Episode 45 of Street Dreams/Tony Spills His Guts

Episode 45 of Street Dreams 

When Tony and Harold had brought their refreshments from the kitchen and placed them on Harold’s glass coffee table, Harold settled into his white La-Z-Boy chair and Tony found a place on Harold’s orange and white leather sofa. 

Tony took a few seconds to glance around Harold’s living room. He could see many things that were of interest to him. 

Last night I was having so much fun playing jukebox with you guys that I didn’t pay too much attention to my surroundings. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your possessions?” Tony asked, biting off a sizable chunk of his extra-large oatmeal and raisin cookie. He added a sip from his coffee cup. Harold poured Tony’s coffee into a Motorhead coffee cup. Tony was amazed at how well the coffee and cookie combo tasted. 

Harold also sampled this morning’s culinary delights and experienced the same sense of joy that Tony was experiencing. 

“Wow, I didn’t know how well Whisper could bake cookies,” Tony said. 

Harold looked Tony Barrows straight in the eye. 

“I will gladly answer your questions about my possessions after we have a chat about other things,” Harold answered. 

“When you get to be my age, Tony, I think one becomes much more proficient at reading people. In other words, you become much more observant and skilled at drawing inferences,” Harold said. 

Tony started moving his fingers around in a nervous manner. He was hoping for a conversation about deep things, but he was surprised that Harold delved into that realm this early in the conversation. 

“Tony, which artists created those two pieces of artwork that I’m pointing to on my wall?” Harold asked using his forefinger to point to two different paintings on the wall across from Tony. 

“The one to your immediate right is by Jackson Pollock, the second one is by Picasso and if you’d asked me about the third I would say that it was done by Salvador Dali,” Tony answered with a look of self- satisfaction on his face. 

Harold got caught in the middle of a laughing spell and spewed out a sudden spray of coffee and partially chewed cookie. This incident also caused Tony to laugh and had the effect of putting them more at ease. 

“You just proved my point, son. You’re either self educated, partially educated or have a university degree,” Harold said. 

“I don’t know how you figured that out, but you are right. I spent two years at the University of Manitoba. My major was economics. I also read a lot on my own if that’s what you mean by self educated.” 

“I, too, do a lot of reading on my own, listen to audiobooks, watch Fox News and do a considerable amount of research on the internet. Why haven’t you finished your bachelor’s degree?” Harold asked. 

“That’s kind of a long and sad story. Just after I finished my second year courses, my girlfriend died of a drug overdose. Two weeks later, I get a call telling me that while my uncle and his girlfriend were driving on a trip down the highway, their car got squashed by a semitrailer. My uncle died immediately and his girlfriend was pronounced DOA when an ambulance took her to the closest hospital,” Tony answered. 

“That’s horrible,” Harold said, as a tear slid down his left cheek. 

“Were you close to your uncle?” Harold asked. 

“Yes, very much so. I only lived with him for about a year and a half, but he was the closest thing to a father figure I ever knew. I worked for him as a plumber’s helper any he gave me a love of reading, writing fiction and participating in intellectual discussions. He was the one who inspired me to attend university,” Tony answered. 

“Something here doesn’t add up. Why does a smart young man like yourself end up throwing his girlfriend out of his truck on a cold winter day?” Harold asked. 

Tony’s face reddened and he hung his head towards the ground in shame. 

“Somewhere along the line I didn’t develop a good sense of morals, but I think that I lost my temper and snapped when I decided to push Whisper out of my truck,” Tony explained. 

Do you lose your temper often, Tony?” Harold asked. 

Harold moved from his La-Z-Boy chair over to the white leather sofa and sat right next to Tony. Harold put his arm around Tony’s shoulder.Tony began to weep and tried to stop what was turning into a deluge of tears. 

“I’m sorry, Tony managed to say in between the falling of his tears. I have so much rage inside me that it scares me to death. I’m afraid I’ll kill somebody one of these days if I don’t learn how to control my temper.” 

The two men just sat in silence for close to five minutes while both of them wept. Tony raised his head and looked at Harold. 

“I can’t remember the last time I cried like that,” Tony said as he finally began to regain his composure. My biological father died from cancer when I was just five years old and my mother was an alcoholic who never wanted me. Still, there is no excuse for what I did to Whisper or for the other people I’ve hurt in my life,” Tony said as he gave Harold a quick hug. 

