2013 – September


2013 September 4

Joy in Tears

As I approached Joy I could see that she was upset. Her hood was pulled up and her arms were huddled in the kangaroo pocket.

“How are you feeling, Joy?”

“I’m sick, I’ve got pneumonia and I’ve run out of inhalers. I’m using Jake’s old one, but it doesn’t seem to be working.”

“Have you seen your worker about your Health Card?”

“Do you mean the outreach worker? John, who was helping me is now in the office. They got a new guy walking the streets and I don’t like him.  The first time I met him I asked, ‘Do I know you?’ He said, ‘No.’ I’m sure I’ve had dealings with him  in the past and I don’t get a good vibe.”

“How about your Salvation Army workers?”

“They’ve both left.  I’ve got a new guy. He seems pretty good, mind you he said he was going to bring me groceries last week and he didn’t. He came by to see my apartment and said, ‘Is this what they gave you?’ I said, ‘It sure is. Isn’t it lovely? It even has a spare room.’ I opened the door to the closet. ‘And you have claustrophobia?’ ‘I sure do. I just open the back door, the windows. That’s the best I can do.’ ”

“Can you contact this new guy by phone?”

“Yeah, I’ve tried but just get voice mail. I’ve left messages.”

“How about going to their office? Could you do that? Maybe someone else could check your file.”

“That would mean going to the Salvation Army. I don’t go there; not since I was raped last Christmas.

Joy started crying. Her Australian regular stopped and slipped her a five.

“Thank you!” To me she said, “That’s more than he usually gives me.” Five minutes later a woman wearing a green dress stopped and slipped Joy a folded twenty.  Joy was awestruck.  “Thanks and bless you!” she said in amazement.

“That woman never gives me money. I’ve known her for a long time. We’ve talked, but that’s all. It must be you.”

“Are you saying I’m lucky for you?”

“You’re darn right. Can you sit here for a few minutes while I go to the restaurant to pee?”

“Sure.” I waited, waved to some of the people I work with. Noted the expressions of other passers-by. I saw disgust, confusion, discomfort — I smiled.

Joy came back, “There’s Beyoncé, I’ve told her before, ‘Those pants really aren’t working for you. Stick to skirts.’ ”

I said, “What about the come-fuck-me shoes, with the sparkles?”

“No, they aren’t working either. She can barely walk in them. I’m good at giving fashion advice to women, but they don’t listen.

“I’m so stressed, and I’m drunk. Can you help me? I have to pay Bell for my phone. I really don’t care about having a phone, but I want to keep my TV. I’ve gotten kinda used to it.”

I said, “You’ll have to go to a Bell Center in any of the malls. There’s one in the Eaton Center.  Don’t even bother trying to phone them, you’ll be on hold for hours.”

“I’m going to drop Jake’s internet. I can’t get into his computer anyway. He gave me the code but I can’t figure it out.”

I said, “Maybe you have the Caps Lock on, that will interfere with your password.”

“No, I tried that. When I turn on the computer the box for the password has a dot.  Jake said to just backspace over the dot, then type in the numbers followed by ‘b’.

“Perhaps you need to type a capital ‘B’ ”

“I don’t know. All this shit Jake left me. It’s worse than having him around. Tomorrow he gets transferred to Joyceville. That’s where he’ll serve the rest of his sentence. If I brought his laptop down here, could you have a look at it? Maybe you could get it to work. I’m no good with computers.”

“Perhaps Jake can make a phone call to his bank and have money transferred?”

“I don’t know. I really don’t want to talk to him. Do you know what time it is?”

I looked for my watch, but noticed that it wasn’t on my wrist.”

Joy yelled, “Hey, what time is it?”

A confused looking man turned around. “It’s eight, forty-five!”

“I’d better go,” I said.

“Stella’s coming down this morning. She works in a bank, maybe she can help me. I may see you at the park later. I don’t know.”


5 September 2013

Granola Bars

This morning,  as I exited the bus, I was greeted by Metro and Two-four,  “Good morning Dennis!”

Two-four handed me a free newspaper, Metro gave me a Quaker Harvest Crunch granola bar as an advertising promotion. Metro said, “I keep telling him not to run out into the traffic, but does he listen to me? No.”

Two-four said, “Hey, I’ve been doing this all my life. I know better than to get hit by a car.”

Half a block down was a police cruiser. One cop was driving, the other was squatting on the sidewalk talking to him.

In Joy’s usual spot was Francois. “Hi Dennis, have you heard from Joy. She didn’t come down this morning. I talked to her yesterday. She seemed down.”

“She has pneumonia. I tried to convince her to see her worker to get her health card. I don’t know how that worked out.  Jake left her with a lot of bills that she doesn’t know how to deal with.”

“Yeah, I heard that too.  See the cop car down there? They told me to move along. I said, ‘Give me ’till nine-thirty.’ The cop said, ‘You got ’til ten, then I’ll be back with a ticket.’ He continued,  “I just came from court. I won,  they gave me ninety-five dollars in court costs.”

“What were you charged with?”

“Panhandling. The ticket was for a hundred and ninety-five. Those charges are always thrown out.”

I said, “That sounds like a good way to make money.”

“After three tickets they can put you in jail. I think it’s only for a few days.”

I said, “Shakes mentioned being in a week, for panhandling. They threaten Little Jake, but they never take him in.  They stay away from him.  He’s probably more trouble than he’s worth.

“I don’t see you at the park. Do you go there at all?”

“Oh Yeah, I go there lots, but I don’t like the drinking. If a guy has a couple of beers I don’t mind, but after that they turn into assholes. I’d just as soon stay away from them at that point.

“Do you want a granola bar. I don’t want them.” He nodded to a pile of about a dozen bars beside him. “Take them all if you want.”

I said, “I’ll trade you. Here’s a card from Tim Horton’s. You can buy yourself breakfast. I’ll take the granola bars.”

“Sounds good,” said Francois. “I’m just heading off to take a piss.”

“Have a good day, Francois.”

At noon I met Shakes and Little Jake. I said, “I was talking to Francois this morning. He said he went to court on a panhandling charge. They found him not guilty and he was awarded court charges of ninety-five dollars. Does that sound right?”

Shakes said, “He got paid to go to court? I’ve never heard of that. I went to court on a panhandling charge a year ago. They found me guilty before I even got in the court room. I was sentenced to six months probation with no restrictions. I asked my lawyer, ‘What do I do now?’ He said, ‘You’re free to go.’  My probation ended last February.”

Jake said, “I’ve only been to court on drinking charges. Like Shakes I got probation, but wasn’t allowed to be caught drinking for six months.”

I asked, “Did you stop drinking?”


I said, “I was talking to Joy yesterday. She has pneumonia.”

Little Jake said, “Since I’ve had HIV I get pneumonia every fall. The last time they took me to the East General. That has got to be the worst hospital in the city. They were giving me really high doses of Demerol.  At seven in the morning this great beast of a nurse came in to give me a shot. Do you know how she woke me? She banged her clipboard on the bed rail. I nearly freaked. I could have had a heart attack. I said, ‘You stupid fuckin’ bitch, go back to the islands where you came from.’ I was mad.”

“What did she say to you?”

“Oh, I don’t know, ‘You can’t talk to me… blah, blah, blah.’

