Yesterday I went to visit Jonathan after yoga. On my way there I ran into a volunteer on the street. I asked him how Jonathan was doing, he said Jonathan was surprisingly good, then he began describing a video of the incident. "Is Jonathan showing this video to everybody?" I interrupted, the guy said yes and then realized he didn't have to describe it, I would see it soon.
I rang the bell of the hostel. Jonathan himself opened the door. His arm was in a cast and he opened his arms to hug me. I hugged him a little bit stronger than I thought I would, and told him I was glad to see he was OK. Then I realized I had probably squeezed him too hard for his injuries and apologized, he said not to worry.
He immediately took me into his room to show me the evidence he had collected for the police. As we were walking the hallway which had been strewn in blood less than 48h ago I met the long faces of my friend and other two guests I had met on that fateful night. "Here comes the next one to be traumatized", said my friend. I knew he was only half-joking.
As we made our way into Jonathan's alcove he muttered something about still cleaning up, blood remained on the floor because we didn't have access to clean it up, and the room was his usual chaos of clean and dirty clothes strewn everywhere and soiled dishes. His room is that of a hoarder. Jonathan sat down at his computer and played an audio. Video and audio are separate in his security system so audio is where we started.
It started with a disgruntled Steve recriminating Jonathan for not lending him $200. Jonathan was defusing the situation but not conceding, stating that he wasn't in the right frame to make a wise purchase and that it was better that he give it him later.
Steve suddenly turns livid, his voice goes from disgruntled into a sort of demonic growl which I wouldn't have recognized as Steve's had he not transitioned just moments before. I suppose it is then that he produced the knife, because Jonathan's voice changes too, from calm with haughty undertones into alarm and complete submission.
Steve then vomits out truth after truth about Jonathan. I won't be able make justice to the words I heard, and I hesitate to say they were Steve's because it sound like Satan himself was giving Jonathan an ultimatum: quit your fucking bullshit Jonathan, all you care is about money, you won't tangle me in your drama, I'm not one of those weak ass fucking Mexicans you can walk over, I'll fucking take you out. Jonathan whimpers and skillfully submits to Steve but he knows this is just strategy. "You don't understand Jonathan, you don't understand, you don't understand" he repeats three times. Steve is outside of himself. I don't recognize him.
As the audio is playing my heart is pounding. I find myself nodding at everything Steve is saying, it is all true, even the part of us weak ass Mexicans Jonathan walked over. Steve had seen Jonathan screw so many of us over that he knew the game. There was a way out (a full admission), but that would never happen because--as Steve stated, "You don't understand, Jonathan". Jonathan's greediness is in his shadow, and he doesn't understand his wrongdoing. If Steve played Jonathan's game, he might get that money two weeks later, but only after working 10x what that money is worth and getting caught up in all the emotional manipulation Jonathan puts behind money.
The heated discussion didn't go on for too long. Steve stabs Jonathan, and Jonathan lets out a cry of anguish. The knife doesn't make into his flesh because just days ago Jonathan had a medical device installed and this saves his life. A miracle. A second stab is withheld by Jonathan's hands and he starts crying for help. They scurry out of the room and it sounds like chaos. The audio ends with a neighbour putting a tourniquet on Jonathan's arm to stop the bleeding.
I'm still in shock from the audio when he shows me the whatsapp conversation leading to the event. It's Jonathan's manipulation games and Steve having none of it, but to a de-contextualized reader it would appear that Jonathan is offering reasonable solutions and Steve is the one being unreasonable. "I won't play your games Jonathan", Steve writes back in response to Jonathan's half-hearted solutions.
Jonathan was taking a long time scrubbing the video archive to pull out the visual part of the incident. I wanted to see it before saying anything, but he begun victimizing himself and I felt nausea and disgust. We lock eyes and I splurt out some sentences in which I vaguely recall, saying Steve is right, he not one of us Mexican doormats, he won't take your bullshit. If God had mercy on your life, then you must have Mercy on Steve, or this will happen to you again and you won't be spared next time.
Jonathan looked at me startled, after a moment of silence he says "wow, I didn't expect that". I answer, "That is all I have to say Jonathan, I will leave now". As walk down the hallway he calls me "Mark, before you leave, I think I owe you the taxi". I'm startled. "What are you talking about?", "Well, when you left you took a taxi to the airport, or to the hotel you were going, didn't you?", annoyance shows on my face, Jonathan hasn't understood anything. Never have I met someone so intelligent yet so clueless. "I took the metro Jonathan", "Oh... ok". In the corner of my eye I see the Moka pot I had gifted Steve before I left the hostel, so seize the opportunity--"but I would like to take coffee pot I gave to Steve", Jonathan says sure and I grab it before darting out.
