dave died

i used to buy my beedis from the westside tobacco smoke shop on the northeast corner of queen and bathurst. i used to buy them from dave, dave who owned the shop, dave who knew everyone on the four corners of that intersection - even the northwest corner home to derelicts, drunks, homeless, helpless, disturbed and distressed.

since i've lived in toronto, dave's owned the smoke shop. in front of the smoke shop is a 7 foot wooden status of an injun (- get it?) but the laid back timber in dave's tone, the caring in dave's eyes, the youth in dave's face turned the possibly offensive symbol into an endearing touch of satire.

once dave broke up a fight on the corner and cut his hand. it was nothing, dave said.
dave told me once he broke up with his girlfriend. but it was better that way anyway, dave said.

dave was almost always at the shop. and i almost always stop in to say hello even though I don't buy beedis at dave's shop anymore (the price doubled when the bandoloo importer actually started paying duty.) still. he always said something sweet. we always exchanged pleasantries. and i always expected to see him there.

yesterday, i paused only after passing the smokeshop. it took my mind a moment to process what my eyes had deciphered in one glance to the right: locked door, boarded glass and metal grates surrounded by flowers, bouquets and pots of bright spring flowers looking misplaced on the grey gummy pavement below the commemorative writing on the wall: first and last name, date of birth, date of death (April 29, 2008) and a black and white photo - of dave.

mouth open, eyes wide. it was the presence of another body in this smelly-doorway-come-hallowed-memorial ground that brought me back; a pudgy native women edging around my shock, armed with a pen, sniffing out an empty space upon which to scribble goodbye to dave, queen st. corner guardian.

"What happened?" I squeak.
"He died." She said as though she knew that all of these clues still had not quite convinced me.
"But how?" again my disbelief spoke in sharp squeak.
She motioned with her left hand, raised her chin and drew a short, abrupt line across her beaded, wrinkly neck. "He killed himself," she added finally moving past me to write to dave that she'll miss him.

we'll miss you, dave.


Matt said...

Read this posted on the doorway at westside. Hard to believe...

Anonymous said...

I am Deeply Saddened by his Death.
I was an Old Friend of Dave's. and was not aware of his Passing until now. I too had to find out by glancing up into the picture that takes his place among the Flowers of Sympathy and Love. Dave would always Smile at me,give me a hug and say Hi to me as I walked by his Smoke shop on Queen st. Sometimes I would go and help him pick up the orders in his nice vintage sports car. He always held himself with such Dignity and Class! And had a James Dean in him. He helped me through many hard times and Was always good at listening. I used to buy my cherry cigarettes from him and remember all the good times we had together! I feel guilty for not staying in touch and Wish I could have done something to reverse this horrible Picture. I will Never Forget you Dave and
I will miss you Forever and Will think of you ALWAYS when I hear Frank Sinatra.
R.I.P. Dave
Love AnnMarie