“They had a tube coming out of my lung to drain it and they stuck a wire in my chest, close to my heart. Is that weird, or what? When it came time to take it out they said, ‘This won’t hurt a bit.’ then they yanked it. Christ, that hurt.”

“Shark came to visit me, and was going to give me a bottle of sherry, but the stupid fucker stuck the open bottle in his pocket upside down. He was leaving a red trail wherever he went. He was smashed. They got him out of there quick. Another time he brought me in three grams, but I was so drugged and paranoid I told him, ‘No, no, no, you take it. They’ll find me with it.’  I sure regretted that when I came down from the drugs.”

Shakes said, “Last time I had pneumonia they took me to the East General. Lots of people came by with booze, smokes and pot. I hate hospitals, I’d always have to go outside in the cold to smoke a joint, or even a cigarette. They had a catheter in me, I didn’t friggin like that one bit.”

I asked, “Has anybody else been here this morning?”

Jake said, “I went to Shark’s place at ten, thirty — I had to get some smokes — everyone was there, Jacques, Loon, Hippo, Mariah, Irene of course. I did a beer run for Shark and came here about eleven, thirty, same time as Shakes. I got a bottle for him, that’s it.”

I said, “I haven’t seen Wolf for a while. Is he staying at home?”

“He’s got a broken jaw. Some crackhead hit him. He was letting them sell out of his apartment.”


6 September 2013

Steroid Monkeys

From a distance I could see Jacques and Deaf Donald sitting near the War Memorial.  When I came closer I could hear that they were both speaking French. Jacques had a newspaper open and was doing a Sudoku puzzle.

When Donald saw me he said, “Hi Dennis, it’s so good to see you. I lost my hearing aids, but I can read lips as long as you speak slow. I can even watch television with no volume, except for cartoons. They make no sense.”

I asked, “How did you lose your hearing aids?”

“I was at a bar in Scarborough. I got drunk. When I was walking home I tripped and fell. They must have fallen out then. They’re just tiny, they fit way inside my ears.

“The government paid for my last ones, but that was last year. I’m only allowed one pair every three years. Me and my mom have to pay eighteen hundred dollars for a new pair. It’s okay, sometimes it’s better that I don’t hear what’s being said.

“Jacques, can I use your phone? I want to call Chester.”

Jacques said, “You tried using Shark’s phone. You couldn’t hear. You won’t hear any better using my phone.”

We saw Shakes ambling up the sidewalk. “Why aren’t you guys sitting in the sun? I’m going to sit over here.”

Jacques said, “You sit where you wish. It’s okay by me.”

Two bicycle cops rode up. One said, “Hi Shakes, I see you got a bottle there.”

Shakes grabbed it before the cop could pick it up. “Hey, that’s mine. It’s not even opened. You can’t take that.” The cop examined the bottle and said, “You’re right, it’s sealed. You weren’t thinking of drinking it here, were you?”

“No sir, that would be against the law.”

“As long as you understand that. I see an open can of beer in this backpack. Who does this belong to?”

Donald said, “That’s mine, officer. I’m not going to lie to you.”

“I need some identification. Do you have anything with you?”

“No, but I’ll tell you my name. It’s Donald Charlevoix.”

“Where do you live Donald?”

“145 Berkeley Street.”

“Is that your own place Donald?”

“It’s my mom’s. I live with my mom.”

“I see a prescription bottle in your pack.  Methadone, you’re a heroin addict. Your name checks out.” To the other officer he said, “Do you want to phone this in?”

I could hear a voice on the other end of the line, listing charges.

“So Donald, why do you have a drinking restriction?”

“I can’t understand. I’m deaf.”

“What were you charged with, that caused the court to put a  restriction on your file concerning drinking?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t understand.”

“You’ve got an open beer in your pack and there’s an empty can behind you. I can tell that you’ve been drinking.  You realize, don’t you, that you’re not allowed to drink in a public place. You can be charged for this.”

“I’m sorry officer. If you pour that out, I’ll go straight home. I don’t want any trouble.”

“If I ever see you down here again, I’m going to charge you. Understand? If you’re here, I know you’re going to be drinking. Don’t come here again!”

“I understand officer, this is a bad place. I won’t come here again.”

“Okay, get going!”

The officer then turned to Jacques, “Have you been drinking?”

“No, my doctor told me it’s bad for my health.”

“What have you got in your bag here? He pulled out two drinking containers, one labeled an energy drink, both red in color. He also pulled out an empty sherry bottle. “What’s this doing here?”

“I turn it in for twenty cents.”

The police seemed satisfied so they rode away. Jacques laughed. “See what they missed. In my bottles here I have sherry mixed with strawberry cream soda. I don’t like the Imperial that these guys drink. I drink Pale Dry, but I don’t like it too dry, that’s why I add the cream soda, for the color and the taste. I like it sweet, me. In the zippered part I have Jake’s half bottle of sherry. They believed me when I said, ‘My doctor told me it’s bad for my health.’

“Did you see what was in the Sun yesterday, on the second page? The whole page was about a guy from the Mission, who was beaten by the cops. Someone took pictures with their cell phone and the guy charged the cop. Yesterday the charges against the cops were dropped.”

Jacques said, “Those steroid monkeys act like they are kings. They can do anything they like. It’s the same with all these organizations, the Mission, the Shepherd. Shakes went to the Mission one time. His shoes were full of holes…”

Shakes said, “I’m barred for life from the Mission, it was the Shepherd. I showed them the holes in the bottom of my shoes and asked for another pair. They asked, ‘Are you a resident here?’ I said, ‘That sign up there says you are here to help the homeless, not the people who are staying here. Well, I’m homeless and I want a pair of friggin shoes!’ They took me into another office and said, ‘We don’t want any trouble, we’ll find you a pair of shoes.’


9 September 2013

Can You Spare Seven Bucks?

The park was deserted today. I had turned to go back to work when I saw Little Jake walking towards me.

“Nobody here?” he asked.

“No, just me.”

“I thought Shakes would be here. He was broke last night. When he’s broke he usually comes down first thing in the morning so he can get something to drink. I was at his place last night. Tommy cooked us a real good meal. Boy, was it good. Then we watched a movie. I left my stuff there, my pot, my rolling papers. That’s not like me.”

“So you haven’t had a joint today?”

“Oh, yeah. I always have some extra put aside. I haven’t had a drink yet though. That’s another reason I was hoping Shakes would be here.”

“What movie did you watch?” I asked.

“Forest Gump. Shakes has a big collection, about fifty. I don’t know where he gets them, but they’re cheap. I think he knows someone, who runs a store downtown. I always see dvds on their window ledge.

“I’ve been feeling shitty lately. My eyes keep watering. I wake up with this crusty stuff on my eyelids. I can barely open my eyes. I should be going for my blood tests, but I haven’t”

I said, “Shark has his blood checked every month, doesn’t he?”

“Yeah, that’s what I should be doing. I haven’t been for three months. It seems like such a waste of time. I answer the same questions every time. They weigh me, measure me and take blood.”

I asked, “Have you been up to Deep River, lately,  to see your family?”

“No, I mean to go up in another month. It’s really beautiful when the leaves are changing color. A buddy and I go bird hunting:  partridge, grouse, ducks. We get the occasional rabbit. It’s funny, though, it goes in cycles. One year there will be just a few ducks, but lots of partridge. The next year it’ll be the other way around.

