Shaggy’s Christmas

Posted: October 15, 2018 in Prose

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5 June 2013

It was a wonderful day in the park today as, I suppose, it was in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. In attendance were four of my friends and Shaggy who’s borderline. Wolf said, “Id get up, Dennis, but you know me. It’s one of those days.”

I was about to sit down between Wolf and Gaston when Yves handed me a folded Metro newspaper. “Sit on this, it’ll keep your pants clean.” I said, “Thanks Yves.”

Gaston said, “Now, isn’t that a lot softer?”

“Yes, it is.”

Wolf said, “I’ve got something even better. I’ll  go over to Shaggy’s cart.” He brought back a thick folded blanket. “Try this. I just got it this morning, rather Shaggy just got it this morning. A lady — maybe it was the Christmas lady for dogs — she brought a big bag filled with the blanket, a toy rubber boot, a stuffed dog and dog food, lots of dog food. Shaggy really  hit the jackpot. She gave me something too. I think I spent it.”

“This blanket is really soft and comfortable. Thanks Wolf.”

Wolf said, “This morning when I woke up the first thing I saw was a six-pack of beer, so that’s when I started. If I hadn’t seen it I would have been alright, but if I see it I drink it. That’s why I’m the way I am now. You understand?

“Dennis,  tell those fucking Frenchmen to shut the fuck up! I’m having trouble concentrating. Let them go ahead and mumble to themselves.

In unison Gaston and Yves said, “Ta Gueule!, colis, tabarnac.”

Jacques said, “Wolf speaks  prefect French, he just doesn’t like to use it.”

Wolf said, “I’m German not French!  Don’t make me get up!”  He laughed, then continued conversing with them in fluent French.

I said to Wolf, “You couldn’t get up if you tried.”

“I know,” he said, “I just like to stir the shit sometimes.”

I asked Jacques, “How are you liking your new apartment?”

“I love it. Did you know I have a balcony? Yesterday I bought a mattress, a futon. I think that is the good one. I don’t buy the most expensive, but not the cheapest either. I bought the next one up.  Me, I don’t like the coil mattress, because after a year, you get one coil sticking through into your back. I don’t want that.  In my other place I had been sleeping on the floor for the last four months, and I had no window.  This place is nice, and I can brew my wine again.

“It used to be that they would give you a start-up allowance when you moved and every three years,  but not anymore. I had to pay for the mattress myself. I don’t mind.”

Sean and Judy from  Innercity Outreach approached. They were wearing red vests with the crest of their organization embroidered in yellow. They had brought sandwiches, socks and a variety of other things to hand out.

“Wolf, what kind of sandwich would you like? We have egg, minced ham and tuna.”

“This is my drinking day, not my eating day,” said Wolf. ” I’m a shaving guy. Do you have any razors?”

“No, sorry , Wolf.”

Jacques said, “I’ll take an egg, and leave me a minced ham for Wolf.  He’ll eat it later. Can I have some socks?” Judy handed socks to Jacques, Matches and Wolf

Sean said to me, “Dennis it looks like you’re holding court.”

I said, “It may look that way, but Jacques is King”

Jacques said, “Shakes is King.”

I said, “Okay, we’ll go along with that.”

Judy asked, “Has anybody seen Serge? We haven’t seen him for a long time. I know he was in hospital, but then he was out.”

I said, “I visited him a couple of times in hospital, but he escaped, in his hospital gown. He was too sick and was taken back to hospital.”

Jacques said, “I was talking to Greg from 507. He got a message saying that Serge passed away April 7th. Nobody knew, otherwise we would have gone to the funeral.”

Judy asked, “He had cancer, didn’t he.”

I said, “I’m not sure. He didn’t talk much and when he talked it was in French.”

Judy said, “I hear that Outcast is in remission. Is that right?”

I said, “I knew that he had lung cancer. I didn’t hear that he was in remission.”

Jacques said, “I saw him a few days ago. He seems fine. He doesn’t come here any more.”

“How about Joy? How is she?”

I said, “I saw her Thursday, she seemed fine then.”

After they left Jacques said, “They gave me all these bars that I can’t eat. I don’t have enough teeth for things with nuts.”

Shakes said, “You, know, Dennis, I’ve known Wolf since ’95. I’ve always called him Pudding, because he looks like a pudding. I’m the one that got Bowser for him. He looks like Shaggy, but he’s stuffed. I remember bringing him home on the bus. I barked and pretended that he was going to bite people. Now, he sits on Pudding’s balcony.”

“Yeah,” said  Wolf, “People will say they passed my place, I must have been home because the dog was there, but he wasn’t barking.

“Shaggy loves Bowser, they lay beside each other all the time. One time when it was raining Shaggy went out on the balcony, grabbed Bowser with her teeth and brought her inside the living room. Isn’t that something?”

Wolf said, “Dennis, we should pick on you for a while.”

I said, “Go ahead.”

“I was going to get Shaggy to bite Jacques, but you’ve got some meat on your arms.  Shaggy, bite Dennis! She won’t bite you, she likes you.”

Shaggy wandered around and lay next to me, her warm side pressing against mine. I petted her. After being freshly clipped she felt like velvet.

It was time to leave, so I returned the blanket to Wolf,  and shook hands all around. I said, “bye, maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Rocky Jumped and Robbed

Posted: October 13, 2018 in Prose

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1 June 2012

The weather today was uncertain. It was overcast, but not quite raining. At the park were eleven of my friends including Wolf and his dog Shaggy.Image result for image watermelon vodka

“Hi Hippo, How have you been?” I shook his broken hand very gently.

“My head hurts.”

“How is your hand?”

“It hurts too. Jake and I slept at ‘the heater’ last night — not together, just in the same place. The streets aren’t safe anymore.”

“Hi Jake, How are you?”

“I’m drunk. Hippo and I started early.”

“I guess that’s a good thing.”

Shakes was sitting on the lawn and was having trouble getting up. “I’ll use this wine bottle and this container as a crutch to help me up.” He made it half way then tumbled over. Jacques stood up and took Shakes’ arm to help him to his feet. “Did you know that Rocky got jumped last night. It was the same guys that jumped me. He’s in about the same shape as I am.”

“Do you know why they jumped Rocky?”

“Because they’re assholes.”

“Hi Donald, how are you?”

“I have my methadone treatment at one o’clock. Everybody hates me. I don’t know why. They make fun of me.”

“I’ve never heard anybody say anything against you.”

“I appreciate you being my friend.”

“Hi Shark, how is Irene feeling today?”

“She’s with Anastasia. They’re drunk to the tits. They bought a case of Labatt Maximum Ice. It’s 7.1 % alcohol. I bought myself a 26 ounce bottle of watermelon vodka. It’s 37% alcohol. I thought I should get something to catch up. You don’t need any mix with it. Have a swig.”

“That’s smooth. I’ve never tasted that before.”

“I had to kick Elaine out at eleven o’clock last night. She was drunk. When she gets like that her mind goes on retard. She’ll have about five conversations going and she keeps repeating them. I guess she forgets that she’s said the same thing five minutes before.

