Archive for August 29, 2019

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6 May 2013

Sitting in Joy’s spot this morning was Clark with his sign, HELP CURE HOBOPHOBIA. He has other signs, but this is the one he uses most frequently. I asked him about his weekend. He said, “I spent a lot of time moving. I’m now in a bachelor apartment in Regent Park. I had to get out of the place I was in. It was really bad, a lot of crackheads. I didn’t even feel safe using the stairs. There would be groups of them hanging around the stairwells.

“The only complaint I have with the new place is that I’m right above the door to the underground garage. I hear it every time someone drives their car in or out.”

I said, “I guess that’s a noise you can get used to. I’ve lived beside highways before.”

“Yeah, after a while the highway can sound just like the ocean. It can lull you to sleep.”

I asked, “So, how long have you been on the street?”

“Here, about four years, but I’ve been other places, like Montreal. It’s a really violent place. I used to work security there. I was in a large highrise. There were two entrance doors. I was behind the desk. One time a guy rushed in the first door, saying that he had been doused with gasoline and somebody was trying to set him on fire. All we could do is electronically lock the outside door, so he was trapped between the two doors. We couldn’t let him in, in case he decided to ignite himself inside the building. We just waited until the cops arrived.”

I said, “I know I’ve lived there. I moved in with my brother, near the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. My first night, there was somebody stabbed to death on our corner.

“This area is violent as well. You know Shakes, don’t you? He pans near the corner of Jarvis and Richmond, beside the underground car park.”

“Does he use a cane and carry a piss bag?”

“Yeah, that’s him. He was doused with gasoline and set on fire one time. He has massive scars on his left leg. There was another guy, Buddy, he was wearing a plastic raincoat when he was set on fire. The plastic became embedded in his skin. He died three days later.

“I can’t understand how humans can do that to one another. Animals aren’t cruel or malicious like that. They kill their prey and eat it — that’s nature — but to deliberately torture another animal. I don’t think they do that.”

Clark said, “Sometimes, I think animals are treated better than humans. The government will house us and will ring the Pavlovian bell allowing us access to the Food Bank every so often, but that’s it. The S. P. C. A. treats animals better.”

“What other kinds of work did you do, Clark?”

“Mostly, I’ve been a cook at construction camps in James Bay and Vancouver. I’ve also been a tree planter in British Columbia. I liked that. I like to keep to myself.”

“I’m the same.”

“I read in government studies that the brain works best when you’re alone. There are fewer distractions. That’s my understanding, anyway.”

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