buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

10 May 2012

The weather this morning was cold and damp. I saw Joy sitting on her plastic storage container with Bruce’s raincoat wrapped around her knees. V was tied up to a gas meter attached to the building. Neither Joy nor V looked happy.

“Chuck has an appointment with his dentist and his probation officer, so I’m dog-sitting V. I’m not happy. V chewed a hole in my sleeping bag and generally wrecked the house. Right now, I’m ready to kill her. She’s driving me insane with her barking. I told Toothless he should get rid of her. She’s a biter.”

Joy’s telephone rang. “Chuck your dog is driving me nuts. She’s eaten all her dog food, all her treats and she’s just knocked over her water dish for the second time. Oh, you find that funny, do you? She’s scaring people away. I’ve only made two dollars this morning. So where are you now, and when will you be back? Hurry up will you? You’re still laughing! Oops, she ran away. She pulled the knot loose and she’s running down the block. How do I know where she’s going?

“Okay, she didn’t run away, but she’s your dog! You walk her! You take care of her!

Joy wasn’t wearing her spinner ring today. I asked her why she didn’t have the ring from Jake resized, so it would fit her finger. She said, “I’m not ready for that. I think I’m better off living alone. This other ring is from Joanne, she died of AIDS.

“I’m going to The Women’s Center today, to have the forms filled out for my medical card. Perhaps, I’ll see you at lunch. I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

At the low concrete wall, I met half a dozen people.  Shakes was there with his daughter, Fran, an attractive young woman, friendly, happy, and sober.

Ian said, “How are you doing, man? It’s been a long time. My best friend just died, that’s why I’m messed up like this.” Marlena was concerned about the time, so they left.

I’ve met Luther at least three times before, but he mistook me for a priest, a judge, a radio talk show host, and someone who ignored him at a bar. He is an alcoholic, but he seemed fairly sober.

“I have ADHD, that’s what they tell me. My mother is in hospital on a ventilator. I lied to her. I said I was coming home to visit her. I tried, but I was thrown off the bus because I was drunk. She wants to die naturally like my grandmother did, but they have her hooked up to all these tubes.

“I’m from Regina, 1409 Retallack Street. I haven’t told that to anyone, not even the police. Do you see them over there, across the street? They’re just waiting to try to arrest me for something (in fact, they were there to supervise an anti-abortion rally).

“I’m a demon, I’m the devil himself. Will you hear my confession?”

“Luther, I’m not a priest, I’m not even an expert on Christianity, I practice Buddhism. I’ll hear your confession if you want. I’ve heard lots of confessions.”

“Father, I don’t know how to start. It’s been such a long time. I’ve killed people.”

“Luther, that’s in the past, it’s a memory. It’s time to forgive yourself. I can see that you’re a good man. You care for people. Now, is the time you can do the most good for others.”

“I can’t forgive myself. I want to be an artist. I am an artist. I made a dream catcher and took it to the Cedar Basket Gift Shop to sell it. The owner said it was no good, so I spat on it and left it. The next night his front window was kicked in. The owner thought I did it. The police came over and checked my shoe size. They said, ‘No. it wasn’t him.’

“I have spiritual powers, I’ve studied to be a shaman for my people, but I’ve lost my way. I need to be on the radio for an hour to explain my theories about how the system should be changed. Can you arrange that for me? We need a school for aboriginal children. Do you agree with me?”

“I agree with you, Luther, but I don’t know anyone in radio. I’ll do some research. I’ll try to come up with some names.

“You take care, Luther. You’re a good man.”

“How are you, Shakes?”

“You know me. I’m always the same.”

I said to Gene and Fran, “Shakes, Shark, and I used to be neighbors near Allan Gardens.”

“Actually, I was more in Parkdale,” said Shakes.

“Where did you sleep, Shakes. Do you have a regular place where you go?”

“I sleep wherever I choose. If I feel tired I lay down and sleep wherever I am.”

I gave him some bus tickets, “Make sure you share those with Fran.”

Fran said, “If he doesn’t, I’ll just wait until he’s asleep and take them.”

“You know your father well,” I said and then I left.

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

9 May 2012


“Hi, Joy, how’s it going? I didn’t know whether or not to expect you today because of the rain forecast.”

“Yeah, it did rain a little bit, earlier. I did my little rain dance, you know, ‘Rain, rain go away, come again another day’, I brought Bruce’s raincoat, just in case, but it was nothing to be concerned about. I don’t mind light rain, it’s those huge raindrops that I hate.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Last night my stomach was doing flip flops. When I got out of bed I threw up. I try to eat a bland breakfast, so I had a poached egg on toast. As soon as I got it down, I puked it up.”

“Have you heard anything from Nick, since the paramedics took him away?”

“He was fine once they got some insulin into him. Yeah, he’s back. He’s really pissed off with the cop, Constable D. Dubrovnik. He even tried to prevent Chuck from phoning 911. Nick is in bad shape with his diabetes and cancer. I’m not sure, but I think it’s all through his internal organs. He’s on massive doses of oxycontin. The cop apologized, asked if there was anything he could do, and handed him his card. Nick just flicked it back at him. He’s going to press charges.

“The cop kept poking Jake with his baton. I don’t know what that was all about.

“Jacques told me that yesterday the R.C.M.P (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) rousted everyone from under the bridge. They’d gone there to get out of the rain. Everyone was given liquor violations. I’m glad I wasn’t there. That’s the first time I’ve heard of the R.C.M.P getting involved. I’ve always acted like, ‘Nya nya nya, can’t touch me.’ I guess they can.

“I have an appointment on the fifteenth at The Women’s Center to meet with an anger management counselor. It’s better than going to the other place and being in a classroom full of women. I’d probably go nuts and kill someone. I don’t like being around a lot of women, especially Inuit women who used to hang around the bench. The yapping would never stop. And they’d keep asking me for a drink out of my bottle. I had to learn to say, ‘No, get your own. This is all I’ve got.’

“Chuck and I were talking about getting an apartment together, but the more I think about it, the more I think I should get a place of my own. Chuck has a heart of gold, he’ll help anyone, but it costs a lot in groceries. Like the barbecue, we had on Saturday. I can’t believe the amount that Chuck eats. That’s why he’s so fat. He says, ‘I have a big appetite.’ I say look, dude, that doesn’t mean you have to eat fifteen times a day. When he serves me a plate of food it’s enough to keep me going for three days.

“We’ve got a problem with mice. Chuck keeps bugging the landlord about it. I said, ‘Make sure he knows that you’ve got a dog.’ V gets into everything. He’s supposed to bring some traps over. He said to Chuck, ‘If you keep bugging me I’m going to throw you out.’ Chuck said, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here.’ We’ll see what happens.

