The hidden years in Canada 5, George the pigpen

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Sunday 08 March 18:38

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George the pigpen

We drove south-east of 44th Avenue and followed the direction of the industrial area. We were early but there were already a couple of parked cars. The gate was locked and the three big shiny trucks that had been hosed down were shining in the early light. Two were brand new and bright red and one was a tatty old thing, burred and dented and blue, that was a Bedford. I did not know it yet, but the Bedford would be driven by me within a few months, but that would take place when I was almost the only one from the old team left after a few months. A small red 3 ton truck stood next to it, which was used daily by a man named Bobby who had to bring repeat deliveries, if materials were missing. A pair of drifters were smoking with their hands in their pockets, they had warmed themselves at a fire of residual material and stood a little soulless gazing around at the flames that danced back and forth in the early morning breeze. ‘That is George the pig pen,’ said Rico and pointed when we drove up, to a man apart from the rest, with his back leaning against a wall. In his left hand dangled a bottle of beer.

‘Avoid him a bit,’ said Rico, 'he has come to look for work, I known him from a while ago. That is one of the most aggressive people I know, he’ll go funny before you know it.’  He was observing everyone from a distance. He radiated darkness. A short stocky man with huge muscular arms. ‘That man always wants to be funny at the expense of others,’ Rico continued. ‘He's accident prone.’ ‘What does that mean,’ I asked? It's a strange term, it means something like, that there are always accidents happening around him.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘do you believe that?’ ‘It's a legal  term from the legislation. Not that he provokes accidents, not that he is careless, but something bad always happens around him. Something bad or damage, it is in construction grounds for dismissal’ ‘Is  that why he left here,’ I asked? . ‘Yeahhh,’ Rico said, stretching it while he was contemplating a few months back again. ‘Nasty things, you know. ‘No,’ I said, 'enlightened me young Richard and I imitated mr Wall's voice’. ‘Up on the 15th floor, he was working with a mate that was blown away by a gust of wind, right off the floor. 'images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ8RpHTKrJtRMbxapcplLW

'Thrown down, ‘I asked in amazement?’Who knows, there was no one else, just George the pigpen,   and he says a gust of wind came past. Oh, and then he got a new partner, who came under the rear wheel of a truck,’ Rico said, ’and there was something else. Oh yeah, he that came under the rear wheel, had a relationship with pigpen’s sister and was not nice to her.’ ‘How did that come off,’ I wanted to know when I opened the door to get out. ‘The truck was backing up to a loading dock and shattered his right leg. That looks bad and so it is but as it happened at work and the trucks are all insured, the guy does need to work anymore, he’ll receive his whole life a disability pension.’ ‘You can’t hold pigpen responsible for that?’ ‘Look, he was standing next to him’. ‘Yes,’ I asked in disbelief, ‘if I'm standing next to someone and something happens you cannot blame me, can you? '

‘The team was on the other side of the truck and only George the pigpen stood there with his mate on the other side of the truck. The truck drove up slowly protruding from behind and the two were out of sight and then we heard a high pitched scream and there lay Howy, with his right leg underneath the double left rear wheel.’  ‘Phew,’ I said, that must have hurt. ‘Howy squeeled like a pig and George was laughing his head off.’  ‘Stupid fucker,’ he cried out ..  you walked under. ‘ ‘I understand you,’ I said, ‘ I am not going up with that man.’ ‘You learn quickly,’ said Rico in a  grim tone, ‘and if no one wants to, then you go out on the grounds that you are accident prone. It's not your fault, but your boss wants you gone. So you're not reprehensible and get a benefit, often your boss pays you extra, so you do not contest the dismissal.’ ‘And he's now here,’ I asked, ‘for ..?’

His dole probably expires and he has heard that with the Place Concorde contract we suddenly need many people’ ‘They will not take him on, surely,’ I asked? ‘Oh yes they will, you know what the lip said, it takes many Indians to run a show ..’ Yes, I had heard him say that.  ‘I think Louis the lip and I are the only ones of the old team who have worked with the pigpen. Folk come and go.’ ‘So some innocent unsuspecting boy later goes up with the pigpen and then something might  happen?’ ‘Maybe, maybe not. Look with him it is often self defence and then it does not end well.’ ‘What do you mean,’ I asked, ‘a man may defend himself?’ ‘I do not know how to say it,’ Rico said, while we were walking to the shed.

