Archive for October, 2019

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They Call Me Red

……

22 May 2013

There had been a torrential rain shower earlier in the day, so at noon the sidewalks were damp and the weather was muggy. I sat on the curb next to Debbie.

A man was standing in front of Wolf with four lighters. He was shaking each one of them to see which was the fullest. After he had decided, he put one in his pocket and left the rest. He said, “I can get a hundred bucks for this in prison. The only other way to light a cigarette is to spark two electrical wires together.” He looked at his watch and said, “I’m going to be late.” He hurried off and returned a few minutes later. He grabbed his jacket off Shaggy’s cart and said, “Now, I’m really going to be late.” Again, he hurried off.

Wolf said, “That’s Kenny, my neighbor. He’s also my connection, I should say my white connection, but he got caught trying to sell two bricks to a narc. They gave him two years. There’s good money selling drugs, but it’s illegal, you take your chances.  Now, he’s going to turn himself in with fifty pills and a lighter up his ass. He knew it was coming. He’d only been putting off the inevitable.

“What I worry about is the baby pit bull terrier he has. I guess his roommate will be looking after him. He’s a big guy who rides with a motorcycle gang.”

“My cousin was up from Virginia. He couldn’t get over how we drink beer on the street and smoke joints. Mind you down there you could be sitting there cleaning your gun. That would be fine, but pull out a joint or a beer and you’re looking at a prison sentence.

“That’s Virginia, I’ve heard it’s even worse in places like Alabama. When his son turned sixteen the first thing he did was to enroll him in the N.R.A. He figured that if his son was going to be around guns, he better know how to use one.”

Debbie turned to me and asked, “Did I tell you that I made a proposition, at the university, about a housing project for the homeless. This professor put me down, made me look like a fool. What would he know about the homeless? You can listen to my ideas or not — I don’t give a fuck.

“One day I’m going to write a book.”

I said, “That’s a good idea, to write about the homeless.”

“It’ll go way deeper than that. I’ll show where the corruption started. It’s been all downhill from there.”

I asked, “Do you think that the government is to blame?”

“Partly, with all the treaties they broke, but it’s more than that. I’m looking for a sponsor. Do you know anybody who would sponsor me?”

“What would be required of this sponsor?”

“I’d need office supplies, paper, a filing cabinet.”

“How about a computer? Do you think that would help?”

“I don’t know anything about computers. I do everything the old-fashioned way.”

“Have you thought of using a computer in the library? They’re free.”

“I can’t go to the library. I’m banned. There’s a book I never returned. I can’t get a library card until I pay for that book.”

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https://rainn.org/

They Call Me Red

……

22 May 2013

Joy was in good spirits this morning. She said, “I almost thought you were going to walk right by. Who is that woman sitting on the plastic crate? For some reason I’m in a good mood today, I don’t know why. I was at Bearded Bruce’s yesterday. I did some cleaning for him. What is it about guys that they leave things in such a mess?”

“I’m surprised,” I said, “with him being a cook and all.”

“Yeah, if it was a restaurant, I wouldn’t want to eat there. I was just about to throw out a cup of bacon grease. Bruce said, ‘Hey, don’t throw that out. That’s my grease. I use it for everything I cook.’

“He does, I couldn’t find any margarine, so  I buttered his toast with it. It’s no wonder he had a heart attack.

“His place is even smaller than mine. If his was this much bigger (holding her arms apart about four feet) it would be my apartment. Then he has this huge bed. It takes up almost the entire room.

“I had a great time playing with Bear. I took him down to the river. He ran right in. I tried putting this collar on him (indicating a strap wrapped around her ankle). He wouldn’t have anything to do with it. I put it around my neck and said to him, ‘See, Mommy wears a collar. It’s okay.’ I’m glad that he’s with Bruce now. He’s officially retired. Bruce doesn’t take him panning like Weasel did.

“Can you get me a copy of Weasel’s obituary? Wolf was showing it around yesterday, but he snatched it back before I could read it. I don’t know why Little Jake was so upset, considering how Weasel abused him. Wolf read a few things that really seemed funny, like Weasel being an athlete. He could barely get up off his ass. There was something else about him being caring. He didn’t care about anybody but himself, but something happened a week or so ago. I asked him for two dollars. He said, ‘I’ve only got a twenty.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m not running for change.’ He said, ‘Keep the whole thing. Consider it a gift.’ I said, ‘Sure, it’s eighteen dollars more than I needed.’ A few days later he died.”