“We’re planning to get an apartment together, the problem is she wants to go through the Salvation Army. I want to get something through my landlord. He has a bunch of buildings. If we get these workers involved, one group doesn’t talk the same language as the other group. I’ve been in the Welfare system for twenty years. I know what to say to them, so they’ll understand it, and I’ll get what I want.

“Maybe it would be better if Irene and Joy got an apartment together. The only problem is that Irene drinks more than Joy. Joy has her drinking fairly well under control.

“Anastasia wants us to go with her to her mother’s house near Goderich. It’s on Georgian Bay, so there would be boating, swimming, fishing. The water isn’t very deep but you can still catch bass. The only problem is Anastasia is a bit nuts. You must have noticed that yesterday.

“I have to be back every week to see my doctor and pick up my meds.”

“How old is Anastasia, and how old is her mother?”

“I guess Anastasia is about 61, her mother is in her 90’s.

“The problem would be getting back. I guess we could arrange something with the bus. It’s a long trip. Something to keep in mind though.”

Chester and Outcast were going over Chester’s bank statement. Outcast said, “We were playing cards last night and then I left. What’s the last thing you remember buying.”

“I bought beer at the Beer Store.”

“Okay, that’s listed here. Then, there’s a purchase in Gatineau. Did you go to Gatineau?”

“No.”

“There’s also a purchase at an Exxon gas station. You don’t drive a car, so that’s not you. There are withdrawals of $200., $300. These are since you lost your card. Do you remember giving your card to anyone?”

“No.”

Silver said, “Look at Donald, he’s never going to make his methadone appointment. I’ve been drinking since 4:30 this morning and I can stagger straighter than that. I get up at 4:30, have a shower — yes, I drink beer in the shower. It’s okay as long as I don’t fall and hurt myself.”

“Hello Wolf,” I said.

“Have a look at my dog.”

“Is that a different dog? That doesn’t look like Shaggy.”

“That’s Shaggy, they clipped her, did all kinds of stuff to her. I brought her blanket and her bed so she’ll get acclimatized. Is she breathing?”

“Yes, I can see her chest going up and down.”

“I was just joking. I guess I haven’t known you that long. You haven’t seen Shaggy when she’s been clipped? I have her done once a year.”

“No, I only met you in January, so it’s been about five months.”

Donald didn’t make his methadone treatment. He was too drunk to walk. Even if he had made it there, they wouldn’t have taken him in his condition.

Methadone

Posted: October 12, 2018 in Prose

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18 May 2012

This morning was cool and windy. Joy had her hood pulled up and her legs were wrapped in a blanket. She said, “My tooth is really bothering me. I was eating sunflower seeds, with the shells on, and something got imbedded between my tooth and my gum. I’ve tried brushing, flossing, but it’s below the gum line and anything I do just makes it hurt more. I had a microwave heating pack on it last night. It helped me get to sleep.

“I was on my way to the dentist this morning, then I realized that I didn’t have my dental card. I went back to the house, but couldn’t find it anywhere. I went to the dentist. They wouldn’t see me without my card. I said, ‘This is an emergency! Will you see me now?’ She said, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t see you without your card.’ I said, ‘Can’t you check my records. You must have my number on file.’ She said, ‘Only Joyce has access to the records and she’s not here today.’ I said, ‘You mean I have to wait until after the long weekend to get this looked at? If I threw up blood all over your computer, would someone see me then?’

‘I’m sorry, ma’am,’ she replied. I was so pissed off.

“Hippo’s there across the street. I don’t think he’s doing very well. I saw him get a few drops (people dropping change into his cap), but I’m going to have to give him some pointers. He sleeps at the Sally (Salvation Army). They have access to showers, soap and razors, but his hair is so greasy that I’m sure he hasn’t washed it in a week. He couldn’t even get a comb through it this morning. It was disgusting.

“He’s one of the few men who don’t try to touch me. He knows it wouldn’t get him anywhere. Even Weasel, dying of AIDS, kissed me on the cheek the other day. He did it just to bug me. He still has that open sore on his arm. He was letting his dog lick it. He said, ‘It’s okay, a dog’s saliva is clean.’ I said, ‘But dude, think of what you’re doing to the dog.’ His answer was, ‘We all die sometime.’ He’s wasting away to nothing. He doesn’t have much time left (Weasel died 9 May 2013).

“I’m really careful about who I share drinks with up there. Did I ever tell you how Little Jake got AIDS? He had a fight with his girlfriend. She may have been seeing someone else — I don’t know. Anyway, he was drunk, they had a big argument and she threw him out in the snow. He crawled into the alley and fell asleep. Sometime in the night he rolled over onto some used ‘fits’ (hypodermic needles). They were contaminated with HIV.

‘I’m not sure about the details of how Shark got AIDS. He was pretty messed up on crack, and he was into some anal shit. When I asked him about the AIDS he said to me, ‘That’s what I get from fucking a pig, in the ass, without a condom.’

“I’ve got Hep C. I think I got it when I had my tattoos done. I’m a carrier, but I’m not infectious. It’ll kill me, but nobody else.”

Hippo walked across the street. We shook hands. He said, “Joy, can I buy two cigarettes for a quarter?”

“No, but I’ll give you one.” Hippo threw a quarter into her hat.

“Well,” said Joy, “it’s 8:20 and that hotel lady hasn’t asked you to move.”

“I don’t think she’s in today. The guy was out sweeping the sidewalk.”

“You’re in luck then.” Hippo shrugged his shoulders and walked back across the street.

Blair walked by and said, “Hi Joy, I’m short fifty cents. Can you help me out?”

“I’ll give you a quarter. Now, you’re only short twenty-five cents.”

“Thanks Joy.”

To the world in general Joy said, “Yes, a panhandler did give him money.

“I’m really losing it. I wanted my mom to come here before she died. I want my kids to come here. My oldest son has a job as a cast fitter. I don’t know what that is, but he gets paid $27.00 and hour. I miss them.

“I’ve got to get away from Toothless. He was on my case about groceries. Yesterday, I bought two loaves of bread, some of those frozen hamburger patties and some other stuff. He bought sausages. Last night he told me he’s invited Tony and Dora, Chris and his girlfriend and a bunch of other people over for a barbecue. I can’t afford to be feeding all those people. He tells me that I’m not paying my share. I said to him, ‘Stop inviting so many people over.’ I haven’t talked to him since. I pushed his dog V out of the way, so I could get out the door and he knocked over Chuck’s table. I just left it. It’s his dog, he can clean up the mess.

“I don’t know if I’ll be visiting the guys at noon. Maybe I will, but I’m not sure. Most of those people are getting on my nerves. I see that Lucy-in-the-sky is hanging around with Buck. That will stop once her old man gets of jail in a few weeks. He’s the one that robbed Shark, then beat him up because he had no bills. Then Lucy went after Irene. You’ve seen how small Irene is. Jake and I were still together then. When Jake heard about it he took the plastic handle off a bathroom plunger, sawed the bottom off it, then filled the hollow part with dimes. It must have been a couple of hundred dimes. He used duct tape to seal the sawed off end, then unwrapped a metal coat hanger and wound it around the duct tape. That made quite a jailhouse club. The next time he saw Nick, Lucy’s boyfriend, he hit him three times with it. Rick didn’t get up.

