Archive for June 25, 2013

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25 June 2013

A storm was on its way. Dark clouds were moving in. The air was heavy with humidity. The sun had disappeared from sight. I sat between Matches and Magdalene who said, “Everybody thinks that Matches is my father, but he’s not my father. My father is in prison for fifteen years, for rape and murder.”

“I don’t like that,” said Matches, “rape and murder?”

I asked, “Has your father ever assaulted you?”

“No, my grandfather stopped him. I was raised by my grandparents.  It happened when I was five years old. My father was drunk. He came into my bedroom and had his hand on my thigh. My grandfather came in and threw him down the stairs before he could do anything. It was a shock to me,  a trauma.

“My grandfather has always protected me. He wants me to call him every week, but I don’t have any more time on my calling card.

“Do you know why I was born?   One time my mom came home, opened the door and my father was fucking another woman.  My mother jumped on her and punched her, then beat my father. Then she got a knife from the kitchen and she cut him from his right side up to his neck. He was just sitting there holding himself together.” She was going to kick him out, but he said, ‘I want to have a child with you. If you do that for me I won’t report you to the cops. ‘ So she let him stay. Nine months later I was born.  She died giving birth to me. That is a reason why I’m here.  That’s why I fight with men so much.

“I just got out of jail for beating up my husband. I was in there two weeks. I didn’t eat anything. I felt too sick. I just drank water and they kept feeding me pills.

“This morning I beat up three men. Alphonse just ran away. I just kept punching and punching them. See my knuckles, and the blood on my hands and shirt. When I catch Alphonse, I’m going to beat him for running away.

The three of us moved up the lawn to where Jacques, Gaston Chili, Little Frank and Loretta were sitting. Joy had brought her box to sit on.

I asked Loretta, “How is your recovery coming along?”

“It’s been five months now, but today is hard. I was helping my boyfriend with roofing, we had an argument and were shouting at each other. I just had to get away. He gave me ten dollars, I bought some cigarettes and two cans of pop, but I really wanted something stronger. I still do. I’m an inch away from taking a drink.

Jacques overheard part of the conversation, he asked, “Do you want a drink? I have some here… You don’t drink any more? I didn’t know… Five months? I should quit drinking.”

Loretta continued, “I finished my fifty hours of community service today. I have to go to court in two months. The prosecutor wants me to get jail time. My lawyer said that if I do extra community service it will look good when I go to court. Actually, I have fifty hours to do from two years ago. We figured that if I work one day a week, by the time of my court date, I will have it completed. If I don’t go to jail, I hope to go to secretarial school. Thanks for talking to me. I feel better now.

Joy said to Gaston, “You look hot in those long pants. You should have worn shorts today.”

“I’m going to work later. If I was to wear shorts to where I work, I’d be raped.”

Loretta reached in her bag and pulled out a bandanna that she gave to Joy. “Cool, this is great. I’ll wear it tomorrow. People must be getting tired of me wearing this same old one all the time.”

Chili said, “I know the store where they sell those. It’s on Rideau. Often they have racks of stuff out on the sidewalk.”

Joy said, “I know that place. I’ve snagged a skirt from there.”

Chili continued, ‘If you wear baggy pants like these you can get a bunch of stuff. I’m going to get two yellow scarves and one red one. I’ll sew them together like a flag. Brazil is my favorite soccer team. It’ll be like the Brazilian flag.”

Panhandler

Panhandler (Photo credit: jon.guillen)

As I approached Joy, she smiled and said, “Another day in the neighborhood. It’s going to be a hot one… Oh no, here comes Chester.”

“Hi Chester, have you finished your run?”

He held up a long cigarette butt, and said, “No, I’m just starting.” He wandered off in search of the next ashtray.

“Did I miss anything in the park yesterday?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t stay long it was just too hot. Bearded Bruce was there. He complained the whole time about the heat. I said, ‘Hey dude, if you’d lose a few pounds it wouldn’t bother you so much. Just push yourself away from the dinner table’… He doesn’t listen…

“Even I’ve gained a few pounds. Now, I’m between one twenty-five and one thirty.”

I said, “I remember last winter, after you got out of hospital you were a hundred and five.”

“Yeah, I’m comfortable staying at my present weight. Debbie and Little Jake seem to be living together now. He wasn’t out yesterday. Maybe he’ll stay home and she’ll do the boosting.”

“She was showing off the haircut that Jake gave her.”

“Yeah, that was a laugh. I didn’t say anything, but the best thing she could do now is shave her whole head. There’s no way I’d let any of those guys near me with a pair of scissors.”

“I guess they were both stoned at the time.”

“It shows.” Joy took a scrap of bread and threw it to a sparrow that had landed just a few feet from her. He contentedly nibbled. “He’s my little friend. I spit at the pigeons who come near. I feed this little guy and a squirrel that comes by every so often. Sometimes he’ll climb right up on my shoulder and scratch to let me know he’s hungry. People  love it, but it kind of freaks me out. I’m never quite sure whether or not he’s going to bite me.

“Yesterday, I just wanted to go home and lie in my bathtub. That’s the only place I could stay cool. I guess I’ll have to invest in one of those little fans. The apartment wasn’t too hot early on but with the sun shining on the windows it got hotter throughout the day.

“This morning I put black garbage bags over all the windows to try to keep the heat out. I hope it makes a difference. At least today there’s more of a breeze.

“Matches missed his delivery of Ensure yesterday. His workers arrange it because he doesn’t eat properly. If he had his way he’d just drink. He asked me to phone and ask when they would be coming by. They said, ‘We’ll be there in a few minutes,’ so, there’s no way he could have made it home. He’ll have to reschedule.

“Chester went to the Welfare office on Catherine Street yesterday, because his hydro had been turned off. He told them that he’d lost all the food in his refrigerator —  which was a lie — but they cut him a check for a hundred and thirty-seven dollars. That should keep him going until his pension checks come in. He shouldn’t have any trouble paying his rent, hydro and food. Even when I was there I was always buying groceries and helping with bills. He just spends too much on women. They hang around him on check day;  when his money runs out they leave.”