A man walked by and sneezed, Joy said, “Bless you!” To me she said, “I wish I could sneeze like that. You can’t imagine how much that would hurt my ribs.”

I asked, “Are you going to see the doctor today?”

“No, tomorrow. Yesterday I phoned and made an appointment. I’m so glad I have my immunization card. I asked if he wanted my Birth Certificate. He said, (imitating a deep voice) ‘Yes, please bring that along too.’ So, I’ll get everything checked out and taken care of.”

Metro walked by, seeing Joy and I sitting together he said, “What’s the split — sixty forty? Seventy thirty? Is he your pimp?”

Joy said, “Pimp, none of the girls have pimps anymore, unless they’re high-class call girls. Now, forty to sixty bucks will get you anything you want. Fuck, a crack ho will do you for soup and a sandwich.

“When I was in Montreal, my girlfriend and I had a pimp — a big black guy. We did all the work, he got most of the money. We figured, ‘What do we need this guy for? Protection? We were getting the shit beaten out of us by the johns all the time. We decided to go independent. That was a mistake. One night a big black car came down the street where we were working. It stopped, we were told to get in. They took us to the bus station, gave us a ticket and said, ‘You’re going to Detroit.’ I said, ‘Better kill me right now, ’cause there’s no way I’m going to Detroit alive.’

A large garbage truck stopped near by, Joy yelled,  “Hi, Sunshine!” A good-looking, young man waved before emptying the garbage cans. I asked Joy, “I’ve been introduced to him before, but I forget his name.” Joy said, “I forget his name too. I just like looking at his tight butt.” He came over, shook hands with us both, then went on his way.

A man wearing a Leafs hockey jersey walked by. Joy said, “Hi, Father Peter!” He stopped and chatted for a while. Joy said, “I see you’re not wearing your collar today.” He said, “I just came from breakfast; I didn’t want to get it dirty.” Joy asked, “Have you seen Father Jacob lately?” After he left she said, “They’re getting younger and cuter every day. Those priests would surprise you. I saw Father Jacob grab some woman’s ass the other day; at least it wasn’t a guy’s ass he grabbed.”

Chester came shuffling along. I took that as my cue to leave.  I asked Joy, “Will I see you at noon today?” She said, “You sure will, even if it’s just to bitch at the guys.”

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https://rainn.org/

They Call Me Red

……

 

21 May 2013

All weekend I’ve been anxious about Joy, wondering what Big Jake will do. When I saw her sitting in her usual spot I was relieved.

“Joy, I’ve been worrying about you all weekend!.

“Why?”

“Friday you were so nervous about what Jake might do.”

“Yeah, I guess I was. He didn’t do anything. I was so bored on Sunday, I borrowed Chester’s phone and called Rodent. I said, ‘Hi, whatcha doin’? Care to come over to my place for a barbecue?’ He got all flustered, he said, ‘Jake stayed with me for a few days, but he’s gone now. I don’t know where he is.  He has all this paperwork about how he’s supposed to stay away from you.’ I said, ‘Yeah, so when has that ever stopped him before? Usually, he’d just move back in with me.’

“That Rodent, he’s such a liar and a scum bag. Jake was probably sitting right beside him. We’ll meet up, maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Who knows?”

I said, “That’s the thing with life, we never know what the next moment will bring.”

“Life’s a bitch and then you die.”

“Joy’s words of wisdom and inspiration for the week?”

“Yeah,  something like that. I’ve got a splitting headache and the dizzy spells have come back. Hippo went to the East General Hospital and got my immunization card with my medical number on it.  I don’t have it with me now, but I’ll bring it tomorrow. I’ll stop by the Mission, or go to the Clinic on Dundas, to have a doctor check me out.

“I’ve been reading this book by Justin Cronin, The Passage Trilogy.  I’m nearly finished and it’s over nine hundred pages. The only other time I can remember finishing a book was when I was doing time.”

“Will I see you at the park at noon?”

“Yeah, as long as it’s not pissin’ down rain.”