“I’ve talked to Lucy recently, she’s so excited about Nick getting out. I said to her, “We’ve gone toe to toe together before, but if you ever try anything with Irene again I’m going to smash your skull to pieces, and you know I’ll do it.”

At noon, as I was walking to the park, I met Joy and her friend ‘Sausage Fingers’ waiting near the bus stop. Joy introduced him to me as one of her best friends in the world. I remembered having met him during the winter, but he’s shaved his beard and looks completely different.

Joy said, “I’ve had it! I snapped at Silver. I snapped at Hippo. I’m going home before I end up in jail. Chuck is panning, so I’ll have the house all to myself until about 4:30. I’ll see you on Tuesday.”

Sitting in his usual place was Claude. “Hi Claude, are you still at the Shepherd’s or have you moved to the Salvation Army?” He said, “I’m still at the Shepherd’s. I have to go there between four and six o’clock to sign the card that says I’ll be staying another week.”

“Has it been noisy? You mentioned that a man kept opening and closing the door. Is he still doing that?”

“Yes, he starts at six o’clock in the morning, opening and closing, opening and closing.”

“I’ll talk to you later, Claude. Take care.”

At the park were ten of my friends and Shaggy. Sometimes she’s a friend at other times she’ll bite or just bark. There’s no pleasing her except with food. Hippo wasn’t looking very well. He said, “I’ve been puking up blood. I’ve also been shitting blood. I’ve got ulcers, two of them.”

“You should go to the hospital,” said Deaf Donald.

“I can’t. They won’t take me. I don’t have my health card. First I’d have to get my Birth Certificate, then my Social Insurance card, then I could apply for my health card.”

“Why do you drink, then?” asked Donald.

“Welfare asks me the same question. I don’t know why I drink. If I didn’t drink I wouldn’t be me. If I didn’t drink I’d die.”

“You should think of your mother and father. They love you, don’t they?”

“They’re my parents, of course they love me.”

“You should quit drinking for them. Think of how they’d feel if you died.”

“Everyone is going to die, but I hear you, man. Can I stay at your place this weekend? I’m feeling really rough. I couldn’t take another night at the Sally right now.”

“Sure, man. I have to go for my methadone treatment at one o’clock, but I’ll come back, and I’ll bring some beer.”

Wolf said to me, “I haven’t been here for the past few days. I had my fifty-seventh birthday Friday. I had a forty ounce bottle, of 12-year-old scotch, that I started at five thirty Saturday morning. I finished it by twelve thirty that night. I also had some sherry. The next morning I had the hangover from Hell. I’m too old to do that sort of thing any more. I was here drinking beer, on Monday, but I haven’t had anything else between then and now.

“I just wanted to tell you why I hadn’t been around. When somebody hasn’t been around for a while, the first thing people think is that they’re dead. I came here today to tell everyone that I’m not dead.”

Donald said to me, “I have to go for my methadone treatment at one o’clock. When you go back to work, I’ll walk with you. As we were walking I asked, “Why are you having methadone treatment?”

“My father used to beat my mother when she was pregnant. I was born three months premature. I was deaf and had to have an operation removing nine feet of my intestines.” He lifted his shirt to show me his scar. “When I was older, I had a lot of pain. They prescribed Oxycontin. I was on it for seven years. The methadone helps with the cravings. I also got into other drugs and became an alcoholic. I had been living with my mother, but because I was into drugs and alcohol so much she put me on the street. I’m thirty-five years old. I shouldn’t have been living with my mother. Now, I have my own apartment and have more control over the drugs and alcohol.

“By the way, can you spare some change.”

“I’m sorry, man. If I had it I’d give it to you, but I didn’t bring my wallet with me. I don’t have anything with me at all, not even bus tickets.”

“That’s okay. I’ll see you next week.”

Old Spice… on the rocks

Posted: October 11, 2018 in Prose

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17 May 2012

This morning was sunny, but cool and windy. Joy’s plastic storage crate was there, but Joy wasn’t. I checked with Metro to ask if she had been at her spot this morning.

“Hi, Dennis,  Joy was here earlier. I don’t know if  she’s gone to the bathroom, or if she’s left for the day. There she is! She’s coming now!”

“Thanks, Metro, have a good day.”

“Hi, Joy, how’s everything this morning?”

“I don’t know why I have to pee so often. Hippo’s across the street shrugging his shoulders, Again! It’s girl stuff.”

“Does it have to do with your kidneys?”

“Yes, but I’m okay as long as I keep peeing.”

“You mentioned before that it was a dark color. Are you concerned about that?”

“No, it seems fine. I think I just needed to drink more water.”

“I saw Alphonse and Magdalen last night, after work. I couldn’t tell if she’d had an abortion or not, but it was good to see them so happy together. Alphonse seems like such a good man.”

“Yes he is. I don’t know what it is about Inuit women. Inuk went out with another guy the night before Bearded Bruce went to prison. An hour and a half after he signed himself in. She came down and expected us to be friends with her. Magdalen acts the same way.”

Joy and I were discussing various bars that we both had frequented in the past. I said, “My friends and I would often meet at the Prescott for beer and spaghetti.”

Joy said, “The last time I was at the Prescott was with Jake. There was a woman there playing pool. She was wearing a low-cut blouse and every time she bent over to take a shot, her boobs nearly fell out on the table. I walked over to her and said, ‘I’m going to ask you nicely, to stop flashing my old man here. It’s very rude.’ People don’t need to see that when they’re eating. She kept doing it, so I picked up the cue ball and threw it at her; caught her right in the middle of her forehead. She was out cold. The bartender came over and said, ‘Joy, this is probably a good time to leave.’ I said, ‘Cool, dude. We’re on our way.'”

“I’m going to go over and talk to Hippo,” I said, “He looks lonely.”

“I told him to use that spot. That’s where Crash used to pan. As long as he’s in that alcove they shouldn’t be able to touch him.”

“Hi Hippo!”

“Hi Dennis, how’s it going?”

“I’m doing fine. Have you found any more lawn mowers?”

“No, I found that last one in the garbage. It was a Craftsman 650 with a 170 c.c. motor. All I had to do was add oil and gas and away she went.”

“Have you heard anything more about your inheritance?”

“No, I signed the papers last August. That’s eight months ago. I don’t know why it’s taking so long.”

A woman wearing a gray suit came over to us and said, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to move. You’re sitting in front of hotel property. “Okay,” we said and left.

At noon it was still chilly, with the wind blowing. Tonight there is a frost warning. On Sunday Environment Canada is forecasting 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Go figure!

Sitting on the curb of the sidewalk were a dozen of my friends including Buck with his dog, Dillinger.

“Hi Shakes, how are you doing?”

“I’m getting there, slowly but surely. Last night we were up until two in the morning playing Risk. I finally asked, ‘Aren’t you guys getting sleepy?'”

