Archive for June, 2015





11 June 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. “How are you feeling today?”

“Better than yesterday, although I didn’t sleep much last night. I went to bed around 9:30 and woke up at about 12:30. I don’t think I slept for more than five or ten minutes after that.

“A friend is taking me out to lunch. I’m looking forward to that. I’ll stick around here until about 4:00, talk to her a while before she takes her bus home. That’s my day.”

“You’ve seen that black guy with no legs, rides around in an electric wheelchair? The guy is nuts. I usually don’t spend much time listening to him. Today he was talking about starting a union for panhandlers. Can you imagine that? What are we going to do — go on strike?  Who’d notice? If they did they’d probably be pleased.”

A woman stopped to pet Goldie. “How is she feeling now?” the woman asked.

“A little better. She gets the bandages off today. Tomorrow I’ll take her in for a haircut. I do that once a year. She’s nine years old and doesn’t have any teeth left, so she has trouble eating. That causes her to have trouble going to the bathroom. She’s getting more active she jumped up on my chair yesterday. That’s a good sign.”

To me Chuck said, “I told you I live in a rough neighborhood. Did you hear about the shooting last night? It was just up the hill and around the corner from me.”

A 23-year-old man faces charges after a gun was fired into a wooded area after it was pointed at a man’s head during a dust-up.

Police guns and gangs said a verbal altercation took place between two men on June 1.

A man pulled a handgun out and pointed at the victim who swiftly knocked the gun away.

After threatening the victim, police allege a round was fired into the woods nearby.

At the time, police were unable to locate any shell casings or any other evidence of a shooting.

But guns and gangs officers along with Direct Action Response Team (DART) further investigated and confirmed that at least one round had been discharged.

The victim and suspect did not know each other prior to this incident taking place.

The handgun has still not been recovered and the investigation is continuing.

An unnamed man charged with several firearms related offences including assault with a weapon and uttering death threats.

He was arrested Friday at his home without incident.

He will appear in court Saturday morning.

“That area used to be a hobo village of sorts. The guy who ran it just got out of jail. To get in you needed to contribute some food to the pot, an onion, potatoes, a can of tuna, anything you could bring. It didn’t have to taste good. It was whatever was available. Anyway, shortly after he was released from jail a cop stopped him and asked, ‘What are you up to , Lou?’ He said, ‘I just found this wallet and was returning to the Police station to turn it in.’  Actually, he had lifted it from the seat of the cruiser that dropped him off.

“This afternoon I need to get some groceries. I was hoping that my son could give me a ride, but he has to work. There’s a guy I know who sells chicken to some of the restaurants. He can sell me a package of twenty pieces for less than I’d play at the grocery store. He said, ‘Chuck, I can guarantee you that this chicken was eating lunch yesterday afternoon — that’s how fresh it is.’ You can’t beat that.

“I need a can of gravy. I’ve got some chicken that I cook in my toaster oven — twenty minutes one side,  turn it, twenty minutes on the other side, turn it again, then twenty minutes to finish it off. The only problem is that my place is so crowded, my toaster oven is in the bedroom. Anyway, I’ll slice some potatoes, fry them. Put some frozen vegetables in the microwave for about ten minutes, mix everything together and that’s my supper.”


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10 June 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. I wasn’t sure I’d see you this morning.”

“I have to be here. I’ve got no choice. In a couple of months I may have a choice, then you won’t see me.

“It reminds me, a while back I used to go to the next corner at noon. There was this construction guy — work boots, hard hat.  He’d make comments to all the women passing. He’d say things like, ‘I’d sure like to get my hand up your skirt. Nice legs, how far up do they go?’ I was getting sick of his remarks, a lot of people were. One day he was there with all his tools, he’d been fired. I wonder why? He didn’t even have enough money to use the phone. I gave him fifty cents, he phoned a friend to pick him up. He said, ‘Imagine me, a working guy, and I have to beg for money from a bum.’ There was another case when a woman fell down. Everyone passed her by, so I went over and helped her get to her feet. She said, ‘Of all the people walking by, I get help from a bum on the street.’ I thought, She could have worded it more delicately.”

