Tony Barrows was starting to feel lonely. He put down the novel that he had been reading, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He thought to himself and started to laugh,
“Most people think I’m a punk and a loser. Just another greaser high school dropout. That may be true to a certain extent, but how many greasers would be sitting by themselves on a Saturday night reading a classic novel in American literature. Not too many would be my guess,” Tony thought. “Come to think of it, I’m probably the only one.”
Tony now felt restless as well as lonely. He decided that he would give his nerd buddy Herbie Schultz a phone call.
“So what’s happening Herb?” Tony asked while rolling himself an enormous blunt.
“Hey Tony. I’m on my PC right now. I’ve got the Spotify app open and I’m downloading an album by Motorhead,” Herby replied.
“Yeah, which album are you downloading?” Tony asked.
“Aftershock The Tour Edition. I’ll tell you Tony, Motorhead really rocks out on this one.”
“I will have to look up that one myself. I haven’t heard it yet. Remember when we went to see Motorhead a couple years ago?” Tony asked.
“Of course. The concert was awesome. We got really wasted that night. Motorhead played loud enough to make your ears bleed,” Herbie said.
“Louder than everything else, right Herbie. Listen up. I got an idea for tonight. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually miss Whisper. I wouldn’t admit this to anyone else Herb, but you’re my only real friend. How about you and me go for a drive in my truck tonight to look for Whisper?” Tony asked.
“I thought that you didn’t know where she went after you threw her out of your truck,” Herbie said.
“I’ve a strong hunch that I know where she is. As I drove slowly down the street that day I saw an old guy come to his door and ask Whisper if she needed help. Maybe she’s still with him now, Tony said.
|”Sure. I’m not doing anything tonight. Let’s go for a ride.” Herbie said.
Tony had a good memory was able to recall the exact street and house where the old man lived. Tony parked his white Ford 150 in front of Harold’s house. He and Herbie walked up to Harold’s front door and Tony rang the doorbell.
Harold answered the door not recognizing the two young men who were standing at the entrance to his house.
“Hey guys, how can I help you? Are you looking for someone?” Harold asked.He had a weird premonition that he’d seen one of these men before.
“Yeah, I’m looking for my girlfriend, Whisper,” Tony answered.
Harold now realized that the husky young man was the male that pushed Whisper out of his truck and threw her duffle bag on the road.
Whisper overheard Harold and Tony Barrows talking at the front entrance of the house. It was not difficult to decipher Tony’s unique baritone voice. She walked up to the right side of Harold and said,”What do you want Tony? I see that you brought your little buddy Herbie along.”
“I just want to say I’m sorry for pushing you out of my truck I’m sorry about our fight,too. It was all my fault. I was having a really bad day. I had a horrible migraine headache. Still, that’s no excuse for the way I treated you.” Tony said.
Tony put out his right hand and attempted to shake Harold’s hand. Harold reluctantly shook Tony’s hand. He wasn’t sure about Tony’s intentions toward Whisper and wondered how sincere his apology was. Harold was not totally surprised to see Tony. His intuition had told him that Tony would likely come to his house looking for Whisper one day.
Harold looked towards Whisper, “Should I let these guys in so that we can have a chat with them?”
“Yes, I think that would be okay,” Whisper answered.
As soon as Tony and Herbie entered Harold’s living room he asked them to be seated on his couch. Tony looked at Harold and said, “I hope that we’re not interrupting anything sir,” He saw the whiteboard, washable felt markers and felt eraser. Tony chuckled a little and said, “Are you guys in the middle of some kind of class?”
“Oh no. We were just getting things set up for a gamee my son Ricky invented. He’s named the game Jukebox,” Harold answered. Whisper sat on a chair that she brought from the kitchen. She sat across from Herbie and Tony, but was unable look them in the eyes. She felt awkward and uncomfortable, but she was relieved that she was not alone with Tony. She knew her boyfriend well enough to know that he would not get hostile or aggressive in front of Harold and Ricky. She was also not surprised Tony could talk his way into Harold’s home. Tony might be a greaser and a loser, but he could be very charming by acting polite in the presence of people that he didn’t know. It worked in Tony’s favour that Harold was very curious about people and tended to give strangers the benefit of the doubt.
Ricky was not intimidated by Tony and he could easily surmise that Herbie was not a fighter. However, he was quite willing to act as security for Whisper and his dad if Tony tried anything. Tony studied Ricky for a few minutes and he could sense that Ricky was not afraid to go toe to toe with him if the situation went south. That did not mean that Tony was afraid of Ricky. Tony had never lost a physical fight is his life and was certain that he could take Ricky if Ricky wanted to be a hero. Still, he respected a person that did not display any fear of him.
