They Call Me Red

……

 

 

6 September 2013

From a distance, I could see Jacques and Deaf Donald sitting near the War Memorial.  When I came closer I could hear that they were both speaking French. Jacques had a newspaper open and was doing a Sudoku puzzle.

When Donald saw me he said, “Hi Dennis, it’s so good to see you. I lost my hearing aids, but I can read lips as long as you speak slow. I can even watch television with no volume, except for cartoons. They make no sense.”

I asked, “How did you lose your hearing aids?”

“I was at a bar in Scarborough. I got drunk. When I was walking home I tripped and fell. They must have fallen out then. They’re just tiny, they fit way inside my ears.

“The government paid for my last ones, but that was last year. I’m only allowed one pair every three years. I and my mom have to pay eighteen hundred dollars for a new pair. It’s okay, sometimes it’s better that I don’t hear what’s being said.

“Jacques, can I use your phone? I want to call Chester.”

Jacques said, “You tried using Shark’s phone. You couldn’t hear. You won’t hear any better using my phone.”

We saw Shakes ambling up the sidewalk. “Why aren’t you guys sitting in the sun? I’m going to sit over here.”

Jacques said, “You sit where you wish. It’s okay with me.”

Two bicycle cops rode up. One said, “Hi Shakes, I see you got a bottle there.”

Shakes grabbed it before the cop could pick it up. “Hey, that’s mine. It’s not even opened. You can’t take that.” The cop examined the bottle and said, “You’re right, it’s sealed. You weren’t thinking of drinking it here, were you?”

“No sir, that would be against the law.”

“As long as you understand that. I see an open can of beer in this backpack. Who does this belong to?”

Donald said, “That’s mine, officer. I’m not going to lie to you.”

“I need some identification. Do you have anything with you?”

“No, but I’ll tell you my name. It’s Donald Charlevoix.”

“Where do you live Donald?”

“145 Berkeley Street.”

“Is that your own place Donald?”

“It’s my mom’s. I live with my mom.”

“I see a prescription bottle in your pack.  Methadone, you’re a heroin addict. Your name checks out.” To the other officer, he said, “Do you want to phone this in?”

I could hear a voice on the other end of the line, listing charges.

“So Donald, why do you have a drinking restriction?”

“I can’t understand. I’m deaf.”

“What were you charged with, that caused the court to put a  restriction on your file concerning drinking?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t understand.”

“You’ve got an open beer in your pack and there’s an empty can behind you. I can tell that you’ve been drinking.  You realize, don’t you, that you’re not allowed to drink in a public place. You can be charged for this.”

“I’m sorry officer. If you pour that out, I’ll go straight home. I don’t want any trouble.”

“If I ever see you down here again, I’m going to charge you. Understand? If you’re here, I know you’re going to be drinking. Don’t come here again!”

“I understand officer, this is a bad place. I won’t come here again.”

“Okay, get going!”

The officer then turned to Jacques, “Have you been drinking?”

“No, my doctor told me it’s bad for my health.”

“What have you got in your bag here? He pulled out two drinking containers, one labeled an energy drink, both red in color. He also pulled out an empty sherry bottle. “What’s this doing here?”

“I turn it in for twenty cents.”

The police seemed satisfied so they rode away. Jacques laughed. “See what they missed. In my bottles here I have sherry mixed with strawberry cream soda. I don’t like the Imperial that these guys drink. I drink Pale Dry, but I don’t like it too dry, that’s why I add the cream soda, for the color and the taste. I like it sweet, me. In the zippered part, I have Jake’s half bottle of sherry. They believed me when I said, ‘My doctor told me it’s bad for my health.’

“Did you see what was in the Sun yesterday, on the second page? The whole page was about a guy from the Mission, who was beaten by the cops. Someone took pictures with their cell phone and the guy charged the cop. Yesterday the charges against the cops were dropped.”

Jacques said, “Those steroid monkeys act like they are kings. They can do anything they like. It’s the same with all these organizations, the Mission, the Shepherd. Shakes went to the Mission one time. His shoes were full of holes…”

Shakes said, “I’m barred for life from the Mission, it was the Shepherd. I showed them the holes in the bottom of my shoes and asked for another pair. They asked, ‘Are you a resident here?’ I said, ‘That sign up there says you are here to help the homeless, not the people who are staying here. Well, I’m homeless and I want a pair of friggin shoes!’ They took me into another office and said, ‘We don’t want any trouble, we’ll find you a pair of shoes.’

~~~

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