Archive for September 17, 2020

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey


18 April 2012

This morning Metro greeted me with, “Good morning Dennis, Dale, anything but ‘late for supper’. Have a good day!”

“Have a good day Metro, Two-four!”

When I arrived at Joy’s spot I saw her plastic storage box (that she borrows from behind the Rex Hotel), a Sun newspaper folded on top of that, her cap was in front of the plastic crate with a bit of change (jingle, as Ian, calls it), her jacket was lying on the sidewalk beside her crate, but no Joy.  A tall man wearing glasses, and a red short-sleeved shirt, was standing there, holding a large Tim Horton’s coffee.

“Is Joy coming back?” I asked.

“She’s indisposed at the moment.”

“You mean, she went into the restaurant to have a pee.”

“Yes, that’s what I mean. I’m just standing here watching her stuff, but if you’re going to be here, I’ll be on my way. I’m getting cold.”

“I’ll take good care of Joy’s stuff. She knows me.”

Before long I heard, “Hi, Sweetie!” I turned and saw Joy. She was walking stiffly toward me from the direction of the restaurant.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“I’ve had to go pee a lot of times and when I get there not much comes out. It’s dark too, kind of an orangy color. I’m afraid it’s my kidneys again. I may have to go back into the hospital.”

“I just lost it with my probation officer the other day. Besides throwing up all over her desk, I told her, ‘I don’t care if you breach me! I don’t care about anything!’ She said, ‘You told me that you couldn’t do any more jail time.’ I said, ‘If it happens, it happens. I just don’t care.’

“Today I go to Elizabeth Fry from three to seven o’clock.  I’m really not an afternoon sort of person, I’d rather go in the morning, but I wasn’t the one making the appointment.

“I’m not getting enough sleep. Bruce’s brought his girlfriend, of three years, to stay with us. Inuk is her name. She’s a mean, nasty, Inuit woman who’s been with every man in town. I don’t know what Bruce sees in her. She’d have to hang a pork chop around her neck for even a dog to want to play with her. If Bruce wants to stick his stuff in there knowing where she’s been, he’ll have to deal with the consequences.

“Last night she even tried to sleep in my bed. ‘No, No,’ I said, ‘Bruce sleeps on the floor, so you sleep on the floor.’ I even had words with Bruce about her, ‘Bruce,’ I said, ‘ you made a mistake crossing me. You just lost a friend.’ Tony is sleeping in the kitchen now, right in front of the refrigerator, so Bruce isn’t able to get up in the night for something to eat. Last night there were five people sleeping in Chuck’s bachelor apartment. Chili came over, but only long enough to get drunk, then she went to The Shepherd.

“I paid Chuck three hundred bucks to stay there and another two hundred for groceries. With just me and him, that should last three weeks, but we went through them in two. I told him it wasn’t working out, so he talked to everybody. I just sat back, quiet as a mouse.

“Sometimes I drink until I pass out, but then I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes I’ll buy a morphine pill from Shark. I break it in half. If I take a whole one, I’ll puke. That usually gives me a good night’s sleep.

“When I was in the hospital last, the only ones to visit me were Chuck and Shark. I don’t care about the rest of those guys.”

“If you go into the hospital again, I’ll visit you,” I said.

“If I do have to go in, I’ll leave a message with Metro and Two-four. It’s getting too cold sitting here. I’m going to leave. I’m not going to bother with the guys at the bench;  just go straight home. There won’t be too many people there, so I’m going to take a long, hot shower. With so many people sharing one bathroom, I can usually only get about ten minutes.”

At noon I was surprised to see a group of my friends, sitting on a low concrete wall, in front of Confederation Park.

“Is the bench full?” I asked, “Is that why you’re sitting here?”

“Four police were by earlier,” said Jacques. “They charged five of us with having alcohol in a place other than a dwelling. Me, Irene, Silver, Mary, and Serge were each given a ticket for a hundred and twenty-five.  I’ve got them here in my pocket. I’m going to take them home and stick them on my wall with the others. The thing that makes me really mad is they poured out my wine. Now I’m going to have to get some more.”

“How many tickets do you have now, Jacques?” asked Jake.

“Well, the first wall is full and the second wall is about half full. With these, I have, maybe forty or fifty.”

“I started a new batch of my rice, raisin wine. It’s very simple. The rice and the raisin give it the flavor. I use Sultana raisins, they’re the best. I go to Giant Tiger and buy a big bag of their cheapest rice, unflavored. I add some sugar and yeast. Don’t use the little packets of Fleischmann’s yeast, go to a natural food store, and buy a bag of fresh yeast, it’s cheaper. Me, I make four gallons at a time, but if you’re just starting out you may want to make just one gallon. In that case, it’s two pounds each of rice, raisins, and sugar. The recipe calls for one tablespoon of yeast, but I add about a quarter of a cup. I leave it for two weeks and it’s ready. They say the alcohol content is 13%, but I’m sure mine is about 20-30%.”

“They treat these like parking tickets,” said Irene. We don’t have to go to court, we won’t do jail time, but if we ever need to buy car insurance these will have to be paid. There’s not much chance that any of us will get a car. They can’t garnishee our pay because were on O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program).

“I’m glad I was on a liquor run,” said Jake. I already have a six-month probation order for panhandling. Here I’ve got it in my pocket. See for yourself, it says ‘soliciting in an aggressive manner’. I’m not aggressive, but if I get another one or a liquor violation I could go to jail.

“Shakes was charged with vagrancy, even though he has a place to stay and had money with him. I don’t know why they would charge him with vagrancy. The charges have been stayed for now. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

Buck came along with his dog, Dillinger, a beautiful Golden Retriever, German Shepherd mix. He is four months old and very well behaved. On command, he’d sit and be rewarded with a doggy treat for his effort.

At various times people came and went. Chuck Senior stopped by on his motorized wheelchair. He gave Frank a baseball cap. Toothless Chuck, Sally, and Mary stopped by for a while.

“I think I’m going to go to Woodbine Beach,“ said Jacques. On the way, I’ll stop at the beer store for a six-pack. Then I’ll go to Dollarama for some smoked oysters, a big bag of chips, and some Clamato juice to go with my beer. Sometimes, I take my fishing rod.”

“Do you ever catch anything?” I asked.

“No, it’s just for show, so they won’t suspect me of drinking. The only problem is there are no leaves on the trees for privacy if I have to pee.

“I don’t want to catch any Carp. It doesn’t have much taste and has a lot of bones. The best way to prepare it is to boil it until the bones are soft then put it through a food processor. I usually make patties to fry, and have some sauce on hand to give it some flavor.”


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