Harold was not easily intimidated either. He had to admit that he was looking forward to the day they would get to meet Whisper’s boyfriend.
“I realize that it may look a little strange having a whiteboard in my living room. To put you guys at ease, I assure you that I’m not going to teach a class this evening even though I am a retired schoolteacher,” Harold said with a mischievious grin on his face.
This caused Herbie Schultz to give off a nervous laugh. He was used to getting into bizarre situations when he went somewhere with Tony Barrows. He realized that life would never be boring as long as Tony was his best friend.
Episode 38 Pizza Hut
“What should I cook for supper tonight?” Whisper asked Harold.
“ Nothing,” Harold replied.
“Aren’t you getting hungry? It’s already after 5 PM,” Whisper asked as she sat up on the couch that was close to Harold’s white Lazy Boy chair.
“Oh, I’m hungry all right but I’m a little pressed for time this evening. I need to buy a new ice pick at Canadian Tire. I can’t find my old one. I was looking for it in the woodshed, but it was nowhere to be found. Both the front and back steps are getting very icy and I will need to break up the ice with a pick. I was thinking about heading out to the Canadian Tire store in Southdale,” Harold explained.
“Why would you want to drive all the way to St. Vital? There’s a Canadian Tire outlet on Regent. That would be your closest one,” Whisper said.
“I know,” Harold replied, “but a friend of mine works the evening shift at the Southdale store. He was my neighbour for a few years but I haven’t talked to him for a while and I want to ask how his new job is going. His name is James and he is a nice young man. He was a schoolteacher for a couple of years, but found that he wasn’t cut out for the job. When his second year of teaching was over, he resigned and picked up an assistant manager’s job at Canadian Tire.”
“That’s interesting Harold but what are we going to do for supper? You said that you were hungry,” Whisper said.
“I’ve got that covered. You’ve cooked a lot of good meals for us during the last two weeks. I think it’s only fair that I treat you to dinner at Pizza Hut tonight. We’ll eat supper before we go to Canadian Tire.”
“You mean like a date or something, Harold?” Whisper asked mischeiviously Harold laughed out loud.
“That’s a good one Whisper. I’m sixty-five and you are twenty-two. Don’t you think there’s a bit of an age differential at work here?”
“|I’m flattered anyway. I would love to go out for supper with you,” Whisper replied.
“Well, let’s get going,” Harold said.
“You might need me to go out and clean the snow off the car. It’s been snowing quite a bit today and there’s probably two or three inches of snow on the roof of the car. I also need to shovel around the tires of the car so that we won’t get stuck,” Whisper said.
“You’ve only been staying with me a little while, but I’m starting to wonder how I ever managed before I met you. I could clear off the snow myself, but I would feel pain every time I moved a muscle. This arthritis has really been giving me grief. The funny thing about osteoarthritis is this. It won’t kill you, but it sure can make your life miserable,” Harold said.
Whisper put on her white downfilled parka that Harold and bought for her at Hangers clothing store.She then pulled on her new black leather snow boots that were also a present from Harold.
“My God, Harold thought to himself. Whisper looks beautiful today. So did Erica, but she had a different kind of beauty.”
Harold’s turned on the ignition to start warming up his red Ford Taurus. Whisper brushed off the snow on the roof of the car. Whisper used the rubber broom with a long white handle. It was so much easier taking off the large clumps of snow with the rubber broom that she found in Harold’s cleaning supplies closet
“Where did you get this broom, Harold?” Whisper asked.
“I’ve had that white broom for ages now. I bought it for myself when I used to be a part-time Amway distributor.”
“What’s Amway? Whisper asked.
“I’ll reserve my answer for another time. It’s too long a story,” Harold replied.
Once Whisper had removed all the snow from the car, she threw the rubber room in the back seat and climbed into the passenger beside Harold. As soon as they drove a short distance out of Harold’s driveway, he felt his car shake lightly for a few seconds.
“There are some wicked patches of ice under the snow,” Harold said. “Thank goodness that my neighbour recommended that I get snow tires installed for the winter season. Before I had winter tires, my car would often fishtail whenever I tried to stop at an intersection. I feel much safer safer now.”
As soon as Whisper climbed into the passenger seat she automatically fastened her seatbelt. As she turned her head she noticed a zippered red binder in the back seat of the car. “What’s in the red binder?” Whisper asked.
It contains my favourite CDs. The CD player in the old Taurus is still in good working order,” Harold answered.
