This audio reading focuses on the topic of sufficiency.
Episode 23 Harold hadn’t been away from his house for at least two weeks. Life could be very lonely for a senior citizen who was divorced from his wife and had a stepson that was in and out of prison. His two biological children who … Continue reading Episodes 23 and 24 of Street Dreams
Revised Version of Street Dreams Nov.9,2019
Street Dreams by Ken David Stewart
It was back, big time. Harold Peyton found himself in the clutches of the most devastating episode of clinical depression that he had ever experienced in his sixty-five years. He was used to this. Harold suffered from the type of depression that was episodic in nature. He was not depressed all the time, but large chunks of his life had been lost. During these times, Harold would succumb to the vast darkness of depression, what Winston Churchill described as his ‘black dog’.
Harold just wanted to shut down and block out the whole world. He sat in a broken -down office chair adorned with torn upholstery. Harold was a published author and was working on a new mystery novel. The problem was that he couldn’t get his muse turned on. Every time he tried to think of a new idea to move his plot along, his mind went blank.
Harold just stared at the blank word document on his computer screen. Everything that he attempted was hard. Harold was grateful that he had a month’s holiday left from his part time job as a substitute teacher. To do a job like that you have to be able to get yourself pumped up and be able to think very sharply. Right now, Harold could do neither.
Harold Peyton was exceptionally fit and healthy for a sixty-five year- old male. He was once a heavy smoker but overcame his addiction to cigarettes twenty years ago. Harold made his physical fitness regimen a top priority in his life. He rode his prized black and white Giant Mountain bike every day, even during inclement weather. On alternate days Harold would go to Shapes gym for a forty-five-minute resistance training workout. Although he was still a bit pudgy, he carried his excess weight well and was still a physically attractive man. Harold looked at least ten years younger than his chronological age.
Harold lived in a modest home in the suburb of
Elmwood in the windy city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He loved animals and was presently the proud owner of two dogs and two cats.
Following the frustration of fifteen minutes of totally unproductive writing, Harold got out of his office chair and walked over to the burgundy colored drapes of his picture window. He tugged on the cord that opened the curtains and gazed upon the outside world. The city of Winnipeg experienced an early bitter winter during November 2019. The picture window was covered with intermittent patches of frost and ice. Snow was now falling very heavily.
Harold honestly enjoyed the winter season especially fresh snow falls. He loved the way the tree branches looked when they were covered by shiny, white, snowflakes.
Episode 3 and 4:
Today the beauty of the winter season had little effect upon Harold’s somber mood. When he was trapped in this mental state, he was unable to bring himself to experience joy in things and activities that had once brought him pleasure. It was as if his happy button had been turned to the off position.
Harold thought of his ex-wife Clarissa. They had been divorced nearly five years now. Harold missed Clarissa, but he did not blame her for leaving him. What woman could live with the frequent intense darkness of his moods. During these times Harold would totally ignore her as he closed himself off from the entire world. After staring out his picture window for about two minutes, Harold could hear his dogs barking loudly and sharply. He soon realized what was upsetting them.
A white Ford 150 truck was parked directly across the street from Harold’s house. He could see a large burly man with black hair in the driver’s seat. The man appeared to be in his early thirties. He was very angry at a young female who looked to be in her early twenties. Harold watched as the young man pushed his female passenger out of his truck and onto the ice packed snow covering the road. He then tossed a large orange and turquoise colored duffle bag onto the street. It almost hit the young woman who was lying prostate on the street. The angry male in the truck yelled a few vile obscenities at his female victim and then drove away swiftly in his Ford 150.
Looking through his picture window, Harold watched the young woman slowly and painfully rise to her feet. She was wearing only a grey hoodie sweatshirt, black sweat pants with a tear in one knee and a pair of well worn red Converse running shoes. She was now standing in the street shivering on a cold day in March. A black Honda Accord honked loudly at her as he came close to colliding with the girl who now had tears streaming down her cheeks.
Harold watched after the Ford 150 drove away. He stood and stared at the young woman and started to think what he was going to do about her. Harold didn’t even consider calling the police. Instead he opened the front door of his house and called loudly to the girl in distress.
“Come here young lady. You need to get out of the cold or you’ll freeze to death!”
The young female looked towards Harold with a confused and frightened look. She wiped the snowflakes off her hoodie and walked awkwardly towards the door that Harold was holding open for her.
“Thank you so much Mister. You may have saved my life. May I come in your house?