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‘Think of it this way, he is about the strongest man I've ever met. He insults someone for fun and the rest laugh along, because we are all still very impressed by his strength. Then he waits until the other strikes him and he pulverizes him. Whoever started is dismissed and later his place is taken in by a hillbilly cousin of the pigpen, because he knew someone who was really good and looking for work. The lip does not want trouble and takes him on and will never go up with either one of them, because he wants to keep his job as foreman and when he blows off the building, the pigpen will go for his job, who would not agree to that?’ ‘Holy shit’ I said, 'What kind of world is this.’ ‘The only real one for these people,’ Rico said. ‘The world they know.’

The pigpen, came walking forward, 'hey I know you,’ he said to Rico,' you didn't get those lips from sucking banana's, boy.’ ‘Actually,’ Rico said as if he had just heard the best joke in the world. I do suck big bananas and yes they change your lips. How is life pig?’ 'It's fucked’, said the pigpen, 'and your sister, is she a good little suck?’ ‘Only real men’, Rico said. It was clear the pigpen was looking for problems. He wanted to work and he would create within a few seconds, a vacancy .. ‘Who's the wanker, the cornholer’ asked the pigpen, while he studied me. ‘A cornholer’, I asked? ‘You put corncobs up your ass, you're one of those, hey .. you like that, don’t you..? ‘Hey pig, man lay off,’ said Rico, 'this is the second cousin of Louis the lip, the man who takes on people.’ ‘It was a joke,’ said George, as he took a step back. ‘I laughed a lot,’ I said. He looked at me in a dark way. ‘Hey, tell the lip, that I always speak with respect about him.’ ‘Maybe I will,’ I said, 'for you that is Mister lip' and turned around.

I understood how the man came to his nickname, he smelled an hour in the wind, he had piss circles around his fly and it would not surprise me if he shit in his rags. He also missed some teeth, gone in a pub, I assumed. ‘Who goes around now in the small, small truck,’ asked the pigpen, eyeing Rico? ‘Bobby,’ said Rico 'and there he comes now.’  ‘Is that's a fact banana boy,’ laughed the pigpen, ‘that sounds like fun work ..’ ‘Hey,’ he said to Bobby who came walking down to us, have a look will you’. I saw him put his hand back into his pants and it looked like he scratched his ass. Moments later his hand came out again the forefinger was brown until the first joint.

'Do you smoke you, Bobby? ‘ ‘Yes,’ said the unfortunate one who would not see his small, small again. ‘Show me your hand. I want to see it,’ said the pigpen, ’your fingers are orange from the nicotine. I don’t  have that said the pigpen, my fingers go brown,’ and he showed his scratch hand. ‘Let me smell your hand' and Dr pigpen spoke again,’ yes with you, it is the nicotine. Other tobacco I suppose '.. I saw the pigpen roll his shoulders as if to loosen some muscles before he went to lift something heavy. 'Smell my hand,’ said the pigpen and he held his hand out. Bobby, poor Bobby poor , understood somewhere that there was something in the air but he did not want to provoke the pigpen, who was now flexing his muscles on his arm. ‘Hey,’ he called  out as he smelled the finger, ‘that shit man, I smell your shit, you filthy dog.’ Everyone laughed, but I just watched what was going to happen. He hit the hand of George out of theway. ‘Oh,’ wailed the pigpen, while he went into action, ‘you have all seen it, he has hit me, so, who did not see that?’ It remained silent. Bobby lifted up a hand to ward off a blow but the fist of George the pigpen just picked him up and slammed him off the platform against the wagon, which was waiting on the track to be unloaded.

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‘Stand up, you frigging dickhead,’ cried George, ‘try to hit me again, then I'll kill you. ‘Lip’s car stopped next to us. ‘Hey what's happening here, he cried, ‘are you completely fucking daft?’ ‘Who gave the first blow’, he asked another boy. ‘He did,’ said the boy and he pointed at the stretched out figure who began to scramble up. ‘Bobby you can go, you're fired get your stuff and rot away.’ ‘It looks like boss man, that you are in need of a driver,’ said the friendly pigpen. ‘Is your license still valid,’ asked the lip? ‘Yep,’ said George. ‘Then you can now drive the small truck ‘.. hey what are you all looking at, to work, otherwise you can follow Bobby’ and the lip walked away. ‘ Ah,’ said Rico, at least we won’t see him up there, you drive or you just unload. I had just seen the pigpen do a job interview.

San Daniel March 2015

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