April 03, 2015 - Dave (6th person I approached)
Today was my day to meet someone to have lunch with. When I’m looking for someone to join me for lunch, I still go in with the same approach. It’s still will you chat with me, will you tell me about yourself and will you let me take your photograph. If it’s yes to all of these, then and only then do I ask if they’ll have lunch with me. I’m not interested in offering a lunch and then suggesting the price would be they have to talk to me. Personally, that would be a different project.
I wandered around for a good forty-five minutes. I was walking up Richards Street, towards West Hastings, and I saw Dave a few hundred feet ahead of me. When I got to Hastings Street, I had narrowed the gap. I’m a pretty fast walker. Dave, not so much. He was carrying a large sports bag, but the way he was holding it, I guessed it to be practically empty. I made a joke about that as I was walking past. He smiled.
I told him what I was doing and asked if he would chat with me.
“Sure, okay. We can talk right here if you like,” he said, with an agreeable tone. I asked if he’d let me take his picture.
“Yeah, I suppose that would be okay,” he said. I suggested that perhaps he’d like to join me for something to eat.
“Well,” he said, “I’m just heading to Save-on Meats as it happens for some eggs.” Meant to be, that’s who sponsors the lunch stories for my project. I told him if it was okay, we could eat together, chat, I’d take his photo and the meal would be covered by the diner.
“I’m looking to have three poached eggs, and toast. Can I order that?” I was happy to tell him he could have whatever he wanted from the menu, with the exception of alcohol. Deal.
We were about four blocks from the diner, and I was intent on making conversation on the way there.
“I have to tell you something, and this might change everything for you,” Dave said.
“I’m a Satanist.” I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly. I asked him to repeat himself by way of ‘Sorry?’ He smiled, just an ordinary regular guy, and he was telling me he was a Satanist.
We chatted about what that meant, and the varying levels of interest. I’m a fairly open-minded fellow. I've certainly become even broader in my outlook during the fifteen months I’ve been chatting with strangers. The gist of the conversation however, turned around. I felt a natural need to clarify that nothing was going to happen to me or him, if I wrote his story, and published it online with his photograph. He assured me we’d be okay. I felt completely safe, at ease and dare I say intrigued to hear Dave’s story, and learn. I knew there would be learning involved.
“I was born in Murrayville, in (the township of) Langley. My parents were from the Penticton area of the BC (British Columbia) in the Okanagan area,” he told me, after we ordered our food.
“My parents owned a five-to-a-dollar store. My father was a wholesale distributor at the time as well. Until he went bankrupt.”
Dave was the second oldest of six boys.
“We grew up in Aldergrove. We never close. I was always the odd one out. My older brother and I had classic sibling rivalry and never got along. And the younger boys always looked up to me, but also felt a need to be better than I was,” he said.
“When my father went bankrupt, we moved to a forty-acre hazelnut farm on Sumas Prairie (BC),” said Dave.
“We didn't work the farm, just rented a house that was located there,” he said.
“I went to elementary school in Aldergrove and then I did high-school in Abbotsford. I majored in pool hall,” he told me, with a grin so big his cheeks became like little apples.
I noticed his eyes were extremely clear, and sparkled.
“I missed a lot of school. I didn’t see the need for it. My principal told me that according to his records, I attended on average two out of every five days one year. I had snooker to play,” he said with a chuckle. Dave left school after the first semester of grade nine.
“The second time I did grade nine,” he added. “I was sixteen.”
Hitch-hiking to Kitimat, in the North Coast region of BC, Dave got a job working at a smelting plant.
“I worked with the effluence, tending the smoke stack and on salvage. I did that for about six months,” he said.
“Then I joined the Royal Canadian Navy. It was something that my older brother had done, and he liked it, so I wanted to give it a go. I signed the paperwork when I was sixteen, and started basic training when I turned seventeen. But I didn’t last," Dave said.
"When I was thirteen, I was messing around with a couple of friends. We had built a fire and were dancing around and running through the flames. One of the boards we were burning had a nail in it, and it went right through the joint of the big toe on my left foot,” he told me.
Dave’s foot got infected, and he had a red trail running up his leg. He had gotten blood poisoning.
