Archive for October, 2015

 
womanbox
 
19 April 2013

When I squatted down to talk to Joy she said, “Nick and Lucy have been creeping about this morning. They’re both drug sick. Nick went somewhere to get some sleep. Lucy said she’d stop to talk with me, but she had to get fixed. You wont believe believe it but she asked me, ‘Do you have a rig with you?’ I said ‘I’m not a user, and even if I was I wouldn’t keep that stuff on me.’ It would be just my luck to have a cop check my bag and get pricked with a needle. That would be an attempted murder charge against me. Jake has AIDS and he spit at a cop last summer. They told him that, if it had landed on them, he could have been charged with attempted murder.

“Anyway, Lucy slunk off to Tim Horton’s to use their bathroom. They won’t let her into Lorenzo’s. She’ll be smashing in there. It’s been a while since she left. Maybe she’s nodded off. I guess I’ll find out when I go there later.

“She was looking really rough, wearing baggy winter pants. It looked like she hadn’t bathed for a while.

“I’ve got a sore neck from that office chair I got. It has a high back and the only way I can rest my head is to stretch out. I have to hunch my back to watch my DVDs. Animal brought me a bunch. The ones I enjoy the most I’ve been watching over and over, there’s The Godfather, Serpico, Bladerunner. I have the dialog memorized from that one. Pirates of the Caribbean. He also brought me Charlie’s Angels. I can’t see myself watching that.

I said, “I like movies with Johnny Depp.”

“They’re weird, man.”

“Do you mean weird as in Edward Scissorhands?”

“Yeah that and Willie Wonka, and there’s the one where he plays the Mad Hatter and Finding Neverland. I heard that in real life he wears women’s underwear under his clothes.”

I said, “He played in the movie Ed Wood. His character was a producer of b movie, who is also a cross dresser.”

“That wouldn’t be much of a stretch for him. I can’t imagine any guy wanting to wear women’s underwear. Even I don’t like to wear women’s underwear. I wear men’s boxers, because they’re more comfortable.

“When I was with Jake he wanted me wearing these panties cut way up on the sides. He thought they looked sexy. He even had me wearing a thong. Can you imagine walking around with a string up your ass? if you sat or squatted wrong, they’d cut you.”

I asked, “Have you been taking your medication?”

“I’ve been taking it, but not the way I’m supposed to. I’m trying to make the pills last until I get my health card. It pisses me off that my worker hasn’t got me one after five months. Everybody else has theirs.”

A well dressed lady stopped to talk to Joy and dropped a five. She asked, “How have you been, I haven’t seen you around for a while?”

“I was in hospital from December to the end of January. It was because of the fibromyalgia I’ve got in my legs. I was in a wheelchair for a while, then a walker, then a cane. I couldn’t get out much.”

“How are you feeling now?”

“I gimp around a bit. I won’t be running anytime soon. If I get chased by a ferocious dog, I’ll just lay down and get eaten. I won’t have any choice.”

“All the best to you,” said the lady as she walked away.

I said, “She seems nice.”

“Yeah, she doesn’t usually drop me money. She’s a big shot with the government. When she’s alone, and only when she’s alone, she’ll stop to talk with me. When she’s with people from work, she doesn’t even look at me. I guess she’s embarrassed.”

I met the rest of the group at eleven o’clock, at ‘the point’. They were all there: Joy, Bearded Bruce, Little Chester, Danny, Jacques, Shakes and Jake.

I asked Joy, “Did Nick and Lucy come back after I left?”

“No, and I checked the washroom. I just can’t understand people smashing that stuff in their arms. It just makes you nod off.”

Two women, Sophia and Becky approached. Sophia said, “We just graduated on Tuesday, so we’re free now.”

“Congratulations!” said Joy. “Hey, you’ve put on some weight. The other day I saw you from across the street. I was going to say, ‘Sophia, your ass is bigger.’ I decided not to.”

After they left I asked, “What did they graduate from?”

“I don’t know, probably rehab. I think that was part of Sophia’s parole, that she’d have to attend rehab. They’re confined to a house. They have to do chores. They’re monitored all the time.”

“When I was released from rehab I was sent to the Phoenix Program in Hamilton. It was all paid for. I was using crack then.

