Couch Surfing

Posted: April 18, 2019 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

.

bench

.

7 September 2012

Today at the park the weather was pleasant, but the mood was tense. Sitting on the curb were six of my friends. Facing them on the sidewalk were Andre and Clint.

“Andre,” I said, “How did it go with your worker on Wednesday? Did you get your papers signed for housing?”

“I got a lot of things sorted. They set me up with a street allowance because I said, ‘Hey, I sleep behind a dumpster, or if I’m lucky I do some couch surfing.’ So, on Monday I’ll be able to pick up a check for $200.00.

“I’m forty-six years old, I can’t be on the street like Weasel and Jake. I’m going to get on the ball, go to my appointments — They’re giving me a monthly bus pass, otherwise I’d have to go there to pick up bus tickets every time I have to see somebody — With O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program) alone, I have to go nine times a month. I have to go to the doctor twice a week, then there’ll be visits for housing.

“I’m staying at the Sally Ann right now. That’s good, because that’s where my workers are. If I need to contact them, after hours, I can just slip a message under their door. If they need to contact me they can come to my room, or leave a message for me. I know they’re going to work really hard to get me settled.”

Clint said, “The best fish and chips I’ve ever had were at the Sally Ann in Halifax. Every Friday they’d serve them. It was a great big plate and the fries were just like you’d get at a fish and chip shop — hand cut, crispy.

“I got in trouble at a dance there. I was dancing with a woman — I didn’t know she had a boyfriend. It turned out that he had boxed for ten years in prison. He broke my nose, broke my jaw — I had to have it wired shut. Now, If I yawn, sometimes it’ll lock open.”

Andre said, “That’s why I don’t go to dances. I was at a dance one time — I was drunk, I started dancing by myself, I turned around and, you know how it is, I was dancing with three women. I was having fun, clowning around, then three guys showed up. They’d been there all the time, but they didn’t want to dance, that’s why the women were dancing together.

“The first guy caught me with a left hook. It was a good left hook, flattened my nose to one side. The next guy hit me with a right hook, flattened my nose to the other side. By this time my white tee-shirt was red. I said to the third guy, ‘bring it on, let’s see if you can get my nose straight again.’ ”

“I’ve had my jaw broken, ” Said Joy. “Isn’t it great having to get all your nutrition through a straw?”

Joy kept looking down the line at Mina. Andre said, “Just take a few deep breaths and count to ten.”

Joy was punching her fist into her open palm. “You don’t know the half of it. That Chester is so stupid. It was Raven’s old man who stole Chester’s bank card and drained his bank account. And how did he get in? Raven! Now he wants to invite her over to where I’m staying. Over my dead body!

“I’m feeling really pissy today. I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was awake chasing cooties most of the night. I’ve found out that the mature bed bugs have a numbing agent, so you can’t feel when they bite, but the young ones don’t seem to know about that. You can feel when they bite. They start out kind of colorless, then turn orange when they suck your blood. When you crush them between your thumb and finger, they have a rotten wood smell about them.”

I asked, “Do you sniff every bug you crush?”

“Every one. See all these bites I have below my knees? I’ve got them all over my body. They’re either from the bed bugs or from the spiders I bring in from the balcony to eat the bed bugs.”

Andre said, I remember going to visit a guy in Guelph, at the Bluebird Hotel, I think it was. It was a long time ago. Anyway, we were going to go to his room. He couldn’t get the key in the lock — he was that drunk. So, I had to unlock the door for him. I turned on the light and there were thousands of roaches everywhere. The walls looked alive with them scrambling away. He asked, ‘Do you want to sit down?’ I said, ‘No way, man! I don’t want to be carrying those things to the next place I go.'”

Joy said, “I think my lungs are worse since I moved into Chester’s place.”

I asked, “Is it because of the bed bug spray, or are you using the powder now?”

“The powder is better, but I’ve run out of that too.”

Andre asked? “Do you dust it over all the carpets?”

“I sprinkle it only in the area where I sleep. Chester is on his own. I wash and dry my clothes, cook them, powder them, bag them and put them out on the balcony. Chester takes his clothes out of the bags and puts them in his drawers. He won’t listen to me.

“Now he says he’s broke. I gave him money for food, but that’s not what he spent it on. At least I have a Tim Horton’s card if I get hungry. Last night I made spaghetti sauce. Tonight I’m turning it into chilli. I’ve got it in the crock pot now. Chester asked, ‘Can I still put it on noodles?’ I said, ‘Do anything you want with it.’

“I’m going to go home now, before Chester gets there, so I’ll be able to watch English television. Sometimes, I’ll be in the middle of watching a movie and Chester will say, ‘I don’t like this,’ and he’ll switch over to one of his French channels.

“He gets up so early. This morning he got up just as I was falling into a deep sleep. First thing, he goes to the fridge for a beer, then he lights a cigarette. As soon as he does that I start coughing, and I have to use my inhaler. I wish there was a door he could close. At least he doesn’t smoke in bed. That would really scare me.

“Andre, can I ask you something that I never thought I’d ask?”

“Sure.”

“Will you come sit between me and Jake. He’s driving me nuts with his babbling. It’s all I can do to keep from punching him.”

To me she said, “The only reason I don’t punch him is because he’s HIV positive, or has full-blown AIDS.”

Andre said, “Jake, will you wipe your mouth, you’re drooling.”

To Joy he said, “If he needs straightening out, I’ll do it.”

Chester came over to Joy. She said, “What is it honey? Do you want to sit on your blanket?” She pulled it out from under her and handed it to him.. “Come sit down.”

Chester took the blanket and went back to sit with Raven. Andre said, “I thought he was going to sit with us.”

“So did I,” said Joy. “I think part of the reason I feel so schizoid is because of menopause.”

I asked, “Are they any closer to getting your health card and other identification?”

“Yeah,” she said, “I just have to go in and fill in some personal stuff about my parent’s birth dates and my mother’s maiden name. I have all that. They were both born in 1944, My father was such an asshole.” Joy was weeping as I left.

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($.99 Download)
Podcasts:http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

Comments
  1. bwcarey says:

    There is such a shortage of mental health services EVERYWHERE. We live in a world with so much potential, hope Easter is a good one for all those who live in difficult surroundings. amen When we get the head right, it’s easy to works things out

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree. Most of my friends on the street suffer from mental, physical and emotional illness. They don’t know how to access proper treatment and couldn’t afford it if they did. Mostly, they are waiting to die. They drink and use drugs to alleviate pain and put them to sleep. One day they won’t awake. This is sometimes their wish.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.