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

 

29 March 2012

The weather this morning was cold and overcast. Nick was sitting on the sidewalk in his usual spot. We greeted each other.

“You haven’t seen Joy today have you?” I asked.

“No,  Joy is a wuss; mind you I wasn’t here yesterday. I wasn’t about so sit in freezing rain and ice pellets.”

“Joy’s been complaining about a sharp pain in her hip,” I said. “It may be arthritis. Sitting on the cold sidewalk wouldn’t help.”

“No it wouldn’t, but Joy has some sort of cushion, doesn’t she?”

“Yes, in her backpack she brings a chair cushion and puts a piece of cardboard under that. Then, of course, she has her blanket.”

“Yes, Joy always has her blanket. I use a rolled-up yoga mat as a cushion. It keeps me from the cold and it’s comfortable to sit on.

“Do you ever go to ‘the benches’ at Orphan’s Green?”

“No, I don’t go there. I know some of those people, but I don’t associate with them much. I’ve known Joy since she was sharing an apartment with someone (Big Frank) in Regent Park. A friend of mine had an apartment in the same building.”

“I don’t seem to be lucky for you today,” I said. “Last time I was here you collected quite a bit of change.”

“There‘s no rhyme or reason to it. There are good days and there are bad days. Summer can be slow because a lot of people are on holiday.’

Nick was humming a tune. I said, “You have a good singing voice.”

“No, I’m no singer,” he said. “I’m banned from most of the karaoke bars; not from the drinking part, from the singing part.”

“The Ontario government has brought down a new budget. Do you have any opinion on that?”

“Well, they’ve frozen ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) for two years. I’m not on that I’m on Family Benefits. We get an increase of about one percent a year. That amounts to a couple of dollars on our monthly check.”

“Do you have any suggestions on how things could be improved?”

“I’m no economist.”

It was time for me to go to work, so I left Nick and said I would probably see him again tomorrow.

At the benches, Shakes said, “I’m celebrating today. I think I may get corked. I went to court this morning and they stayed the charges of obstruction against me. I’ve been on bail since November. I was banned from going anywhere near The African Village Restaurant on Queen Street. At first, I wasn’t allowed within six hundred feet, they reduced that to three hundred, then fifty. This morning the judge said, ‘Shakes, you’re free to go anywhere you want.’ I had three bottles of wine with me while I was in court.

Shaggy was barking at everyone that passed. Wolf said, “Now I got two dogs to walk at five, thirty in the morning, Shaggy and Bear. Weasel brought her over on Friday and asked me If I would take care of her because he had to go back into the hospital. Of course, I complained and said that he should be paying me to look after her, but actually I like having Bear around. In the morning when I take them out Shag wants to go one way, Bear the other. Then they get all tangled up around me.

“What do you think of this weather? We have summer one day, winter the next. (Our temperatures exceeded those of Florida last week, now it is snowing.) There was no way I was going to bring Shaggy down here yesterday. You see how long her coat is. When that gets wet she has an extra fifty pounds to carry, and she’s eleven years old.”

“You have another dog, Bowser, don’t you?” I asked.

“You don’t know about Bowser. That’s Shakes’ dog. It’s stuffed, but I don’t think Shakes knows that. One time he was drunk and he came down the sidewalk with this huge stuffed dog the size of Shaggy. I put it out on my balcony. My apartment is on the second floor over the entrance to the building. The neighbors would see this dog and they’d say, ‘Wolf, why doesn’t your dog bark anymore? They thought it was real.

“I like to come down here and visit with my friends, but I don’t like too many people around. I never have more than three people at my apartment. I like having the dogs around. I see them communicating together and they communicate with me as well. I’ll be in another room and I’ll hear Shaggy’s bowl banging against the wall. She pushes it around with her nose. When I hear that sound I know she’s hungry. You’ve been around animals, you know what I mean.

Shaggy knocked over Wolf’s can of Old Milwaukee, then commenced to lick the pool that formed. Wolf took a plastic bag, poured beer in it, and said, “Okay, Shag if you want to be in the club, you have to drink your beer.” Shaggy lapped the beer contentedly. “See, she understands what I’m saying. You saw that.”

~~~

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