Archive for February 3, 2021



23 May 2012

I caught an early bus to work, so I had lots of time to talk to Joy. “How’s it going today?’

“This morning has been slow. Yesterday, I made nineteen dollars. So far today, I’ve only made five and I’ve been here since six o’clock. Come on people!”

Chantal stopped by to talk with Joy. She squatted, put some change in Joy’s cap, then put her hand on Joy’s shoulder. “How are you doing, Joy?”

“I’m fine.”

“Are you eating well?

“Yes, I’m eating well.”

“You mentioned that you were looking at a new apartment tomorrow. Is that still on?”

“Yeah, Chuck and I are going over tomorrow to have a look at it. It’s a one bedroom for seven hundred a month. It’s just down a block from the one we’re in now.”

“You take care, Joy”

When she left Joy said to me. “She’s really beautiful. That’s the religious lady. Last fall when I was beaten by Jake, and I had the broken nose, and broken ribs, she prayed with me. I felt a warm glow spreading through my body. For the first time in a week, I could take a full breath without chest pain. I’m not a religious person — well, I used to be a Catholic, but I haven’t been to church for a long time. It really spooked me. I felt better all day.

“There’s something about the number five. I have five boys. The marriage to my first husband lasted five years. Jake and I broke up after five years.

“I don’t want to live with Chuck. He want’s me to go over and see about the apartment, but I’m going to let him go by himself. I’ll phone back later in the week, talk to the lady, and maybe take it myself. Chuck and I are always arguing. He feeds so many people, I just can’t afford that.

“Hippo found a bicycle, that’s it over there.” She pointed to a blue bike in the bicycle rack. “I told him it looks like one of those bait bicycles. The police put them out every so often. If you’re caught riding one you’re charged with theft.”

“Is it locked?” I asked.

“It has a lock on it, but the lock isn’t fastened. It only looks locked. I can just imagine Hippo riding that. One good thing about having a bicycle is that it will help him lose weight.

“I brought him some soap and some shampoo. He said at The Shepherd they only give them a tiny bit to last for a week. That’s why his hair looks greasy. People sometimes drop some off hotel soap and shampoo for me. I don’t know why. Do they think I’m dirty?”

Hippo walked across the street. “Hi Hippo,” I said. “How are you feeling?”

“Not so good. I was out drinking with Andre and we got into some bad stuff. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“What were you drinking, Hippo? If you were with Andre, it could have been Listerine or rubby (rubbing alcohol). Which was it?”


“Hippo, you know that stuff will kill you.”

“Rubbing alcohol is used to disinfect, to bring down fever and to soothe skin. Most rubbing alcohol is made of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol in water. Isopropyl isn’t the same type of alcohol that is in alcoholic beverages—ethanol— although sometimes ethanol is an ingredient in rubbing alcohol. When ethanol is an ingredient it will have been denatured. Denaturing is adding poisonous and bad-tasting ingredients, and it is done specifically to prevent people from drinking the alcohol. Often the poisonous ingredient added is methanol, which can cause blindness. Isopropyl is also found in mouthwashes and skin lotions. Isopropyl is very intoxicating. Because it is easily available and has no purchasing restrictions, it is sometimes used as a substitute for ethanol alcohol.

Drinking rubbing alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning. The symptoms of alcohol poisoning are vomiting, confusion, slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute), seizures, low body temperature, pale or blueish skin and unconsciousness. In cases of isopropyl ingestion, because of its strong effect on the central nervous system, a person may experience lethargy or ataxia, or may go into a coma. Because isopropyl also affects the GI tract, a person who has drunk it can have stomach pain, cramps and hemorrhagic gastritis. Someone who has ingested rubbing alcohol will also have a fruity smell to his or her breath.” (

“I’m going off to do some things on my own,” said Hippo.

Joy said, “I don’t even want to think about what that is.”

After Hippo left Joy said, “I’ve sunk pretty low, but I’ve never drunk Listerine or rubbing alcohol. Now they sell Listerine without alcohol. I don’t know where Serge gets his. I can’t stand to be near him. He reeks of the stuff. Lately, he’s been acting funny. All he seems do is sleep. (a side effect of drinking rubbing alcohol or alcohol based mouthwash).”

“Yesterday,” I said, “Irene was complaining about leg pain. Does that have to do with her cancer?”