A man stopped and put an apple in Mo’s cap. Mo asked me, “Do you want an apple? I usually give them to Jacques, but he’s getting too fat. He doesn’t need anymore to eat.”

“Sure, thanks, I’ll take it.”

“I’ve made over forty bucks today. That’s more than I’ve made for a long time. You must be good luck for me.”

A tall, good-looking black man passed by, smiled, and said hello to Joy. “Hi, handsome, gimme five.” He slapped Joy’s hand and mine. “One day he threw some folded bills in my cap. I spread them out. It was four twenties. I said, ‘Hey man, this is too much.’ He just kept walking and said, ‘You keep it.’ That’s the most money I’ve ever got at one time. No, wait, a biker chick once stopped and slipped me a hundred.

“I talked to Jacques on the phone this morning. He said, ‘So, little one — he calls me little one because I used to be a lot bigger — are you going to come down and visit us today?’ I owe him thirty bucks, but he’s going to have to wait until the end of the month. That’s what I was talking to Jake about. He’s owed me seventy for about a year. I asked him about it and he said, ‘I thought you said to forget about it.’ I said, ‘Dude, I didn’t say forget about it, I said, shove it up your ass. That’s not the same thing.’ ”

“Do you go to the library?” I asked.

“I used to go there to use the washroom. My eyesight is not so good anymore. I’m nearsighted, I can see things far away, but up close everything is blurry. Jake is farsighted. When we’d be waiting for the bus together, he’d ask, ‘Is that our bus coming?’ ‘No,’ I’d say, ‘not that one, the one further down the street.’ ”

“Did you get to spend a night in the motel?”

“No, I should have. Maybe I will next month, but who knows what’s going to happen next month?”

It was muggy today at ‘the curb’. As I was approaching, Larry came up to me and asked, “Hey, can you spare two bucks, that’s all I need.”

“I said, I don’t have any cash, but I can give you a Subway card worth five bucks.”

“Would you be offended if I sold it for two bucks?”

“Do whatever you like.”

“It’s tempting, but I wouldn’t do that to you, bro’.”

Sitting or standing were about a dozen people. Handshakes all around.

I said, “We can all just pretend there is a bench here.”

Jacques said, “They take away our bench, we’re still here. They take away the garbage container, we’re still here. They mow down our trees, we’re still here. What are they going to do next? Are they going to mow us down?”

I sat between Jacques and Joy. “I’m really buzzed,” said Joy. “Look at all the people here. Some of them I just can’t put up with anymore. Shakes was a good friend a couple of years ago, but he can’t even speak sense now. He’ll be asleep before you know it. Makes us all look bad. The last thing we need is to attract attention.

”This is one of those days when I’d rather not be alive.” Joy was crying and started coughing. “Tomorrow I’m going to The Women’s Center to get my forms filled out. They say it will take two or three weeks for me to get my medical card. They’ll want me to quit drinking.”

“What kind of symptoms do you get with alcohol withdrawal?”

“I throw up a lot, lose my appetite — what little I have — get the shakes really bad, sweats, nausea, headache, anxiety,  rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, hallucinations. Last time it looked like the ground beneath my feet was crawling with bugs.”

“I smell something burning,” said Jacques. “Has Ellen fallen asleep with a cigarette? Maybe her clothes are burning.”

Joy checked, “No, she doesn’t have a cigarette.”

Jacques said, “I smelled something, but maybe it was over there. I don’t know. There is something falling. Is it snow? No, it’s coming from the trees. It’s green. Is that what they call ‘pollenization’? These green things fall on the earth and they grow. If they fall in the leaves over there there’s not enough light. If they fall on the grass they get mowed. Is it the maple leaves that fall like helicopters?”

Ellen awoke and said, “Did somebody mention something about maple bacon?”

“That sounds like something that Chuck cooked the other day. Maple, anything, is just wrong. I don’t even eat pancakes anymore. French toast I’ll do, but with only a tiny bit of syrup.”

“They’ve got Honey Jack Daniels now,” said Ellen. “That’s good.”

Joy whispered to me, “I’d like to kill her.

“See my rings? This one on my thumb is a spinner ring. The inside stays still and the outside spins. On my other thumb is Jake’s twelve-step ring. Well, it’s mine now. When we were in the jewelry store he asked, “Do you see anything you fancy?’ I said, ‘No, not really.’ He said, ‘I saw you looking at a ring over there. Do you want it?’ I said, ‘Okay.’ They’re so big, I have to wear them on my thumb. Jake wanted me to put it on the fourth finger of my left hand. This other one was given to me by a girlfriend, Joanne. She’s passed on (Joy crossed her heart). It’s my birthstone, amethyst.

“When I’ve been panning people have said to me, ‘If you want money, sell your jewelry!’ These rings are only silver. They’re not worth anything to anybody else.”

“I was talking to Outcast the other day,” said Silver. “He feels like he’s being pushed out of the group.”

“Well,” said Joy, “if he’d quit stealing from us… There’s nothing worse than someone who would steal from his friends. Well, a jailhouse thief is worse. Everybody has their tiny ration of coffee or toothpaste. It really sucks when somebody takes it on you. If they get found out they end up, a pile in the corner, beaten by somebody’s bitch.”

Shark said, “Outcast was at Irene’s the other day. He drank six of her beer and every time he went through the kitchen he took some of my pot and put it in his cigarette pack.”

Joy said, “I was at Jacques’ place when Outcast was there. Jacques went to the bathroom and Outcast grabbed a stack of DVD’s and was going to put them in his pack. I said, ‘No you don’t!’

Jacques said, “It was the next night that he stole pot from me.”

It was time for me to go. I said to Joy, “They’re forecasting rain for later on.”

“I’m okay, I’ve got Bruce’s raincoat. It even covers my feet. When I pull the hood up I’ll stay nice and dry. He’s so big that it fits me like a tent. Before he went to prison, I told him to ask for a high protein diet. He’s going to really gain weight there. That’s what I’ve asked for whenever I’ve been inside. You get a lot of different kinds of meat, peanut butter. I used to put that in my pocket and save it until later when I was back in my cell.”

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

7 May 2012

Police and Paramedics

On a low concrete wall, near the park, sat six of my friends.

Shark said, “Did you see what they’ve done, ‘our 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 away.

The police arrived and complained to Jake about garbage near where the bench used to be. There was one plastic soft drink container, that someone 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 his dog. All I need is for Chuck to go to jail and I’ll be stuck with V. Did I tell you how he got that name? Chuck was drunk when he bought the dog. He couldn’t remember what the previous owner had called it, so he just picked a letter from the alphabet.  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 D. Dubrovnik 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 Dubrovnik.

“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 in the opposite direction, away from the group.