Hippo said, “We used to play that game, my mother, sister and me. My dad never wanted to play. He’s go out to the garage. Another game we used to play was Clue.”

“It’s nice to wake up in the morning,” said Shakes. “If you don’t, you know that something’s wrong.”

“We were worried about Charles yesterday,” said Hippo. “He usually joins us, but he just sat on the curb and fell asleep. We thought he might be sick.”

“He’s back on the rubbing alcohol,” said Richard.

I said, “He also drinks Listerine.”

“Both of those really mess up your mind,” said Hippo. “I’ve tried them once, but never again.”

Richard said, “I’ve heard of people drinking Old Spice, Aqua Velva, Purell, shoe polish, melted and strained through bread. I’ve heard of people ‘huffing’ Lysol, Clorox bleach and gasoline. They’re all poisonous.

“I’ve been looking at the plants in the flower garden over there. One of them looks like marijuana. I know it isn’t, but it sure looks like it.

“If you grow marijuana in the woods, it’s best to pick a place where there are a lot of trails. People looking for it can get lost, and if someone surprises you, there are lots of escape routes.

“Where do you live, Hippo?” asked Deaf Donald.

“I’m staying at the Salvation Army now, but I’m hoping to get a place of my own.

“Where do you live?”

“Now I’m living in the suburbs. I have to take the bus in for my methadone (used to treat opiate dependency for drugs such as morphine, heroin and oxycontin). It takes me from an hour to an hour and a half to get downtown.”

I asked, “Why did you choose to live so far out?”

“My mother lives there. I have a bachelor apartment with a fireplace just a few blocks from her. I live right across from the Sacred Art Tattoo Parlour.

Track Marks

Posted: October 10, 2018 in Dialog, Prose

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16 May 2012

This morning was slightly overcast with light, scattered showers. Joy was in good spirits. Little Jake was panning on the corner where Silver usually sits. Silver was at the medical clinic having his blood tested. Hippo waved from across the street. A strange-looking man was seated directly across the street from Joy. He was holding a sign that neither of us could read.

Joy said, “I don’t know what that guy is all about. Earlier he motioned me to move on, but that’s not going to happen. I’ve been here too long, and fought too hard for this spot, to take shit from some newcomer who doesn’t know how things work. I may have to go over and talk to him.”

A light rain started. Joy said, “If it’s just small drops I don’t mind. If it’s those big ass drops, then I’m taking cover. There is an overhang so, depending on the wind, if I move back to the wall I can stay dry.”

“I asked, “Do you have any news about getting an apartment with Loretta?”

“I haven’t seen or talked to her since the other day at the park. I don’t know what’s going on with her.”

“Are you feeling better today?”

“I feel a lot better. I’ve been asking a few women, regulars of mine, if they have any spare tampons, because I started today. Apart from that I feel fine. Katy and I were at Outcast’s place yesterday afternoon. He made a stir fry. It was a bit too sweet, but really good. Later on, at Chuck’s place, I cooked spaghetti. Chili, Rocky and Raven came over. Rocky was really wasted on something. He had spaghetti sauce all over his shirt, his face and his hands. I said to him, ‘Rocky, go to the bathroom and clean yourself up.’ Before he got up, he wiped his sauce covered hand across Carl’s wall. Chuck hauled him outside and told him to get lost and never come back.

“Later, after supper, Raven said, ‘Okay, where’s the beer?’ Chuck said, ‘We don’t have any beer.’ She started swearing, so I grabbed her by the hair and threw her out the front door. She was swearing all down the block saying, ‘You fuckin’ bitch this, you fuckin’ bitch that.’ I just closed the door and let her rant.

“Chuck told me, ‘I’m glad you did that, because I couldn’t have.’

“Chili was looking better after being straight for the last month. I said to her, ‘I’ll bet your mom wasn’t too pleased to see all those track marks on your arm.’ She said, ‘No, she wasn’t pleased at all.’ Her family is taking her to Sudbury to visit relatives, and then back to Prince Edward Island, where her parents live. It’s such a shame to see someone her age so messed up. She’s only twenty-one years old.

“I told you earlier that I was feeling fine. A wave of nausea just came over me. I’m going to have to go.” Joy stepped into the alley and threw up.

“I’m glad I just had water this morning, otherwise, it could have been messy. I think that came from eating so late at night.

“Ann is staying at Albert’s place now. He really likes her, but with Ann comes her daughter Trudy and her son Barry. That’s a lot of people to feed. Chester has a couple of pensions coming in. He does all right.

“If it’s not raining at noon, I’ll be up on the lawn with the guys. I’m not going under the bridge It’s like a wind tunnel there. Look out your window before you come, you’ll be able to see if any of us are around.”

Silver Concerned About Cure

Posted: October 4, 2018 in Prose

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15 May 2012

This morning was warm, sunny and pleasant. Joy was in her usual spot. All was as it should be.

“How are you feeling, Joy?”

“I’m a lot better than yesterday. I went home, lay down and drank a lot of water. I was able to sleep most of the afternoon, until Chuck came home at 4:30. This morning, I was able to keep my breakfast down.”

“How is it going with you and Marilyn, getting a place together?”

“She’s going to phone them today and, hopefully, we’ll be able to see it this afternoon. It’s furnished, that worries me a bit. I don’t want to be in a place with bed bugs. There are mattress covers, that have a very fine weave, that the bedbugs can’t get through. A friend of mine has one, but you can still see the bugs crawling around underneath. It creeps me out.

“Some people have told me that I shouldn’t move in with Marilyn. They say she can get wild when she’s drinking, but she’s cut back quite a bit. I think we’ll get along fine.”

“If she does get wild, I’m sure you can handle her.”

“No problem there.”

“Have you heard anything more about the funeral for Dennis ‘Fingers’?”

“That was a mistake. I talked to a friend of his and he’s doing fine. He just hasn’t been downtown for a while. He was in hospital and is still very weak. He prefers to pan on the other side of the river, since he’s been robbed several times near here. You’d think they’d pick on someone with more money. Panhandlers just make enough to get by. Whenever I get my check at the end of the month, you won’t we me on the street for a couple of days.

“Silver is down here almost every day. I asked him, ‘What are you hoarding your money for? Are you that greedy?’ He’s not here today, though. There was someone else sitting in his spot this morning, but it wasn’t very long before a gray-haired man chased him off. I don’t know what that was about.”

“I saw Nick yesterday, panning down the street.”

“He, Hippo and Little Jake were kicked off the street yesterday. The police don’t like you panning on busy streets. They’re patrolling it all the time. The same with the park. That’s why they’ve been by so often. It’s the same every summer.”

I said, “I was talking to Claude yesterday. He’s in the Wet Program at Shepherds, but he doesn’t like it.”

“On that program they give you a bit of home-made wine every hour, sometimes it’s watered down. Claude is used to drinking rubbing alcohol and Listerine. He wouldn’t like drinking wine. He doesn’t panhandle. I don’t know where he gets his money. He probably just has a small pension.

“He’s another one that won’t be around much longer; another one to add to the list.”

