They Call Me Red

……

 

19 September 2013

Sitting in the shade were Shark, Curt, Fat Chuck, and Jake. Shark said, “I’ve just been to my doctor, he’s also my specialist (HIV/AIDS) at the Hassle-Free Clinic at Gerrard and Church. That’s hard to find. Usually, if a doctor is a specialist he doesn’t do general practice.  I asked him when his contract is up if I could still be his patient. He said, ‘Sure!’ I’m really happy about that. It’s the only reason I stay in this city.”

Curt said, “I went to the clinic today. They had me in one of those paper gowns. They were saying, move this way, move that way. How does this feel? I said, ‘It feels drafty.’ I guess I’m too old to be modest.”

Chuck said, “Well, I’m homeless again. My landlord chucked me out. I slept at Bearded Bruce’s last night.” He threw an empty beer can toward the fence. He meant it to go over, but it was blocked by some branches. “I guess I’m going to have to get up for that. No wait, here comes Jake. He can throw it over for me.”

Jake kicked the can under the fence rail. “Somebody’s going to be able to get a dollar twenty from what’s down there.”

I asked Chuck, “Did Bruce cook a big breakfast. He mentioned yesterday that he was having a lot of people over.”

“Bruce always cooks a big breakfast. It may be at three in the afternoon, but it’s always big. Yesterday, we had chicken, steak, eggs and some leftovers he had in the fridge.”

Shark asked, “Chuck, why were you evicted. You’ve only been in that place a couple of months.”

“I guess I’m too picky. I wanted him to fix the window and get rid of the bed bugs. Then my stove blew up, twice. Then my hot water heater blew up. The basement was full of water. I didn’t care about that, but I had no hot water. He walked around my apartment and asked, ‘How did you manage to break these appliances?’ as if it were my fault. I said to him, ‘What the fuck do you think I did, go around stabbing them with a knife? The element had a bubble in it. When I turned it on it exploded. That’s what happens.’ I said, ‘I don’t like you coming around here. I’ll see you when I hand you my rent and when you come to fix things. Apart from that, I don’t want to see you.’

“I asked him, ‘How would you like to see your daughter living like this, or your son? Would you live here?’ He didn’t like that. I got an eviction notice in the mail. I said to myself, Okay, you don’t get any more rent from me. I stiffed him for two months. I was paying eight hundred a month.

“I’ve been on the waiting list for housing for five years.  All my friends, Frank, Joy, Andre and Shakes all have places. I must be doing something wrong. Maybe I need to get a psychiatric evaluation. That might speed things up.

“Shark, you’ve got a nice place. It’s just like Las Vegas.”

“Yeah, we got a good deal. We’re paying eleven hundred for two bedrooms. We’re above a store. We’ve got nobody on either side, just the way I like it. The only problem is bed bugs. I had a nice couch that I had to get rid of. We’ve caulked all the seams, but they’re in the walls.”

Chuck said, “I was panning yesterday for  four hours and I only made eight dollars.”

I said, “Shakes mentioned that he only made two.”

Chuck said, “I know. With those two dollars he bought a beer from me. He was slow in paying up, too. I had to keep reminding him, ‘Shakes you wanted the beer, now you owe me two bucks.’ I’d have to go out panning to make that up. He could do the same.”

Curt and Shark were comparing their Maple Leaf hockey caps.  Curt said, “Yours is a different color blue.”

“I’ve only had this one season,” said Shark.

“I’ve had mine for three. I washed it once, but I still can’t get the stains out.  I paid twenty bucks for this, but I bet I’ve made hundreds. I do really well when the Leafs are playing Montreal.  A guy offered me twenty for it and a Canadiens cap, but I said no way.”

Jake walked away towards the bridge where he ‘worked’. Shark packed up and said he was heading home. Chuck loaded his backpack and sleeping bag. That left Curt.  I left to go back to work.

~~~

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