Archive for February 14, 2020

They Call Me Red

……

20 August 2013

From the corner of Queen and Parliament, I could see Joy. She stood up from her plastic crate, waved and gave me a big smile.

“How are your legs feeling,  Joy.”

“A little better, I was using a cane this morning but forgot it on the bus. Oh well, I have more at home. It’s been so long since I’ve used the bus, I didn’t realize that they’d raised the fares and changed the color of the tickets. All I had was two of the old purple ones. I snuck them in, hoping the driver wouldn’t notice. Then I noticed a lady pointing at me, gesturing and pinching her nose. Then the smell hit me. The man in the front seat reeked of b.o. That’s what the lady was trying to tell me, to move farther back. I waved at her to let her know I understood.

“Someone was banging on my door at eleven o’clock, one night. It was really loud, like cops. Anybody who knows me knows not to call on me late at night, so I ignored it and they went away. The next day Mariah, asked me, ‘What was that ruckus in the back yard last night? There were two cops with flashlights. They were looking around the yard.’

“I couldn’t think why cops would be banging on my door. I don’t have any outstanding warrants, not from Toronto anyway. The ones from Montreal are twenty years old. Anyway, they checked my record the last time I was taken to the Don Jail.

“Little Jake said he came by my place but didn’t want to disturb me. He was going to tell me to contact Rodent because the cops were after him. Why the fuck would I care if the cops were after him? I couldn’t figure that out. Little Jake was too timid to knock on my door, but he wasn’t too timid to break into Bearded Bruce’s place. Bruce found him sitting on his bed, eating a cold pork chop.

“I think Rodent’s been arrested now, along with Big Jake, for parole violations. I think they picked them up at the Mission, or wherever they were staying.”

I asked, “What violations would he have had?”

“He’s been drinking, that would be a violation. Also, I don’t think he’s been keeping up with appointments to see his parole officer. That would be my guess. I haven’t talked to him for a while.”

From beside Joy, we saw a small mouse streak across the street. Some people on the sidewalk stopped to look at it. Then it went under a parked car.  Joy and I were hoping it would either stay there or run down to the parking garage. No such luck. It tried running back across the street and a big orange truck passed over. The turbulence from the wheels threw it off-balance. He limped away behind a car. We watched for it but didn’t see it come out. Neither of us felt spry enough to dodge the traffic. Joy was going to check to see if it was still there when she left for home.

Joy said, “I’m not a big fan of mice, but I hate to see any animal injured. One time I was sitting here and a tiny little bird was fluttering nearby.  A sea hawk swooped down and grabbed him right out of the air. I could hear the sound of cheeping as he flew away with the bird hanging from its claws. I didn’t know they ate other birds.

“This morning I ate a banana. I know I’m not supposed to have them, but I haven’t had any problems with my kidneys lately.  After I ate it I got this tingling sensation on my tongue, then my throat started to swell. A lady stopped to see if I was alright. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m just trying to scratch my tongue.’

“I haven’t seen many of our friends around. I was expecting  Jacques this morning. Tuesday they have the big breakfast at the Mission. He usually comes down for that.  Chester will probably be sniffing around, picking up butts. Most people are housed now, but I thought that we’d at least try to stay in contact.

“Mariah is fighting with Charlie again. She kicked him out. He has his own place near Chester. Deaf Donald and Tall Paul came by, they were arguing in French. I gave Donald shit for wanting to bum a cigarette. I can’t afford to supply these people.

“I haven’t seen Shakes for a while. Some of us were talking the other day about who would be the next to go. Little Jake was saying that Shakes is going downhill fast.  I hate going to funerals.”

~~~

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