“You have to hook us up next time,” the three of us
– Sam, Jordan and myself – begged Jim. We were sitting on the
bottom bunk in a cramped six-bed dorm sipping cheap cider,
discussing Jim’s most recent exploit. Jim was a notorious hustler.
Whether it was petty theft, younger women or just an argument over
who owes who what, he was consistent, tenacious and unrelenting,
but this time he had truly scored.
“Well boys, good things happen to good people,” he
said while taking a slow sip of his cider.
The day before, Jim had been sitting on his
skateboard and smoking a pouch ciggie in front of our notoriously
crappy hostel-cum-bar in downtown Vancouver when a black Mercedes
pulled into the empty space in front of him. A young man, with
slicked hair and a suit got out and walked to the parking ticket
machine, knocking over a bicycle in the process. Jim laughed with
the man driving the car and struck up conversation.
Slick Man was the nephew of the older man in the
Mercedes, and it was the nephew’s birthday, so Jim was invited to
dinner with the family and friends. Naturally, he accepted. That
night he ate pork chops, which he described in mouth-watering
detail, drank beers, did tequila shots, went to a Red Bull party,
skipped queues, drank more and hit clubs, all of which was totally
free: the meal, the drinks, the shots, and entry, paid for by the
uncle, who owned every place they went to that night. And somehow
Jim had controlled his excitement enough throughout the night to be
We wanted in. The cheap ciders we were drinking
turned cheap and sugary under the cloud of free tequila shots.
Nights out skipping meals to buy jugs of beer, or sticking to dank
bars to avoid entry fees for the good places, seemed impoverished
and unfulfilled compared to what Jim had experienced.
Those who travel for the luxury, who pay the extra
money to fly at reasonable hours, or refuse to stay somewhere
because the hot water only sometimes works, who eat where their
appetite directs them, regardless of cost, and don’t systematically
pre-drink before nights out, or sneak booze into clubs, won’t
understand what Jim had found. But we all knew. He had found a
legitimized, wealthy, alcohol-friendly benefactor. A Sugar Daddy.
In hobo currency, he had struck gold. So Jim hooked us up.
The first night we met Blaine was at his penthouse
apartment in the tallest building in Vancouver. We met him
downstairs and helped him carry five cartons of beers into the
elevator. As the four of us and Blaine stood close, climbing up the
floors in the small metal box, swapping body warmth and smiles, I
got a chance to ask him how rich he was. He had the lightest blue