Archive for April, 2020

They Call Me Red



3 October 2013

In his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, author Malcolm Gladwell states ” Addicts can articulate very well the consequences of their behavior. But they fail to act accordingly. That’s because of a brain problem… Damage in the ventromedial area causes a disconnect between what you know and what you do.”

This morning, as I approached Joy, she stood up from her plastic crate, waved and headed to the restaurant. She must have been waiting anxiously to go for her pee break. When she returned I asked, “Did I miss anything at noon yesterday?”

“No, I didn’t go up there. Jacques and I saw Stella then went over to his place. I still haven’t seen anything of Hippo. He got his check, was going to get a bottle then come to my place, but he never showed. He probably got shit faced and was picked up by the cops. He’s probably in jail now.

“Mariah kicked Charlie out again. He was just a waste of space. She’s been sick with a cold and she also has Chron’s Disease. When I saw her last, she was doubled up with pain. She doesn’t have the time or energy to take care of somebody else. Last night, I heard a thump on the floor, so I went to her door and knocked. I could hear Precious meowing and meowing, but nothing from Mariah. I knocked again and called out, ‘Mariah, are you alright?’ She said, ‘I’m okay, Joy, I’ve made it from the bedroom, halfway to the kitchen. I’ll be fine.’

“I used to be able to check on her by phone, but I still haven’t got things sorted out with Bell. I called them yesterday from Jacques’ place. I was talking to some lady in Toronto. First of all, I didn’t know the internet account, so I had to go home and get our bill. I didn’t know it was just two extra digits to the phone account. You’d think they’d have that on record. I was trying to arrange an appointment for someone to come over. She said, ‘I can have someone over there between eight and four.’ That’s no good for me. I have to make some money. They’re coming over on Monday between one and five. I’ll just have to wait.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with the damn phone. I’m not good with things electrical.  I’ve paid so frickin much money to them already. It’s practically brand new. Stella gave it to me. I didn’t keep the box, but it’s not like I’ve been kicking it around or anything. The center button and the two outside buttons are flashing, but when I pick it up I’ve got no dial tone. Sometimes I think it was better before I was human and just lived behind the dumpster. I didn’t have all these things to worry about. I don’t even miss the television. It’s all repeats now. It was nearly as good when I just had my DVD player.  I’d be watching the same old stuff all the time, but at least it was decent stuff.

“I’m also still going through this mental pause stuff. That makes me bitchy, and I start crying all the time for no reason, like right now.  I remember when my mom went through it.  She was really hard to live with then. We knew to just stay away from her during those times. She had it really early. She had a hysterectomy when she was twenty-nine.

“I also have to pick up a card today. Yesterday it was Jake’s and my seventh anniversary of being together. He sent me a card it said Happy Eighth Anniversary. I said to him, ‘You dumbass, it’s only been seven years. This means you owe me a year.’ Maybe I’ll make a card. That would make it more personal, right? It wouldn’t seem cheap, would it? They say it’s the thought that counts.  I can’t afford a card anyway.

“I’m not going to the park at noon. I’m just going straight home to bed.”


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They Call Me Red: ($.99 Download)


They Call Me Red



2 October 2013

Joy was bobbing her head looking the other way.  I said, “Hi Joy!”

“Geez, you startled me. Jacques did the same thing earlier. Can you imagine a guy that big trying to sneak up on someone.”

“Was he wearing his orange pants, khaki shorts and lime green shirt?”

“Yeah, that seems to be his uniform of choice these days? He’s coming back, then we’re both going back to see Stella. She’s got some things for me. I asked him, ‘You just came from that direction, now we’re going back to the same place. Why didn’t you just stay there?’

“See that guy across the street, the one with the shaved head and red bandanna. He really freaks me out. He’s got a teardrop tattoo under each eye. He stops by and asks me for smokes. I said, ‘Do you think I’d be panning here if I had any extra? Take a seat across the street and pan for yourself.’ He grumbled a bit then moved on. He looks like a guy that would have offed a few people. He’s got that crack walk too.”

“What’s a crack walk?”

“Well when I was on crack, I was on my feet all the time, hardly ever slept. I kept getting blisters on my feet. With most people who use crack it’s the same thing.”

I said, “I’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy on TV. Is that true to life?”

“Yeah, it sure is. Especially the woman who used to play Peg Bundy (Katey Segal), with the scar on her chest. You see lots of scars. I’ve seen her interviewed on some program, she’s really aged well;  she’s gorgeous. My stomach looks like a jigsaw puzzle after being stabbed with a saw-toothed machete, My leg being hacked with a hatchet… I’ve got scars all over.