“Step into the living room and make yourself at home,” Harold replied.
“Thanks. Hey, I should introduce myself. My name is Whisper,” the strange young woman said as she found a place to sit on Harold’s yellow and orange patterned sofa. Whisper admired the brass antique lamp to the left of the sofa. The full décor of Harold Peyton’s living room had the ambiance that could only come from a man who appreciated fine art.
“Could I interest you in a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee or perhaps a mug of hot chocolate?” Harold asked. “By the way, Whisper is a beautiful name. Who gave you that name?”
“My grandma came up with it if I remember correctly,” Whisper replied.
While standing in the hall, Harold now had a good opportunity to observe Whisper. Her hair was blonde highlighted by orange streaks. It presently looked wet and tangled. There were still some snowflakes in her hair. Whisper’s make up was smudged and smeared from her tears. Whisper had a gold rod piercing through her nose. She wore orange lipstick and had a pentagram tattoo on her left forearm. She was not very attractive and was slightly overweight giving her somewhat of a pudgy look. Harold thought that Whisper resembled a naughty, terribly neglected little elf.
As Rick entered the main foray of the library he was greeted by Denise Carr, the librarian. Rick had been to this branch of the library so many times that Denise knew Rick by name.
“So what are we looking for today Rick?” the attractive thirty-five-year-old brunette asked.
Rick answered in a distracted manner, “I’m not sure yet. I’ll probably be checking out the new releases. I want to see if I can find anything on the cultural revolution happening in the States.”
“You’re such an intellectual, Rick. I’ll have a look myself to see what I can come up with,” Denise said.
It didn’t take Rick long to find the case that contained the new releases. Over the summer Rick had read a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Although Rick was on the university entrance track at Maplewood Collegiate he would often be intrigued by what the students in the general course stream were reading as part of their prescribed curriculum. Rick discovered that he liked the novels in the general course better than he liked his university entrance novels. Classic novels like The Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World intrigued him. As far as non fiction choices went Rick was drawn to any books that dealt with the burgeoning nineteen-sixties counter culture.
As Rick checked out the new releases he found a book written by one of his favorite authors, Norm
an Mailer. He eagerly picked up Mailer’s new book, The Armies of the Night.
As Rick moved onto the regular book stacks he noticed that he had lost track of the time. He realized that he would be late for supper if he didn’t leave the library soon.
Rick looked up to check the time on the library’s clock. It read 5:03 PM. Rick put on his parka and black toque and headed out the front door of the library. The wind was strong and it felt to Rick that it must be at least twenty below zero. He pulled out a cigarette from the side pocket of his parka and attempted to light it with a pack of matches, As the wind was high Rick moved close to the wall of the library and tried cupping his hands around the cigarette and matches. It took Rick three tries to successfully light his Rothman’s cigarette.
It was already dark outside when Rick left the library. He knew that he would have to keep up a quick pace to keep warm on his five block walk to his parents’ house. The street lights were already turned on and Rick liked how they reflected off the snowbanks next to the sidewalk. He also enjoyed the crunching sound that his winter boots made as they pushed into the snow.
When Rick arrived at his house he saw his father sitting on his favorite sofa reading the paper. He heard his mother calling from the kitchen. “Supper’s ready. Let’s get moving to the dining room.”
Rick and his dad immediately walked towards the dining room. They both knew how frustrated Mrs. Miller could get if her family waited too long before they got up for their meals. Rick’s mother was in her early fifties and still retained an attractive figure. She continued to wear her dark brown hair long as that was what her husband wanted. Rick was the eldest of the Miller children. He had a younger brother named David and an even younger sister called Beth.
As the family passed the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and peas down the line Rick was deep in thought. When he passed a bowl of peas over to his father he was reminded of the dreadful experience he had over the summer working at his dad’s printing plant. His father had tried to help Rick out by hiring him as summer help. Who knows? If things had worked out for Rick, he might still be working at the printing plant today.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out. Rick was just not cut out to be a blue collar, factory worker. He was not well coordinated and had great difficulty performing most manual labor tasks especially those that required fine motor skills or spatial reasoning. No matter what tasks his foreman assigned to him Rick could not get the hang of it and performed poorly on these jobs. Rick worked with a small crew of other young adults who laughed at Rick and berated him as he struggled with his assignments. They told him that they could train a monkey to do his job. After three frustrating and humiliating days on the job Rick told his father that he was quitting his job. He told his dad why he was resigning and apologized if he had embarrassed his father. His dad was very understanding and was not really surprised by Rick’s decision to leave his position.
