Archive for April, 2023


29 June 2012

It was hot at noon, with a pleasant breeze. A large crowd had gathered at the park. There was some concern that the size of the crowd may attract the police, so Jacques, Outcast, Silver, Joy and Pierre moved further down.

I sat beside Shark. I asked him, “This is the weekend that Irene moves in, isn’t it?”

“No, a month from now, August first. She’s on her own now. She invited me over to her place for six o’clock last night. I brought pork chops, potatoes – two bags of groceries.

“She said, ‘Get out!’

” ‘You mean right now?’ I said

“ ‘Get out!’

“ ‘Okay,’ I said, ‘I’m going, but don’t expect me back!’ I packed up the groceries and left.”

“Had she been drinking?” I asked.

“Had she ever. She was into the lemonade coolers that are only seven percent alcohol. Then she added regular vodka which is thirty-seven percent. These things taste so good that, on a hot day, you tend to drink them like water.

“She phoned me at midnight, one o’clock, two o’clock. She phoned Buck at three o’clock.”

I asked Gaston how his life was going. He said, “My daughter is in Cambodia now. She’s trained for eleven years to become what’s called a medical engineer. That’s an interdisciplinary degree applying principles of engineering, medicine and biology. Her husband is a lawyer. She’s been there a week and says she feels comfortable living there permanently.

“I told her, ‘Give it six months before you decide to buy a house, or take on any other long-term commitments.’ ”

“The last time we talked, you mentioned that you do some writing. Have you published any books or articles?”

“No, I have some started, but recently I’ve been attending a class in psychology and kinesiology at the university. I’ve previously taken them separately, but now they’ve been combined.

“I’m working on a history of my family, but many of the records were destroyed in a fire. That will be a long-term project. My father’s family is from Sudbury, my mother’s is from Val d’Or. Our family was living in Toronto but went to visit family in Sudbury where I was born, on January 1, 1950 – right on the dot of midnight.

“I have poor circulation. See the burst blood vessels in my ankles. I used to sleep with two pillows under my head and one under my feet. It’s easier on your heart if your feet are elevated. I raised the bottom of my bed, and now I’m able to get rid of one pillow.”

Shark said, “I sleep with four pillows.”

“Is that so you don’t roll out of bed?”

“I still roll out of bed.”

“Gaston said, “I live on Elm Street. I can remember when there were trees on each side of the street arching over. It was like driving through a tunnel. The city decided to widen the street so they cut down all the trees. About five years later they came to the conclusion that there was too much traffic, so they narrowed the street again, but without the trees. It could have been done differently – circulating the traffic around the trees. We need the trees. They give off oxygen and take away carbon dioxide.”

Andre had been sitting in a cross-legged position, sound asleep. When he awoke he smiled and waved at me.

“So, Shark,“ I asked, “you’re not moving?”

“I’ve talked to my landlord. I’d like to get a two-bedroom apartment. When one becomes available, he’ll move me free of charge. We get along well.”

Joy said, “No Gene, I’m not coming on to your girlfriend, although I did have a wife for a year and a half while I was in prison.”

Andre said, “That big cop does not like Little Jake.”

“It’s because he’s always mouthing off,” said Joy. “He’s like a dog gnawing on a bone, he never quits.

“They have to be really careful with Jake because of his HIV. He always has open sores on his lips or scrapes where he’s fallen down.

“Do you remember when there was the big hep c scare? I spit at a cop and got eighteen months for assault with a deadly weapon. I didn’t spit anywhere near him. That could happen to Jake if he isn’t careful.”

Andre said, “I was panning on Sherbourne, yesterday. This suit passes me and says, ‘Get a job!’ I said, ‘Okay, hire me!’ He said, ‘Bathe first!’  I said, ‘You know, just because I don’t have access to a shower, doesn’t mean that I don’t wash – all over.”

Joy said, “That’s an image I don’t want in my head.”

“I’m just saying.”

Cruising up the lawn on his bicycle, tattooed from head to foot, is our friendly neighborhood crack dealer.

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

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)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz ($2.99 Download)



27 June 2012

This morning Joy was sitting on her storage box, talking to Chester. They were finalizing the arrangements for Joy to move in. Chester shook my hand and then said goodbye.

“I still haven’t told Chuck that I’m moving, but I won’t be giving him any rent money for July. I’ll give him a hundred towards the cable bill. He’s really been nasty to me lately. He phoned me at the park yesterday and asked, ‘Are you coming home tonight?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, maybe I will, maybe I won’t.’ ‘If you do,’ he said, ‘bring me some pot.’