My aunt Barb gifted me this large moka pot when I came to Montreal to take care of my grandmother. It's my preferred way of preparing coffee: strong, abundant, tasty and practical. My grandmother found fault with everything I did except my coffee. She loved it loaded with sugar, and I knew better than not to have a cup ready as soon as she sat in the den to have her first cigarette in the morning.
When my duties as a caregiver were taken over by private helpers I pondered what to do about the moka pot. I had grown an attachment to it, aunt Barb gave it to me after a spiritual consultation which turned out to be crucial in my quest. My grandmother was still at the retirement home, yet I was already despairing at her manipulation and drama.
As often happens, when you are at rough sea, exhausted and barely keeping afloat, a hand reaches out to give you the relief you need. Aunt Barb asked me how I was doing, I was straightforward: this is horrible. She proposed having a video call. Our conversation made me realize I was not trapped, I could still walk away if I wanted, and I was granted tools to deal with the manipulation. I went from despair to hope after that video call.
When I left the apartment, I wrote a document for the caregivers to know how to perform their duties. An entire page was dedicated to how to prepare her coffee in the moka pot. The complication was not as much in the coffee pot but in the rituals around it. Having good coffee ready in the morning was crucial to get the day started with the right foot.
On the morning of my departure I printed several copies of this document, walked the caregivers through the morning routine including preparing coffee, and then left for a hostel. I had secured three weeks more in Montreal by house sitting in La Salle, but my gig begun the next day and I needed a place to stay for one night. That's how I ended in Jonathan's hostel.
When I came back to Montreal to vacate the apartment I was relieved to find the pot. It was a darkened on the inside, a caregiver had surely forgot it on the stove, but I was glad for it being used. This time around the moka pot fuelled my work vacating the apartment instead of placating grandma's morning foul mood.
This time I took the moka pot with me when I left the apartment for the hostel. I avoided the watery americano coffee provided to guests by preparing a fresh moka pot batch for me every morning. Steve, being a big coffee drinker, soon took a liking for this coffee and I would boost is watery coffee consumption with a cup of strong coffee.
Jonathan was careless about supplies, at a certain point we ran out of coffee and Jonathan procrastinated in buying more. I bought coffee to prepare in the moka pot and shared it with Steve, whose mornings were miserable if he didn't have coffee.
When it was time for me to leave the hostel and go into a private room, Jonathan had not yet bought coffee and Steve would be left to do the work of three people. It pained me to part ways with this special pot, but I told Steve I wanted him to keep it.
Being street-wise, Steve is not the kind of person who accepts a gift easily, so I was surprised he took the pot without protest. "Thank you buddy" he said, and then hid it inside a cupboard in the kitchen. "Out of sight, out of mind" he said, "Jonathan will throw it away if he sees it". I nodded. Jonathan despised me at the time because quitting suddenly had put a lot of stress in the logistics of the hostel. He stirred up a great deal of drama to which I was able to completely and utterly detach.
The only reason I was able to raise above the drama was because I had taken care of my grandmother a year before.
I stepped out of the hostel with the moka pot in my hand and pondered what to do. He didn't understand the meaning of the note, "Understand that this is a wake up call" had bounced off his spirit, and whatever I spoke didn't seem to land either. "I need to go to the police", I thought.
I walked three blocks to the police station. The policeman behind the bullet proof glass greeted me. "I'm here to declare something in relation to the stabbing that happened the day before yesterday at the hostel nearby". The police man perked up and said he had been there. He asked me if I had witnessed anything, and I said no, that I had volunteered there before, and I was just coming back from seeing the evidence that Jonathan would provide to inculpate Steve. I said that it would seem the issue was over $200, but that the true motive was exploitation. Jonathan exploits everyone who works for him. The man said that didn't change what happened. I said yes, I understand, but the motive has to count something in the Steve's trial. The police said yes, but this kind of thing is stated in court. I said I'm willing to testify, but I haven't been able to get ahold of Steve. The police could not get get us in touch, but he would add my name and phone number to the file in case the lead investigator wanted to hear from me. I thanked the police man and made my way back home.
Once home, I received a message from Jonathan. It revealed what I had told him:
Only time will tell if he has really understood. I must find Steve.