Town On The New York Border
by Rose DeShaw
and I sat on a downtown corner a while back,
enjoying the weather. This particular location
teems with bottom-feeder entrepreneurs. Two guys
barely concealing five finger discounts are
headed down to the park where they can sort out
their loot. Clothing tags sometimes litter the
ground as heavily as cigarette butts there.
street is this great church. In winter it
supplies parking and utilities for The Soup Truck,
a mobile help station for those on the street. It
also throws them regular dinners.
pulls out the pipe that has been his companion
for going on fifty years. Immediately a man who
has had his teeth rearranged for him by some
accommodating fist comes over and asks for a
light. He is close enough to smell that
Macbarens Scottish Blend is wafting from
the pipe bowl rather than what he obviously hoped.
I take out
my sketchbook to attempt a drawing of the
picturesque old church with the running-shoe clad
feet settled comfortably in the corners of its
time is the parade coming by? an older man
asks. This is not someone asking the fat lady
what time the balloon goes up? He can see no
other reason for our presence on the corner,
facing the street.
tells him there is no parade, just us sitting.
The inquirer remarks about pipe smoke reminding
him of his grandfather and goes off smiling.
to remind everyone of their grandfathers, my
husband says, annoyed.
women in running clothes, emerge from Tim
Hortons with coffees and head our way.
says, I cant make you no
the blond one says,
her pony tail still wet from a shower, and
I say, well then
She and her
dark-haired friend are too intent on this saga of
the perfidy of men to give us any notice.
man with the rearranged teeth slugs a guy in
cargo shorts across the street. A happy crowd
emerges from nowhere to egg them on and lay bets.
DOWN! someone yells behind us. I turned to
see two frightened New York tourists cowering
behind the mailbox. In their urban experience,
this is when the guns come out and bullets fly.
As theyre in a small town in Canada,
nothing like that goes on. And nobody calls the
One of the
guys from the park takes advantage of the
distraction to come over with his share of the
loot. He wants us with our old honest faces, to
take it back to the store where he lifted it and
procure a refund, which we can then split, fifty-fifty.
to work in the prison! my husband growls
and the man hastily sticks it back in his jacket
and slinks away.
our very touristy town, for a short time the
capital city of Canada when the country began, it
is the architecture being described, set on the
magnificent waterfront with Canadas only
military college for officer training looking
regal with flags flying, across the causeway.
They tend to omit any reference to the eight
federal penitentiaries in our vicinity, one smack
dab in the downtown.
And so I
write of the people here and what theyre up