“Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.”
The room was full of glass. They call it a bachelor suite, or a studio, as though they are filled with amorous young gentlemen and inspired artists instead of lonely old men and addicts in various stages of recovery. A small bathroom, a tiny kitchen, and a single room, less than three hundred square feet. This one full of glass and light, old doors and windows stacked up in the narrow passage between the kitchen and the rest of the apartment, so that a man encumbered by a heavy tool belt and harness could barely squeeze past. The light from the grey clouds rolled around the walls and the glass windows and doors as though it were summer.
She had a sofa for a bed and a wooden chest for a table, and the wall behind her was lined with books. There were two radios, one in the kitchen, one here, both playing the Water Music.
“I’m not in your way, am I?” she asked.
“No, no, it’s fine” he replied. “I’m not doing any work here today, just a visual inspection. We’ll put the new windows in tomorrow.”
Lightly he rested a hand on the worn wooden frame. It was a corner suite, the old brick building rising in two towers from the city’s most notorious intersection, one window gazing onto the street eight floors below, the other facing a neighbouring apartment. He could see Ted working in the suite next door, hanging half out of the empty window frame with a thick rope trailing behind him. He could see the street below, crawling with viral life even on a winter afternoon. A skinny blonde staggering down the street, followed by a man wearing a Calgary Flames hat. Subsistence crack dealers slinking between doorways of vacant stores; shrieking covens of the mentally ill; the Carnegie library in its anachronistic Romanesque splendour with the faint light gleaming in its stained glass windows, sheltering twitching prostitutes and teenage crackheads in the perpetually damp alley behind. The stink of garbage and brown piss. Chaos enough to birth a galaxy of dancing stars. The hunch-backed community of the damned, itself now doomed to development, yesterday’s slums transformed into tomorrow’s million-dollar condos by Olympian sorcery. The addicts, the whores, the homeless and the poor retreating from the bulldozers. Coming soon: Starbucks. He thinks -