Archive for February, 2019


Posted: February 26, 2019 in Prose

10 July 2012

At the park today were Andre, Little Jake (asleep in his sleeping bag), Shakes, Wolf and his dog Shaggy.

“Dennis,” said Wolf, “I’ve got something to show you. I want your opinion on it. Here, can you read this without your glasses?”

*Bullet* “keep your pet away from fountains and shorelines (pets are not allowed to be within 3 metres of any shoreline on City of Toronto land)”

“What do you think of that. Be careful of what you say, because Shaggy is listening. Does this mean that I can’t take her in the Don River near my place? She’s been going in there, every hot day, for the past ten years.”

“That seems to be what it means.”

“Do you agree with that?”

“No, they don’t do anything to prevent wild animals, such as otters or beavers, from going in the river. Why would it be different for dogs?”

“That was my thinking as well. I talked to about ten women about it and they said, ‘You’d let your dog go in that dirty river?’ They weren’t dog owners.”

“I even think that, on these days where it is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, that Shaggy should be allowed to go into the fountain to cool off. What harm is there in that? Are they afraid that she’s going to steal some pennies?”

Andre said, “I’ve noticed that store owners, along Bank Street, are putting dishes of water out for dogs and other animals.”

Buck came by and Wolf asked him, “Would you go on a run for me? The problem is I only have ten dollars. Can you spot me the other $10.50?”


After eighteen months of daily conversations with people living on the streets, in shelters or sharing accommodation. I have made the following observations. A full-fledged member of the street family is one who has been with the group for over ten years. Jacques and Joy are the matriarch and patriarch. Everyone else is a newbie — on probation. To gain acceptance one must be vouched for and have proven themselves not to be an asshole.

The group expects honesty and sincerity. That may see strange when you consider that most of these people have prison records. Many have been involved in scams of one sort or another, but if you’re family they expect the truth. How else, they explained, can they help you.

They’ll share with you what little they have, even the jackets off their back. The same is expected in return. The people who come around only when they’re in need of money, cigarettes, booze, drugs or food are soon put on notice. On check day, all debts are paid in full.

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Sleeping Rough

Posted: February 7, 2019 in Prose

9 July 2012

I was walking along Queen Street, toward Moss Park, when I saw Serge, sitting on a bench. “Hello Serge, how are you doing?” “You startled me. I didn’t see you coming. I’m okay. I was feeling sick before, but now I’ve got my booze, I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll see you later, Serge.”

“See you.”

As I continued I met Joy and Chester. “Hi Joy, how is everything going in you new place?” “It’s great. Living at Chester’s is awesome. It’s so quiet. I hear kids and cars, but nothing like the noise at Chuck’s.”

“There’s not the people coming in and out,” added Chester. “I’ve got the whole house cleaned,” said Joy. “Now we’re going back. I’ve got some laundry to do. I’ll probably see you tomorrow.”

“You’re a good man, Chester. Bye. Bye, Joy.” Further up the sidewalk were Trudy, Buck and his dog Dillinger, Shakes and Little Jake. We shook hands all around.

“How have you been feeling, Jake?”

“My legs are sore.”

“I notice you have a lot of bruises.”

“Yeah, I’ve got bruises all over. I’ve been throwing up every morning — the dry heaves. I’ve been drinking a lot of water just so I have something to throw up. At Weasel’s place the bathtub is really close to the toilet. Sometimes I’ve got it coming out both ends. I feel better now, though.

“I slept over there in the bushes last night, along with Weasel, his dog Bear and Andre. I woke up next to Bear. I think I kicked her during the night. I was the first one up at about six. The sun coming up was orange. It was really picturesque. I went down to see Silver, but he wasn’t there, so I panned in his spot. I didn’t stay too long because I’ve got two charges against me. The cop, the big one with the tattoos — he’s really got a hard on for me — he said that if I get caught again, I’ll be going back to prison.”

“Just ignore them,” said Shakes. “I’ve got two charges as well. I was charged with vagrancy. When have you last heard of that charge — back in the sixties? They’ve been saying for ten years now that they’re going to put me back in jail, but it never happens. Just go out there on Parliament and start panning. You’ll see, nothing will happen.”

“Parliament is a red zone for me.”

“Every street is a red zone. I slept in the Scotia Bank last night. I just couldn’t hold it any more, so I dropped my pants and used the waste basket. There was a garbage bag inside so I took it out, tied it up and placed it outside. The cops came by and said there had been a complaint that I had taken a dump in the bank. I said, ‘Look officers, there’s just me, my sandwich and a broken cigarette. I don’t know what these people are talking about.”