I asked, “How was your weekend?”

“Quiet, this cold has really got me down. Migraines, weak. sore throat, stuffed up, coughing. Mariah’s got it too, only with her it’s coming out the other end. I hope I don’t get that next.”

I asked, “How’s it coming with your health card?”

“I can’t get a hold of John. He says he’s coming over than he doesn’t show. I phone him, get voicemail, leave a message and he never gets back to me. I figure, if you’re going to help somebody, you help them, you don’t just leave them dangling.

“Yesterday, Hippo phoned. He had his welfare check and bought a bunch of groceries. I said, “Great, come on over. I’ll cook.” I waited until about seven. He never showed. It’s a good thing I still had time to thaw some of the stuff I had in the freezer, or else I wouldn’t have been able to eat.

“I got a letter from Butthead. I can’t find the envelope to write him back. I’ll have to go to the John Howard Society to get his address. I looked all over for that.  Usually, I stuff letters back into the envelopes they came in.”

“So, how is Big Jake doing?”

“He’s still in Joyceville. He said he’ll be getting out around November sixth. I thought it was going to be in January. It’s been two years since we’ve had Christmas together, so I guess that’s a good thing. I feel sorry for the guy, but my apartment is too small for two people. He’s up all night and sleeps all day.

“How is he doing with his hip?”

“It’s bad. He’s in a lot of pain. He was scheduled to be first on the list to have a hip replacement, but then he went back to jail, so now he’ll have to start the process all over. If he’d only kept up the phone calls with his probation officer, he wouldn’t be in there now; not very bright.

“My upstairs neighbor, the guy, is being friendly with me now. When we meet on the stairs, he nods, but now Josephine, his girlfriend, is stomping down the stairs. So I go back to slamming doors.

“That’s a weird situation up there. They used to have separate apartments. Then the landlady’s daughter moved out. She had a three-bedroom. They both moved into that apartment, then her girlfriend moved in. I think the guy is doing the girlfriend when Josephine is out. None of them seem to be working.

A man, one of Joy’s regulars, stopped by. He handed Joy a muffin. “Thanks,” she said. After he passed she said to me, “The guy’s mother isn’t a good muffin maker. This will be pigeon food unless you want it. Maybe, I’ll save it for Jacques.”


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($2.99 Download) ($.299 Download) ($.99 Download) ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red: ($.99 Download)


They Call Me Red



27 September 2013

At the park, it was hot,  the kind of weather we wished we’d had in summer. I sat on the sidewalk with Stan, Mariah, Fat Chuck, Jacques, Shakes, Hawk and his dog Dillinger.

Chuck said, “I was listening to Q-107. Every Friday they pick the ‘Bonehead of the week’:

This week’s Bonehead of the Week comes to us from…where else…Florida! A Deltona man was a little short on cash when he went to pay his water bill. Soon, the entire water department was shut down because of an unknown powder – which turned out to be crack. In an envelope. He had tried to pay his water bill with crack cause you know, the street value was probably even more than he owed on his water bill!

Another one was

…about a local lad. Seems a 19-year-old burglar kicked in the window of an Oshawa hair salon to steal $50. In doing so, he cut his foot. So he went a couple of blocks away and called 9-1-1 for his small laceration. The cops were able to put two and two together rather quickly, and he was arrested. 

Stan, wearing roller blades, was watching a man, with his foot on the curb, bending over to tie his shoe. Talk about boneheads, do ya see the size of the wad sticking out of that guy’s back pocket? I’ve been timing him. He’s just waiting to get robbed.”

I said, “So, that’s why you’re wearing the roller blades.”

“Yeah, once a day, just to keep in practice. Sometimes they just make it too easy.”

Shakes made a comment to Chuck who said, “We’re having a conversation here, Shakes. Talk to Jacques.

“Does anybody want some pizza? I go to this restaurant where they give me all their leftover pizzas. There’s more than I can eat.”

I asked, “Aren’t you staying with Bruce, doesn’t he have room in his fridge for the extras?”

“Well, I am, but that’s just temporary, anyway there are only so many days you can eat pizza, then I just throw it out.

“Yesterday I offered to clean out his fridge. It really needed it. He said, ‘Go for it.’ I threw out three big jars that had once had beets in them, but all that was left was about an inch of juice in the bottom, so I chucked them. When he checked the fridge he asked, ‘Where’s my beet juice?’ I said the jars were empty, there were no beets left. He said, ‘It’s the juice I like. Now, what am I going to put on my french fries?’ Have you ever heard of that, beet juice on french fries? ha ha ha ha ha.

