Archive for June 4, 2014




4 June 2014

“Dennis,” said Mariah, “this is my friend Beast.”

“Hi, Beast.”

“I’ll stand up to shake your hand, just showing respect. Have you lived around here long? The reason I’m asking is I’ve been out west in Calgary and Medicine Hat, but I lived here in the seventies. I played in a rock band. We use to be at Larry’s Hideaway, the Horseshoe, El Mocambo — we called it El Mo. Remember  The famous neon palm tree sign hanging out over the sidewalk of Spadina Avenue? “

“Yeah,” I said, “I know those places. I lived two blocks from the Victory Burlesque Theater on Spadina.  The Stones played the El Mocambo around that time, 1977, maybe.”

“It’s funny you should mention that. I was working the door that night. Margaret Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s wife showed up. There were a lot of big shots there. I was riding my motorcycle home — it was raining — my wheel got caught in the streetcar tracks and threw me in the path of a BMW.  I broke both my legs, my arms, my hands are still messed up. I still play guitar, but I can’t play like I used to. I play in the market area sometimes. A friend lends me his guitar. I’ve had a lot of guitars, they all seemed to end up in pawn shops.

 “Our drummer’s girlfriend was a stripper, hooker. Everyone thought that he was living off her money. Actually, she was living off him, her  money was all stashed away. She was murdered. Her name was Jennifer.”

“Remember some of the local groups from that time: Foot in Coldwater, Triumph, Lighthouse,  Dee and The Yeomen — I knew all those guys.”

“Yeah, I saw Lighthouse and McKenna Mendelson Mainline live at an outdoor concert at Humber College.”

“That’s great , man. It’s good to talk to somebody from the old days. It was a lot different then. I remember some of the dope we got into — hash oil, Moroccan Gold,  hash laced with opium. What was that place? …that college downtown?”

I said, “I think you mean Rochdale College on Bloor Street.  They used to call it Roach-dale, there was so much marijuana being sold. I had friends there, went to a lot of parties. Motorcycles would be ridden up and down the stairs. I think they closed it in 1975.”

“Yeah, those were good times. Lately, I’ve felt depressed, like I’m not going anywhere.

“Do you hear what’s playing on the radio? It’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door; except it’s not Bob Dylan, or Eric Clapton. It’s the Guns and Roses version — weird.

Wolf said, “Dennis, do you recognize my dog? I took her to the spa, Saturday. It cost ninety bucks, ten more than last year. They trimmed her nails, sheared her coat. It’ll be a lot cooler for her in the heat. The vet also prescribed some arthritis medication for her. You should see her now, jumping, running. It’s like she was five years younger.”

I asked, “Did they have any problems with her biting?”

“No, they put a muzzle on her. I didn’t stay, but I said to them, ‘She’s old and in pain, so be very gentle. They know what they’re doing. She’s really good about taking her pills. I call her over and say, ‘Okay Shaggy, it’s time to take your pill’ She comes over and opens her mouth, ‘Okay.’ She knows I’d never give her anything that would hurt her.

“I’m thinking of getting a Blue Jays cap. What do you think? I wouldn’t buy a new one, but I’d acquire it — nothing illegal. Maybe I could get one from a friend. I’m not a real baseball fan, not like I am about hockey. When I flip channels I see Toronto Blue Jays — there’s not much else to watch, so I’ve started getting into it. I’m probably not making much sense. It was pay weekend. I did a lot of drinking. I wasn’t here Monday. Tuesday we had rain. I guess I haven’t seen you since last Wednesday. I’m still reading that hardcover book  I told you about. The one with the big print. The others are still lined up on my shelf, the ones I haven’t read.

“Dennis,” said Mariah, “you should have seen all the activity around our place on the weekend. There was a stabbing across the street. I knew both guys involved. One lived in our building. He was taken away, there’s a restraining order against him, so he’ll have to move out. The other guy had to get seven stitches. I saw him yesterday, he had a big blood spot on his shirt. I pointed it out to him. He said, ‘I guess it’s started up again.’

“Big Jake came back after the weekend. Joy is still at home, her legs are really swollen. She may have to go into hospital again.”

