25 July 2012

This morning,  Joy seemed a bit down. I asked her about it, “It’s just one of those days,” she said. “I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

I noticed that she had a wrapped candy in her cap, “Did someone drop you a candy?”

“No, I picked it up at Outcast’s yesterday. Debbie still thinks there’s something going on between me and him. She asked, ‘Do you like me?’ ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘you’re okay.’ ‘No, I mean do you really like me? You like women, right?’ ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘you’re just not my type.’ She said, ‘I have a friend, Meg, I’d like to introduce you to.’ ‘No, thanks,’ I said, ‘I already have a girlfriend.’ She’s probably one of those bull dyke types.

“I was supposed to stay for supper, but then Outcast and Debbie started arguing. I didn’t need to be in the middle of that, so I said, ‘I’ve got to go. I’ve got things to do.’

“André and Little Jake got into it again this morning. Jake sent André on a run to Timmy Ho’s. He gave him a five dollar bill and a dollar. I guess the guy didn’t charge André. Anyway, he brought back the food. Later, André pulled out a five and Jake got all pissy about it and asked for it back. André decked him.

“Yesterday, André, Jake and Hippo were standing near me. They reeked. I said, “Guys, would you mind moving down wind. I know you’ve got no place to live but water is free, so use it.”

“Hippo was going on about, ‘I only made a buck twenty-five and I’ve been working since six thirty.’ His worker had to come down to take him to an appointment with his probation officer. It’s only a block and a half away in the Court House. I can see Jake’s worker coming to take him to court in Scarborough. Otherwise, he just wouldn’t go. André said he’s going to grease Hippo off, let him see what it’s like to be really on his own.”

I said, ‘”I noticed, yesterday, that neither André or Shakes were sharing their bottle with him. He said, ‘It’s okay, I decided not to drink today.’ ”

“He’s got to learn. I’m tired of supplying cigarettes to him and everyone else. We all do the same job, and I’m paying rent to Chester. There’s no reason for me to be supporting them, just because they drink more than I do. When André came to see me yesterday, he had his bottle right out in the open. My regulars were staring at him. It’s no wonder these guys get charged.

“Earlier, there was a guy across the street just staring at me. I gave him a friendly wave. He looked around as if to say, ‘Are you waving at me?’ I pointed at him, ‘Yes, you.’ Humans, you just got to wonder about them sometimes. If you shoot them you go to jail. What are you supposed to do?

“I haven’t seen Jacques for a couple of weeks, not that I miss him. I like to stay well away from people who have bed bugs. We get sand fleas from putting our bags on the ground. They can be nasty.

“When I went into hospital I lost a lot of my winter gear. Big Jake didn’t bother picking it up from our apartment, then the landlord threw it out. I had a pair of army pants and a really heavy army coat. With two pairs of long underwear, I was really toasty. I had a black backpack. With the khaki in front and the black on my back. The guys said I looked like a Ninja Turtle. They’d say, ‘Hey, Turtle, which one are you?’ I’d say, ‘Michelangelo!’

“Are you going up to the cabin on the weekend? Maybe you could sneak me in your trunk. I could hide in the woods and you could say to your wife. ‘I found this wild creature in the woods. Can we keep it? Can we?’ ”

I said to Joy, “I’ll let you get back to work.” She handed me a granola bar. “Do you want this? Otherwise, it’ll be squirrel food. Stella should be coming by today, she comes every Wednesday, so maybe I’ll see you in the park. It should be a full house.”

At noon, sitting on the curb, in the shade, was Serge. “Hi Serge,” I said, How is everything going today?”

“Every day is a good day.”

“That’s a good attitude to have.”

He asked, “Are you taking a vacation?”

“Yes,” I replied, “I’ll be away next week. I’ll be sitting in the shade, by the lake drinking beer.”

“That sounds good.”

“You’re looking a lot better today.”

“I feel fine.”

“I’ll see you later, Serge.”

“See you.”

At the benches were about a half dozen regulars. On a bicycle was a stranger who was saying to the group in general. “If you see Lucy, tell her that I want my watch and my cell phone back. The watch isn’t so important, but I need the phone. If I don’t get it back she’s going to be in big trouble.” Then he rode off.

“André,” said Joy, “if you let your hair grow any longer you could have dreadlocks.”

“Lucy already pulled half of it out. She just grabbed me by the back of the neck then pulled. If she was a guy I would have belted her.”

“Why do you guys put up with shit like that, just kick her. I can’t wait until she tries something like that on me. I’ll show her.”

André said, “She says she’s going to get her boyfriend, Daimon after me. I can’t wait for that.”

“Daimon, with a broken ankle, doesn’t dare come down here. After an ankle is broken once, it breaks really easy the second time. I know. I’ve had both of mine broken. After that, the bone sort of crystallizes. It gets brittle. You can break it just by stepping off a curb.”

I asked, “How did you break your ankles, Joy?”

“I’d had enough of my husband, Delbert. I had my bags packed, I’d phoned a cab and was carrying our son in my arms. Delbert pushed me down the stairs. I made sure I didn’t land on the baby. The cab arrived, I went to my mother’s, she looked after our son while I carried on to the hospital. They took x-rays and told me I was pregnant. I said, ‘How can I be pregnant? My last baby is only five months old.’ I was only two weeks along. I had my fifth, then got pregnant again. This time I had an abortion and had my tubes tied. No more baby nappies for me.

“I just about made the price of a bottle today. I had to borrow thirty-five cents. I haven’t opened it yet. I’m still working on the one I started yesterday.”

André said, “I think Shakes and I have gone through four, so far. Soon, it’ll be time to go back to work.”

I asked Shark, “How is the move to your new apartment going?”

“We’re doing most of it on Saturday. Danny is helping me take my stuff across the parking lot. Irene has a truck from the Salvation Army coming to move her stuff.”

“It sounds like a nice place that you’re moving to.”

“It really is.”

Joy asked Irene, “How are you making out with your Risparidone?”

“I’m taking 1 tablet, 100 milligrams, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much.”

Joy said. “I usually chew about four of those tablets before I go to bed. I need that much so I don’t dream. Poor Chester, once this week I woke up screaming. He came running in saying, ‘Joy, what’s wrong? I thought someone was trying to kill you.’ ‘So did I, Chester,’ I said, ‘but it’s okay now.’ ”

After Shark and Irene had left Joy said, “They both have been sober for a week now. It doesn’t sound like much, but for them, it’s a big deal.

“Shakes, are you awake, or playing ‘possum?”

Shakes opened his eyes, smiled then went back to sleep.

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