2013 – January – March


2 January, 2013

The temperature at noon was one degree Fahrenheit with a thirteen mile per hour wind, making it feel like minus seventeen. Last night it went down to minus five. The only person near The Armory was Magdalene.

Magdalene said, “Hi, my boyfriend, Alphonse is in hospital.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, which hospital is he in.”

“He’s in St. Mike’s. He’s been there for a couple of days now. He has pneumonia. Also, he’s had paranoia. He thought he saw people standing around his bed, but there was nobody there. He thought they were trying to kill him. He ran outside. The police brought him back in. They said that if he stayed outside, he would die.

“When he got back to his hospital bed the nurse gave him a glass of whiskey, because he’s an alcoholic.”

I said, “Ian is on a program at The Shepherd. They give him a glass of wine every hour. Gradually he’ll be able to stop drinking. He wants to get back to work. He does furniture moving, but it’s hard for him while he’s an alcoholic.”

Magdalene said, “We’ve been sleeping outside lately. We are on a list to get an apartment, but nothing has happened.”

“Where, exactly, have you been sleeping?” I asked.

“On Briton Street. If you go to the end, at Sherbourne, there is a little boutique there, turn left into the alley. There’s a place with a heater that blows down on you. We have a covering that goes around us.

“For a couple of days he wasn’t able to eat. His face was getting very thin. That’s when he decided that he should go to the hospital.

“Have you thought of staying at some place like The Salvation Army?”

“After Alphonse gets out of hospital, we may have to. I don’t like those places. They’re rough , noisy, crowded and stuff gets stolen there.”

I said, “Shakes told me that every time he sleeps at the one of the Missions, The Shepherd or the Salvation Army, things are stolen from him: his backpack, money, bottles, pot even his clothes.”

“I’m going to see Alphonse at the hospital this afternoon, but first I have to go to Welfare to see if I can get my bus pass. Alpnonse has a check waiting there but only he can sign for it. I’m going to talk to them and see if they can release it to me. I’m listed on all his forms. I don’t even have his phone number at the hospital.”

I asked, “When you visit your worker at Welfare, can she help you to get an apartment? She should be able to help you get the phone number for Alphonse at the hospital.”

“Maybe, I don’t know, they were looking for us, but we haven’t been back there for two weeks. Maybe they found someplace.

“Alphonse has an appointment with his probation officer, tomorrow morning at eight, thirty. He’s going to have to cancel. I don’t know the phone number, I hope he’s awake, so I can get the number from him.

“This morning I ate at McDonald’s. I didn’t think I had any money, but I found four dollars and twenty-five cents. I was so hungry.

“Next week I start a program for individuals who have been abusive to their partners. They’re going to help me.”


7 January, 2013

Tonight I met with one of the housing outreach workers. All but two of my friends are now housed.


18 January 2013

Friday night, as I was returning from work on the bus, I heard a commotion at the front. There were people standing in front of me so I couldn’t see what was happening. I heard, “Jesus Christ, can’t you give a guy a break. He’s been hit by a car and just wants to get home. He doesn’t have any money.”

Things settled down and gradually people exited the bus and, to my surprise, sitting across from me were Little Jake and Shakes. We greeted each other then Shakes said, “Dennis, did you hear what happened to me? Last Wednesday night I was hit by a car at the corner of Queen and Parliament. The woman driving said she didn’t see me. The piggies drove past and didn’t even stop.”

Jake said, “Shakes, you were dressed in all black with your hood pulled up. That’s probably the reason she didn’t see you.”

I asked Shakes, “Did you go to the hospital, or see a doctor?”

Jake said, “No, he doesn’t like hospitals or doctors, but you should see his knee, it’s swollen like a grapefruit.”

I said, “Maybe he needs a brace for his knee or crutches.”

Jake said, “He doesn’t want that, he’d rather lean on me. By the way have you heard from Joy?”

“I went to see her in hospital before Christmas. She seemed okay, I pushed her in her wheelchair downstairs so she could go for a smoke. I know she has issues about staying alone, especially without furniture.”

