Archive for September 24, 2020

RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey


25 April 2012
Joy was in her usual spot this morning, sitting on her plastic storage box, her legs wrapped with towels.”How is your pneumonia, Joy?”
“It’s getting better. I’m still coughing up stuff, my chest is tight and I sleep with my head elevated.”Toothless Chuck cooked breakfast for us this morning. Chili was too drunk to go to The Shepherd, so she stayed at our place. Chuck took her to the airport for her flight to Prince Edward Island. She said, ‘I’ll be back soon.’ I said, ‘You’d be better off staying there and entering a detox program.’ Her arms are covered with track marks and scars.”
A woman stopped to give Joy an orange, later a man stopped to give her an apple. “I’ll save the orange for Jacques. I can’t eat them because I have a cage in my chest. The best I can do is suck the juice out and throw away the rest. Do you want the apple? In order to eat it, I have to peel it, then it gets brown and yucky. I’m picky aren’t I?”
“Joy, you should be a rich person, then you could have someone to peel your grapes for you.”
“Bruce got sick, because of getting soaked in all the rain we had lately. Big Nick offered to take him in for free until he gets well. He offered me the same deal when I lost my last place. The only problem is that where Nick lives it’s infested with bed bugs. They’re really hard to get rid of. I invited a couple of people to sleepover at my place. A few days later I woke up and felt something warm and sticky on my arms. I lifted the sheet and I was covered in blood. I was crawling with bed bugs. I had to throw out a mattress and rip out my carpeting before I could get rid of them. I’m really careful about who I hug now. They can lie dormant for up to five months.
“I’m going to visit the boys at the bench this morning, then I’m going to my old place to check for mail. The postman usually gets there around ten. I’m hoping to get some of my stuff. I’ve still got two keys. One key locks and unlocks the door, the other only locks it. I should be back downtown around noon.
“I’ve been trying to phone Roy on his cell phone, but I don’t get an answer. Where he’s staying, with his girlfriend, near the airport, he doesn’t get good reception. I don’t know what’s happening with Harley or his three lizards. I don’t care about the python. Roy can give him back to Leon.”
It was cool and overcast at the bench today. Silver kept walking up and down the sidewalk. He had hidden his backpack in the bushes because he had beer in it. After getting a liquor violation last week, he didn’t want to take a chance that the police would show up again. On the other hand, he didn’t want anybody stealing his backpack. I was sitting on the sidewalk near Don.
“I’m thinking of getting a part-time job,” said Don, “maybe as a dishwasher or in maintenance. I’ve done that before. It won’t pay very much, not like I used to get. When I lived in Montreal I used to bring in about fifty thousand a year. I knew the city really well and worked for most of the big courier companies, Purolator, D.H.L, U.P.S. The only company I didn’t work for was FedEx.“When I started with U.P.S. they had just moved into Canada from the U.S. They weren’t very well organized – too few trucks and drivers for the number of shipments they had going out. Even when my manager came with me — he’d drive, I’d deliver — we still couldn’t make our quota.“The run I had was in the industrial section. I had shipments of pipe and heavy machine parts to deliver. The truck was way overloaded. Soon, the clutch burnt out. I told them what the problem was, but they still kept overloading my truck. After I’d burnt out the third clutch they said, ‘Don, we think you should move inside the warehouse.’  I was feeling pretty burned out myself, so I took my severance pay and went on vacation for a while. Then I got into sales. I was really good at sales – everything from real estate and new cars to standing on a corner, with a table and speakers, selling all kinds of stuff. I was making about a thousand a day for a while. I had forty thousand in the bank, then my girlfriend left me. I started drinking, going to the casinos. I couldn’t believe how fast I went through that forty thousand.
“This morning a guy saw me collecting bottles. He said, ‘I got four cases of empties in the back if you want them.’ I said, ‘Sure!’ I traded in the bottles and got ten bucks.”
Joy arrived with Jacques. “Hi Joy, how did things go at your old place?”“It was fine. I didn’t know what to expect, so I brought Jacques with me. I figured, if nothing else, Jacques could talk French to Roy, but he wasn’t there. The locks had been changed, the whole place was cleaned out. It was a lot cleaner than when we first moved in. At that time we had a disgusting mess to deal with. It was a lot of work just to make the place livable.“I checked the mail. It’s been piling up for a while. My check wasn’t there, but nobody else has received theirs yet either. Now, that I know Roy won’t be there, I can go back tomorrow, or anytime.”

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