“Can I look through the binder to check what CDs you have?” Whisper asked.
“Sure, but if you’re looking for any contemporary music you won’t find any in there. I pretty much stopped listening to modern music after the 1990s grunge era ended.
“That’s awesome. I love the music from that era. You got any Nirvana in your binder?”
Yes, I do. Nirvana is my favourite Seattle grunge era band,” Harold replied. As Whisper was going through the plastic sleeves in the red binder she found the Nirvana’s Greatest Hits CD.
“Do you mind if I play Nirvana’s Greatest Hits in your CD player?”
“Knock yourself out. I love Nirvana’s music. I was upset for a long time when I heard the news about Kurt Cobain killing himself,” Harold said.
“Some people don’t believe it was a suicide. They think that maybe Courtney Love paid someone to put a hit on her husband,” Whisper said.
“Yes, it’s still a very controversial topic. Apparently the surviving members of Nirvana don’t believe the report that Courtney had something to do with Kurt’s death,” Harold stated.
The first track on the CD was You Know You’re Right. Harold and Whisper listened to the whole album with both of them singing along with the choruses on the songs.
The Plot of Street Dreams by Ken David Stewart December 22, 2019
Harold Peyton suffers from severe bouts of clinical depression as well as writer’s block.
Harold Peyton is physically healthy.
Location Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Elmwood. year 2019.
Harold had been divorced from his ex-wife Clarissa for nearly five years now.
A man named Tony Barrows had pushed a young woman named Whisper who is in her early twenties out of his truck and on to an ice- covered road.
Harold invited Whisper into his home.
One year ago, in 2018, Harold’s daughter Erica had been killed in a car accident by an inebriated driver.
Whisper suggests that Harold write about a strange young woman that arrives at his door.
Whisper has a criminal record for shoplifting and is presently homeless.
Harold drives Whisper to a local EIA office.
Harold has a stepson named Richard.
Harold has a younger brother who suffers from schizophrenia.
Tony Barrows lives on Spence Street in downtown Winnipeg. Tony is very macho.
Tony Barrows has one friend who is a nerd. He is called Herbie Schultz.
Tony has no problem picking up women as he has the persona of a tough guy.
Herbie Schultz is forever grateful and is fiercely loyal to Tony, as Tony once saved Herbie from taking a terrible beating from two elementary school bullies.
Whisper finds out how many medications that Harold Peyton takes daily in order to function.
Harold does not know how to cook for himself.
Harold suffers from severe arthritis.
Whisper offers to cook meals for Harold. During that time, she offers to teach Harold how to cook healthy meals for himself.
Harold allows Whisper to live with him for an indefinite time period.
Whisper learns that Harold has an extremely painful arthritic condition.
Whisper notices how many Bibles and Christian audiobooks Harold owns.
Harold is enjoying smoking the cannabis that Whisper has given him to try.
Harold tells Whisper that some of his friends worry about Harold’s spiritual condition.
Harold receives a phone call from his stepson, Ricky Kramer. Ricky asks if his stepdad, Harold, if he can pick him up when he is released from jail in a couple of weeks. Ricky also asks his dad if he can live with him on a temporary basis.
Harold admits to himself that he enjoys Whisper’s company. She is able to ease the pain of the loss of his deceased daughter, Erica.
During the last year, Whisper was a heavy crystal meth user.
Harold and Whisper go to the Grunge headshot/coffee shop. Harold buys a bootleg Bob Dylan concert album. While they are at the Grunge they listened to a musical set by a male who performed a Bob Dylan tribute set.
Harold reveals the dysfunctional nature of his relationships with his family. He is divorced from Clarissa, his stepson, Ricky is just getting out of jail, his two biological children, Jasmine and Derek, detest Ricky, their stepbrother. Jasmine and Derek are very much estranged from Harold. They live in two different cities in the United States with their families. Tim Kramer, Ricky’s biological father he is the violent and abusive man.
Harold bought himself a beautiful wooden walking stick with a black lab’s head as the handle carving.
Herbie Schultz’ back story. He has ADHD is 33 years old is live with foster parents in group homes for most of his life. Herbie is a high school dropout. He has been fired from several jobs where his supervisor and coworkers think that Herbie is acting too weird.
He suffers from schizophrenia and had a recent psychotic break. The police had to be called and they took him to the hospital ER.
Herbie lies to his apartment superintendent and tells him that he had a grand mal seizure, not a psychotic break.
Clarissa Peyton, Harold’s ex-wife’s back story. She is a Christian legalist. Clarissa is avery strong -willed person who despises weakness of any kind in others. Clarissa is a staunch conservative Baptist. She derides Harold for checking out a charismatic Pentecostal church.