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

Outcast said to me, “You should complain to the city about the removal of our bench and our garbage container. As it is, the closest place to put garbage is at the far end of the park. 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 Scott 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.”

I asked Joy, “How was your weekend?”

“It was good. Saturday, at Chuck’s place, we had a barbecue for Jennifer’s birthday. She’s Inuit. We didn’t know that her birthday wasn’t actually until Sunday, but it didn’t matter. Her boyfriend, Steve came and Chuck’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. 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 twenty-ninth of this month, I have a court appearance for the breach I got while I was in the 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 on the following day.

“I’m going to the Womens’ 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.”

After work, 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 Magdalene?”

He put his fist to his forehead. Lines appeared between his eyes that welled up with tears. “I’m so agitated! Not frustrated, agitated! Maggie 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. I hope that 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’ll 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.”

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

4 May 2012

Today was muggy, overcast, and warm. The fog of earlier had lifted, but the humidity remained. I approached the bench, “Hi Joy, did Shakes tell you that he and I were panhandling together yesterday?”

Shakes turned to Joy and said, “Yes, we went to ‘my office’.”

“Shakes,” said Joy, “do you mind turning your head in the other direction, Your breath is foul. It smells like you’ve been chewing on a dirty sock all night. You really should consider brushing your teeth once in a while.”

“Okay, If you say so, Joy, I’ll turn my head.” He laughed.

“It’s not funny, Shakes, you should start taking care of yourself, and change your clothes.” He got up and sat next to his daughter Fran. Before long he was laying on the grass.

“Dad!” said Fran, “don’t go to sleep here!”

I asked Joy, “How’s everything? Are there still a lot of people staying at Chuck’s?”

“Jeff is moving out today. Bearded Bruce signed himself into prison, Wednesday morning. He and Inuk have been together for three years and she didn’t even come home to spend their last night together. She owes Chuck money. She saw him Wednesday and didn’t mention anything about paying him back. She said she’s coming over tonight, but Chuck may have something to say about that.

“V is going as well. Chuck is trying to sell him. He’s a biter. I reached under the bed to get my bottle of water and he chomped on my hand. I didn’t even know that he was there. With my free hand, I punched him right between the eyes.

“Larry, what was V’s name before Toothless got him?”

“Star,” said Larry.

“When I get home I’ll see if he responds to that. He doesn’t pay attention to anything else, especially V. I think that dog has been abused. He’s only six months old. He shouldn’t be vicious like that if he had been well treated. Chuck doesn’t have the patience for him anyway.

“Yesterday he was talking to some guy from Scarborough. Chuck is asking a hundred. If the guy is at all interested, but can’t afford the price, I think he should drop it to fifty. It would be nice if the dog could go there. He needs fields and a place to run.

“You’d better be careful spending time with Andre and Shakes. That’s a sure way to get into trouble.”

“I’ll be careful, Joy.”

“So, this weekend Chuck and I may have the place all to ourselves.

“I have to go to court next week about my breach, but my lawyer says it will be thrown out. I have all the medical records showing that I was in the hospital.

“I saw my probie this morning. She arranged for me to take the anger management course with a counselor one on one. That’s the only way I’d be able to take it. Angela knows I can’t do another prison term. The last time, they had me in the psych ward, in solitary, under suicide watch.

“You may have noticed that I can be a bit mouthy sometimes. When I go through alcohol withdrawal,  it’s worse. You don’t want to be around me then; I’m not a pleasant person. That would also cause me problems in prison.”

“How is your pneumonia?” I asked.

“It’s still there. I’ve been procrastinating about going to Public Health, but I need to go there to get my medical card. I could go to my old doctor. He’d give me a prescription for antibiotics, but I have a hard time dealing with him. He’s one of those guys under a turban. Half the time I don’t know what he’s saying.

“He also checks my blood. If I go there after I’ve been drinking my levels are normal. If I go there when I haven’t been drinking my levels are high. Go figure?

“My kidneys have been kicking me, so after I finish this bottle it will be a dry weekend. Either that or I go back to the hospital for dialysis. I don’t want that. As it is, my sherry is so watered down, nobody else will drink it. Chuck calls it ‘goof’. He and Shakes drink it straight. I couldn’t do that now.

“When Big Jake and I were drinking beer we got along fine. We used to drink Labatt Blue, which is five percent alcohol. Then we switched to Labatt Maximum Ice at seven point one. That’s when our problems began. It was even worse when we switched to Imperial sherry at twenty percent. I could drink any of these guys under the table, but Jake just got mean and nasty. That’s when he started beating me.

“We’ll probably get together again. My probie said, ‘He’s not allowed within sixteen hundred yards of you, or he’ll go right back to jail.’ I asked, ‘When has a restraining order ever stopped him before?’

“I don’t want to be in a relationship with anybody. To have Jake as a fuck buddy would be okay, but I don’t want to live with him again.”

After work, I caught my usual bus. I was surprised to see Shark and Irene. They were going to Irene’s place, about four blocks from where I live. Shark said, “I guess you missed all the excitement this afternoon. Shakes and Shamus were passed out on the lawn and somebody phoned the police. They sent three squad cars and the paramedics. They let Shakes go, but they took Shamus away. He couldn’t even walk. They’ll probably take him to the Shepherd to let him sleep it off.

“Joy has been after Shakes not to panhandle at ‘the bench’, since it attracts attention. When he lay down, she told him to sit up. His daughter, Fran, was sitting beside him. I thought she’d take care of him.

“I guess Fran went shopping. Everyone else just stood around, pretending like they didn’t know what was going on. I’ve known Shakes for fifteen years since we both lived near Allan Gardens.”

I said, “That’s my old neighborhood too. I lived on Spruce Street near Parliament and Carleton. We used to be neighbors and didn’t know it.”

Shark said, “Shakes is slowly killing himself, but he doesn’t care. It’s his choice.”

I said, “I spent my noon hour yesterday with Andre and Shakes. They were both staggering in different directions. Andre was saying things like, ‘Drunk man walking,’  ‘White man on a program’ and ‘Don’t get in the way of my staggering.’ We went to where Shakes calls his ‘office’. I sat with him for a while, then went across the street and sat with Andre. He sure is a character. I don’t think he repeated himself once.”

Shark said, “He must have had his rubber legs on. He’s been staying up in Chinatown lately. Probably into that Chinese cooking wine. It’s thirty-seven percent alcohol. It’s great for stir-frying, but it’s powerful stuff to drink.”

“Do you miss living in Montreal.?” I asked.

