They Call Me Red

……

 

19 November 2013

The temperature was hovering around the freezing point.  I wasn’t expecting to see Chuck Senior, but there he was in his electric wheelchair, a red blanket over his knees, and wrapped around Goldie. I gave Goldie a few pats on the head. She licked my hand.

“How’ve you been Chuck?”

“Oh, I’ve been okay. I’m here today but I won’t be tomorrow. It’s going down to minus eight (seventeen degrees Fahrenheit).  I went home early yesterday because of the hail. I’ll be out on Thursday, but I don’t know how many more days I’ll get this year.”

Goldie started barking. “Why is she barking, Chuck?”

Chuck bent down and rubbed noses with Goldie. “It’s okay little girl.”

To me, he said, “Don’t you know dog language?  She wants to be petted. You started, but didn’t finish the job.”

“I’m sorry, Goldie.” I rubbed her head and ears some more. Her eyes closed. She seemed to be falling asleep.

A grey-haired woman stopped, petted Goldie, and handed Chuck a twenty.”

“Bless you, ma’am.”

When she left he said, “Did you see that? I’m happy now. I’m going to buy a roast of beef, some chicken breasts, the good ones,  they have them on special at Metro.  I’ll also get some cheap chicken for soup and some stewing beef. Along with some veggies, that will keep me going for a long while.

“I’m going to park in front of Tim Horton’s. They usually don’t bother me there.  I was there yesterday. I backed in under the awning to get out of the rain. The police stopped by and asked me what I was doing. I said, ‘I’m just sitting here, I don’t talk to anybody unless I know them. I’m not doing any aggressive panhandling.’ They let it go. Later a worker came out and asked me what the police wanted. I told him. He said, ‘We like you here. You’re quiet, sober, you don’t bother anyone. If you weren’t here there might be some noisy drunk hanging around. You’re good for our business.’ In fact, I got rid of one drunk who was hanging around. I said, ‘Move on, I’ve had this spot for fifteen years. Get your own, don’t be cutting my grass.’

“Sometimes people stop and ask me why I’m there and what my situation is. I tell them. I’ve got nothing to hide.

“Anyway, when I leave there, I’ll wheel up to the mall to meet my lady friend for coffee.  We’ll be able to spend about fifteen minutes together before she has to go to work. I’ll spend a couple of hours with some of my other friends, then it’s off home. I’ll probably spend most of my time in front of the idiot box.

“I have to go to the doctor to have my heart checked. It’s supposed to be over two but under three. If it’s low I take an extra blood thinner.  See these bruises on my wrist? that’s what happens when you take blood thinners. I know my body pretty well now. When I had my last operation the doctor put me on blood thinners right away. I didn’t think that was right, but I figured, he’s a doctor, he must know what he’s doing. Turns out he didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. A couple of days after I got home I got stomach cramps. I had a bowel movement and in the toilet bowl, it was all red. I’ve had a problem before with internal bleeding. Fifteen minutes later, the same thing happened again. I said to myself ‘If this happens again, I’m going to the hospital.’ Well, sir, ten minutes later, it happened again. That’s when I phoned 911, for an ambulance to take me to hospital. They did a bunch of tests, checked my pace-maker. They have to put magnets on it to do the tests. The next morning they wanted me to start blood thinners again. I said, “No sir, I’m not taking any of those goddamned pills. That’s what got me in here.

“People ask me why I even come out when the weather is bad, but Goldie needs a walk. I’ve dressed anyway, so I just go over the hill and I can catch a number of buses that will bring me down here.

~~~

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