Archive for April 17, 2014




17 April 2014

The temperature was five degrees above freezing and the sun was shining. I took a walk to the park to see if any of my friends had come out of hibernation. I met Jacques, Little Chester, Little Frank and Mariah who insisted that I sit on her plastic box. She took a place on the sidewalk, cushioned by a blanket. It was a true reunion; everyone was glad to see each other and catch up with what had happened over the winter.

I asked Mariah, “How is Joy doing?”

“She’s okay, I guess. She has good days and bad days, just like the rest of us.”

I said, “Chuck Senior told me that she and Michelle got into a fight over fifteen dollars and a bus ticket. Joy was stabbed by Michelle.”

“A stabbing, I never heard about that. Here’s Joy on the phone now. You can ask her yourself.”

I said, “Hi Joy, how have you been over the winter?”

“I’m doing okay. It’s been too cold to come downtown to do any panning. I caught pneumonia again.”

I said, “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve been talking to Chuck Senior most mornings. He’d heard that you and Michelle were in a fight and she stabbed you. I guess it must have been somebody else.”

“Yeah, I don’t know what that’s about. I haven’t seen Michelle for ages and I sure haven’t been stabbed. It should be warmer next week, perhaps I’ll see you then. Could you put Mariah back on the phone?”

They finished their conversation and I asked Mariah, “How have you been? Is your back still giving you problems?”

“Generally , it’s better than last winter. The landlord fixed the heating, so I don’t have the problem with humidity, that I had before. That helps. My knee has been giving me trouble. Sometimes it feels like it’s burning.

“There’s still some crazy shit going on in the apartment. Last Saturday, at three in the morning, my bedroom light fixture came crashing down.  It just missed my head. The glass globe shattered all over the place. The first night I just wrapped the big pieces in a carpet and threw it in the corner. The next  morning I phoned my landlady. I said, ‘I’m sorry for phoning you on a Sunday morning, but one of my light fixtures just fell. I didn’t do anything. It just came down, all on its own.’ She said she’d send over an electrician to  fix that and install a new plug. The ones I have aren’t grounded.  I’m always tripping breakers. Having a light on and drying my hair will knock out the power. I don’t have access to the electrical panel so it means a lot of phone calls to my landlady. The house is over a hundred years old. She can’t even get insurance for it.”

“Do you think it was spirits that knocked down the light?”

“Yeah, they’ve been acting up. Stuff gets moved around in my kitchen. It’s time for another cleansing, another smudging. It’s all through the house. Joy hasn’t had problems with that little girl since we dealt with her last time, but Buddy is still knocking in the closet and there’s a black presence hovering around the place.”

I asked, “How about the guy who sits on the end of the bed and watches television with her? The one who hates paranormal shows?

“I haven’t heard about him, maybe Buddy sometimes comes out of the closet.

“Because I’ve lived there the longest — it’s coming on four years now — everybody comes to me with their problems. The woman next door, the one that Joy had problems with, came over and asked, ‘Do you know who’s been phoning the city bylaw office about my dog. Do you think it’s been Joy?’ I said, ‘No, Joy likes dogs. She wouldn’t report you.’

I said, “That’s the one that Joy calls ‘the stomper’. She always stomps around her apartment and up and down the stairs. There are a couple of guys up there as well. Joy figures she’s getting it on with both of them.”

The woman has anxiety attacks. Sometimes she’ll phone and ask if she can come over to talk. She says, ‘Mariah, you can always manage to calm me down.’ She can be a real pain in the ass.

“Even the landlady phoned and asked, ‘So, what’s going on?’ I said, apart from the door you had fixed that keeps banging, I don’t have any problems.’ She said, ‘That’s not really what I was phoning about. Is everyone getting along okay? Is there anything I should know about?’ I said, ‘No, everybody seems to have worked out their issues. If It doesn’t affect me, I don’t worry about it.’ We’ve gotten rid of the crackheads and the crazies, everyone gets along.”

I asked, “How about you Jacques? Have you been coming down here often? Have you seen anybody else?”

“I think it was last Monday that I came down. That was the only nice day we had. Nobody was here.

‘Tomorrow I’m meeting Stella at the Eaton Center. She has a microwave oven for me and a few other things. Apart from that I’ve been staying in. I noticed at the market that they have some hanging pots of tomatoes. I’d like to get some of those, but I don’t think I get enough sunlight. Just a couple of hours in the late afternoon. I don’t think that is enough.”