A man stopped and handed Mo a banana. She said to me, “Do you want this? Since my kidney failure my doctor said I’m not allowed to eat bananas. They have too much potassium.”

At noon I talked briefly with Claude. He was sitting in his usual shaded place, on the curb of the sidewalk leading across the bridge, adjacent to the lawn. “Hi Claude, how did you sleep last night?”

“I slept at the Shepherd’s.”

“Yesterday you mentioned that someone was opening and closing the door all night. Did that happen last night?”

“Yes, he did that for a while.”

“How about the other man who shit on the floor. Did he do that again?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure. I changed beds, so I’m near the kitchen. I like it better there. They have me on the Wet Program. I don’t like that.”

“I hear they give you wine every hour. Is that right? Do you like wine?”

“No, I don’t like it. They give me cheap wine, and the beer they give me has no alcohol. It’s awful.”

“How is the pain in your hands and legs?”

“My hands are worse in the morning. If I try to move them, before I’ve soaked them under hot running water, the pain goes right down to the bone. I have pains in my legs, and I can’t walk fast, but apart from that I’m okay.”

“Can you talk to the doctor? Maybe he can give you pills for your pain.”

“I’ll just wait. I’m going to move to the Salvation Army.”

I said, “I’m going up to talk to the others. I’ll see you on my way back.”

A group of six people were standing in a circle on the lawn. Wolf and his dog Shaggy were sitting by the bridge railing.

As I approached, Outcast was giving advice to Silver, “For your blood test tomorrow, don’t eat after six tonight, and drink only water.”

“What do you mean, ‘drink only water?’ I can have juice and coffee in the morning — can’t I?”

“No, Silver, only water and lots of it. It’ll make your veins stick out, so they’ll have an easier time extracting your blood. They love to see addicts come in because they have such large veins.”

“Here, Silver,” said Joy, “have a swig from my water bottle so you’ll know, in advance, what it tastes like.”

Silver said, “My doctor wants to prescribe some pills for my alcoholism. If they make me better will I have my O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program) cut off?”

“Silver, You’re too far gone,” said Joy. “You’re not going to get better.”

“’Outcast told me that they might cut off my O.D.S.P. if I get better. If that’s the case, I don’t want to get better.” (Died four months later from cirrhosis of the liver. He was a good friend. I attended his funeral.)

“Silver,“ said Outcast, “if I said that, I was only joking. Get the doctor to prescribe as many pills as possible, and while you’re at it, tell him that you have a bladder problem and you need a diaper allowance. Wet your pants right in his office if you have to.”

Joy said, “You can let a juicy, wet fart that stains your underwear. Wear white, so the stain shows. It would have worked great yesterday when you split your pants.”

“Dennis,” said Outcast, “how long have you been around this area?”

“I’ve worked around here for the past five years.”

“You wouldn’t remember it then. This whole area used to be covered with bushes. Now, they’ve cut them back. Hoover and Elaine lived here for nearly a year. They had a tarp stretched out to keep the rain off. We could all sit under there and keep dry. It wasn’t even visible from the sidewalk.

“There was a rumor going around, about a ‘tent city’ being erected; part of ‘Occupy Ottawa.’ It was supposed to start last Saturday. The city tore up all the grass, like they did last year. It’s not so pleasant camping in the mud. I haven’t heard what’s going to happen next.

“So, how did you come across this group? You don’t drink, you don’t smoke. Did you just stop by one day and start-up a conversation with someone?”

“It’s not that I don’t drink or smoke, I just don’t do it during working hours. I’ve known Joy for about a year and a half. She invited me here, in January, to meet some of her friends.”

Joy said, “Dennis asked me if he could buy me breakfast. He does that most mornings, when I’m panning.”

‘Wolf called me over, “Dennis, you’re really looking dapper today.”

“I’m wearing Value Village from top to bottom.” (Value Village is a used clothing store, similar to Goodwill or the Salvation Army Thrift Store.)

“I don’t care what you’re wearing. I just wanted to say something nice to you. I just celebrated my fifty-seventh birthday. I wanted you to know that. I’m more miserable and grumpy than ever. I’ve been really nasty to Katy. Half the people here I don’t talk to at all. I just like to come down some times to have a few beer, talk to my friends.”

“How is Shaggy doing under her trailer? I can’t see her.”

“She’s got her head out, watching what’s going on. Trying to decide who to bite next.”

“I won’t keep you, Dennis. I just wanted to shake your hand. I’m not sure I can get up.”

Silver was asking Joy, “What’s Katy’s problem? She hasn’t said more than three words since she’s been here.”

“She’s got the same problem I’ve had all week; she’s starting menopause. Since September, my period hasn’t been regular. It’s all over the place — four months off, one month on. It leaves me feeling miserable.”

English: A SUBWAY Club 6" sandwich.

English: A SUBWAY Club 6″ sandwich. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

14 May 2012

The weather at noon was perfect. As I was walking the street I met Nick. He was panning in his usual spot. Nick is diabetic and was taken to the hospital by paramedics last week. I gave him a wave as I passed.

“How’s it going, bro?”

“Great, Nick!”

As I turned right on the sidewalk, toward the lawn, I saw Serge sitting by himself on the curb, in the shade. “Hi, Serge, How are you today?”

“Everyone is up on the lawn. I’m not so good today. I have pains in my legs and in my hands. It feels good just to sit here and stretch my legs out. It’s because I drink too much. What I drink (rubbing alcohol diluted with water) costs me $2.35 a bottle. That’s all I can afford, but it’s not good for me. I think I have arthritis in my hands.” He stretched his fingers to show me how stiff and swollen they were. “In the morning, I have to hold my hands under hot, running water for a while, just to get my fingers moving.”

“Have you tried hot baths, for your legs?” I asked.

“I don’t have a bath tub. I’m staying at the Shepherd’s now, but I have to find a new place. They have me on the Wet Program. I don’t know why? I don’t like it. I used to be on the other side.

Wet Program: Shepherd’s of Good Hope

Partnering with Inner City Health, this area provides 12 beds for chronically homeless, alcoholic, high risk males. The Programs intent is to reduce harm to the individual and to the community by preventing binge drinking of alcohol and alternate stimulants. (mouth-wash, Purelle, Aqua Velva etc.) It also reduces emergency services (police calls, ambulance, hospital stays, cells etc.), decreases the number of incidents in the community (aggressive pan handling, passing out on the streets) and restores dignity and creates a sense of community. The Program provides ongoing health assessments, access to counseling, social and clinical services.

“There’s too much noise. One guy there, he opens and closes the door all night long: open, close, open, close. The man in the bunk beside me, he speaks French, so that’s good, but in the middle of the night, instead of going down the hall to the bathroom, he sits at the edge of his bed and shits on the floor, not once, but twice. That’s no way to act, shitting on the floor like that. I’m going to move to the Salvation Army. I think it will be better there.”

The next person I met, walking down the sidewalk was Hippo. “Hi, Hippo. How did you make out selling that lawn mower?”

“I took it down near the Mission. A taxi driver stopped and asked me if I wanted to sell it. I said, ‘Sure!’ He gave me ten dollars for it.

