Archive for May, 2015




“Good morning, Chuck, did you get caught in the rain yesterday.”

“Did I ever, but I did something stupid.”

“What was that, Chuck?”

“Well, when I left here I was soaked. I’d heard there was a chance of rain, but I decided not to bring a rain jacket. The forecast is never right anyway. By the time I got home I was soaked and frozen. I undressed, dried off then had my supper. I went to bed early, Goldie woke me at about 12:30 wanting to go for her walk. It wasn’t raining when I left, but after about five minutes the sky opened up and it poured. I went home, undressed, dried off then went to bed again. When I woke up this morning I went into the bathroom, as I usually do, showered and shaved. You’d think I would have been clean enough with the number times I got soaked then dried off, but by then I’d forgotten. I wasted fifteen minutes of my life, fifteen minutes that I’ll never get back again.

“I was late getting down here. I went to the bus station and needed to get to the upper level. I wheeled my way to the elevator and it was full of cleaning supplies, both inside and in front, blocking the door. The cleaner was there. I said to him, ‘Get your stuff out of my way.’ He asked, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Why do you think, asshole, I need to catch my bus on the upper level.’ He took his time. I not only missed two busses, but I missed Old Jim at the mall. He delivers free papers, it’s the only job he is able to do. I’d promised that I’d take twenty papers each morning from him. That way, he’s able to get home earlier. I hope he’s okay.”

“Sitting here each morning, Chuck,  you must see a lot of things that most people don’t know about.”

“Yeah,” I’m surprised that I’m still alive after some of the things I’ve seen. I was sitting quietly one morning, with my hat out. One of my friends, another alcoholic, was riding his bicycle along the sidewalk. There was a police squad car parked at the curb.  As the guy rode past the car a cop reached out the open window with his baton and smashed him in the shin, fractured his leg. I could have reported it, but they’d find a way to get even with me.

“A lot of the cops would get caught with hookers. The excuse they’d give was, ‘I just wanted to see how they worked.’ That’s a pretty lame excuse, but it saved them.

“I knew a lot of the women on the street. Helen was one of them, skinny as hell. Her old man was usually in jail. He’d serve four months, be out for two, then do something stupid that would land him inside again.  I could tell that Helen hadn’t eaten, so I invited her to my place and I cooked her a couple of fried egg sandwiches and poured her a coffee. I didn’t ask anything from her, but when I sat down on the sofa, she knelt in front of me, unzipped my pants and gave me the best head ever.

“There were a couple of really bad cops. They’d patrol the alleys and if they’d find anyone sleeping there, they’d beat the shit out of them, take their sleeping bags or blankets and dump them. It didn’t matter if it was freezing outside. One of them, even the cops hated him, was drinking at a pub I worked at. He ate like a pig, drank until he couldn’t walk then threw up on the table and all the way to the bathroom. He came in the next day and thought it was a big joke.

“He’s the guy that would go to the rooming houses where a lot of the panhandlers stayed, where I stayed. At about 4:00 in the morning, he’d take his baton and bang on all the doors. He figured that if we didn’t sleep at night, we wouldn’t be panning on the streets the next day.”


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25 May 2015

“Good morning, Chuck, how was your weekend?”

“It was quiet.” Chuck was eating a breakfast sandwich from one of the nearby fast food restaurants.“This is too salty. When I get to the coffee shop after leaving here, I’m going to take my dentures out in the bathroom, give them a good rinse and give my mouth a good rinse as well. I don’t know what they put into these things. I doubt they use real eggs. The meat tastes like skunk shit. I read that that they’re going to start offering more healthy alternatives, because their sales are down. I wish they’d hurry up. I wouldn’t feed this to a starving rat. I would feed a starving rat, but not this shit.”

I said, “I talked to your friend Bill on Friday.”

“Who’s Bill?”

“I met him here with you a week or so ago. You gave him money to buy something to eat. You said, ‘Don’t spend that money on booze’. He came back later to show you what he bought.”

“That could be a number of people.”

“You must have seen him on Friday, because he told me that you’d gone to the restaurant for lunch with your friend.”

“Maybe so.

“Oh, there was something I wanted to tell you. Yesterday, a Commissionaire, I hadn’t seen for a while, stopped by and said, ‘Chuck, it’s so good to see you. It’s been ages, ‘ then hugged me. It suprised the hell out of me when she bent down and kissed my cheek.”

