Joy was looking dejected as I approached this morning. She said,”Today is even worse than yesterday.”

I said, “You’ve told me that Mondays are always bad.”

“Some people do okay on Mondays, but I never have. Yesterday I made just enough for a bottle and a pack of smokes. I need cigarettes. Nobody’s seen Shark for over a week. He’s probably in his bedroom smashing crack into his arm. I’ve had to pay full price.

“A lot of people have been complaining to Scarface. He may decide to go back to selling cigarettes. He smokes up to two packs a day. It costs him a fortune. He says he wants to quit. It would save him a lot if he were getting them straight from the reserve. Maybe, I can get some from Mariah. I’ll see if I can get hooked up with her guy.

“I don’t think I got more than an hours sleep last night. When I was in hospital they told me I have a torn rotator cuff. They said that if I was an athlete they’d operate right away, but I’m not, so they didn’t. It sure hurts. I’m still not able to sleep on that side and I’ve got one rib that seems to be pinching my lung. I’m also getting dizzy spells while lying down. That’s scary. If it doesn’t clear up by Friday, as much as I hate it, I’m going to hospital.

“I took the bandage off my shin. The cut looked really red at the edges. It was weeping some ugly yellow stuff. I washed it with peroxide and put more Polysporin on, then bandaged it again. It really hurts.

“I’m also trying to soften the scab, where the stitches are, in my head. I rub on Polysporin every day, but it doesn’t seem to help.

I asked, “Were you able to talk to Greg from 507.”

“Yeah, he was up there yesterday. He said he was here Friday. I said, ‘Look, dude, I waited in the rain until 10:30.’ He said, ‘I was here looking for you, I even checked Tim Horton’s and the pizza place. I didn’t see you anywhere. Believe me, I looked.’ Anyway, we’re going Thursday morning to get my health card.

“Hippo came over yesterday. He just hung around. I told him, ‘Dude, I’m going to make myself lunch, but I don’t have enough for both of us.’ He got all pissy then and left. I don’t know why he comes to my place to eat. He has plenty of food at his apartment. His parents buy him groceries.

“Everybody’s been asking if I’ve seen Andre or Jake. I haven’t, and I don’t want to. People have written off Andre completely. He has no friends at all. I don’t understand that, Jake was beating me for three years, but he always found a place to stay, either with Little Jake or Animal. I’d say to them, ‘You guys have known me a lot longer than you have Jake. I introduced him to you. Don’t you think you should give me some support here?’

“Another person I haven’t seen around is Blair. He’s probably dead. I’m sure they pulled the plug on Claude. If a person has no money they turn off the life support really fast. It’s a shame.

“I get my check on Friday, then I can pay back everybody I owe. Chester should have his Old Age check by now. That’s probably why I haven’t seen him. I hope he pays his rent and doesn’t spend all his money on hookers, who are just going to rob him. He’s done that before.

“Here he comes now. He walked past an ashtray — I can’t believe it. No, he’s gone back. I don’t know how he can smoke other people’s butts. Sometimes, they’re still burning. It’s just wrong. I hope he doesn’t stay long.”

I said, “Hi Chester, how are you doing?”

“I’m okay, I’m going to stop in for breakfast at Tim Horton’s. Will I see you there, Joy?”

“No, I’ll see you at the park, later.”

Jacques also came by, “I’m going to the store, Joy. Can I get you anything?”

“No, I haven’t made enough yet. I just have four twenty. I’ll see you up at the park.”

At noon I met in the park with Joy, Serge, Jacques, Roland, Heinz and Shaggy. I gave Heinz a book by Ken Follett, one of his favorite authors.

“Thanks, Dennis, I really appreciate this.”

Serge said to me, “Dennis, I have a joke for you. There were these two guys. One guy says to the other, ‘This apple tastes just like a woman.’ The other guy says, ‘Let me try it’ so the first guy throws him the apple. The guy takes a bite and says, ‘This tastes like shit.’ The first guy says, ‘Bite the other side.’ Funny, eh?”

Someone wearing a Beatles tee-shirt came along. “Where’s Jacques? I see his radio, but no Jacques. What happened to him?”

Joy said, “That’s his radio, alright. It’s tuned to BOB FM. Do you hear Katrina and the Waves? That’s the only station he listens to.

