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bench

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July 26, 2012

Joy wasn’t in her usual spot, so I went across the street to talk with Silver, who pans in front of Starbuck’s.

Silver said, “I haven’t seen Joy. I don’t know if she’s coming down or not. Today might be check day for her, so she may be waiting around for that.”

I said, “I heard her mention that she’d have to visit Chuck’s for mail, so that might be what she’s doing.

“What did you think of that guy who rode up on his bicycle, looking for Lucy?”

Silver said, “He also came back later. I said to him, ‘I saw her earlier at the Mission.’ I was there later and saw the guy riding around on his bicycle. I went in for dinner and Lucy was there. She was drunk, or loaded to the eyeballs on something. She kept falling out of her chair. I didn’t offer to help her up.

“I don’t want to seem mean or anything, but I really hope something bad happens to Lucy and Daimon for what they did to Shark and Irene; not once, but twice. They were after Shark’s medication.”

I was introduced to Joanne, a regular of Silver’s. She said to him, “Would you like coffee and a muffin.”

“Sure,  thanks.” While she went into Starbucks Silver said to me, “She’s a jogger. I took a break from here for a couple of weeks and saw her running along the bicycle path. She’s offered to bring me some of her husband’s shirts, but she said they’d hang on me like a tent. He must be big.”

Joanne returned with coffee and a blueberry muffin. She chatted with Silver for a while then went on her way to work.

“She’s a nice lady,” said Silver.

I said, “Shark and Irene are all set to move on the weekend.”

“Are they moving in together?”

“Yes, they’ve got a three bedroom apartment. One room is just for Shark when he wants to get away to play his video games. I think he can lock himself in.”

“He’ll need that. I went out with Irene for eight years. She can be really nice sometimes, then she snaps. That’s when you don’t want to be around her. She’s just a small woman, but if she hits you right, she could break your nose. I hope Shark knows what he’s getting himself into.”

I said, “He’s told me of times when he’d brought over groceries to make supper. Before he had a chance to sit down, she told him to get out.

“I’ll let you get back to work, Silver. I have to do the same.”

On the sidewalk I met Chester. He said, “Joy’s not coming down today. She’s not feeling well.”

“Thanks, Chester, I’ll probably see you later.”

At noon at the benches were about a half dozen of my friends. Inusik, Magdalene, Andre, Shakes, Serge, Shark and Irene. I was especially pleased to see Magdalene. When I saw her last she was five months pregnant. Now, her baby named Alphonse, is seven weeks old. They are living near the hospital where Magdalene had her baby. Social Services arranged accommodation for them. They pay ten dollars a day.

Magdalene said, “Alphonse is my second child. I have another named Jean-Guy. He’s six years old.” She showed me a tattoo on her left shoulder. It was the head of a wolf and under it was written Jean-Guy. “The wolf mother will always protect her young. She can be vicious if anyone comes near her babies. I speak French, my English isn’t too good. Can you understand me?”

“There are a few words I might miss, but yes I understand you.”

Andre said, “When Magdalene first came to town, I was the first person she met. I said, “I’ll show you the town, and I did. We partied for three days and she doesn’t remember any of it.”

I asked, “Do you remember any of it, Andre?”

“No.”

Magdalene said, “We didn’t sleep together or anything, he’s just my best friend, like a brother.”

I said, “He’s like a brother to me too.”

“Shakes,” I asked, “how did it go in court this morning?”

“I was late, but my lawyer took care of everything. They set a court date of August twenty-eighth.”

Inuvik said to me, “I forgot your name. What is it again?”

“Dennis, and your name is Inusik, right?”

Shakes said, “His name is Nuisance, ha ha ha.”

A Salvation Army van stopped across the street. A male and a female worker came over. They offered bottles of water to everyone and asked if anything was needed.

Hippo said, “Do you have any tee shirts? I could use an extra-large.”

The male worker came back with two shirts, “I’ve got white and blue. Who wants what?”

Magdalene said, “I’ll take one. This one I’m wearing says ‘Hug me I’m Irish’. I don’t like to be hugged by people I don’t know.” She tried on the blue shirt. “It’s too blue,” she said and took it off.

Andre said, to the female worker, “You’re new aren’t you? I don’t remember seeing you around.”

“I came from Alberta.”

Andre said, “I know Alberta, which part do you come from?”

“Near Red Deer, I was in prison there.”

“Right on!” said Andre, “We all know what that’s like.”

I asked Irene, “How is everything going for your move on Saturday?”

“Everything is arranged, but I’m not ready. I’m glad we have some young people to help us carry things upstairs. Shark is going to help me take apart my futon. I’ll just put the mattress on the floor and sleep there tonight.

“Did Joy come down at all today?”

“No, Chester said she wasn’t feeling well. Silver said that she may be waiting for her check.”

Shark said, “No, her check won’t come until tomorrow.

“Irene has a doctor’s appointment at one. We’ll have to leave soon.”

I asked Irene, “Do you have to go to get your white blood cell count? Is it affected by your medication?”

She said, “I’ve been feeling sick. My stomach has been bloated. Even the water pills aren’t working.”

Shark said, “We both have cirrhosis. Our livers’ won’t produce enough red blood cells. That’s why our white cell count has to be monitored.”

Irene said, “We’ve both been sober for over a week. We’re not going to be able to invite any of these people over to our new place. We can’t even invite Shark’s brother. If we take one drink, we’ll be right back on it.”

“Congratulations,” I said, “what you’re doing is really difficult. I’m proud of you both.”

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