USA Panhandling Signs

3 July 2013

There was a small group at the park,  sitting in a circle. I sat between Lucy In The Sky and Matches.

Lucy said, “Dennis, you’re sitting in my spot. Would you move please?

“Sure,” I said, “Where would you like me to move?”

“Anywhere! You’re sitting in my spot.”

“I’ll sit beside Little Chester.”

“Chester said, “Hi Dennis, did you have a good Canada Day?”

“Yes I did.”

Lucy asked, “Did you get drunk?”

“No, not exactly.”

“Why the fuck not?” asked Lucy.

“What do you mean, not exactly?” asked Gene. “Either you got drunk, or you didn’t.  How do you get not exactly drunk?”

I said, “I was drinking non-alcoholic beer.”

“Ooo!” said Gene while making a sour face. “Why would anybody drink non-alcoholic beer? That defeats the whole purpose. That’s like fucking one of those blow up dolls. That’s what it’s like, one of those fucking blow up dolls. Why would you do that?”

I said, “It keeps me from doing a face plant on the floor. or whatever else I’m near.”

“I guess that’s a good reason. I’ve done that enough times.”

Keith said, “One thing about those dolls, they don’t grab your wallet out of your back pocket. And they don’t give you shit all the time.

“I broke my nose just last week. My old lady bought me a used bike. I was riding just down here. The whole front of the bike came off. I was knocked out on the grass. Somebody phoned the paramedics. All they did was give me a wet towel to hold over my nose, then they took me to emergency. I waited there for eight hours. One of the paramedics said, ‘Just hold each side of your nose and push upwards. That’s all the doctors are going to do.’  I tried it. I heard a lot of crunching, but I think it’s as straight as it’s going to get. Whadya think?

“It looks good, Keith.”

“Then I had to phone my old lady to leave work and pick me up. She wasn’t too pleased about that.

“Do remember Duane?…  Sharon and Duane?… He’s back inside. They had that brand new apartment. He threw a chair through the window. They got him on a domestic. You know all about that, eh Gene?”

“Yeah I know about that. I did eighteen months.”

“That Sharon, she’s a tough broad,” said Keith. Danny was playing his guitar down on Sparks Street and she asked him to play that Willie Nelson Song, Stardust. Then she asked him to play it again. He did. Then she asked him a third time. He said, ‘No, I  played that enough. I wanna play somethin’ different.’ Sharon kicked his guitar… kicked a hole clear through… I was able to fix it though… I brought it to him this morning. 

Matches said to me, “Lucy stayed at my place last night. I told her she’d be safe there.”

I said, “It must be a nice change to be able to lock your door at night, instead of sleeping in the park and getting your stuff stolen.”

“Yeah, it’s nice. I been here Saturday, Sunday, Monday, that was Canada Day. I was here Tuesday and now it’s Wednesday…right?”

“Yeah, it’s Wednesday.”

Lucy asked, “Can I please have a cigarette?…Will somebody please give me a fuckin’ cigarette?…Matches, give me a smoke… If you don’t give me one I’ll go through your pockets until I find one.” She climbed on Matches who was lying, propped up on one elbow. Going through his pockets she didn’t find any cigarettes. “Somebody give me a hand to pull him. He’s probably sitting on those damn smokes. Help me, God damn it!” Lucy had pulled Matches about four feet.

“Hey! ” said Gene, “you’re pulling his pants off.”

I said, “Matches just wants to have his pockets searched by Lucy. Isn’t that right, Matches?”

Lucy climbed on top of him again. All the time Matches was laughing. She reached into the inside pocket of his leather jacket.”

“Hey, whadya doin?” Matches now seemed concerned. Lucy pulled a flattened pack of Players cigarettes out of his pocket and put one in her mouth.

“Now, who’s got a fuckin’ light?”

Keith handed her his lighter and she sat back down on the grass to enjoy her cigarette.

After all the excitement Matches’ eyes started drooping.

I asked, “Are you getting there, Matches, or are you done?”

“I’m okay, but I’d like a drink. Dennis, would you go to the World Exchange and buy me a bottle?”

“Sorry, Matches, I have to get back to work.”

After finishing her cigarette, Lucy lay back and fell asleep.

Keith said, “He can really put it back. Can’t he?”

Gene said, “I’ve drunk him under the table. He likes his Imperial sherry mixed with Jack Daniels. Do you know what that tastes like?…Moose piss, that’s what it tastes like… Moose piss.

I said, “I don’t think I’d like to get that close to a moose to find out.”

  1. bossotld says:

    Your work is so powerful I feel like I’m wasting folks time. Keep up the great stuff.


    • dcardiff says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I truly enjoyed your post, “The Five Bosses You Meet Outside Heaven (in back, near the dumpster)”. I think I may also have worked for some of them in the past.



  2. She looks like whoopie Goldberg! 🙂 Love her smile. But the sign is sad!


  3. miriamscody says:

    I like the sign. It’s creative, and honest, and funny, like this blog. Good job again!


  4. Great story. I love the dialogue. Very authentic.


  5. NZFiend says:

    I was talking about this exact thing on my blog last week. Homeless or beggars with signs… If they were more honest and said things like “I am bi-polar and find that alcohol and smack make me feel normal, COINS ACCEPTED” I would give them a ten dollar note instead.

    My personal favourite idea (it is my idea, so unfortunately saying it is my favourite is like LIKING your own posts….. Socially inadequate… ) is to have a sign saying “Mentally ill. All drugs accepted” and have a large cardboard box there. All the office workers returning to work at lunch break can throw in their old bags of coke, meth, crack… Butts of joints… …


  6. toad (chris jensen) says:

    Busy day, I’ve got some friends that know how mix that rubinhg alcohol just right because if don’t mix it right it taste like moose piss only with a bang…


  7. There is a kind of poetry to the way these people speak. I really enjoyed this post.


  8. stew1e says:

    Great post. Loved the wry ending!


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