Archive for March 27, 2019

Cops Go Easy

Posted: March 27, 2019 in Prose

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salvationarmy

 

23 July 2012

“Silver’s back, ” said Joy. “I asked him where he’d been. He said, ‘I was just tired of Weasel’s bullshit.’ I said to him, ‘Weasel said that you’d stolen two beer from him and were hiding.’ Silver said, ‘That’s a story I haven’t heard before.’ I said to him, ‘Why don’t you just punch him. You’re bigger than him and probably stronger.’ He said, ‘I know, I just don’t want to cause trouble.’ I said, ‘I know, you’re not a fighter. Anytime you want me to fight him, just let me know.’ He said, ‘You’d do that for me?’ ‘Sure,’ I said.

“I guess Andre laid into Weasel and Little Jake on the weekend. Weasel called Andre a goof and Jake backed him. Andre gave them both a back-hand. Weasel said it again, so Andre punched him on his already swollen cheek and broke a couple of his ribs.

Andre stopped by and said, “I’m so pissed off with Hippo. We were supposed to meet an hour ago. He’s just showing up now and he’s wasting time chatting with Silver. I checked Yonge Street and both of our spots are taken. I know the guys that are there, it’s not their fault, they were there first. I haven’t made a cent this morning and it doesn’t look like I’m going to.”

Joy said, “Silver doesn’t like people hanging around when he’s working. You guys are helping Hippo, he’s lost on his own. He’s like a little kid.”

“When he’s panning,” said Andre, “he just sits there with his cap out. He doesn’t smile, or greet people. If you give him shit, he just gets that pouty look on his face.”

Joy said, “He only comes around when he needs something. When he gets money of his own, he’s nowhere to be found.”

Andre left on his bicycle, what he calls his ‘granny-cycle’. I’ve never asked how or where he acquired it. I expect he just found it somewhere.

Joy said, “Chester is going to be away for two weeks visiting his family. I hope he leaves me a key. I have the apartment key and the garbage room key, but I don’t have the electronic key to get in the building. He said that I could come with him, but everyone in his family would be speaking French, and watching French television, the same as Chester does here. I know that he doesn’t want me to have anyone stay over, but I don’t do that now, so why would I do it while he was away. I’ll just have to wait and see what he’s going to do. I may have to find a place to stay for a couple of weeks. This afternoon I meet with the housing worker from the Salvation Army. I told them I want an apartment downtown or in Regent Park, but not a crack house.”

As I approached the park at noon, I was pleasantly surprised to see that our benches and garbage container had been returned, freshly painted and varnished. Silver had watched the reinstallation and said to the workmen, ‘While you’re at it, would you mind leaving a case of beer as well.’ They said, ‘We can’t go that far.’

I asked Silver, “Do you have any plans to move from your place?”

“Nothing definite,” he said. “It wouldn’t be anytime soon, not in winter either. I’d want a place that had no needle pushers, no pill poppers, no one using crack or rock. The problem is, you don’t see it during the day, but at night, they run up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs. It never stops.”

A man with white hair, white moustache and goatee came across the street. The guys all knew him, He said to me, “My name is Brian Cherry, sometimes they call me Grapes. I was at the bank all morning. I even had the manager called down. I was having trouble with Bell Canada dipping into my account, so I put a stop payment on them. Now, I have a new account, but they haven’t closed the old one. I’ve got half a mind to put a pound of C4 under that bank and see what happens.”

Andre said, “You really want to get the job done. With that much C4 you’d take out half the block. I’ve worked with that stuff and with C5, gunpowder and dynamite.

“Out west I used to make my own homemade pipe bombs for removing stumps. We’d drive pipes down under the stump from four sides, pack them with gunpowder, lite the fuse and run like hell. You’d never believe the size of hole it made. There was a half hour wait time if it didn’t go off.”

Brian asked Andre, “Where are you staying now?”

“Second dumpster down, in back of Starbucks. There’s me, Hippo, Little Jake, Weasel and his dog Bear. All our valuables we store at the far end beside Bear. Last night I was asleep, but I sensed something, so I opened my eyes. This dude was looking around, but as soon as he saw that I was awake, and there were four of us and a dog, he backed off. I watched under the dumpster to see where his feet were going before I settled back to sleep again.

Andre was watching a crane operator across the street lift some concrete panels to the top of one of the buildings. “What a sloppy job that guy’s doing. Look at the angle on that load. I used to do that at a steel plant. I’d lift it, weigh it on the scale, then lift it into place. I was working one of those trombone cranes. That was a good job. I was getting twenty bucks an hour. My buddy, who I’d been getting a ride to work with, punched the boss in the face. I was working in Fergus, but was living thirty miles away in Orangeville. The next day I tried hitchhiking to work. It was the middle of winter and I nearly froze. I had to phone the boss and tell him I had no way get to work. He’d probably hire me again. He said that I learned in three weeks, what the former guy had taken three months to learn. He wanted me to work for him.

The cops have never bothered me panning on Yonge Street. I’m always honest with them. I said to one of them, ‘I’m just trying to get three dollars for a hamburger, then I’ll be out of here.’ He said. ‘Okay, but don’t stay too long.’ “

Silver said, “Joy’s never been bothered either, but one day, after she had left I panned in her spot. It wasn’t long before the library security guard came out and said I had to move. Even on my birthday, Jacques had given me a huge bottle of his homemade wine, and it’s good. I hadn’t drunk more than about three fingers when this female cop came by on her bicycle. She said, ‘Silver, you’re going to have to dump that.’ I said, ‘It’s my birthday.’ She said, ‘In that case I won’t charge you, but you’ll still have to dump it.’

“Another time, the same lady cop came by just as I cracked a beer. She told me to dump it, then asked, ‘Do you have any more in your pack?’ I said, ‘Yes — I wasn’t going to lie to her. She could have searched it anyway.’ She said, ‘I’ll let you keep them as long as you don’t open them here.’ “

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