Archive for September 5, 2013

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cops

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Granola Bars

5 September 2013

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

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

Metro 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?”

“No.”

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 Montfort. 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 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.”

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bench

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Crack Haven

30 August 2012

At noon the temperature was 87 degrees Fahrenheit. On my way to the park, I stopped to talk to Serge and William.

“How are you, Serge?”

“I’m tired, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I slept over there (he pointed north-west), outside.”

“You didn’t sleep at the Shepherd’s?” I asked.

“No.”

William said to me, “I forgot your name.”

“I’m Dennis,” I said. “I’m just on my way to the park. I’ll check on you on my way back. William, try to make sure that Serge doesn’t fall down.”

They both laughed, “See you,” said Serge. I waved at both of them.,

Sitting on the curb at the park were Little Jake, Loretta, Danny and Niles. Hawk and his dog, Dillinger stopped for a while then walked on.

“Hi, Loretta” I said, “You haven’t been coming around as much as you used to.”

“I live way out past Orleans. Do you know where Mer Bleu is? That’s where I live, Mer Bleu Road.

“Joy’s feeling a bit better than she was yesterday. She’s with her worker, viewing apartments. There’s one she could get for August 15, if she likes it.”

“I said, “That’s great. She’ll love having a place all to herself.

“How have you been?” I asked.

“Fine, I’ve been working.”

The sandwich ladies came by offering juice, granola bars, sandwiches and socks. Danny took a peanut butter sandwich, Shakes asked for something with meat. Miles explained that he had severe allergies to mustard, mayonnaise and onions. He showed me the EpiPen (epinephrine autoinjector) that he always carries.

Niles said, “Did you know that apple juice is poisonous? It contains cyanide and arsenic. Over a long period it can cause organ damage and cancer.

“I just came back from San Francisco. I have my own landscaping business there. When we first moved to the States we lived in Ocala, Florida. Later, we moved to San Francisco. I got a real break there. I got a job with a landscaping company. There was nobody to look after my daughter, so I brought her with me. My boss really liked my work and would always call for me if she needed something special done.

“One of our clients was Arnold Schwarzeneger. It would take a crew of us about three days to do his property. He would always give my daughter some money. He’d say, ‘Don’t tell your Daddy.’ She’s grown up now and has kids of her own. She lives with her boyfriend in Anchorage, Alaska. She’s studying accounting, business and something else she won’t tell me about. It has to do with the land.

“I have a proposal to build a three floor complex for homeless people. There would be the lower floor with facilities for storage, because that’s a problem for the homeless. We’d also have bunks for sleeping on that floor. Food facilities would be on the second floor and the top floor would be for games. My daughter and I would be partners. She would have her own apartment, on the third floor, for whenever she comes to town.

“It would be a safe place for alcoholics and the homeless. Even if people were drunk we’d let them in, but they wouldn’t be allowed to drink on the premises. I estimate the total cost would be about 1.3 million dollars. I even have a location picked out, near the river.”

Shakes said, “I’m going to be getting my own place soon.”

“Do you know the location, yet?” I asked.

“Right in the middle of ‘Crack Haven’, behind the Sally Ann. After I’ve been there for a while, I’m going to ask to be relocated. After I get my place they’re going to take me shopping for clothes. I’ve got a television set at my daughter, Hattie’s apartment. I also have a DVD player put aside. The guy said, ‘As soon as you have your place, Shakes, we’ll deliver it.’ ”

“That sounds great, Shakes. It will be better than sleeping on the street.”

“I think I’ll sleep outside, sometimes.”

“I said, “At least you’ll have the choice of where to sleep. If it’s raining, or if it’s cold, you can come inside.

“It’s time I got back to work. Your plans sound great, Niles. Maybe we can work together.

”I’ll see everybody tomorrow,” I said as I waved good-bye.