I’d tell you the names, but then I’d have to kill you

Posted: August 19, 2019 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

https://rainn.org/

……

25 April 2013

This morning was sunny but cold. I usually walk straight to Joy’s spot, but I had run out of bus tickets and Tim Horton coffee cards, so I had to make two stops and stand in two lineups. When I got to Joy’s spot she was sobbing. “Thank God you’re here. I saw you cross the street and I thought I wouldn’t see you. I left my purse at Outcast’s place last night. I took a cab, and only after I tried to pay the fare did I realize I didn’t have my purse with me.  In it, I had my cash, my pot, all my phone numbers. I told the guy, ‘I’m just going to go up to my friend’s place to get some money.’ He grabbed my bag and said, ‘I’ll hold onto this until you get back.’ I went to Mariah’s place. She wasn’t home. Even if she didn’t have any money I could have used her phone to call Andre or Outcast. I went down to the cab and said to the guy, ‘Fuck man, I got no money. I can’t call my friends. Can I pay you tomorrow? He said, ‘I’ll give you twenty-four hours, then I call the police. What is it with you people? You think you can get away without paying? I got bills to pay.’

“I said to him, ‘First of all, what’s this, YOU people. Do you think I’m a ho? I wouldn’t be wearing nearly these many clothes if I was hooking. Do you think I’m a crack addict? Do I act like a crack addict? Is it because I’m part native?’ This guy was a fuckin’ immigrant! I was born here.

“This morning I had to beg the bus driver to let me on. I said to him, ‘I got no tickets, can I give you two tomorrow. He said, “Okay, I see you going into the hotel through the back way. Why don’t you go through the front?’ The only reason I go in there is to take a piss, but I said to him, ‘I work as a cleaner there. Only paying guests are allowed to use the front door.’

“Most of the regulars on the bus think I work in construction. I overheard this woman say that one of her pipes was leaking. I said to her, ‘It sounds to me like you just need a plastic elbow. It’ll fit inside your pipe and stop the leak.’ This other guy says, ‘If you’re a tradesman, how do you cut marble.’ I said I’d use a Jigsaw and plenty of water to keep the blade cool.’ I just pick this stuff up on programs like ‘How’s this Made’.

“It’s just like when I was in prostitution.  For a while, I worked in a phone sex chat room.  People say I have a sexy phone voice. I’ve heard myself on a tape recorder. I just think it sounds nasal like I have a sore throat. I went by the name Lincoln. But I’d say ‘I’m not that big, but I do purrrr.’ It was crazy working in that place. There were about sixty of us in this room, we each had a cubicle. Most of the time we’d have our feet up munching on something. When we’d get a call we weren’t allowed to initiate the conversation. Just like when we were on the street, the guy would have to tell us what he wanted and we’d give him a price. We’d wait until the guy said something like, ‘What are you wearing?’ I’d say, ‘I’m just curled up in my pink baby dolls, waiting for you handsome.’ Otherwise, we could have been charged with soliciting.

“Jake phoned me one time, and, I mean I was living with the guy, right, so he knew how I’d be dressed and what I looked like. We chatted for a while and when I got home he said, ‘I had such a hard-on all afternoon, I had to leave work, it was such a stiffy’   — or woody, or chipmunk, or whatever you want to call it.

“Anyway, I was sure glad you came along this morning. You cheered me up. When I saw you go by, I just put my head down in my lap and started bawling my eyes out. This old lady stopped, not one of my regulars, and asked, ‘What’s the matter deary? Is there anything I can do to help?’ She reached into her purse and dropped me one blue bus ticket. I don’t know if they even take them anymore. That was before the pink ones, the orange ones. And there was only one. I guess I could have told the driver that it was folded and I couldn’t get it apart. That might have worked.”

We saw Chester coming. “What does that old fart want? It’s always something, bus tickets, cigarettes…”

Chester said, “Hi Joy, Dennis. I can’t stop I’m going somewhere.”

Joy said, “You’re always going somewhere.”

“Cheer up,” he said, “we get our checks tomorrow. You’ll be getting yours too. I’ll see you.”

“I was hoping that Andre would be coming down. Last time I saw him was at Mariah’s. He was fooling around with this stupid camera. When Mariah saw that he’d taken her picture she beat the shit out of him — had him in a headlock and was pounding his face. There are a lot of people who don’t like to have their picture spread around.”

I asked, “What’s Mariah worried about?”