After his family had finished supper Rick told them about his plans for the evening.
“I met two very interesting people today, a couple named Peyton and Sabrina. Peyton plays guitar in a local rock band and I was invited to see them play tonight at Maplewood Community Center. The doors open at 7:30 PM so I have to leave right now to make it there on time.”
His parents told him that they hoped he would have a good time this evening. They were pleased to hear that Rick had made some new friends as Rick didn’t socialize very much. They often worried about the amount of time Rick spent on his studies at school and his hockey obligations. His parents were becoming concerned that Rick might crash under the pressure.
Rick walked the five blocks to Maplewood Community Center. As he was in good physical condition from playing hockey he was able to keep up a fast pace. When he arrived he saw that there was already a crowd of about ten people waiting for the doors to open. Rick thought that Peyton’s band, Winter Dreams must be very popular.
When the doors to the club opened even more people had arrived to see the band. Many young people were already lighting up their first cigarette of the evening. The houselights were still up while Winter Dreams set up their equipment. While checking how his Gibson Les Paul guitar sounded plugged into his Marshall amplifier, Peyton turned around to see Rick in the audience. He waved at Rick and said, “Hey man. Glad you could make it. Sabrina’s helping set up the canteen.”
‘Thanks for inviting me. I love to hear live bands. I’ll go over to the canteen area and say ‘Hello’ to Sabrina.
After a few minutes Peyton gave a thumbs up sign to the community club custodian. This was the signal to dim the house lights. Within seconds the community club’s halls, walls and floors reverberated with the heavily amplified sounds emanating from the band’s Marshall amplifiers. Winter Dreams lead vocalist sounded the sensual moan that opened Whole Lotta Love, the first track on the second LP released by Led Zeppelin. Winter Dreams lead singer Vance Chessler was blessed with the same physical attractiveness and sexual appeal of Led Zeppelin’s front man, Robert Plant. He also possessed a voice that was eerily close to Plant’s. Peyton was a very proficient lead guitarist and had easily mastered the basic guitar riff to Whole Lotta Love. Some of the audience were already dancing or otherwise moving their bodies in rhythm with the pounding repetitious beat that was greatly enhanced by the deep thundering notes played by bassist Chevy Raines. The group’s drummer, Pick Harding tried hard to simulate the sonorous beat maintained by his hero, drummer John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.
For many of the students of Maplewood Collegiate the weekly canteens were the highlight of their weekends. There would sometimes be a house party or two to attend after the community center closed down at 11:30 PM. Some of the attendees would imbibe a couple of drinks and maybe share a joint before the canteen opened.
This evening was no exception. One young male was already intoxicated when he arrived at the community center. As he staggered backwards, he almost knocked over a burly looking fellow who greatly took exception to this action. The big, heavy-set dude landed a perfect shot to the chin of the inebriated teenager who had bumped into him. The altercation ended right there as the victim of the assault was too drunk to get up and defend himself.
Painting Cars Part Two
I turned to one of my little pals, Chucky. Chucky was a cute little five-year-old with blonde hair and a buzz cut.
“Hey, Chucky, look what I found in the bushes, An open can of white paint and a piece of board that we can use like a brush,”
“That’s cool. What are you going to do with it?” Chucky asked with a quizzical look on his face. My little buddy probably hadn’t washed his face in about a week. You could almost see a film of dark grey covering his face.
“See that red Ford Thunderbird just off to my left?” I asked
“Yeah, it’s a beauty,” Chucky replied.
“It is indeed a beauty, but you know what it’s missing?”
“What?” Chucky asked.
“It needs a little white stripe along both sides of the car,” I said.
“Yeah, it would probably make the car look even cooler,” Chucky said. He was starting to shift and shuffle his feet. You’re not thinking what I’m thinking are you? Chucky asked.
“Well, we’ve got the equipment. We’d be doing the guy who owns the car a big favour,” I said. “Chucky, look in the bush and see if you can find another piece of wood that we can paint with.”
Chucky started to sort through the brambles when he spotted the handle of a small brush under a large rock. He lifted the rock up and pulled out had a dried- out paint brush. It still had partly solidified yellow paint on it. Chucky shared his find with me.
“An actual paint brush, that’s even better as it has some yellow dried out paint on it. All we need to do is find some water to loosen up the paint on the brush,” I said.