I said, “That’s nice ,Chuck.”

“It was a joke. Most people think of Commissionaires as men, but this one was a woman. She wasn’t overly beautiful, but I would have taken her home.

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My 5 Star Review

I have read Rebecca’s first book Summer of ’71 and gave it a 5-Star review on GoodReads and Amazon. The character of Max, from the first book, continues his adventures in Great Caesar’s Ghost, however the books are completely independent.

I haven’t read many books that involve time travel, but this one quickly dispelled my disbelief. In each time period the author gives a fascinating account of the era, in terms of dress, appliances, architecture, speech and morals. As in Summer of ’71 I learned something on every page. Rebecca has a unique and delightful manner of storytelling that gives the reader the feeling that she is a friend that they may converse with on an intimate level.

Be prepared for excitement, adventure, eroticism and thorough enjoyment as you read Great Caesar’s Ghost by Rebecca Branch. I rate this book 5 Stars. Her next Book Roman Holiday is expected to be released in July of this year.

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22 May 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. How is it going today?”

“Better than yesterday, except for that idiot Ghyslain, down the block. A guy came by and dropped me a twenty, then he dropped Ghyslain a twenty. He yells to me, ‘I got a twenty! I got a twenty!’ The stupid bastard. I wanted to punch his lights out. I didn’t get a single drop for about fifteen minutes.

“I did waste some money yesterday. I bought two scratch-and-win tickets at two dollars each. I didn’t win anything. I’m not one of those people who spends $60 a pay on scratch tickets.”

I asked, “Have you ever won with those tickets?”

“Yeah, $22 one time, $34 another, but mostly it’s $2, $5 or a free ticket. I don’t wan’t to will a million, but if I won $5000 you wouldn’t see me out here again.”

I said, “I saw the crazy lady with the sleeping bag down near Ghyslain.”

“Yeah, when I was talking to Metro she started screaming at me. It was all mumbo jumbo until she finished then she said, ‘So there!’ I hadn’t said a word. I didn’t know what to make of it. Then she clenched three of her fingers to make the shape of a gun and said, ‘Pow!!!’  Metro gets really scared when she does that to him. He said, ‘You never know what she has hidden, under that sleeping bag, over her arm.’ I don’t think she could get a real gun, but a knife would be easy.

“She was standing in front of the coffee shop door. A woman was leaving the shop and accidentally bumped her arm. The crazy lady slammed the door, the woman spilled her coffee and nearly fell on her ass.”

I said, “I remember that Shakes went into a bank, pretending he had a gun in his pocket and demanded cash.”

“No, what happened was, he and a bunch of friends were drinking. They thought it would be a good joke if someone walked into the bank with a paper bag and said there was a bomb in it. Shakes tried it. The staff knew him, phoned the cops and he served three years in prison. Then he was sent for another three years to a native alcohol rehabilitation center. He came out and said, ‘I’m not an alcoholic anymore. They cured me. Let’s have a drink to celebrate.’

“Once you’re an alcoholic you’re an alcoholic for life. I could probably take a beer or two, but if I did I’d want a cigarette. If I had to, I’d crawl on my hands and knees, to the store, to buy a pack. Then I’d be right back to where I was before.

“My wife never had any sympathy for alcoholics. I belonged to AA for a while. She said, ‘You don’t need any help to stop drinking.  It’s your choice, you fucked up, it doesn’t affect anybody else.’ Well, it does affect other people, especially family members, that’s why they have Al-Anon and Alateen. They’re to give strength and hope to friends and family of problem drinkers.

What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is widely recognized as a disease of compulsive drinking, which can be arrested, but not cured. It is a progressive illness, which will get only worse as long as the person continues to drink. Total abstinence from drinking is the only way to arrest the disease. Alcoholism affects the entire family; indeed, everyone who has contact with the alcoholic is affected. Unfortunately, the only person who can stop the alcoholic from drinking is the alcoholic himself or herself. )

“Do you see those two women walking towards us. I like the one on the left, she has a smaller ass — as if I could do anything, even if I had the chance, but I’m not dead, I can still dream.”

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21 May 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. It’s another cold one.”

“Yes, it sure is. I brought my extra jacket, but it’s packed away in my bag. I’ll put it on later. Another thing I’m kicking myself for is I forgot my bottle of water.”

“I can get you a bottle of water, Chuck.”