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Episodes 23 and 24 of Street Dreams

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 he had with Clarissa had their own lives now.  They both relocated to the United States a few years ago.  Harold’s biological son and daughter had not approved of Harold’s marriage to Clarissa and they had never liked their stepbrother, Ricky.  Harold’s two biological children, Derek and Jasmine, had little in common with Ricky.  Although Clarissa’s divorce from Harold was painful, they turned out to be well-adjusted kids.  Most of their friends’ parents were also living apart so they both had several peers with which they could commiserate.  Despite the tension between Harold and Clarissa, his children lived relatively stable lives as adults.  Jasmine and Derek were very smart and were on the honour roles while they attended high school.  Although they had some knowledge of how unstable Ricky’s life had been and heard that he had been badly mistreated by his biological father, they were unable to relate to him on any level.  Derek and Jasmine did not know the true extent of abuse that Ricky had suffered at the hands of his real father, Tim Kramer.

Tim was an angry, violent man who hated every aspect of his life.  He been laid off by a company that he had been loyal to for over ten years.  Then, out of the blue, Tim was informed that his services were no longer required.  Tim had worked hard at the iron foundry as an iron grinder.  He had good reason to be upset.  It was simply a bottom- line issue with his former employer.  They had not been making much of a profit during the last five years and during the last two years the plant had been losing money.  The company was more than happy to be bought out by a competitor who thought that they could turn the foundry around and start making it a profitable enterprise. It was all business and politics, two things that were totally out of Tim’s control.

Episode 24:

It was Friday afternoon around one PM, when Harold and Whisper arrived at the Grunge.    There was a light snowfall, but the temperature was still relatively warm for November.  Harold’s long silver mane of hair was blown around by the wind.  He had to be careful when he exited his car.  He almost slipped on a small icy patch as he was dismounting from his Ford Taurus. Harold had been using a cane for the last three weeks as the osteoarthritis in his left knee was causing him severe pain.  He did not like having to use a cane as he thought it made him look old and disabled.  Harold was very young at heart and had a hard time picturing himself as an old man. It did not fit with the way he envisioned himself.  Even at age sixty-five, he thought of himself as being very cool and many of his students would agree with his self -assessment.  Harold also regarded himself as being an artist and he was.  After all, he was a published author and his teaching style was more like performance art. If Harold Peyton had to use a cane to aid with his mobility, it would have to be more like a walking stick that was conguent his self-image.

He had recently been looking for bargains at an estate sale when he spotted exactly what he was looking for.  In the left corner of the immaculate house where the estate sale was held, Harold’s eyes focused on a white walking stick which.   had the shape of a black Labrador retriever carved into its handle.

Harold was approached by a man that appeared to be in his early forties.

“I noticed that you’ve been looking at that cane for several minutes, sir.  It had been my father’s favourite walking stick.”

Harold was quite startled as the young man approached him and he trembled slightly.

“I’m sorry to have scared you,” the young man said as he took a few steps back.

“That’s all right,” Harold said, feeling slightly embarrassed. “It’s just that your father’s walking stick is so beautiful.”

“My dad had an appreciation for fine art.  He was especially fond of that walking stick as the handle was a tribute to his deceased dog, Tyrone.  My God, he loved that dog.  He cried for three days when it was finally time to put Tyrone down,” the son of the deceased man said.

“My father was an excellent artist.  He excelled at oil paintings.  I have a few of his canvases on display if you are at all interested.”

“I love art too,” Harold said as he ran his fingers over the finely detailed texture of the white walking stick.

“While browsing your father’s collection, I viewed all the paintings that I would like to have in my home, but I’m wondering if I even have enough money to pay for the walking stick.”  Harold said.

“The young man was of medium build and had well-groomed curly brown hair.  I understand sir and am willing to make you a very reasonable offer on the walking stick.  If my father were still alive, he would surely want a man like you to have it.” he said.  Does two hundred dollars sound fair to you, sir?”

“Yes, I can afford that amount,” Harold said as he reached for his old leather wallet.  He had brought $275 with him to the estate sale.  Harold handed the son ten $20 bills.  Both men proceeded to shake hands on the deal.

“This beautiful walking stick is now yours, sir.  If my father is looking down from heaven, he will have a big smile on his face, knowing that I sold it to a gentleman with such impeccable taste,” the young man said.