Just a Bum by Greg Brown

I saw a man, he’s a well-dressed man
He had a tan from the Yucatan
He had a car, he looked like a star
I said, Hey, don’t I know who you are
But when he glanced into my eyes
I saw yes I saw was such a big surprise
He was afraid that he’s just a bum
Someday when all his stuff is gone and he’s left without a dime
Time ain’t money when all ya got is time
And you can see him standin on the corner with a nine-day beard and bright red eyes

I know a guy, he’s a pal of mine
I say, hey. He say, I’m doin fine
I’m movin up the ladder, rung rung rung
I’m gonna get my million while I am still young
But at night when he’s had a few
His eyes say different than his tongue
They say I’m afraid that I’m just a bum
Someday when all my stuff is gone and I’m left without a dime
Time ain’t money when all ya got is time
And I can see me standin on the corner with my nine-day beard and my bright red eyes
Goin hey, hey hey hey hey, come on and listen to my story, hey, hey hey hey hey, ah hey

Some people live to work, work to live
Any little tremble and the earth might give
Ya can’t hide it in a Volvo or a London Fog
Can’t hide it in a mansion with an imported dog
No matter how we plan and rehearse, we’re at pink slip’s mercy in a paper universe
And we’re afraid that we’re just a bum
Someday when all our stuff is gone and we’re left without a dime
Time ain’t money when all ya got is time
And we can see us standin on the corner with our nine-day beards and our bright red eyes
Goin, hey hey hey hey hey hey hey
Hey hey hey hey, come on and listen to my story man hey, hey hey hey hey, ah hey

The man of sorrow’s acquainted with grief
Stands in line waiting for relief
He will tell ya it wasn’t always this way
One bad little thing happened one bad little day
Heartbreak has bad teeth and a sour smell and lives when he can in a cheap hotel
And he’s afraid that he’s just a bum
Someday when all his stuff is gone and he’s left without a dime
Time ain’t money when all ya got is time
And you can see him standin on the corner with a nine-day beard and bright red eyes
Goin, hey hey hey hey hey hey hey
Hey hey hey hey, come on and listen to my story man hey, hey hey hey hey, ah hey

I said, “Chuck, we’re all the same. No matter what people earn, or what their title is, we all pull our pants on one leg at a time.”

“Yeah, we all shit, and wipe our own asses, except for King Henry VIII, he had people to wipe his ass. He kept gaining weight, so they had to keep modifying his suit of armor, in case they went to war. There was a guy who used a scoop to clean the shit out of his armor. That would have been a shitty job.

Watch this! A cab just cut off that pedestrian, now the guy’s running towards the cab. Oh, he’s getting in the cab. I thought there was going to be a fight. I love to see a good fight with lots of blood, as long as it’s not mine.”

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9 June 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. The weather seems better today than yesterday.”

“I don’t know. See those black clouds moving in?”

I said, “There is rain in the forecast, but it’s not supposed to start until late this afternoon. Of course, the weather forecasters are usually wrong.”

“The rain is coming in soon. I can feel it.”

A woman stopped and asked about Goldie’s health. Chuck replied,  “She seems to be doing okay. *I’ll know better this evening. I’m cooking steak and liver for supper. I’ll cut some into little bits and feed them to her. If she eats it all, I’ll know that she’s feeling better. As it is now, she’s still off her food.” Chuck bent over Goldie, sitting on his lap. She responded by licking his face.

“I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be coming down here. One of these days I’ll just disappear. It nearly happened this morning. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Goldie would prefer to stay at home and the exhaust fumes around here are hard on my lungs.”

I said, “A lot of people would miss you, Chuck.”

“Yeah, There are a lot of people who I’d miss too. I’m just feeling down today. If twenty naked young women were to run down the street, I’d feel better, but it’s not going to happen.”

I said, “Twenty naked women might be too much for your heart. Maybe you should start with one or two and work your way up from there.”

“I was talking to a woman earlier, she was telling me how much she was looking forward to going home to a glass of wine. I said, ‘I’d love to go home to a cold beer and a cigarette, but they’d kill me.’ It just reminded me of all the things I can’t do and will never be able to do. Sitting at home is sounding better every day.”

