Sheilagh, the editor, had been his boss. “There’s going to be a sit-down demonstration in front of some greedy developer’s office who’s planning to tear down beautiful downtown heritage homes so he can put up some profitable monstrosity. Go cover the story”.
And He did. So close was he to the demonstrators that he got rounded up by the Police with the others, thrown into the paddy wagon and delivered up to Parthenon Street Jail, where police removed his belt and finger-printed him while the line-up of prisoners waited their turn. Next he found himself in a dreary, grey, stone block 19th century prison cell with four others. And when the police guard refused to come to the aid of someone who had a diabetes attack with no medicine on him, everybody shrieked incessantly and in unison, “HEEEE NEEEEEEEEDS HIIIIS MEDICINE!!” like in the chorus of the Hebrews in Verdi’s opera NABUCCO. At first, George kept quiet but then someone eyed him with menace. After 5 hours, they were let free but having been all charged with trespass and disorderly conduct, they set out to find a lawyer. As almost all were genuinely low income earners, the group was eligible for Legal Aid.
Legal Aid gave them a nationalist Quebecois lawyer who wore the Fleur-De-Lys on his head band. It was the early 1970s; progressive people and hippies wore head bands back then; it was in style. Is it possible that our lawyer is a hippie? George silently queried and cursed at the same time. The happy-go-lucky lawyer explained his tactical plan while insouciantly feeding lazy looking fish in a huge lush fish tank. George saw himself as the feed being sprinkled into the tank, lurched at by muscular jawfish and fat snappers.
At lunch time in the cafeteria of the Palais de Justice (the court house of Montreal), on the day of the first hearing, their motley group of Marxists and anarchists were munching and moping over hot dogs and French frieds and the like. That’s all they could afford.
Allan, the Marxist was going on and on and on quoting directly from Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, finishing with ” you see, even in the case of simple reproduction, all capital, whatever its original source, becomes converted into accumulated capital, capitalized surplus-value..” when suddenly Oreste, who published a national anarchist review, stood up brusquely, drew himself up large, his finely trimmed goatee twitching, a fiery Socrates with a puffed up reddish face, and let loose a window shaking rage, ‘Is there no way of stemming the tide of your verbal diarrhea? Are we all to drown in the bog, in this quicksand of bottomless doctrine?” Suddenly, the cafeteria turned into a hush from its former clamour. All eyes were on their table. Those at the table escaped somewhere, anywhere inside themselves, whilst Allan shrank into nullity, the entire cafeteria dumb with shock at the fury of the tempest that had just blown over them.
After three nail biting months, the trial came to court, and George, who was too immature to go through something like this, showed up in a mood of undeniable despair. As it turned out, the lawyer with the Fleur-De-Lys head-band, was brilliant and got them off the hook after three dexterous hours of splendid fact jousting with the Crown Prosecutor.
With the goal of escaping the inescapable, George eventually moved out West. What he got was Garth, the schizophrenic and Adele.