Welcome To the Neighbourhood

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Wes' good deed

“Blackberries. Faaaaack!” Wes muttered to himself as he picked the thorns out of his palms, angry, but not angry enough to swear outright. Somehow, “fack” was never “fuck” to him, probably because it sounded more like a drawn out expression of malcontent and disbelief than a cuss word. He had just fought and lost a battle with what he thought was a small embankment while riding his mountain bike back to Kitsilano, the western part.

He was just returning from the café he made a point of visiting at least once a week. It was a step up from a rural coffee shop, and he enjoyed sitting by the window where he had a pretty good vantage point of people, women in particular, parking their cars to go to the beach, which hadn’t been as good as he remembered. He was always fortunate enough to come back to this city in the midst of a dry spell, but he was beginning think that he may not have been so fortunate at all. It had rained solid for the past month and not until today did he see the sun’s rays hitting the north shore.

He initially thought that a branch had snagged his courier bag mid-air, but further inspection of his pant-cuff revealed that his jeans had become snagged in the chain of his bike, sending him off his intended target and into a blackberry bush at the bottom of the muddy embankment. He now realized why so many people either tucked their right pant leg into their sock or wore those yellow reflective Velcro things he saw at MEC.

Wes had nothing against blackberries themselves; in spite of this unfortunate encounter he had always loved blackberry everything. Blackberry pie and blackberry frozen yogurt were always appreciated. But not Blackberries. Those were for pretentious pomos and dot-commies. He never understood PDAs, as he preferred to go analog with a Moleskiner and some index cards. He read about it on a blog somewhere.

Just as he picked the final thorn out of the fleshy pad below his thumb, he could sense someone behind him.

“Hey there!” a flamboyant and effeminate voice screeched before he had a chance to turn around.

“Uh, hello”

“I’m Corey, but my friends call me Queen Corey. Mmmmhmmm.” Said the dark-skinned man as he snapped his fingers like some sort of a diva.


Wes looked at the man, who was short, slim and obviously a flamer. Wes immediately ran through his exit options from this strange situation.

“So, are you from out of town?” Corey asked.

“Yes. From Alberta. How could you tell?”

“Queen Corey knows, honey”.

Wes tried not to laugh, but Corey was talking a mile a minute. He was from Jamaica, was bisexual and HIV positive, Wes found out. Corey was in his mid-thirties and had trained in the National Ballet of Canada, but was now a recovering heroin addict and pulled tricks to get by.

“Listen, I’m kind of embarrassed about asking you this.. but….”

“Sorry dude. Not interested. At all.”

Corey gasped, feigning outrage, but smiled.

“Oh you thought…. Well, I must say that I’m a professional and that I never mix business with survival. I have never done this before, but would you happen to have some spare change so I could get some milk and eggs? I haven’t eaten in two days and….”

“Oh, well, hold on man.”

Wes thought about that Bible verse about how Jesus said something like “I came unto you seeking food, water, a blanket, and you never gave unto me. Depart from me. I never knew you”. He rarely gave money to people who sat outside gentrified chain stores, hoping that people would heap pity on their half-assed calls of “spare change man?”. But if someone asked for the basics – food, water, clothing or shelter, Wes would step up to the plate and do whatever it took. He was good that way. Deep down, he felt that encounters such as these were tests from the Almighty. Plus, if he paid the guy enough money, he wouldn’t have to put others at risk of HIV transmission, Wes figured.

“Here you go, Corey. Knock yourself out!” he said, trying to put a positive spin on the situation.

“Oh, you just made my week! ThankyouThankyouThankyou…” Corey gushed as he tucked the twenty dollar bill into his black leather purse.

Wes stepped back to avoid getting hugged or something.

“I gotta get going” said Wes as he hopped on his bike. His good deed for the day was done, and he had to go home and scrub his hands. They had open cuts on them, afterall, and Wes was paranoid about stuff like that. Nevertheless, while Corey met every stereotype of a gay man the media had instilled in Wes, he realized that the guy was human, and obvioulsy in need of social contact.

"Later, Corey"



  • I laughed pretty hard at the "Queen Corey knows, honey".

    It was really hard not to pick up some intonations of Corey with that line. The stereotype allows me, as a reader, to fill-in-the-blanks mentally, but I think I am going to take Corey into some unpredictable waters in the coming weeks. I'll be a while thinking about it.

    By Blogger Corinne, at 5/28/2005 01:06:00 a.m.  

  • Oh, And i never did reveal where Wes was returning to. So there's something to go off for other Wes writers. I'm done with him for now.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 5/28/2005 01:23:00 a.m.  

  • sweet, This was really great. You have a good rythm with dialogue and timing.

    By Blogger DsK, at 5/28/2005 12:50:00 p.m.  

  • ahahaha, I swear I've run into THAT EXACT GUY on the street. Except that he always asks me for money so he can have "beautiful breasts like mine".

    It works. Flattery will get you everywhere. :)

    By Blogger Donna, at 5/28/2005 11:22:00 p.m.  

  • Now that's funny.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 5/30/2005 12:16:00 a.m.  

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