Andre came trudging up the sidewalk with his backpack, a raincoat and his folding stool. “I don’t know what happened last night, but I found this in my cap.” He held up a business card from a ninety-nine-dollar hooker.

I said, “That should give you some clue.”

“No, that’s not in my price range. What really scared me is finding this rock in my cap.” He held up a one-pound rock. “This swung in my cap makes a mean weapon, just like a billy club. I vaguely remember saying to some guy, ‘You want my money? Try and take it from me.’ I don’t know what happened after that. I went a bit haywire yesterday. I nearly got in a fight with Daimon. I said, ‘Your brother is three times your size and I took him, so come and get it.’ His brother is huge — twenty-two-inch arms, about six-foot-seven. He’s a monster. He’d have to duck to go through a door sideways.

“I’m going to have to go to work. I need a drink.” With that, he left.

I asked Joy, “If Daimon just got out of prison, would he still be an addict?”

“It’s much easier to get drugs on the inside than it is on the outside.”

“So,” I asked, “did I miss anything after I left yesterday?”

“No, It was pretty quiet. I waited for Pierre to come back. Then we watched a few videos. His son is twenty-four years old. He’s autistic and has a mental age of about twelve. We get along great. We were about to watch Paranormal 2. He said to me, ‘You’re going to be scared.’ I said, ‘I don’t think so.’ There is a part where this guy is being dragged off the bed by a demon. I jumped off the couch and ran down the hall. Everyone got a good laugh out of that.”

On my way to the park, I met Serge. “How are you doing, Serge?” I asked.

“I’m fine. I’m just going to the bench near the bank. I want to sit down before I fall down again.”

“Take care, Serge.”

“See you.”

At the park, the usual congregation was in attendance. There was lots of excitement in the neighborhood. Emile was swearing. He dragged Ian by the ankles for about twenty feet. Then Ian and Shakes started fighting, rolling around on the lawn.

I sat next to Joy and asked, “What’s this about?”

“Ian is drunk and was being a dickhead to everyone. Andre had enough and went after him.”

Ian eventually slunk back into the circle. “I don’t know what I did wrong?”

Andre answered, “Your woman screwed you over, and pressed charges against you. Now you’re drunk. You ask us for help. Sure, we’re going to help you, we’re family, but don’t act like a dickhead and treat us like shit.”

I noticed that Shakes’ leg was bleeding and that he had a burn scar near his ankle. “How did that happen?” I asked Joy.

“I’m not sure of the details. I don’t think he remembers. Someone set him on fire. The same thing happened to another homeless guy sleeping on a park bench. Someone doused him with gasoline, then set him on fire. He was wearing a plastic raincoat and it melted into his skin. He was released from the hospital and was staying at the Sally Ann, but after three days of pain he just gave up and died.”

Joy asked Andre and Jake, “Where’s your brother from another mother, Hippo?”

“He got money from his mother, now he doesn’t feel that he should associate with the likes of us.”

“He’s being a real asshole, considering all you’ve done to help him. If he comes back to your place (behind the dumpsters in the back of Starbucks) you should lock him out.”

“I’ll do more than lock him out, I’ll knock him out.”

“Did everyone hear the good news?” asked Joy, “Rocky just told me that Daimon and Lucy got beat up by some black dude named Buddy. Lucy was knocked out. Daimon was stomped and has a broken leg. It happened last night. Rocky was there, I wish he’d caught it on video.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Andre, “I was hoping to do that myself.”

Gene said, “Daimon’s not so tough. He kept bragging about his maximum-security prison background, but I beat him one time. He sucker-punched me on the side of the head. He was surprised that I came back with three punches. I knocked him into a closet. Then he ran away like somebody’s bitch.”

“When I was still with my Jake,” said Joy, “Daimon came after me. Jake pushed him and Daimon bounced twice on his ass. Jake said, ‘Don’t even think of getting up.’

To me, Joy said, “Chester says I can move in anytime, even if I haven’t got my check yet. I hope that Chuck doesn’t have a hissy fit when I tell him that I’m leaving. Maybe I should pack my clothes first. I don’t want him throwing my stuff out the door or anything.”