Tony Barrows takes Whisper with him to a wild party on Beliveau Road. At the party Tony assaults a man then he Whisper and Pixie, a female guest at the party, flee the scene when the police are called. Pixie tells Tony that she needs a ride home. She says that she lives in Fort Rouge with her boyfriend, Ricky, who is Harold’s stepson.
Two police constables, Bill Noble and Melissa Parks drive to the house to investigate a report that a young man inside the house is badly injured. The two police officers search the house, but just see a lot of blood. The injured man has somehow been removed from the house.
Pixie Lambert is the young girl at the party that Tony and Whisper agree to give a ride home.
Pixie claims to have murdered her mother’s boyfriend in self- defence. Pixie killed Stan with repeated blows to his head from a hammer she found in his workstation. Pixie escaped by taking a Greyhound bus from Fargo, North Dakota to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. On the Greyhound bus Pixie meets Ricky Kramer. Pixie and Ricky share a common interest in the Charles Manson story and true crime stories in general.
Aleister Richter is the name of the young man that Tony Barrows viciously assaulted.
Hartley and Kerry Popovich bullied Herbie Schultz in elementary school. They fled from the house party and put Aleister in Kerry’s old car. Kerry and Hartley met Aliester at a downtown pool hall. boys wanted to score some drugs and Aleister had the supply drugs that they wanted. Aleister had been both their drug dealer and friend ever since.
Aleister Richter’s back story. Aleister’s parents separated just after his fourteenth birthday. Aleister hated school and skipped his regular glasses to go to the library and stay in one of the library’s private rooms until a staff member found him and kicked him out. While in school Aleister committed several acts of vandalism.
Hartley and Kerry drove along Bishop Grandin Boulevard. Their car skidded off the road and ended up on the shoulder. It was a cold winter night. Harold and Whisper stopped for them to see if the people in the stranded car needed help. Hartley’s glove compartment contained the drugs they had just bought. Constables Noble and Parks arrived shortly after. Hartley tried to push Constables Noble out of the way and tried to start the car to get away. He was tackled and handcuffed by Constable Parks.
Act Five Scene Two:
Narrator: Zeke, the hospital custodian, runs up to General Kane.
Zeke: General, the guy I locked up in the store room broke the window and escaped!
General Kane: Enns get in the truck. We’ve got to catch that rancher before he starts shooting his mouth off again.
Narrator: Enns and Kane start driving down the back lane. They stop when they see two dogcatchers climbing out of the dumpster.
Private Enns: Look, General. The city makes those poor dogcatchers hunt for dogs in the dumpster.
General Kane: I doubt that Enns. Roswell city employees have a union.
Private Enns: Maybe the dog catchers aren’t included in the union contract.
General Kane: What the heck are you guys doing in the dumpster? Just look at you guys all covered in garbage. You’re a disgrace to the uniform!
Private Enns: I thought city employees made good money. You guys shouldn’t have to scrounge around for food in the dumpster.
Hoss: We’re not looking for food. A large Rottweiler chased us into the dumpster.
General Kane: Men, it’s your job to catch dogs, not run away from them!
Harvey: Well there’s a whole other side to this story. You tell them what happened, Hoss.
Hoss: Well, it’s kind of a strange story. We were sitting in the truck having our smoke break when we saw this guy stumbling down the back lane.
Harvey: Yeah, this guy tells us this goofy story about escaping from the hospital. He said two military guys kidnapped him and threw him in the back of a truck with a bunch of aliens.
Hoss: Ha! ha! ha! And then he says something about a nurse giving him a shot of horse tranquilizer in the backside.
Private Enns: They’re talking about Mick, General.
General Kane: I know! So where’s this guy now?
Private Enns: Yeah. And don’t you guys have a truck or something to put the dogs in after you catch them?
General Kane: They don’t need one. The dogs chase them into the dumpster. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Harvey: Look General, this is no laughing matter. The guy drove off with our truck.
Private Enns: I don’t get it. There’s two of you against one of him.
Hoss: Well, it’s kind of a long story. You tell them, Harvey.
Harvey: Well, while Hoss and I were trying to pull this guy into the truck, the keys fall out of Hoss’s pants The guy grabbed the keys and let the Rottweiler out the back of the truck.
General Kane: Now let me guess, and then the dog chased you guys into the dumpster.
Hoss: Yeah, that’s pretty much the way it happened.
Private Enns: You guys are hilarious. You’re funnier than Lloyd the Barber on the Andy Griffin Show. You guys should go tell your story on Rick and Dwight’s radio show.
