30 May 2012

This morning I was happy to see Hippo, he had stopped to talk to Silver at his usual spot. Hippo had a bandage on his forehead.

“Hi Hippo. What happened?”

“I got into a little scuffle.”

Hippo was having problems obtaining a copy of his birth certificate, because he is adopted. I downloaded the appropriate application form for ‘Post Adoption Birth Information’ from the internet. I also gave him forms to apply for a Social Insurance card and an Ontario Health card. I offered to help him to fill in the blanks and to mail them. He was happy to receive the information.

Silver had a plastic box for me to sit on as we chatted. He said ‘After we left the park yesterday Hippo and I went to my place at the Lafayette, had a few beer and ordered pizza. The rest of the time we spent watching television. They have live music every Tuesday and Wednesday night. ‘Lucky Ron’ has a regular gig there. When I hear a good song being played, I turn the television down to listen. It’s a great place to live. I get along great with the landlord. I’ve been there about four years now. It’s now the oldest hotel in Ottawa, they’ve torn all the others down.”

“From classy tavern and hotel to restaurant, pub, dive and everything in between, Lafayette first opened its doors in 1849 and although it’s never closed since, this Ottawa establishment has gone through many changes. The current inception is The Laff: a comfortable pub and tavern in the heart of Ottawa’s Byward Market.

Your server will gladly take your order and bring your sub back to your table for you. Wood floors, tables and chairs that are scuffed and worn; and a long vinyl bench along one wall provides a little extra padding for the delicate customer. There are live bands every Tuesday and Wednesday night as well. In the absence of live entertainment, the tavern has a huge jukebox in the back so you can hear your favourite song as often as you like.”

“I’ve had jobs near by at the market, in some of the flower stalls. They open at 5:30 am and close at 5:30 pm. I’ve also worked on construction and at a fruit and vegetable store. My shift there was from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am. I’d have to count everything coming in, then sort it for the various clients it would be delivered to. Toothless Chester got me that job.

“Joy invited me to a barbecue at their place Saturday, but Chuck still owes me $20.00. I didn’t want to go there and get paid off with a few hot dogs or hamburgers. I want my money. Joy was pissed off. She was ready to take a swing at me. I’d never hit a woman, but I’d get one of my ‘street sisters’ to. I guess I can kiss that money good-bye.

“Joy went off with Chester yesterday. I hope she doesn’t rip him off for money the way Sara did.”

“Joy was upset with the way Sara treated Chester. As far as I know, she’s always paid her way, and more, with Toothless Chuck and with the other Chuck before.

At noon, on my way to the park, I met Irving and Hippo. I asked Irving how he was making out. “I’m still on the streets, still sleeping in the ATM kiosk of a bank. Last Wednesday, Shakess woke me up there and asked me if I wanted a drink. I said, ‘Sure!’. He slept there that night as well. There is a new lady manager who kicks Sabrina in the foot to wake her up. I don’t like that. Does she treat her customers like that? I don’t think so. The other lady manager would sometimes bring me coffee. She’d say, ‘Okay Irving, time to get up.’ I’d say, ‘Okay, just let me get my eyes open. I’ll clean up my butts, then I’ll be gone.’

“I’ve been having trouble with my back from the time the cops threw me down the concrete steps of the church. Just the other day, I climbed over a wall and jumped to the other side. When I landed I could feel something crunching in my back. I went to the hospital, to get an x-ray and to have my eyes checked. They said I need glasses, but they wouldn’t do the x-ray. I had my health card and my status card. I don’t know why they wouldn’t check my back.

“I’m going to see the doctor that was in charge of my alcohol recovery program. I’m sure he can give me a prescription for an x-ray.”

I left Irving and Sabrina and proceeded to the park where I met Andre, Little Jake, Chester, Hippo, Rocky, Joy, Toothless Chuck and his dog V.

I was especially glad to see Andre, who I haven’t seen for several weeks. I asked, “How have you been, Andre?”

“I’ve been in hospital. I kept getting acid reflux. Bile would come up and burn my esophagus. I felt a lump in my throat. It became infected and then I had trouble breathing. I went to the Sally and by that time I could barely breathe. I could breathe in, but not out. They rushed me to the hospital. I was worried that it might be a tumor, because my dad had tumors. I’m on antibiotics now. I may have to have my tonsils out. There are a lot of things they want to do to me, but I don’t want an operation.

“I’ve had problems with my lungs since a guy stabbed me in the side at a party. I held a towel against the wound and fell asleep. When I awoke, I yelled for someone to help me. One of my friends from the party heard me. He said, ‘Party’s over, Andre, time to go home.’ I said, ‘Man, I need to get to the hospital.’ He said, ‘No problem. You want to go right now, or can we smoke a joint first?’ I said, ‘I’ve been like this since last night, so waiting a little longer isn’t going to make a difference.’ When I inhaled the joint, smoke came out of my side. I figured then that I better get to the hospital right away. At the hospital they told me that my lung was collapsed. Now, I only have partial use of it. I’m prone to getting pneumonia — too many nights sleeping outside in the rain. Apart from that, I’m the same fun-loving guy I always was.”

I said, “We’ll have to go panning together again. That was a blast!”

“On Easter I panned in front of the Cathedral. They had two masses. I panned through both of them. My buddy and me made $44.00. After that, I said, ‘That’s it. No more panning today.’ ”

I sat next to Joy and scratched V’s neck. She rolled over and let me scratch her belly. Joy petted and Z bit her arm. “I don’t like that dog,” she said.

“Chuck has invited Steve and Coreen over for a barbecue. He wants to buy steak. I told him, ‘I can’t afford to feed these people. Let’s save the steak until it’s just me and you. We’ll have a nice meal, some baked potatoes.’

“I’ve paid all my bills, paid the debt I owed to Jacques, now I’m free and clear. I’ll do my little dance now. Later, I think I’m going to shop for something nice for myself, maybe a ring. I got this gold nose ring last week. Do you like it?”

“It looks great, Joy.”

“How about some macaroni salad?” asked Chuck.

“Fine,” said Joy, “buy anything you like. I’m not cooking it.” To me she said, “I may not even come home that day.”

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