“You haven’t seen Joy, have you?”

“No, she had pneumonia last week. I wasn’t expecting her because she doesn’t usually do Mondays.”

“That’s right, she had pneumonia. Mariah told me that on Friday.”

“I don’t know why it’s taking so long, but she still doesn’t have her health card. She can’t see a doctor, get meds for bipolar disorder, or antibiotics for her pneumonia.”

“You couldn’t lend me seven bucks for a bottle, could you?”

“No, I don’t carry any cash. I use debit for everything.”

“Isn’t that expensive? Don’t they charge you some kind of fee for that?”

“The only time I get charged a fee is when I buy bus tickets. I can’t figure it. They tell me ahead of time, but I can’t get them anywhere else, so I’m stuck with the fee.”

“Well, I better go pan. I really need a drink.”


12 September 2013


This afternoon at the park I met Shakes, Little Jake, Jacques, Joy and Mariah. The grass was slightly damp from the morning rain, but I sat down anyway.

Shakes said, “Dennis, I met a friend of mine yesterday. His name is John, but I’ve always called him Tom Sawyer. I don’t know why. I told Tommy that he was going to spend the night at our place. The only thing that Tommy said was, ‘Just make sure that my portfolio is put in the bedroom. That’s the only thing I’m worried about.’ I gave Tom Sawyer two bus tickets and said to the bus driver, ‘I don’t have a pass.’ He said, ‘That’s okay, just take a seat.’ He even gave me an all day pass, because we had to transfer.”

I asked, “Do you always get the same bus driver?”

“No, but they’re getting to know me.”

Jake looked different for some reason. I said, “Jake, you’re looking very stylish today. Your hair looks nice, You’re wearing an orange shirt.”

“The only thing I did different today was to take a shower. Jacques gave me the shirt.”

Joy said, “There is something freaky going on at my place. I hear knocking inside the closet. My sofa keeps moving away from the wall. I talked to Stella about it yesterday. She said, ‘Maybe It’s kids playing a prank.’ I don’t think so.”

Mariah said, “It’s the house. It’s over a hundred years old. I’ve had problems with a presence in my place. Sometimes cans are moved around. One time, everything on the TV was brushed to the floor. I can feel cold spots in the room. It just means that it’s time for a cleanse. I’m trying to get Charlie to leave. He smokes a lot of pot. I have to be free of all of that stuff, purify my body and clear my mind. I leave one door open. Then I meditate.  I’ll ask,’Who’s there and what do you want?’ Then I tell them that it’s time to leave. I think there is more than one spirit. It’ll will be quiet for a few months, then things will start happening again.

“Charlie is at the doctor’s today. He has to have a TTI (Tissue-type Imaging). They think he has some type of blood and bone marrow cancer. He’s already had his gallbladder removed.

“That’s why I had to move from New Brunswick.  I had a sunroom upstairs. It was the only room that had windows on two sides. I put my plants there, some on tables, others hanging in the window. It was like a forest in there.

“I was downstairs and I heard the sun room door slam, I didn’t think anything of it. I figured it was probably a draft, so I got rubber door stops to keep the doors open. Some months later I heard the door slam. I thought to myself, It’s winter, there can’t be any drafts. The house is sealed tight. I went up to  investigate. The door was closed and the door stop was across the room. All of the plants had fallen to the floor.

“When I was in school they thought I was some kind of whiz kid. I never took books home, never studied. When it came time for a test I knew all the answers. Sometimes I’d come into class and I’d see what they were doing. I’d ask, ‘Didn’t we do that yesterday?’ I was having déjà vu.

I’m part  Mí’kmaq. Whenever I’m in the forest I hear drumming. Nobody else hears it.


13 September 2013

Cobweb City

It was cool this morning with a forecast of rain. The patrol car with its red and blue flashing lights was at the corner, again.  Joy was huddled up with her sweater pulled over her knees.

“How are you feeling, Joy”

“I’m really freaked man. I’m tweaked. I’ve got to get back on my meds. I didn’t sleep at all last night. See my hand, it’s shaking. I was watching BTN (Black Television Network) last night and Steve Harvey was on. I was laughing so hard I said to myself, I’ve got to tape this.

“I must have fallen asleep, because I woke up in some kind of nightmare. Really scary shit, anyway, I was awake for the rest of the night.”

I asked, “Since you don’t have your health card, what if you went to the emergency department of one of the hospitals? Wouldn’t they give you your meds?”

“They’d get me juiced up on dilantin. That really screws up my brain and when I take it I’m not supposed to drink. My doctor gave me a prescription for a lower  dose of the pills, that I’m supposed to take on a regular basis. I haven’t seen him for years. He’s across town. When I moved in with Chuck, I decided to go to his doctor since he was close by. He was really creepy, so I stopped going to him. Then, I went to another doctor, but he’s the same nationality as my landlord. I don’t get along with them.

“I really hate doctors and hospitals. A couple of years ago I was in and they told me that I had an ovarian cyst. They tested it and it was benign. That means it won’t hurt you, right? The next time I went in they checked it again and said that it had grown. I said, ‘Cut the sucker out. Give me a hysterectomy.  It’s cobweb city down there — I can’t have any more kids, my period has to stop sometime. I won’t miss that. I’m not with a man so I won’t be losing out there.  While I’m here anyway, just scrape it clean! Get rid of that junk!’ He said in a deep voice, all proper like, ‘I’ve never heard it described in those terms, but you understand the situation. We can’t operate because it isn’t causing any secondary complications. If that changes, then we’ll consider a hysterectomy.’

I suggested, “If you were happy with your first doctor, why don’t you go back to him?”

“I hadn’t thought of that. Do you think I could go back?”

“Phone him. I’ve gone back to a doctor I had twenty years ago.”

Michelle stopped by with a paper cup and a bag from Tim Horton’s.

“Hi Michelle,” I said.

“Hi, Dennis. I have your tea, Joy, one cream and three sugar just as you like it. Since I got a large, I asked them to put the cream and sugar on the side, so you can mix it as you like. I also got you a cranberry lemon muffin.”

“Thanks,” Joy replied.”

Michelle left. Joy asked, “Is that what her name is, Michelle?”

“Yeah, she was by yesterday while you were in the restaurant. I think you passed her on the sidewalk.”

“Gee, I wasn’t expecting a frickin large. It’s nice to keep my hands warm though. Do you want this muffin. The thought of cranberries and lemon makes me gag.”

Chuck’s dad came by in his wheelchair.  Joy introduced us. I said, “I think I’ve met you in front of Tim Horton’s.”

Joy said, “Can you give me a ride on that? Does it have enough energy?”

“Sure, sit on my lap. You’ll see, I’ve got lots of energy. I was parked on the corner when a pretty young lady rode by. She was wearing a rucksack, but instead of having it on her back, she had it on her front. I said, ‘That’s it honey, keep those breasts nice and warm for me.’ She didn’t answer.”

He went on his way. I asked, “How do you get along with him?”

“He’s alright, but he’s a dirty old man.”

I replied, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

The garbage man (I forget his name) came by. Joy said, “Hi, handsome! do you have any plans for the weekend?”

“Just hanging with my girlfriend.”

“Can you spare some time for me? I was thinking maybe we could go on a vacation together.”

