Archive for May 21, 2014




21 May 2014

I was greeted by smiling faces at the park today. Shakes was stretched out on the sidewalk, his weight resting on his elbow. Joy was packing her bag trying to hoist it on to the handlebars of Big Jake’s wheelchair. She said, “I want to get out of here before the cops come. Jake, I’m going to rip this damn flag off. It’s always in my way. I got too much shit in this bag.”

I said, “Joy, why don’t you get rid of some of that shit.”

“Hi Shakes,” I said. I haven’t seen you for weeks.”

“I’m staying at Little Jake’s place now.”

“How do you like that?”

“It’s okay.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay.”

I said, “You’re not drunk. That can’t be okay.”

“No. My daughter’s coming down here to pick me up.

“I got my bandage changed today. They said I have some kind of virus on my neck. Now I got it at the back of my knees as well.”

“Have they given you special cream and antibiotics for that?”


Chester said, “Shakes, you better move that chocolate bar out of the sun, or it’s going to be all mush.”

Mariah picked it up, “Oooh, it’s already mush. Shakes do you want it?” He shook his head, no.” Does anybody want it?”

Chester said, “I’ll take it. I’ll put it in the freezer for a while. I think maybe the chipmunks might like it.”

Shakes lay his face on the sidewalk. Mariah asked, “Dennis can you help me get him up? He should be on the grass, in the shade.” With great effort we got him vertical and shuffling slowly toward the grass. The curb took a few tries, but eventually he made it.

Two Outreach workers from Innercity Mission came by with sandwiches. Mariah asked, “Do you have anything without mayo? Anything with mayo comes right back up on me.”  A worker passed her a sandwich wrapped in plastic.

Joy said, “I can’t eat spicy food anymore. If I do, I end up shitting darts.”

After the outreach workers left Joy said, “One day,  I got a sandwich that had peanut butter on one side, egg salad on the other. It was awful.

Mariah lit a cigarette. I asked, “Do you still use your electronic cigarette?”

“Not too much.  It gives me headaches. I only use it if I’m in someplace where I’m not allowed to smoke.”

I said, “That could be their slogan, GET YOUR HEADACHES HERE.”

Chester asked, “Do you have the kind with nicotine or without? Can you refill it with different flavors?”

Mariah said, “I don’t know what kind it is, but it doesn’t come apart anywhere.  Bert gave it to me. He found it someplace.”

I said, “I was talking to Wolf yesterday about cigarettes. He said he pays twelve dollars a pack. Can that be right?”

Mariah asked, “What brand does he smoke?”

“Du Maurier Kings.”

“It depends where you buy them. If you go to a corner store they charge up to thirteen bucks. I buy the native cigarettes. A pack of twenty costs seven bucks. It’s still an expensive habit.”

Jacques said, “I prefer it my way. I just smoke pot.”

Mariah said, “I used to smoke Du Maurier. I’d go into a French store and say, ‘difficile de se marier‘. Do you know what I just said?”

“I know difficile.”

Mariah said, “It’s a French joke. Difficile de se marier means hard to marry, that’s me. Two times I came close. They were both rich guys, but I didn’t want that kind of life. It was fine at first, diamond rings, champagne at two hundred a bottle, nice clothes, summers on a yacht. My son was young then, he liked it.  After a while they acted like they owned me. I’d have to ask for money. They control with money. That’s not for me. I’m too feisty. I like my independence.”


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21 May 2014

Joy was laughing when I came to visit. “What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Nothing, I’ve just been sitting here howling.”

“Is it because you have your wolf sweatshirt on?”

“No,” said Joy, “I’m just nuts. I had to chase Turtle away this morning.”

“Who’s Turtle?”

“He’s the black guy in the wheelchair. He parked himself in front of Tim Horton’s. That wasn’t going to happen, to I told him to get the fuck away from me. I’m not having him cut my grass. He crossed the street and set up there. Chuck looked at me, with his hands out, as if to say, What the fuck!  I pointed right back at him, It’s your problem. You deal with it. The security guard was laughing his head off. 

I said, “I thought the black guy in the wheelchair was called Buddy.”

“No, I’ve always called him Turtle. I don’t know where I came up with the name. He just looks like a turtle, leaning forward with his head sticking out. Apart from him, everybody’s happy in Whoville.

“When Jake and I left the park yesterday, to take the bus home, it took us an hour and a half. There was some kind of construction going on. A backhoe was in the middle of the street. Still, it shouldn’t have taken that long. Kids were crying, parents were yelling. It wasn’t the fault of the kids. They didn’t understand the situation. They just wanted to get home. It wasn’t a fun ride.”

“My six o’clock bus was late as well. It was probably because of the same road block. Little Jake stopped by while I was waiting for my bus. He was looking for Shakes. He said he hadn’t seen him for a couple of days. Then late last night Shakes pounded on his door. Jake said he was looking pretty rough, like he hadn’t slept for a couple of days.  Jake left his place open, just in case.”

Joy said, “Shakes has been staying at Blaine’s place for the last couple of days. But that’s Shakes — wherever he falls asleep, that’s where he spends the night.”

I asked, “Do I know Blaine?”

“You must have seen him around. Native guy, grody looking —  like he doesn’t bathe. He looks kinda like Shakes, which is scary in itself. They were really hitting the Sherry. Just while I was there, I saw them put away three bottles. Darlene was there too. She’s the one that told Wolf he should have Shaggy put down. Maybe he should. At least Shaggy should retire, but she’s Wolf’s bread and butter.”

I said, “She’s also his best friend.”

“That’s true.

“I haven’t been sleeping too well lately myself. Big Jake has the bed bent way out of shape. I’ve just got one corner where I can snuggle.  That’s not the best position to be in all night. He’s also broken the futon. I got books supporting it in the center. I find it too hard anyway, so I put a sleeping bag and a bunch of other blankets under the bottom sheet, to make it softer.

“Are you going to be at the park at noon? It’s Stella’s day to be there. I think she’s got some stuff for me.”

I said, The weather should be nice. I’ll probably be there.”

On my way to work I stopped briefly to see Chuck. His daughter-in-law Karen arrived at the same time. She said, “This is your lucky day, Chuck. You get two at once.”

Chuck said, “You, I’ll give a kiss to. He can kiss my arse.”