31 May 2012

At noon there were cloudy periods, with a cool breeze blowing. In the sun it was warm, in the shade it was cool. Yesterday was check day for all the people on government assistance. At the park were Serge,  Heartless, Loretta, Mariah, Anastasia, Little Jake, Andre, Hippo, Shark and Irene.

Today there was a motorcycle parade from Parliament Hill down Elgin Street in view of the park. RIDE to REMEMBER “say never again” Ottawa 2012. Motorcycle clubs from around the world are riding from Ottawa to Toronto in remembrance of veterans and to say “never again” to the Holocaust.

Some Jewish and Christian bike clubs have made the trip from as far as the UK and Australia to remember those lost in the Holocaust and to support Israel.

Anastasia, white-haired, probably in her sixties was jumping up and down. “There’s one with ‘ape hangers’, one with a side car, some BMW’s, a few Indians, on the trailer is a 1939 Knucklehead Bobber. I’ve ridden one of those.

Little Jake said, “This is Harley heaven, man. Listen to that rumble. There must be hundreds of them.”

“Settle down you two”, said Andre, wearing a women’s, hot pink, peaked cap. You’re going to have an orgasm.”

I talked first to Irene. I knew that she had been to the doctor, so I asked how she was feeling. “Not so good. I’m on antibiotics, but they gave me the wrong kind. I’m menopausal, borderline diabetic, I have cirrhosis, hep. c, cancer. From the head up I’m okay, the rest of me is falling apart. Yesterday, I didn’t even get out of bed. I needed a beer to get me feeling level. Shark with AIDS is in better shape than I am. He’ll far outlive me.

Shark  said, “You’re going through alcohol withdrawal. That’s the way I feel when I haven’t had my morphine. I take medication for AIDS, but I only take two tablets a day. Some people take about nine pills and they have to be at different times during the day. I’ve been this way for about seven years.”

Irene said, “We’re looking for another apartment, a two bedroom. We can afford it, and it doesn’t make sense us each having our own places. We’re either at one or the other. I want something closer to downtown. I can’t take the long bus rides from where I am now.”

“How about a place near where Joy is?” I asked.

“In the market? No, I know too many people there. Maybe in Vanier, but I know too many people everywhere.”

“Did I tell you that Joy, Donald and I, all lived on Lacasse Street in Vanier? It’s quite a coincidence. I was two blocks from Montreal Road, Joy lived a few blocks further down, and Donald lived further still near Blake Boulevard.”

“I’m giving my two months notice where I am, so we have quite a while to look for a place. I want to make sure it’s in a nice neighbourhood.”

“That’s important.” I said.

Little Jake came up to me, “Do you see how everyone is broken up into little cliques today.” Shark, Irene and Heartless have moved away because they think this is the place where the police will come first.”

Silver said, “I’m not sitting with those women, they’re the ones that took Chester’s money. They got him drunk and then went through his pockets. He had an $8,000 inheritance that they went through in a month. Now that he’s run out of money they won’t have anything to do with him.”

Loretta was holding on to Matches. “Can you give me a hand?” she asked.

“What’s he trying to do? Get up, or sit down?”

“He says it’s slow motion.”

I held Sparky’s hand and he gradually lowered himself to a sitting position.”

I asked him,”How did you get the cut on the bridge of your nose, Matches?”

“I was jumped by two guys on Rideau Street last night. I’ll remember their faces. They even wanted to press charges against me. It was them that started it.

“I’ve lost something. Can you help me? I’m looking for two brown envelopes.” He pointed to a plastic grocery bag. “Whenever I go to the bank, I put my money in a brown banking envelope.”

“I’ll have a look, Matches. You’ve got lots of brown paper napkins, packs of pepper, plastic knives and forks, a muffin, your bottle of wine. Here’s one brown envelope. I can’t find a second one. I’ll put your bag near the fence.”

Loretta said to me, “Did you hear my good news?”

“No,” I said, “what’s your good news.”

“I’m going to be moving to Gatineau. I have permission from my probation officer. I came here today to collect my clothes from all my friends. Tomorrow, I move. My roommate is going to be a woman I’ve lived with before. She’s six months pregnant. We’re getting a two bedroom apartment.”

“Congratulations!” I said, “You must be excited.”

“Yes I am. Have you seen Joy today?”

“No, she wasn’t on Metcalfe Street, but I wasn’t expecting her. She usually stays away for a few days after she gets her check. She likes to be on her own for a while, where it’s quiet.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s the way you get to know yourself.”

“I agree. It’s a good idea. I enjoy doing that as well.”

I walked over to where Hippo was standing alone. I shook his hand, he winced. “Did you break your hand?”

“Yes.”

“Shouldn’t it be in a cast like Nick’s?’

“No, they said it wouldn’t help.”

“I see that you have stitches above your eyebrow.”

“Yeah, they stitched it on the inside then on the outside. I can’t wait to get my hands on the guy who did this to me. He was a crack head.

“I also got barred from the Sally again. I was eating my dinner, when a guy came and said, ‘You can’t eat here. You’ve already eaten.’ I said, ‘Okay, you eat it then!’ I tossed it into the bubble (the information desk).

“I really liked the poem you wrote. I made copies and gave them to all my friends. Some people think I’m kinda slow, but here I am.”

“I love you, man,” and gave him a hug.

“I don’t want to cry, but I feel it coming. Someone still loves us.”

“Take care, Hippo. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

As I was leaving, a man came up to me. I shook his hand and said, “Hi my name is Dennis.”

“Yeah, we’ve met before. I shaved off my beard.”

“I haven’t seen you for a couple of months.”

“Yeah, I’ve been away. I bought beer for the guys. Would you like a beer?”

“Thanks, but I have to get back to work.”

“Do you need any money?”

“No, I’m good, but thanks anyway.”

“You’ve always treated me like gold, man. I appreciate it.” He gave me a hug and I returned to work.

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