Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz

 

23 November 2012

Joy was sitting on her plastic crate, beside her stood  Shakes.

She said, “Shakes is here to keep my spirits up. I’m sure glad you guys are here. Do you see the short guy with the orange vest across the street? He keeps staring at me. I see him taking bags of cement into the underground parking garage. I had to go to the bathroom and I asked him if he’d keep an eye on my stuff. When I came back there was a coffee, a cranberry explosion muffin, and a breakfast sandwich on my box. I asked the guy where it came from. He just shrugged his shoulders. I gave the coffee and sandwich to Shakes, I’ll save the muffin for Jacques.”

“Shakes,” I said, “Joy tells me that you two have been friends for a long time.”

“Yeah, since she was thirteen or fourteen. I used to take care of her. I took care of other people too, ha,ha, ha.”

I said, “That would have been when you were in your prime fighting shape.”

“Yeah, I was in my prime then.”

Joy said, “Remember when we ran through Allan Gardens, chasing all the drug dealers away?”

“Yeah, I remember that, ha, ha, ha.”

I said, “I lived just a couple of blocks away, near Parliament and Carlton.”

“Dennis, I slept last night at the Bank of Nova Scotia kiosk, where they have the banking machines. I’d been sleeping when a friend, Pauly came in. He said, ‘Hi, Shakes.’ He did his business at the automated teller machine, he gave me two dollars then he left. I heard a beeping coming from the machine. He’d forgotten to take out his receipt and bank card. I ran after him but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I looked at the receipt, he had seven hundred and thirty-five dollars in his account. I’ve still got his card, so if I see him, I’ll give it back to him.”

I said, “You could turn in the card to the bank. They’ll make sure it gets back to him.”

Joy said, “Shakes’s hoping to get a reward.”

Shakes said, “Maybe he’ll buy me a bottle.

“You know, I may have been a thief sometimes, but I’m an honest thief.”

Joy laughed and said, “Shakes, you kill me. That’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.”

“What’s an oxymoron?” asked Shakes.

Joy said, “It’s two words used together that have opposite meanings, like jumbo shrimp, alone together or honest thief. If you’re a thief you can’t be honest. If you’re honest you can’t be a thief.”

I asked Joy, “If you could have three wishes what would they be?”

“I’d like a house in the country, all to myself, close to nature. I’d like just enough money to get by, and I’d like to be healthy.”

I asked Shakes the same question. He said, “I’d just like to be me.” He gestured with his hands as if to say, All this is mine.

Joy said, “You are YOU, Shakes, or maybe there is a real you and an imaginary you. I don’t even want to think about that.”

One of Joy’s regulars stopped by and said, “How are you, Joy?”

“I’m great. Two weeks ago I got my own place.”

“That’s great. How do you like it?”

“I’ll like it better when I have furniture and heat.”

The woman asked, “You don’t have heat? Won’t they fix that for you?”

Joy said, “I asked twice, I don’t want to ask anymore. First thing in the morning, I turn the oven to 500 degrees with the oven door open. Once the place warms up I turn it down to 150 degrees. It turns off automatically. I don’t pay for electricity. I’m on an air mattress now and the floor is cold, but once I get my bed I’ll be up where the heat is. Also, my worker is supposed to bring me a space heater.”

The woman said, “Just make sure you don’t fall asleep with the oven on. That could be dangerous.”

Joy replied, “I always turn it off when I go to bed, or if I’m going out for a while.”

~~~

 

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