Archive for September 4, 2020

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey


5 April 2012

Another cold morning. Joy wasn’t in her usual spot on the sidewalk, but Ghyslain was. I sat down beside him.

“Are you new to this area?”

“No, I’ve been on the streets for fifteen years, but the last three years were in Ottawa and Montreal.

“I guess you know Joy then?”

“Yes, I gave here this spot when I moved.”

“How is it living on the streets in Ottawa and Montreal, as compared to Toronto?”

“It’s much better here. The people are friendlier. In Montreal, I was sleeping in a park. They woke me at four in the morning and gave me a ticket. I said to them, ‘If you think I’m paying this ticket, you’re crazy.’ ”

“Jacques has a wall papered with tickets.”

“That sounds like Jacques. Do you know Old Andre? He died.

“I’m getting cold sitting here. I’m going inside for a coffee.”

I moved to the next block to talk with Nick.

“How has it been going, since I saw you last?”

“I wasn’t here yesterday. It was too cold, but, overall it’s been going fine.”

“Do you know Bearded Bruce?”

“Yes, I know him.”

“He was telling me that he’s visited eleven countries.”

“He probably counts Scotland as a country, then England and Wales. He’d count Ireland as two countries. In that case, I’ve visited eleven countries also, but that was a long time ago.”

“Do you have any plans for the weekend?”

“No, no plans. I may phone the Mission and ask when they’re planning to have their Easter meal.”

“Well, I guess I should get to work,” I said. “Enjoy your weekend Nick. I’ll see you.”

“I’ll see you next week.”

At noon today, the sun was shining, but there was a cold wind blowing. At ‘the benches’ I met the usual congregation.

“How are you doing, Shakes?” I said.

“You know, I think I’m starting to get there. It’s cold, that’s why I have socks on my hands.”

“Shakes!” said Wolf, “here’s a pair of gloves you can wear.”

“These have dog hair on them. Is it from Bowser? (Shakes’ stuffed dog, standing watch on Wolf’s balcony).”

“I should have been working this morning,” said Joy. “What happened is I overslept. Bruce and Jimmy John were at Chuck’s last night. Bruce is so funny when he’s stoned.

“Jimmy John got up early and stole three of Chuck’s beer, leaving him with only one. That’s really low. I saw him sniffing around my bag as well, but I kept a close eye on it.

“Mona and Tony left Chuck’s place. They were supposed to pay him seventy-five dollars. That’s only right if you stay at someone’s place and they feed you. I don’t know if they would have paid Chuck if Bruce and I hadn’t gone after them. When I caught up with Tony, he had a huge wad of bills.”

“Are you feeling better today?” I asked.

”After I ate yesterday I felt better, but I’m on my period now. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I was off my period for the past four months and now it’s back. It’s heavier than usual. I’m soaking through a tampon every hour for most of the day.

“Will you walk with me to the mall? I want to buy a bottle of wine and use their bathroom. It’ll be warm in there.”

“I was talking to Ghyslain this morning,” I said. “He was in your spot.”

“He’s a good guy. He’ll move on when I go back to work.”

“I was also talking to Nick. He mentioned that he may go to the Easter meal at the Mission.”

“The Sandwich Lady was by earlier, she gave me a list of all the events at the Mission, the Salvation Army, and the Shepherd. You won’t see me there – too many people. I’m agoraphobic. Besides that, a lot of people there are pretty sketchy. I’m not that well balanced as it is. I don’t need any of them to make it worse.”

“How is the food there?”

“The Easter meal is always good. I’ve liked it when I’ve gone. During the week the menu is boring. Each day they have something different, but from week to week it’s the same. On Sundays they have an Indian family come in to make a vegetarian meal. Can you imagine trying to get men to eat tofu? I don’t think so!

“I got some chocolate Easter eggs this morning. I don’t like eating chocolate, but I’ve got a gallon of vanilla ice cream at Chuck’s place. I’m going to smash up the chocolate and mix it with the ice cream. I think that’ll be good.”

My noon hour was over, so I walked the two blocks back to work.


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