I said, “I know how you feel, Chuck. Every morning I feel tired and weak, my joints ache. Everything is more difficult.

“I can’t get over how crazy this corner is, cars honking, bicycles weaving around pedestrians and vehicles. Everyone is in a rush to get somewhere.”

“Yeah, they’re all on their way to work. I remember a protest here against the ‘one percenters’ that control all the wealth. The protesters were saying all these office buildings should come down. I asked one of them, ‘If nobody went to work in those buildings, how would you survive? If farmers didn’t work, how would you eat? Even if you’re on welfare, somebody has to work to cut and sign your checks. Did you ever think of that?’ They didn’t have any answers, just a bunch of whiners.”

Just then I felt a few drops of rain, then more and more…


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8 June 2015

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

“It was quiet. I met my friends at the mall. I couldn’t stay too long because they had the elevators shut down and one of the bathrooms. I had to go all the way to the far end of the mall. With the water pills I’m taking I have to pee often, that meant a lot of trips.

“I just got down here. It was raining when I woke up. I couldn’t even take Goldie for her walk. She needs about an hour outside but, like most animals, she won’t piss in the rain. She won’t even piss on the bridge She waits until we’ve crossed the bridge and reach a small patch of grass on the other side. It’s nearly stopped now, so maybe I can take her to the park.

“My friend from Cornwall went to some bake sale on the weekend. She phoned and said that she bought me a plate of brownies and  some date squares. I don’t know why people do this. My friend Sam does the same thing. He’ll say, “Have a cream puff, they’re really good.” I know he means well and I know they taste good,  but I have to say to him, “Sam, it doesn’t matter how good they taste. I’m on doctor’s orders to keep my weight down. If my weight goes up I die. Are you trying to kill me?”

“There are so many near accidents on this corner. The damn bicycles should be banned from downtown and the highways. My son rides a bicycle and he’s as bad as the rest of them. He rides on the sidewalk, stops short when nearing pedestrians, scaring the shit out of them, then laughing about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if some car driver, with road rage, mowed down a whole bunch of them. It’s happened before.”

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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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6 June 2015

“Good morning, Chuck.”

“Where have you been? I haven’t seen you since last week.”

“I’ve been feeling sick. I notice that you don’t have Goldie with you.”

“She’s still home recuperating from her operation.”

“I also notice that you aren’t wearing your moustache.”

“You know, you’re the first person who’s noticed. I was trimming it the other day and I said to myself, “To hell with this shit.” I shaved it off. My friend says that it makes me look younger. Why would I want to look younger? I want to look the age I am!

A car horn honked, Chuck said, “Another one of those God damned cyclists. The nazi city counselors bend over backwards to make things easier for cyclists. As usual they have it all backwards. Priority should go first to cars, then to pedestrians, then to cyclists. It only makes sense. Have you heard about the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed in New York City?

“Based on monthly NYPD figures, 168 pedestrians and 10 cyclists were killed by city motorists in 2013, and 16,059 pedestrians and cyclists were injured.” (

“It’s because the pedestrians jump out  between parked cars all over the place. The cyclists ride on the sidewalks, wrong way on one-way streets, anywhere they’re not supposed to. There is a reason why we have traffic laws, but cyclists ignore them.

“I saw something nice this morning. They’re replacing tile near the food court. I just turned the corner in my wheelchair and saw the silhouette of a woman standing there. She had long legs spread, wearing tight jeans and a hard hat. I was tempted to go up to her and tell her how much I enjoyed the view. Then she bent down to lay tiles. That view was even better. She could lay twice as many as the men working around her.”

I said, “A lot of women are going into construction trades. I think it’s great. Women should rule the world.”

“I agree,” said Chuck, “they couldn’t make more of a mess that men have.

“I’m not going to stay here much longer. Can you see the blind man with the dog?”

“No, he’s not coming yet.”

Chuck said, “I’ll just wait until he gets here. I’m the only one who directs him across the street. His dog doesn’t know enough to keep him between the yellow cross walk lines and oncoming pedestrians won’t move out of the way. Why are people so god damned ignorant?”

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