The conversation goes from movies to cigars. Apparently Tony has a cigar in the car and asks Meher for the keys… which Meher is not going to allow, so they both walk to the car to get the smoke.
Erika asks me where in Canada I’m from and if I have a wife or girlfriend in Toronto. “Why not?” she asks, but before I can answer this question which has been plaguing me for a while Meher and Tony return.
Erika points out the stuffed animal she’s carrying, a brown stuffed bear, it’s name at the moment is “coon” (a racist euphemism) and she shows us that it is a “transgender bear” because it has no genitalia.
“Hemaphrobear!” Meher offers and the whole table joyfully agrees on the new christening. Later Tony warns Erika to be careful, after all it is an hemaphrobear, it does both sides and Erika replies that she doesn’t do animals.
“Good for you!” I say, “You have to draw the line somewhere.”
This elicits a hearty laugh from Leah who slaps her thigh and swings her sore leg up and down.
Leah seems to be the most intriguing of the group. She exhibits major mood swings in the short time we drink coffee. Swaying between whiny, little brat to playful sweetheart in a microsecond. Apparently the screaming we heard last night was her fighting with Tony. I ask her what happened to her leg and she tells me she played a lot of sports in high-school and has torn ligaments.
“Yeah, sex sports!” Erika throws in.
“Don’t be sick!” Leah tosses back and as I observe her further I wonder if Leah is one of those manipulative sociopaths that I’ve heard so much about but never met.
They demonstrate a blowtorch lighter to Meher. You can’t really see the flame so Leah aims the the instrument at her sandwich… the bun begins to burn.
“Don’t toast your sandwich!” says Tony.
She moves the flame on to some cheese.
“Don’t melt your cheese!” Tony again.
Erika shows Meher that she has a lighter that switches from the intense flame of a cigar lighter to a taller, more whimsical flame for cigarettes.
“Yeah a bisexual lighter!” Tony says, “We’ve got hemaphrobear and a bisexual lighter!”
“Am I the only one who hasn’t been sick this morning?” Leah asks.
Erika takes her lighter to Leah’s sandwich.
“Hey!” Leah yells, “Don’t burn my lettuce!”
Erika continues to torture the sandwich with the blow torch.
“Yeah,. I guess you are.” Tony answers Leah’s question.
“Well, I’ve been pretty reserved.” I counter.
“Yeah… you have.” Tony says almost suspiciously.
We all talk some more and get refills of our drinks. I don’t completely relax, wondering what the deal is and if we’ll find our room the way we left it.
Time to pay the bill:
Tony steps out of the cafe with a sorrowful look on his face. He holds the bill in his hand.
“Whoa! It was all those refills that got us!” Tony explains, “$32.10”. He then turns to Erika, “You packed my wallet, didn’t you?”
“Well, it’s somewhere.”
“It’s back with my stuff… I’ll never find it in the car.”
I look at the bill. For my two coffees I owe $1.80.
Tony’s face expresses that he doesn’t want to have to ask this but… “Do you think you guys could cover this and I’ll pay you back at the motel?”
“I don’t have that much.” I show him the contents of my wallet: four dollars. I’d thoughtfully hidden eleven dollars elsewhere in my wallet so that it would appear that I had no money on me. I was beginning to realize that I was probably better at deceit than these guys.
“I’ll be able to pay you back at the motel.” he turns to Meher.
“No, it’s just that I don’t have that much money.” Meher tells him.
“I guess I could ATM it.” This is how they say “use a debit card” in the U.S.
I offer to give him the three dollars to cover my share but he refuses. Meher and Leah head back to the motel while Tony goes into the cafe. He comes out a moment later and says that everything is taken care of. He knows the owner and it’s okay.
I have a mental image where I see my life as a film: Tony has gone in and killed the owner.
On the way home Tony reveals that he’s miraculously found his wallet hidden somewhere in his pocket.
Tony sees himself as a complex, sensitive individual. He cried at the movie Phenomenon and enjoys the dark, macabre side of life. He wants a movie to make him feel joy, sorrow, anger and love all in 90 minutes. His favorite song is Tubthumper by Chubbawamba. “I mean listen to the lyrics, ‘I get knocked down but I get up again…‘ ”
He loves teddy bears and cats.
In fact he loves cats so much that once, when he saw a man kick a cat he walked up to him and said, “You don’t like cats?”
“No.” the man replied.
“Why’d you kick it?” Tony persisted, “That cat wasn’t doing anything to you!”
“I just don’t like them.” the man replied.
“Well, I don’t like you.” Tony said and kicked him.
“What are you? Crazy?”
So Tony kicked him again. He was either in or had just finished with the military so he was wearing steel-toed boots. He just kept kicking the man until the police came, put handcuffs on him and took him to jail. He must have kicked that guy 200 times. That’s how much he loves cats.
“You’re going to make them scared of you.” Leah cautions.
“Naw, I’m just a big cuddly guy!” Meher and Tony hug.
“Where’s mine?” Leah asks so Meher hugs her and then Erika wants a hug so he hugs her too, commenting on what a fine hugger she is… and just so I don’t feel left out Erika hugs me.
It’s a big suckers and strippers hug-fest.