Archive for April 18, 2015




18 April 2015

Last night, I was seated on one of the three person bench seats facing the aisle at the front of the bus. As usual, I had my nose buried in my Kindle, engrossed in a story I was reading. A man got on and bulldozed his way to the back of the bus with mutters of, “Excuse me. Excuse me. Trying to get through here.” There was a distinct odor of cigarette smoke and sherry.

There was a space between me and another passenger. I heard, “Excuse me, man. I want to sit next to my friend here.” He then forced his way into the space. “Dennis, I was sitting at the back and I thought to myself, I know that guy. If you weren’t wearing your glasses, I probably wouldn’t have recognized you. Your hair is longer. How are you doing, man? I haven’t seen you for what — four, five months? I missed you, man.”

“Hi Jake, I missed you too. Let’s grab that empty seat across the way. I was wandering around at noon today looking for some of my friends. I saw, Chuck, Magdalene, Adam and a young Inuit woman I hadn’t met before, Rhea. I heard from Ghyslain that the cops had shut down the area near the bridge and that some of you are meeting near the bank.”

“Yeah, they said anyone they find there will be going straight to jail. That’s crazy.  I’m still panning at my regular spot near the bridge. Shit, I’ve been there twelve years. Nobody’s going to tell me I can’t be there. It’s my spot.”

I asked, “So, what did you do through the winter. It was really cold.”

“I spent most of it in hospital with pneumonia. This is the fourth year in a row that I’ve had pneumonia. I hate hospitals.

“I saw a few of the regulars today, Jacques, my buddy, Bearded Bruce — we got this movie thing going — Mariah, Raven. Raven is Raven, she never shuts up. They’re all doing fine. I saw Jake once this year — I mean Big Jake, not me, that would be stupid — but Joy never leaves home. We’re a dying breed, you know. (The average life expectancy of a person experiencing homelessness in Canada is 39 years (Trypuc & Robinson, 2009). 

“I nearly dropped my bottle.”

I said, “I see you’re still drinking your ‘Jakenators’ (sherry mixed with beer).

“Yeah, still the same. You’re not drinking, are you?”

“I have the odd beer or glass of wine, but I try to keep it under control.

“Big Jake will be going to hospital for a hip replacement. Did he mention anything about that.”

“No, he and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms. I try to avoid him when I can.”

I asked, “Have you seen André?”

“I never know how much I should say. I mostly just keep to myself.

Hey, this is my stop coming up. Driver, I want to get off here! See you, Dennis.”

“See you, Jake.”