It was one of the incomers who suggested social services, but the shoe lady had worked in that system and she knew enough to make sure that the suggestion didn’t quite make its way into the paperwork. When the landlord started to complain about irregular rent payments, the bank manager arranged that rent money was routinely transferred straight from pension to landlord. The young cop, transferred to Saskatchewan, left instructions, and his replacement, born in Taiwan, started giving Bill a ride to the Legion once in a while.
His name, the new replacement, was Deyan. Bill looked at him funny when he heard that.
“That’s no kind of name.”
“It’s mine – that’s what my parents called me.”
“Why don’t you call yourself Bill or John, a name like white people have?”
“World’s changed, Bill. It doesn’t matter anymore, well not as much anyway.”
Bill spat into the road and said something Deyan was glad he could not hear.
It was election time and Deyan asked “Have you voted, Bill? You can, you know – been able to for years.”
He was surprised when Bill let loose a stream of clearly audible profanity and then turned around and stamped off.
Deyan stopped his car beside Bill a couple of weeks later and pulled a wheelbarrow from the trunk where it had been balanced and made safe by yards of yellow nylon cord.
“Not safe, that,” Bill said. “Probably against the rules.”
Deyan shrugged. “I brought it for you. I thought as long as you’re walking all around anyway you could pick up pop cans and such and turn them in for money. Buy yourself a treat, some clean clothes. Whatever…”
He balled up the cord, slammed down the hood of the trunk and drove off, encouraged to have heard no profanity. Driving down the street later he was even more encouraged to see neither Bill nor the wheelbarrow.
He was doing up his final reports before going off shift when Bill stomped into the detachment office lugging the greater part of a car’s exhaust system.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with this?”
“Where’d you find it?” Deyan asked. Please God, he hadn’t taken it off a car.
“Down Sharp’s Gap, below the road.”
The yellow nylon cord came in handy for getting the load to the scrap yard.
“Don’t do this again, Bill. It’s against…”
“I know. Agin the rules. That’s the best part. See you!”
And he was gone.