Archive for May 6, 2020

They Call Me Red



8 November 2013

I had to wait in line to speak with Chuck, he was deep in conversation with a woman who seemed to know him well. I heard her say, “Goodbye, Chuck, it was nice seeing you again. I’ll say hello to Debbie for you. Take care.”

I said, “Good morning,  Chuck, any plans for the weekend?

“No, not really. Well, tomorrow I go to Scarborough for a haircut.”

“That’s a long way to go.”

“I used to live in Scarborough. I have a friend who has a barbershop. He has seven chairs and on Saturday he rents the chairs to hairdressing students. For nine dollars I  get a shampoo,  scalp massage, and haircut, perhaps,  from a beautiful young woman. I can always hope. There’s also a restaurant on Kingston Road, owned by a friend of mine. I go there when I know it won’t be busy. I pour my own coffee;  go in the back and all the waitresses fuss over me.

“Something sad happened this morning. There’s a woman I see regularly. She always stops to chat. I told her this would be my last day for a while, because of the cold and the snow. It’s really difficult maneuvering this wheelchair when there are ruts of ice and drifts of snow. She touched my arm and said, ‘Chuck, you know I love you and I’ll miss you.’ I sort of knew that she had feelings for me. She’d always stand close and touch me.  I said, ‘I love you too,’ because I do. There’s nothing much I can do about it. She’s married. It’s nice though, that she said that.

“There was another woman who loved me. People thought that I took advantage of her.  One time she was getting all flustered with the bank machine and asked me to help, which I did, but I never took as much as a penny from her. It made me mad to think that people thought I would take advantage of someone.

“A woman was here this morning. I recognized her face, but I couldn’t place her. She kept mentioning someone named Debbie as if I should know her. I don’t know Debbie… Oh, wait, there was this woman who worked at the library on Gerrard. We used to see each other, but nobody else knew about it.  We saw each other for about three years. There was a woman in Debbie’s office who she didn’t like. This woman would slip me five bucks every so often. She never said anything but I think it was so I could take Debbie out for pizza or something nice.

“See that woman across the street with the long legs and tight pants. This is a time when I wish I was forty years younger. I may be stuck in a wheelchair, but my important parts still work. Sometimes, I wish I was sixteen, knowing what I know now. I’d never take that first cigarette or that first drink. My life would be a lot different now. Everybody has regrets. If they say they don’t, they’re a damned liar.”

“I’d better go to work now, Chuck. Perhaps I’ll see you around. Take care.”

“You too. I’ll be downtown for a pizza now and then. I’ll be stopping by to talk to Joy. Maybe I’ll see you there.”


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

They Call Me Red: ($.99 Download)