Archive for April 11, 2019

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ottawacops

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24 August 2012

Even though it’s still August, the mornings have been cool but not jacket weather, yet. At noon it’ll be hot. Joy had a big smile for me when I arrived.

“How is it going this morning, Joy? Do you mind is I sit down, or will that interfere with your panning?”

“I don’t care. It’s been a good morning. I’m happy, surprisingly. My legs are sore from the fibromyalgia. My left hip is stiff and it feels hot to the touch. I guess that’s arthritis. I wonder if it’s the same thing that Big  Jake has. Rodent gets his letters from Millhaven. He also contacts him, through prison message boards, on the internet. He told me that Jake’s using a cane. He’s having trouble with the same hip I am. Rodent asked me if it’s catching.”

I asked, “How long do you think they’ll keep Little Jake at Hope Recovery?”

“Just overnight, he’s probably out now. I remember once, when I was staying at Cornerstone — the women’s shelter — I got really wasted. I couldn’t even ring the doorbell. I did a face plant against the front glass doors. At the desk they said, ‘It’s Hope Recovery for you tonight, sister.’ I said, ‘No, just help me to my room and I’ll pass out like I do every night; but no, they phoned the outreach workers and they came to pick me up.

“The next morning when I woke up I couldn’t remember anything about the night before. I had two hundred dollars in my jeans pocket, three bottles of sherry and a gram of weed in my backpack. I have no idea where I got the money. For days, I was looking over my shoulder. I thought maybe I had robbed somebody.

“I don’t know what happened to Little Jake yesterday. He seemed fairly sober when I went up there in the morning. Chester went on a liquor run, then Jake mixed one of his Jakenators — beer with sherry. All of a sudden he was wasted.

“It didn’t help that Andre was throwing his bottle around, and making comments to women passing on the sidewalk. They don’t want that on their lunch breaks. I’ve seen some women give him real dirty looks. I saw one stop at the bottom of the hill and make a call on her cell phone. Ten minutes later the police arrived.

“The last thing we need is someone drawing attention. Andre has been in town for five years. He knows the rules.

“I’m glad that Shakes’ is getting treatment at Innes. They probably have him on Lithium, Valium and an alcohol drip. That’s what I was on the last time I was there. It prevents the shakes from alcohol withdrawal. I was just there for the weekend. I slept most of the time. They just left the jug of tea outside my cell. I had no appetite, all I wanted was something warm.

I said, “Silver’s looking awfully thin. He says he has stomach problems and has made an appointment with his doctor. He says that he’s not eating enough.”

Joy said, “I think he’s back on crack. He gets a check every month, but he eats at restaurants. He has a small fridge, he could stock it with vegetables, and in his little freezer compartment he could have frozen meat. He’s alcoholic, he has to eat.

“Chester’s coming down later to have a coffee. He was by earlier, but I said, ‘Sorry, I don’t have a Tim Horton’s card yet.’ We’re going to the food bank at St. Jo’s later. We need to stock up for the weekend. I always make sure we have lots of vegetables in the fridge. Chester can’t carry very much, but I can get a lot in my backpack. Then we take the bus home.”

“Was Chester asleep when you left this morning?”

“No, I had a coughing fit. I tried to eat, but it came back up. He said it didn’t wake him up, but before that, I heard him snoring.

“When I finish here, I have to go wake up Andre. We both have an appointment at the Salvation Army. My worker is going to look into why it’s taking so long to get my identification papers. I’m going to get her to keep a set in my file, for the next time I lose them. She’s also going to help me get my meds. I really should be on them.

“Outcast was pissed with me last Saturday. He got it in his head that Chester phoned Debbie and told her that Outcast and I had been sleeping together. Chester said he didn’t call, and Debbie’s smart enough to figure things out on her own.

“She also thinks he’s been stealing her pot. He said to me, ‘Oh no, Debbie keeps that in a safe.’ I’m sure that Outcast has watched her open it, and knows the combination.

“Now, he’s got no money and he can’t borrow any because everyone knows he’s a thief – the worst kind of thief, who steals from his friends.”

After I left Joy, I saw Sunny at the pay phone in front of the library. He said to me, “Can you believe this, I’m trying to call the University of Ottawa, and nobody’s answering. Did you hear that I was on the Money Show?”

I said, you mentioned being on the Lowell Green Show. You played me the tape.”

