The only time we get new neighbours on the street is when the police close down a grow-op or a meth lab. Shortly after the bust a small army of people move in to clean up the joint and a for sale sign goes up. There are thousands such busts across the province. Given the takeout realtors make on every sale, the useless exuberance of the police is making a lot of people a lot of money. Makes a man wonder who thinks these busts are such a great idea anyway. Just one more way the dope business keeps the engine of the British Columbia economy filled up with gas. If we could grow poppies up here like they do with such success in Afghanistan we would plant those too.
The latest new people to take over a perfectly good grow-op walk their dog in the park with the Hammer and me. When I first met them the guy told me, "We're the ones who took over the dump up the street." Like most people in Steepleton they drive a hundred miles back and forth to work each day. Like Sonja and I they too moved here from the mounting chaos of Sliverville. "We could not stand it there any more. The sirens howling all night, every night finally drove the old lady batty. Our neighbourhood was getting swamped with what the papers call monster homes and what everybody else calls Hindoo Hotels. It was time to get the fuck out. We got half a mill for our old place. Trouble is we'll use up the profit we made filling our cars with gas getting into the city every day."
I pulled out my flask and took a good long pull, passed it to my new neighbour. Our dogs looked inside each other's assholes on the grass. He made a sound like Jack Nicholson did when he pulled on his flask in Easy Rider. "What is that shit?"
"Balvenie's 10 year old," I told him.
"You always take a flask to the park when you walk your dog?" he asked.
My new neighbour was an inquisitive motherfucker. "Pretty much."
"Name's Ted. My old lady is Cindy." He stuck out a big hairy paw for me to shake.
"I'm Beer. My old lady is Sonja. If you see her driving keep close to the side of the road you are on. She's crazy."
"Your old lady too, eh?"
"You're not a fucking Christian are you Ted?"
I passed him the flask again. He made the weird noise again. This time he took a good long pull. I tipped the flask back and emptied it. Life would be fucking Hell without scotch and beer and people who are not Christian.
I asked Ted, "You got plans for the Super Bowl?" He did not. I told him my buddy Legs always has a stripper do a show at his place during halftime. He thought that sounded like a better plan than watching the game with his old lady.