“He went on a liquor run. He’ll be back soon.”

Sure enough, Jacques arrived. He sat down and proceeded to empty a small bottle of vodka into half a bottle of soft drink. “Now,” he said, “If the cops come along and smell my drink, they’ll think it’s Kool-Aid. Smell it Joy. Tell me what you think.”

He handed the drinking bottle to Joy who took two large swallows.

“I said smell it, not taste it!”

Joy said, “Yeah, it smells fine. Vodka never has an odor, unless you get into the really high-octane stuff.”

Bert said, “Speaking of the cops, I haven’t seen them around today. Yesterday they were here three times.”

Joy said, “Today they’re more concerned about that body they pulled out of the river. On the news they say that foul play isn’t suspected, but I don’t know. They haven’t released the guy’s name, and they said there was no water in the lungs. That means he was dead before he hit the water.

“If you want to kill somebody and get rid of the body, it’s best to beat him to the point where he’s unconscious, but still breathing. Then, throw him in the river. He’ll automatically breathe in the water. When he’s discovered they’ll just think he drowned. Any bruises could be from rocks in the river.

“I really shouldn’t know this stuff. These other guys should know it, maybe, but for me it’s just wrong. I shouldn’t know all these ways to off people.

“Do you find this kind of talk morbid?”

“No,” I said.

“Do I entertain you?”

“Yes.”

Two women were approaching on the sidewalk, Joy said, “Some people should not wear pink. That other woman should know that if her ass cheeks are hanging out, her shorts are too small. If I had a daughter I’d never let her dress that way.”

Comments
  1. I have a torn rotator cup, and some cervical neck issues. They do nothing for a restful sleep and without being rested, life is a big bad mood. 🙂 And isn’t it Tuesday? 😛

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Hi Sherry, I’m sorry to hear about your injuries and how they affect your sleep. Hopefully, in time, you will feel better and be able to get a good nights rest.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

  2. Editor-in-Chief: Carrie B says:

    Wow-I love your approach to this subject. I have lost count on the articles written from a soapbox but with your wit and honesty you flesh out an individual that many of us would not otherwise meet. Look forward to reading more!

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Hi Carrie, thanks for your kind words. These individuals have become my friends. The best part of my day is spending time with them. My hope is that, once people get to know them, they will see them as I do. Just like us, they want happiness and freedom from suffering.

      Like

      • Editor-in-Chief: Carrie B says:

        I completely agree and think that your approach is the most kind and the most effective. Not to mention that you will have new friends with such a unique point of view. This is one of the areas in my life that I think I could do more in, and your articles just fuel that motivation. Thank you!

        Like

      • dcardiff says:

        I am honored that my articles fuel your motivation. I could ask for nothing more. Blessings, Dennis

        Like

  3. warm human observing & good writing/reporting.

    Like

  4. wow! Dennis I honestly could read on and on… these souls are full of SOUL!

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Thank you so much Deborah. I learn from these people every day. I am humbled by their survival skills, their joy and their humor. ~ Dennis

      Like

      • Stephanie Jill Rudd says:

        Yes they are full of soul, overflowing for us all to see if we do not avert our eyes and walk past. The heart though, always sees what the eyes try to avoid. Real people living real lives. I love real people, unmasked. Full of courage, full of gritty wisdom and compassion. Human in other words.

        Like

      • dcardiff says:

        Yes, they are full of soul, real people, unmasked, gritty, living real lives. Thanks so much for stopping, looking and reading.

        Cheers,
        Dennis

        Like

  5. How amazingly done! That dialog is truly amazing. It’s almost the exact same concept that I am using for my Stage play production for Veterans on Stage….I love it so much. You are great!

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words. The dialog isn’t mine, but that of my friends; I am but the recorder.

      Best wishes with your Stage Play,
      Dennis

      Like

      • thank you I really hope that it can reach the masses.

        Like

      • dcardiff says:

        Hi jenyoowinbossladie, I hope this does reach the masses. Through WordPress, Facebook and Twitter it is reaching hundreds of people. I am also meeting many people who are homeless, or work with the homeless. It is a great community.