“No, I’ll have another look.” He rifled through the bag hung on the side of his chair. I found something, no it’s my water from yesterday. I usually empty my bottle and fill it with ice. I like to chew on the ice.”

I said, “This is crazy, I remember when I was a kid, the swimming pools opened on the 24th of May and they’d be packed.”

Chuck said, “I remember way back when we used to swim in the Tay River. Nobody swims there now, it’s too polluted. I keep hearing about global warming, but I tell people that it’s bullshit. We’re going into another Ice Age. You can bet that the weather all year is going to be crazy. They say that if we have major eruptions from four volcanoes, maybe even three, that would be enough to wipe out the population of the earth.

“I was watching a science program on TV. They were saying that a supernova is heading towards the earth. Its path is on an angle of forty degrees away from the earth, but if they have their calculations wrong, we’re in trouble. When it explodes we’ll have dust in the air for four months.”

I asked, “Is there a name for this supernova?”

“Yeah, it’s Beelzebub, it’s a German word.”

Beteljeuse, actually. It means “armpit of the giant” and is a red star in the constellation Orion. It is too far away to do us any harm, but when it supernovas we will be treated to a very bright star – perhaps even visible in the daytime during some months (in the summer it is behind the sun). No one is sure when that may happen – it is “soon” astronomically, but that could mean tomorrow, or a million years from now. (from Kita Sparkles)

I asked, “Isn’t that the reason that the dinosaurs were wiped out — something hitting the earth near death valley?”

“It was a comet. It didn’t hit the earth it landed in the ocean near the Yucatan Peninsula. The water is very shallow there. They said that most life died within forty-eight hours. The dinosaurs died from breathing the hot air. It scorched their lungs. The only thing that survived was the cockroaches and bed bugs. Those we could have done without.

“When I looked at the sky this morning I could see a quarter moon, venus and vaguely mercury. I’m hoping to see them align. Later on in the year I should be able to see Jupiter.

“Did you hear about the Quebec student linked to a terrorist organization?”

U.S. court documents have already revealed that an undercover agent played a crucial role in the arrest of Abassi, a 26-year-old student at Quebec’s Laval University.

Abassi was allegedly in regular contact with the agent, who secretly recorded them discussing a plot to attack a Via Rail passenger train; to cause the death of “up to 100,000 people” by contaminating the air or water; to provide financial support and weapons to anti-government fighters in Syria, and how to recruit other terrorists in North America.

“That’s going to keep happening because they didn’t finish the first Iraq War. They should have sent in two million ground troops and wiped out the whole area. Genghis Khan did that.”

Genghis Khan led campaigns … accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations … By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.

His descendants extended the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia … Many of these invasions repeated the earlier large-scale slaughters of local populations. As a result Genghis Khan and his empire have a fearsome reputation in local histories. (Wikipedia)

“Have you heard that they’re now allowing girls on boy’s hockey teams? That’s just wrong. I’d like to shoot the politician that first allowed women in men’s taverns. If it’s a men’s tavern then it’s a men’s tavern. What’s hard about that?

“Is that a ten dollar bill in the street. It’s too far away for me to see properly?”

I took a closer look and said, “No, there’s no printing on it, so it’s not money.”

“I find a lot of money on the street. My friends asked me how I do it. I said, “You bastards keep looking at the sky. If you look down, that’s where you find the money. One day I saw a cop drop a twenty when he left the cash machine. I was behind him in seconds. He had his nose in the air and didn’t notice a thing.”

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“Good morning, Chuck. It’s another cold one.”

“Cold,” he said, I’m frozen right through. I got a telephone call last night, so I turned off my de-humidifier, because of the noise it makes. After the call I forgot to turn it back on. When I woke up during the night I was freezing. I turned it back on and the next time I woke up it was better. With my asthma, I should be living in some place like Arizona. It would really help my breathing. I’d swear that we’re moving into another Ice Age, to hell with all this talk about Global Warming. I’ve been noticing it since the ’90s.

“Did I ever tell you about how the Painted Desert got it’s name?  It was during the time that the wagon trains were crossing America to get to the west. One of the wagons was carrying cans of paint that bounced out because of the bumpy trail. The cans opened up and started rolling, covering the rocks with paint as they went. Other wagons following behind saw these painted rocks, liked the look of them, so they painted more rocks as they went along. After a few hundred wagon trains the whole desert was painted. I told that to one of my friends over coffee. He asked, ‘Is that true?’ I said, ‘Of course not, you idiot.’  Can you imagine that, the guy actually believed me!”