“Montreal has changed so much I wouldn’t even recognize it. I’d prefer to live in the country. I studied horticulture for four years. I didn’t do well with the chemistry, all those symbols. I like to grow things. Spike, a friend of ours has a place in Quebec on a lake. You met Spike the other day. His double pneumonia has cleared up, but he’s still feeling very weak. He was looking white as a ghost. His mom is keeping a close eye on him. Anyway, he’s invited us to stay for the summer. There is a rowboat, a boat with a small motor for trolling. The only problem is we couldn’t get any liquor up there. Maybe it would be good to dry out for a while. We’d still have our pot. We haven’t decided.

“When I grew up in Montreal, my grandmother had a farm a few miles out of town. If any of us kids misbehaved, my mom would threaten to send us to the farm. We preferred to stay in the city.”

By this time we had reached Irene’s stop. It turns out that we’re neighbors, living just five blocks apart. It’s a small world. We said goodbye and agreed to meet at ‘the bench’ on Monday.

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

2 May 2012

Shakes said, “We were watching some people exercising in the park last year. I was sitting on a bench at the far side, over there.” He pointed east towards the John Innes Community Recreation Centre. “There were some military guys, cadets, I guess you’d call them. They were doing calisthenics. That’s what they called it then. I joined in with them. I was able to keep up. My daughter yelled at me, ‘Dad, get away from there!’

“I was hitting on some women, so they made me leave.”

“Dennis, can you help me with this, my hands are shaking.” Shakes handed me his drinking bottle and a bottle of sherry. I asked, “Do you want it filled right to the top?”

“Yes, please. Could I also have some bus tickets? Sometimes I can hop on at the back door; sometimes I can’t. Last night I put a handful of change in the ticket box and the driver said, ‘That’s not enough.’ I said, ‘It must be enough, I put over two bucks in there!’ (fare prices are now $2.70).  He wouldn’t move the bus. Some of the other passengers were getting perturbed. They said, ‘For Christ’s sake how much does he owe?’ A couple of guys put some money in for me. Then the bus driver started moving the bus.”

 

 

3 May 2012

Learning to Panhandle

The weather today was overcast and muggy. I talked to Kenny from Iqaluit. “Could you help me out a bit?” he asked.

“Sure I could, Kenny,” I replied and handed him a gift card for a restaurant nearby.

“Actually, I was hoping for some change towards buying a bottle.”

“Sorry, Kenny, I don’t carry cash or credit cards.”

The area of ‘the bench’ was deserted. Andre and Shakes approached me on the sidewalk. Andre said, “Shakes is going to work. I’m going to keep an eye on him.”

“Do you mind if I tag along?” I asked.

“Sure, come on along. We’ll show you how it’s done,” said Andre.

Maneuvering the sidewalk with Shakes and Emile was an adventure. They were both staggering in different directions. “Drunk man walking!” shouted Andre in his gravelly, carny voice. “Don’t get in the way of my staggering!” followed by “White man on a program!” He spun around a signpost and did a pirouette. “You know you want to give some change to me,” he said, with his cap out and a sad, puppy dog expression on his face. “Could I have a bite of your sandwich?” Someone made a disparaging remark and Andre replied, “If you think you’re life is so good, why is it that I’m so happy?”

He walked between the cars with his cap out asking for change. He came to an empty car at the curb and said, “Hey, a free car! I wonder if they’ll want it back?” At an office building with an outdoor sand ashtray, he picked out the longest butts and put them in a plastic ‘baggie’ that he kept especially for that purpose. He was wearing a metal necklace with ball bearing like beads. He pulled the necklace up tight under his chin and said, “Look, I’m a drain plug.”

Tom had his art display on the sidewalk which included images of deer burned into the wood;  skateboarders burned into the wood, then painted. He also had some heartfelt poems describing his lost childhood and abuse at the hands of a priest at a Residential School.

 

• Many Aboriginal children were taken from their homes, often forcibly removed and separated from their families by long distances. Others who attended residential schools near their communities were often prohibited from seeing their families outside of occasional permitted visits.

• Students were forbidden to speak their language or practice their culture, and were often punished for doing so.

• Many students were forced to do manual labour, and were fed poor quality food. There are many accounts of students being provided moldy, maggot-infested and rotten foods.

• Other experiences reported from Survivors of residential schools include sexual and mental abuse, beatings and severe punishments, overcrowding, illness, children forced to sleep outside in the winter, the forced wearing of soiled underwear on the head or wet bed sheets on the body, use of students in medical experiments, disease and in some cases death. (http://1000conversations.ca/?page_id=48)

 

Shakes took me to ‘his office’, a doorstep near the corner of Richmond and Sherbourne. “I’ve been here since 1995. There used to be a tree there.” He pointed to a spot where now stands a ticket dispenser for an underground parking garage.”They had a parking lot, but it was in the open air. I used to clean up the paper and trash. They’d give me five or ten bucks every day. Then they put up this condo.

We sat, Shakes’ hat was upturned on the sidewalk.

“Good afternoon, ma’am.

”Good afternoon, sir. Have a nice day.

A man stopped and put some change in Shakes’ cap. “It is a nice day isn’t it,” said the man.

“It’s a bit humid, but it’s nice. God bless you, sir.”

“And you too,” said the man.

Andre was panning on the other side of the street, so I joined him for a while. “Hi, Andre, I haven’t seen you for a long time. Where have you been?” I noticed that he had a black eye.

“I was in the hospital for a while. Also, I’m going out with seven women. They all know about each other.”

I said, “That’s good, to keep it honest.”

“Yeah, I sleep someplace different every night.

“Hi beautiful, I’d settle for just a smile,” he said to a woman walking by. She turned and smiled.

“Thanks, sweetheart!

“Thank you, gentlemen, for defending our country,” he said to two soldiers.

“You’re not ready to throw that cigarette away, are you?

“Hey, I didn’t always look like this. I didn’t get to be a bum overnight.” To me, he said, “That guy gave me a dirty look.

“Ma’am, that purse is so shiny, I can see my face in it.”

“Yes, it is shiny, isn’t it? You have a nice day,” said the woman, with a pleasant smile.

“Good evening ma’am. You’d look so much more beautiful if you smiled.

“Ma’am you’re just too beautiful. You make me look ugly.

To me he said, “I just love this, watching people. Every face has a different expression. This is like reality TV.”

I said, “A lot of them seem to be hard of hearing.”

“Yeah, it’s like we’re invisible. I’ll put my cap out a little farther.”

Someone threw a cigarette butt on the street. Emile jumped up and grabbed the still smoking stub. “It’s about time! Will you look at that woman. Looking that good should be illegal”

“You’re so beautiful, ma’am, you made me look at you.

“Can you spare some change, sir?

“Ma’am that orange bag looks like a pylon. Can I borrow it so nobody steps on me?

“I’m a lawyer, ma’am. I’d be glad to take your case for you.

“I know you’d like to talk to me, but you have your mouth full.

“Sir, it takes a real man to wear pink. Gimme five!” The man slapped Emile’s hand in passing.

