We aren’t ‘you guys’

Posted: July 10, 2020 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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2012
19 January 2012
This morning, in the freezing cold, Joy was huddled in a sleeping bag with only her face showing. Her feet were nearly frozen from sitting on the sidewalk for two hours. She’s been in the hospital for the past two months due to epileptic seizures. She’d cut back on her medication because she wasn’t having any symptoms, then the seizures hit. Her doctor has upped her meds, now she feels “spinny”. She didn’t have a pleasant time in the hospital, in fact, she went AWOL. The nurses tried to get her to stay, but she’d had an altercation with a woman. Joy said, ‘Either I’m out of her, or I’m going to hit her. In which case I’ll be going to jail and she’ll be in my hospital bed.’
Tuesday, Joy was scheduled to appear in court due to Jake having assaulted her. Jake plead guilty, but they didn’t tell her until she appeared in court. She was in a wheelchair She wonders what kind of a deal they offered Jake. She’s not overly concerned as long as he’s out of her life. I spoke to Joy about the possibility of writing a story about her and her friends. She thought that was a great idea. We’ll talk more about it tomorrow.
20 January 2012
I walked to ‘the benches’ in Moss Park that Joy had described to me. Joy was standing at the edge of a group. When she saw me coming she said, “This is, Dennis. He’s solid, so nobody gives him a hard time. If they do they’ll have me to deal with. Dennis, tell them what you told me yesterday about writing a book.”
I said, “I’ve known Joy for over a year now. We often sit together at the corner of Parliament and Queen, before I go to work. I’ve seen a little of what she goes through with the general public, the comments that are made as she’s panning, the dirty looks, that sort of thing. I’d like to write a book from the point of view of homeless people. Since I don’t know anything about that situation, I’d like to talk to each of you. What would you guys like the general public to know about your situation?”
“I’ll talk to you,” said Darren. “Get your pen and paper. First of all, we aren’t ‘you guys’, we’re not a group, we’re individuals. We come from different places, different backgrounds, in some cases different tribes. Some of us don’t even like each other, but we congregate here to have a beer, smoke a joint, to be with others who don’t judge or verbally abuse us. We accept everyone here as they are.
“I was born on Cape Breton Island. My family is Mi’kmaq, we call ourselves the Red Earth People. In the small town where we lived the Roman Catholic priest was the most important man in town. Whenever there was a big decision to be made, he was the one who made it. My mom and dad were drunks. The priest decided that they weren’t capable of raising three children, so do you know what he suggested? He suggested that we be split up and adopted by white families. I was sent to Boston. My brother and sister were sent out west, somewhere. I remember, being six years old, sitting under the front steps where we lived and crying my eyes out. Why would he have us split up like that? Does that make sense to you?
“My adoptive parents weren’t bad people. They didn’t beat me. I went to good schools, then college. In the 1990’s I joined the Marines and served two terms in the Gulf War. I was with the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. When I returned I got a good job with ACDelco, you know, the automotive parts place. I was married with two kids. My wife and I seemed to be getting along well, then I got a call at work from my son. He was crying. I rushed home, the two kids were sitting on the front step. I went inside and found two men with my wife in the bedroom. One of the guys backed off, said he didn’t want any trouble. The other came after me. I ended up with a broken leg. A week later, I was on the freeway, driving back from the hospital, when a semi changed lanes right beside me. My car got caught in the undercarriage of the truck. The roof was ripped clean off. I was in the hospital for six months. Nearly every bone in my body was broken. My face was cut from the broken windshield. The scars are faint, but you can still see them, almost like a spider web. My wife took off with the kids. The last thing she said to me was, ‘You can kiss my fat ass.’ I guess I fell to pieces after that, got hooked on pain pills, became an alcoholic. Now, here I am.”

~~~

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