“I don’t know what the leg pain is about. Yesterday, because she was wearing capris, I noticed how skinny her legs are. She had breast cancer and cancer of the uterus. She also has cirrhosis of the liver. It’s because of the uterine cancer that she doesn’t have sex with Shark. It’s too painful for her. He goes off somewhere and pays for it. She’s cool with that. Shark and Irene have been together eleven years. I think they had sex once.”

“You mentioned that you lost a lot of weight. How did you do that?”

“When I came back from Winnipeg I weighed about three hundred and sixty-five pounds. My doctor told me it was unhealthy to be carrying that much weight, so I decided to eat only on Sundays. I didn’t eat anything during the week. I drank lots of water. On Sunday, I’d go to the Mission and pig out all day, until I was stuffed.”

I noticed Clint, a man I work with, approaching. I said to Joy that Clint was going to Disneyland.

“Do you know what I love from Disney land? It’s the soap that’s shaped like a urinal puck. On one side there is a picture of Mickey Mouse. They have them in all the rooms. I love the smell and it’s so good for my skin.”

I called Clint over and introduced him to Joy. I said, “Clint, when you go to Disneyland, will you bring Joy some of the soap that is in the hotel rooms?”

“Why?” asked Clint.

Joy replied, “It’s not because I’m dirty; it’s just that I love the smell of that soap. So, will you bring me some?”


I said, “Bye, Clint. I’ll see you at work.”

Toothless Chuck arrived with V. Joy attached V’s leash to the meter on the wall behind her. They had domestic matters to discuss, so I left.

At noon I went to the park, as usual. The usual crowd was there.

Wolf called me over. “I want to show you my Tilley hat. It’s considered the Rolls Royce of hats. A friend gave it to me. Can you read without your glasses? I want you to read what’s printed inside the hat.”

“It says, that it floats, it’s waterproof, and it’s made for persnickety customers. It also gives washing instructions. There’s a four page owner’s manual, in the secret pocket, inside the crown of the hat.”

“What does persnickety mean?”

“Picky,” I said.

“Isn’t that the darndest thing?”

Joy and Butcher  were talking about V. I asked, “How long did you have to look after V, this morning?”

“Chuck came back after about half an hour. He has him now. He’s panning. I don’t like that dog; but he respects me. If he bites, I snap my fingers on his nose and he’ll obey. Chuck kicks him.”

Butcher said, “I don’t like the way Chuck treats V. He jerked the dog right off his feet, for not obeying some command. If a man treats a dog that way, he’s sure to beat a woman.”

Joy said, “I can say one thing in Chuck’s defense. He’s never hit me and I’m not aware of him hitting any other woman. Trudy went out with him before, I’ll ask her.

“Trudy, when you were going out with Chuck, did he ever hit you?”

Trudy said, “No, Chuck never hit me. Is Butcher starting a rumor that Chuck hit me. Don’t believe a word he says. He’s the one that started the rumor about Nick being dead.”

“Okay,” said Butcher, “This needs an explanation. Trudy has been going on about this for ten years. I don’t know why she holds on to it. Why can’t she move on! I have!

“She’d been going out with Nick for about three years. I’d known him for forty years. We grew up together. I hadn’t seen Nick around for a while and my friend, Steve, said to me, “Did you hear about Nick? The funeral is on Tuesday in Oshawa.

“I’m not good at funerals. I went to the service, but at the wake I didn’t go near the body. Why would I? My own daughter died and I still haven’t visited the grave site. I’d rather remember the good times we had together.

“Back to the wake. I expressed my condolences to Nick’s parents and family, then I left. Later on someone asked me if I’d heard from Nick and I said, ‘He died. I attended his funeral.’ This person said, ‘Nick didn’t die, he was arrested and is serving two years. It was his brother Roger who died.’ I didn’t know.

“Getting back to Trudy, it was Steve who told her that Nick had died, not me.”

As I was leaving I stopped to talk to Shark and Irene. Shark said, “My friend Wayne phoned me. He wants us to come to New Brunswick to help him finish a log cabin he’s building. The trees he cut were on his own property. The logs are stacked and have been drying since last year. They’ll have to be peeled then he’ll start building. He wants us to come up to help with the chinking, shellacking, and all the finishing stuff. It’ll be a paid vacation. I’m thinking of going.”

“I’m going for sure,” said Irene, “whether you come or not.”

“It sounds like a great trip, ” I said. “I love New Brunswick.”


New Shoes for Shakes

24 May 2012


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