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

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)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz ($2.99 Download)


Sitting on the Curb

Posted: April 17, 2023 in Prose


I sit cross-legged on the curb
with my friends, my street family:
panhandlers, alcoholics, addicts.
We talk about the past, mostly,
although, current situations
come to the surface:
who will go on a liquor run,
who got out of prison,
where someone is sleeping tonight,
the problem of bed bugs,
a court appearance,
a ticket for a liquor violation
or for jumping a bus.

Someone asks for a cigarette
a beer, a swig of sherry
or a combination of the three.
A joint is passed, and a comment is made,
‘Don’t bogart it!’ (To selfishly hold a joint instead of passing it on.)
or someone warns, ‘6 up’ if the cops are near.

We know that we’re looked down upon
both literally and figuratively.
We notice expressions
on the faces of passers-by:
fear, disgust, annoyance.
We are sometimes verbally abused
or physically assaulted.
I won’t say it doesn’t bother me;
on the other hand, pedestrians passing by
are from another world where conditions are different. They’re entitled to their opinions, as I am to mine.

I’ve learned a lot, from sitting on the curb:
a new language, friendship, acceptance,
If I’m ever homeless I have people to turn to
for food, a blanket, a place to sleep,
maybe couch surfing in a bug-infested room,
or a piece of cardboard behind a dumpster.
I can depend on a friend to have my back,
or my 6 o’clock — if needed,
as I would have theirs.
I’ve learned to appreciate these things
and the people who offer them.
It’s all they have in the world
and they offer them to me.

I hear of growing up
with abusive, alcoholic parents,
children molested, beaten,
thrown out on the street.
It’s no wonder where they are,
what they are, who they are.
Where they are is in a family that cares.
Who they are is individuals, not a designation.
What they are is human, sensitive, caring people,
more like you, than you realize.
Most of all, they are my friends.
my street family.

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless

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)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts: Sara Troy:  Self-Discovery Media Sara Troy:  Positive Vibrations Roundtable Patricia Saunders: Writetimes Literacy Project


12 July 2012

As I got off the bus this morning I was greeted by Metro, “Good Morning, Dennis, Joy’s here today.”

“Thanks, Metro. Have a good day.”

Next, I was greeted by Two-four, “Good morning, Dennis. Joy’s here today.”

“Thanks, Two-four. Have a good day.”

Could just barely see Joy’s cap and her two feet sticking out behind the concrete partition. “Hi, Joy.”

“Hi, Sunshine, how are you today?”

“I’m great. How do you like staying at Chester’s place?”

“I like it. He’s quiet, not like Chuck. Have the house all cleaned and it’ll stay clean. There’s no dog tracking in mud all the time. The fridge is full of food. We had bacon and eggs this morning. Have all my laundry done. The only thing I’m waiting for is my GST (Goods and Services Tax) check from the government. I don’t think Chuck would hold that back on me. He says he hasn’t received his yet, either.”

Said, “I haven’t seen Silver or Hippo lately? Heard that Silver is panning near the Mission.”

“That’s strange,” said Joy, “I can see Silver going to the Mission for meals, but he’s had his spot for over ten years. He has regulars that come by. One that drops him a twenty. Can’t see him sticking his nose up at that, to pan near the Mission. As far as Hippo is concerned, I think he’s visiting his folks in Oshawa.

“Another couple of people I don’t expect to see are Daimon and Lucy. He wouldn’t dare come down on crutches. He’d be too vulnerable, and he’s made a lot of enemies. I think he’s going to be lying low for quite a while.”

“I have an appointment to see my probation officer today. On the card she gave me, the date reads Thursday, July eleventh. The eleventh was yesterday. I just noticed it this morning. There shouldn’t be any problem. I’ll tell her I was going by the day of the week, not the date.”

At the park, this noon was Shakes (asleep), Lucy (asleep), Little Jake (barely awake), Andre, Hippo, Ian, Danny, Joy, Chester, Wolf, and his dog Shaggy. Asked Hippo, “You look all cleaned up, you’ve shaved. Have you been home visiting your folks?”

“No, for the last week, I’ve been staying at the West End Hotel (the West End Detention Center).”

“Hippo, did they remove your stitches while you were there?” asked Andre.

“Yeah, the nurse took them out.”

Shaggy was contentedly eating dog treats and licking Joy’s toes. “I’m not sure I like her that close,” said Joy, “Last time she bit my ankle, and she drew blood.”

Danny said, “One time, when I had my work boots on, Shaggy bit my boot. Her teeth went through a quarter of an inch of leather and left a mark on my foot.”