“They gave us these little, blue 12 Step books from A.A. I said to the woman, ‘I’m not here for alcoholism I’m here for drug addiction.’ She said, Just replace the word alcohol with the word drug. It’s the same program.

“I got kicked out of there. You couldn’t buy crack in Hamilton so my friend and I went out and got drunk.” They made a mistake in refunding to me the unused portion of the money paid for the program. I got really wasted after that.

“My mom wouldn’t speak to me while I was taking drugs. I quit, but I’d lost weight, so she thought I was still using. She wouldn’t let me see my kids. I had lots of money then. She liked that.”

“Earlier, I tried taking a pee behind that brick wall. Bruce yelled over at me, ‘Joy, I can see your bum.’ I tried to turn around a bit, but the shrubs don’t give much cover. I couldn’t pee after that. I’m going to go back there to try again.”

Joy walked across the street and I talked to Bruce, who I hadn’t seen since he’d invited me over for Christmas dinner. “How are things going in your new place, Bruce?”

“Great, sometimes I don’t even want to leave. I pan in my usual spot from six to around nine. I make about twenty bucks, enough to buy my smokes and a few groceries. I go grocery shopping twice a week. My freezer is full. I’m eating well. I only drink once a week — today.

“My place is small, just a bachelor with a big double bed. My girlfriend had been staying with me, but she had to go to hospital for gall stones. They did, what they call, non-invasive surgery. They put a tube through her nose and vacuumed the stones out that way.

“It was awful when I went in to see her. She had the tube in her nose, the oxygen tube, she had to have a blood transfusion. There were machines with wires hooked to her arms. Her blood pressure was going up and down. I thought I was going to lose her.

“Then she developed pancreatitis. I’m sure she picked that up in the hospital, because it was antibiotic resistant. She’d never taken antibiotics before so she wasn’t immune. It wasn’t an allergy. Anyway, they had to use two of the strongest antibiotics they had. She’s fine now.

“Now, she’s gone to stay with her folks for a while. I hope she doesn’t start drinking again. When she was here, I could keep an eye on her.”

It was time for me to return to work, so I said my goodbyes.

 
 

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womanbox

17 April 2013

This morning was interesting, as in the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Joy was on her box as usual, standing behind her was a powerful looking man and a small woman. I recognized them, but hadn’t seen them for about a year.

Joy said, “Dennis, you remember Nick and Lucy in the Sky”.

“Yes,” I said, “I haven’t seen you two for a long time.”

Joy whispered to me, “This is scary.”

Nick pulled out a bottle of sherry, took a swig and passed it to Joy. She hesitated, but Nick insisted.

Joy said to Nick, “I really appreciate you guys coming by, but I don’t want any of my regulars seeing me drinking. I’ve been out here since six o’clock and I’ve only made about two dollars. Have a look in my cap”

Nick said, “No problem, Joy, I’ll help you.”

A man walked past and Nick said, “Hey, don’t forget about the hat!”

Lucy laughed and said, “That’s what he does when we’re panning.”

Joy whispered to me, “Do you know what time it is?”

“No,” I said, “I don’t have my watch.”

“You hid it when you saw Nick and Lucy. Am I right?”

“No, I just forgot it at home

Joy said to Nick, “Have you been in any fights lately?”

“No, not for about a year.”

“Of course, you had your leg in a cast for most of that time.”

“No, it wasn’t that. I didn’t have the need to fight anybody.”

Joy asked, “How about you, Lucy.”

“No, I haven’t been fighting. I robbed a guy yesterday. It was his stupidness. He didn’t see Nick standing in the background. He asked if he could have anal sex with me. I said, ‘Sure, let’s go into the alley.’ Nick followed us in there. He said to the guy, ‘Give this woman all your cash, then fuck off.’ The guy ran. What was he going to do? Call the cops?

Joy said, “Something similar happened to me last week. A guy propositioned me. I said to him, ‘It’ll cost you eighty bucks and cab fare to my place. Cash up front, now.’ We hailed a cab, when we got to my building the guy was busy paying the driver, I hopped out the door — I can be pretty nimble when I have to. I ran across the parking lot, into my apartment and locked the door. The guy didn’t know where I went. Served him right.”

