Archive for June 8, 2019

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16 November 2012

This morning Metro handed me a newspaper and said, “Joy’s up there.”

“Thanks, Metro, have a good day.”

There was a large yellow garbage truck parked in front of Joy, who was talking with the driver. I walked up to him and said, “Hi, I’m Dennis. I always say hello to you, but I don’t know your name.”

“It’s Delmar, I don’t give my name out to too many people. It’s a habit from my past.”

Joy said, “That’s a nice name. I’m the same. When someone asks my name I ask, ‘What do you think it is?’

I said, “Or you say, ‘What name did I give last time?’ I generally don’t carry a wallet or identification. I just don’t trust people.”

Delmar said, “It’s time to get back to work.” I held out my hand to shake his. He said, “You probably don’t want to shake this hand, because of where it’s been.”

Joy and I sat down. I asked, “So, how was your night? Are you getting used to the place?”

“Now, that my workers have me in an apartment, it seems they want to forget about me. Hippo got a brand new bed from Sears when he moved in, so did Little Jake. I want a new futon, so I can fold it up during the day. My worker offered me a hundred-dollar gift certificate for their store. She said, ‘Maybe you can get a futon there.’ I don’t want someones used bed that they’ve cleaned up a bit. I’ve had enough trouble with bugs.

“I’ve never liked the Salvation Army. They’ve never helped me before, so I never donated money to them, or the Mission either.

“They fixed my bathroom sink. They checked the heating and said that the pressure was low. He adjusted it, but I’ve still got no heat. I’ll call my worker again. I turn on the oven to low. That keeps the apartment warm, but at night, because of menopause, I get night sweats and have to open the door from my apartment to the hallway, to get some cool air in. That works fine.”

I asked, “Aren’t you worried about security, leaving your apartment door open?”

“No, there’s another door to the outside. Only me and my landlord have a key to that door.

“I haven’t been sleeping too well. I’ve been sick, throwing up every morning. I asked André to get me a bottle of sherry this morning to settle my stomach. I’m feeling a bit better now. I’m pissed off with him though. I’ve never led him on. I’ve told him I’m not interested in him and never will be; not if he were the last man on earth, but he keeps picking, picking. This morning he bent down to kiss me. I said, ‘Go away, man.’ He said, ‘It was worth a try, anyway.’ I said, ‘I talked to Debbie and she told me how you treated her.’ ‘Yeah, well I got a cut on my cheek.’ I said, ‘You deserved it.’ Here’s a woman who has opened her door to this guy, she feeds him. After he gets out of the shower, he comes out stark naked, with a hard-on, and says to her, ‘Take your clothes off and lie down on the bed.’ She said, ‘No fuckin’ way, man! Now, get out of here!’ He punched her in the chest, then backhanded her. If it was me I would have knocked him out, dropped him in the hall and threw his clothes on top of him.”

I said, “Apparently, he doesn’t believe in romance or foreplay.”

Joy said, “I asked her, ‘Did he at least have the decency to put on a condom?’ ‘No,’ she said. That was the day of the Dr. McGillicuddy’s fiasco.”

“What does that mean?”

“Andre and the boys were drinking Dr. McGillicuddy’s Peach Schnaps. That stuff’ll kill you. Chester was drunk too. He asked me why I was leaving, I said, ‘It’s cold. I want to go home and lie down. My legs are sore.’ He said, ‘Well, fuck you then. Maybe, I won’t let you have the rest of your stuff back.’ He staggered halfway across the bridge and did a face plant. Somebody phoned the police and he was taken by the paramedics to Hope Recovery.” If he did hold onto my stuff I’d feed his dentures to him piece by piece.

“I was always told to respect my elders. It doesn’t seem like Chester and I are that far apart in age now, but he’s nearly twenty years older than me. I take care of these guys, and they treat me like shit.