“Those are beautiful boots, ma’am.”

So passes the time of a panhandler. It was an educational experience.

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

30 April 2012
Today at noon the weather was warm and sunny. It was check day so everyone at ‘the bench’ had money and had been drinking heavily. Outcast was sitting alone. He was ostracized for ripping off Jacques.
I sat next to Elaine. “Have you seen Miss Vickie lately? She sounds interesting — pretty, bubbling personality. Curt seemed to have been really taken with her.”
“Miss Vickie?” questioned Irene. “I haven’t seen her since she moved to the townhouse.
”She used to phone me and say, ‘Irene, do you want to come out and play?’ She had no interest in Shark, just me. Sometimes he would get upset if I stayed away too long, but he gets upset anyway. This morning he was upset about something. I asked him, ‘Is it because I took a beer out of the fridge? Is it because I took one of your packs of smokes? Is it because I took some weed out of the freezer?’ I’m still not sure what he was upset about.
“Vickie and I used to do some drug deals together. The whole idea behind dealing drugs is to make money, not to become a user. She became a user. One thing led to another and she spent two years in jail. I switched to alcohol. It’s a lot safer.
“When I got out of high school I went to college. I took my first year and was either going to go into legal or medical. It seems funny now, thinking that I would have gone into law since nearly everything I do is illegal.” I drove a cab for quite a while. I know the city really well. I also got to know people. A lot goes on in the back seat of a cab. I learned not to judge and to mind my own business.
“My dad had my car fixed with GPS tracking, so they always knew where I was. If I detoured off my expected route they knew about it. If I ever had a problem, all I had to do was signal 88, and cab drivers, from all over, would come to where I was. I also carried pepper spray and weapons, but I never had to use them.
“The money I made was really large. At income tax time I’d sit down with my accountant and we’d go through my receipts. We’d burn most of them, and we’d pretend some days didn’t exist. When I went back to college I studied accounting so I could do my own income tax.”
Shakes and Blaine were upset with each other because of a debt of fifty bucks, about which they disagreed. Blaine had been drinking a lot of vodka and wasn’t very coherent, but he was LOUD.
“Okay guys,” said  Bearded Bruce, “let’s keep the volume down. If you’ve got a problem, deal with it tomorrow. Today is my last day before going back to prison, so I want it quiet and peaceful. Understood!”
Shark said, “That’s what happens when you get natives drunk, you get a lot of noise.
“I used to go out with Blaine’s aunt. Every time he’d see me he’d say, ‘Where’s my aunty? Where’s my aunty?’ He was an annoying little brat. He always wanted to hang out with us. His mother would come looking for him and we’d hide him under a pile of dirty laundry. We must have done that three or four times. His mother would say, ‘I saw him come down here.’ We’d say, ‘He was here, but he left a while ago.’

“Tomorrow, I run out of my HIV meds. They’ll cover me for a week, but I haven’t been able to contact my doctor to have my prescription renewed. The prescription is good for a year. It’ll work out. Shark was eating pistachio nuts and throwing the shells on the sidewalk. People walking by would be startled hearing the shells crack underfoot, or they’d think they’d stepped on a pebble. Under two jackets Blaine was wearing a Corona tee shirt. “I’m going to get that shirt from you,” said Bruce.” How are you going to do that?” asked Blaine.”I’m going to wait until you finish that bottle of vodka, then I’ll sit on you and peel that shirt off. You’re going to end up in the emergency ward half-naked.”

Blaine pondered that.

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

27 April 2012

This morning was bitterly cold and windy. I wasn’t expecting to see Joy, but there she was in her usual spot, sitting next to Curt.

“So, are you wearing your pink panties today?” I asked Joy. (Yesterday, “the sandwich ladies” came by with extra toiletries, socks, and underwear.  Joy scored a pink pair.)

“I had forgotten all about them. I was down here setting up, rummaging through my pockets, when they fell out on the sidewalk. The wind took them and I went chasing after them. The cab driver across the street was watching me. When I caught up with them I held them up and said, ‘See, underwear!’ He laughed.”

Curt was asking Joy, “So when did you last talk to Jake?”

“In November. Rodent has been sending him money and been getting letters from him. I don’t even know where he is. Last I heard he was in Milhaven, but he may have been transferred by now. The last thing he said to me was, ‘You’re the reason I’m in here!’ I said ‘No dude, you’re the reason you’re in there.’

“So is it over between you and Jake?”

“No, that story’s not over yet, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. He’ll come looking for me.

“This weather reminds me of Winnipeg. Like that Randy Bachman, Neil Young song, Prairie Town, with the line ‘Portage and Main, fifty below.’

“I remember how I met you,” said Curt. “I was panning on Portage Avenue and I asked someone where I could get some weed. They said, ‘Go to Central Park and see the woman with the pink bandana. She’ll fix you up.’ ”

“Yeah, that pink bandana was my signature. I used to buy ten grams of pot and split it into three bags. I’d sell each bag as five grams. That worked pretty well for me.”

Chantal stopped to talk for a few minutes. She asked how Joy had been feeling, shook her hand, put some change in her cap.

“I haven’t seen Outcast lately.”

“You’re not likely to, either. He’s either hiding out or he’s left town. When you rip off a friend like Jacques, who gives you a place to stay, and feeds you, that’s pretty low. I remember being at Jacques’ place when he was there. He was drunk and said some things I didn’t like. I chased him down the stairs, across the park, then ‘clotheslined’ him — straight arm across the throat. He fell back into the mud of the canal. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have jumped on his head and drowned him in that muck.

“He was only at my place once, before I knew what he was like. Roy had his drugs and money there. I’d been responsible for bringing Outcast over, so if he’d taken Roy’s stuff, I would have been in big trouble. I would have had to kill him. That would have been unfortunate.”

At noon it was still bitterly cold and windy. ‘The bench’ was deserted, but across the street, I saw people at ‘the heater’.

I greeted everyone and Shark said to me, “We were here earlier when the security guard chased us away. We stood on the island in the middle of the street until he left, then we came back. We haven’t seen him since. He’s probably on his lunch break. We’re on Candid Camera now.”

“He chased Ian and me away.” I said, “He allowed Irving to finish his smoke, then he kept checking back every ten minutes.”

“I was talking to Joy on the phone,” said Jacques. “She won’t be coming here. She says she’s not feeling well. She got her check today and was supposed to pay me the money she owes me. If she wants something she wants it ‘right away, now.’ If somebody wants something from her it’s ‘maybe later, maybe tomorrow.’ ”

Shark said, “That’s why I don’t give her credit, but I have a lot of respect for her. She’s the one who told me about my first wife. She had thrown herself in front of a train. Our fifteen-year-old son is living with my parents in Brantford.

