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RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

6 March 2012
Spring is gradually approaching, but after standing outside for an hour at ‘the benches’, my cheeks are so stiff I can barely talk. Ian and Ryan were there.
I asked Ian, “How have things been going since I saw you yesterday?”
“Marlena and I had a rough night. We started off sleeping at the Royal Bank. We were rousted by the police. We moved on to the Canadian Imperial Bank. After a few hours, we were rousted again. I said, ‘I know where we can go; to the Toronto Dominion Bank.’ We spent the rest of the night there. The manager woke us up when she came in. ‘Okay Ian, time to move on,’ she said. ‘Okay, just give me a few minutes to wake up and clear my head. I’ll clean up my cigarette butts.”
“How does Marlena like sleeping in the bank?”
“She was a bit scared, but I told her, “You’ll be safe. I’ll get some shut-eye, but my ears will be open. If anybody tries anything, I’ll give it to them, believe me.’ She also found it too hot. I’ll have to get my tweezers and turn down the thermostat again.”
Ian introduced me to Ryan.“I’m just out of jail. I was coming across the bridge and I said, ‘Hey, I know that guy, it’s Ian. So we’ve been sharing a beer. I grew this beard in prison, but I’m going to shave it off. Ian looks fine with a beard, but I look ugly. I look like a hobo.
“I was talking to my old boss. I can go back to work once I clean myself up. I do events. I installed the Christmas lights at The Eaton Center. I’m also a painter and a carpenter — that’s my trade.”
“When do you think you’ll be going back to work?”
“Maybe next week. I’ll have to ease off the booze. I got a friend who will help me out with a place to stay for a hundred dollars a week. He’s got a few places, but the crack heads he puts in his place on Queen. I’ll be staying near Bloor on Parliament.” I’m originally from Belfast, Ireland. My parents brought me over when I was nine months old. We lived near the old Maple Leaf Gardens. My dad coached hockey, all the teams I played on when I was a kid. He’d see some guy rough me up and he’d say, ‘Get back in there and fight him!’ That was before they curbed the violence in minor hockey. He was a good coach, but he never learned to skate. Whenever there would be a father and son skate I’d have to hold him up so he wouldn’t fall. He would be all wobbly. I sure miss him. Bless his soul.

“When I was a lad. I was born in 1956, you know. We had a 1969 Volkswagen, a bug, just like in the Herbie movies. My mom and dad went out to the neighbors, one time, and I found the car keys. A friend and I decided we’d go for a ride. I was grinding gears. I didn’t know what I was doing. We went up a steep hill and the car stalled. My friend was pulling back on the emergency brake. I started the car revved the engine, but the car was in second gear. We rolled back down the hill into a bus, smashed the back bumper of the car. I drove it back to our driveway and didn’t say a thing. My parents didn’t notice the damage for a month or so. They blamed my brother Adam. He got a beating for it.

“I have a twin, you know. My sister, Jessica has breast cancer. She was even written up in the Globe and Mail newspaper. When she was first diagnosed they removed her breast. She was cancer-free for seventeen years, then it came back. She doesn’t talk to me, but I still love her.

“My brother, Adam had breast cancer when he was young. He had surgery and he’s been fine ever since. They cut out his left chest muscle and even the muscles at the bottom of the arm (the triceps).

“My mom wants me to come back home. I’ve always sent her money when I had it, and she’s helped me out when she could.”

~~~

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