At the breakfast table, Paddy announced, “We’ve survived a lot. Now, I hope we can get back to our initial mission of building an emergency shelter for our brothers in arms and for people forced onto the streets because of homelessness.” Everybody gave a rousing cheer.
A globe of the earth was on the table. There had been some disputes about geography. I looked at the globe and asked, “Shakes, are you planning to do some world traveling?” He laughed.
“How about Australia?” I asked. “Would you like to go there?”
Fred said, “I have a friend who came from New Zealand.”
I said, “I’ve seen pictures of New Zealand. “It’s really beautiful.”
“Yeah, he said, “They also have seventeen women to every man. I asked my friend if it was true and why he left. He said, ‘They have lots of women alright, but they’re all ugly.’ I don’t think any women are ugly. Every one of them has something beautiful about her.”
I pointed to Iceland, to show where my grandparents came from.
Little Chester pointed at Newfoundland, “This is where I came from. They’re the same color.”
I said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Newfoundland. It’s really beautiful.”
“No, it’s not. I lived there for twenty-four years. I couldn’t wait to get away.”
“I hear the economy has really picked up since the oil discovery.”
“I’ve been hearing about that for forty years. I don’t think anything has happened yet.”
I asked, “Were you a fisherman?”
“My mother said I had lazy bones. I’ve always had lazy bones. I shared rabbits. Once, some friends and I were out in the bush. We had a cable and made a lasso out of it. We hung it between two trees. A moose came running along, right into the snare. My friends hauled it up in a tree. We had meat to last us all winter. Lots of people have heard of snaring rabbits, not too many have heard of snaring moose.”
“I’ve eaten Moose,” I said, “It’s really good.
“Sit down, Chester. Oh, I forgot, we had this conversation yesterday, you prefer standing.”
“Yeah, I like to stand. I’m short enough anyway. The only way I get to look down on people is if they’re sitting and I’m standing.”
I asked, “So, how’s it going, Chester?”
“About five feet, one and a half inches. Standing on a rock makes me a bit taller.”
Patrick asked, “Paddy where did you get permits for all the guns?”
“The same place I got your false passports. I got them at the same time, expecting that we’d have problems with the bikers. I hope we’ve seen the last of them. I expect that they’re looking at lengthy prison sentences. Gun violations alone would put them in jail.
“On to other business. We’ve reached a milestone in the construction process. The frame is up, the floors have been laid. It’s now time for the plumbers to install the rough plumbing and the electricians to wire the building for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Next, we’ll insulate the exterior, erect the interior walls and drywall. It will start to take on the appearance of the structure we intended as your new home.” Everybody gave another rousing cheer.
“Once we clear the sawdust and scrap lumber you can move your cots inside. The rest of the construction can go on around you. If anybody has any suggestions we’d like to hear them. After the interior walls go up there is nothing we can change.
“Something else I wanted to mention. I know that some of you have criminal records. That’s not a reason why you would be disqualified from staying here. Please explain your situation to us. We may be able to help with resumes, job searches, retraining opportunities and job offers. We have a list of employers who hire ex-felons, mainly because they’re ex-felons themselves. They know how hard it is to get back into the working world if you have one strike against you.
“I know that some of you are alcoholics. Soon we will have medical assistance if you have a strong desire to quit drinking. We allow alcohol on the premises, just don’t make life difficult for your fellow residents. They will be the ones to tell us about problems and they will suggest the solutions.
“Drug use; some of the same rules apply to drug addiction as alcoholism. The difference is that some drugs are illegal. If you are using something that your physician has prescribed, we have no problem with that. We don’t allow any non-prescription or illegally supplied drugs on the property. We could be shut down by the police if drugs were found. If you use drugs in town or someplace away from the farm you’re on your own.”
Wolf said, “I know I shouldn’t smoke or drink beer. I shouldn’t use pot or the other stuff — that we don’t talk about — but I’m healthy. I don’t have stomach problems. I enjoy a drink and a smoke with my friends every once in a while. It’s a treat for me.”
“There’s a lot to do today so let’s get to it.” An eager crowd marched to the building site to lend a hand where needed.
“This afternoon the medical staff will be touring the facilities to advise as to the placement of electrical fittings, plumbing and anything else we may not have included in the plans. This really gives me a sense of satisfaction to see my dream coming to fruition. Thanks, Dane, Red and our military brothers for helping to make this happen.”
Patrick said, “Thank you, Paddy, for your insight and generosity in getting this project started. Red agreed with “Hear, hear.”
The rest of the day was filled with examining blueprints, pointing out the different areas, the kitchen, the medical facilities and the community rooms.
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