Archive for September 12, 2020

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey


15 April 2012

Sitting on the bench today were Serge, Irene, and Shark. Seated on the curb were Jake, Debbie, and Inuk. Curled up, wearing sunglasses and his winter coat, with his head on his backpack, sound asleep was Hippo. I sat next to Andre on the sidewalk.

Andre had a scab on his lower lip. He had tried to take a drag from the wrong end of his cigarette. His knuckles were still scabbed from fights he’d had earlier in the week. He was talking about his last day at the Shepherd before he was barred.

“I came in late and I had four beer tucked into my belt. One beer slipped and smashed to the floor. A security guard came and shoved me, causing another beer to slip. That got me really mad. I grabbed the guy in a headlock and punched him in the face. Now, all the security guards know not to mess with me.

“A month later I went there to visit a friend. I wasn’t in the building, just on the grounds. Someone phoned the police and I did sixty-five days in jail for trespassing.”

“Will you shut up!” said Jake to Debbie.

“I know you don’t mean that, Jake,” said Shark. You two are really close. Admit it, Jake, you love Debbie.”

“I don’t care for her one iota. Do you know how big an iota is?” He held up his thumb and index finger indicating about a quarter of an inch.”

“Jake!” said Debbie, “I know what an iota is. I’m a word person. I’m not very good with numbers, but I think women are naturally better with words. Men are better with numbers.”

“I loved learning English,” said Inuk.

“I’m a numbers person!” said Andre “Maths, Sciences, Physics – I love to figure things out.”

“What’s twelve times twelve?” asked Jake.

Andre thought about it for a while then said, “One hundred and forty-four!”

“It took you a while though…” said Jake, “didn’t it?”

“Sometimes I know the answer, but it won’t come out. My head doesn’t always work so well. When I had my second heart attack I was on the ice, under the bridge. I’ve always wanted to be the troll under the bridge.

“I’d been drinking pretty heavily. I was dressed warm, Skidoo suit, boots, the works. The last thing I remember I was hallucinating. I was talking to Frosty the Snowman on one side and Santa Claus on the other. Then I fell asleep.

“Someone phoned for an ambulance. The paramedics had to peel me from the ice. At the hospital, my body temperature was thirty-two degrees. I was packed with ice so I’d thaw gradually and I was put into an induced coma. Doctors said I was dead for four minutes.”

“I’d like to go to sleep right here,” said Jake.

“Don’t do that!” said Debbie. If you want to sleep, go somewhere more private, or you’ll ruin it for the rest of us.”

Before leaving I spoke to Rocky, “How did the housing work out. The last time I talked with you it was all settled.”

“It didn’t work out. They had too many rules. Also, they wanted to charge me extra because I’m native. They thought I’d be eligible for some grants from the government.

“It didn’t help that the superintendent caught Trudy smoking a joint in the foyer.”


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Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($2.99 Download) ($2.99 Download) ($2.99 Download) ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red: ($2.99 Download)

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