“Today, I got kicked off Bank Street. A cop gave me half of a Subway sandwich. Five minutes later, another cop came along and told me to move away from there. I only made $1.72, plus the sandwich.”

Sitting on the lawn were the usual group of about six people. I shook hands all the way around. Tracey said, “Dennis this is my friend, Richard. He’s deaf, but he can read lips.”

“Hi, Richard,” I said.

“God bless, he said.”

Standing near the railing of the bridge were Loretta, Outcast and Joy. Loretta borrowed Joy’s cell phone and walked away.

“Hi, Joy. How’s it been, finding a new place?”

“Loretta found a two bedroom apartment on Daly Street, close to downtown. She walked by, it looked good from the outside. She may be phoning about it right now. There’s also a friend of Chuck’s that would rent me a room for $450 a month.

“I’m not feeling so well today. Yesterday I was drinking vodka and cranberry juice. It didn’t agree with me.

“You couldn’t buy me a bottle of sherry, could you?”

“I’m sorry Joy, I don’t have any cash with me. I can give you some bus tickets, but I don’t have any Subway cards. They ran out and won’t have any more until next month.”

“I probably couldn’t handle the sherry anyway. The thought of it makes me feel sick.”

I asked Outcast, “Did you have a birthday on Friday?”

“No, it was Wolf, the one with Shaggy. We had a party at my place. Irene and Shark brought over some spaghetti sauce. We sat around playing dice. Wolf, Irene and Shark left early. I’ve been eating spaghetti since Friday. I’ve had so much It’s coming out my ass, literally.”

“Silver said, “I bet that Joy doesn’t remember the first time we met. I was panning in her old spot. Of course, I moved when she came along. That’s only right.

“I remember, you were with Crast Test at the time. You’d  throw hands full of pennies at him. One time you threw a pear. It splattered all over the wall, and all over Crash. The pigeons loved it, they were all over him pecking at pieces of pear. He said, ‘You didn’t have to throw it so hard.’

Silver started packing his bag to leave. “I’m concerned that the cops will come again and I’ll lose all my beer. I’ve got more to lose than anybody.” He walked back to say good-bye to Richard, Tracey, Jacques and Chester.

When he was out of earshot, Joy said, “That guy really annoys me. He talks even more than Chuck, and what he says doesn’t make any sense.” Fifteen minutes went by and Silver was still saying his good byes.

“Hey, Silver!” said Joy, “I thought you said you were leaving. Why don’t you quit saying good-bye and just go away.”

“In that case,” said Silver, “I’m not leaving, so ‘Liar, liar pants on fire, kissed the boys and made them cry.'”

“Silver,” I said, “I think you have your nursery rhymes mixed up.”

“Yeah,” he said, “I guess that was Georgie Porgie. Oh, well.”

Joy said, “Get out of my face, Silver, or I’ll kill you! Silver, I will kill you!

“Okay, Joy, take it easy.” Silver quietly left.

“Dennis,” said Bleeding Heart, some Saturday you’ll have to come over. All but two of us here have our own places, or else we share. We can have a couple of beer, smoke a few joints, maybe play some dice.

“Sounds good.”

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.

11 May 2012

The sun was shining this morning and Joy was in better spirits. I said, “I see that you don’t have V with you today.”

“This morning Chuck said to me, ‘V needs to go out for a pee.’ I said to him, ‘Dude, she’s your dog. It was you that wanted exercise, so you walk her, you feed her, you train her, or you get rid of her.’ I was so angry yesterday that I didn’t say more than five words to him.

“I’ve got to get away from Chuck. He woke me up at 12:30 in the morning with the sound of him smacking his lips as he ate. He’s always swearing, it’s pussy this, asshole that, blow job something else. I said to him, ‘Dude, if you want any woman to come anywhere near you, you need to do something about your hygiene, and brush your teeth.’

“He’s a red-head, as you’ve noticed. I’ve never liked the smell of red heads. Even after he showers he has an odor about him.”

I said, “I was talking to Luther yesterday. I’ve met him, on at least four previous occasions where we talked at some length. He had me mixed up with a priest; a radio talk show host; a judge, before whom he’d appeared; and a guy, in some bar, who ignored him.”

“Yeah, I talked to him yesterday. I found that he was acting weird. That’s what happens when you drink Listerine and rubbing alcohol, and the smell stays with you for days. He came on to me, he said, “Joy, I’ve always found you attractive. Since Jake is in prison, do you think we could get together?’ I said to him, ‘Dude, I’ll tell you the same thing I told you last time you asked me that. No, never, nada, it’s not going to happen.’

“I saw Shakes, Fran and her asshole boyfriend yesterday. Did you see her eye? It was bruised and nearly swollen shut. That’s why she was wearing the shades all day. She said, ‘I fell.’ I said to her, ‘You’re talking to a woman who was beaten on a regular basis. Don’t tell me that you fell. I know what a bruise from a punch looks like.’ Then she admitted that he’d hit her. It’s a shame she’s such a sweet girl.”

I said, “I’ve heard people say that they ran into a door knob.” Joy laughed, “Yeah, you’d have to be on your hands and knees for that to happen.

“I have to see Buck,  so I may see the guys this afternoon, maybe not. Lately, I’m turned off with all of them.
The only one who doesn’t try to touch me is Chuck. Jacques is the worst. He said, ‘Little one, why don’t you come over to my place. You could even spend the night.’ I said, ‘No, dude, I’m not interested.’

“I have to pee again. That’s another reason I can’t have a dog here. I can’t just leave her here alone while I go to the restaurant to use their washroom. I’m going to leave soon, so will I see you at lunch?”

“I’ll be there. If you’re there fine, if not, that’s fine too. Do what feels good for you. Take care of yourself first.”

At noon the sun was still shining, I didn’t wear a jacket, but found it a bit cool with the wind. The first person I saw was Serge. He said, “You know, yesterday I thought I saw you. I went up to shake your hand, but when I got up close It wasn’t you.”

I said, “There must be someone else in town that looks just like Kenny Rogers.”

“Like Kenny Rogers, yes.”

When I got to the lawn there was a big crowd. The first to approach me was Hippo. “Dennis, how you doin’?”

“I’m good Hippo, how about you?”

“You know, I’m okay, I’ve been around. I found this lawn mower. It was just sitting there. It does mulching, side discharge or rear bagging. It runs. I started it, but it ran out of gas. I’m going to try to sell it.”

I met Juan, who I haven’t seen before. He was wearing a cowboy hat with plastic flowers around the brim. He said, “I have my name tattooed on my wrist in case I forget it. I’m sixty-five and my memory’s not so good.”

“I’m sixty-five as well.” I said. “I have difficulty remembering names, so I may have to check your wrist the next time we meet.”

“I go to a lot of Karaoke bars. I love to sing. I was in the Pro-Life parade yesterday. I don’t have an opinion, one way or the other, but I love to sing and dance. They had some great music.” He move on to talk to Joy. They’d met before.

Barry said to me, “I see you’re having problems with your leg.”

