Archive for March 22, 2019


17 July 2012

This morning there was a brief shower. Joy was partially protected by the overhang of a building, just her feet were getting wet. I held my umbrella over her. She said, “Don’t worry about the umbrella. I don’t mind getting wet. It’s better than the heat. When it’s hot I have trouble sleeping. I’m on a fold out couch in Chester’s living room. Sometimes, I take the mattress off and put it next to the open balcony door. If Chester wants to watch TV late at night, I put the mattress back.

“I don’t know why he doesn’t get air conditioning. It would only cost an extra twenty-five dollars a month. I told him, ‘We can afford it.’ He said, ‘No, no, it’s too much money.’

“I’ve noticed a lot of fat people lately. I was fat for most of my life. Kids especially, but adults as well, can be really cruel.”

“What caused you to lose the weight so quickly?”

“I was gutted (with a saw-toothed machete). They put a cage to hold the parts of my stomach together. They also made it smaller. For a long time all I was allowed to eat was baby food. I tried eating scrambled eggs, but I threw up so violently that I pulled out some of the staples, so back to the hospital. I still have to be careful about what I eat. I hate any pureed food.”

I said, “I had a long talk with Gaston yesterday. He seems very intelligent.”

“Yeah, he’s a nice guy. We live right across the street from him. I’m not sure if he has full-blown AIDS or not. He’s opened an HIV drop-in centre, even some in other cities.”

How are you and Pierre getting along?”

“I don’t know. He’s such a drama queen. One day he just wants to be friends. The next day he gets all hissy if I don’t text him. He said, ‘I’m going away for a few days, so you’d better collect your pot.’ Well, it’s been a few days and he’s still here.”

Hippo stopped by. “We got soaked last night. The puddles were about two inches deep. There was me, Andre, Little Jake, Weasel and Bear. At noon we’re going to some church. They put on a free meal. We can get free haircuts and other stuff. After that I guess I’ll just go back to the hole.”

The garbage man stopped by. “Hi, handsome,” said Joy. “I don’t know how you can do that job, with all the smell. What does your girlfriend say when you get home?”

“Right now, I’m just working with cardboard and paper. That’s not too bad. I tried the regular route. I was lifting a garbage can over my head and some of the liquid waste spilled on my face. It was awful. I quit right away. I can’t even work with the recycled bottles and cans. The leftover liquid goes bad and smells like rotten fruit.”

“Bye, handsome.”

“I took another look at old Serge’s eyes. There’s no way that he got those bruises falling off a bench.”

I said, “He told me that he tripped over his shoelace.”

“There you go — he’s lying. I said to him, ‘Serge, I’ve been beaten enough times that I can tell the difference between a bruise caused by a fist and one caused by a fall. You were beaten, weren’t you?” He said, ‘I don’t want to cause any trouble, or have anyone come after me.’ ”

I was walking along Queen and I heard someone shout, “Hey!” I looked around and saw old Serge sitting on a park bench in the shade.

“Hi, Serge,” I said. “I didn’t see you there. Your eyes are looking better. How do you feel?”

“I’m just waiting to get my booze.”

“How was your weekend?”

“I forget.”

“Take care, Serge. I’ll see you on my way back.”

At the park were Hippo, Little Jake, Shakes, Wolf and his dog Shaggy.

Shakes said, “Andre’s just gone on a run.”

I asked Hippo, “Did you go to the church to get your haircut?”

“No, we didn’t make it there, maybe next year.”

Andre rode up on the lawn on his bicycle and handed Shakes a brown paper bag. Shakes took out the bottle of sherry, unscrewed the cap, filled the cap with sherry and threw it on the lawn. Then, he passed the bottle around. When it got back to him he poured the remainder into a plastic drinking bottle. He threw the empty bottle to Wolf, who put it in Shaggy’s cart.

Andre asked Wolf, “So that’s forty cents you got?”

“No, I only get twenty cents a bottle.”

“Yeah, but you got one earlier.”

“I know I got one earlier. That was twenty cents too. I didn’t know you were asking how many twenty centses I had. I’ve also got a bunch of beer cans.”

Shakes asked Wolf, “Can I buy a smoke off you?”

Wolf said, “Now, where on my way home am I going to find a place to buy more smokes? Yes, Shakes I’ll sell you a smoke. Here’s two, just give me a quarter.”

Hippo was smoking.  Jake asked him, “Can I have a drag?”

“Sure,” said Hippo, “lay back and I’ll drag you around the park. What did we eat last night?”

Andre said, “We had double cheeseburgers and fries.”

Hippo said, “I was wondering what I pooped this morning.”

I said to Andre, “I heard you guys really got soaked last night.”

“Yeah, Hippo was the first to wake up. He was just standing over his bag saying, ‘Oh fuck, oh fuck!’ He didn’t bother to wake us up or anything he just kept looking at his bag.”

Jake said, “I thought it wouldn’t last more than a few minutes. I just pulled my sleeping bag over my head and planned to wait it out. Almost immediately, I was soaked. We went over to where Weasel was sleeping, at least it was partially covered.

“I can’t wait to find out if my housing is approved. I was shown a place this morning. It was fabulous. It’s on the second floor. All the way up the stairs are Leafs posters. I was wearing my Leaf shirt.”

I asked, “When will you find out if you get it or not?”

“It depends on my worker. There are other people interested in that place. I don’t know how they come to a decision.”

“Your worker seems really nice,” I said.

“She’s super!”

Shakes said, “I was talking to Lucy-in-the-Sky today. She said, ‘Shakes, I tried drinking and smoking while laying down like you do, but I would either spill my drink or drop my smoke. I don’t know how you manage it.”

Andre said, “I fell asleep with a smoke in my hand last night. I always keep my hands crossed on my chest, that way if I fall asleep I’m the one that gets burned. You can see the mark right here.”

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