Archive for April 6, 2019

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15 August 2012

Today is Shakes’ forty-eighth birthday, at least seventeen of those years have been on the street, many in prison. At the park to celebrate were six of his friends . We all signed a card with a gram of weed in it.

John started early, at five o’clock in the morning. He pushed a grocery cart through the affluent neighborhood of Sandy Hill collecting empty beer cans and liquor bottles. He returned these to the Beer Store for a refund and had enough money to buy Shakes two bottles of his favorite Imperial sherry.

Bruce said, “Mona and I visited with a social worker to apply for housing, the Ontario Disability Support Program and for me to get copies of my health card, birth certificate and immigration papers. The immigration papers have to be notarized and cost one hundred dollars.

“I’m expecting to get $450.00 from O.D.S.P. and another $300.00 from welfare. Hopefully, I can find a clean, bug free apartment away from crack-heads. That’s my main complaint about the shelters, such as Shepherd’s of Good Hope, the Salvation Army and the Mission. After rent this should leave me about $95.00 for all other living expenses. To supplement this I may still have to panhandle. Mona and I have decided not to share an apartment, so that when we have a fight, each of us will have a place to come home to. Sometime in the future I hope to find work as a camp cook for a construction or logging company. I have my chef credentials. What may stand in my way is the fact that, having served time in prison, I’m not bondable; however, I have never committed a violent crime and my social worker will help with references. I can even get a reference from the restaurant near where I pan handle. They occasionally bring me coffee and they’d say, ‘Sure, Bruce’s a good guy. He’s never caused us any trouble.’ If I wasn’t there it might be some drunken loudmouth.”

Little Jake arrived and said, “I ditched Debbie somewhere on Bank Street.”

Bruce said, “You’ll never learn. If you get kicked in the balls by a horse, you don’t jump on the same horse again. If you do, expect another kick in the balls.”

Jake agreed, “I know.” Shortly after, Debbie arrived.

Every time someone would pass on the sidewalk Shakes would say, “Good afternoon ma’am, today’s my birthday. Would you like to wish me a happy birthday? or Andre would say, “It’s my friend’s birthday today. How about wishing him a happy birthday.”

Bruce said, “That’s the way to appear inconspicuous, sit in the middle of the sidewalk, shirtless, with a cowboy hat on and yell at everybody passing by.”

Both Shakes and Andre had been drinking since early morning. Shakes was laying on the grass and Andre was constantly chatting, or posing. John said, “Do you have a pause button somewhere, or do you go on like this from morning to-night. I don’t need TV, all I need is to come down here and watch you two clowning around. I’ve got my own HBO, right here.”

Hippo was disappointed. He has a housing appointment with the Salvation Army, Thursday and all morning he thought this was Thursday.

I said to him, “Hippo, you need to get a calendar. You could scratch each day off, and you’d always know what day it is.”

Bruce said, “Even if he had one, he’d need someone to remind him to look at it.”

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