6 May 2007

My Hometown

Things are going so well I'm thinking of how much the family will enjoy Vancouver. It's a beautiful town, with the mountains coming right down to the edge of it. We've taken a place near the beach and it should be lovely indeed. - Jim Bouton, spring 1969
On my way back from Dope City this morning I rolled through my childhood neighbourhood. In the back of the car the Hammer salivated at the sight of every squirrel and rat crossing the road. Used to be the old houses and their gardens were well kept. Now it looks like a cluster of crack houses. Fences, knocked over or missing after the winter's storms, gave the impression a drunken elephant had stumbled through. I tried to remember where people I knew lived but it is mostly a drunken blur of broken stubbies and choked on vomit.

"That's where I used to live," I told my dog. There were no signs of life on my once lively street. The old Hockey house has been painted an appealing shade of yellow beer shit and a thin pit bull stared out the picture window at the mountain view. Inside the houses on my old street people tried to find meaning in their lives now that the Canucks are out of the Stanley Cup play-offs. Good luck to them.

We drove to a park I played baseball and did lots of getting wasted in as a boy. I thought for sure my dog and I would have to find another place for her to run around in on such a fine day but we drove by anyway. Turned out the only living things making use of the park were a seagull, maybe a relative of the seagulls that used to hover outside the school windows wondering why people locked their children up in prison all day, and a crow poking his beak in the mud.

Where was the baseball game? Where was the fun? The grass was groomed for action but it did not look like the field had been stepped on by anyone but city workers for years. The Hammer took a mean dump where home plate ought to have been. I picked it up and threw it in the empty garbage can. Beside the green can a few empty cans of Budweiser lay - the only sign of life in what is a damn nice city park. I imagine the park's neighbours are proud no one is camped there.

The park was the same place I used to like watching Lefty throw Little League fastballs at Little League heads in. Lefty was a big kid who was not gifted with much hand/eye co-ordination. But when one of his fastballs connected with someone's face you could hear the crack from one end of the neighbourhood to the other.

On our way home we drove by another park I played ball in as a kid. Park was fucking empty too. I let the Hammer run around there too. In a corner of the park an empty condom box and wrapper and a few blood soaked tissues glistened beneath a picnic table in the dirt. The Hammer sniffed at and then chewed up the red tissue and swallowed it. "Hey," I told my dog, "at least someone besides us is getting a little enjoyment out of the Sliverville city parks.

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