Fear vs Danger

Al lost confidence in himself after contracting gum disease when all his teeth fell out over the period of a month. The once great barrel chested strongman had lost his MOJO when he was about 50  in 1990.

When I met him he was toothless and sad with just enough of fresh memories to boast of the time when he was a self proclaimed “Ladies Man.”

He would get drunk most nights and give long delusional speeches about his many great conquests over women and weak men. He had a particular axe to grind with his only son Mark whom he rented a flat from.

Al would scream at Mark who lived in the flat above him,

“I brought you into this world and I will take you out! I will rip your throat out with my bare teeth!”

Of his wife who divorced him and hit him over the head with a cast iron frying pan after catching him fucking the babysitter. “She was the only woman I couldn’t tame!”

The problem Al ran into with me was he didn’t understand the difference between Fear and Danger.

He mistook my kindness and quietness for weakness. He didn’t fear me and therefore didn’t know the real danger he was in…

I lived with Al for 2 days after answering a newspaper ad and before I had enough of his drunken speeches to his son.

Let me set the scene… Al’s son Mark owned a 3 story, 3 unit building and Mark lived on the upper floor. Mark rented out a 2 bedroom apartment on the 2nd floor to his father Al; where I stayed for 2 days until I left and rented out the flat on the first floor directly below Al; without Al knowing I was there.

I was working shift work which is hard on your sleep at the best of times… and about 3 weeks after moving in I heard Al screaming about 4a.m. to Mark on the 3rd floor…


Over and over.

Finally I got up and put my pants on; walked to the hallway and up one flight of stairs and kicked Al’s door open.

Al was standing in the kitchen in his underwear holding a bottle of rum and staring at the ceiling… where just beyond he imagined Mark was sitting and listening. His eyes fell on me at the kicked in door.

“Al… if you don’t shut the fuck up. I am going to rip your throat out with my bare teeth!”

For just a second Al’s face turned to joy and his voice sounded lonely.

“Dennis!,Where ya been?”

That was my first rental in Toronto and I left after 60 days. This was about the time I began to develop the theory that either everyone was crazy or else I was attracting crazy.

Dennis Mantin

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