Nick and Lucy moved on toward the library. Joy said, ‘They told me they were feeling drug sick. Nick said he has a check coming, so they didn’t hassle me. When Jake was around, I got in a fight with Lucy. Nick punched me in the side of the head. Jake picked him up by the front of his coat and threw him right on his ass. He said ‘This is girl stuff. Let them fight it out themselves. If It’s man stuff you want, you can take me on.’ Nick just sat there in the middle of the street.”

Joy whispered to me, “Do you know what time it is?”

“No,” I said, “I don’t have my watch.”

“You hid it when you saw Nick and Lucy. Am I right?”

“No, I just forgot it at home.

“I’ll let you get back to work. Will you be at ‘the point’ later?”

“Yeah, the whole gang should be there.”

10:00 am, at ‘the point’ (the traffic island)

I sat between Joy and Chester. Chester said, The busses are free for seniors today, but do you have any spare bus tickets for tomorrow?”

“Sure, Chester. How are your legs feeling?”

“They’re okay. They hurt a bit. I’ve been sober for the last three days. I can do that. It gives my body a chance to recover.”

Joy asked Chester, “Can I borrow your phone? I want to call Buck to see if he can bring me some weed and some cigarettes.”

On the phone, Joy said, “Hi Sweetie, where are you? In bed? I’m sorry did I wake you. I was going to ask, Were you whacking off? But, you beat me to the punch. So, are you coming down? Okay, we’ll see you then.”

To me she said, “Poor guy, he walks all the time and he wonders why he gets tired.”

I asked, “How did the meeting with your worker go? Do you have furniture yet?”

“It was a joke. They took me to the Salvation Army Thrift store and gave me a voucher for sixty dollars. I was supposed to get a hundred. Anyway, I bought a comfy office chair and a foot stool that opens up at the top for storage. I also got two black fluffy mats. One I’m going to put under my air mattress. The other I’ll put in the hall. What I really wanted was a love seat they had, but the price was a hundred dollars, so I’ll have to make do with what I got. They will be scheduling a visit to the giant warehouse, that’ll be in about two weeks or so. I guess they’ll bump me to the top of the list. I’m not quite sure how that works.

“When this furniture deal gets settled I’m going to have a showdown with my worker. I want to find out why she treats me the way she does. I know she’s a dyke and I’ve got no problem with that. What people do in their private lives is up to them. What they do when they’re working for me is what I’m concerned about. I’m not the only one having trouble with her.

“By the way, when I went back to the library again, to use the washroom, I saw Nick and Lucy again. They were sitting on one of the top benches. Nick said, ‘We’re up here looking down on everyone.’ When I came back they were both asleep.”

I asked Chester if he knew the time. He pulled out his phone and said, “Can you read the numbers? They’re pretty small.” He shaded the phone inside his jacket. “It’s 10:45.”

“I should be going,” I said. To Joy I asked, “Will I see you tomorrow?”

“Maybe, It depends on how much it’s raining.”

I walked across the street to talk to Uncle Peter and Shaggy. “Hi Peter. I’ve got a book put aside for you. Do you like Ian Flemming?”

“The guy that wrote the James Bond books? Yeah, I like him.”

“I’ll try to bring it tomorrow. I’ll see you then.”
 
 

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womanbox

 
16 April 2013

It was raining this morning, so I wasn’t expecting to see Joy, but there she was in her usual place. I said, “I’m surprised to see you here. I thought you’d stay at home because of the rain.”

“I was up early and didn’t have anything else to do, so I came here. It rained three times and it stopped three times. Who knows what the rest of the day will be like.

“Boy, I’m really glad you came, I’m near to busting with having to go to the bathroom. Can you watch my stuff?”

“Sure, you go ahead.”

When Joy returned I asked, “So, did you talk to your workers? Is there any news about getting you furniture?”

“Yeah, that’s set up for 1:00. The only thing I haven’t done is the dishes. I’ll do them before they arrive.

“I saw the guys yesterday. Jake threw Shakes out of his apartment. Shakes has lived outside all his life, he doesn’t know how to act inside. Jake doesn’t have furniture, just an air conditioner, still in its box, but, just the same, he likes his place kept tidy. Shakes was flicking his cigarette ashes everywhere, grinding his butts out on the hardwood floor. It’s not his fault. It’s just the way he’s lived all these years.