“Sorry, we are planning a vacation though, maybe the Caribbean.”

“Do you have your passport?”

“I’ve got three of them. I have citizenship from the States, France and Canada. If one causes problems, I just give them one of the other two.”

Joy said, “Since you’ve got your truck here, maybe you could turn around and pick up that patrol car.”

“That wouldn’t be a good idea. We’re trying to get the military contract.”

“Did you say you’re joining the military? Like, to go fight in wars?”

“I’d like to, but my boss won’t give me the time off to take basic training. I’d join the reserves. I probably wouldn’t see combat.”

He left. Joy said, “I saw Marissa and Teddy last night. He was gunning at me. She’s a big girl, must be five foot ten at least.  All her weight is on top, she’s got skinny legs, skinnier than mine. One kick I could break her leg like a twig. She wasn’t even wearing a bra. Her jugs were hanging around her waist. That’s disgusting. I don’t have much, but gravity takes its toll. At least I keep mine packaged. I can imagine her with André. It would be like Chewbacca with one of the Ewoks.”

It was time for me to go, “Will I see you at the park, Joy?”

“No, rain is forecast for this afternoon. I’m going straight home. I’m feeling really happy now. Even if my check doesn’t come today, I’ll still be happy”

I said, “I’ll see you next week then.”


17 September 2013

Electronic Cigarettes 

Summer is definitely over. The temperatures at night have been dipping precariously close to freezing. Gardeners are warned to cover their tomatoes.  Joy was shivering on her box.

“I need a pair of gloves. I went rooting through my stuff and was only able to find two left-handed gloves and an assortment of different colored mittens. I’m not much into fashion, but I do like to have a pair that matches.

“This morning on the bus, I got so pissed off. An old lady was trying to exit the bus by the front door and two kids were pushing on either side of her to get on.  I said to them, ‘Off first, on later.’ They made some wise-ass comment to me.  I don’t know what’s with kids today. When I was young, I’d never talk to elders like that.  I was about to go to the back and throw them out the window. A guy saw me and said, ‘Don’t waste your energy, they’re not worth it.’ He was right, I probably would have ended up in jail.”

“Did the bus driver see this? Didn’t he say anything to the kids?”

“He didn’t do anything. He’s a new guy, one of those that jerks every time he hits the gas or the brake. I nearly fell before I reached my seat. The least he could have done was waited until I sat down, but oh no.”

I said, “It’s particularly bad now that school’s back in. Either the bus passes me by because it’s full, or I manage to get on and stand all the way.

“Have you seen Loretta lately?”

“I saw her about two weeks ago. She came over to my place. Her boyfriend is a real jerk, he doesn’t want her associating with any of us. She had a really bad accident a couple of years ago, that’s why she has the scars on her face and no teeth. She was in hospital for nearly a year. A month after she got out of hospital she had a fight with her boyfriend. He tried to throw her off the bridge. The only thing that saved her was she got her knee caught in the metal railing.  He was still trying to push her over. Her knee swelled up like a grapefruit. Nothing was broken, but she still has trouble walking. Have you noticed her limp?

“I told her she should dump this guy. She said, ‘You’re one to talk, you’re still with Big Jake.’ I said, ‘I’m not with him, I put his ass in jail.’ She said, ‘Well, we’re getting married.’ I can see how that’s going to end up.”

I asked, “She’s still not drinking, is she?”

“No, her boyfriend won’t allow it. I don’t think he drinks either. It’s all for the better, when she drinks she gets a little loopy, wants to fight everybody.  She starts with Vox flavored vodka; downs about three, then switches to beer.

“I’ve got no phone now! I was down there yesterday and told them that I wanted Jake’s internet shut down, because I can’t get into his computer. They cut off my land line, the internet is still working. I can’t call anybody, nobody can call me. I have to go upstairs to use Mariah’s phone. I need my own phone because of my health, I may have to call an ambulance.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to get a phone in your own name?”

“My credit’s not that good. That’s why we arranged everything in Jake’s name. I don’t even know where he is. They moved him to Joyceville, but that’s not permanent. I don’t know where they’re planning to move him next.

“Mariah said that Hippo came by when I was out. He may have some mail for me. I hope he would have had the sense to slide it under my door or something.

“I’m too cold to stay here much longer. I may go over to Jacques place, but it’s so far. I don’t know if I have that much energy today. I’ve paid all my debts. I just owe Buck some money for pot. He’s doing okay now. He quit drinking and has income from selling cigarettes and weed.”

“I was thinking that I’d see Chuck’s father around today.”

“Does he drink?”

“I don’t think so. He has a pension, but he said he paid a bill of three thousand dollars for surgery on his dog, Goldie. That’s stupid! We’re covered for companion dogs. Wolf and Weasel never paid any vet bills. Both Shaggy and Bear were hit by cars. Even when Bear was put down there was no charge.

“Well, I’m heading off. I may be at the park at noon, I may just go home and keep warm. Anyway, if I don’t see you this afternoon, I’ll see you tomorrow — same bad place, same bad station.”

At noon the only ones at the park were Jacques and another man who looked familiar. He said, “I can’t remember your name?”

“I’m Dennis. I forgot your name as well.”

“It’s Maniitok, it means wise man. I come from iqualuit, but I was born north of there in Pangnirtung.

Jacques handed me his folded jacket to sit on. He said, “That’s near where that military helicopter crashed, isn’t it?

“No, that was farther north. The helicopter was being pulled by a ship, Something happened and it crashed. Three people were killed. Even the captain of the ship was on the helicopter. He was killed too.

“Do you know what an ultralight airplane looks like? My brother-in-law, Dave, had one.  It stalled in the air and crashed. He was killed.  We were never opposed. We always got along with each other. I miss him.”

I asked Jacques, “Did you go to the Mission today for breakfast?”

“Yeah, they have their big breakfast today — eggs, sausages, home fries and toast. Later I’m going to the Shepherd for a bowl of soup, and a loaf of bread. They have good bread there, the kind that’s good for making French toast. I have some eggs and milk, so I’ll have some tomorrow. I like that.

“Do you know what the latest electronic gadget is? Look, I have one? Do you know what it is? It’s an electronic cigarette. Watch.”

Jacques inhaled, the tip turned orange and smoke came out of his mouth. Then he spat.

“Did you see the smoke come out of my mouth? It’s like mint, with a bit of a nicotine taste. I think it’s for those who want to quit smoking. They’re expensive. I think they start at about fifty bucks.”

“Where did you get yours, Jacques?”

“I found it. I thought it was a pen at first, but I couldn’t open it from either end.  I saw that little hole, I cleaned it, sucked on it. I was surprised when smoke came out  I think, maybe Mariah wants it. I phoned her. She said she was coming down, but I haven’t seen her.

“Did you see Joy today?”

I said, “Yes, she was at her regular spot. She even mentioned that she may come over to your place. She doesn’t have a phone.”

“Usually, before she comes over she uses the pay phone, but she didn’t call. I hope she isn’t heading to my place now. Oh well, nothing I can do.”

“She wasn’t feeling well and was cold, so she may have gone straight home.”

“Cold? She’s always cold. There’s going to be a lot of that before long. I have something for her. It’s like a jumpsuit with a hood. It’s too small for me, but it would be perfect for her. I forgot to show it to her when she was over.”

