Archive for May 22, 2014




22 May 2014

“Hi Chuck, sorry I couldn’t stop to talk yesterday. I was running late. Did you get your wheelchair fixed?”

“Boy, have I got a story to tell you about that. I’ve told you about Iris, the woman I visit sometimes? I think I have. Anyway, after we’re cremated we’re planning to have our ashes buried together, so she’s really special to me. She works for External Affairs. She phoned me to say that her boss was away. Well ‘when the cat’s away the mice will play’. She suggested that she get some Thai food and bring it over to my place. The wheelchair repairman was scheduled to come between one and two-thirty. That wasn’t convenient, but I need to have it fixed. He phoned at about two, saying he was finishing a job near by and would be along soon. By that time Iris and I are sitting in the living room eating. This guy comes to the door, takes a look at my chair and said, ‘What did you do to this hand control. It’s broken.’ That made me mad. I said, ‘I didn’t do anything to it.’ The guy said, ‘Well, you must have done something for it to be in this state. I kept my mouth shut, but in a few minutes this guy had accused me of something, then called me a liar. I would have punched him if Iris hadn’t been there. I was so embarrassed to have somebody talk to me that way in my home.

“I know how it got broken. Since I got it one of the rear casters has had a flat spot on it, so it pulls to the right. In the winter when it’s icy I go out the back way and there is a slope.  The chair slides and there’s nothing I can do about it, but sometimes it hits the wall. When plastic is brittle in the cold it breaks easily. If the guy had asked me in a polite way, I would have told him that. I phoned Sylvie, my worker, and told her about the situation. She said that maybe I was overreacting. She’d ask the guy to apologize. I said, I don’t want to hear from him. ‘If I so much as see that guy again there’s going to be a fight. Only one of us is going to come out alive and it’s not going to be him.’ I’m not worried, I’ve got a hammer and a long wrench. I’ll use them if I have to. I’m still mad about it.

I asked, “Is your wheelchair fixed?”

“No, that guy was just there to assess the job. They’re going to bring a new battery to my place this afternoon. It won’t be the same guy, but if it is, there’ll be trouble.”

I said, “I suppose you’ll have your hammer and your wrench handy.”

“I wont need them. I can do enough damage with my fists.

“I’m a small man — five foot six, one hundred and thirty pounds. I used to work in a men’s tavern as a waiter. Carrying those big trays of beer over your head really builds muscle. One time these two Americans came in, they were wearing Hawaiian shirts, shorts, talking loud. I brought their beer over and one of them said, ‘I’ve been in this town before. I remember this woman, she had a strange name… Sinaed, that’s it. Sinaid O’Toole. We gangbanged her.’ Sinead O’Toole is my cousin.  I dropped the tray of drinks on the floor and went after both of them. It wasn’t long before they were  laid out on the floor.

The next day I was called into the big boss’s office. He asked, ‘Do you know what you’re here for?’ I said, “That scuffle that happened yesterday?’ He said, ‘There’s someone I want you to meet. I’d been facing his desk, so I hadn’t seen anyone behind me. He said, ‘Turn around.’ It was Sinead O’Toole who I hadn’t seen for thirty years, she’d moved to the States. The guy I beat up was her husband. She gave me the biggest hug and said, ‘That’s the sweetest thing that anybody’s ever done for me. Thank you Chuck.’ I’d been to their wedding. The guy recognized me and thought he’d play a joke. Some joke. This guy always had a big mouth.





21 May 2014

I was on the bus, coming home from the gym, engrossed in a book. I looked ahead, in the seat in front of me was a hat I recognized, and a leather jacket. I’d seen them at noon today. I put my hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “Hi, Shakes.”

“Hi, Dennis. I’m going to Little Jake’s place. He said I could stay there as long as I wanted. He even said, ‘You don’t have to pay me anything.’ I said to him, pardon my language, ‘No fuckin’ way, Jake. I’ve always paid my way. That’s the way I was brought up — old school.’ It’s only right.”

“I agree, Shakes. Keep everything fair.”

“I got a couple of places I can stay. You know Blaine, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I know him.”

“He said I could stay at his place anytime I want.

“I just hope Jake’s home, that’s all.”

“He said he’d leave the door open for you. You said you were meeting your daughter today. How did that go?”

“It was okay. I hated to ask her to buy me a bottle… but she did. I just hope that Jake has some mary jane. I’ve had a quarter ounce today, that’s all. When I was panning today a guy asked me if I’d like some groceries. I said, ‘Sure.’ He asked what I’d like. I said, ‘Maybe a loaf of bread, some margarine, some luncheon meat,  some mustard to go with that.’ He went into the store and came out with a bag, with all that stuff in it. Isn’t that something?”

“Did you know the guy?”

“I’ve seen him before. He’s seen me around.

“I haven’t seen you for most of the winter. How’ve you been?”

I said, “I didn’t get out much. It was too cold — the last four months.”

Shakes said, “Yeah, I didn’t go out either, but Danny did.”

I asked, “Is he still in Thunder Bay?”

“Yeah, but he’s coming home next week. I sure hope he has the two hundred bucks I lent him.”

“You lent it to him for his bus fare? Did you?”

“Yeah, I did. I’m having problems with my left knee.”

I asked, “Is it arthritis?”

“No, it’s this virus I got on my neck. It’s also behind my knee. It hurts when I sit down, when I stand up, when I get out of bed in the morning.” (It may be Molluscum Contagiosum.)

“Did the doctor say how long it would take to heal, now that you’re on antibiotics?

“No, he didn’t say. He asked me if I was diabetic. I said, ‘You’re the doctor. You tell me.’ I’ve been getting blood work done for the past ten years — the blood suckers — they don’t tell me what’s wrong. They’re the biologists, the scientists. How should I know what’s wrong with me.

“Dennis, do you have any bus tickets? Jake took mine. He smashed the front wheel of his bicycle, so he can’t ride it until it’s fixed, or he finds a new wheel.

“Sure, I can give you some.”

“… and some for Jake, so he doesn’t take mine.

“Did you celebrate the bitch’s birthday? (In Canada, Queen Victoria’s birthday is celebrated on the Monday nearest the twenty-first of May.)

I asked, “Do you mean Queen Victoria?”

“Yeah, she’s not my Queen.”

“I didn’t do any celebrating. I didn’t do much of anything.”

“This is my stop. I’ll see you, Dennis.”

“Bye, Shakes, maybe I’ll see you tomorrow if it’s not raining.”

“Yeah, see you.”


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