“Chester came with Raven, but as soon as she saw that Jacques had money she went with him. Chester wasn’t too happy about that. Before they left Jacques said, ‘Maybe, me, I get to play with a little pussy this afternoon.’ I’m just glad that I’m single and celibate, no cooties for me. Some of the women these guys go out with — they’re not pretty — most you’d have to double bag, and I mean Hefty bags.

“Can you mail a letter for me? It’s to my youngest son, he lives with his older brother in Burlington. I’m trying to get some communication going between us. The others I haven’t heard from in a while. One’s up in the Northwest Territories, working in a gold mine. He was raised by my sister and sent her a huge nugget. She had it appraised at twenty thousand dollars. I said, ‘Hold on to that, he’s going to need that for college.’

“I saw Andre yesterday, while he was still sober I said to him, ‘You know there is never going to be anything between us. You’re like a brother to me. Do you understand that?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I guess so.'”

“So, do you think he got the message this time.”

“I hope so.”

At noon it was still misty, as I passed a bus shelter I saw Tom and Matches. “Hey, it’s been a long time, man!” said Tom.

“Yes it has. Shakes do you have your hydro turned on yet?”

“Yes I do. That Friday that it went off, I phoned my worker and said, ‘I want my fuckin’ hydro turned on. It’s a long weekend coming up. How would you like your fuckin’ hydro off for that long. I’m going to be out this afternoon, but when I get home for supper the fuckin’ hydro had better be on.’

“You told her, Shakes!”

“Yeah, I sure did, ha ha ha.”

“So, Danny, have you been panning near the mall?”

“No,” he said, “Did you hear what happened to me there a couple of years ago? I wanted a Happy Meal from McDonalds, but I was a bit drunk and I knew they wouldn’t serve me. I didn’t have any money, but I had just been to the pharmacy and had my prescription for Percocet renewed. I asked a guy going into McDonalds if he used Percocet. He said, ‘Yeah!’ I asked, ‘For three Percs would you buy me a Happy Meal?’ He said, ‘Sure!’ What he did was go straight to this big security guard and told him I stole some Percs from him.

“The security guard came out and tried to put his hands in my pockets. I wouldn’t let him and pushed him away. Another security guard came along and grabbed my arm. The other one kicked my leg from behind and broke it. It was sticking way out to the side. They put me in cuffs and phoned the police. I managed to squirm my way, with the broken leg, to a pay phone. With the hand cuffs behind my back I was still able to pull myself up, knock the receiver off the hook and dial 911. I said to the operator, “This is Daniel Pelletier, I’ve been beaten by security guards and they broke my leg. I need an ambulance. The operator said they had already received a call and an ambulance was on its way.

“By that time the police had arrived. They wouldn’t listen to anything I said. One put his knee on my head, breaking my glasses. The other one took the pills out of my pocket and handed them to someone.

I said, “I have a prescription for those pills, just ask at the pharmacy. They didn’t even check. The cop said to me, ‘You’re nothing but a homeless, drunken Indian. If you don’t shut up we’re going to take you out of town and bury you.’

“I yelled to people in front of the mall, “My name is Daniel Pelletier. The police have just told me they are going to kill me, take me out of town and bury me.

“The ambulance came and took me to the hospital. They set my leg, put it in a cast and a brace. I was supposed to go for physiotherapy, but I’m an alcoholic. There’s no way I could sit in a room for three hours without a drink. Besides, it was on the other side of the city. I didn’t even have money for bus tickets. I hadn’t been panning, so I had no money coming in.

“I wore that leg brace for a year and a half. In the end it did help me. People are more likely to give money to a guy in a brace than one without.

“Ever since then I’ve been afraid for my life. I’m supposed to be part of a native group protesting the wind turbines scheduled to be installed on Thunder Mountain. They want to put them on sacred land. If the police see me, I’m afraid that one of them will push me in front of a car.

“I was talking to the Anishinaabe Clan Mothers at Maniwaki and in Cornwall. I explained to them that this protest could end up like the one at Oka. The young people wouldn’t remember, but I was there. Some of them wouldn’t feel comfortable carrying guns, but there would be guns behind them, protecting them.

“It was our Chief that signed over the land to the wind turbine company. I said to him, ‘It won’t be you standing in the front lines blocking the equipment. It’ll be me.’ I’ve served over fifteen years in correctional institutions and mental institutions. I don’t mind going to jail. In fact I would be proud to give my life to protect our sacred ground. It’s all we have.”