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https://rainn.org/

They Call Me Red

……

18 May 2013
William Robinson’s Obituary
 July 10, 1965 – May 8, 2013. Outdoors-man, dog lover, storyteller, avid reader, sportsman, son, brother, stepson, brother in law, uncle, great uncle, nephew, friend and faithful Boston Bruins fan.He was a sensitive and creative soul whose life did not follow a conventional path. In his early years, William was an athlete who excelled at hockey and soccer. He also enjoyed a love of sailing. He worked as a videographer, a tradesman and a nanny. While William lived most of his life in Toronto, he also lived in Vancouver and spent time in Ireland. His last years were challenging and he spent much of his time on the streets of Toronto with his loyal companion, his dog Bear. They were very grateful for the kindness of strangers.William’s family and friends love him, miss him and wish him safe and happy travels.

A private celebration of William’s life has taken place. His ashes are now in Halifax and will be scattered on the Atlantic, as he wished.

William’s family extends a special thanks to Leigh and Karen at Good Shepherd Ministries Homeless Shelter.

If desired, a donation may be sent to The Good Shepherd Ministries Homeless Shelter, 412 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5A 1T3.

Published in The Toronto Star on May 18, 2013

Wolf handed me Weasel’s obituary to read. He said, “I like the line, ‘His was a sensitive and creative soul.’ He was a good friend and I don’t want to get Little Jake upset, but just between me and you, it doesn’t say anything about how many times he punched Jake in the head, when he was high on crack; or the time he kicked my door down, trashed my apartment and beat me. I know I shouldn’t speak bad of the dead, but I just had to say that. You understand?”

“I understand, Wolf.”

“Okay, enough said about that. I really enjoyed the book you gave me, the one about the war;  not the one about the racehorse. Horse racing is for rich people. I didn’t think I’d understand the racing terms. I put it in my bookshelf and I’ll read it someday.

“but the other book, by Ken Follett, that was really great. It gave me something to read all weekend. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down. Did you like it?”

“I haven’t read it.”

“You haven’t? Do you want me to bring it back to you? Have you, at least, read the back of the book, so you know what it’s about?”

“Yes, I read the back, but no, Wolf, you hang on to it. I’ve got too many books on the go right now.”

“Okay, I understand, but just so you know, that’s the kind of book I can really get into. Did you know that it starts on the first day of the Second World War? They had some massive planes that could land on the sea, but then they built so many runways that these planes just weren’t practical. After all the whole idea was to use them for bombing and if they had to land near the shore that wasn’t so good.  Have you aver seen a big plane that could land on the ocean?”

“I’ve seen pictures of big seaplanes.”

“At first, when I started reading, I thought they were after a spy on the plane, but it turned out that they were really looking for a  scientist. If they caught him they’d put him in chains in some prison and would have interrogated him until they got all the information they needed to develop the atomic bomb. You know what would’ve happened then?   We wouldn’t be here.”

I asked, “Has anyone seen or heard anything about Serge,  in the past six months?”

Little Frank said, “No, the last I heard, he was in the hospital, on life support. He didn’t have any family, that anyone knew of. We didn’t even know his last name.  Another person we haven’t seen for a while is Blair. I’m guessing that they’ve both passed on.

Mariah was sitting on the other side of me. I asked her, “How have you been feeling?”

“I’m okay today, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got a pain in my hip caused by two slipped disks in my spine. I have two others that have been fused since I was nineteen. I was having treatment for about six months.  At first,  I could hardly move.  My back was hunched over and I couldn’t straighten up. They gave me anti-inflammatory pills, and put those little electric pads on me, but that’s all they could do for the first couple of months. They couldn’t manipulate my back,  have me do exercises or anything. Eventually, it eased up and they got the disks back in alignment. That was a year ago.

“Now, when I feel a pain coming on. I just rest at home for a few days. That seems to take care of it.”

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https://rainn.org/

They Call Me Red

……

17 May 2013

I was late this morning,  so I only had a few minutes to talk with Joy.  She was sitting on her plastic crate and was visibly shaking.  “I just heard this morning, from Jacques, that Jake was out of prison.  I thought he was getting out today. I didn’t sleep a wink last night.

“Rodent had a party for him yesterday. Jacques was invited, but didn’t go.  Shark and Irene were invited. They may have gone,  I don’t know. Rodent told me that, if Jake ever came near me, he’d kick him out of his house. That’s never stopped Jake before. He’d just stay somewhere else.”

I said, “You mentioned that you’d been in contact with Jake and that he’d wanted to get together with you. That sounds like he still cares for you.”

“Yeah, he wants to hook up, but twenty-six months in prison would make him a bit pissy. Even when we were on good terms, that didn’t stop him from beating me.

“I thought I saw him on the corner a while back. I nearly shit my pants. It turned out to be someone else. I’ll see him sooner or later. I’m definitely getting drunk today. I’ve panned enough for a bottle.’