“No, this was Wednesday evening, Lowell Green was on Monday. I was promoting my idea of the solar-powered monorail.”

“I read on the internet about the one in Bologna, Spain. It seems like a good idea. I think that’s the way we should go.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that. Here, I’ve got something for you. These green and purple ribbons are the colors of my Peace and Justice party. I’d be honored if you’d wear them. May I take your photo?”

“Sure, “ I said. “I have to go to work now, but I’ll talk to you next week.”

On my way to the park I saw Serge and William. “How are you today, Serge?”

“Oh, not so good.”

“I hope you’re feeling better soon. Have a good weekend, if I don’t see you later.”

At the park I met a half dozen of the regulars. Wolf was sorting things in Shaggy’s canopy-covered cart. When he turned around I was sitting on the grass beside Joy.

“Dennis,” said Wolf, “I didn’t mean to ignore you, well yes I did, I had some things to sort out first. Eventually, eventually, mind you, I was meaning to turn around and say hello to you. So, hello, Dennis.”

“Hello Wolf, I was sure you were going to say hello to me.”

Willy said, “Dennis, are you really sure that Wolf was going to say hello to you?”

“No, Willy, I’m not sure of nothin’.”

Wolf had a bag of treats.  Joy asked if she could feed Shaggy. She put one of the treats on the lawn, about three feet from Shaggy, then moved her hand towards it, as if she were going to take it back. Shaggy lunged and nearly bit Joy’s wrist.

“Bitch,” said Joy

Shakes had been released from the Ottawa Carleton Detention Center, on Innes Road. I said to him, “Hi Shakes, when did they let you out?”

“Yesterday. I was inside for six days. The court screws saw that the sole of my shoe was flapping. They gave me new shoes.”

Willy asked, “What were you charged with, vagrancy?”

“No, it was a breach. I’m not allowed within five hundred feet of Mc D’s on Bank. I’m not sure how far that is, but it’s more than a foot.”

Willy said, “That was well put, Shakes.”

Two bicycle cops, one male, one female rode up. Shaggy barked.

The female cop did all the talking, “Jake, do you understand the conditions of your probation?”

“Yes, I understand – no pan handling.”

“Shakes, I see you have some court documents.”

“Yes, I’m now allowed within five hundred feet of Mags and Fags.”

“You say, you’re not allowed within five hundred feet of Mags and Fags.”

“I am allowed.”

“Okay, Shakes.”

“The rest of you, any alcohol? Are you staying out of trouble?”

Joy said, “Two of us are just leaving for St. Jo’s food bank on Cumberland.”

“What time does that open?”

“One o’clock.”

“Okay, we’ll leave you alone then.”

They left and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Willy said, “I had about two inches of beer in my can, when I saw them coming. I just turned around and pushed it over the railing. I didn’t lose too much.”

Wolf said, “I’m glad they didn’t check Shaggy’s cart. I had my beer in there.”

Shakes said, “I’ve got a gram of pot in my underwear, but I can’t find it.” He then proceeded to pull down his sweat pants and search for the missing pot.”

Willy said, “Shakes, I hope you’re not intending to share that with anybody. I don’t want anything to do with pot that’s been in your underwear. It’s going to taste of shit and ball sweat.”

“It’s in a plastic bag.”

Joy said, “Shakes, for God’s sake, pull up your pants. I’m seeing way too much, and it isn’t pretty. The cops will be coming back.”

To me she said, “I’ve seen Shakes down and out before, but never this bad. He’s incontinent, he wears Depends. He’s so weak, he can barely get up by himself. He’s not taking care of his burn scars. He doesn’t care. It’s sad.”

As I was standing with the group — everyone packing their bags, picking up their cushions — I saw Wanda, a woman I work with. I waved. She looked at me, with a disapproving look, and walked on — she didn’t wave.

Sometimes, I question what it is I’m doing. I have arguments with health workers whose job it is to treat people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. They say, ‘I can feel empathy with people who are sick — not of their own doing, but alcoholics have brought this on themselves. With our health care system, everybody pays for their choices.’ I agree, the shelters cost money, welfare costs money, jails cost money, the police cost money; but looking at my friends, in their varying states of ability and disability, their personal motivations to struggle with addiction or give in to it, I know it’s more complicated. I don’t know the answers; day by day, I’m beginning to understand the situation.

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