Archive for January, 2019

Staggering Somewhat Straight

Posted: January 14, 2019 in Prose

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4 July 2012

I was walking along Queen Street towards Moss Park, when I met old Serge sitting on a park bench. “Hi Serge,” I said. “How are you feeling? You still have bruises around your eyes.”

“I’m okay.”

“Did you see the fireworks on Canada Day (July 1)?”

“I saw them, but I didn’t stand up. I just watched from the bench here. You won’t find anybody up top, maybe under the bridge.”

“Thanks, Serge, you saved me a trip.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you.”

I checked everywhere I could think of, but couldn’t find any of my friends.

5 July 2012

This afternoon at the park, sitting in a circle, were Shakes, Andre, Larry and his brother Charles. Wolf and  his dog Shaggy were just leaving. As I sat down, Larry handed me a copy of the Sun to avoid grass stains.

Shakes was laying on the grass as usual. I bent to shake his hand, then noticed that he had a cigarette in one hand and a wine bottle in the other. “Don’t bother shaking my hand,  Shakes. I see your hands are full.”

“Dennis, ” said Shakes, “do you know what a smoothie is?”

“You tell me, Shakes.”

“It’s when you’re expecting a Hershey bar, and you get a squirt instead…ha, ha, ha.”

“Now I know, Shakes.”

“Thanks for not asking me to shake your hand, Dennis,” he laughed hoarsely.

I asked, “Was anybody here yesterday?”

Andre thought for a while, “No, they turned the sprinklers on. That’s one way to keep us away.”

Charles offered me wild blackberries from a large plastic basket.

“I got those as a drop this morning,” said Andre. “I was sitting in front of Tim Horton’s and this dude asks me, ‘Do you want some fresh blackberries?’ I say, ‘Sure!’ He goes into the back somewhere and brings this big basket of blackberries. He says, ‘There’s enough here to bake four pies.’ I say, ‘Thanks, but you’re talking to a guy who lives on the street. I don’t have a pot to piss in, let alone an oven to bake pies. I’ll share these with some friends in the park. They’ll enjoy them. Thanks again. I love blackberries.’ “

It’s Thursday, so the ‘sandwich ladies’ had made their appearance. I saw juice boxes, a pair of white socks, and cellophane wrapped cookies. Larry unwrapped a sandwich and looked inside. “Does anybody want some of this?”

“What’s in it?” asked Andre.

“I think it’s minced ham, I’m not sure.”

“I’ll pass on that,” said Andre as he pulled out a Tim Horton’s bag. “We’re eating high-class today!” He offered me part of a cheese burger, but I had just eaten. Torn in four parts, he passed one each to Shakes, Larry, Charles and saved the last for himself. Shakes passed around his bottle of wine. Charles sputtered and nearly choked.

Larry said, “Dennis, don’t mind my brother. He gets silly when he’s drunk.”

“He’s silly when he’s not drunk,” said Andre. “He’s silly all the time.”

Andre, who was shirtless, then demonstrated his belly dance. “I was doing this on Canada Day. One woman gave me a Sourpuss, one gave me two beer, one dropped five bucks and another dropped a knob of weed. She asked if she could videotape me and put it on YouTube. I said, ‘Sure!’ I must be on there about ten times. There’s one from St. Patrick’s Day, 2010, labelled bum fights.

“It had over 700 hits the first week. Since then it’s had over 20,000. I wish I was getting royalties.”

Larry said, “One time I was sleeping under the Bridge, around the time they were putting up the chain link fences. I was asleep in the corner when I heard someone rattling the fence. They said, ‘Do you want a drink?’ I was half asleep, so I didn’t answer. Then they said, ‘Do you want some bottles of wine?’ My ears pricked up then. ‘Sure!’ I said. I came out and sure enough they had all these bottles lined up. They said there had been a wine tasting event nearby and any opened bottles had to be disposed of.

“A bunch of us met the next day and passed the bottles around the circle. Anyone who liked the taste, kept the bottle. If they didn’t they passed it on. I tried some Dom Perignon, but didn’t like it. I know it’s over two hundred a bottle, but it tasted awful.”

Andre said, “I had a job at the Banff Springs Hotel and when they had a function, any opened bottles, even if they only had an ounce out of them, were given to the staff. The full bottles I had to take down to the basement. When I was working down there, a huge mother of a bug  dropped on my shoulder. I don’t know what it was called but it was about two inches across and had pincers, like scissors in front. I was wearing rubber gloves when I picked it off my shoulder and it nipped the end off one of the fingers. If I hadn’t been wearing the gloves it would have been my finger that was nipped off.

“Whenever I saw one of those bugs I hit it with a shovel. I may have broken the odd bottle of wine, but I wasn’t getting anywhere near those bugs.

“In the forests they also had wood-boring insects (Mountain Pine Beetles) that would drop from the trees, sometimes three or four at a time, and could bore into your skin. They would post signs advising hikers to keep off the trails at certain times of the year.”

It was time for Andre, Shakes and Little Jake to go to work (pan handling). Shakes was having trouble with his pants falling down. I asked Andre, “Are those new pants?”

“They must be, ” replied Andre, “They’re clean.”

“I’ll get you fixed up, Shakes,” said Andre. He tore a two-inch wide strip from a garbage bag in one of the sidewalk containers. He started feeding it through the belt loops, then he noticed that Shakes had a belt around his waist, under his pants, over his underwear.

“It’s alright folks, we’re not doing anything disgusting here. We’re just trying to help our buddy, so he won’t do something disgusting all by himself.” Andre fed the belt through the loops and Shakes was good to go. Unstable, but vertical and able to stagger somewhat straight.