I asked Mariah, “Have you had any more problems with spirits?”

“They’re still there, coming and going, but they haven’t been bothering us.”

I said, “I guess  Joy’s been sleeping well then?”

“I don’t know. She’s not here today because of women’s problems.”

Shakes passed a folded grocery flyer to Jacques, who passed it to Chuck, who passed it to Mariah.  He said, “Mariah, can you roll me a joint? I’m a bit shaky this morning. She opened the flyer. In the crease was a line of crumbled weed and a rolling paper. She rolled the joint.

I said, “When I was a smoker, I always used to roll my own cigarettes.”

Chuck said, “It reminds me of prison. The first day they’d hand you a packet of Drum tobacco, rolling papers and a pack of matches. Then they’d say, ‘Now, don’t go burning the place down.’ Ha ha ha ha ha.

“I had to borrow some money from my dad this morning. I said to him, ‘Daddy, can I have ten bucks. I’m flat broke and I need to buy a bottle.’ He pulled out his wallet and I could see that it was stuffed. I said, ‘You might as well give me a twenty so I can buy two bottles.’ If he’s going to show me his money, of course I’m going to ask for it. No point asking for too much or he’d just say no, but if I ask for a little bit less, and he agrees to it, I’ll always ask for extra. Ha ha ha ha ha.”

Jake said, “I owe four hundred dollars on my television bill. If I don’t pay them at least two hundred they’re going to cut me off. I also have a drug bill of sixty dollars. I’m not going to be able to pay both. Maybe I’ll ask Buck if he can wait until next week I’ll be getting a GST (Goods and Services Tax) refund on Tuesday.”

I said, “Now’s the time to ask him.”

“Buck, can I hold off paying you until next week, or the end of the month?”


I asked, “Did you mean the end of this month, or the end of some month?”

Mariah was rearranging her TENS Muscle Therapy pads. She uses them for muscle massage on her back. “These work as well as a massage.  I paid about a hundred and sixty for these, but the price has really gone down now. I think you could probably pick up a unit like this for a hundred and thirty.

“That sun is really getting to me. I got a beer in my pack, but I don’t even feel like drinking it.”

Chuck said, “Did you hear that massage therapy is covered under our Sunshine Cards?”

I asked, “What’s a Sunshine Card?”

Mariah said, “It’s what we call our medical disability health cards.”

“Yeah, ” said Chuck, “some guy was going to a massage parlor and, sure enough, she was running the card through her machine and giving him a receipt. Only, he wasn’t getting massages, he was getting blow jobs. Can you imagine, the government paying for blow jobs? He was going every week. Some guys really know how to work the system. It’s a good way to relieve tension. I think they put a stop to that pretty quick, or else I’d be there right now. Ha ha ha ha ha.”

Mariah said, “I don’t go for massages, but I go to my ‘chiro’ every once in awhile, when my back acts up. That’s covered.”

Chuck said, “The problem with ‘chiros’ is that they make you feel so good — even better than you feel normally — so that’s how they keep you coming back.”

Stan watched a young woman walk by, talking on a cell phone. He shouted to her, “Hey! you’re not really talking to anybody. You’re just trying to look important, ‘She said, she said, she said…’  Faker!  Faker! Faker!”


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($2.99 Download) ($.299 Download) ($.99 Download) ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red: ($.99 Download)


They Call Me Red



26 September 2013

Sitting on the curb were Little Jake, Shakes, Mariah and Jacques. I parked myself cross-legged on the sidewalk in front of them.  Jake said, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” He was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt but took off his shirt. “This must be Indian Summer, don’t you think, Jacques?”

“I don’t know, it seems early.”

Jake said, “I was reading the Farmer’s Almanac. It says we’re going to have a cold winter. Even at home, we always read the Farmer’s Almanac. They were always right about the weather (Canada’s coldest winter in twenty years).

“Jacques said, “Did you hear, they’re building a big hydroponic plant to grow medicinal marijuana, but the government is causing problems for them.”

“Yeah,” I said, “they’re doing that in Smith Falls at the old Hershey Chocolate Factory. It’s a huge place.”

Jake said, “Did you hear what happened to me?”

“No, Jake, what happened?”

