Bill James was just getting out of bed and was about to make himself a coffee when his phone started to ring. Bill ran for the phone and answered it with a raspy voice, “Hello,”
“Hey Bill. It’s Streak. You remember me from The House of Hope hostel?”
Bill grabbed for his pipe and Borkham Riff tobacco. He was waiting for the grogginess in his head to start clearing.
“Streak, Streak, let me think. Aren’t you that tall, skinny old guy with the colorful streaks in his hair?” asked Bill filling the bowl of his pipe with tobacco.
“You were at our last community meeting. You bummed a smoke off me after the meeting.”
“That’s me bud,” Streak verified.
Bill James was a community advocate. He was also a committed socialist who believed in the socialist ideals held by Leon Trotsky. Bill was self employed as the editor and publisher of a local paper called The People’s Voice. He rented the back half of an old rooming house in the inner city. Bill survived on the meager income he made by selling his newspaper and selling some books by socialist authors at his book table when he held his community meetings. Bill’s landlord was also of the socialist persuasion and allowed Bill to live in his suite rent free in exchange for some light maintenance work at the rooming house. Bill kept a couple of stray cats and a one eyed dog that he adopted. Most of the money he made went to feeding his pets.
Bill was fifty-three years old with a pronounced pot belly. He had thick curly black hair and a beard that was well streaked with gray. Bill walked with a limp and used a wooden walking stick. He was only five foot six and if it wasn’t for his corpulence he could have passed for Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings. Bill was well past the age when many of his old socialist buddies from university days had out grown their Marxist-Leninist beliefs. As Bill put it, they had sold out. They had bought into the phony, plastic, capitalist dream. They had sold their souls to Mammon. But not Bill James.
He was as much of a radical now as he was during the nineteen seventies. Everything that he had seen, heard and experienced since then had only confirmed for him the validity of his political beliefs. Bill had been a pre -med student at university but never finished his medical degree. Instead he worked a series of low paying labor jobs where he concentrated on trying to radicalize his fellow workers. All that this accomplished was to get Bill fired from jobs and eventually blacklisted. Therefore, ironically and by necessity he became self employed with his self published, politically radical newspaper.