Jake said, “The cops came by yesterday and there was Shakes pissing through the rails of the fence. They said, ‘Shakes, you just can’t do that in a public park.’ He didn’t care.”

Shakes asked Trudy, “Will you roll me a joint? My hands are too shaky.”

“Sure, do you have papers?”

“Do you need scissors, Trudy?” asked Jake.

“No, this stuff isn’t too fresh.”

“I’ve had my first drink of the day,” said Shakes. “Now, I’m going to have my first joint. Then, I can get my mind right.”

Jake said, “You’ll be able to stagger straight. Is that it, Shakes?”

“I’m leaving now,” said Trudy. “They’re having a memorial service for Alistair at St. Paul’s. It starts at one o’clock.”

“Ask them to play some Ozzy for him,” said Shakes. A soldier was passing. “Thanks for defending our country, sir.”

To me he said, “I respect the military. One time I was at a bar and I saw an old veteran. I said to him, ‘Come over and join us.’ I had a 1942 penny in my pocket. I gave it to him. He started crying. He said, ‘I was in the war then. That’s the year my brother was killed.’ “Some people say that men don’t cry. I can be arrested, beaten up, stabbed, shot and I’ll never cry. But when it’s something sentimental, like the service for Alistair, or that old veteran bawling his eyes out, that makes me cry.”

“I remember back at ‘the Haven’ (Millhaven Maximum Security Penitentiary), I was training this guy to box. I told him, ‘I’ll keep training you as long as you don’t mess up. If you mess up, no more training.’

“Do you know where I learned to box. It was when I was six years old, on the farm. In the barn we had one of those heavy farm bags, hanging from a rafter. My uncles showed me how to use it.”

Buck was playing a scratch and win Bingo card. “I won,” he said.

“How much did you win?”

“Three dollars and fifty cents.”

“I’ll pay you for the card.” said Shakes. He pulled out a plastic zip lock bag full of quarters. “Here I’ll even pay you for one extra.”

“This is a nickel, Shakes.”

“How much do I owe you, now?”

“One quarter.”

“Okay, here’s one quarter.”

To Jake he asked, “How much money did Joy say I have here?”


“Buck can you go on a run for me and get two bottles of sherry?”

“Sure.” Buck left and headed toward the liquor store.

Jake said to Shakes, “Aren’t you worried that he’s going to head south with your money.”

“No, I’m not worried. I trust Buck.” He returned about twenty minutes later and handed Shakes two bottles of sherry.”

Jake said to Shakes, “Don’t forget you owe me twenty.”

Shakes passed Jake a near empty sherry bottle. “That’s great, ” said Jake, “He owes me twenty and he offers me a buck’s worth of sherry.”

Shark and Irene came by. “Well, I got a new apartment, a three bedroom for eleven hundred  a month, all-inclusive. It’s really large. Officially, I move on the first of August, but the landlord said I can start moving stuff over beginning tomorrow. They’ve still got some repairs to do. It’s on Parliament and Power. Now, I’m at Parliament and Queen, I’m just moving across the parking lot. It’s the same landlord. I’ve been with him a long time now. My present place and the one before were both with him. Now, we just have to arrange for a truck to bring Irene’s stuff over.”

I said, “Irene was concerned that, with your morphine and medicinal marijuana, the police may come over when you’re away and she might be charged, because the licence is in your name.”

“We’ll have three bedrooms, one for me and one for Irene. The morphine and marijuana will be in my room. As long as it’s in my room they can’t touch Irene. I can just get another licence for when I’m not home.”

Irene said, “That means we won’t be neighbors any more, Dennis.”

“Don’t worry, It’s not that far away.” Buck was leaving. We shook hands. Dillinger licked my face.


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Wolf Rants

Posted: February 1, 2019 in Prose


6 July 2012

Another hot day at the park (39 degrees Celsius, 102 degrees Fahrenheit). As I approached the group I saw Larry and his mother, Anne seated on the grass. Trudy, Buck and his dog Dillinger were standing by Buck’s bicycle. Wolf and Debbie were in a heated discussion while Shaggy lay panting by the railing.

I shook hands with Larry, waved to Anne then extended my hand to Trudy. She hugged me instead. I extended my hand to Buck. He said, “What? I don’t get a hug?” I hugged him and said, “Share the love, brother.”