I asked, “Is it tomorrow that Goldie has her appointment with the vet?”

“No, on the 29th she goes in for her operation. She goes in at 8:00. I’ll be using my new vehicle that day so she’ll stay nice and warm.  I’ll be down here at 8:30. I’ll have to be, I’ll need all the money I can get. I know ahead of time that it’s going to cost me a fortune.

“Last night I checked my mail and I found a Hydro bill. I could have sworn that I’d paid that. I checked my records and I hadn’t paid it. I know that my memory is bad, I didn’t think it was that bad. Just one more bill that’s hanging over my head. Sometimes, I want to go into a corner and shoot myself, get it over.

“Another thing I have to do is go for my blood tests. I hate that God damned place. They treat me like an idiot. I told them that the reason my blood count is low is because of the pills I’m taking. Do you think that they’ll change my pills? No, they’re the smart ones, they know it all.

“After my operation I was prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection. That made sense. Then they asked me if I’d be interested in participating in a group study. Half of the group would be given some new medication, the other half would be given placebos. They wanted to use me as a guinea pig. Why the hell should I take some medication, where there’s a fifty percent chance that it’ll do nothing at all. I’m already taking pills that don’t work. I don’t need to take any more.

I said, “Chuck, I have to go.”

He asked, “Tell me, in that big building where you work, do they use that cheap toilet paper? The kind that dissolves in your hand when you try to use it? It’s worse than no paper at all.”

“Bye, Chuck.”


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19 May 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. “How was your weekend?”

“It was okay. I went to the Tulip Festival, I wanted to test my vehicle out on the nature trail near the canal. There were a lot of pedestrians, so I’d ‘beep, beep’ as I went along. Some assholes would see me coming and step right out in front of me. It’s a wonder I didn’t hit them. A couple of times I leaned out my window and yelled, ‘Get out of my fuckin’ way!’

“Of course there were the Falun Gong and anti-abortion protesters. I wanted to protest against them. I don’t care about the issues, I just don’t like protesters. They block traffic, disrupt people’s lives who have nothing to do with their cause. If anything, they harm their own cause.

“I bought a piece of fudge. My mom used to make that when I was a kid. I took a bite and it was good, chewy and sweet. I hadn’t asked the price, then the server said, ‘That will be $10.00 please.’ I nearly spit it out. Later on I bought a hot dog. I was standing beside my vehicle, eating, when this guy comes up and says, ‘Would you move further down the sidewalk? I want to take a picture of my wife and kids.’ I asked him, ‘Do you own this trail?’ The guy said ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, I fuckin’ do, so piss off!’ Now, if he’d asked me nicely, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to take a photograph of my family in front of the tulips. Would you please move?’ I’d have said, ‘Sure, no problem.’

“While I was down there I stopped into the grocery store. They had soup on for half price. I bought five cans of vegetable. When I got home, I opened a can for my lunch. The first thing I saw was the head of a mouse. I threw all five cans in the garbage.”

“I said, “I once got a beer bottle with something in it. I phoned the company and they sent a free case.”

Chuck said, “One time I bought six beer. I put them on the window sill where is was nice and cold. My wife asked me to open one for her. I poured it in a glass and just before she took a sip, I said, ‘Stop!’ I noticed a grasshopper in her glass. If I hadn’t opened the bottle, I could have sued them, or got some free beer.

“A while earlier, a female bicycle courier, stopped at the light. I said to her, “Thank you.” She said, “What for?” I said, “For not riding your bicycle on the sidewalk.” Some of those guys are crazy. No wonder there are so many accidents with bikes.

“I don’t think I’m going to be staying around for too long. In fact I wasn’t going to come out today at all. That sky looks really unsettled, there’s a north-west breeze coming in. I saw on the weather report that they had freezing rain in Thunder Bay.”

“Well, Chuck” I said, “I should be getting to work, so maybe I’ll see you tomorrow, maybe not.”

“We’ll see. Bye.”

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15 May 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. How’s your day going?”

“Lousy,” said Chuck, “with the long weekend coming (In Canada, the third Monday of May is a statutory holiday, celebrating the birthday of Queen Victoria.) everybody’s taken the Friday off. The streets have been deserted all morning.

“Remember the crack-head I told you about who was harassing me. He tried the same thing with Nick… You know, round Nick with glasses, that’s the only way I can describe him.”