“Did you hear that Bear got a ticket?” said Wolf. “Can you imagine giving a ticket to a dog?”

“Can imagine it,” said Andre, “She’s going to defend herself, your honor.”

“Why would they give her a ticket?” I asked.

“Maybe because of the holes that have been dug in the lawn,’ said Wolf. The cop asked me if it was Shaggy that dug them. Said, ‘No, it was the black one, not the white one.’

Andre said, “You should have seen the breakfast I had this morning. It was all the stuff I got while I was panning last night. Had calamari, octopus, all kinds of seafood, nachos, and fajitas. I was at The Greasy Oven and the owner pumped up the tires on my bicycle. Holding the bike, my hat was on the ground. Some women came by and asked me, ‘Do you think the man who was here would mind if we left him some food?’ Said, ‘No, ma’am, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. He would appreciate it. I’ll guard it until he comes back.’”

Joy said, “I walked by you around six this morning, Ian was asleep, and his pecker was out of his pants, just blowing in the wind. What a revolting sight, first thing in the morning.”

Ian said, “I must have gotten up in the night to pee and forgot to zip up. Really wasted.

“My people (the people of the Heiltsuk Nation) have had an offer of a billion dollars if they allow an Alaskan pipeline company to go under our waters. We’re on an island off the west coast. We have over a million miles of water rights. We turned down their offer. Can you imagine what would happen if there was an oil leak? It would wreck the fishing industry and kill the ducks and waterfowl. We’d have nothing to live on at all.”

Andre said, “I was drinking with this guy last night. We were sharing my bottle. After it was finished, he brought out a bottle of his own. Said, ‘Now you bring out your bottle? You can be sure that we’re going to stay up until this is finished. If you fall asleep, I’ll finish it myself.’”

Joy was having trouble with her phone. “This is useless.” she said, “I’ve got the phone plan that Jacques recommended. For one thing, I only have free calling after six at night and on weekends. I never phone anyone on the weekend unless it’s seeing if any of you guys are down here. If you’re not, I don’t come. The rest of the time I have to text. I don’t know how to make spaces, so everything comes out as one garbled line. I just got a text back from Glen. He says, ‘Who the fuck is this?’ Answered, ‘Joy.’ he understood that.”

A woman walked toward the group and spoke to Jake. He put on his backpack and walked away with her.

“Who was that?” asked Danny.

“That’s his social worker.”

“You mean, a social worker will come looking for her client?”

“Not many will, but she does.”


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

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)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz ($2.99 Download)



13 July 2012

The sprinklers were on at the park today, so the group was sitting on the curb. Shakes was asleep. Andre rode in on his bicycle. Sat between Anastasia and Andre.

“Today is so hot and humid,” said Anastasia. “Can’t wait until Buck arrives, then I’m going to meet some of the others at the Don River, near Jacques’ place. It’s always cooler there. I love being by the water. Mother has a cottage on Georgian Bay. Going there this summer, but I can’t afford it right now. I have to wait until my check arrives, on August first. It doesn’t have running water or electricity. Love to relax in nature. I also paint mostly landscape scenes and rocks. Paint in oils, I love spontaneity. My daughter — she’s thirty — just got engaged. They’ve bought a house in Brantford. It’s going to be a bit more difficult for me to visit her.

“Here comes Buck and Dillinger. I’ll be off now.”

Andre said, “I had a good time last night. Riding my bicycle and saw a woman asleep on a bench. I thought to myself, ‘I know that ass.‘  I peeked under her cap and recognized Betty. We were making out on the bench until about midnight. She handed me her apartment keys and said, ‘I’ve got things to finish, but go to my place, have something to eat, have a shower. I’ll be there shortly.’

“Fried a pork chop, some potatoes. We had a great meal, but what I really loved was the shower. It had a lot of pressure. Washed my hair twice. The first time the lather was black. When Betty came in, she opened the fridge and plunked a bottle of wine in front of me. We had a fun time.”

Hippo said to Buck, “How much do I owe you from yesterday?”

Buck checked on his smartphone and said, “Eight bucks.”

“I thought it was seven.”

“No, eight.”

“Well, there’s no arguing with a computer. Can you add another ten on that?”


Jake said, “I wondered where everyone was last night. I’m not used to sleeping alone.

“I worry about panhandling now that I have two charges against me. Got one coming up on the twentieth and one on August fifth. I get sentenced on September fifteenth. I’m sure I’m going to get jail time.