“I have to go now, Danny. If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”

Shakes asked, “Dennis could you spare some bus tickets and a Tim Horton’s card?”

“Sure Shakes.”

“Thanks Dennis, we’ll see you soon.”

 
 

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womanbox

15 April 2013

This morning was cold. Joy was wearing two hoodies, a jacket and a heavy sweater over. Her legs were wrapped in a blanket.

“Hi Sweetie, I’m glad you’re here. I have to have a major piss and I can’t go into Lorenzo’s. Will you watch my stuff and do your magic?”

I sat on her box and guarded her cap with the change (the jingle) in it. I smiled and tried to look needy, but nobody was buying it. I noticed the averted eyes. Some of my friends passed without saying hello.

Joy returned, I said, “I didn’t have any luck.”

“Mondays are always bad. I didn’t want to come out today, but I missed Friday and Thursday because of the weather, so I figured I better get out.”

“How did Tuesday go?” I asked,” Do you have your furniture?”

“No, and I’m really pissed off that they cancelled again. I phoned my workers at about 1:00 Tuesday,  as I was crossing the bridge. I heard one of them in the background say, ‘If that’s Joy, tell her we’ll have to reschedule.’ She couldn’t even tell me herself.  I said, ‘I’ve been waiting five fuckin’ months, this is insane! All my other friends have been taken to the warehouse to get furniture. Why is it that I have to wait so long!’ I don’t know what that woman has against me. If I gave her a shot in the head, they’d phone the police. I guess that wouldn’t be a good move.”

“The table and couch that André promised me — he gave them to somebody else.

“I’m not like some of these other people. I have no family to turn to. Mind you, I’d have plenty of places to crash if I lost my apartment.”

I asked, “How was your weekend?”

“It was cool. I went over to Andre’s.  Snuffleupagus was there, that’s what I call Animal. He was whining the whole time. ‘I don’t have any money in my bank account.’ I told him that his GST (Goods and Services Tax) refund would be coming soon. His income tax refund would take a little longer. He’ll just have to wait, like all of us. You can’t hurry the government; but he wants it now!

“Weasel is pissed with me because he invited me over and I haven’t been there yet. He had Little Jake over and split his eyebrow? I told Jake that when he mixes sherry and beer, like he does with his Jakeonator, he flips out and becomes a real asshole. That’s what happened, so Weasel smacked him up side the head, chased him out the door and across the parking lot.

“Weasel said to me, ‘You know I’d never hit you, Joy!’ I said, ‘Why not? It’s not like I’ve never been hit before. Is it because I’m a woman? Well, I don’t punch like a woman, so don’t worry on that score.

“I passed out on the couch,  Weasel was asleep in a chair and André slept on the floor. Andre’s sister was over. I like her. She’s moving into a beautiful place. It’s great if you can afford it.  He’d been telling her that he want’s to get together with me, but that’s not going to happen. She’d look over at me with those questioning eyes, Why don’t you like my brother?

“It’s not that I don’t like him, I feel about him like he is my brother. Nothing’s going to happen between us. I’ve been telling him that for two years now. Even when he and Weasel walked me home he had this pouty face and said, ‘Can I at least have a hug?’ When I did hug him he tried to kiss me on the mouth, but I turned my head and he got my cheek.” I said to him, ‘That’s the reason there’ll never be anything between us. The more you try to get closer, the more I’m going to push away.’ Then he said, ‘So, you want me to just leave you alone?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ Maybe he’ll eventually catch on.

“I’m still short $4.00. You don’t have $4.00 do you?”

“No,” I said, “I only use plastic — to get the Air Miles.”

“It’s okay, I see my Dutch guy coming. This could be good.”

A tall, well dressed man said, “Hello.” and dropped two quarters.

“Thanks, honey.” said Joy. To me she said, “That’s not good.”

I said, “I’ll leave you to work your charm.”

.

.

group3

8 October 2015

I met Nick and Mandy sitting on a low concrete wall near the park. I shook Mandy’s hand and Nick said, “Give me a hug, brother.” which I gladly did.

“How are you doing, Nick? I heard that you’ve been in hospital?”

“I’m conflicted. I prayed to God all night long. I’ve had three heart attacks in the past two months. One left me in the hospital for eighteen days. I got a message saying that I should stay with my family in Blainville near Niagara Falls. Two of my brothers are anxious to carry on my work. Two friends here have said they would take over for me here. They’ll be coming by later with pizza.