“I almost lost my foot. I spent six weeks in hospital. So when I was in basic training, we were doing marching drills and they kept making us stomp our feet on the group. I injured my foot again, and was deemed unfit for the navy,” he said. His naval career last just two-and-a-half months.
Over the next number of years, Dave moved around and did a number of different jobs.
“In Terrace I couldn’t find work, so I fought a forest fire to earn some cash. I worked in a brick plant in Abbotsford making bricks, for seven months. I had saved some money. I bought a brand new, BRAND N-E-W, 1968 V8 Ford Mustang. I bought it in 1967,” he said with pride, and a slight suggestion of machismo.
“I took off to Crow’s Nest Pass, in Alberta. I was back to hitchhiking. My car had broke down and I left it at my parents place,” he said. Dave went to southwest Alberta.
“I worked in a colliery for six months, packing timber for the miners to reinforce the mine’s roof. You needed to work six months under a certified miner to get your certification papers to become a miner yourself,” he told me.
He went to Sparwood (BC) to work in another mine, and then Grand Cache, Alberta.
“The town was just opening up. I was working for the Macintyre Porcupine Mine. They were hiring miners like crazy. Anyone and everyone was getting hired. The guy who ran this particular machine was out sick and I told them I could run it. I lied. But I had seen enough guys do it before, so figured I’d give it a go. I pulled a few tricks that I had seen, and they promoted me to head miner,” Dave said, his cheeks becoming rosy red apples again with his grin.
“I was twenty-one and making good money, working 21/7. Twenty-one days on, and seven off. Then I got into drugs. I bought a brick of pot, some MDA (an amphetamine) and a bunch of LSD (aka acid - a psychedelic drug). I got caught and sent to jail for eighteen months,” he said. I asked if the drugs were for personal use.
“No, I was selling them. I’m a business man,” he said. We both laughed.
“I spent a bit of time in jail, and then got sent to a bush camp. It was hard work, but I liked it better than jail. We cleaned the side of roadways, cleared brush and spent time splitting wood. There was a good group of guys there. No drugs or anything. It was all clean, and all work,” he said. I asked Dave how he had gotten caught in the first place.
“My room mate had gone to the police. I guess he didn’t like drugs.” I asked if Dave held any ill-will towards the room mate “Not now, but I sure as hell did at the time, yeah!”
Not long after completing his sentence, Dave went back to selling drugs.
“It started with six pounds of pot. Then I made some good connections and within three months, I was getting quantities of amphetamines,” he said. Once again, Dave got caught, this time with over two pounds of amphetamines, twelve pounds of pot and $10k in cash.
“I got three-and-a-half years. That’s federal prison. Maximum security.”
Ten months later, he was transferred to a medium security prison. I told Dave that while it seemed naive, but I wondered what federal prison like was like for him.
“The most hardened guys would hit on you. Homosexuality (he annunciated every syllable) is going on a lot. Even the guys who weren’t homosexual. They’re called gearboxes. So these two gearboxes suggested I move into the dorm they were in. I told them right then, ‘NO way.’ For some reason, everyone left me alone after that. I’ve got nothing against anyone who is a gearbox, or a homosexual, but I wasn’t having anything to do with it,” he said. Dave served “Every. Single. Day” of his sentence.
“In federal prison, if they can’t reform you, they try and break you. Every situation, every single day, they tried to break me. I was under constant pressure. I saw a psychologist who said that if I had gone any further down in my morale and spirit that I would need professional help. I learned to be solid though. I never snitched, never told them what they wanted to know, and never got into anything,“ he said.
After getting out of prison, Dave started ‘importing’ hundreds of pounds of pot.
“I was driving a Corvette and making lots of money. I got wind that the cops had three warrants being prepared for me, and I took off back to BC. At that time, the provinces wouldn’t extradite you from one province to another,” he said.
“I gave up selling drugs for a year and went to work in another mine. Once I felt the heat was off, I was back at it. I got some high-grade pot at a good price, and turned it around for an even better price. But I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d get caught again. I broke out in this rash all over my hands from the tension and stress. If I got caught again, it would be a minimum sentence of ten years. I didn’t want that. I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to do that anymore,” he said.