“Trying to decide what I’ll have to eat. I think I’ll go to Dollarama and steal some smoked oysters and crackers. Pay for a bag of chips.

“Owe Buck fifty-six, but other people owe me fifty. If they’d pay me, I could pay him off. I didn’t see Ian last night. He owes me ten, Hippo owes me ten, Wolf owes me ten and this guy owes me twenty. SHAKES, YOU OWE ME TWENTY BUCKS.” Shakes slept on. “And I haven’t even had a drink yet!”

“That got his attention,” said Andre. “He made eighty at the Burlington Jazz’n Blues Festival last night. He drank most of it already.”

“Hippo, throw me that bottle,” said Jake.

Hippo threw a half-full, plastic wine bottle to Jake, but it hit his radio. The radio, playing a little more than static, got worse. Danny fiddled with the dials to try to get better reception. Nothing he did made much improvement.

Jake said, “There’s a difference between a bum and a mooch. I’ll bum smokes off people, but I pay them back. Sometimes I’ve even paid a debt twice. When I ask someone how much I owe them the nicest thing to hear is, ‘It’s okay, Jake, you’ve already paid me. Hope Shakes doesn’t think that by giving me a drink, every now and then, it’s going to erase the twenty bucks he owes me.”

“No way, man,” said Andre. “If you borrow cash, you repay in cash. If you get someone drunk, they’re expected to do the same for you, in return.”

Jake said, “Every time Ian comes around, he’s mooching cigarettes, money, or booze… mooch, mooch, mooch. He never comes around when he has money of his own. We’re going to have to put him straight on that.”

Danny said, “I saw Shakes at the Blues Festival last night. The police were harassing him. There was a couple, sharing a drink, on one side of the road. The cops ignored them, but they crossed the road and ordered Shakes to dump his bottle. It should be the same law for everyone.”


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless

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)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz ($2.99 Download)

Podcasts: Sara Troy:  Self-Discovery Media Sara Troy:  Positive Vibrations Roundtable Patricia Saunders: Writetimes Literacy Project

22 June 2012

This morning was perfect. Joy was nodding on her plastic crate. I surprised her when I said, “Hello!”

“Jeez, you scared me.” she said, “I wasn’t around yesterday, I was taken to hospital with heat stroke. I asked the doctor, ‘How can that be? I’ve been drinking lots of water. I have two large bottles in my bag.’ He said, ‘Some people are more susceptible than others, especially if your immune system is low.’

“I hate hospitals. I couldn’t wait to get out. When I was there in November, I picked up some superbugs, MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) or VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci). That’s why I was in so long. I could have died from those.

“When I got home, Chuck lit into me, ‘Where have you been? I made supper for you!’ I said, ‘Before you get all wound up, listen to me. I’ve been in hospital. I had heat stroke and they kept me overnight.’ ”

Chuck said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Anyway, there are a couple of pieces of chicken left, in the oven.”

” ‘Oh really?’ I said, ‘How long have they been in there? I think I’ll leave those for you, Chuck.’

“He invited Nicholas and Corrine over for a barbecue yesterday. They were sitting on my bed. Chuck knows I don’t like that. I asked him, ‘Chuck, when am I ever going to get this place alone to myself?’ He said, ‘Maybe Sunday.’ I’ve got to get away from there.”

I said, “I have the addresses and phone numbers for the YMCA. There is one a few blocks from here if you want to check it out?”

Joy said, “The problem with the Y is they don’t allow smoking and you can’t cook in your room. I can’t imagine living in a place where I couldn’t smoke or cook.

“Nick, with the glasses, isn’t with Trudy any longer. He said I could stay at his place for free. I could even have my own bedroom. He’s a real sweetheart and he’s quiet.”

I said, “I’ve talked to Nick many times. I’m really impressed with him. He makes sandwiches and hands them out to homeless people. He’s really a great guy.”

“So what’s been happening at the park?” said Joy, “What drama have I missed?”

I said, “Chile is hanging out with Daimon and Lucy. That was a surprise! The other day she left with them. The three of them were heading downtown.”

Joy said, “That poor kid, she just won’t learn.”

I added, “The police were by yesterday afternoon. I was sitting with Andre and Hippo. The cop couldn’t believe that Andre was sober. Andre said, ‘I drank so much last night that I woke up with the shakes this morning. I decided to give my body a break for the day.’ He held out his hand to show the cop how he was shaking. Hippo was sober as well.

