They Call Me Red

……

26 June 2013

I sat next to Magdalene,  she seemed upset. “Hi Dennis, will you talk to me? Nobody else wants to talk to me. I’ll tell you the truth, I fight people, men, women, it doesn’t matter. I want to talk with my mother. I dream about her every night. I think she still loves me, but I’ve done bad things.”

“Your mother isn’t alive is she?”

“No, she died when I was five years old. She was a strong woman. I saw her fight three men one time.”

“What was the cause of her death?”

“Drinking — her liver quit working. When I was in hospital, and they cut me open, they said my liver was falling away in pieces.” She pulled some grass and sprinkled it. “Just like that.”

“I’m sure your mother still loves you and is very proud of you. She’s looking down on you right now. There’s no such thing as good or bad. It’s a matter of choices and consequences. You may have made choices in your past that you now regret, but the  past is over, it’s gone;  nothing can be done about it.  It doesn’t define who you are now. It’s only what you do next that is important. You have lots of choices and I know you’ll make the best of them. You’ll do what’s best for you. Only you know what that is.” (When not panning for change, Magdalene has worked as a prostitute.)

“Do you think so? I was talking on the phone to my aunt. I told her about everything that’s happened to me. She asked me to come home. She said, ‘Give me one good reason why you can’t come home right now.’ I said, ‘Because I’m drunk.’ She said, ‘At least you’re honest.’ I only drink, I don’t do drugs and I’m not crazy.”

I asked, “Will you be able to go home soon?”

“On Friday I get my check. I’ll go home then. Do you have a phone so I can call my aunt? Mariah let me use hers, but just for a minute.”

“I’m sorry, Magdalene, I don’t have a phone.”

“That’s okay. Sometimes, I just want to go away someplace and be alone.”

“Being alone is okay. I enjoy being alone.”

“No, it’s not okay. Sometimes I want to kill myself. See these scars on my neck. Three times I tried to cut my throat.”

“I can understand you feeling that way. I’ve felt that way before, but think of all the people who love you, your friends, your family. They would miss you terribly.”

“My friends are all drunk.”

I had two books for Wolf.  One was Lullaby Town by Robert Crais.  The other was The Chamber by John Grisham.  “Thanks, Dennis, I’ve read a lot of John Grisham, but I haven’t read this one. Robert Crais, I haven’t heard of him, but it looks good.”

Bearded Bruce was sitting on the other side of me. “Robert Crais is good. You’ll like that. When you’ve finished it I can give you some more by him. Nancy brought me a book today, Whirlwind. It’s the third in a series by James Clavell. I’ve read nearly all of his books. When I get on to an author I want to read everything they’ve written. I’ve read Shogun, King Rat and Noble House, Tai-Pan. He’s great.”

“I’ve read those too;” I said, “great books.”

“Dennis,” said Wolf, “Did I tell you about my adventure this morning. Of course I didn’t, you just got here. The tire on Shaggy’s cart went flat. You can see why it went flat, there is no tread on the tire. Anyway, I was talking to Abigail, and she suggested that I go to Charlie’s Bike Joint, on Queen, and ask for Darsh. Those are two funny names, aren’t they; Abigail and Darsh? She said to mention her name to Darsh and he would charge it to her account. That’s a nice gesture isn’t it? It took me about half an hour to walk there and I asked, ‘Is there a Darsh who works here?’ The owner said, ‘There is, but it’s his day off today. Can someone else help you?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ I had to get the tire fixed. Shaggy can’t walk all the way home by herself since she was hit by the car. I asked, ‘How much?’ He said, ‘Seven dollars for the tire, eight dollars for the labor.’ What do you think of that? Anyway, I didn’t mind paying fifteen or eighteen dollars — whatever it was. I had a twenty. Shaggy is all I got. I don’t mind spending money on her.  So, until next time, the tire’s as good as new. That was my adventure for today.”

Bruce asked, “What do you think of this weather?”

“It’s great;” I said, “nice and warm, no rain in sight.”

“It’s no good for panning. I do better when it’s thirty below. The best I can do now is twenty or thirty bucks and that’s doing three shifts, about eleven hours a day. In winter I can make that much in three hours.

“I got a recipe book from the liquor store. They have great recipes for marinades, sauces.”

Little Jake said, “It’s amazing what you can do with mayonnaise,  even in a microwave or a toaster oven.”

Bruce asked, “Can you spare two bus tickets? Jake  is coming home with me tonight. We’re going to do some cooking.”

“Sure Bruce, no problem. Do you do any barbecuing?”

“Yes, I barbecue, but I’m not allowed to have one at my apartment. My landlord just died.”

“Does that mean that nobody can prevent you from having a barbecue?”

“I don’t know who will be taking over. He was a great guy. He’s the reason I was able to get such a nice place. He knows I’m a bum that panhandles for a living, but he took a chance on me. I really appreciated that. One time he gave me a huge television set. It was twelve years old, but it worked fine. All I had to do was carry one end and we brought it to my place.

“I don’t know what he died of. He was only forty-seven years old. Maybe it was the drinking, I don’t know. Maybe he took his own life.”

“Did he have a wife, kids, any other family?”

“No, he lived all by himself.”

I had to go back to work. I stopped for a moment to talk to Mariah. “How is Joy doing? Is she okay?”

“Yeah, she’s okay. She was here earlier, but left because of this one,” pointing down at Magdalene. Also she wanted to see Big Jake.”

I said, “I hope everything works out. You take care of her, Mariah.”

“Oh, I will. I’ll keep checking on her.”

On my way down the sidewalk I saw Warren who I haven’t seen for about a year. “Hi Warren, how are you? Do you remember me? We’ve spoken a few times where the benches used to be. It was about a year ago.”

“Sorry man, I don’t remember. What’s your name?”

“Dennis.”

“Take care, Warren. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Take care, man.”

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Comments
  1. What a great blog and ethos you have! So glad you found me which led me to finding you! Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. KINDNESS says:

    Thank you 🙇Kindness

    Like

  3. Anand Bose says:

    An excellently well woven tale. Anand Bose from Kerala

    Like

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