Shark and Loon stopped by. Shark said, “I had to come down today to pick up my pills. Irene may be down later. Did nobody else show up?”

Jacques said, “There was a big bunch, but everybody took off. Try my electronic cigarette.”

“Shark looked at it and said, “What do you do with this?”

“Put the white end in your mouth and toke from it.”

Shark tried it, he coughed and said, “That’s horrible. I’ll stick to pot.”



18 September 2013

Smoking in the Hallway 

On my way to the park I met Bearded Bruce and his girlfriend Inuk. “Dennis, mate, I haven’t seen you for ages. How’ve you been?” Being the bear that he is he gave me a big bear hug.

I said, “I’m, doing well, same old, same old. I managed to get away to the lake for a week, apart from that, nothing special. How about you?”

“We’re doing well.”

Inuk said, “It’s so good to see you.”

Bruce said, “Tomorrow, I’ve invited all my friends over for an English breakfast, a fry up we call it, pancakes, eggs, sausages, home fries. It’ll be good to see everybody together.”

“Dennis,” said Shakes, “do you know what happened to me last night? It was just after Dave left: he’s my downstairs neighbor. I heard a knock on my door. I thought, maybe Dave had forgotten something. When I opened my door I saw my landlord standing there. He said, ‘I don’t want any more smoking marijuana in the halls.’ I said, ‘I don’t smoke marijuana in the halls. I don’t even smoke cigarettes in the halls, not even when I’m coming in from outside.’ He said to me, ‘If it happens again you’ll be evicted.’ What do you think about that.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that, Shakes. He didn’t see you smoking in the hall, so there’s nothing he can do.”

“I think when Dave left, the fumes escaped into the hall.”

“You’re allowed to smoke in your own apartment, or on your balcony. He can’t do anything about that. I even smell marijuana on the bus in the morning. How well do you get along with your landlord?”

“Last night is the first time I met him. Not a very good start, is it?”

I moved down the line to talk to Mariah and Joy.  “How are you feeling today, Joy?”

“I still feel kind of rough. I didn’t come down this morning. I took one look out the window and decided, I don’t need to be out there, so I went back to bed. Mariah woke me at ten thirty. I seem to have become nocturnal lately. I’m awake all night and sleep during the day.”

I asked, “Have you heard any more knocking in your closet?”

“No, not since Mariah did the thing she does.”

I asked, “You mean the cleansing?”

“Yeah, I guess that’s what it’s called. Mariah, I’ve got something to tell you. I guess I’ll say it right here. This morning when I was fixing the couch; like I have to every morning since fat-assed Jake broke it. I pulled out the two sheets of cardboard and the blanket. I saw a spot on the blanket. I picked it up and squished it. It had that rotting wood smell of bedbugs. I freaked out! I was jumping around, screaming and swearing. I don’t want to go through another episode like I did at Chester’s. I looked all over, but only found the one bug and he was dead.

“The only person I know of that came from a place where they have bed bugs is Big Jake. He was staying at the Sally. That’s another thing I have to thank him for. I wanted to tell everyone, just in case.

“Mariah, can I borrow your phone. I want to phone Hippo. I tried six times yesterday and didn’t get an answer.

“Hello, Fat Boy, I’ve been trying to call you. Did you go home for the weekend? Has your mommy been over? How are you fixed for food? Nothing? Do you want to come to my place for supper? No? You’re going out? Your loss then.”

Shakes said, “I’ve heard strange noises in my apartment.”

Mariah asked, “Was it while you were sober?”


“Maybe it’s Weasel and Silver roaming around in the ether.”

Shakes said, “I don’t know what it is.”

Joy said, “Loretta is getting very chummy with Buck, lately. Every time I go to see him she’s there. Maybe Buck is giving her weed  in trade. She wanted to come to my place, but I told her I’d probably have to kill her.”

I asked, “She isn’t drinking is she?”

“Not yet, but she wants to. It’s just her boyfriend who’s keeping her sober. She said to me, ‘How about if I come to your place and bring some Rev?’ I know what would happen she’d guzzle that blue Smurf piss and then go wild. Then I would have to kill her.

“Yesterday, Mariah invited me up for a barbecue. Charlie asked, ‘Will there be enough food? You know how little I eat. His brother was visiting. He used to spar with Mike Tyson. He’s a bit punch drunk.”

I asked, “Does he still have his ear?”

“You’ll have to ask him that. I heard an interview with Mike Tyson a while back. I’ve never heard anybody sound so stupid in my life.”

Gaston and Yves stopped by. Yves offered his left hand for me to shake. I asked how’s your hand coming along?”

“It’s not too bad, a bit swollen from working this morning. My landlord came by to inspect the water damage in my bathroom, from the leak they had upstairs. I said, ‘Just leave me the stuff and I’ll fix it. You might as well, I’ll have to redo it anyway.’ So he left me a container of mud and a gallon of paint. I’ve been sanding all morning.”

I asked Mariah, “Did Jacques give you that electronic cigarette yesterday?”

“Yeah,” she said, “I’ve got it right here.”

Joy said, “Let me try that. Yuck, it tastes like cherry? Who’d want to do that to themselves.”

I said, “I  thought Jacques said it was mint?”

Mariah said, “No, see the pink swirls. That means it’s cherry. Mint would be green.”

I said, “Yesterday I Googled them. They cost upwards of fifty bucks.”

Mariah said, “If you get them from the pharmacy — the ones with nicotine — they may cost fifty, but this one is disposable. You can get these for thirty or forty.”


19 September 2013

On the Streets Again

Sitting in the shade were Shark, Curt, Fat Chuck, and Jake. Shark said, “I’ve just been to my doctor, he’s also my specialist (HIV/AIDS) at the Hassle Free Clinic at Gerrard and Church. That’s hard to find. Usually if a doctor is a specialist he doesn’t do general practice.  I asked him, when his contract is up,  if I could still be his patient. He said, ‘Sure!’ I’m really happy about that. It’s the only reason I stay in this city.

Curt said, “I went to the clinic today. They had me in one of those paper gowns. They were saying, move this way, move that way. How does this feel? I said, ‘It feels drafty.’ I guess I’m too old to be modest.

Chuck said, “Well, I’m homeless again. My landlord chucked me out. I slept at Bearded Bruce’s last night.” He threw an empty beer can toward the fence. He meant it to go over, but it was blocked by some branches. “I guess I’m going to have to get up for that. No wait, here comes Jake. He can throw it over for me.”

Jake kicked the can under the fence rail. “Somebody’s going to be able to get a dollar twenty from what’s down there.”

I asked Chuck, “Did Bruce cook a big breakfast. He mentioned yesterday that he was having a lot of people over.”

“Bruce always cooks a big breakfast. It may be at three in the afternoon, but it’s always big. Yesterday, we had chicken, steak, eggs and some leftovers he had in the fridge.”

Shark asked, “Chuck, why were you evicted. You’ve only been in that place a couple of months.”

“I guess I’m too picky. I wanted him to fix the window and get rid of the bed bugs. Then my stove blew up, twice. Then my hot water heater blew up. The basement was full of water. I didn’t care about that, but I had no hot water. He walked around my apartment and asked, ‘How did you manage to break these appliances?’ as if it were my fault. I said to him, ‘What the fuck do you think I did, go around stabbing them with a knife? The element had a bubble in it. When I turned it on it exploded. That’s what happens.’ I said, ‘I don’t like you coming around here. I’ll see you when I hand you my rent and when you come to fix things. Apart from that, I don’t want to see you.’