“I remember when my son called my mom a crusty old bitch. I sat him down at the table and said, ‘Don’t you ever talk to your grandmother like that again.’ He said, ‘She pissed me off.’ I said, ‘Don’t talk like that, and if she pissed you off it must have been something you did to cause it.’ He said, ‘So, you can talk that way and I can’t.’ ‘That’s right because I’m your mother.’ He said, ‘You lay a hand on me and I’ll call 911.’ I leaned towards him and gave him a head butt — knocked him out cold. My mother came in and said, ‘What did you do?’ I said, ‘I just knocked him out. He’s not dead or anything.’ When he came to he asked, ‘What did you do to me. That’s not right.’ I said, ‘I didn’t lay a hand on you. Now, I want you to apologize to your grandmother.’ He went over to her and said, ‘I’m sorry grandma, I won’t talk to you like that again.’ He never did either.”

At noon on the traffic island, I met eleven of my friends. Darren said, “I see you nearly every noon hour. What brings you up here?”

I said, “The conversations here are more interesting than what I hear at work.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s true, eh? We all have a story. I went to my worker to try to get my rent money, but she wouldn’t give it to me. She’s going to hold onto it until the first of December, then give it directly to my landlord. I didn’t fight it. She said to me, ‘If I give you this money you’re going to spend it on booze. Am I right?’ I wasn’t going to lie to her, I’m an alcoholic, the first thing alcoholics think about is booze. For me, it’s beer and the occasional joint.”

“I can understand that,” I said.

Joy saw Alphonse and Magdalene approach. She said, “Alphonse, the Salvation Army Outreach workers were looking for you this morning. You should call them.” Alphonse borrowed Jacques’s phone and arranged that the workers would meet him and Magdalene at the traffic island.

André passed Joy a joint, he said, “Don’t give it to Little Jake, because he’s been told he has a spot on his lung. It could be TB. He was honest about it, you’ve got to give him credit for that.”

Outcast said, “TB is the most contagious disease there is. You don’t want to share a joint with a person who is even suspected of having TB. It’s rough for Jake, but that’s the way it is.”

I sat next to Jake on the sidewalk. “How is it going in your new apartment? Do you have any more furniture?”

“I’ve got a bed and an air conditioner, still in the box. That’s all. Chris has a TV for me. I just have to find a way to get it to my place and get the cable hooked up.”

“It must be nice to have a place you can come home to, where you can lock the door, where you’re warm. It was only a few months ago that you were sleeping behind the dumpsters in the back of Starbucks.”

“Yeah, it’s good. I just wish I was feeling better. I’ve had a chest x-ray and a spot showed up on my lung. I don’t know what that’s all about. I’m throwing up every morning. I’ve got no appetite.” Jake also has HIV.

I asked, “Have you been eating?”

“No, just the thought of food makes me sick. I’m on two thousand milligrams of some kind of penicillin. When the pharmacist saw the prescription he said, ‘There must be a mistake here.’ I said, ‘That’s what the doctor gave me.’ He said, “That’s a very high dose.”

“Hippo,” I said, “How is your new apartment?

“I got a leak coming from the water main. It’s dripping down my wall. They’re going to have to replace the drywall. Apart from that everything’s fine. Tomorrow they’re having the Santa Claus Day parade.”

“Are you going to come down and see it?”

“No, I’ll just watch it on TV. Jacques, do you know when the Santa Claus Day parade starts?”

“I think it’s ten o’clock, I’ll have to check.”

It was time for me to leave. I shook hands all around and Shakes asked me, “Dennis, are you walking towards Laurier Street?”

“Yes.”

“Could you help me walk. I’ve been sitting too long and my knees are wobbly.”

“Okay, Shakes, no problem.” As we were walking I asked him, “Do you have problems with arthritis in your knees?”

“Yes, they get stiff.” As we passed the Lord Elgin Hotel Shakes said, “I’m going to stop in here. I’ve got to go for a whiz.”

“I’ll see you next week, Shakes.”

“Thanks, Dennis. I’ll see you.”

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