General Kane: I have a feeling that’s where Mick is right now.
After about a fifteen minute ride Kerry and Hartley Popovich could hear Aleister trying to speak. At first, all Aleister could manage was a few garbled words. His two friends were now starting to hear some words and phrases that were decipherable. Aleister attempted to say a few things that sounded like:
“Where am I? I’m in pain. I need help.”
Kerry turned around and said to Aleister, “We were just at a party. You got the crap beat out of you by a big dude that you were arguing with. Someone called the cops so we picked you up and got you into Hartley’s car. The grey interior of the old Ford Tempo was stained with the blood from the wounds in Aleister’s head. The good news was that the blood coming from Aleister’s head was now starting to coagulate.
Hartley was now doing over 110 km/h when the car skidded on a snow-covered patch of ice and fishtailed off to the right shoulder of the of Bishop Grandin Boulevard.
About thirty meters behind them was a red Ford Taurus with Harold Payton driving and Whisper Willows riding shotgun.
“Hey Harold, look to your right. There’s a car on the shoulder up ahead. Looks like they’re going to need help,” Whisper said.
Harold and Whisper were just returning from getting a late night supper at Pizza Hut. The driving was hazardous tonight as a heavy snowfall had just begun.
One of Harold’s personality traits was both a blessing and a curse. He was a nice guy. Too nice a guy. Whenever he encountered someone in trouble, he wouldn’t hesitate to try to assist them. No matter how much trouble a stranger might be in or how dangerous this intervention might prove to be, Harold would jump in to help them without any reservations. Harold Peyton could be very impulsive and perhaps even a bit self-destructive if he felt that the situation warranted it.
Harold drove his car right behind Hartley’s car. He and Whisper got out of the car and trudged through the snow toward the white Ford Tempo. Whisper could make out a bumper sticker that read, ‘Crash and Burn’. Harold approached the driver side door and knocked on the glass. He called out, “Are you people all right? Do you need help?”
Hartley was still in a bit of a daze as he hit his head on the steering wheel causing the car’s horn to go off.
“Yeah, we need help,” Hartley answered as he lowered his shoulder and banged the front door open. The passenger side door was old and rusty making it difficult to push open. The light in the interior of the car came on so Harold could now see inside the vehicle. He could see another young man occupying the passenger seat. He could make out a third young male who was trying to prop himself up in the backseat. This individual gave out a shriek of pain as he tried to move himself into a sitting position.
Whisper opened the back door of the car and made a quick visual inspection of the man who was in obvious pain.
“How do you feel, dude? What the hell happened to you?” Whisper asked Aleister.
Whisper could see that the injured man had bloodstains on his beige Slipknot T-shirt. He also had some bruises on his forehead. She asked Aleister to turn the back of his head towards her. Whisper noticed three small places where blood had previously been flowing from Aleister’s head.
“Whatever you do, don’t touch me, lady. My neck and back are killing me and I feel like I just got run over by a semi- trailer,” Aleister said in a low pained voice.
Kerry spoke up, “Don’t try to talk now, Aleister. Save your strength.”
Then he turned towards Whisper and Harold and said, “Look we just came back from Boogy’s Sports Bar. We were watching a wrestling pay-per-view and having a few beers when we noticed that Aleister had been in the washroom for a long time. Hartley went into the men’s room to check on him and found Aleister slumped on the floor. There were bloodstains on the wall behind him. Hartley and I got Aleister out of the bathroom and into our car.
Harold Peyton moved closer to Kerry, “Hey, my name is Harold and this is my friend, Whisper. Back in the day I was a medic during the war in Vietnam. Can I check on your friend’s condition?”
Before Kerry could answer a police patrol car with its lights flashing pulled up right behind him. Constable Bill Noble and Constable Melissa Parks got out of the patrol car. Constable Bill took a quick check around the area to see if there was anything dangerous around the scene that he and his partner were about to investigate. The wind had picked up and Bill’s ears were getting cold. Hartley panicked and placed his car key in the ignition. Constable Noble saw what Hartley was trying to do and snatched the car keys out of his hand.
“What’s your hurry, Bud? Are you trying to get away from us? Let’s see your driver’s license and registration.”
Hartley remembered that he had put his bag of drugs in the glove compartment. He knew the cops were going to search the car. He gave Constable Bill a shove and was tackled from behind by Constable Parks. She quickly and efficiently put the hand cuffs on Hartley.
in this podcast Canadian author Ken David Stewart reads episode 31 of his new novel Street dreams. This is the podcast version.