        Cheers,
        Dennis

        Like

      • Wow! Maybe we can actually talk about a project together one day because I am a true advocate for Homeless vets and I tell them that if they don’t tell their story and be heard, then nothing can ever be done to fix it. It has to be an organized way with some strong advocates leading the way. So that’s why my tour of, “From Tent To Tent” a stage play will give the veterans to actually play it out in a dialog, such as you have posted but it takes the audience on a live trip from serving in the Military and the long walk ending up in a homeless tent (which represents homelessness). I have already performed 2 teasers and it was not a dry eye….especially when I have the funeral scene of a female veteran that died from suicide and left her children to mourn and we had an actual funeral service with the playing of the Taps….It was truly something serious to see.

        Like

      • dcardiff says:

        I would love to work on a project together. Some of my friends are veterans of the Gulf War. I love the idea of your play. I hope I can see it some day. I have attended many funerals of homeless people.

        Let’s keep in contact,
        Dennis

        Like

      • Wonderful! We are going from City to City and State to State so…yes absolutely!

        Like

  6. latefruit says:

    I like what you’re doing. A lot! You’re also a very fine writer.

    Like

  7. stew1e says:

    Such a shock for me to visit this blog & find – instead of the pseudo-religious spurious mysticism I was expecting – a genuine, caring individual. Many thanks for the work you’re doing – & for following my poetry blog!

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Hi Stewart, the closest thing to a religious comment I’ve heard was Joy saying, “They don’t want me down there, they sure as hell don’t wan’t me up there, so here I am.”

      Like

  8. Mike V says:

    Thanks for the follow, otherwise I never would have found your brilliant blog – really peaks my interest. I went through a couple bout of homelessness before. I pitched something like this to the paper I’m interning at, but it was shot down, something about it “not being newsworthy” (ugh).

    I look forward to reading more.

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Hi Mike, Thanks for mentioning my blog. I really appreciate your support and encouragement. I’ll be reading more entries on yours as well.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

      • Mike V says:

        I’m new to the blogosphere and don’t have much traffic, so it won’t do you much good, but I totally support your work. The new piece is fantastic as well. I love the intimate look into these lives that you provide.

        Like

  9. Heartafire says:

    Fine blog! Thank you for this text. I have a friend recovering from a torn rotator cuff…not fun!

    Like

  10. This is beautifully done-I’ve read quite a few posts already & I feel like I’m sitting with you all observing & listening to the conversation…I’m wondering if it was difficult to gain their trust in the beginning or if they accepted you right off the bat? Looking forward to reading more. -S

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      It was difficult to gain their trust. I brought joy her tea and breakfast sandwich for a year before I approached her with the idea of writing a book. She thought it was a good idea and suggested that I meet her friends. Upon introducing me, and what I wanted to do, she said, “My Dennis is solid, he may be a bit too square for some of your tastes, but he’s my friend. If anybody has a problem with that they can deal with me.

      Even tonight when I was sitting with Bearded Bruce. He said, “I’m going to say something, and I don’t want you to take it the wrong way, but it’s better not to get too close to people. I’ve lost four close friends this year and now Inuk is in hospital. Visiting her is causing more stress than anything I can think of. With you I don’t feel stress. It’s not that I don’t like you, but your not a close friend.”

      Everybody is different. Loveless said to me, “We usually don’t trust a person who doesn’t smoke or drink. What are you doing here?”

      I love your jewelry. I urge you to make contact with the homeless. They will appreciate it more than you can imagine.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

  11. caliveoak says:

    This story/documentary is not pretty, but it has a certain beauty.Soulful, sparse, but hitting – home, where it counts, hopefully, in hearts across America. We believe ourselves one people, isn’t that so? Surely this isn’t just a dream you are revealing here? Dennis, i think your ‘record’ is more than a trifle. Your determination to speak up is connecting others of like mind. As a poet, I’ve touched on subjects such as child-abuse, alcoholism, homelessness but you and some of the other responses to your blog have inspired me to go in a bit deeper.

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Every day I encounter something different. It’s as though I am visiting another planet, just a block from where I work. This is reality. I don’t know what to make of it. I don’t have answers, but I do get a glimpse of true humanity, from what, for some, would seem the least expected places.