Chucky and I looked across the back lane and spotted a waterspout attached to the apartment building. In a couple of minutes, we had a suitably wet paint brush.
“You know something, Chucky? The yellow paint on the brush probably means that there’s still a can of yellow paint somewhere close to where you found the brush,” I said. In less than a minute Chucky and I were stomping through the twigs, branches and discarded garbage in the thicket. Our diligent search paid off. Covered by several copies of old newspapers was a small can of yellow paint. The paint in the can was hard. It had mostly solidified.
“How about if I paint the Plymouth and you work on the Ford Thunderbird?” Chucky suggested.
“That sounds like a plan to me,” I said as I proceeded to dunk my wooden stick into the container of white paint. Chucky did the same with his yellow paint can. It took most of my strength to loosen up the dried out white paint until I got to about the midpoint on my broken piece of wood. Although the paint was a bit waxy, I was able to make a somewhat horizontal white strip along the passenger side of the Ford Thunderbird. Chucky was a little more creative with his handiwork than I was. He started to make several different designs on the blue Plymouth. As I took a short break from my painting job. I walked over to check the car that Chucky was working on to examine his work. In a few short minutes, he had painted a symbol of a star, the moon and his initials, CB.
‘Isn’t it beautiful?” Chucky asked.
“Oh yes, the Plymouth looks so much better now. I wonder if the owners will pay us for this?” I wondered.
“Yeah, maybe the owners will give us five dollars each,” Chucky replied.
“After they pay us, let’s go over to Clancy’s Corner Store and buy some football cards,” I said.
In the nineteen fifties, you could buy a pack of CFL football cards that came with a stick of pink gum. My buddies and I had a lot of fun. both collecting and trading these cards.
Just as we were finishing our conversation, a young woman who was still in her housecoat and curlers ran out of the apartment building’s back door. She started yelling at us, “What do you little brats think that you’re doing? My husband just bought that new Ford Thunderbird last Thursday and now you’ve ruined it. I’m calling the police,” she said as she stomped back to the apartment block.
Chucky and I just froze in our spots. We immediately turned around and took off down the back lane so fast that we were almost tripping over our own feet. When I made it to my house, my grandmother met me at the door. “I see white paint stains on your hands and on your T-shirt. Where have you been young man, and just what have you been up to? Where did all these white paint stains come from?” my grandmother asked.
“My grandmother was a very imposing woman and had a very stern look on her face.
“Chucky and I found an open can of paint in the back lane and started playing around with it,” I said, as my face was starting to turn a deep shade of red. My grandmother looked very suspicious, but seemed to be giving me the benefit of the doubt. A few minutes later, my grandmother, known in the neighborhood as Bapi, was visited by a young man who was one of our neighbours from the apartment block. He was an office clerk about twenty-five years old. His face was beet red and he had tears flowing down his cheeks. He was so distraught that he was stuttering and stumbling over his own words. All my grandmother could make out of his rambling speech were a few keywords and phrases such as ‘your kid’ and ‘painting my brand-new car with an ugly white stripe’. Bapi also could hear the perplexed young man yell loudly, “Who’s going to pay to get my car fixed?”
When my grandmother stared at the young man she heard a car door slam across the street. By looking passed the man’s right shoulder, she could see two police officers approaching our house.
“How are you today, ma’am?” the older police constable asked politely.
With great trepidation, my grandmother asked. “What’s wrong, officer?”
A younger constable climbed up one more step leading to my grandmother’s front porch. “We had a report that your grandson and some of his little friends were vandalizing some cars this afternoon.”
“Yes,” added the older constable with the grey hair, “the boys began applying paint to this man’s Ford Thunderbird and one Plymouth belonging to one of his neighbours.”
Shortly after, another car pulled up. This time it was my parents. My grandmother was trying to tell them what the police officers had just said. The police constables informed them that they were unable arrest such young children and told my parents to discipline me as they saw fit. And believe me, my parents did just that. One at a time, they took turns giving me a very hard spanking.
After the third spanking, it was over. My bottom was now a bright shade of red, I still wondered what I had done to deserve such severe punishment. I was still surprised that the young man who stopped at our front door wasn’t going to pay me for the beautiful white stripe that I had painted on his new red Ford Mustang.
Painting Cars Part Two I turned to one of my little pals, Chucky. Chucky was a cute little five-year-old with blonde hair and a buzz cut. “Hey, Chucky, look what I found in the bushes, An open can of white paint and a piece of … Continue reading Painting Cars Part Two