“I don’t see him very often because I still know too many people there. I’d be back on the freight train, as I call it. I’d be back in ‘the life’ again.”

Jake asked, “What day was it yesterday?”

Curt answered, “What do you mean? It was yesterday. What do I look like, a calendar?”

“The only date I remember,” said Jake, “is Mother’s Day. That’s the thirteenth day of May. Am I right? I also remember my brother’s birthday and my parent’s anniversary, because I was just up there.

“Us kids had a really good time at the anniversary party. It was held in the barn. I say us kids, but I’m forty-one. My brother has three kids of his own. He did a lot of drinking at that party.

”When we were kids, I remember my brother and I going down to the creek and catching tadpoles. We’d use them for fishing.”

“That’s in North Bay, isn’t it?” I asked. “No, Deep River, I remember.”

“When I was kid,” I said, “at Lake Superior, I used to catch sea lampreys. They’d be a foot or more in length. I had a long stick and would flip them out of the water onto the beach. Sometimes, I’d have half a dozen of them coming towards me at the same time. If they attach themselves to you, the only way to get them off is to burn them with a cigarette, or a lighter.

“Those are really good to use as bait,” said Curt, “especially for pike. You cut them up, put them on a three-pronged hook, throw them out in the water, and jig with them. Now, I want to go fishing.

“The last time I was in Deep River I wanted to get some beer. The beer store is right beside Tim Horton’s. It was still open, but I decided to go to the liquor store to get some single ‘king-size’ cans. I arrived six minutes after they closed. It wasn’t far away and I had directions, but I still missed it. I went back to the beer store. I thought it was open for another hour, but it was closed. I was so angry. Where was I going to get a beer?

“I asked a cop if it would be okay for me to set up my tent behind the beer store. They had some school busses parked back there. This was summer so they weren’t being used. The cop said, ‘It’s fine with me. You should be okay there.’

“I was at the beer store as soon as it opened and I was the first person at the cash. There was an old guy who is usually the first customer. He was really pissed off that I beat him.

“Jack, do you remember that old guy who was always the first one at the beer store? I can’t remember his name.

“Irene, have you seen Miss Vickie lately? I haven’t seen her for about two years. She had a bubbly personality, really fun to hang out with. She was pretty and had store-bought tits. I remember how nice they looked in a sweater.”

“We paid for those tits,” said Irene. “She was working for me, so I got a percentage of everything she brought in. Curt, you wouldn’t have been able to afford her. You would have had to pay for a hotel room. It would have cost you your entire monthly check.

“Well, we paid for the implants,” said Shark, “the nipples she had already.”

“Shark,” asked Curt, “did you ever get a look at them, since you paid for them and all.”

“No, Irene wouldn’t let me.”

“Remember when Animal tried to carry her up to his bedroom?” asked Irene. “He was so drunk that he dropped her. That was as far as he got.”

Irene was pestering Shark, trying to get him to leave. She was pulling the strings on his woolen helmet  (beneath which he wore a leather Maple Leafs cap). She moved his backpack, so he couldn’t reach his beer. “I’m waiting for Buck,” said Shark. “I have some business with him. You go! Leave me alone! I’ll catch up with you later! What is it about women? They’re so like… women.”

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

26 April 2012
As I approached Joy this morning she was sitting on her plastic storage box, legs wrapped in towels, hood pulled up, hands in her pockets. She was looking at the ground, rocking back and forth.
“How’s it going, Joy?”
“Everything’s all mixed up. It’s doing my head in. When I got the mail yesterday there was a letter — here I’ll show it to you. It says I was assaulted by Eduardo Guzman. I don’t know any Eduardo Guzman! Look at the date, it says April twelfth. That was just a couple of weeks ago. Maybe, it’s about that crazy guy that kicked me, but I didn’t report anything. It could be that the security guard, across the street, saw what happened and phoned the police.
“If I do a victim impact statement, that will keep him off the streets for a while longer. He hasn’t been around lately. I guess that’s the reason. I’m going to take all these papers, drop them on my probie’s desk, and let her sort them out. Angela has filled out the housing application for me, she said I would be an ideal candidate for the program.
“I really flipped at our last meeting. She wants me to take this anger management program. I told her, ‘I can’t be in a classroom with a lot of people. I’m agoraphobic.’ She said, ‘Can you explain that to me again?’ I said, ‘Look it up on your computer! Being in this office with you is okay; if the door is closed I may have a panic attack!”
“Do you have an appointment with her?” I asked.
“My appointment isn’t until May second, but I have to arrange to see her before then. I need my picture i.d. and a temporary medical card. This pneumonia is really making me feel weak, and I’m coughing up some nasty stuff. It feels like my lungs are half full of fluid.
“I had seizures last night. I was shaking in bed, I got up, and was wandering around like a ‘spaz’. Chuck didn’t know what was going on. He thought I was just drunk and told me to lie down. I really need my meds.
“I have to get out of Chuck’s apartment. I went to look at a place in the market for six hundred and fifty. I could handle that. I told the guy I was on O.D.S.P and that I would turn my check over to him. He wanted first and last month’s rent. I don’t have that. I told him I’d pay him an extra hundred and fifty a month. That would really leave me strapped for cash.
“I’m not good at dealing with things like finding a new place. Jake used to do that. I’d be the one they’d see. It would be my name on the lease. I’d be the one to go out panhandling or whatever, but there’d always be someone else around to sort things out.
“Jacques helped me to get this telephone. I wanted one that played music, but that one was two hundred bucks. Then you have to download music from a computer, upload it to the telephone, all that is too complicated for me. I decided to take the cheaper one for a hundred and forty-seven. I’ve spent the last two hours trying to figure this thing out. The only thing I have been able to do is to change the picture on the front. See, now I have a kitty cat!”
A woman stopped to talk. Joy introduced her to me as Jenna. She was very attractive with short blonde hair, blue eyes, and a beautiful smile.”I still have that poem you gave me. The one about how to survive, living on the streets. It’s here in my pocket… No, maybe in my backpack… Here it is!”
“This is beautiful,” said Jenna, “but, I didn’t give this to you. This is from my friend, Allison. I know this poem. We share things like this. We’re both in the same kind of work.
“Take care. Here’s some money for you to have a coffee or anything you like.” We both said goodbye to Jenna.
“I’m so bad with names,” said Joy, “they go in and I don’t know what happens to them. They get lost, then every once in a while they’ll pop out. It reminds me of something funny. It was while I was prostituting in Toronto. I was standing on my corner, a police car pulled up and the cop said, ‘Tamara, come over here!’ I said, ‘Oh, you’ve mistaken me for my twin sister. My name’s Maureen. I just came here to tell Tamara that our mom is sick. We have to go visit her.’ They’d believe it every time. There were lots of names I used, one was my sister-in-law’s, and she’s black. My sister got mad at me for using her name, but if anyone ever checked our picture id. they’d see the difference in our sizes. I was really heavy then — three hundred and change.