Mariah said, “I’ve  just got a small balcony. It’s not even a balcony it’s a walkway.  Everybody would be picking  at my tomatoes if I had some hanging there. I don’t think I get enough sun anyway. I guess I could hang them inside in front of one of the windows, but the air conditioning wouldn’t be good for them.

I asked Jake, “So, have you seen Shakes lately?”

“Why does everyone ask me about Shakes?”

Mariah said, “Perhaps, because you live closer to him than anybody else.”

“We’re in different buildings. I haven’t seen him for a long time.”

I asked, “Have you had any luck getting your furniture yet?”

“No, I fucked up another appointment. It’s been a year and a half now without furniture. Mind you, they did get me a new bed. That’s a good thing.”

I said, “I remember, your old bed was soaked with blood.”

“Yeah, from the time I fell on the scissors.

Jacques said, “You can get another appointment. Just call them.”

“Yeah, but it won’t be for another month. I’m back down at the bottom of the list again. I still use the air conditioner in it’s box as my table, or a place to sit.

“You’ll never guess what I saw the other day. I was riding my bicycle and I saw this crow or raven. It must have stood two feet high. I’ve never seen a bird so large. It really freaked me out”

Mariah asked, “Are you sure it wasn’t a turkey vulture? They’re big.”

“No, when it turned sideways I could see the bluish black in its feathers.”

Mariah said, “That would be a raven. They’re bigger than crows. We have some large ones that hover around the cemetery. That sounds spooky, right?”






17 April 2014

“Good morning Chuck, it’s still cold . When are we going to get some Spring weather?”

“Well it’s better than the rain we had yesterday. I think the Man upstairs is playing tricks on us. Maybe, he had too much to drink, woke up with a hangover and got his seasons mixed up. He forgot that Christmas was supposed to be cold and Easter, warm. I’m not religious, but I’m, afraid of the alternative. If I make the wrong choice I don’t want to spend an eternity in hell.

“People have said to me that I must be here for a purpose, but I lay awake nights trying to figure out that purpose. I’ve died nine times on the operating table, they keep bringing me back. If I miss one heart pill, everything backs up and I’ll be dead. The only problem with those heart pills is I have to piss a lot more often. In a wheelchair that can be awkward. People keep bringing me coffee and I have to keep going to the bathroom.

“Women seem to like me. I always have a joke for them; flatter them a bit. Maybe that’s why I’m here.  A nice looking woman walked by earlier. She was wearing one of those light dresses. I don’t know what kind of fabric it was.  Just after she passed,  the wind whipped it up around her waist. I enjoyed that. There was another one wearing a see through top. She was gorgeous — really got my heart pounding.

“I like to watch the old movies on TV. I remember when my son Chuck Junior  was about sixteen. There was a movie I was watching, Salome made back in 1953. The heroine was  wearing one of those slinky, see through dresses. Chuck was full of raging hormones and said, ‘Man, I’d like to do her!’ I said, ‘You’re a little  late, she died of Alzheimer’s  in 1987. Her name was Rita Hayworth.

“I asked my friends the other day if they’d rather watch a movie starring Archibald Alexander Leach or Cary Grant. They said, ‘Cary Grant!’ I said, ‘So would I, it’s the same person.’  Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino. Tony Curtis was  Bernard Schwartz.

“Something nice happened at the mall yesterday. I went to the Thai place in the food court. It was late in the day.  I’ve gotten to know the owner, he’s a nice guy. I ordered  the stir fry. Anyway, he gave me three servings, then didn’t charge me. I was still so full later on, I could hardly watch TV. I fell asleep during the hockey game.

“This morning, I didn’t get downtown until six thirty. I spent about a half hour in front of Tim Horton’s then came over here. On my way I stopped at McDonald’s for coffee.  Whenever I go there I buy a couple extra packages of hash browns. I give them to the girl at the convenience store, she’s always running late and doesn’t have time for breakfast. She gives me a newspaper.

“Yesterday I went to pick up my glasses. I spent about a half hour on the bus getting there. They told me that my glasses were made, but they wouldn’t be delivered to the store until four o’clock. This was at one. I went to Wal-Mart, got some spring pants and a jacket for a good price. It’s right across from the dog groomers, so I took Goldie in for a trim. I’ll have to be here every day next week to make up for the money I spent.