Archive for May 2, 2019




5 September 2012

At noon Silver, Andre and  Rodent were sitting together on the curb near the park. Andre was soberer than I have ever seen him. He had also recently shaved. “Andre,” I said, “I see cheeks and a chin that I’ve never seen before.”

“I’ve got an appointment with my worker, she’s meeting me here at 1:00. She’s going to check on my O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program) and my O.W. (Ontario Welfare). Every time I go there, they tell me it’s in the works, but I never get a check. Then I need my drug card and my Social Insurance card. I’ll just leave it on file with the pharmacy. that way I don’t have to worry about losing it or having it get wet in my backpack.

“You should have seen the bullshit I had to put up with this morning. I went to the pharmacy to get some emergency medication. They wouldn’t give it to me without a prescription. I said to the pharmacist, ‘You mean I have to walk a quarter of a mile to pick up a prescription, then walk a quarter of a mile back here to get it filled? Can’t you see it’s an emergency! Isn’t it obvious! Look at me!’

“I got lucky this morning. I was talking to a guy who had to go to court. He said, ‘I need a cap to go to court. If you can get me a cap, I’ll split a joint and a cigarette with you.’ I walked into the restaurant, looked around and saw these two guys sitting at a booth. There were three caps in front of them. I asked, ‘Does this cap belong to anyone?’ They said, “No, but it’s yours now.’ So, I give the cap to the guy outside, we split the joint and the cigarette and I got the edge off. No more shakes. I hardly had to do anything.

“Do you smell Listerine? Is Serge nearby? I stay away from that stuff now. I hate the headaches, the throwing up, the stomach pains and the smell that comes right through your skin.

“It really pisses me off when I share a bottle or a couple of beer with a guy; he says he’s going to get the next bottle and he brings back Listerine or rubby. That’s not right! You don’t replace a bottle of sherry or a couple of beer with Listerine or rubby. Mind you, if that’s all you got, then that’s what you drink.

“I’ve been staying at the Mission the last two nights. I have my breakfast there and then come down here for about nine o’clock. When I get hungry I head down Bank Street to 507 to get something to eat. Around supper time, I do the same thing.

“I met this guy on the weekend who I haven’t seen for, must be, fifteen years. We grew up together in Cornwall. I was at this apartment building on Cedarview near the Herongate Mall. I have no idea how I got there. I missed my appointment with my worker yesterday because I had no bus tickets and no way to get downtown. Even if I had bus tickets, I wouldn’t have known which bus to catch.

“Anyway, Timmy says to me, ‘Andre, I want you to meet a good friend of mine. We looked at each other. I said, ‘Steve?’ He said, ‘Andre?’ Timmy said, to me, ‘Andre, you know everybody.’ It seems I knew everybody in the apartment building as well, but I don’t remember meeting them.

“I’m glad that Rodent left. I was about ready to punch him. He thinks he’s being funny, just like my uncle Roscoe; but then the comments get personal and it’s not funny anymore. I was getting really pissed off. I think he could sense it.”

I said, “I’m going to the park to see who else is up there.”

Silver said, “I’m staying away from there because Shaggy is barking her head off.”

Andre said, “I’ll just wait here with Silver until my worker comes.”

“I’ll see you on my way back then,” I said.

Nine of my friends were sitting in a circle. Chasing each other around and through the circle, back and forth, were Wolf’s dog Shaggy and Hawk’s dog Dillinger. It was all Anastasia could do to sit upright as she ducked the dogs, or watched them tear around. As she was trying to light a cigarette, she kept tipping backward. “I’m an otter,” she said, “swimming on my back, looking at the clouds.” I was closest, so I offered my arm to pull her upright — all eighty pounds of her.

As Wolf sat down on the blanket, beside Shaggy’s cart he said, “I’ve got a stiff back. All I’ve done for the past week is take Shaggy for her walks, lay on the couch, read, watch TV, get up for a beer and lay back down again. It’s good to make the effort to come down here and socialize a bit. Shaggy’s having fun with Dillinger. Did you see that she actually gave up her spot so Dillinger could lay down?”

I asked Wolf, “What are you reading now?”

“I just started this book. It was given to me by a lady who gives me books all the time. I was reading the back cover and it seemed to be some kind of romance novel, so I put it at the back of my pile. When I started reading it, I found that it was all about spies and espionage. Four of them get shot in the first few pages — a real shoot-em-up, just the kind I like to read. If I had known what it was about I would have started it a month ago. It was nothing like the Harlequin romances my mother used to read.”

It was time for me to head back to work. Irene asked, “Dennis, would you walk me to the bus stop?”

I said, “Sure, Irene, are you ready to go now?”

“Where?” she asked.

I said, “Don’t you want me to walk you to the bus stop?”

“No,” she said, “I don’t want to take the bus anywhere.”

With that, I said good-bye to everyone, until tomorrow.


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download)