“I wonder if Jake’s heard about you being beaten by Andre. That would upset him.”

“Yeah, Andre’s spent next month’s rent.  He’s just finishing out his last month’s rent.  He said he’ll be leaving town next month. I’m sure his sister won’t take him in. Can you imagine? He’d be drunk, having pool parties until all hours, kicking doors in. She wouldn’t put up with that, even from her scum bag brother.

“Are you going to be at the park at noon?”

“I’ll be there. Take care.”

 

The park was sunny, warm, everything one could hope for in the way of weather.  I sat next to Joy on the curb.

“Has anything happened?” I asked. “I see you’re still in one piece.”

“No, Jake hasn’t been around. You know the party that Rodent arranged for his homecoming? Nobody came. Shark and Irene were invited, but they didn’t want to go. Shark said, ‘Why would we want to go there?’ Rodent thought he had friends, but the only ones he has are the ones he buys with booze or drugs.

“I almost wish Jake had come by. I wanted to ask him if he felt violated last night. I wouldn’t put it past Rodent to drop some Dilaudid in his beer. I’m sure that’s what he did to Chester that time I was staying there. After two beer Chester was staggering — and he can drink a lot. Rodent was rubbing his back, rubbing his thigh. I didn’t stick around but I’m sure he waited until Chester passed out then it was slam, bam, then he rammed. I shouldn’t talk like this, but when it comes to Rodent, he’s such a perv. I can’t stand the guy.”

I asked, “Do you have any plans for the weekend?”

“No, I need some pot, so I invited Buck over for supper. He asked, ‘What are you cooking?’ I said, ‘Steak.’ So he said, ‘Okay, I’ll be over.’ I really don’t want to be alone this weekend, and you can bet I’m staying sober. I want to be able to see what’s coming, so I can duck.

“Jake should be getting  his forms filled out for O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program).  He was on it for a few months before he went inside. He’s using a cane now. He should have had his hip replaced two years ago. If he had, he wouldn’t have gone to prison. If he was on crutches, he wouldn’t have been able to hit me. He’s got to be pissed after twenty-six months inside.”

I said, “I notice that Lucy is here; is Daimon around?”

“No, he’s in hospital. He’s having problems with his ankle that Buddy broke in their fight  last year. That’s the way with ankles. I should know, I’ve had mine broken five times each.

“I see that Willie’s getting crazy. He’s into  the sherry again. I don’t know what it is with these guys. I water mine down, so it tastes better,  but I drink as much as them. It’s just over a longer period of time.”

Mariah came by and asked Joy, “Was that you screaming last night?”

“No, I went to bed at six o’clock and was watching videos. I didn’t sleep all night. I didn’t hear a thing.”

“The neighbor above you, heard something too. She said it sounded like, “No you can’t come in! Get away from here!’ I thought it might have been that scum bag, Andre, skulking around again.”

Gaetan said, “Something funny happened a while ago. It wasn’t really funny. I guess, it was sort of bad for me. Anyway, I found this doctor’s bag, you know with a stethoscope, blood pressure meter, the light they use to look in your ears and nose, all that kind of stuff. It was just lying on the sidewalk. I took it home and tested my blood pressure; it was bad — one ninety over ninety. My dad died at fifty-one of a heart attack. I’ve already outlived him by four years. I think my blood pressure is up because of stress. I just bought a Harley; I’ve got payments to make. I’ve never had that before.  I’ll just have to learn to relax.

“I’m happy, we’re all happy. Even if I had lots of money, I wouldn’t be happier than I am now. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Do you know what’s important in life?”

I said, “Love, friends, family?”

“That’s right, what you see all around you. This is family.

“Do you know why the cops give us tickets? It’s because at the end of the year, when they show a deficit, they say they need more money because of unpaid parking tickets. They’d never say it’s because homeless people haven’t paid their fines for drinking violations. Some of the people here owe, thousands, tens of thousands of dollars.”

I said, “I know, Jacques has his walls covered with tickets.

“A cop said, the other day, ‘Three tickets and I get a toaster.’ I guess he was happy to meet his quota.”

Serge said, “I don’t think it’s fair that they have a quota. Do you think it’s fair?”

“I don’t know, Serge, it’s too complicated for me.”

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People

http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($2.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($.299 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($.99 Download)
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They Call Me Red:
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Podcasts:http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
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