Archive for February 6, 2020

They Call Me Red

……

30 July 2013

At the park today were Little Jake, Shakes (asleep),  Mariah, Wolf and Shaggy (asleep). Joy hasn’t been around for a couple of weeks. I asked Mariah if she had heard from her.

“Joy hasn’t been too well lately with her fibromyalgia and headaches. At first, her right leg and left arm were stiff, then it was her two legs. She was thinking that she’d have to go back to the hospital, but she’s getting around with two canes. Every once in a while she manages to climb the stairs to my place. She hopes to come to visit everybody shortly. She was asking about you. I’ll tell her you said hello.

“I don’t know how Joy will make out when I leave. I’m looking for a different apartment. It’s just getting too bad.”

Little Jake said, “You mean you want to get out of Regent Park. I don’t blame you.”

“No, Regent Park is alright, it’s just our landlady. She does nothing for us.  It used to be I’d keep everything under control tenant-wise.  We used to have a lot of riffraff, but I let her know what was going on. I helped her get rid of this schizo guy that lived where Joy is now. He was a real nut case. Every crack he saw he put duct tape over it; every seam in the tile floor, the seams around the door, cracks in the wall. He always carried around a bag of rotten potatoes. That was really smelly and gross. He took a hammer to the counter, the cupboards the walls. He destroyed the place, but he had a really good lawyer. It went to court and his lawyer claimed it was all wear and tear. The guy did it again before he moved out.

“We got this one old lady who wears diapers and she leaks if you know what I mean. It’s not her fault and she can’t clean it up herself, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to clean that shit every day. It’s disgusting to find that in the hallway all the time. I’m usually the one who phones the landlady.

“We got this other guy who just moved in. He bought some kind of air conditioner/dehumidifier and it’s always tripping the breakers. It’s a damn nuisance if you’re in the middle of cooking supper, or relaxing in the evening watching a bit of TV. Only the landlady has access to the breakers. Now, every time she picks up the phone she asks, ‘Has he done it again?’ Actually, it hasn’t happened for about two weeks.

“Then there’s this problem of the floor sagging. There’s a pole in the corner of my bedroom, that used to be the living room.  When I first moved in there was a gap above it of about a half-inch. Now it’s about four inches. I told her that if my floor collapses, my lawyer will sue her for alternative accommodation, for the whole time they’re fixing the floor. That has her scared shitless. I better not call her again or I’ll be out. A rat lives down beside the pole. I see him every so often.

“The thing is they just bought this other sixteen unit building that they put money into fixing up. Got it all freshly painted. They rented it to a bunch of crack heads;  now it looks like a disaster area. If they had money to fix that place, why didn’t they put some money into our place where we have decent tenants.”

Luther walked up the sidewalk, “I just got out of court.”

Jake asked, “What did you steal this time?”

“I didn’t steal anything. I broke into an Anglican church.”

I said, “…and stole a jar of peanut butter.”

“Yeah, I told you that already, didn’t I. I’m allergic to peanuts. I just had a craving. When I was a kid, I was abused by an Anglican minister in Saskatoon. Anyway, at court, I told them I had a fit at the front of the church. They let me off. I just have to pay a hundred dollars for the door I smashed.”

“Luther,” asked Jake, “did you pawn your guitar again?”

“No, I got two guitars now, but I left them at home. It was too much trouble bringing a guitar in the cab and I’d have no place to leave it in court.”

“You look naked without your guitar, that’s all.”

“Yeah, I’ll have it next time. Gotta go.”

I asked Jake, “You’re looking for a new place aren’t  you?”

“No, I worked that out with my social worker. I’m going to stay there for the winter.”

“Has she arranged furniture for you yet?”

“No, I’m on a waiting list. I think a hundred and fifty-seven people are ahead of me.”

“Why is that, You’ve been there nearly a year now, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, but I missed a few appointments. Each time I miss an appointment I get moved to the bottom of the list.”

Mariah said, “You’re going to have to get that place cleaned up. Get all that garbage out of there.”

“Yeah, I know.

“Well, I paid all my debts and I got a hundred and thirty dollars to last ’till the end of the month. Jacques owes me fifty bucks.”

I asked, “Does he still owe you fifty bucks?”

“No, he paid that back. This was fifty he borrowed yesterday, just until he gets his check. I always get mine a day or two earlier.

“Whaddya know, here comes Little Chester and he’s dragging his foot. That means he’s drunk. He was dragging his foot at eight-thirty this morning. AND HE’S ALWAYS CUTTING MY GRASS, THE BASTARD. YES, I’M TALKING TO YOU, CHESTER!”

Chester said, “I love you too. What do you mean I’m cutting your grass. When you come along I move.”

“Yeah, you move fifteen feet up the bridge. THE BRIDGE IS MINE. That’s been my spot for ten years. Go downtown or find some other spot. How about going for a swim? I’ll push you off the bridge.”

“No, thanks.”

“Actually, I love jumping off that bridge, especially when it’s hot.”

Mariah said, “You gotta wait until they cut the weeds, otherwise those things can pull you down.”

“Yeah, I know, the last time I dove in there was last September. I was drunk and stoned out of my mind. I saw this gorgeous girl across the river. She had one of those big dogs with the blue tongue. What are they called?”

Mariah said, “Maybe an Airedale or an Akita?”

“Yeah, one of those. Anyway, I just took my shoes off and dived in, pants on and everything. I got caught in the weeds and the more I struggled the further down I went. I saw a cop standing beside the river and I yelled at him, ‘Help! I’m caught in the weeds!’ Before he pulled me out with a pole he asked, ‘If I pull you out are you going to dive back in?’ I said, ‘No, for Christ’s sake, just get me out of here before I drown.

“When I was living with Weasel and Bruce, sometimes I’d wake up with Bear right in my face. Weasel had his face in Bear’s ass.”

I said, “I remember you saying  you woke up one time licking Bear’s face.”

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you live under a bridge.”

Shakes woke up, “Dennis, how’re you doin’? I haven’t seen you for ages. Where you bin? Dennis, do you have any bus tickets?… Great, now I’ll be able to get home tonight and get to the bank tomorrow. My check should be in my mailbox.”

~~~

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