Archive for August 1, 2019

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4 April 2013

This morning was finger-numbing cold. Joy was wrapped in her blankets, sitting on a plastic crate.

I asked, “Is this the first time you’ve been here this week?”

“Yeah, I’ve had a cold and have been staying inside lately. I’m really glad that you came along; I really have to pee. I’ll have to go to the library this time. Can you watch my stuff?”

“Sure”

When Joy returned she said, “My legs are really bothering me today.”

I asked, “Do you have your health card and your prescriptions yet?”

“No, I haven’t seen my worker for a while. The one day she came by my apartment, I wasn’t home. I’m entitled to go visit my friends sometimes, especially since I still don’t have any furniture. I didn’t know she was coming. She said that I should get a phone, I said, ‘Okay, you pay for it.’ I’m damned if I’m going to pay for the expense of having a phone or paying fifty cents to use the payphone.

“I was over at Andre’s place yesterday. Boy, you should see it. It’s fully furnished. He’s got a landline and a cell phone. Shakes, Jacques and Hippo were there. I didn’t stay there long. He said I could sleep on the couch, but I didn’t want to, not with my own bed at home. I even forgot my groceries in the fridge.”

“I hope you got them back.”

“Yeah, I cooked them a nice dinner of spare ribs, potatoes and corn. They really appreciated it.”

I asked, “Have you seen Serge lately? The last time I saw him was when he had his head and beard shaved.”

“That’s when he escaped from the hospital. All he was wearing was a hospital gown. The guys brought him some clothes. He went back to the hospital after that. Craig and Jordan, from 501, told me that they didn’t expect him to come out of the hospital alive.

“I get a kick out of the clothes some of these people wear. I wonder who dresses them. It couldn’t be their mothers. Yesterday I saw this guy, with his pant legs rolled up, wearing nylons. I’ve heard of men wearing support hose, but these were nylons.”

At noon I met Wolf, Shaggy, Joy, Jaques and Jake. As I approached Scruffy started barking. Jacques handed me a folded yellow towel to sit on, Wolf handed me Scruffy’s folded blanket. “I’m lending this to you on one condition,” said Wolf, “you have to feed Shaggy.” He handed me a tinfoil package of Lamb and Lavender dog treats. I put a handful in front of Shaggy.

“Wolf” asked Joy, “what’s the lavender for? Does it make her breath sweet?”

I sniffed the opened bag, but couldn’t smell lavender.

Joy said, “That’s the first time I’ve seen anybody smelling dog food.”

Wolf said, “I didn’t know there was lavender in this. I just saw Lamb. What is lavender, anyway?”

“It’s a flower.” said Joy.

Wolf read from the bag, “It says the ingredients are all-natural, no fillers, so it’s all good stuff.”

Joy said, “I’m reading this book by Justin Cronin, it’s from The Passage Trilogy. I’m just about finished it, the second book is The Twelve. It takes place in the future. They talk about 2013 as being about a hundred years from now. What would that make it? Anyway, a government scientific project goes wrong and all these vampire bats are released. They got into a maximum-security prison and started biting the inmates. Anyone bitten becomes a vampire. Their fingernails glow yellow and they sleep hanging upside down. They escape and wipe out most of the world. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Wolf said, “Speaking of books, have you read any of the Ed McBain books? Here it is Killer’s Wedge. There are about fifty of them in a series with Steve Carella and his fellow detectives of the 87th Precinct. Some of the cops are dirty, some are drunks, you know the type. I don’t have to tell you. Anyway, they’re an easy read. That’s all I have to say about that.”

Shaggy started barking at a woman passing by. Wolf said to Joy, “You’re friend sure jumped this morning when Shag started barking.”

“She’s not my friend, she’s my worker. I told her she didn’t have to worry, but she said Scruffy bit Craig in the van. I said, ‘She’s bitten lots of people, me included.’

Wolf said, “I’ve got a really good way of getting Scruffy home. I let Joy walk in front and Shaggy starts to chase her, but I have her on her leash. We’re home in no time; no in and out of the cart, she just follows and chases Joy.”

I said, “So you saw your worker this morning? Did she arrange for your health card and your prescriptions?”

“I’ve got a new validation number. I think I can take that to a doctor to get my prescriptions. The problem is I switched to Frank’s doctor, and now he’s got about sixty custys (Patients?), so I can never get an appointment. Maybe I can take it to my old doctor. He kind of gave me the creeps, he’s one of those turban heads. I’ve got some female stuff that needs checking and I’m not sure I want him down there. I wish I could find a woman doctor.”

I said, “I know of a female doctor, but she’s quite a distance from where you live.”

“I don’t want that. My old doctor was just down the street and I hardly ever went to him.

“They’ve got me set up to get furniture next Tuesday. I hope that works out. I fucked it up last time.

“Uncle Wolf, can I trade you eight brown (native) cigarettes for four white ones? Here’s nine.”

“That’s not nine!” said Wolf.

“Well, that’s not four,” said Joy.

I said, “I’m glad you guys aren’t getting into higher math, or you’d have a problem.”

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
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