“I have a schizophrenic woman staying at my house also a twenty-three year old who is trying to get off crack. She’s been clean for a while. Yesterday she told me she was going to her dealer for a fix. I said to her ‘You’re following the devil’s path. When you suck on that pipe, you’re blowing the devil.’ She’s an adult. I can’t make choices for her.

“Another woman had asked me for a sleeping bag. I told everyone I know, about her situation and someone came through for me. I was given a brand new sleeping bag worth $150. I gave it to her. Do you know what she said to me? ‘I don’t want it.’ I said, ‘What do you mean you don’t want it. I went to a lot of work to find this. Someone paid $150 dollars so you could keep warm at night.’ She said, ‘I’ll give it to someone.’ So now some kid she pans with has a sleeping bag. These kind of things stress me. Because of my heart condition I’m supposed to avoid stress. How do I do that?  I feel guilty abandoning these people.”

I said, “You’ll carry on your work where you’re going. You’ll be helping people there who otherwise wouldn’t be helped. You can’t be everywhere.”

“You’re right. Let’s join the others at the park… Look, there not at the park, they’re on the traffic island. I wonder what happened.”

I greeted everyone then sat next to Wolf. He said, “Nobody’s talking to me because I yelled at the park maintenance guy. There he is with the yellow jacket. Yellowjacket, that’s a type of wasp isn’t it? It suits him. Anyway, we were all over there. This guy is standing not three feet away and he turns on the sprinklers. The rest of these guys jumped up and ran. I have a hard time getting up and I had Shaggy’s wagon with Rick’s stuff in it. Me and the contents of the wagon were getting drenched.”

I asked, “Are you still wet?”

“Well, I’ve got a set of long johns under my pants and I’ve got a heavy coat on, but yes, I’m still wet.

“How are you?”

“I’m fine. Same old, same old.

“Look I want to apologize for being so drunk the last time I talked to you.”

“There’s no problem, Wolf.”

“I’m drunk now as well, but I haven’t taken any of the other stuff. I got some weed for later, but that’s all.”

Rick announced, “This is my friend, Nathan, and he’s brought two boxes of pizza.”

Nathan said, “It seems odd celebrating the departure of a friend who we’ll all miss. Before we eat I’d like to say a few words from Psalm 15:

A Psalm of David.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? 2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart 3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, 4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, 5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”

Depending on weather, I’m hoping to see Rick and the others tomorrow. I say my goodbyes and shake hands with anybody who isn’t holding a slice of pizza.

 
 
 

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group3
 
10 October 2015

As I neared the group at the park, Peter said, “Sit over here. They watered the lawn and this is the only dry place. Jacques offered me a plastic shopping bag, Mariah offered me a plastic cushion; I took the cushion.

I said, “DId you hear that Nick was in hospital?”

Outcast said, “Yeah, we heard, he’s across the street right now. We moved from there when they finished watering the grass. It’s too warm in the sun.”

“How is he?”

“Who knows, one minute he tells me he has to go under the knife for something, the next minute he says we won’t see him after a week because he’s going to Niagara Falls. How’s he going to do both?”

Mariah said, “He has a brother in Niagara Falls. That’s probably why he’s going, if he’s going.”

I said to Outcast, “He needed surgery last year and refused it. He said he’d place his health in the hands of God.”

“I think he has a hernia like I had, but lower down. He’s got a lot of health problems.”

I asked Outcast, “How are you doing? Will you be having your hernia operation redone?”

“No, I’m not having it redone. The netting they used for the patch is rubbing on my intestines, so I see blood in the toilet. The doctor said he wasn’t worried about it. If it’s still bothering me after a year he’ll operate.

“Little Chester was by earlier, drunk as usual. You can always tell he’s drunk because then he drags his foot. He bought a bottle of sherry at 9:30, by 11:00 it was gone. He’s a small guy, he should know that he can’t handle that amount. Then he peed in the middle of the sidewalk. He could have gotten arrested for that.”

Little Frank walked up breathing heavily. He said, “I’ve had the morning from hell. I got my check today and went to Money Mart to cash it, since I don’t have a bank account. I was standing in line behind an old woman who was trying to cash a check for $7500. There was some kind of problem. They had to call in the manager. I waited an hour and a half for my measly $97. So, Wolf here’s the $15. I owe you. Outcast here’s the $5. I owe you.” He was on the phone to someone and said, “You’ll have to wait for your $30. until my next check, man. I’m cleaned out.”