Wolf said, “Would you look at this guy. Is he trying to blind us with that flourescent pink shirt? I’t’s Little Jake, he’s gone Hollywood on us, with the shades and everything. Jake, have you seen Shakes?”

“Yeah, he’s broke, so he came over to my place. Where else would he go? He never shows up when he’s got money for food, only when he’s broke. He pisses me off.

“Dennis, can you spare me a card? It’s been a bad day.”

“Sure, Jake. I have to be leaving. Maybe, I’ll see all of you tomorrow.”

“See you, Dennis.”





4 June 2014

“Hi Ghyslain, I haven’t seen you for a long time.”

“Hi, bud, I just got out of hospital. I had a regular appointment with my doctor. He said your heart is too fast. I want you to go to hospital for a few days. A few days turned into twelve. They still didn’t find anything.”

“Have you had problems with your heart before?”

“Yeah, for the last twenty years. I take Lipitor for my cholesterol and other heart pills.

“Have you seen Joy?”

I replied, “I saw her last Friday. Jake went to his parent’s cottage in the Muskoka Lakes area. I guess Joy and his parents don’t get along, so she wasn’t invited. She wasn’t very pleased about that.”

“No , I guess not. I see that Chuck’s in his usual spot. He was telling me that he’s been sick recently.”

“Yeah he has. I’m going up to talk with him. It’s great seeing you, Ghyslain.”

“You too, Dennis.”

I crossed the street and walked the half block to where Chuck was seated. “Hi Chuck,  How are you this morning?”


“Why is that, Chuck?”

“It’s cold. All the women are covered. I’ve got nothing to look at. Mind you, there was one this morning, riding a bicycle. She had her legs spread, her skirt up to her waist — I could see what she’d had for breakfast. Hahaha, I’m a dirty old man.”

“I am too, Chuck. It’s a curse.

“How did it go having your wheelchair fixed?”

“Oh, that makes me so mad. The guy picked it up at 1:15. He took a look at his work order, saw all the things I had complained about and said, ‘This will probably take a couple of days. Is that okay with you?’

“I said, ‘As long as everything gets fixed I don’t care how long it takes.’ He was standing at the back of my chair. I asked him, ‘By the way, what model of chair is this?’ He looked at it and said, ‘It’s a Quickie.’ ‘I knew it,’ I said, ‘all along they’ve been trying to tell me it’s a Quantum 6000.’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘it’s a Quickie.’

“Well, I don’t know what they did, but the chair was returned at 4:30 the same day. It’s worse than before. I was half asleep when they brought it back, so I signed for it. Since my heart attacks, I don’t always know what to do when something happens. I shouldn’t have signed the work order, saying that I had received the chair in good condition. He didn’t even leave me a copy. If I had my wits about me I would have demanded a copy of the receipt. I’m going to phone them and ask that one be mailed to me.

“I’m also going to phone my social worker.  Do you know what they had the nerve to do? They went into my son’s medical file — he’s also in a wheelchair, with the same company. They phoned his social worker and told her that I was giving them a hard time. They’ve got no business going into his file. Of course he phoned me about it. I phoned the manager of the company and complained. He said, ‘No one could access your son’s medical file.’ I said, ‘You’ve got one lowlife, scumbag who did just that. He also called me a liar at least a dozen times.’

“I’m an easy-going guy, most times, but I can also be a real pain in the ass if I get riled. They haven’t heard the last of this. It’s not just that I’m unhappy with the service, this chair is dangerous. It could flip and hurt me and anyone around me. I ran into a guy in the mall the other day. He admitted it was his fault, he wasn’t looking and stepped right in front of me. I may have injured his ankle. I don’t know I didn’t stick around. If I’d been thinking straight,  I would have suggested to him that he sue me. When I went to court I’d tell the judge, ‘I’m sorry your honor, but my wheelchair is defective. The company that sold it and serviced it should be held responsible. Maybe he’d get a million bucks from them.

“Do you want to make some money? I could run over you right here. You could sue and we’d split the settlement. What do you think of that idea?”

“Chuck,” I said, “I’ve been through that kind of pain before. I don’t want  it again.

“Have a good morning.”

“See you, Dennis.”