“Yeah,” I said, “I like Nick. He’s the one who makes and hands out sandwiches to anyone who’s hungry. I haven’t seen him for a while.”

“Anyway, this crack head came along and sat down beside Nick, He said to the guy, ‘Why don’t you move along? You’re cutting my grass and you’re not helping yourself either.’ Nick is easy to get along with. You never see him starting any trouble, but this time, he’d had enough. He stood up, walked over to the guy and smashed him in the face. He asked, ‘Are you ready to move now, or do you want some more?’ If it had been me I would have put the boots to the guy.”

I asked, “How’s Goldie been feeling?”

“She’s about the same as me. We’re both ready to call it quits.

“Last night I ate supper, turned on the television. I’ve been watching this five part spy series. I’ve really been enjoying it. I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until eleven. Now I won’t know what’s gone on. I’ve just wasted three hours of my life. There’s no point watching the end, it’s ruined for me. I don’t watch movies, because they come on too late.

“I was watching a western last weekend. It was a stupid story about Indians attacking a wagon train. In the last wagon were soldiers with a canon. The back of the wagon was covered with canvas so the Indians couldn’t see in. Well, they came whooping up behind the wagon, the soldiers opened the canvas and fired a shot. Of course, a lot of Indians were killed. They regrouped and charged the wagon a second time. When they saw the canvas moved aside they split into two groups, one on either side of the train. The canon was useless. The soldiers were sniping off Indians right and left. If they’d had any sense they’d have concentrated all their fire at the Chief. Without leadership the Indians would have dispersed.

“Have you heard that Nasty Nancy is back in town. I think she just got out of prison. I heard of a robbery at a women’s shelter. The first person I thought about was Nancy. Sure enough, I read about it in the newspaper this morning. She’s been charged.

“I remember one time she came up to me and said, ‘Chuck, you’re the only person who isn’t mean to me.’ She knelt down in front of me, put her head in my lap and fell asleep.”

I said, “Joy’s told me a lot of stories about her. They’ve been in a few fights together. Have you heard anything about a service for Joy?”

“No, I’m not in contact with a lot of people, but I’m sure that Rick would have something, if he had any news. We may never hear anything.

“I used to pan in front of  that big building down the street. There was this big shot in a pin-striped suit who would pass every morning and sneer down his nose at me. A couple of times a day I’d see him sneak out the side door, check the nearby pay phones for change, then walk up and down the sidewalks collecting butts — some big shot!”

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14 May 2015

“Good morning, Chuck, it’s a bit warmer today.”

“I’m cold, because of my poor circulation. I’m wearing a pair of summer socks, over them I’ve got a pair of winter socks and my feet are still frozen. I would have worn my Fall boots, but the sole is half ripped off — too many times getting them wet. They were good boots, had a nice lining in them, perfect for taking Goldie for a walk.

“I remember back in the sixties, before the hippies, it was beatniks then, there were a lot of coffee shops with entertainment. You could buy an espresso for not very much and sit all night listening to some great live music.”

I said, “I remember going to the Riverboat and seeing Gordon Lightfoot live.”

Chuck said, “Oh, I would love to have been there. One night my wife and I had a fight, she stormed out. I put my Lightfoot records on the hi-fi and sat down on the front step with my case of beer. I had the volume turned up loud. I noticed a car stopped across the street, another followed. They were enjoying the music. After a while I invited them over for a beer. We had a grand time.

“A week later, I was in the department store, in line to pay for something, when a guy shouts, ‘Hey, it’s the Gordon Lightfoot guy.’ People were a lot friendlier back then. One time I was in another city. I had no place to stay, so I asked this long-haired guy where the nearest YMCA was. He pulled out a twenty, handed it to me and said, ‘You don’t have to stay there, find yourself a nicer place.’

“When I was younger I never had a problem finding work. I was five foot, six with a grade school education, but I was tough. I worked in a factory making brushes. There was this eighteen foot long lathe that ran at about one hundred and fifty miles an hour. My job was to feed the wood in at one end and it would be whittled to the diameter of a broom handle. It was dangerous, there were no safety guards to prevent you from falling against the machine, but it was mostly boring. Some people complained about that, but I could take boring.

“I did a lot of labor jobs. I saw these guys struggling to lift a barrel onto a table. I leaned it against the table edge, grabbed the bottom with one hand, flipped and turned it with one motion. I asked, ‘What was hard about that?’ “

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