He continued, “You’ll never guess what happened to me this morning. I went in to buy a pack of smokes and the owner was training a girl on the cash. Before she’d sell me the cigarettes she asked for proof of age. I said, ‘Look, honey, I’m 44. It takes a long time to lose all these teeth.’ Maybe she thought I’d been in a lot of fights before I was 16. There was a big biker guy standing behind me. He laughed and said, ‘I bet that made your day.’

“Now I get to relax. I haven’t even had a drink yet,” he said as he pulled out a bottle of sherry.

“Jacques, can I borrow your lighter, and can you fill this one for me? Last night I was trying to light some weed from the wooden pipe that you gave me. Can you believe it? three lighters ran out of fuel at the same time. I nearly went nuts. I couldn’t find anything to light my pipe, so I just went to bed.”

Outcast said, “What you do is take a piece of paper towel and shove it in the toaster. When it catches fire you pull it out and you have a flame to light anything you want.”

Wolf said, “Dennis, your hair is getting long. You’re getting to look more like us every day.”

“That’s the whole idea, Wolf. I’m trying to look like you. You’re my idol. Maybe next I’ll grow my beard down to my belly like Jacques. I’ve had a beard like that before.”

Wolf said, “Now my beard comes in kind of salt and pepper, mostly salt. When I was younger it came in red. Go figure.

“I’m still having trouble breathing through my nose, probably because I had it broken a few times. At night I use those Breathe Rite Strips. They work great, but they’re expensive — Thirty two dollars for thirty strips.”

Outcast said, “So that works out to be about a dollar a strip. You pay for those, or can you get them on prescription?”

“Okay, I steal them. I didn’t want to say that, but they’re almost a necessity. I don’t use them every night. A box will last me maybe a couple of months or more.”

Outcast said, “I figured that you stole them. I just didn’t want to accuse you of something if you were innocent.”

 
 
 

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dumpster4

8 October 2015

I was walking along a crowded sidewalk when I heard, “Dennis, down here.”

Mandy stood up from the curb and gave me a hug. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a meal card and handed it to her. She misunderstood and said, “Okay we’ll shake hands too. Oh, You’re giving me a coffee card. Thank you, I can use that.”

“How have you been?” I asked.

“You know, same old same old. My mom got her own place, finally. It’s about four blocks from here. We’re both so happy about it.”

“Do you have a place to stay now?”

“Yeah, I’ve been in the same place for four years. It’s a rooming house, costs me $450 a month. After I pay my rent there isn’t much left for groceries, or to feed my addictions.

“Did you near that Nick’s was hospital.”

I asked, “Is it because of his diabetes?”

“Yeah, he started drinking beer again. There is too much sugar in it. He went into diabetic coma. He’s out now, but not feeling too well.”

“That’s a shame. I saw him less than two weeks ago. He looked great. He gave me the impression that he was off drinking completely. He looked healthy and happy, although he did say that he’d had a couple of heart attacks.”

“Dennis, you’ve let your hair grow long. Why is that?” She reached up and touched my hair. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to mess your hair.”

“That’s okay, it can’t get messed up. Having it long is really low maintenance. I don’t brush it, comb it or even bother drying it some days. If it gets in my eyes I run my fingers through it and that’s it.

“The reason I let it grow was because I had Meningitis last February. The doctor shaved both sides of my head to perform temporal biopsies. They took two sections of blood vessels out to examine them under a microscope. I have two one inch scars at my temples, but they aren’t noticeable now.”

“Oh, I thought that maybe your hair was thinning.”

“No,” I bent over to expose the crown of my head, “my barber says that I’ll never go bald. He says that he should charge me extra for the volume of hair I have. Many of his clients my age are bald, or close to it.”

Mandy removed her cap, “See what I’ve done to my hair?” She had a buzz cut. I touched her hair. It felt like a brush, reminded me of when I used to wear my hair that way.

“It’s nice,” I said, “it suits you.”

“I’ll let it grow out over winter then get it cut off again. One haircut a year, that’s all I need.”

“Take care, Mandy.”

“Bye.”

 

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