Markham, ON. April, 2015. It was a crisp, clear night. I was roughing it on the grassy bank of a stream that runs through the old and recently affluent part of Markham, nearby the original village. I’d silently scuttled into this nook under cover of dark, gathered around me all my belongings — a small suitcase, a recyclable bag avec sleeping bag and .. small bundle of books. It’d been a particularly tiring day of tramping the old haunts on 2 hours of sleep from the prior night — unless you count a few nods in a tired old Tim Hortons.
This was the same store where in the years prior to be cast out, I spent copious amounts of money to keep my ‘wife’ happy, or at least content. The same one where I’d slavishly run to to get her her coffee during her battles with cancer, in the hope that it would help alleviate her fatigue, and help her forget about her gray complexion and nonexistent hair. But I digress.
Laying there under the stars, my free show, and taking a few hits of Johnnie, I was starting to fade when I heard movement in the nearby brush. My senses came back to life. Sleep will have to wait. I made some noise to alert the scavenger that I was not to be messed with. The shuffling receded.
After a while I once again began to soak in the show in the sky. However, out of the corner of my eye I could see movement in the trees and the feint sounds of grunting. My eyes focused on the movement. Raccoons. Jesus, I hate raccoons. Are they mating up there? How many are there? Then it dawned on me — it was recycling day in this neighbourhood! That meant food bins! I packed my things and bid them adieu.
“It is forbidden to spit on cats in plague-time.”¹
.. and to rough it on recycling day.
Nods for the catchy title go to Resident Evil screenwriter Paul W.S. Anderson, and to Milica (Milla) Jovovich, who I bumped into at a Serbian picnic in Niagara Falls in 1987. This despite her Ukrainian origins.
¹Albert Camus, La Peste (The Plague), p. 96 Penguin Classics ed., 1984.