Archive for February 4, 2020

They Call Me Red

……

17 July 2013

After I got off the bus I was approached by Two-four who hands out the free newspaper.  He asked, “Have you heard?”

“Heard what?”

“Sun Media is shutting down the newspaper. I’ll be out of a job in two weeks.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Well, it’s not like I haven’t been through this before. I’ll pick something up. Maybe,  Metro is hiring. Who knows, I might be back at this same spot. It’s not the job I’ll miss it’s the people. I’ve really gotten used to my regulars. They make the job seem worthwhile.

“That’s the way it goes.”

“Best of luck, Two-four.”

When I approached Joy, she had her head down on her knees. “Joy?” I asked, “Are you feeling alright?”

“Yeah, I was just laughing. Did you see the guy who walked by with the Hawaiian shirt and the faux hawk hairdo? The lady I was talking to was saying what a womanizer he is. I said, ‘He’s gay!’ She said he’s always coming on to all the women in the office. He even asks them out. He’ll usually cancel at the last minute.’ I said, ‘That’s because he likes penises.’ The lady said, ‘Why would he go to all that trouble? We all know he’s gay.’

“I wasn’t here yesterday because I was still feeling sick. I didn’t go to the park, I just went straight to Giant Tiger. I threw up three times in there —  great gobs of phlegm. ‘Cleanup in aisle 4!’ They didn’t have the hamburgers I wanted, so I got bacon instead. I threw that up too.”

I asked, “Do you think you’re suffering from withdrawal?”

“No, I’m drinking. It’s just the heat. I can’t take it.”

“Did you see an outreach worker to arrange for your health card?”

“Yeah,  I filled out all the papers. They mailed them. I should get my card in two or three weeks. Then, I’ll be all set.

“I’m half in the bag today.”

“Did you have trouble sleeping?”

“Yeah, Big Jake and Hippo were over yesterday. I said to them, ‘You guys can’t just drop over here anytime you want.’   Jake said, ‘Yeah, well, they kicked me out of the Sally. I’m over at Shepherd now and they don’t have storage space for my boxes.’ I said, ‘Jake, I got a small place here I don’t have room to store stuff for people.

“It’s all his paper stuff. He can make a Harley out of folded paper —  little handlebars and everything. Something he learned in prison.  He’s really good at it.  One sale was for a hundred bucks. He’s making one for me now. I said, ‘I want it purple with silver flames.’ He said, ‘I do them with black flames.’ I said, ‘Either do it the way I say, or I’ll paint over it with yellow.’ That changed his mind. I even showed him how to make a v-twin engine. He was just making two boxes, but the way I did it looks really neat.

“He was asking if I would take care of him when he has his hip replacement surgery. I asked him, ‘You want me to take care of you? After what you did to me? No way! I don’t do that care shit.’  I’ll help him out a bit when he gets out of the hospital, but I told him, ‘You gotta get out of that chair and exercise. You can’t just sit there all day. Your joints need to move around or they’ll get stiff.”

I asked, “Does he know when he’s going into hospital?”

“He’s on a waiting list, but his situation is critical, so he’s at the front of the line.”

I asked, “Did you hear that the free newspaper is shutting down? Two-four will be out of a job.”   “Yeah, he said he’s going to try at Metro. I hope he replaces that asshole they got now. He’s always asking me how my day is going. I’ll say, ‘Okay.’ He says you should be having an EXcellent day!  Bye now and have an EXcellent day!’ I’d like to ram that newspaper down his throat.”

Chester came by and said, “Hi Joy, hi Dennis.” He waited for a while without speaking then asked Joy, “Do you have some money for a coffee?” Joy handed him a Tim Horton’s card with five dollars credit on it. “How about bus tickets?”

“Chester, It’s Wednesday, seniors ride free all day.”

“Well, there’s always tomorrow.”

“You’ve had enough, Chester. I’ll see you later.”

After he left I asked, “Why doesn’t he panhandle, if he needs extra money?”

“I don’t know. He picks up butts and eats at the Mission, the Salvation Army or the Shepherd. He can be a pain in the ass sometimes. He’s too proud to ask the public for money, but he’s not too proud to ask us, who have hardly any.”

“Hi sweetheart!” Joy yelled to a woman crossing the street. “I haven’t seen you in ages.”

She said,  “I don’t work around here any more. I’m just dropping something off.” To me Joy said, “She’s lost half her ass. I notice everything.”

A ragged looking man wearing shorts walked by. Joy said, “Hey, Buddy, want a smoke?” She held one out.

“Yeah, thanks.”

“There was another woman by earlier who was really nasty, she had a kid with her too.  She said to me, ‘You’re no better than dirt.’ I said to her, ‘How would you like to see your hair on fire?’ That shut her up pretty quick. At first she wasn’t sure if I was serious or not, but the look I gave her told her I was.’ Sometimes I just like scaring people.

“After I leave here, I’m going to meet Tracey. She has a phone for me. I’ll really feel human then.”

~~~

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