April 18, 2013.  Mad Journal.  For the incensed, by the incensed.  Five years.  Five years and the space of five long winters since those inebriate trolls sent my life sideways and down.  We will remember and the lessons remain the same.  Bad drives out good and mediocrity loathes talent.  Mediocrity must triumph.  So screw mediocrity.  It can never win.

Today’s headline:  Dr. X Has Been.  That’s right.  Came over for dinner the other night.  Dr. X is an interesting story.  He came back into our lives in the last couple of years after we hadn’t seen him, really, for at least twenty years.  He was around and so were we but we sort of spun out of each others’ sphere.  We have a lot of history with Dr. X but it is old history. Dr. X got married and had a couple of children.  We met his bride, once, years ago.  We knew that for years he has been selling and buying and developing millions of dollars in residential real estate around the west side.  One day we stumble on him in the neighbourhood.  The Real Estate Board building isn’t far from here and it turns out he is frequently in the neighbourhood.  His girlfriend lives across the street from us.  His marriage went bad but he still lives under the same roof as his wife.  Now his older child is at university and his younger just graduating from high school.  He and his family have moved frequently over the years, house to house within his area of operations, you might call it.  We have studied what Dr. X has told us about his life and have concluded that there is something rootless and transient in it and that money doesn’t buy happiness.

Dr. X contacts us after several weeks of not hearing from him and he appears down in the dumps.  He says he is going in for surgery this week.  When he comes for dinner he gives us something of the details.  He had an altercation with his son that led to physical contact and Dr. X managed to stumble backwards on a staircase in the family home where the fight was taking place, tearing the Achilles tendon in his left leg.  He already has a world famous chronic condition that causes his left hand and forearm to tremble uncontrollably, and now this.  We feel for him which is why we thought a free meal of excellent food and a couple of glasses of good wine wouldn’t do him any harm.  He’s an old friend with problems.

His phone rings at one point in the evening and he says he needs to take this call, but doesn’t move from the sofa.  We get a little glimpse into real estate arcanum.

“No.  He owns other properties so it’s not like a fire sale or anything like that…  ”

“It’s all under RS-5 zoning…  ”

“No.  It has to be in the 1.7s before he responds.  What are you people looking for?”

“2298.  Subject this, subject that…  No.  A low-ball is not gonna’ work.”

“If you people are looking for someone desperate, forget it.  This guy is very fair.  I’d like to take your offer tomorrow.”

“Buy the property first then look at the plan.  He wants the land to be separate from the plan.  Do that and you’re looking at going through ten months with city hall…  ”

“Yes.  Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2.4…  ”

“The plan is stamped and ready to go…  ”

“Maybe he’ll go for it.  Maybe he won’t.  But anyway, just write the offer…  ”

“This guy doesn’t want to deal with that.  He’s not desperate.  He’s got other projects.  He wants to enjoy his retirement.  If the price is right, if the bidding is right…  ”

“Dunbar.  The length.  The depth.  It’s still an advantage.  50 by 120 equals more property tax…  It’ll be a new home on a slightly smaller lot…  It’s convenient to stores…  It’s walkable…  There’s a community centre…  ”

“2598.  2518?  No.  Too many low-ball offers and now he wants to just take it off the market…  Again I ask:  Who is your buyer and what are they looking for?”

Good question.  Dr X. leaves surprisingly early.  Last time he was here he stayed and stayed.  We had to give him the rush when it was near midnight.  He moves slowly with his sore foot.  I shake his hand.

“Take care, Dr. X., and don’t worry.  You’re gonna’ be fine.”  States gives him a hug.

April 16, 2013.  We’re driving east on Twelfth past the hospital at about five o’clock in the afternoon.  The sun has just broken through the clouds.  There’s an older white guy in a wheelchair stopped on the north side sidewalk.  He’s wearing a white T-shirt and blue sweat pants, has an enormous gut and a really bad haircut.  His round face is shining in the sun.  I Look a little closer as we pass and see that his left arm has been amputated below the elbow.

“Diabetes, I’d say,” I say to States, sitting beside me on the passenger side.  “And I think I’ve got problems.”  And it’s true.  I think I’ve got problems.  But I don’t have this guy’s problems.

April 11, 2013.  BC Book Prizes Soirée.  ZZZzzzz…  I take the time to drink a Löwenbräu and, knowing no one, and for no reason, leave after less than fifteen minutes.  Well, what the hoot, I went.  I showed the flag.  I scanned the field of greybeards and drove our crippled ship home.  Come on, Esteban.  You only saw one grey beard.  It was that you knew no one.  Even if they unanimously, and they were, they had to be, kind, caring, intelligent human beings passionate about literature, you knew no one.  And you felt you could have a better time on the upper deck than at a bar on Granville Street, with the unknown.  So go.

Earlier Confederate States was applying unction to a slight, temporary blemish, like a zit or something, on her face just to the right of her beautiful mouth, with a Q-tip, at the bathroom mirror as we discuss the situation.  She’s heading in for an evening shift.  She’s in a phlegmatic, doubting mood.  I know why.  Me.  In the last five years I’ve cost her tens of thousands of dollars with my neediness.  She’s okay with it.  She just isn’t immediately buying into my latest brilliant idea.  It’s just an idea.  She’s skeptical.  She should be.

Author: Steven Brown


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