“I was hit by a car, that’s what happened. I was just riding along then ‘bang’, I was sitting in the middle of the street, just like you are. I said, ‘What the fuck just happened?’ A guy on the sidewalk said, ‘You were just hit by a car, man.’ I was all kinda woozy. I just sat there. my bike was  ten feet away.”

I asked, “How did the accident occur. Was it at an intersection? Was the car turning?”

“I don’t know. I was so fuckin’ hammered, I don’t know what happened. One minute I’m on my bike. The next minute I’m on the ground. I didn’t realize it but the crash loosened my front wheel. I have quick-release wheels. I was going down a hill and it started wobbling. Imagine what would have happened if it had fallen off.  I got bruises on my ribs, on my leg. I’ve got a scraped elbow, just when the other elbow had nearly healed. It happened last week.”

Shakes said, ” It didn’t happen last week. It happened on Monday.”

“Well, last week, Monday, it’s all the same to me.”

Shakes said, “Dennis, Dennis, do you know what happened to me? I was panning on Queen near Yonge, near the Florist shop. McDonald’s is nearby on Church… Anyway, I bought a Big Mac and put it beside me. After a while, I’d made the price of two bottles and a pack of cigarettes. I got up and my Big Mac was gone. Somebody stole it. I was really looking forward to that Big Mac.”

“Did you see who stole it?”

Jake said, “Shakes never knows who stole things. He probably fell asleep. He’s lost shoes, backpacks, cash, pot, cigarettes, beer.”

Shakes said, “There were all kinds of people around, some crossing the street, some walking behind me. I didn’t see who took it.”

Mariah came by. I asked her, “Have you had any more problems with spirits?”

“Not me, but Joy has. That little girl was being very bad. I hadn’t really prepared myself but I confronted her. Sometimes they just want to be noticed. She came from a family where she was ignored, just pushed aside. That’s the impression I got. She was a daddy’s girl, but then he left. I don’t know what happened to him.”

I asked , “How did you confront her?”

“I just faced her and took her energy away. That’s what she had been doing to Joy, taking her energy; it was causing her to get sick. We had a talk. The little girl wasn’t happy about where some of the things were placed on the walls, so we changed them. Moved some other things around.  After that, she seemed happy. ‘Whoosh’ she was gone.

“The next day Joy came upstairs and said, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I got a full nights sleep. That hasn’t happened for weeks.’ I got a kick out of that.”

“You said that you weren’t prepared. What did you mean by that?”

“I’ve been looking for eagle and hawk feathers; on my hands and knees in the woods, but I didn’t find any. I had some others that I used. After a cleansing like that I don’t use the feathers again. I’ll tie them into a dream catcher, or something.”

“When did you realize that you could contact spirits.”

“I’ve always known. If I go into the woods, I’ll hear voices. I don’t see anything, but I’ll feel the presence of a spirit as a cold spot, or an unusual breeze that just passes then is gone.”

Jake said, “I saw a beautiful feather the other day. It was kind of brownish gold, turning to black. I think it was some kind of hawk feather.”

Mariah said, “It sounds like an eagle.”

“Yeah, ” I said, “It sounds like a golden eagle, We have them out at the lake. They’re huge.”

Jake said to Mariah, “Is that beer you’re drinking. I didn’t know you drank beer.”

“I usually drink vodka. It’s not as noticeable and I don’t have to pee so often.”

Jake said, “Yeah, with beer, once you start pissing, you’re up every ten minutes.”

I said, “I usually figure it’s once for each beer.”

Jake passed me a joint, “No thanks, if I had that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back to work.”

Shakes was taking pot out of small baggies, breaking up the buds and putting them into a small, black plastic container. He handed me a bud and said, “Here’s some for later.” I put it in my shirt pocket. He said, “Here, I’ll give you a baggie. I hate getting shirt lint in my joints.”

As I was walking back to work I met Magdalene. She said, “I know you, but I forget your name.”

“I’m Dennis.”

“Yeah, Dennis.”

I asked, “How’s everything going? I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I don’t know. Okay, I guess. I just came from down there,”  indicating the direction I was walking.

I asked, “Is Alphonse with you?”

“He’s in jail.”

“Why is he in jail.”

“Assault. I didn’t charge him. I know some women go to the police, but this happened on the street. Somebody else reported it.”

“How are you feeling now?”

“Not so good. Have you got any bus tickets? I haven’t been home for three weeks. I’ve been staying at the Shep.”