“You see that woman in jeans that just walked by. When I was fat like that, they didn’t have jeans that would fit me. I was the polyester kid. It was horrible the things I had to wear. Now, I weigh one, ten. I buy skinny jeans and they still don’t fit. I don’t have enough ass to hold them up.

Sitting cross-legged, in front of Tim Horton’s, holding an empty paper cup was Alphonse.

“Alphonse, it’s so good to see you. How have you been? Are you and Magdalene back together?”

“She’s just down the block. We’re back together, but it’s not the same. She’s still drinking. I told her, ‘You can’t drink while you’re carrying a baby,’ but she doesn’t listen. I can’t control what she does. No person can control what another person does.”

At the bench was a big crowd. I overheard Toothless Carl talking to his dog, “It’s okay, boy. I’ll take good care of you. No, no, no, Daddy’s not going back to jail. No, he isn’t.”

“I may have a place soon,” said Frank. Those people who were by the other day were from the Salvation Army. They have three places for me to look at, but I was drunk. I don’t know when they’re coming back. That’s the way it goes!

“Apart from that, things are going well. I didn’t have to pan yesterday. I had enough money to have meals at Wendy’s, McDonald’s then McDonald’s again.”

Shakes pulled a woolen, peaked cap, and a lumberjack shirt out of his backpack. “Those are nice, Shakes,” I commented. “Where did you get them?”

“I don’t know where I got them. When I woke up this morning they were in my backpack. I don’t know how they got there.”

Joy came up the sidewalk with Jacques. She had tears in her eyes.

“How are you feeling, Joy?” I asked.

“My check wasn’t in the mailbox. I phoned, they said that everything had been mailed. Yesterday when I took my mail, I left Roy’s in the box. Today everything was gone.”

“Have other people received their checks?”

“Almost everyone else gets theirs by direct deposit. I’ll check again tomorrow, but if it isn’t there I don’t know what I’ll do. Today, I made seven dollars, panning. I know that Chuck won’t throw me out, but he’s been talking with Bruce, who might come back.

“Now Chuck has a dog. I know exactly where that dog is going to be sleeping – right beside me. There’s a space between the end of Chuck’s bed and the closet. That’s Joy’s territory. If anybody tries to take that, they’ll have to fight me for it.

“I had it all planned what I was going to do with my check. I was going to rent a motel room, have a nice hot bath, spread myself, buck-ass-naked, on the bed, flip through the channels on the TV, then hop back into the bath.”

Two ladies pulling carts stopped by — Doris and Lucy, “the sandwich ladies” from the Inner City Ministry.

“Would anybody like a sandwich? We don’t have enough for everyone, so if you don’t absolutely need one, please leave them for those who do. We weren’t expecting so many people.

“Jake, would you like a tuna sandwich?”

“No, I’d probably just sit on it and squish it. Then I’d have to throw it out.”

To me, he said, “I have to get my first bottle down before I can even think of food.”

The “sandwich ladies” also had socks and underwear. Joy got a pair of pink, bikini style panties and a pair of grey socks.

Joy said, “She first brought out this green pair with purple flowers. She said, ‘These will look nice on you.’ I said, ’I don’t think so.’ The only time I’d wear something like that would be during my period. If they got really messed up I could just throw them away. Usually, I wear either boxers or go commando.” She held the panties above her head and said, ”Okay guys, have a good look. This is the last time any of you are going to have a chance to see these.”

Shark introduced me to Spike who had just been released from the hospital.

“I was in there for two months with double pneumonia. It started with a blood infection. It took four days for the doctors to figure out what antibiotic would stop the infection. By that time, it had affected my heart valves and caused growths in my lungs. They said that I nearly died.”

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

25 April 2012
Joy was in her usual spot this morning, sitting on her plastic storage box, her legs wrapped with towels.”How is your pneumonia, Joy?”
“It’s getting better. I’m still coughing up stuff, my chest is tight and I sleep with my head elevated.”Toothless Chuck cooked breakfast for us this morning. Chili was too drunk to go to The Shepherd, so she stayed at our place. Chuck took her to the airport for her flight to Prince Edward Island. She said, ‘I’ll be back soon.’ I said, ‘You’d be better off staying there and entering a detox program.’ Her arms are covered with track marks and scars.”
A woman stopped to give Joy an orange, later a man stopped to give her an apple. “I’ll save the orange for Jacques. I can’t eat them because I have a cage in my chest. The best I can do is suck the juice out and throw away the rest. Do you want the apple? In order to eat it, I have to peel it, then it gets brown and yucky. I’m picky aren’t I?”
“Joy, you should be a rich person, then you could have someone to peel your grapes for you.”
“Bruce got sick, because of getting soaked in all the rain we had lately. Big Nick offered to take him in for free until he gets well. He offered me the same deal when I lost my last place. The only problem is that where Nick lives it’s infested with bed bugs. They’re really hard to get rid of. I invited a couple of people to sleepover at my place. A few days later I woke up and felt something warm and sticky on my arms. I lifted the sheet and I was covered in blood. I was crawling with bed bugs. I had to throw out a mattress and rip out my carpeting before I could get rid of them. I’m really careful about who I hug now. They can lie dormant for up to five months.
“I’m going to visit the boys at the bench this morning, then I’m going to my old place to check for mail. The postman usually gets there around ten. I’m hoping to get some of my stuff. I’ve still got two keys. One key locks and unlocks the door, the other only locks it. I should be back downtown around noon.
“I’ve been trying to phone Roy on his cell phone, but I don’t get an answer. Where he’s staying, with his girlfriend, near the airport, he doesn’t get good reception. I don’t know what’s happening with Harley or his three lizards. I don’t care about the python. Roy can give him back to Leon.”
It was cool and overcast at the bench today. Silver kept walking up and down the sidewalk. He had hidden his backpack in the bushes because he had beer in it. After getting a liquor violation last week, he didn’t want to take a chance that the police would show up again. On the other hand, he didn’t want anybody stealing his backpack. I was sitting on the sidewalk near Don.
“I’m thinking of getting a part-time job,” said Don, “maybe as a dishwasher or in maintenance. I’ve done that before. It won’t pay very much, not like I used to get. When I lived in Montreal I used to bring in about fifty thousand a year. I knew the city really well and worked for most of the big courier companies, Purolator, D.H.L, U.P.S. The only company I didn’t work for was FedEx.“When I started with U.P.S. they had just moved into Canada from the U.S. They weren’t very well organized – too few trucks and drivers for the number of shipments they had going out. Even when my manager came with me — he’d drive, I’d deliver — we still couldn’t make our quota.“The run I had was in the industrial section. I had shipments of pipe and heavy machine parts to deliver. The truck was way overloaded. Soon, the clutch burnt out. I told them what the problem was, but they still kept overloading my truck. After I’d burnt out the third clutch they said, ‘Don, we think you should move inside the warehouse.’  I was feeling pretty burned out myself, so I took my severance pay and went on vacation for a while. Then I got into sales. I was really good at sales – everything from real estate and new cars to standing on a corner, with a table and speakers, selling all kinds of stuff. I was making about a thousand a day for a while. I had forty thousand in the bank, then my girlfriend left me. I started drinking, going to the casinos. I couldn’t believe how fast I went through that forty thousand.
“This morning a guy saw me collecting bottles. He said, ‘I got four cases of empties in the back if you want them.’ I said, ‘Sure!’ I traded in the bottles and got ten bucks.”
Joy arrived with Jacques. “Hi Joy, how did things go at your old place?”“It was fine. I didn’t know what to expect, so I brought Jacques with me. I figured, if nothing else, Jacques could talk French to Roy, but he wasn’t there. The locks had been changed, the whole place was cleaned out. It was a lot cleaner than when we first moved in. At that time we had a disgusting mess to deal with. It was a lot of work just to make the place livable.“I checked the mail. It’s been piling up for a while. My check wasn’t there, but nobody else has received theirs yet either. Now, that I know Roy won’t be there, I can go back tomorrow, or anytime.”
~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