Jake said, “I have issues about staying alone. I trashed my apartment last week. I went to see Debbie, my worker, and she’s going to send a cleaning team Monday morning. She’s really great. They’re going to bring mops and buckets and cleaning supplies. I told her she didn’t have to do that. I’ll have the place cleaned by Sunday, but she wouldn’t listen. She’s arranged for me to see a doctor as well. I’m going to be going to the East General Hospital, where Joy is. I know she doesn’t like people to just drop by on her, but if I have a reason to be there, it should be okay.”

“Jake, do you have your furniture yet?”

“No, I was supposed to contact Debbie the first week of January, but I just wasn’t up to it. I don’t have a phone, so she wasn’t able to contact me. I’ve just got the bed and the air conditioner, still in its box, that I use to sit on. I don’t have any money, except for a few Tim Horton’s cards. I go there, have a coffee and watch TV. I pick up butts, that’s all I have to smoke.”

Shakes had his head on his knees and his eyes closed. I said to Jake, “Is he asleep?”

Shakes opened his eyes. He said, “I’m not asleep, it’s just that I’m in pain because of my knee.”

I said, “I’ve been to the park a few times, but nobody has been there except for Magdalene. I talked to her one day. I’ve had a cold, so I haven’t been going out much at noon. I heard that Andre has an apartment now.”

Jake said, I haven’t seen anybody since before Christmas. The last time I saw Andre, he was bumming off us. We didn’t part on very good terms.”

Their bus stop was coming up, so Jake said, “Come on Shakes, let me help you up. We have to get off soon.” Shakes put his arm around Jake and they hobbled off the bus. I was surprised at how much I had missed them.


 23 January 2013

This morning on the bus I met Ian. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He said, “I have to go to Scarborough to see my probation officer. I told you, I got six months probation with community service. I’m at The Shepherd where they have a ‘Managed Alcohol Program.’ I’m doing really well.”

“I can see that. You look good. You must be anxious to get back to work moving furniture?”

“Yeah, going to work would be good.”

“How about plans to move back to British Columbia? Do you think that will ever happen?

“No, I like it here.”

“Even in this cold weather?”

“Yeah, I can put up with it.”


24 January 2013

When I got off the bus this morning I was greeted, as usual by Metro and Two-four. Metro said, “Hey, Joy was here yesterday. She’s using a cane now. She only lasted about ten minutes because of the cold.”

“It’s great to hear that she’s out of hospital.”

“Yeah, she’s looking good.”

Two-four was wearing a balaclava. I asked him, “Are you going to rob any banks after your shift?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, five of them: the Royal, the Imperial, BMO, TD and another one. I can’t remember the name.”

“Well, Two-four, you don’t need to know the name of a bank to rob it. Good luck with that.”

They both said, “Have a good day, Dennis.”

“You too Metro, Two-four. Stay warm.”


21 March 2014


The temperature this morning was almost bearable; meaning, I still had to wear a scarf over my face to protect my lungs. This causes my glasses to fog. I was somewhat  blind until I could get to someplace warm. I was surprised to see Chuck Senior at what, in more temperate weather, is his usual spot.

“Hi, Chuck, I’m surprised to see you. It’s been a couple of months now.” I shook his hand and petted Goldie while we talked.

“You see me today, but you won’t see me next week. It’s going back to minus seventeen for a while. This weather has really kept me stranded. Which reminds me, I went to a Leaf’s game last week. I brought my walker, because it’s easier to get around through crowds. Anyway, I was ready to leave, so I went to the doorway where the Disability Transport bus does their pickup. They were full of people in wheelchairs, so the driver phoned a taxi for me. It’s a fifty dollar fare, but I don’t have to pay it. The Commissionaire said to wait inside where it was warm. I saw the cab pull up. Someone held the door for me, but they didn’t hold it long enough. It smashed into the side of my walker. I wasn’t hurt, but the walker was damaged. Now, I can’t fold it properly.

As I made my way to the cab, a police car pulled up. The officer told the driver, ‘Move along! You’re not allowed to park here.’ The driver said, ‘There’s an elderly man, in a walker, who is waiting for me.’ The cop said, ‘I don’t give a fuck why you’re here; just move somewhere else. This isn’t a taxi stand.’ The driver said take a look behind you, my fare is waiting at the door. You got no business interfering with me, you son of a whore.’ Well, that did it. They forced him off to the side and started checking his car for bombs, checking his licence, checking with the station for outstanding violations. I’d been waiting about half an hour. Eventually, another bus came along, so I got my ride home.

