Archive for September 2, 2020

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey


4 April 2012

This morning, standing where Joy usually pans, was a middle-aged man, his hair brown and thinning, his cap in his hand. He must be new in town, otherwise, he wouldn’t have been standing in Joy’s spot; not if he valued his life. I introduced myself and gave him a gift card for a sandwich. He seemed truly grateful, not only for the card but for accepting him as an equal. His name is Ghyslain. I’m not good at small talk and didn’t want him to think I was just interested in him for information, so I just said, “Have a good day!” If I see him again, I’ll be prepared with more to talk about.

I expect that Joy is busy with getting settled in her new place. Perhaps, I’ll find out more at ‘the benches’ at noon.

The sky was overcast with dark clouds looming in the distance, there was a cold breeze blowing, and the smell of rain was in the air. At ‘the benches’ were about a half dozen people.

Joy was the first to greet me. I said to her, “Hippo mentioned that you were in the middle of moving. Is that all settled now?” Joy sat on the curb beside Bruce and I sat on the sidewalk.

“Can you believe it? Roy didn’t pay the hydro. I was stuck with no electricity. I’m staying with a friend for the next month. Do you know Toothless Chuck? Well, he has a couple of teeth in front. Anyway, that’s where I’m staying. It was fine for the first couple of nights when it was just me and him, but then his friends started staying over.

“I was eating my supper when Mona starts making out with this guy on the living room floor. I don’t want to see that stuff while I’m eating. I was ready to kill her. I said, ‘Will you take that stuff to the shower? That’s what showers are made for.’

“I haven’t been back to the other place since I picked up my stuff. My down-filled winter coat got ruined in the last rain we had. I put it in the dryer, but I couldn’t get the down to go back where it was supposed to be, so I left it behind as a bed for Harley.

“I also had to leave my python, Cyprus behind. That was upsetting. I paid seventy-five dollars for that snake. I think she was named after the Cuban-American/Latino hip-hop group, Cyprus Hill. I don’t know. That’s the name she had at the pet store.”

Bearded Bruce said, “Some of my mates back in Scotland, were really into that group.

“Well, I went to court today and got my resolution. They gave me a hundred and twenty days, so I’ll serve eighty. I’ll be going in on May second. My lawyer told me that I could get probation, but I’m a drinker. I’d pile up violations in no time, better I just go to jail.

“After I get out I’m going out west, near Calgary. A friend phoned and offered me a job as a chef, that’s what I studied for in college. I can get work anywhere. When I get out I’ll have everything cleared up; my tickets, everything.

“Ever since I finished college I’ve been traveling — a wandering hobo. This is the eleventh country I’ve been to, but it’s time to move on. I’ve got myself into a rut here. I traveled all over Scotland, England, Wales, Cyprus, and North Africa before coming here. Now, I’m sleeping behind the dumpsters in the back of Starbucks. I’ve stayed there before. They know me. I told the manager that I was back, just in case one of the staff saw me there and phoned the police. It’s relatively safe there, they have a spotlight and a surveillance camera. They’re really good to me. Sometimes, the manager will bring me coffee in the morning. The cardboard I sleep on, I slide under the dumpster, so it’s there when I need it at night.

“Sometimes, I’ll go to the Magic Oven for breakfast. I can get three eggs, half a plate of potatoes. Being Scottish I love potatoes. If the fat cook is on he’ll give me an extra sausage and an extra piece of toast. If I go there near closing time, at three in the afternoon, they’ll give me an extra bowl of soup. You see this belly? This isn’t a beer belly, it’s an eating belly.

“One of my favorite places to go is Wendy’s. I get their Double Junior Bacon Cheeseburger for a dollar, eighty-nine. Since I’m Scottish, I take out one of the meat patties, wrap it up, and put it in my pocket. Then I go to Tim Horton’s where I can buy a bun for fifty cents. That really makes a meal.

“I do alright. I panhandle on Queen Street. I make thirty to forty dollars, then quit for the day. It’s lazy work. I can’t wait until summer when I’ll have my drinking under control and I can go out west. It’s not that the grass is greener, it’s just that the grass is different.

It started to rain, then snow, then hail. “I hate the rain. Firstly, I don’t like getting soaked. Secondly, when people have an umbrella in one hand and a coffee in the other, I’m not going to get any change.”

Shakes came over and asked Joy if she had any pot. “No man,“ she said, “I don’t have any pot. The only one who had any was Shark and he’s on a liquor run.” Shakes sat down beside me.

“Here Shakes,” said Joy, “you can have some of my wine.”

“Bruce, can you help me up?” asked Shakes.

“Okay, man I’ll help you. Just grab hold of my hand.” Shakes was pulled to his feet and he walked back to the bench to sit down. “I’m surprised that he’s able to walk, being as drunk as he is. I don’t do babysitting. If someone is too drunk to walk, I just leave them. Let the police take care of them.”

Joy said to me, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Bruce said to Joy, “I know you’re not feeling well, but it’s good to go to work, if only for a little while. I try to work every day whether I feel like it or not.”

The hail was getting worse. I had to get back to work. We all said our goodbyes and ran for shelter.


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