“The cop said, ‘You guys know that they don’t want you here. Why don’t you find another place that we don’t patrol every day?’ Andre said, ‘Every place we go they tell us to move on. We’re in a small group, we’re not drinking or making noise. We’re just sitting here, enjoying the shade, on a hot day. Where do you want us to go?’ ”

“That’s just it,” said Joy, “they’re talking about that place being private property. I’ve never heard that before and we’ve been going there for fourteen years. The other cop said we could stay there as long as we weren’t in a big group, like twenty people. Otherwise, we were okay.”

I asked, “What kind of beef do Daimon and Lucy have against Alphonse and Magdalene. A couple of days ago, Daimon said they were in for a beating. Andre said, ‘Magdalene is five months pregnant.’ Daimon said, ‘I have no problem with hitting a pregnant woman.’ ”

Joy said, “I told those guys, they should gang up, jump him and beat the shit out of him. I’d have no trouble one on one with Lucy and she knows it. The problem is Daimon. He can’t just go around beating and robbing people. When the cops were by the other day, they were checking out some of the guys. I kept nodding toward Daimon and Lucy. They must have a breach outstanding somewhere. The cops just ignored them.

“Alphonse has always been a sweet quiet guy. I don’t know Magdalene.”

At noon, when I arrived at the park there were two groups of people. In the first group were Shark, Wolf and his dog Shaggy, Silver, Nick ‘with the glasses’, Mary and Trudy. In the other group were Andre, Hippo and Little Jake. Sitting by herself, between the two groups was Joy.

“I’m not being antisocial,” said Joy. “It’s just that the reflection of the sun, from that building over there, was shining in my eyes. I think it’s moved now, so let’s go join the group.”

I asked, “Have you talked to Nick? Is everything okay about you staying there?”

Joy replied, “Yeah, I even asked him, if I paid by the month, would it be alright if I moved in permanently. He said we could work out the details, but it was fine with him. I didn’t want to talk too much. I don’t want everyone to know my business.”

We joined the group and Nick said to Joy, “You come over any time you want – rain or shine. I don’t want to see you sleeping outside again.”

“I won’t come unannounced,” said Joy, “I’ll phone first.”

He said, “Don’t worry about that. I’m usually home.”

She said, “It’s just that Chuck always has so many people over.”

“I know, and who ends up funding these barbecues? You do.”

“I just can’t afford it.” said Joy. “Even around here — I bought a carton of cigarettes from Wolf and I had maybe a third of them. The rest went to Hippo, Little Jake and Andre. Chester hit me up for bus tickets. I know his leg is still hurting him, but I have to get home as well. I don’t owe Chester anything. It’s him that owes me.”

Joy left to talk to Chuck. Nick said to me, “Every morning when I walk across the bridge, I’m surprised at who comes out. I have sandwiches that I distribute. I bought some of those plastic containers and filled them with stew. I gave out sixteen of them. I got one container back, the rest I didn’t.

“Sometimes I’ll meet someone, and I’ll invite them to come with me to a restaurant for coffee or breakfast. They might ask, ‘Could you buy me a beer?’ I say, ’Coffee or food, but no beer.’

“I always have my bible with me and I’ll pray for people. We may not be the same religion, but it doesn’t matter. I think it helps them to have someone pray for them.”

Nick’s phone rang. He talked for a while and then handed the phone to Joy.

Joy said, “Hi Pierre, how are you? Are you pissed with me? I was in the hospital. I had to stay overnight. I didn’t have my phone with my contact list. I didn’t know how to get a message to you. Am I still going to see you on the weekend?… Oh… I’ll call you then. Bye.

“He’s acting all pissy because he had invited me to his place for a barbecue and I was going to sleep over, but that was the day I went into the hospital. I didn’t have my phone. I couldn’t contact him. He says that he has things to do on the weekend and he has a lot on his mind.

“His girlfriend is in Inuktuk with his year-old baby. He’s heard that it isn’t his, but what’s he going to do?”

I said, “It shouldn’t matter to him whether it’s his child or not.”

“I agree,” said Joy, “a baby needs love. It doesn’t matter where it comes from.”

It was time for me to leave. “It’ll all work out, Joy. I see good things in your future. Have a good weekend.”

I said goodbye to Nick. He hugged me and said, “I love you, brother.”

I said, “I love you, Nick. We’re on the same path.”


Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:

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)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz ($2.99 Download)