“I shouldn’t even be saying this, but when she was with a motorcycle gang in Montreal.  They’ve now joined up with a larger, international gang.  Well, she brought the affiliation papers to the larger gang. I’d tell you the names, but then I’d have to kill you.”

Next came Toothless Chuck (not to be confused with Chuck who has teeth). Hi Joy,  Dennis! Haven’t seen you guys for ages. Joy, I got those paints you wanted.”

“Cool, man. I’ve painted some vines on my walls and I wanted to add some color — flowers or something.”

“If you see Tommy, tell him I have a box of oil pastels that I want to sell. I’m having a barbecue this afternoon. Do you want to come? Shark and Irene will be there.”

“I don’t know man, Shark and I don’t get along so well.”

“Just talk to Irene then. There will be lots of other people. I’m on my way to pick up some groceries. I’ll pick you up on the way back.”

“Yeah, okay.”

Before I left Joy asked me, “Would you like a pear?  Someone gave it to me.  I don’t eat them.”

“Sure. I’ll probably see you at noon.”

I went to the park at noon. Wolf had mentioned that he didn’t have anything to read for the weekend. I brought him Ian Fleming’s, ‘On Her Majesty’s Foreign Service’, a James Bond novel.  He was very grateful.  He said, “I’ll give it back to you once I’m finished.”

“No, you keep it, Wolf.”

“I really appreciate that. It’ll be in my bookshelf, if you ever want it back. Books are like gold to me. I can’t stand it when people abuse books.

“I’m just coming off a ten day drunk. I was even drinking what these people drink. What is it, Imperial or that Pale Dry sherry. I know why Joy went to the hospital. I haven’t had a solid shit since I started drinking that stuff. It’s back to Blue for me;  not even Old Milwaukee. I don’t need that extra half percent of alcohol.

“If you don’t have a solid shit, you’re not healthy. That’s my advice. Now if you don’t mind I’m going to sit down before I fall.”

Shakes called me over. He was half sitting half sprawled on the curb. He reached for my hand and pulled me down.

Jake said, “You two are really getting close.”

Shakes whispered, “Dennis, can you give me some bus tickets? I’ll need six, two for me to get home and four for Tommy and I to come down tomorrow. Tom’s not like me. I’ll say to him, Lets jump on at the back door. He won’t, not if he’s sober. Did you know that Tom is living at my place now. He doesn’t like the way I live. He’s always tidying up. Thanks, Dennis.”

I sat between Wolf and Mariah. I asked her, “I guess you heard about Joy leaving her purse at Outcast’s place last night?”

“Yeah, she came running up to my apartment, but I didn’t have any cash.  She should get it back today, unless she dropped it somewhere between Outcast’s and the cab. You know how us women depend on our purses.”

Wolf leaned over and whispered to me, “I’d be surprised if her money’s still there. I don’t know if he’d steal from Joy, but he stole from me when he came over to buy some crack. He can’t be trusted, but that’s just between me and you. Nobody else heard that.”

Shakes came over and crouched to sit down on the sidewalk.

“Yeah, Shakes, you might as well join us. You’re already sitting on my toilet seat cushion (referring to the Montreal Canadiens’ hockey team logo).”

Wolf’s dog Shaggy started barking. Wolf reached into Shaggy’s buggy and pulled out a tinfoil bag of treats. Shakes was fumbling, trying to open the bag. Wolf said, “If he doesn’t get that bag open soon, Shaggy will bite him. She will, she’s like that and it doesn’t matter what race the person is;  black, brown, yellow or white,  she’ll bite them.”

Shakes had the bag opened and put one of the doggy treats in his mouth, then leaned toward Shaggy. Wolf said, Those treats are pretty small, I don’t think he should try that.”

Shaggy took the treat without incident. “How old is Shaggy?” asked Shakes.

Wolf said, “She’s as old as I’ve known you. You came here twelve years ago; she’s twelve years old.”

Jacques said, “Shakes, hand me that bag. I want to see if it has glucosamine in it. I’ve asked my doctor if glucosamine will help my arthritis. He always changes the subject. He won’t give me a straight answer. Yes it has glucosamine, along with pea flour, rice flour, miniblablabla…”

I said, “Ask Shakes how they taste. Maybe you’ll like them.”

“Mariah said, “It’s good for cartilage.  I take it all the time.”

It was time for me to go back to work.  As I struggled to my feet. Mariah held out her arm. I leaned on it to get my balance.”

I said, “Us old people need a helping hand every once in a while.”

“You could have leaned harder than that. I’ll need a hand up when it’s time for me to go.”

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