……

 
11 December 2012

On the number fourteen bus, I met Trudy, André and Little Jake. Patsy asked, “Have you heard about Joy?”

“I heard that she was in the Civic Hospital. I visited her a couple of times.”

“Yesterday, she was transferred to the General, that’s what Jacques told me. She’s able to move around a bit now in her wheelchair.”

I said, “That sounds like good news. How have you been? I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I’m okay, my mom (Mary) has been sick. She hasn’t been out lately. Nick and I have been staying in. It’s just been too cold to do anything. My brother (Larry) has gone back to Iqualuit.” Trudy got off the bus at Booth and Gladstone.

I moved closer to the front of the bus and met Jake and André. They were going to Jake’s new apartment.

“Hi André, Jake, it’s good to see you.”

“Have you heard about Joy?”

“I heard that she’d been moved to the General, but I don’t know why.”

André said, “I think it’s because there are tests that they can do at the General, that they aren’t able to do at the Civic. I also think that she’s been moved out of intensive care and they needed her bed. When I was at the General, they gave me an intravenous drip, because I’m an alcoholic. Towards the end, they were just bringing me glasses of brandy once an hour. I’d save them, so I could drink them all at once and get a bit of a buzz.

“A bunch of us are going to get a taxi and visit her. I hope that she lets me in her room. I’d hate to pay that money and have her say I couldn’t come in.”

Jake said, “I’m sure she’ll let you in.”

André said, “Guess what? I’m getting my own apartment by the first of January. It’s going to be in Vanier. They took me to see it. It’s really nice.” It was coming to their stop so we shook hands and they got off the bus.

12 December 2012

At the park, I met the usual congregation of friends and Dogs.

Jacques said, “I was talking to Joy this morning. She was a bit weepy because she thinks they’re going to keep her in the hospital until after Christmas. I think they want to keep her, so she doesn’t start drinking again. If they let her out, she’s going to visit her friends and they will all be drinking, so she’ll start again. She drinks that wine, eh? That’s bad. Me, I just drink a few beers, so far it hasn’t caused me any problems, except for a big belly.”

Mariah said, “I’m a reformed alcoholic. I went right downhill. I was a falling down drunk. Now I can buy a small bottle of cognac and it will last me a week. I just have a few sips a day. I cut out smoking and drinking when I was pregnant.”

Jacques said, “People tell me that maybe I’m pregnant. I hope not.

“I like to have a bit to drink, just beer, with maybe some pot every once in a while. With some people, it’s beer, with some wine, with some pot, with some crack — something different for everybody.

“I’m still looking for my bunk beds. I’m going to have to get out of the place I’m staying. Jake said I should talk to his worker, but she’s been sick. When I talked to her last she said she could get me an apartment, a start-up allowance and arrange for me to get O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program). I don’t have any of that now. Maybe she could even get me into one of those over sixty places. I’m only fifty-six, but if I could get into a place like that I’d avoid a lot of the crack heads.

“You should see where I am now. It’s just a room. I share a kitchen with two native guys across the hall. There is a double sink, both sides are filled with dirty dishes. There is a table that is filled with clean dishes. I have no place to sit to eat my food, no place to wash my dishes. I went to turn on the stove, but first I had to move the cockroaches. I don’t have them in my room, just the kitchen. Me, I shut up about that. That’s how I lost my place in Vanier. My neighbor said there were mites. When the inspector came I let him in. He took pictures over here, over there. When he came back he had a notice saying the place was condemned. I don’t want that to happen again.

“I don’t need a big place. I live alone. My last place was a bachelor. There was just room enough for my fridge and a table with about this much space in between. I think that the bathroom was bigger than the rest of the apartment, but I didn’t mind.”

Two police cars stopped at the curb. I decided to move over to talk to Wolf, so there would only be two groups of four. We’ve been told before that they don’t like to see groups larger than four people. Nobody was blocking the sidewalk, there was no alcohol visible and nobody was drunk.

“Hi, Wolf,” I said, “what are you reading now?”

“It’s a book about Hollywood in the 1950s. It’s called Suicide Hill. I forget who wrote it (James Elroy). It’s like that book The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh. If these guys think they have it bad now, it’s nothing like it was in the 1950s. This detective, Lloyd Hopkins, goes after bad guys and what he does to them isn’t exactly legal. The cops would do ‘wino runs’ where they’d pick up winos and addicts.

“I’m an alcoholic and I smoke a bit of crack. Maybe it’s the German in me, but I respect authority. I respect what the police do. I’m polite to them, not like some of these guys. Damian has beaten up Snake, he beat me up. If it weren’t for the cops who would protect us?

“In the book, they wouldn’t give out tickets to the winos like they do here. If they wanted information, they’d beat them, and believe me they’d talk. Sometimes, either before or after they talked, they’d kill them, for no reason. Suicide Hill was a place in Hollywood where the police would dump the bodies.

“I guess you’ve heard about Joy. Jacques was talking to her on the phone this morning. He asked her if she wanted to talk to me, She said, ‘No.’ What am I going to do? I’ve never been her boyfriend or anything like that, but I let her stay at my place when she was beaten by Big Jake. I don’t get involved with women very much anymore. I live alone, pay for the odd hooker once in a while. There was a woman who stayed at my apartment last night. I sent her out to buy me a case of beer. She said that when she got back she had a surprise for me. I like surprises, but she didn’t come back, so I put her bag and clothes out in the hall.

“Joy has to quit drinking. We’ve all told her that, but she won’t listen. Maybe she’d listen to you.”

I said, “I don’t think so. When I saw her last, the doctors had told her to stop drinking or she’d die, She said, ‘You told me that the last time, and I had ten months out on the street.'”

“I know,” said Wolf. “I’ve been in hospital, for injuries. I was in that car accident, I’ve had my cheekbone smashed when I was beaten up. I’ve broken my arm when I fell, but nothing internal. When your kidneys or your liver starts going, you have to quit drinking, there’s no way around it. Look what happened to Silver, just a few months ago. Anyway, if you can talk sense to Joy it might save her life.”

Two outreach workers came by. One of them was carrying a backpack. He said to Wolf, I’ve got some dog biscuits. Would you like some for your dog?”

Jacques said, “I wouldn’t mind some for me.”

The outreach worker said, “I’ve also got a sleeping bag in here. Would you be interested?”

Wolf  said, “Sure, I’d like it.”

“Can you use the backpack as well?”

“Thank you very much. I really appreciate this.”

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