“Motorcycle accident,” I said. “I had seven breaks in my right leg. I have a steel rod from my hip to my knee.”

“Do you still ride?”

“No. Do you?”

“I’ve had a lot of problems, starting when I was nine months old. I’ve got a bad back. I had learning difficulties in school. I have some mental problems. Now, I’m alcoholic.”

Joy came up to me and said, “Dennis, could you do a big, big favor for me. I know it’s your lunch hour, but I owe Bert $40.00 and he’s watching me like a hawk. If I give you the money could you buy me two bottles of Imperial sherry? It’s $7.49 a bottle.”

“Sure, no problem.”

When I returned the group was standing on the corner of the street. Joy motioned to me in the direction of the lawn. “Police!” Joy whispered, “Someone yelled six up (the police are nearby, so whatever you are doing that is illegal you’d better hide it) and everyone took off. Most, because they were carrying either liquor, pot, pills or cigarettes smuggled from the U.S.”

Most of the cigarettes come from the American side of the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, the reserve straddling the borders of Quebec, Ontario and New York state. The cigarettes are removed from their packages and put in clear resealable plastic bags. Natives, or someone driving for them, will load the trunk of their car with illegal cigarettes for sale in other parts of the province or central Canada. Legal cigarettes would have a government seal on the packaging to prove that Canadian taxes had been paid, and they’d have a cancer warning.

Everyone from the lawn relocated to the low concrete wall at the edge of the park. I walked to Irene, she said,  “The cops were just talking, they didn’t take anyone away. When I was leaving, the woman cop said to me, ‘Don’t forget the bag with your beer.’ Actually I’d hidden my beer, but I had cigarettes in my pack. Since I’m native I’m allowed, but it looks suspicious having them in clear plastic bags. I’d just say, ‘I bought them at the mall.’ You can get anything at the mall. Right?” (The mall is a meeting place where illegal substances, and services, aren’t regulated by the chain stores or the law.)

There was sadness as the news circulated that Dennis ‘Fingers’ had passed away. The regulars had known and loved him for over fifteen years. I never met him, but I know that he will be missed.

Joy, V and Chuck we’re sitting together. V snuggled up to Joy. “Now you’re being friendly.” Joy reached around to pet her and V bit her arm. “Did you see that? She bit me. She bit one of my regulars yesterday.”

Joy said to Chuck, “Why are you being so cheesie?”

“Oh, now you’re going to talk to me. You haven’t said more than five words to me since yesterday.”

“So, why are you in a bad mood?”

“I’ve only had a six-pack of beer this entire week. I’ve got no pot, no money, nothing to drink.”

“We’ve got pot.”

“You mean, you’ve got pot.”

“I mean, we’ve got pot and I’ll buy you some beer later. Now, stop pouting. Do you want a sip from my bottle?”

“That goof, no thanks!”.

“It’s just watered down, it tastes the same.”

“I got a bottle coming.”

“If you’d get your sorry ass out of bed in the morning you could come down with me and make some money.”

“I will tomorrow.”

“I’ll hold you to that. Come 4:30 I’m going to be flipping the lights on and off. I’ll be yelling, “Chuck, get the fuck up!”

Two young women came by from the Salvation Army. Joy said, “I hate those bitches, especially the blonde one. When I was sleeping behind the dumpsters, behind Starbucks, with Jake. Trying to bathe in the washroom of the restaurant. They said to me, ‘We can’t help you, because you’re not a man.’ They helped Jake. They helped Irene and they helped Loretta. I think it’s because Irene is native and Loretta is Inuit. I don’t have my status card that says that I’m metis.”

Loretta came over. She is a small pleasant woman, always polite, always smiling even though she has no teeth. Joy said, “You talk to that bitch.” Loretta said, “Sheena? I have to, she’s my worker.”

Joy said, “The Salvation Army is the biggest fucking organization in the country and they do nothing. That blonde one is the worst. You see, she stays away from me. She knows what she’ll get.” Joy bared her teeth, hissed and snarled at the woman, gnashed her teeth. “Of course, if I hit her I’d go straight to jail. She’d better keep her distance.”

Loretta said to Joy, “I heard that you’re getting your own place. Would you like a roommate?”

“That would be great. I would have asked you, but I thought you were still with your old man.”

“No, I kicked him out. I said,’ Until we can go for six months without an argument, I don’t want to live with you.’

“Thank you, thank you thank you. I’m so looking forward to moving in with you.”

I thought they were going hug each other,  jump up and down and scream, but that my have attracted too much attention, especially with the police so near. They were parked on the curb, near the lawn to see if people came back.

Joy said, “It will be so nice, for a change, to have a place that smells feminine, instead of one that’s full of men’s farts.”

I said, “Oh, I forgot. Women don’t fart.”

“Not as much as men do  (it’s been scientifically proven that men and women fart the same amount), we don’t pee on the toilet seat, or leave the seat up.”

“Women rule!” I said.

“You got that right, mister!” said Loretta.

“Joy said, “I just know that we’re going to get along great. There are none of these other women that I’d want to share with, and definitely none of the guys.”

“My boyfriend won’t even be sleeping over.”

Joy said, “I don’t care if he does. With Jake in prison, I can’t see anyone staying over with me, except perhaps Outcast.”

“Aren’t you worried about him stealing from you?” I asked.

“I’ve nothing to steal, except my bed.

“I’ll go to the Mission tomorrow to see if there are any listings.”

“I’ll go to Shepherd’s,” said Loretta. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” then walked away. Joy said, “You know, she reminds me of myself when I was with Jake. I was always saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’ With Loretta it’s, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ I’ll have to get her to stop that, it’s getting on my nerves.”

I said, “I’m glad to see you happy, Joy.  I’ll see you Monday.”

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.

 

7 May 2012

On a low concrete wall sat Rocky, Shark and Irene, Loretta and Joy.

I walked up to Irene and said, “Hi neighbor!” She and Shark laughed.

I said to Joy, “On Friday Shark, Irene and I took the number 14 together. It turns out that Irene lives about four blocks from me, and Shark, Matches and I all lived a few blocks from each other in Cabbagetown, Toronto.

I said to Joy, “Irene also mentioned that she had lived near Lacasse Avenue in Vanier. That’s the street I lived on.”

“You lived on Lacasse? So did I! I was in the pink house, nearer to Blake Boulevard.”

“I was in the basement of a four-plex, in the second block from Montreal Road.”

“So, we lived about three blocks apart, cool. It’s a small world. Maybe, we walked right by each other.”

Shark  said, “Did you see what they’ve done, ‘the bench’ is gone. We’re stuck with sitting here in the sun. Even the wrought iron garbage container is gone.”

Joy said to me, “Nick passed out due to insulin shock, so Chuck phoned 911. Nick should carry extra insulin with him, but he doesn’t. Also, he hasn’t eaten. He was more concerned with having a joint. The same thing happened at the barbecue Saturday. He has cancer and has pretty well given up on life. I’d never do that, no matter what condition I was in. I’m too much of a bitch.”