      I am honored that I have inspired you to go deeper into some of these issues.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

  12. Tim Bennett says:

    Hey Dennis,
    Thanks for stopping by. Love what you’re doing here, the way you don’t turn away and especially the book project. I’m using my experience of addiction and recovery to write a fiction novel….oh, I also love your To My Wife poem on your other blog. All the best.

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Hi Tim, thanks for your kind words. My book will also be fiction in that I won’t be using real names. The events are true, but I’ve been told that even if I were to receive signed releases, they wouldn’t be valid due to issues surrounding drugs, alcohol and mental disorders. I look forward to your book.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

  13. Hi, Glad you liked our post. If you love reading then visit our Reading page:
    http://cabraseniorlibrary.wordpress.com/reading-writing/

    Cheers

    STB

    Like

  14. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the like.

    Like

  15. taypopgrey says:

    such a fascinating POV! thank you for sharing 🙂

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      This is the reality I see every day. I am honored by my friends to have been welcomed into their ‘street family’. I share the details of their trials and tribulations, but most of all their joy.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

  16. jimmorrisondreamdiaries says:

    Reblogged this on JimMorrisonDreamDiaries.

    Like

  17. JodyO says:

    What a powerful and accurate portrait. You’ve taken a sensitive approach to introducing and humanizing those who are often shunned by society.

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Hi Jody, my homeless friends speak a unique language and have views that often differ from the rest of society. I try not to edit or influence these posts with my opinions. I let them speak for themselves. To know them is to love them.

      I love your blog, especially your post “FINDING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC VOICE”. It is very informative and will follow your suggestions.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

  18. Transcender says:

    Hi! I just wanted to let you know that Vaseline is the best protectant for the stitches on the head. No Polysporin. Dermatologists and Oncological Dermatologist Surgeons are educating their patients about the benefits of using this low-cost jelly. It also has the added benefit of keeping bacteria OUT, so the affected area doesn’t get infected, and it tends to stay on all day after only one application a day.

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Thanks for the information concerning Vaseline and Polysporin. I greatly admire your blog “Breaking Free”. I have many friends who have suffered such abuse. ~ Dennis

      Like

      • Transcender says:

        Thank You, Dennis. I am humbled every time I receive a comment, a “Like”, or a “Follow” on the blog. I’m sorry about the abuse your friends have suffered, but it’s wonderful they have a friend like you who supports them, and is offering them compassion, empathy, and understanding. I really enjoyed your blog, too. You have an insightful and flat-out acceptance of those you mean to help. That’s kind of rare, where the homeless are concerned.

        Like

  19. kenrepez says:

    Hello, thank you for looking at my stuff. Reading your blog, I’m reminded that the marginalized ( the poor and different – I consider myself a ‘cooperative, nonconformist’) are the missing components to the formation of a spiritually prosperous world… so much repressed potential, so many unappreciated abilities which can help ease the burden of a world with such a narrow conception of success and ‘efficiency’. A constrained society inevitably performs a hasty amputation of a misdiagnosed, yet treatable social body part. People have been misled by the ‘trickle-down theory’ when in reality, the way of uplift – from below in the form of a healthy, grounded, horizontal societal base, is more rewarding – in a more self-sustaining way . Good to see other artist/writers doing humanistic stuff.

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      I agree completely, many of my homeless friends are highly qualified individuals who have a great deal to contribute to society, spiritually and intellectually — if society were to look down and listen.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

  20. createthinklive says:

    Reblogged this on createthinklive.

    Like

  21. malctg says:

    Hi Dennis, A hard hitting article. Thank you for liking my poems ‘ Tearful Parting The Bailiff and The Car!’ Best Wishes, The Foureyed Poet.

    Like

  22. Rebecca says:

    Hey, thanks for the “follow”. I hope you read my post “me and the homeless man”. I tried to approach him with respect but I still feel I sounded and acted more as if I were “do-gooder.” I wish I had actually engaged him in conversation. I will the next time. Thanks for your insight.

    Like

  23. Thank you for reading my post. Reading your experiences is eye opening and what you do for others is incredible.

    Like

    • dcardiff says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I enjoyed your post “All the World is a Stage ~ and I am Aging Upon It, Part 3” I’m now nearing 67 so I must seem really, really old to you. My favorite music is from the fifties, although I also like a lot from the ’70’s — Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Bob Seger top my list.

      Cheers,
      Dennis

      Like

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