In June of 1991, I moved into a house on George Street in Peterborough, Ontario. Catherine, my consort to this day, was my next door neighbour, and her roommate was a man named Mike Johnston.
Mike — or Mikey, as Catherine called him — was a really nice guy, and a pleasure to have as a neighbour. He was the kind of person you could equally as well engage in conversation about the finer points of Canadian poetry in the 20th century as you could share a platter of Labatt’s 50 on tap.
At the time, I was driving a 1980 Toyota Tercel; it was a good car that had taken me to El Paso and back, and between Ontario and Quebec innumerable times. One day I lent the car to my friend Stephen, who took our friend Karen out for a drive. At an intersection, Karen, for some reason, opened her passenger side door, and someone in the lane beside her pulled up beside and drove right through it. Karen was fine, but the door, well, it fell off.
Because I didn’t really need a car at the time, I opted to junk it rather than repair it. When I mentioned this to Mikey, he said “I’ll give you $50 for it.” I said “I won’t take more than $35.” We shook hands, and I signed the car over to him.
Mikey’s father was a mechanic, and the door situation was quickly rectified and he drove the car for another year until some larger calamity befell it. He then drove the Tercel to his father’s farm where, at last report, it was serving duty as a part of a complicated electric fence charging system.
We’d lost track of Mikey since moving from Peterborough, but when my friend John was here last week, he mentioned that Mikey was directing a film about his student loan.
Photo from Arthur, January 14, 2001.