“I asked him, ‘How would you like to see your daughter living like this, or your son? Would you live here?’ He didn’t like that. I got an eviction notice in the mail. I said to myself, Okay, you don’t get any more rent from me. I stiffed him for two months. I was paying eight hundred a month.

“I’ve been on the waiting list for housing for five years.  All my friends, Frank, Joy, Andre and Shakes all have places. I must be doing something wrong. Maybe I need to get a psychiatric evaluation. That might speed things up.

“Shark, you’ve got a nice place. It’s just like Las Vegas.”

“Yeah, we got a good deal. We’re paying eleven hundred for two bedrooms. We’re above a store. We’ve got nobody on either side, just the way I like it. The only problem is the bed bugs. I had a nice couch that I had to get rid of. We’ve caulked all the seams, but they’re in the walls.”

Chuck said, “I was panning yesterday for  four hours and I only made eight dollars.”

I said, “Shakes mentioned that he only made two.”

Chuck said, “I know. With that two dollars he bought a beer from me. He was slow in paying up, too. I had to keep reminding him, ‘Shakes you wanted the beer, now you owe me two bucks.’ I’d have to go out panning to make that up. He could do the same.”

Curt and Shark were comparing their Maple Leaf hockey caps.  Curt said, “Yours is a different color blue.”

“I’ve only had this one season,” said Shark.

“I’ve had mine for three. I washed it once, but I still can’t get the stains out.  I paid twenty bucks for this, but I bet I’ve made hundreds. I do really well when the Leafs are playing Montreal.  A guy offered me twenty for it and a Canadiens cap, but I said no way.”

Jake walked away towards the bridge where he ‘worked’. Shark packed up and said he was heading home. Chuck loaded his backpack and sleeping bag. That left Curt.  I left to go back to work.



23 September 2013

Bed Bugs, Again 

“How are you this morning, Joy?”

“I’m fuckin’ freezing, man! I can’t stop shivering.  Jacques was by earlier.  He laughed so hard I thought he was going to piss himself, ‘What are you doing out here, Little One. It’s cold and it’s Monday. You don’t like cold and you don’t do Mondays.’

I said to him, ‘Look dude, I don’t have a fuckin’ thing in the house to eat. That’s why I’m out here.  So far, I’ve made a dollar eighty-two.’

‘Little One, you come to my place. I make you a good meal. I also have a flyer from Luciano’s No Frills. They have some great specials now. I’ll give you the coupons.’

“It’s fine that they have a sale. Mariah is always stocking up when they cut prices; but I’ve got no fuckin’ money.  She gets extra cash selling pot.

“John is still trying to get me on subsidized housing;  but I’ve got no phone for them to call me back, so I have to keep calling them. I’m going to get that sorted this week,  get Jake’s internet cut off — since I can’t get into his computer. His cell phone has been cut off since he hasn’t been making payments. I’m going to work something out with Bell so I can pay a monthly fee for just my TV and land line.”

I said, “Jake could wire you some money, or send you a check.”

“Yeah, I know, there are a lot of things he could do; but I don’t see it happening.

“I found another one of those babittes on my couch. I lifted the pillow — I’ve got one of those blue covered hospital pillows that I use for stuffing. I took it from the hospital — I didn’t see anything at first, until it moved, then I grabbed it and pinched it… That same rotting wood smell. It was a bed bug, alright. The babies are invisible and they don’t have the numbing agent that the adults do. It really hurts when they bite. If  you watch them feed, they gradually change to an orange color. That’s the blood they’re taking out of you.

“I’m afraid to even go upstairs to Mariah’s place. I just stand at the door and wave. I don’t want to be responsible for her getting bugs. I don’t even want to tell the landlady. She’ll blame me for bringing them in.  I may not stay after my lease is up in November.  I’ll see what happens between now and then. I’m still on good terms with the landlady.

“Buck thinks he may have brought some bugs over when he came Wednesday. He’s in a high-rise, they even come out of the electrical outlets. I’m going to the hardware store to get the bed bug spray that Shark uses. He seems to spray about once every two weeks. If he was more careful about who he let into his place, he wouldn’t have a problem.”

I said, “He was telling me that he thought they were in the walls.”

“They can be anywhere, in books, in laundry, in carpets, under baseboards.  Shark has thrown out so many sofas, blankets and pieces of clothing. He usually gets them for free, but even so, it’s a real hassle replacing things all the time.”

I asked, “What did you do with the pillow and the blankets that were on the couch?”

“Bagged them up and threw them in the garbage. I have more I can use. I put a white sheet on the couch to see if any more came out, but they didn’t.

“I’m even afraid to turn the heat on for fear it will draw out the bugs. My apartment is as cold as it is out here.”

I asked, “Did you have a good weekend?”

“It was quiet. I didn’t go out, just sat and watched movies, some over and over again.”


24 September 2013

Dingo Ate The Baby

This morning, on the bus, I was reading Stephen King’s “On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft”. It’s fascinating, so fascinating that I missed my transfer point and had to backtrack to get downtown.

The first thing Joy said to me was, “You’re late!”

“I know,” I said, “I missed my bus stop. I was reading a book by Stephen King. He had a serious vehicle pedestrian accident in 1999. He was nearly killed.”

“He’s really creepy.  I saw him interviewed one time;  no  wonder he writes such creepy stories.”

“How was your day, yesterday. Did you go to Jacques’ for dinner?”

“I went over there but he was making something with salmon. I just can’t eat fish. I don’t mind crab and lobster. Mariah often buys live lobster. When I was over there one time, she’d put them on the floor. Her cat, Precious was playing with them. They had the locks on their claws so they weren’t dangerous, but they still kept coming after her. I laughed to see them waving their claws around and not being able to do anything with them.

“After I left Jacques, I went to Luciano’s to get groceries. I got a pack of twelve chicken thighs; you know, the part above the drumstick. I also got pork chops, onions — Jacques had given me some potatoes, so I really pigged out.

“I’m going someplace with him, so I don’t know if I’ll be at the park.  Maybe I will — we’ll see. The other guys should be up there.”

As I arrived at the park Joy was on the telephone to Hippo, “What do you mean, you can’t get out of your apartment! Strap some knives to your hands and go after them! You phoned the cops? They didn’t come! How about your landlord? Yeah, I’ll head up there on my way back.

“That was Hippo. Some crackheads in his building are pissed off with him. They say he was responsible for some guy getting evicted. He says he doesn’t even know the guy. I wish he’d grow some balls. He want’s me to go over and do his dirty work for him.”

“Hi Mariah, how’s it going with the spirits in your house?”

“They’re still there. I feel them passing every so often, but they don’t bother me.  They’re not knocking things down like they were before. If they get bad, I’ll have to do another cleansing. I need to find more eagle feathers.”

I asked, “Where do you get them?”

“I find them in the wild, that’s the only way.”

“Then you have them blessed? Is that what happens?”

“Yeah, I have them blessed.”

