1000 Ways To Die

Posted: May 6, 2019 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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25 September 2012

I saw Joy briefly this morning. Already packed up, she asked me to watch her backpack while she went into Tim Horton’s to use their washroom.

When she returned she said, “They were mopping the floor in there. They’ve got to change the brand of their cleaner. It smells like wet dog, even worse than Bear, it’s horrible. The stuff they use the first thing in the morning is even worse. I could never eat there with that odor in the air.

“Weasel was by earlier with Bear. Because of that dog, he collects more money than any of us. Now he has Little Jake caring for the dog while he goes off someplace. He’s always getting somebody to stay with Bear: Wolf, Andre, Hippo.  And he never pays them, not even a beer. There’s no way I’d look after that dog. For one thing, you never know when he’s coming back, it could be days. Then you’re stuck with feeding him, cleaning up after him.

I said, “I’m sorry I didn’t make it to the park yesterday. I had a dental appointment that took longer than I expected.”

“What did you have done?”

“I got a partial plate, to replace three missing molars.”

“I don’t have any back teeth. It makes chewing difficult. I have my boyfriends to thank for that.”

“Yesterday, everybody was asking, ‘Where’s Dennis?’ We thought that maybe you had been in an accident, or that something had happened to you. You’ve hardly ever missed being at the park at noon.”

I asked, “What did I miss?”

“Not much, the usual. Jacques was there, Chester, Shakes and Serge. Andre and Little Jake weren’t there, thank God. I guess Shakes and Andre were together on Sunday.  Shakes lost his backpack. He’s hoping that Andre has it. Shakes said to me, ‘Without my bag, where am I going to put my booze?’ I said, ‘Shove it up your sleeve, where you usually put it.’ ”

“Weasel was by earlier with Bear. Because of that dog, he collects more money than any of us. Now he has Little Jake caring for the dog while he goes off someplace. He’s always getting somebody to stay with Bear: Wolf, Andre, Hippo.  And he never pays them, not even a beer. There’s no way I’d look after that dog. For one thing, you never know when he’s coming back, it could be days. Then you’re stuck with feeding him, cleaning up after him.

I said, “I’m heading off to work now. Will see you at the park later?”

“I’ll be there.”

This afternoon, as I was approaching the group, I saw Hippo, standing head and shoulders above everyone else. I gave him a wave and he waved back.

“Hi Hippo!” I said, “I haven’t seen you around much.”

“I haven’t been around. I fucked up again.”

“It’s good to see you.”

It’s good to see you, Dennis.”

I shook hands all around. Joy and Andre were discussing the television program ‘1000 Ways To Die’ (now on YouTube) —  the ways that people have accidentally killed themselves — winners of the Darwin Award.

Joy said, “This one woman was masturbating with a carrot. It tore her vaginal wall, she developed an air embolism and died. The title of the video is ‘kill-do’, that’s hilarious. You’ll never see me masturbating with a carrot.”

Andre said, “One guy accidentally touched his crotch with a live cable from a battery. He liked the feeling, so he wrapped his penis in tinfoil and plugged it into a live socket in the house. He was electrocuted and died.”

Joy said to Jacques, “Have you got any wine ready to be turned?”

“I don’t have any wine. Oh, you mean at the house? Yes I have one batch ready to be transferred. I like to transfer a little at a time.”

Steve came over to Jacques and handed him a ticket, probably a liquor violation. “Another one for my wall?” asked Jacques. “I must have over a hundred stapled to my wall now, and I have two stuffed envelopes to be put up. I want to take them to my new place. I hope I can get them all down.”

Andre said, “What you need is one of those special staple removers. You’re going to need to fill a lot of holes in your walls before you move out. You can fill the small holes with a bar of soap or a stick of deodorant. It can even be painted over. You’ve got to use the chalky stuff, not the gel.”

Joy said, “The last time I was over at Jacques’, I tried to find my name on that wall. I’m sure I must be there a couple of times.”

“Andre,” I said, “you’ve shaved again.”

“Yeah, I’m trying to clean myself up a bit. Nothing too drastic. I want to set little goals for myself. If I meet one goal, I can set another. If I tried to do it all at once, I’d screw up, for sure.”

I asked, “Did Shakes find his backpack? Did you have it?”

“No, I was up on Greenwood, the opposite side of town to where Shakes was. I noticed earlier in the day that he seemed to be having trouble carrying his bag. Me and some others offered to carry it for him, but he said, ‘I can carry my own damn bag!’ You know Shakes. When you sleep outside, people will just come by and help themselves to your stuff. I know, it’s happened to me.”

Andre asked Hippo, “Where are you staying now.”

“At a hostel in Gatineau. I’m going for a butt run now, then I”m going back across the bridge.”

Joy said, “We call that Pepperville.”

To Andre, she said, “He said they were feeding him well over there, but he’s lost weight.”

Andre replied, “It’s probably all the walking he’s been doing. It’s a long way from that hostel to here.”

“Joy,” I asked, “did you mention to me this morning that you don’t have any back teeth.”

“Yeah, that’s thanks to boyfriends. My teeth got punched out or broken. When I was in prison the broken, half teeth, got infected. It was considered an emergency, so I had them extracted right away.”

“How are the dentists in there?”

“Some are good, but you can get some real butchers. I love the drugs you get when they put you in the medical ward. I was high all weekend”

Andre said, “I’ll be able to get all my teeth extracted. I’m just going to get them to put me out. They’re going to help me get some dentures, upper and lower. Most of mine have been knocked out in fights.”

Joy said, “Tomorrow, my worker, Angie, is going to be meeting me, to take me to Elizabeth Fry. She apologized that she couldn’t get the Salvation Army van. We’ll be taking the bus up to Bronson and Gladstone — somewhere around there. I think we take the number 86. I prefer her to Janice — she seems afraid of me, she’s so uptight. It’s probably because I say it like it is. I don’t pussyfoot around. I’ll tell you what time it is.

“They’re going to be escorting me to every class, usually with the van, so I don’t get breached. That’s the only way I would go to that course. I shouldn’t even be required to take anger management.

“Andre, you and I are going to have to chip in and buy Dennis a new pair of shoes. He could give you the ones he’s wearing for panning shoes.”

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