Archive for March 25, 2019

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20 July 2012

“Hi Joy,” I said, “Did anything exciting happen after I left yesterday?”

“Yeah, there were cops all over. You saw the one who pulled up as you were walking down the sidewalk. I was standing at the curb and he said, ‘Am I too late for the party?’

“I said, ‘Yeah, and I’m not even drinking.’  I walked to the bus shelter to catch a bus or a streetcar and on the way I met Weasel. We sat down and he pulled out a beer. I took a sip and right then a cop car pulled up. He wrote us each a ticket for $125.00. After he left we tore them up and put them in the trash barrel. The cop must have just driven around the block, because he stopped and charged us again. He said to me, ‘You have some outstanding arrest warrants from Montreal.’ ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘I keep meaning to go back there to take care of those.’

“I saw Outcast last night. I told you that he and Debbie aren’t getting along too well. He came right out and said, ‘Joy, I love you. I’ve always had feelings for you.’ I like him too. He’s not bad looking, we’re the same age. Right now he’s looking for an apartment for us. I told him, ‘I want a room of my own.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I understand. We’ll take things slow and see what happens.’

“Then Debbie came home. She had a really sour look on her face. I guess she thought that Outcast and I had been fuckin’ around. I felt really flustered, because of what we were talking about. I told her, ‘Don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t like men. I’m more into women, myself. She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, then kissed me again closer to my mouth, then just at the corner of my mouth. I said, ‘Whoa, I’ve already got a girlfriend, and I should be getting home to Chester.’ I nearly bolted for the door. I talked to Outcast on the phone. After I left, Debbie said to him, ‘I think Joy really likes me.’ ”

“The boys took Levi out to show him the ropes. I don’t know how that’s going to work out. He seems like a sweet kid. I gave him a joint before I left. I said, ‘This is just for you.’ ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘I’ll share it with everybody.’ I think he’s a bit naive. I hope those guys don’t roll him for his gear.”

Cathleen, ‘the religious lady’ came by. Joy said, “Was I supposed to phone you, or were you going to phone me?”

“What’s best for you?”

“It’s best if you phone me, because I only have service after six and on weekends.”

“Okay, I’ll phone you. Maybe we can get together.” Then she left.

“She’s such a beautiful person. Did I tell you about how we first met? I was sitting here, she stopped by and said, ‘Is everything alright? You look as if you’ve been hurt.’

“I said that my boyfriend had been beating me, then I just burst into tears. I still had the pneumonia then. When I started crying, I started coughing. She placed both hands on my chest and it felt like electricity going through me. After she removed her hands I could breathe better.

“Chester’s done that as well. When I was having trouble with my knee he rubbed his hands together really fast, then placed them on my knee. It felt better after that. Chester always wants to put his hands on me. I don’t like it.”

At noon in the park I talked briefly with David. He said, “I found my car. I lost it for two weeks. I couldn’t remember where I parked it. It was in front of the beer store on River Street, right where I left it. It’s in the market now. Last night I was too drunk to drive.”

I sat next to Wolf and Shaggy. “Finally,” said Wolf, “someone to talk to, who can talk back to me. I’ve had a run in with nearly everyone here this morning, but when I talk to you, I can see the wheels turning. It’s not just going in one ear, going out the other.

“This morning, as usual, I took Shaggy down to the river. You know where I live, near Queen and Bayview. The river is shallow, so Shag can go out twenty feet, lay down, and the water is still just up to her neck. There are rocks there that are just the right height for me to sit on and have my feet in the water. It works for both of us.

“Anyway, I stopped in at the beer store to buy a six pack. I tied Shag to a post outside. Andre, the beer store guy, asked me where I’d been. I pointed to Shaggy, who was still dripping water. Where do you think I’ve been? He told me a sad story. He said that someone had been walking in the river a while back, they tripped and drowned. I hadn’t heard about it, or seen it in the paper. It takes the beer store guy to tell me what’s going on in my own neighborhood. A guy would have to be falling down drunk to drown in that shallow water. I guess if he hit his head on a rock he could drown. Anyway, that’s the end of my story.

“I was playing with Shaggy this morning, roughhousing, like we always do and she bit me. She’s never done that before. She’s bitten lots of other people, but not me.”

I asked, “What books are you reading now, Wolf.”

“One of those Ken Follett books. I have a friend who gives them to me every once in a while. I like it because it has large print. It’s easier on the eyes. I’ve been thinking of getting some reading glasses, the kind they sell in the drug store. Do you think they’re any good?”

“Yeah, I’ve used them. They worked fine for me. Do you go to the library? They have a whole section of large print books?”

“No, I owe them money. I lost some books, so I owe them $32.00. I checked with them five years ago, they still had it on their records. I don’t think they forget about things like that.

“How do you like my new shoes? Well, they’re new to me. A friend gave them to me. He gives me lots of stuff, he works at the Sally Ann. Anyway, I’m walking down Yonge Street and this kid says to me, ‘Hey, Mister, you’re wearing skateboarding shoes and shorts. Are you a skateboarder?’ I can barely walk and he thinks I’m a skateboarder. I thought it was odd that the shoes had so much padding. That’s the reason.”

A man and woman stopped by and introduced themselves as Noel and Jennifer, Salvation Army Housing Outreach Workers. Wolf said, “I got my apartment through you guys. I was a poster boy. They photographed me and Shaggy on the balcony of my apartment. It’s right over the front entrance.”

“What’s your name?” asked Joel.

Wolf thought for a moment whether or not to give his real name, finally he did. Noel said, “My boss, Gavin, has been trying to contact you. It’s a matter concerning your rent. I guess that’s a sensitive subject.”

“I haven’t seen Gavin for a long time.”

“He’s in management now, so he doesn’t get out much.”

“Yeah, I’ll stop in and see him.”

I said, “He probably wants to tell you that your rent has been reduced.”

“No,” said Noel, “I don’t think that’s the case.

After they left Wolf said to me, “When I first moved in there my rent was six hundred and fifty a month. After a year they increased it by eight dollars. I know they’re allowed to raise the rent, but I refused to pay the increase. I kept sending them checks for six fifty. They called me to a tribunal. As soon as I got there I said, ‘What’s the idea of raising the rent on that bug infested, crack house!’ The lawyer said that they should drop the matter, so they did.

“The next year they sent me a notice saying the rent was going to be raised by eight dollars a month. I sent the checks for the original six fifty. It’s three years now that I haven’t been paying any increase, so that’s eight, plus eight, plus eight. I don’t know how much that works out to, but it’s a lot of money. Long story short, that’s why Gavin wants to see me.”

As I was leaving, Hippo called me aside. “I hate to ask you,” he said, “But do you have any more of those Tim Horton cards? I haven’t eaten all day.”

“Sorry, Hippo, I’ve run out, but I’ll be sure to bring you one on Monday.”

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