Archive for June 5, 2015




5 June 2015

As I was nearing the foot of the bridge, where Little Jake usually pans, I saw a man sitting in a walker. He wore a red tee-shirt and hat. In front of him was an upturned cap with a scattering of change. Behind him was a dog lying on a nylon sports bag. I introduced myself and asked him if he knew Jake.

“Sure I know Jake, he just left here. I’ve been here eleven years. I own this spot. If anyone wants to use it they have to ask me.

“This isn’t my dog, I’m dog sitting for a guy who had to go to court. He asked me if I’d look after his dog, so I said, ‘Okay’. He said he’d only be a couple of hours, but that was at nine o’clock. What is it now about 1:30?  See, that’s three and a half hours. I can’t sit here all day. What if I have to go to the bathroom, number two? I can’t take the dog in the mall. She’s gentle enough, but I wouldn’t want to leave her here alone. Her name is Lucy. Her owner pans on the other side of the bridge. Every day I come by and give her a dog biscuit, Milk-Bone. That’s why she’s lying on my bag, it smells of dog biscuits. I’ve also got a cooler for my beer in there. I’ve put some food out for her, but she hasn’t touched it. You can see by looking at her that she’s well fed.

“My name’s Joe. Actually it’s Rene Joe, I’m French and Cree. I speak French as well as I speak English, but it’s been a long time since I spoke Cree. I was born near James Bay on the Quebec side. The last time I was there was to attend my mother’s funeral she was ninety-nine. In a few more days she would have been one hundred. My dad died a long time ago, when I was nine.

I said, “You have a nice view here, Joe.”

“Yeah, a lot of pretty women. I just turned sixty-six, but sometimes I get lucky. Yesterday I had a woman behind the bushes, in back there. She was worried that someone would see us. I said, ‘You’ve got a long skirt on, nobody’s going to see us.’ I put my vest on the back of my chair, she sat on my knee. People passed by, nobody batted an eye. She said, ‘You’re right, nobody can see us.’ It worked out great. Sometimes I sleep back there.

“Earlier today a woman passed by, nice looking. I said in French, ‘Nice ass, I bet her puss is nice too.’ She spoke French. She said, ‘Thank you, my husband never says that.’ I said, ‘Then your husband is an idiot. You’re a beautiful woman.’

I said, “You probably knew Joy. Did you?”

“Yeah, I heard that she died. Chester told me.”

I asked, “Was it Big Chester or Little Chester?”

“The big one, the little one is always drunk. He gets nasty when he’s drunk and demands money from people. You can’t do that. There’s a law against it.”

I said, “When Little Chester is drunk he limps. When he’s not drunk he doesn’t. If he’s limping, people usually try to avoid him.

I asked, “Did Chester mention the cause of death?”

“He said something about mixing booze and drugs. I don’t know. I sometimes see her old man come by here. He’s a crack-head.

“I’ve got Parkinson’s. I can’t eat at restaurants. Last time I tried to eat an egg in a restaurant it slid off my plate and onto another person’s. I mostly stick with hamburgers. Yesterday a guy brought me a hamburger, it had four meat patties with cheese between each patty. It was so big I had to throw away the bun.  I even had to take out my dentures in order to get it in my mouth.

I got hit by a bus a while ago. I still can’t see straight. See that woman coming towards us? I can’t see her eyes.”

I asked, “How long ago was that?”

“Eleven days. It was raining.  I was running across the street. The bus driver saw me. He should have known to put his brakes on sooner, because of the wet street. Anyway, I was hit by the rear view mirror. I’m going to sue. I know some big time lawyers. I’ve sued people before. One time I was riding a motorcycle when a truck pulled out in front of me. I slid under the back wheels.” He removed his cap to show me the scars on his scalp. ” There’s a metal plate under there. If I get a sunburn I can’t feel anything. I don’t always wear a cap, but some people get squeamish when they see the scars. So, I wear the cap for them.

“Getting back to the accident. I sued the truck driver and got four hundred thousand dollars. I used the money to buy the house where my wife and daughter were living. We divorced. I’ve been divorced four times. No more! I got custody of my daughter. She lived with me until she was fifteen. Then she went away to school.

I said, “I have to get back to work, Joe. Maybe I’ll see you again.”

“Yeah, I’ll be here. I’m here every day.”


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Good morning, Chuck. “Goldie looks happy. You mentioned that you were taking her to the vet for an operation. How did that go?”

“It was pretty scary. The operation seemed to go okay. I brought her home. She wouldn’t eat, even her favorite foods. She slept a lot of the time. Yesterday morning she was lying in a puddle of blood. I took her back to the vet. What happened is she must have been rubbing her incision against the coffee table or something. The vet put on a larger dressing that wraps around her body. He also gave me a cone to put on her neck for when I have to leave her alone.”

I said, “I phoned Mariah. She mentioned that they didn’t have enough money to hold a funeral for Joy. Her body was cremated. Big Jake was given the responsibility of dispersing or disposing of her ashes — I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw them into the nearest dumpster. They had a small memorial ceremony at the bridge. A few friends were there, some said prayers, some brought flowers, all drank a few toasts to Joy. I think that’s the way she would have wanted it.”

“Do you know the results of the autopsy?”

“No,” I said. I forgot to ask.”

Chuck said, “Well if Jake was there, it means that he wasn’t charged with anything. She may have had cancer or something. She drank, she smoked, she didn’t visit the doctor. Her death was inevitable. I’m surprised that she lived this long. I remember when I first met her. My son was having a barbecue. Joy was there, drunk as a skunk. She told me her whole life story. It’s sad, she was loved, but she’ll be forgotten. It’ll be like she never existed.

“I remember one time we were having a coffee. She asked, ‘Do you remember that short, fat guy that we used to hang with?’  Her eyes filled with tears. I said to her, ‘You’re crying over some guy and you don’t even remember his name? What’s with that?’

“When I die, I don’t want any service. I don’t want anything written about me — no obituary. I’ll arrange for someone to take care of my ashes. That’ll be it. I’ll be gone and in a short time I’ll be forgotten.”


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