The use of social networking to advance a story line. How a distorted view of the past twists the mind.
The email in his inbox was unexpected and unpleasant surprise. Travis Bidwell has added you as a friend on Facebook. The note said: “Zander Kleminski - Kindersley Sask.?, graduate 1994? Are you in Toronto? It would be neat to connect. Lets hook up, I’m in Toronto now.”
“Holy dog-shit - Travis Bidwell, how the hell did he find me,” yelped Zander to nobody. He sat with his laptop by the window at a Second Cup on Toronto’s Queen street. A disheveled man with a pronounced tick looked up as Zander spoke out. This particular coffee shop made a significant portion of its revenue through ‘welfare coffee.’ It was after all located just 2 blocks from what used to be the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, recently rebranded the Queen Street Mental Health Centre. Zander didn’t know how to handle Travis’s request. If he accepted, it would end a 10 year disconnect from his prairie town past.
Zander’s Prozac haze prevented him from recognizing how pivotal this moment was. Yet without thinking he accepted the request and then realized out loud, “that was stupid,” and immediately swung to his other tendency, to lie with conviction. He sends an accompanying note, “I’m not in T.O. I am with my family in Vancouver. Hope you are well Travis. If you are ever out west, lets hook up.”
The facts are that Zander doesn’t have any family, he lives alone in a one room apartment with a hot plate and a Silver King fridge under the counter. His window opens to a dark back alley overlooking a rusty green dumpster which gets emptied 3 times a week at 5:00 am. This summer’s garbage strike means suffering through not only heat but stench. The ‘accommodation’ is generously funded by the Ontario government. He supplements his monthly welfare cheques of $417.53 with a part time job driving a forklift at the Liquor control board (which adds an additional $512.00 to his monthly income). This job is forced on him by his case worker whom regularly calls him at a phone out in the hall. He checks in with his Doctor once every two weeks, not because he wants to but because without the free prescription resulting from this relationship, he would dive into a depression so deep he would never see the sun, not even now at the peak of summer. He tries to avoid that.
The picture on his page showed a 30 something young man trying to hold on to his youth. Skinny arms stick out of a black muscle shirt for the local Goth act Bone Trigger, all accentuating the enthusiastic rock and roll expression and rabbit ear fingers he holds forcefully at the camera. The gesture, the clothing, along with his balding and scraggly shoulder length hair all screamed attitude.