“I reported it to the police. They got me to fill out a form. Nothing will come of that, complete wast of my time. I phoned the Air Canada Center, where I’d been to the game. The lady was very nice. She said, ‘I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience. I send you a free ticket, and one for a friend. I’m sure you don’t want to go to the game alone.’ So, that was nice. I figured I should get something. I tell you, there are some times I wish I carried a billy club. I would have gone after that cop.”

I asked, “How has Goldie been feeling?”

“She’s been doing pretty well. I got an awful scare, though. She started limping on the same leg that had been operated on. I thought maybe she’d had a relapse of some kind; that maybe her hip was becoming displaced.  The next day it was even worse, she started hopping around with her foot off the ground, like she did when she’d first had the operation. So, I bundled her up, got myself bundled up, then took her to the vet. It turned out that she’d cut her paw on some sharp ice. The vet said there wasn’t much he could do. He bandaged the foot and gave four pills for the pain. The visit cost me sixty bucks. She’s fine now.

“I was at Costco the other day talking to the manager. He looked at Goldie and said, ‘That’s a nice blanket you got for her, but I think we can do better.’ He said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ He bought back a beautiful fleece blanket, from their pet department. He also brought bags of beef, chicken and pork jerky for her. She can eat the beef, but there are additives in the chicken and pork that she’s not allowed. Anyway, it’s nice to see that there are still people who give a damn.”


27 March 2014

Stolen Tickets

With the temperature at minus sixteen, I didn’t expect to see any of my friends outside, but Chuck Senior was at his usual corner.

“Hi Chuck, I didn’t expect to see you this morning.”

“Well, it may be raining tomorrow, so this may be my last chance for a while.”

“How are you and Goldie?”

“Goldie’s fine, I’m not so good though. Remember, I told you about what happened at the Air Canada Centre, where my walker got broken, and the cops wouldn’t let the cab driver pick me up? That still pisses me off! Anyway, I told you that I phoned the Centre and they said they’d send me two tickets, one for me and one for my daughter. Well, the tickets arrived in the mail all right. I put them in the dish where I keep my Disability Transport pass. I invited my daughter to come to the game with me. Will sir, I looked this morning and they were gone.”

I said, “That’s terrible, Chuck, after all you went through to get those tickets, and now to have them stolen. Who has access to your apartment?”

“A number of people do. My superintendent, my cleaning lady, my daughter — she wouldn’t have taken them ’cause she’d be going to the game, anyway –my son, but he doesn’t like hockey. I trust my cleaning lady. She’s been with me for years. She was in a few days ago. I noticed that the tickets had been moved to the coffee table. I guess when she was dusting. Things get moved around a bit, but I’ve never had anything stolen.

“I didn’t sleep so good last night; thinking about the tickets, and I ate some things I shouldn’t have.”

I asked, “Like what?”

“Well, I bought some of that Montreal style… What is it?”

“Montreal style smoked meat.”

“Yeah,  that’s what it was. It’s way to salty for me. Anyway, I had it in a big sandwich with fries. For supper I fried an egg, and  had some of the smoked meat, with toast. My stomach was rumbling all night.

“I’ll be okay tomorrow. I’ll eat lots of spinach and fresh vegetables. That should fix me up.

“The arthritis in my hands is acting up. I can hardly move my fingers.

“I’m going to look around for those tickets. I may have put them somewhere else. I’m going to contact some people. If all else fails, I’ll phone the Air Canada Centre. If someone uses those tickets, they’ll be informed that they were stolen, and they’ll be thrown out of the game.

I said, “Well, Chuck, I wish you all the best with that. I hope you get your tickets back. Perhaps, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“They’re forecasting rain for later on, so I don’t know. I usually wake up at about one thirty in the morning, anyway. If it looks like rain, I’ll take Goldie for her walk then, so I don’t have to take her when the rain is heavy. Each morning I walk outside. If the weather’s lousy, I go back to bed, stay where it’s cozy until I’m ready to get up. That’s what I’ve been doing most mornings.”



  1. susanissima says:

    I feel like I’m right there on the street with you, Dennis. What a caring person you are, and an engaging writer.


  2. […] 2013 – January – March. […]


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