I went to the park at noon. Pierre had mentioned that he didn’t have anything to read for the weekend. I brought him Ian Fleming’s, “On Her Majesty’s Foreign Service,” a James Bond novel.  He was very grateful.  He said, “I’ll give it back to you once I’m finished.”

“No, you keep it Pierre.”

“I really appreciate that. It’ll be in my bookshelf if you ever want it back. Books are like gold to me. I can’t stand it when people abuse books.

“I’m just coming off a ten day drunk. I was even drinking what these people drink. What is it, Imperial or that Pale Dry. I know why Joy went to hospital. I haven’t had a solid shit since I started drinking that stuff. It’s back to Blue for me;  not even Old Milwaukee. I don’t need that extra half percent of alcohol.

“If you don’t have a solid shit, you’re not healthy. That’s my advice. Now if you don’t mind I’m going to sit down before I fall.”

Matches called me over. He was half sitting half sprawled on the curb. He reached for my hand and pulled me down.

Jack said, “You two are really getting close.”

Matches whispered, “Dennis, can you give me some bus tickets? I’ll need six, two for me to get home and four for Tom and I to come down tomorrow. Tom’s not like me. I’ll say to him, Lets jump on at the back door. He won’t, not if he’s sober. Did you know that Tom is living at my place now. He doesn’t like the way I live. He’s always tidying up. Thanks, Dennis.”

I sat between Pierre and Fifi. I asked her, “I guess you heard about Joy leaving her purse at Bleeding Heart’s place last night?”

“Yeah, she came running up to my apartment, but I didn’t have any cash.  She should get it back today, Unless she dropped it somewhere between Lonely Heart’s and the cab. You know how us women depend on our purses.”

Pierre leaned over and whispered to me, “I’d be surprised if her money’s still there. I don’t know if he’s steal from Joy, but he stole from me when he came over to buy some crack. He can’t be trusted, but that’s just between me and you. Nobody else heard that.”

Matches came over and crouched to sit down on the sidewalk

“Yeah, Matches, you might as well join us. You’re already sitting on my toilet seat cushion (referring to the Montreal Canadiens hockey team logo.”

Pierre’s dog Shaggy started barking. Pierre reached into Shaggy’s buggy and pulled out a tinfoil bag of treats. Matches was fumbling, trying to open the bag. Pierre said, “If he doesn’t get that bag open soon, Shaggy will bite him. She will, she’s like that and it doesn’t matter what race the person is;  black, brown, yellow or white,  she’ll bite them.”

Matches had the bag opened and put one of the doggy treats in his mouth, then leaned toward Shaggy. Pierre said, Those treats are pretty small, I don’t think he should try that.”

Shaggy took the treat without incident. “How old is Shaggy?” asked Matches.

Pierre said, “She’s as old as I’ve know you. You came here twelve years ago; she’s twelve years old.”

Jacques said, “Matches, hand me that bag. I want to see if it has glucosamine in it. I’ve asked my doctor if glucosamine will help my arthritis. He always changes the subject. He won’t give me a straight answer. Yes it has glucosamine, along with pea flour, rice flour, miniblablabla…”

I said, “Ask Matches how they taste. Maybe you’ll like them.”

“Fifi said, “It’s good for cartilage.  I take it all the time.”

It was time for me to go back to work.  As I struggled to my feet. Fifi held out her arm. I leaned on it to get my balance.”

I said, “Us old people need a helping hand every once in a while.”

“You could have leaned harder than that. I’ll need a hand up when it’s time to go.”

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