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($2.99 Download) ($.299 Download) ($.99 Download) ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red: ($.99 Download)


They Call Me Red



24 September 2013

This morning, on the bus, I was reading Stephen King’s On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft. It’s fascinating, so fascinating that I missed my transfer point and had to backtrack to get downtown.

The first thing Joy said to me was, “You’re late!”

“I know,” I said, “I missed my bus stop. I was reading a book by Stephen King. He had a serious vehicle-pedestrian accident in 1999. He was nearly killed.”

“He’s really creepy.  I saw him interviewed one time;  no  wonder he writes such creepy stories.”

“How was your day, yesterday. Did you go to Jacques’ for dinner?”

“I went over there but he was making something with salmon. I just can’t eat fish. I don’t mind crab and lobster. Mariah often buys live lobsters. When I was over there one time, she’d put them on the floor. Her cat, Precious was playing with them. They had the locks on their claws so they weren’t dangerous, but they still kept coming after her. I laughed to see them waving their claws around and not being able to do anything with them.

“After I left Jacques, I went to Luciano’s to get groceries. I got a pack of twelve chicken thighs; you know, the part above the drumstick. I also got pork chops, onions — Jacques had given me some potatoes, so I really pigged out.

“I’m going someplace with him, so I don’t know if I’ll be at the park.  Maybe I will — we’ll see. The other guys should be up there.”

As I arrived at the park Joy was on the telephone to Hippo, “What do you mean, you can’t get out of your apartment! Strap some knives to your hands and go after them! You phoned the cops? They didn’t come! How about your landlord? Yeah, I’ll head up there on my way back.

“That was Hippo. Some crackheads in his building are pissed off with him. They say he was responsible for some guy getting evicted. He says he doesn’t even know the guy. I wish he’d grow some balls. He wants me to go over and do his dirty work for him.”

“Hi Mariah, how’s it going with the spirits in your house?”

“They’re still there. I feel them passing every so often, but they don’t bother me.  They’re not knocking things down like they were before. If they get bad, I’ll have to do another cleansing. I need to find more eagle feathers.”

I asked, “Where do you get them?”

“I find them in the wild, that’s the only way.”

“Then you have them blessed? Is that what happens?”

“Yeah, I have them blessed.”

Joy said, “The spirits in my place are driving me nuts. I don’t mind Biddy knocking in the closet. In fact, sometimes when I’m watching TV, I’ll notice the  image of a man sitting on the other end of the sofa.”

I asked, “So, he’s watching TV with you?”

“Yeah, he’s watching TV with me. One time I had one of those paranormal programs on, called “Haunting”. He really started banging in the closet then, so I don’t watch that any more.

“It’s not him that freaks me out, it’s the little girl. She looks to be about six years old and wears old-fashioned clothes, you know, with lots of layers of underthings.”

“You mean  crinolines?”

“Yeah, that’s what they’re called. She wears a long dress and has her hair in some kind of a bun at the back. She’s got the pale, spooky blue eyes. She’d be pretty if she didn’t always have that scowl on her face. This morning she moved my kitchen table about a foot. I tripped over it going out the door. I could have been killed.”

Mariah said, “Joy doesn’t know how to talk to them.”

“What, like I should make friends with them?”

“No, but the way you talk to them is too prissy;  please, thank you and shit like that. You have to be firm, assertive, or else they’ll just laugh at you. They won’t take you seriously. You have to show them that you’re the boss, then they’ll leave you alone, go somewhere else. I think that Buddy guy has been in my place, but not the little girl.

“It’s not the spirits I’m worried about, it’s Charlie. I told you he had TTP. He got out of hospital at six this morning. He’s been having chest pains and they kept him in to do some scans. He said they filled him up with so much stuff that his pee is flourescent.”

I said, “That will make it easier for him to hit the toilet. When it’s dark he won’t even need to turn the light on.”

“He needs something to help his aim. He’s also full of dilaudid.”

“That must be fun for him!”

“Yeah, for him it’s okay; for everybody around him it’s a damned nuisance. I want to start drinking again, just to smack him upside the head.  He can get real ornery.

“The scar tissue has broken down where he had the operation, but now it’s moved to the right. That’s what’s causing him the pain.”

Joy said, “Here comes Buck and Dillinger, only Dillinger is going the other way. When Mariah and I saw that dog for the first time we thought it was a dingo. We both said, ‘Dingo Ate My Baby’ .”

I asked, “What does that mean?”

“It’s from a movie with Meryl Streep, called A Cry in the Dark. It’s based on a true story in Australia where a dingo (wild Australian dog) ate/carried away her baby while they were camping. I think the woman actually killed her baby then left it out in the desert where she thought the dingos would eat it, but they didn’t.

