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24 October 2012

This morning, as I approached Joy, she waved, got up and headed towards the library. When she returned she said, “I’ve been waiting for you. I had to pee so bad. I slept outside last night.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Chester’s drinking again. When he does, he gets all touchy feely. I’d had enough, so I packed my bag and slept behind the dumpsters, in back of Starbucks.”

“Do you have a sleeping bag?” I asked.

“No just this blanket, it was cold.” (35 degrees Fahrenheit)

“You have an appointment with your worker today, maybe she could get you a sleeping bag.”

“I’m just so fed up!” she cried, “My legs are aching. I’m half in the bag. There is a commercial on TV that says, ‘It’s now time for that second talk’ — referring to menopause. I need to have that second talk, but I have nobody to talk to. I remember my mother going through it. She was all over the place. I’m just losing it, man!”

“Perhaps you could talk to your worker about that. Also, Stella is coming down this morning.”

“I sure hope so.”

“She sent me an email. She wants to celebrate Bear’s fifteenth birthday. She has a card and a big bone for him.”

“I hope she bring the coat she promised me.”

“I saw Serge in the hospital last night. He was asleep the whole time I was there. He had a breathing tube in his throat and oxygen going in his nostrils. The nurse said they may take the breathing tube out either today or tomorrow, depending on how he responds. He had a slight fever so they had a cooling blanket, that looked like an air mattress, on top of him. That’s common with head injuries. He was lightly sedated and had been given Tylenol for pain. The nurse had been talking to him earlier and he said the pain wasn’t too bad. She said he’s had a long history of being admitted to hospital for falls. He sure looks younger with his head shaved.”

“They would have done that for the lice. When he was picked up last time, by Hope Recovery, they shaved off his beard. I’m glad it’s not more serious. I can’t take any more deaths right now.”

Andre stopped by and said to Joy, “I see Little Jake is at Silver’s old spot.”

Joy said, “Jake is family. I had to kick Al out of there this morning. Later I saw his girlfriend, Angeline. Her arm was in a make shift sling and was all purple. She said, ‘Bo did this to me.’ I said, ‘I hope you got him back.’ She said, ‘After he had punched me three times in the head, I stabbed him in the side. That slowed him down.’ Bo is going to be on a lot of shit lists. These guys got to learn not to treat women that way.”

I said to Andre, “How’s your day going so far?”

“Lousy, I’m barred from every McDonalds in town, the World Exchange liquor store, Hartman’s and Loblaws grocery stores. The list of places I can go is getting shorter and shorter.”

“What happened at McDonalds?” I asked.

“I was panning out front of the one on Bank Street. The district manager was there at the time — he barred me. He said, ‘I never want to see you in front of any of our stores. If I do, or if any of my staff does, the police will be called immediately.’ That was a good spot for me.

“I stole a cooked chicken, and some other meat, from Loblaws. I was hoping to have a real feast, So much for that idea.”

Joy started getting restless. She said, “I’ve had about enough of this place, and I’ve got to get my legs moving. I want to get drunk.”

I had agreed to meet Stella at the statue of the soldier, near where the group usually meets. Shakes, Gnome, Wolf and Shaggy, Outcast, Jacques, Loon, Stella, Weasel and Blackie the birthday dog were all there. Jake and Weasel were near coming to blows.

Shakes said, ‘Will you guys keep the noise down. Soon the cops will be coming.”

“Shut up, Shakes”, said Weasel.

“I won’t shut up. I’ll talk as much as I want to. Nobody’s going to stop me.”

I said, “I’m glad we got that settled, Shakes!” He laughed.

Loon was drunk, has no teeth, and was talking non stop over the din of the arguing.

Outcast asked me, “Do you understand a word he’s saying?”

“No,” I said.

Outcast said, “I’ve just come from Shark and Elaine’s place, I think Loon was there earlier. They were nodding off, so I left. Soon, Loon will be doing the same.

“Dennis, you coming at ten o’clock throws my whole schedule off. I think I should be having lunch now.”

“Sorry, Outcast, but I came to see Stella, not you.”

Joy said, “I’ve known some of these guys for twenty years. I’ve known Chester for a long time too. It really hurts, for him to treat me, and talk to me the way he does. Do you see the scar above Loon’s right eye? I gave that to him. One time he grabbed me by the crotch and I decked him. His forehead split open like a tomato. He’s never tried that again — the piece of shit. I’m really surprised that I haven’t got into a fight yet, today. There’s still time.”

Andre was sitting quietly. He said to me, “Sometimes it’s safer to not open your mouth.”

I asked Jacques, “Do you know if Serge has any family?”

“I don’t know. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s never mentioned any family to me.”

I said, “I wonder if his friend William knows about his family. Serge stayed with him for a while.”

“No, I ask him that. He said, ‘I think, maybe, he came from Vancouver or Toronto. I can’t remember which. I think he has a sister in Montreal.’ Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal — that’s a lot of people there, and Robert is a common name. William has been kicked out of his place. When Serge stayed there, a neighbor complained. He said that Serge was dealing drugs. Can you imagine, Serge dealing drugs? I’ve never even seen him smoke a joint. He just sits quietly. I like that. I talked to Serge about maybe sharing a two bedroom apartment, but now he’s nearly dead. I also thought about sharing a place with William, but he was given notice, the first night he was at his new place, that he was making too much noise. If you’re given notice three times, you’re out. That’s what happened. I don’t want to be in the middle of a situation like that, not me. I’ll just get me a bachelor apartment, it doesn’t matter how small, just someplace quiet. That’s what I want.

“Yesterday I found a tent in the garbage. It looks brand new. I set it up in my living room. I’ve never seen a tent so small. It would only fit one person. There is no way that two people could get in there. If I don’t find a place by the end of the month, maybe I’ll be sleeping outside. I don’t think for too long. Who knows?”

Jake sat next to me. He said, “I’ve blown my three hundred and fifty dollar start-up allowance. Now, they’re asking for receipts. DOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY RECEIPTS? I NEED SOME RECEIPTS.”

Joy asked, “Did you punch Weasel?”

“No, but I spit on him.

“I went to my HIV doctor and he wouldn’t give me my needles.”

I asked, “Why?”

“I don’t know.”

Two Outreach Workers with the Salvation Army came to talk to Shakes. “How are you coming along with my housing arrangements?” he asked.

“Were looking at a few places, the problem is they become available December first, so we’ll have to find someplace temporary for you, from the first to the end of November. Don’t worry, we’re working on it.”

Weasel and Stella were getting ready to leave. Stella showed me the card she had made. It had pictures of Bear as a pup, with his original owner Henri.

Joy said, “I remember when Henri first got Bear. There were two puppies in the back seat of a car. Henri was to choose which one he wanted. Bear jumped out the door and came straight to him. The other dog just sat there. That decided it. They were together until he died.”

Bear wandered over to me. I held my hand out — he bit it.

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