buff.ly/2xHgS3p

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey  https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

24 April 2012
Joy was cheerful and sober this morning. “Only four people stayed at Toothless Chuck’s place last night: me, Chuck, Ronny, and Chili. See this scrape I’ve got on my nose. We have this broom with a broken handle. I was sweeping under the sofa and I hit my nose on the coffee table. I thought I’d broken it again. Chuck was ready to push it back in place. ‘No!’ I said, ‘don’t touch my nose.’
“Chili is really in bad shape. She’s ‘smashing’ cocaine again and has sores and track marks all over her arms. She’s on antidepressants and I think she’s taking more than she should. After just a few drinks she gets falling-down drunk. She’s all over the place. Last night she wet Chuck’s bed. He was really ticked off.
“Chili’s adopted parents want her to come home to Prince Edward Island. I said, ‘What are you going to do about your arms?’ ‘Wear long sleeves,’ she said. Another time she told me, ‘My mother used to slap me every time I swore.’ I told her, ‘You better get used to having a sore face, because every second word that comes out of your mouth is a swear word.’
“I didn’t go to Elizabeth Fry last week, I was too messed up. I’ll go tomorrow. Angela, my probie, gave me all the papers I need for housing, except for my picture i.d., the one from prison that says I’m on probation. Angela says I’m a really good candidate for the housing program because of my mental condition. It’s the first time in my life that being crazy has been a help to me. I have an appointment with her on May second. I have a court appearance on the twenty-ninth, because of my breach when I was in the hospital. I told her, ‘I better not get any more time for that!’ I’m supposed to be finished probation in November, all except for my anger management program.
“In the last year, I’ve lost two houses and Big Jake. Jake, I’m still working on. The last house I had with Roy was really nice. I have to go back there to get my check. Some things I’d like to pick up as well. I’m hoping that Roy won’t be there because there’s sure to be a fight, but it’s all his fault. He and his girlfriend were just snorting too much. He was working too. He may have lost his job. If he wants money from my check, he’s not getting it.”I saw Clark scooting around in his wheelchair. I was surprised to see that both of his legs have been amputated. When I first met him a few years ago, he’d only lost a foot. He may have diabetes, but he’s awfully skinny. Usually, people with diabetes are heavier. It probably has to do with all the drugs he’s taking.”
Betrayal
I look into your eyes,
grey with tears and sorrow
from the Arctic Ocean.
I feel your hurt deep inside
hear your thunder
see your rain.
With your fist on your chest
you open your heart,
tell me of hardship,
betrayal and pain.

I listen
with my heart
as one who has been there.

With my arm around your shoulder,
as a brother,
I ask you to act with patience
and with love —
be love.

~~~

“Hi, bro! Remember me?”

“Yes, of course, Alphonse! I met you and your girlfriend, a few months ago, at the heater. There was snow on the ground.”

I sat on the curb with him. It started raining, so I pulled up my hood.

“That’s right. Magdalene was here just twenty minutes ago. ‘It’s cold out, Maggie!’ I said, ‘wear my jacket. It will keep you warm.’ Do you think she would wear it?  No, she was worried about her image.’ Why are you concerned about your image? You have a man. I’m right here.’  She wants to look cool, like some of those ‘gangsta’ rappers she sees on television.

“She’s only twenty-two and I’m forty. She still wants to live the party life. It’s the alcohol that makes her that way. She drinks until she passes out. Just this morning I said to her, ‘Maggie, you’ve had enough to drink. Who are you dressing to impress?’ She stormed off!

“I know where she’s going and who she’s going to see. This has been going on for about a year now. I know exactly where she’s going. She’s going to sleep with him and he’s going to give her money. She’ll stay with him for three or four days until he runs out of money. Then she’ll want to come back to me. This has happened about ten times in the past year. I’ll take her back, but it hurts deep inside.

“What hurts most is that she’s carrying my child. At least, I think it’s my child. I don’t even know if it’s my child. She doesn’t know — she’s been with so many men. This morning, she said that she was going to the nurse to see about an abortion. She was too drunk, anyway, it’s too late — she’s three months pregnant. She’s had abortions three times before and has a four-year-old boy who was taken away by the Children’s Aid Society.

“I don’t want her to have an abortion. I would raise it as my own. I’d like us to be a family together. I would take care of her, but she wants to be in control.

“I never had a childhood. I had to raise my siblings. My mother was an alcoholic. She was never around. When I was five years old, I looked after a six-month-old baby and a toddler, one and a half years old. I failed kindergarten, two times because I was never there. I was looking after my siblings.

“Last night I told Maggie, ‘We have to get out of this city.’ I said, ‘If you want, we could live near your family.’ They live near Sept-Iles, Quebec, but she doesn’t want that because she wouldn’t have any control. She was raised by her grandparents, her parents were dead. They gave her everything. I suggested that we live where I come from, Nain in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. She doesn’t want that either.

“You’re the first person I’ve told this to – that it may not be my child she is carrying. I feel better having told someone. I want to see that child born and, if necessary, I’ll raise it myself. She has to stop drinking. One beer a night would be alright, it has nourishment; but she drinks Imperial sherry, and never just one drink.

~~~

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($2.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red:
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz
https://buff.ly/2GJSDsG ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts:
http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6