“Did you see the bag of clothes I got this morning; a  big garbage bag behind my box?”


“Anyway, I went through them. I gave most of them to Jacques. Most of them were really worn, nearly threadbare. I kept a sweater by ‘Roots’. There were a couple of pairs of  women’s training pants.”

“Did you keep those?”

“No, there was no elastic at the bottom and they were too girly. Jacques will wear them. He’s the one making a fashion statement. Look at him, lime green shirt, orange pants with khaki shorts over top. He doesn’t care what he wears.”

Hippo stopped by. I said, “Hi Hippo, did they let you leave the building?”

“Yeah, I just made a run for it. I don’t even know what it’s all about. First they said it was about a guy that got evicted. There was a girl evicted but not a guy. Then they changed their story. In any case I didn’t have anything to do with it. I don’t even know the people in my building. I know some names and recognize some faces. I can’t put the two together.”

Joy said, “I knew a coolie that lived upstairs. I knocked four of her front teeth out.

“Hippo, do you have my mail?”

“Yeah, here it is.”

“This one here says ‘return to sender’. It’s one I sent to Jake. I hope it’s the one with the fifty dollar money order. Yes! we’re getting drunk tonight.


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($2.99 Download) ($.299 Download) ($.99 Download) ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red: ($.99 Download)


They Call Me Red



23 September 2013 

“How are you this morning, Joy?”

“I’m fuckin’ freezing, man! I can’t stop shivering.  Jacques was by earlier.  He laughed so hard I thought he was going to piss himself, ‘What are you doing out here, Little One. It’s cold and it’s Monday. You don’t like cold and you don’t do Mondays.’

I said to him, ‘Look, dude, I don’t have a fuckin’ thing in the house to eat. That’s why I’m out here.  So far, I’ve made a dollar eighty-two.’

‘Little One, you come to my place. I make you a good meal. I also have a flyer from Luciano’s No Frills. They have some great specials now. I’ll give you the coupons.’

“It’s fine that they have a sale. Mariah is always stocking up when they cut prices, but I’ve got no fuckin’ money.  She gets extra cash selling pot.

“John is still trying to get me on subsidized housing, but I’ve got no phone for them to call me back, so I have to keep calling them. I’m going to get that sorted this week,  get Jake’s internet cut off — since I can’t get into his computer. His cell phone has been cut off since he hasn’t been making payments. I’m going to work something out with Bell so I can pay a monthly fee for just my TV and landline.”

I said, “Jake could wire you some money, or send you a check.”

“Yeah, I know, there are a lot of things he could do; but I don’t see it happening.

“I found another one of those babittes on my couch. I lifted the pillow — I’ve got one of those blue covered hospital pillows that I use for stuffing. I took it from the hospital — I didn’t see anything at first until it moved, then I grabbed it and pinched it… That same rotting wood smell. It was a bed bug, alright. The babies are invisible and they don’t have the numbing agent that the adults do. It really hurts when they bite. If you watch them feed, they gradually change to an orange color. That’s the blood they’re taking out of you.

“I’m afraid to even go upstairs to Mariah’s place. I just stand at the door and wave. I don’t want to be responsible for her getting bugs. I don’t even want to tell the landlady. She’ll blame me for bringing them in.  I may not stay after my lease is up in November.  I’ll see what happens between now and then. I’m still on good terms with the landlady.

“Buck thinks he may have brought some bugs over when he came Wednesday. He’s in a high-rise, they even come out of the electrical outlets. I’m going to the hardware store to get the bed bug spray that Shark uses. He seems to spray about once every two weeks. If he was more careful about who he let into his place, he wouldn’t have a problem.”

I said, “He was telling me that he thought they were in the walls.”

“They can be anywhere, in books, in the laundry, in carpets, under baseboards.  Shark has thrown out so many sofas, blankets and pieces of clothing. He usually gets them for free, but even so, it’s a real hassle replacing things all the time.”

I asked, “What did you do with the pillow and the blankets that were on the couch?”

“Bagged them up and threw them in the garbage. I have more I can use. I put a white sheet on the couch to see if any more came out, but they didn’t.

“I’m even afraid to turn the heat on for fear it will draw out the bugs. My apartment is as cold as it is out here.”

I asked, “Did you have a good weekend?”

“It was quiet. I didn’t go out, just sat and watched movies, some over and over again.”


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