.

……

.

12 November 2012

On the traffic island, I met nine of my friends. Joy said, “I moved to my apartment on Friday. My back is sore because I don’t have any furniture, just an empty room. I sat in the middle of the floor all weekend. Yesterday, Mariah brought me down two folding canvas chairs. She also brought me some kind of a quilt or comforter. I opened the bag and it stunk. I said to her, ‘You brought me dirty laundry?’ I took it to the laundromat nearby, they have only one double washer and no double dryers. They ate quarters like you wouldn’t believe.

“Wednesday we go to Chester’s place to pick up the rest of my stuff, mostly shoes.

“When they cut a tree down in my back yard, some of the bark got tracked downstairs. There were these little woodworms that curl up when you touch them. All morning I was flicking these with my thumb. It was just like playing marbles with my son.

I said, “It must feel good to have a place to go to where you can lock the door, it’s quiet and you can do whatever you want.”

“It will take a bit of getting used to, but I have lots of security. There are three doors that have to be unlocked in order to get to my place.”

I asked, “How about your health card, will you be getting that soon?”

“Yeah, I really need to be on my meds.”

I said, “That should make a big difference in how you feel.”

“My fibromyalgia is really acting up in my legs and my arms.”

“I don’t know much about that, but I have restless leg syndrome. If I don’t take my medication my leg twitches every fourteen seconds. It’s really annoying and will keep me awake at night.”

“I have the same thing.”

Joseph came over, “I’m sorry to hear about the son you lost (my son isn’t lost). You have my condolences. I was telling you last week about my daughter that was lost, actually, it wasn’t my daughter it was my god-daughter. Her father is doing time in prison — twenty years for murder. So, while he’s in jail I’m responsible for her.”

He showed me his birth certificate from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He said, “See, my name is actually Italian.”

“I’m in trouble with my partner. I have addictions. I went to the casino — I can count cards — I made some money. The dealer said, ‘I can see you’re a card player.’ I said, ‘Take me to the Blackjack table.’ I won ten thousand dollars, but the cops were standing at the door waiting for their cut. I walked up to them. I asked? ‘ Do any of you have a smoke?’ One handed me a cigarette. I asked, ‘Do you have a light?’ He pulled out his lighter and lit my cigarette. I don’t smoke. They asked, ‘Did you have a good night?’ I said, ‘No, I lost.’ Then I walked out the door with my case full of money. I spent it on my brothers. It all went on booze.”

A police car pulled up with two police officers in it. Officer D. Salinas said to Outcast. “We saw you throw a can into the bushes. We’re going to have to charge you.” He pulled out his pad and wrote Outcast a ticket.

Officer McQuaid was writing a ticket for Weasel.

He asked Andre, “Are you keeping out of trouble?”

“Yes officer, I’m sober. I have been for three days.”

“How about you Joseph? Why are you standing so close to me? Is this some kind of a confrontation?”

Joy said, “McQuaid, don’t stand too close to those dreadlocks. If you look close you can see little white things. It isn’t dandruff.”

Two more police cars pulled up. Female officers got out of each car. One said, “How’s everybody doing?”

Joy said, “I’ve just moved into a place of my own, so I dropped by to visit some of the guys.”

“That sounds good, Joy. You should be at home having a house-warming, not down here.”

“Most of these guys I wouldn’t invite over. If I had one, Officer Stiller, would you come?”

“I think I’d pass on that, but thanks anyway.”

One of the female officers came over to Andre. She reached down and picked up his leather gloves. “Where did you get these?”

“I bought them at Sally Ann.”

“They look a lot like a pair I lost.” She examined them inside and out. There was a call on her radio, a group of twenty people was leaning against the wall at the Mission. They got back in their cars and left. McQuaid and Salinas left shortly after.”

Andre said to me, “The reason she was looking at my gloves is that when she stopped me a few days ago I stole her SWAT gloves. She stopped me yesterday and I stole another pair.”

Joy said, “I’m so glad they left, I’m on the last day of my probation and I’ve got pot in my backpack and a bottle under my sweatshirt. Those female officers could have searched me and my bag.

To Joseph, she said, “Why did you have to talk to them the way you did? Are you trying to get us all arrested?”

 

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