Joy said, “The spirits in my place are driving me nuts. I don’t mind Biddy knocking in the closet. In fact, sometimes when I’m watching TV , I’ll notice the  image of a man sitting on the other end of the sofa.”

I asked, “So, he’s watching TV with you?”

“Yeah, he’s watching TV with me. One time I had one of those paranormal programs on, called “Haunting”. He really started banging in the closet then, so I don’t watch that any more.

“It’s not him that freaks me out, it’s the little girl. She looks to be about six years old and wears old-fashioned clothes, you know, with lots of layers of underthings.”

“You mean  crinolines?”

“Yeah, that’s what they’re called. She wears a long dress and has her hair in some kind of a bun at the back. She’s got the pale, spooky blue eyes. She’d be pretty if she didn’t always have that scowl on her face. This morning she moved my kitchen table about a foot. I tripped over it going out the door. I could have been killed.”

Mariah said, “Joy doesn’t know how to talk to them.”

“What, like I should make friends with them?”

“No, but the way you talk to them is too prissy;  please, thank you and shit like that. You have to be firm, assertive, or else they’ll just laugh at you. They won’t take you seriously. You have to show them that you’re the boss, then they’ll leave you alone, go somewhere else. I think that Buddy guy has been in my place, but not the little girl.

“It’s not the spirits I’m worried about, it’s Charlie. I told you he had TTP. He got out of hospital at six this morning. He’s been having chest pains and they kept him in to do some scans. He said they filled him up with so much stuff that his pee is flourescent.”

I said, “That will make it easier for him to hit the toilet. When it’s dark he won’t even need to turn the light on.”

“He needs something to help his aim. He’s also full of dilaudid.”

“That must be fun for him!”

“Yeah, for him it’s okay; for everybody around him it’s a damned nuisance. I want to start drinking again, just to smack him upside the head.  He can get real ornery.

“The scar tissue has broken down where he had the operation, but now it’s moved to the right. That’s what’s causing him the pain.”

Joy said, “Here comes Buck and Dillinger, only Dillinger is going the other way. When Mariah and I saw that dog for the first time we thought it was a dingo. We both said, ‘Dingo Ate My Baby’ .”

I asked, “What does that mean?”

“It’s from a movie with Meryl Streep, called A Cry in the Dark. It’s based on a true story in Australia where a dingo (wild Australian dog) ate/carried away her baby while they were camping. I think the woman actually killed her baby then left it out in the desert where she thought the dingos would eat it, but they didn’t.

“Did you see the bag of clothes I got this morning; a  big garbage bag behind my box?”


“Anyway, I went through them. I gave most of them to Jacques. Most of them were really worn, nearly threadbare. I kept a sweater by ‘Roots’. There were a couple of pairs of  women’s training pants.”

“Did you keep those?”

“No, there was no elastic at the bottom and they were too girly. Jacques will wear them. He’s the one making a fashion statement. Look at him, lime green shirt, orange pants with khaki shorts over top. He doesn’t care what he wears.”

Hippo stopped by. I said, “Hi Hippo, did they let you leave the building?”

“Yeah, I just made a run for it. I don’t even know what it’s all about. First they said it was about a guy that got evicted. There was a girl evicted but not a guy. Then they changed their story. In any case I didn’t have anything to do with it. I don’t even know the people in my building. I know some names and recognize some faces. I can’t put the two together.”

Joy said, “I knew a coolie that lived upstairs. I knocked four of her front teeth out.

“Hippo, do you have my mail?”

“Yeah, here it is.”

“This one here says ‘return to sender’. It’s one I sent to Jake. I hope it’s the one with the fifty dollar money order. Yes! we’re getting drunk tonight.


26 September 2013

Eagle Feathers 

Sitting on the curb were Little Jake, Shakes, Mariah and Jacques. I parked myself cross-legged on the sidewalk in front of them.  Jake said, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” He was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, but took off his shirt. “This must be Indian Summer, don’t you think, Jacques?”

“I don’t know, it seems early.”

Jake said, “I was reading the Farmer’s Almanac. It says we’re going to have a cold winter. Even at home, we always read the Farmer’s Almanac. They were always right about the weather (Canada’s coldest winter in twenty years).

“Jacques said, “Did you hear, they’re building a big hydroponic plant to grow medicinal marijuana, but the government is causing problems for them.”

“Yeah,” I said, “they’re doing that in Smith Falls at the old Hershey Chocolate Factory. It’s a huge place.”

Jake said, “Did you hear what happened to me?”

“No, Jake, what happened?”

“I was hit by a car, that’s what happened. I was just riding along then ‘bang’, I was sitting in the middle of the street, just like you are. I said, ‘What the fuck just happened?’ A guy on the sidewalk said, ‘You were just hit by a car, man.’ I was all kinda woozy. I just sat there. my bike was  ten feet away.”

I asked, “How did the accident occur. Was it at an intersection? Was the car turning?”

“I don’t know. I was so fuckin’ hammered, I don’t know what happened. One minute I’m on my bike. The next minute I’m on the ground. I didn’t realize it but the crash loosened my front wheel. I have quick release wheels. I was going down a hill and it started wobbling. Imagine what would have happened if it had fallen off.  I got bruises on my ribs, on my leg. I’ve got a scraped elbow, just when the other elbow had nearly healed. It happened last week.”

Shakes said, ” It didn’t happen last week. It happened on Monday.”

“Well, last week, Monday, it’s all the same to me.”

Shakes said, “Dennis, Dennis, do you know what happened to me? I was panning on Queen near Yonge, near  the Florist shop. McDonalds is nearby on Church… Anyway, I bought a Big Mac and put it beside me. After a while, I’d made the price of two bottles and a pack of cigarettes. I got up and my Big Mac was gone. Somebody stole it. I was really looking forward to that Big Mac.”

“DId you see who stole it?

Jake said, “Shakes never knows who stole things. He probably fell asleep. He’s lost shoes, backpacks, cash, pot, cigarettes, beer.”

Shakes said, “There were all kinds of people around, some crossing the street, some walking behind me. I didn’t see who took it.”

Mariah came by. I asked her, “Have you had any more problems with spirits?”

“Not me, but Joy has. That little girl was being very bad. I hadn’t really prepared myself but I confronted her. Sometimes they just want to be noticed. She came from a family where she was ignored, just pushed aside. That’s the impression I got. She was a daddy’s girl, but then he left. I don’t know what happened to him.”

I asked , “How did you confront her?”

“I just faced her and took her energy away. That’s what she had been doing to Joy, taking her energy; it was causing her to get sick. We had a talk. The little girl wasn’t happy about where some of the things were placed on the walls, so we changed them. Moved some other things around.  After that, she seemed happy. ‘Whoosh’ she was gone.

“The next day Joy came upstairs and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I got a full nights sleep. That hasn’t happened for weeks.’ I got a kick out of that.”

“You said that you weren’t prepared. What did you mean by that?”

“I’ve been looking for eagle and hawk feathers; on my hands and knees in the woods, but I didn’t find any. I had some others that I used. After a cleansing like that I don’t use the feathers again. I’ll tie them into a dream catcher, or something.”

“When did you realize that you could contact spirits.”

“I’ve always known. If I go into the woods, I’ll hear voices. I don’t see anything, but I’ll feel the presence of a spirit as a cold spot, or an unusual breeze that just passes then is gone.”