I walked over to Wolf. He said, “Go away, I don’t want to talk to you right now. I walked back to sit with Larry and Anne. Larry said to me, “With this hot weather I guess you’ll be going to your cabin this weekend.”

“Yes, I’ll be leaving at six tonight and will be coming back Sunday evening. I hope the weather stays like this.”

“Dennis, ” said Wolf, “I didn’t mean to be rude. Well, yes I did. Anyway, I can’t break my train of thought or I won’t get it back again. I need to have eye contact. See, now Trudy is standing between us. Trudy, couldn’t you go around the other way? Can’t you see we’re trying to have a conversation here?”

“I’m sorry, Wolf,” said Trudy.

I moved closer  so I could hear him better.

Buck said to Wolf, “Your German team didn’t do too well in the Euro Cup.”

“We didn’t do well in the last two world wars, either.”

“Dennis,” said Wolf, “We’re about the same age, so you know what I’m talking about. That murder in St. Isidore — that’s what Debbie and I were  discussing — have you been following that in the newspaper.”

“No,” I said, “I don’t know anything about it.”

“Come on man, it was on the front page of the Sun, yesterday. You’re smart.  I thought you kept up with what’s going on in the world. A twenty-four year old guy was murdered in St. Isidore. He was lured behind an elementary school by three  girls, where he was stabbed and murdered by three boys. The oldest was twenty. The headline read, ‘Seven Lives Wasted’. Can you imagine what those families are going through? Not only the family of the murdered guy, but the others as well.

“I have a son. I don’t see him any more. When he was nineteen years old he murdered someone. What’s with these kids? There’s no discipline, that’s what’s the matter. When I was a boy, I had to set the table, the knives would have to be just so, the forks over here — none of these people would know what I’m talking about. If I got something wrong, I’d get a smack across the back of my head. That’s my Germanic background. Yours is similar, I think. What is it, Scottish?”

‘No, Irish.”

“That’s not it.”


“Icelandic, that’s it. Vikings, raping and pillaging, just like the Huns. Anyway, back to St. Isidore, the armpit of Quebec. What’s with these kids? Did they think they would get away with it?

“That’s one of the reasons I don’t come here on weekends. You just never know what’s going to happen. Hippo’s been jumped. Rocky’s been jumped. They’re a lot bigger and tougher than I am. I’ve slept at ‘the heater’ and I was darn glad to see Andre and Hippo come along. I was glad to have — what’s the word I’m looking for?”


“That’s it , protection. When I’m anywhere in this area, I know I can call out and someone may come to my rescue.

“This heat is bad. When I cross that line of shade, where it meets the full glare of the sun, it’s like walking into a wall.  Shaggy’s not going to be riding much today. Of course, she’ll be in the cart going up the bridge.”

I said, “Maybe you should get in the cart and have Larry push.”

“That cart wouldn’t hold me. It’s meant to be pulled behind a bicycle. Jacques, big Jacques, you know how strong he is. He’s fixed it a couple of times for me. That cart’s getting old. Shaggy and I were hit by the car when she was three years old, so that’s over eight years.”

“I notice that the front has been changed. Don’t these carts usually have wheels in front?”

“Yes, the wheels stuck way out in front. It was hard to turn. Jacques cut it shorter and replaced the wheels with the blade of a hockey stick. Now it slides.

“Anyway, on my way here this morning I stopped to buy Shaggy some dog food. She eats well. It reminds me of when Little Jake first got sick. I fed him well, maybe too well, it seemed to make him worse.”

I asked, “How is Jake now?”

“I don’t want to talk about Jake. Getting back to the dog food. I remember being at the counter and getting four five dollar bills as change.  Later, I wanted to buy five grams of weed and I couldn’t find my money.  I had to take everything out of my pockets and at last, in this tiny little pocket of my jeans, I found the four bills stuffed inside.

“So, I talked enough. Do I rate a chapter in your book? Fuck off then, go away. I’m just kidding. But, seriously, it’s time for me to go before it gets too hot.”

Before Chester left he said to me, “By the way, Joy was here earlier, but she had to leave because of the heat.”

“Thanks, Chester. Have a good day.”

I went back to sit with Larry, Anne and Trudy. I heard Larry say to Anne, “Chester asked me if I thought there was any chance of you and him getting back together. I told him, ‘Ask her yourself. It has nothing to do with me.’ ”

It’s like a daily soap opera. lives and loves exposed for all to see.

Sample my books for free — To date $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download)