The paramedics arrived with an ambulance. They loaded Nick, onto a gurney, into the ambulance, then Nick was gone.

The police arrived and complained to Jake about garbage near where the bench used to be. There was one plastic soft drink container, that some one had used to carry water for their dog. He said to the police officer, “For one thing, it’s not our garbage. For another thing the garbage container has been taken away and there’s nowhere for us to put the garbage.” The officer responded by pushing Jake across the sidewalk. He staggered and nearly fell.

Everyone was wondering what Chuck was saying to the police. Joy said, “That dude has verbal diarrhea. It starts first thing in the morning and doesn’t end until he goes to sleep. I’m going up there to get V. That’s all I need is for Chuck to go to jail and I’ll be stuck with that dog. I don’t even like him.

Joy went up to get V. Chuck said, “I’m not going to jail!”

Chuck phoned 911 again and said, “Officer B. Slovak pushed my friend, and I’m scared he’s going to hit me with his billy club. I wish to make a formal complaint. Yes, I’ll stay on the line.”

Joy said to the officer, “Look dude, my friend is on a lot of pain medication for AIDS. That’s why he’s staggering. He’s very sick.”

“And how would you know that?” said Officer Slovak.

“Because he’s my friend, dude. I know the medical histories of all these people here.”

“Why is it you’re not messed up like this guy?”

“Because, I choose not to be, dude!”

Jake was forced to walk to the opposite end of the bridge.

Joy, Chuck and V. returned to the rest of the group sitting on the wall.

Outcast said to me, “You should complain to the National Capital Commission about the removal of the bench and the garbage container. As it is, the closest place to put garbage is at the far end of the bridge. Also, the remaining benches are all in direct sunlight. You should tell them that you work in the area and like to sit in the shade to eat your lunch.”

“I could do that.” I said.

“How are you Rocky? Where are you sleeping now?” I asked.

“I’m staying at the Mission.”

“You’ve really got a great voice. Has it always been like that? I wish I had a deep voice like yours. Do you sing?”

“A lot of people have said I should be a blues singer, but I don’t sing that well. I just sing for fun, when I’m alone.”

“How was your weekend, Joy?”

“It was good. Saturday, at Chuck’s place, we had a barbecue for Noreen’s birthday. She’s Inuit. We didn’t know that her birthday wasn’t actually until Sunday, but it didn’t matter. Her boyfriend, Nicholas came and Chuck’s’s dad. Chuck cooked some delicious pork chops. We had macaroni salad and regular salad. I can’t believe how much I ate. Usually I just pick at my food, but this was so good that I licked my plate.

“I have a real bed now and V sleeps with Carl. Saturday, Chuck will be leaving for a few days and he’ll be taking V. I’m looking forward to having the whole place to myself. I’m looking forward to the quiet.

“On the 29th of this month, I have a court appearance for the breach I got while I was in hospital. My P.O. (Probation Officer) wants to meet with me after court, but she’s going to be the duty officer that day. I could wait forever to see her. I said to her, ‘Why can’t you tell me in court, what it is you have to say?’ I’m going to phone her and say I’ll come in the following day.

“I’m going to the Women’s Center to have counseling for my anger management. I’ll be seeing a counselor one on one. It’s the place where chicks go for addiction treatment.”

At 6:00 pm, as I was waiting for my bus home, I saw Alphonse walking towards me.

“Good evening, sir,” he said.

“Alphonse, it’s so good to see you! How’ve you been? How’s Magdalen?”

He put his fist to his forehead. Lines appeared between his eyes that welled up with tears. “I’m so agitated! Not frustrated, agitated! Magdalen is four months pregnant and tomorrow she’s going to see about an abortion.

“That’s why I’m drinking. That’s what we do, where I come from, when things get to be too much.”

“I understand, Alphonse, drinking helps to numb the pain.”

“It doesn’t though. I hurt so bad inside. I don’t know how she can do that to my child. I’m hoping that tomorrow, they tell her she’s too far along, they refuse to give her an abortion.”

“Alphonse, perhaps that will happen. I’m sure that will happen.”

“I’ll take care of the child myself if I have to.”

“I’m a father myself, Alphonse, but I can’t even imagine how much pain you are feeling right now. I’ll say a prayer for you, that everything works out as you wish it to. You’re a good man, Alphonse. You’d make a good father.”

“It’s helped a lot being able to talk to someone about it. Thank you, my friend.”

“Take care, Alphonse. My heart goes out to you. Perhaps, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

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.

 

2 May 2012

Noon was damp and overcast. It had rained earlier. At ‘the bench’ were about a dozen of my friends.

I was sitting on the curb beside Shakes. “How are you doing Shakes? Are you getting there?”

“When I woke up this morning I had three bottles of wine, some J.D., some mary jane and some food. Then I went for a walk. I’m doing all right.”

Mukluk was standing in front of me. She bent over, and an open beer, in a pocket inside her coat, started spilling out on the sidewalk. “I’m sorry about that,” she said.

She had been feeling down because Bearded Bruce had started his prison sentence today. When will Bruce be getting out?” I asked.

“He got four months.”

“Have you lived in Ottawa long?” I asked.

“I’ve been here about six years. I’m from Iqualuit, capital of Nunavut. It’s on the south coast of Baffin Island at the head of Frobisher Bay. It took three hours to fly here. I miss my family.”

Trudy had a new video game app on her cell phone. “I’m really addicted to this game. I played it all yesterday and started again first thing when I got up this morning. Sometimes when I look up, all I see is colored squares.

“I nearly got evicted last night. I came this close.” She pinched her thumb and index finger together to indicate about a half inch. “I was drunk, and broke two doors down.”

“Remind me not to be near you when you’re drunk,” I said. “I’d be afraid of what you’d do to me.”

“Don’t worry, when I get drunk I don’t fight people, only doors.”

“Hi Rocky,” I said. “How have you been?”

“Not so good. I have a hangover. I slept in Tom’s Bar last night. The bar closed at one. I fell asleep at eleven. Tom said, “You can have some wine, but don’t touch the beer.”

“Rocky,” asked Shakes, “Do you have a cigarette, or some wine?”

“No, all I have is this bag of chips from the Shepherd’s. They were giving them out to everybody.”

“Why is it that, whenever I see you, you never have any money, wine or cigarettes?

“Do you ever see me without money, wine or cigarettes?”

“No.”

“It’s because I’m independent. I take care of myself first. It’s not that I’m mean. I’ll share what ever I have, with whoever is here, but I take care of myself.”

I said to Trudy, “I saw you last Wednesday. I was on the bus. I waved, but you didn’t see me.”

“Was it near the Dollarama? Was I standing, or sitting down?”

“Yes, and you were standing.”

“I was panning then. It was after hours. Barry (her brother) was on the other side of the street. We did pretty good that day. We made the price of two bottles of wine, a pack of smokes and supper.”

Barry was feeding chips to Dillinger. “Don’t give him too many,“ said Buck, “they’ll go right through him. Yesterday, right in the middle of an intersection, he stopped to take a shit. Cars were honking, people were cursing. I was pulling on his leash, but he just kept shitting.”

.

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