Jake said, “I saw a beautiful feather the other day. It was kind of brownish gold, turning to black. I think it was some kind of hawk feather.”

Mariah said, “It sounds like an eagle.”

“Yeah, ” I said, “It sounds like a golden eagle, We have them out at the lake. They’re huge.”

Jake said to Mariah, “Is that beer you’re drinking. I didn’t know you drank beer.”

“I usually drink vodka. It’s not as noticeable and I don’t have to pee so often.”

Jake said, “Yeah, with beer, once you start pissing, you’re up every ten minutes.”

I said, “I usually figure it’s once for each beer.”

Jake passed me a joint, “No thanks, if I had that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back to work.”

Shakes was taking pot out of small baggies, breaking up the buds and putting them into a small, black plastic container. He handed me a bud and said, “Here’s some for later.” I put it in my shirt pocket. He said, “Here, I’ll give you a baggie. I hate getting shirt lint in my joints.”

As I was walking back to work I met Magdalene. She said, “I know you, but I forget your name.”

“I’m Dennis.”

“Yeah, Dennis.”

I asked, “How’s everything going? I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I don’t know. Okay, I guess. I just came from down there,”  indicating the direction I was walking.

I asked, “Is Alphonse with you?”

“He’s in jail.”

“Why is he in jail.”

“Assault. I didn’t charge him. I know some women go to the police, but this happened on the street. Somebody else reported it.”

“How are you feeling now?”

“Not so good. Have you got any bus tickets? I haven’t been home for three weeks. I’ve been staying at the Shep.”


27 September 2013


At the park it was hot,  the kind of weather we wished we’d had in summer. I sat on the sidewalk with Stan, Mariah, Fat Chuck, Jacques, Shakes, Hawk and his dog Dillinger.

Chuck said, “I was listening to Q-107. Every Friday they pick the ‘Bonehead of the week’:

This week’s Bonehead of the Week comes to us from…where else…Florida! A Deltona man was a little short on cash when he went to pay his water bill. Soon, the entire water department was shut down because of an unknown powder – which turned out to be crack. In an envelope. He had tried to pay his water bill with crack cause you know, the street value was probably even more than he owed on his water bill!

Another one was

…about a local lad. Seems a 19-year-old burglar kicked in the window of an Oshawa  hair salon to steal $50. In doing so, he cut his foot. So he went a couple of blocks away and called 9-1-1 for his small laceration. The cops were able to put two and two together rather quickly, and he was arrested. 

Stan, wearing roller blades, was watching a man, with his foot on the curb, bending over to tie his shoe. Talk about boneheads, do ya see the size of the wad sticking out of that guy’s back pocket? I’ve been timing him. He’s just waiting to get robbed.”

I said, “So, that’s why you’re wearing the roller blades.”

“Yeah, once a day, just to keep in practise. Sometimes they just make it too easy.”

Shakes made a comment to Chuck who said, “We’re having a conversation here, Shakes. Talk to Jacques.

“Does anybody want some pizza? I go to this restaurant where they give me all their left over pizzas. There’s more than I can eat.”

I asked, “Aren’t you staying with Bruce, doesn’t he have room in his fridge for the extras?”

“Well, I am, but that’s just temporary, anyway there’s only so many days you can eat pizza, then I just throw it out.

“Yesterday I offered to clean out his fridge. It really needed it. He said, ‘Go for it.’ I threw out three big jars that had once had beets in them, but all that was left was about an inch of juice in the bottom, so I chucked them. When he checked the fridge he asked, ‘Where’s my beet juice?’ I said the jars were empty, there were no beets left. He said, ‘It’s the juice I like. Now, what am I going to put on my french fries?’ Have you ever heard of that, beet juice on french fries? ha ha ha ha ha.

I asked Mariah, “Have you had any more problems with spirits?”

“They’re still there, coming and going, but they haven’t been bothering us.”

I said, “I guess  Joy’s been sleeping well then?”

“I don’t know. She’s not here today because of women’s problems.”

Shakes passed a folded grocery flyer to Jacques, who passed it to Chuck, who passed it to Mariah.  He said, “Mariah, can you roll me a joint? I’m a bit shaky this morning. She opened the flyer. In the crease was a line of crumbled weed and a rolling paper. She rolled the joint.

I said, “When I was a smoker, I always used to roll my own cigarettes.”

Chuck said, “It reminds me of prison. The first day they’d hand you a packet of Drum tobacco, rolling papers and a pack of matches. Then they’d say, ‘Now, don’t go burning the place down.’ Ha ha ha ha ha.

“I had to borrow some money from my dad this morning. I said to him, ‘Daddy, can I have ten bucks. I’m flat broke and I need to buy a bottle.’ He pulled out his wallet and I could see that it was stuffed. I said, ‘You might as well give me a twenty so I can buy two bottles.’ If he’s going to show me his money, of course I’m going to ask for it. No point asking for too much or he’d just say no, but if I ask for a little bit less, and he agrees to it, I’ll always ask for extra. Ha ha ha ha ha.”

Jake said, “I owe four hundred dollars on my television bill. If I don’t pay them at least two hundred they’re going to cut me off. I also have a drug bill of sixty dollars. I’m not going to be able to pay both. Maybe I’ll ask Buck if he can wait until next week I’ll be getting a GST (Goods and Services Tax) refund on Tuesday.”

I said, “Now’s the time to ask him.”

“Buck, can I hold off paying you until next week, or the end of the month?”


I asked, “Did you mean the end of this month, or the end of some month?”

Mariah was rearranging her TENS Muscle Therapy pads. She uses them for  muscle massage on her back. “These work as well as a massage.  I paid about a hundred and sixty for these, but the price has really gone down now. I think you could probably pick up a unit like this for a hundred and thirty.

“That sun is really getting to me. I got a beer in my pack, but I don’t even feel like drinking it.”

Chuck said, “Did you hear that massage therapy is covered under our Sunshine Cards?”

I asked, “What’s a Sunshine Card?”

Mariah said, “It’s what we call our medical disability health cards.”

“Yeah, ” said Chuck, “some guy was going to a massage parlour and, sure enough, she was running the card through her machine and giving him a receipt. Only, he wasn’t getting massages, he was getting blow jobs. Can you imagine, the government paying for blow jobs? He was going every week. Some guys really know how to work the system. It’s a good way to relieve tension. I think they put a stop to that pretty quick, or else I’d be there right now. Ha ha ha ha ha.”

Mariah said, “I don’t go for massages, but I go to my ‘chiro’ every once in a while, when my back acts up. That’s covered.”

Chuck said, “The problem with ‘chiros’ is that they make you feel so good — even better than you feel normally — so that’s how they keep you coming back.”

Stan watched a young woman walk by, talking on a cell phone. He shouted to her, “Hey! you’re not really talking to anybody. You’re just trying to look important, ‘She said, she said, she said…’  Faker!  Faker! Faker!”


  1. These intimate portraits of yours are a window on forgotten lives.


  2. nukemm33 says:

    I had no clue of the sheer volume of these encounters when I posted earlier. You certainly have a dedication to these encounters which is awe inspiring.


    • I visit these friends whenever I can, whenever the weather permits. For the past three months it has been too cold for anybody to be outside for any length of time. Exposed skin freezes in a matter of minutes. ~ Dennis


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