……

 
28 December 2012

The sun was shining at noon. The temperature was 16 degrees Fahrenheit. It was pleasant as long as one stayed in the sunshine and out of the shadows. At the traffic island were five of my street friends. I asked Hippo, “Did you have a good Christmas?”

“Yeah, it was good. My mom, my dad and my sister came over. They brought me a coffee table and two end tables.”

“How about you, Jake? Did you have a good Christmas?”

“I had a shitty Christmas. On Christmas day they turned my hydro off, so I have no lights. I’ve been there for three months. I haven’t even seen a hydro bill. My stove still works. I guess they aren’t allowed to let people freeze in the winter. I’ve got three outlets on my stove, so I can plug in my coffee maker, my toaster and my radio. That’s all I really need. My worker is out of town now. I hope she can get this sorted out.

“I got a money order for four hundred dollars. I hid it in my closet. I’m saving that to pay the rent.”

Hippo said, “Hey, Jake, do you need a dresser?”

“No, thanks buddy, but the first week of January I’m supposed to get my new furniture. I’ll have to tidy up a bit. When I found out the hydro was off I went a bit crazy. Can you blame me? I broke my broom, my lamp and kicked a lot of other stuff around.

“On top of that, I was over at Shakes’ place drinking with him and a friend of his. They asked me to go out for a smoke run. They gave me fifteen bucks and I went to Mac’s Milk. I bought the smokes and brought them back the change. The next morning I saw my loose change on the window sill, but I didn’t see any bills. There should have been eighty bucks. I went through all my pockets, but there were no bills. I thought back and the only thing I can think of is that it fell out of my pocket at Mac’s. I was drunk, so I may have missed my pocket. The guy in line behind me must have been happy. That’s the first time I’ve lost money in a long time. I lived on the street. If there is one thing I take care of it’s money.”

“How about you, Jacques?” I asked, “How was your Christmas?

“I was at ‘the heater’ with Bearded Bruce. I was wearing my Santa hat. A guy came by and wanted to take my picture. He had one of those collector cameras that you look down into. He turned a lot of funny buttons, then ‘click.’ He said he’d come by and give me a sample. You’ve never seen me in my Santa hat?”

“No,  Jacques,  I haven’t

“Chester,” I asked, “did you have a good Christmas?”

“Yes, I did. My daughter took me out to Mother Tucker’s in the market. We had dinner, then she took me to the Chateau Laurier. She’s only twenty-three years old and she has her own fitness business.”

“Do you get to see her often?”

“Whenever she can fit me into her schedule.”

Big Chester asked, “Have you seen Joy lately?”

“I was at the hospital two weeks ago. I hope to go there this weekend. How about you?”

“I haven’t seen her. I don’t have any bus tickets.” I gave him four.

Jake said, ” Did I tell you about my cat?”

“Yes, I knew you had a cat named Spaz. You have a cat too, don’t you Rhino?”

“I had one, he came mewing at my door at 2:30 one morning. I took him in. When he shit on my floor I threw him out.”

Jake said, “This cat of mine likes to sleep on the pillow next to me and purr. I’ve never had that before. She also likes to smell my breath.”

I said, “She must like sherry.”

“Yeah, I guess so. She was running around, so I fed her some Tender Vittles and she settled right down. She’s just a kitten but she has sharp claws. See these marks on my arm? Those aren’t from bed bugs, they’re from my cat. I think I’ve also got a scratch by my ear. Can you see it?”

“Yes I see it,” I said.

“I’ve got a cat now,” said Big Chester, “But he doesn’t scratch.”

Jacques said, “Did you see that! The bus just ran over that bicycle! I don’t know if there was anybody on the bicycle, It doesn’t matter. It may have been pointing the wrong way, but that’s no reason to run over it.”

Jake said, “Jacques, you’re drunk. Nobody listens to you when you’re drunk.”

“I may be drunk, but I know what I see.”

“Jake,” I asked, “did the bus run over the bicycle?”

“No, that’s Oscar’s bicycle. The bus didn’t run over it. Oscar stopped to talk to someone on the sidewalk. He picked up his bike and rode away.”

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