“I moved to the coast (of BC) and started a cedar shingle business with one of my younger brothers. I’ve been doing that for the last thirty-seven years,” he said, sitting back in his seat. Dave had spent some time with a group of BC Forestry workers when he started the shingle company.
“What I saw was just how fair and honest those guys were. I wanted to be like that. I became completely legitimate. I got my forestry license, I don’t steal green lumber, nothing. It’s all legitimate. I used to have a problem with authority, but after meeting those guys, that went away as well. I respected them,” he told me.
“I’m a hermit,” Dave said. He lives in the forest in the Fraser Valley.
“I look after a cabin there, and in return, I get to park my camper on the property. It first started when I was working the shingles. I couldn’t afford the gas to drive in and out, so I’d sleep in my truck for three or four nights. I’ve been living as a hermit for close to I guess, twenty-three years now. I’ve always been a loner,” he told me. Dave comes out of the forest about once a month, to get supplies.
“I haven’t even had a radio for the last ten years.”
There’s a large population of people of Christian faith that live in the Fraser Valley.
“I call them heretics,” he said, with no malice in his voice.
“I don’t know what I ever did, and no one has ever told me, but I’ve had nothing but trouble with them. I can’t get served in their businesses and there’s always a sense of aggression when I’m in town,” he told me.
“I know one person that is a good and honest business man. He always treats me right, so I go to him and him only with my business.”
“I’ve been skirting around Satanism for a number of years. I was inspired by those that oppose me. I’ve always been of the occult, and the way for me is Satanic,” he said. This is where the learning started, for me.
“For example,” Dave says.
“There’s a creature that I see out where I live, the Orange-throated Marten (a member of the weasel family). They run through my (hunting) lines. I don’t take (catch) those,” he said. Dave told me how he could use an elaborate multi-layered area of sawdust encased between plastic tarps. Mice would then nest in that, and in turn entice the marten.
“But their fur is no good, so I don’t take those. Then there’s the Bobcat. In certain parts, it’s a protected species. Many people believe that Bobcats are territorial. These days, with the decline of their habitat, they’ll go to where the food is, wherever they can find fish spawning. They’re not so territorial. Now, if I didn’t take a few Bobcats, the supply of fish as food for the others would diminish, and then the Bobcat and the fish would be in danger. So by taking a few bobcats, it’s actually helping the others,” he told me, speaking with great patience.
“We cull to enhance.”
“I am all about Return of the King. Have you heard of that?” he asked. I said I was sure I hadn’t heard about it in the context that he was referring to.
"There are forests riddled with Maple trees, where they shouldn’t be. There should be Douglas Fir trees growing there. We want abundance. So I girdle the Maple trees. I cut into the bark all around the tree, twice. Two cuts, about ten inches apart. Eventually that tree dies, and collapses in on itself,” he said. Dave described the other steps necessary to replace maple trees, using sawdust and seedlings.
He talked about efforts happening in Australia to rid the east coast of a specific poisonous frog.
“Someone introduced a species of spider that is deadly. The frog eats the spider which thrive on the frogs lily pads, and in turn, die. Satanists are naturalists. We want to replenish. There’s another effort going on in Australia to replenish the Barracuda fish, using seals. There’s so much more I could say, but I can’t tell you. But as a Satanist, I am also a naturalist,” he said. I was okay with this level of information.
“I’m just in town for the day. Tomorrow, I’ll hitchhike back out to the forest,” he told me. I took Dave’s photograph. He had removed his red and black work coat while we ate. When I held up my phone to take his photo, he held up the work coat.
“Those are the colours of Satanism, and I wanted the representation to be included,” Dave said, smiling. He meticulously unrolled the sleeves of his shirt, fasting the buttons of each cuff, and put his work coat on. We shook hands. I noticed that the skin on the back of his hands was remarkably smooth, especially for a man who is sixty-five and lives in the forest. It must be from working with fur would be my guess.
Dave thanked me for lunch, and the conversation. He was about to leave, and I noticed he had forgotten his large, apparently empty bag.
Today’s story is sponsored by the Save-On Meats diner, and their charitable organization, A Better Life Foundation