11 July 2012

This morning I was passing the library. Inside, I saw a man sitting on a bench, and a backpack at his side. His hair was long and stringy, and he looked half asleep. I wondered whether I should approach him. I didn’t know what his reaction would be. Decided to take a chance. “Hi, would you like some breakfast?”

He was drinking from a dark plastic bottle. He didn’t acknowledge me or stop drinking. “If you want breakfast, there’s a Tim Horton’s on the next corner.”

Held out a Tim Horton’s card. “I’m just offering, no obligation.”

“No, thanks.”

“Have a good day.”

At the park this afternoon, Gaston said, “I was talking to one of my private clients. We have been working with her for a long time doing odd jobs, and anything she needs help with. She has houses in Arizona and California. We’ve been invited to come down with her and manage one of her houses. All our expenses will be covered. She’ll even arrange for Molly Maid to come in, while we’re away, to manage our existing clients who need their houses cleaned.”

Larry and I discovered that we were both born and raised in Saskatoon. “I lived there for seventeen years,” he said. ” After that, we moved nearby to Osler and Warman. I wasn’t with my real mother and father but lived with a white, foster family. I always felt bad that other kids had parents, but I didn’t, and that’s the way it was. I stayed with that family until I saw the guy hitting his wife. Then I moved out. I went to Winnipeg where I grew up quick.” He lifted up his tee shirt and pointed to his ribs, “This scar is where I was stabbed — a souvenir of Winnipeg. Then I went to prison.

“Had a wife, we split up, but we have a son. Whenever I’m straight and sober, I visit him. He’s seventeen now and he loves me. I’ve never had anyone love me before. We’re neighbors. My ex-wife’s boyfriend doesn’t like me to come around. He thinks that we’re having sex together.

“Educated, I used to be a deeply religious person, went to church every Sunday. Man, I really jumped in with both feet. Then I had an epiphany. It was a dream or a vision where I saw two books on a table, one white, one black. Kept trying to reach for the black one — the bible is usually black — but I was guided to the white one. Shortly after, I came across the book ‘Conversations with God’ by Neale Donald Walsch.  It’s a book where the author asks questions of God and God answers. It opened my eyes. Previously, I felt guilty all the time. Now, I feel free. Can create my own destiny.”

Larry is affected by a pigment disorder (non-segmental vitiligo) above his upper lip. He let his moustache grow, one side came in white, the other black. He had been teased about it, so he shaved it off. “Now I remember why I stopped shaving,” he said. “I must have cut myself three times. That’s what happens when you use those cheap disposable razors, they give you at the Mission. They get them at a discount because the blades have nicks in them. Remember using one of those to shave, and I don’t mean my legs, it made a bloody mess. If I buy one of those five-blade razors it will last me three months.”

Loretta said, “Do you see the self-mutilation job I did to myself? Her legs were covered with bruises. “Got other bruises on my ribs. Larry and I and some others were going to Bluesfest, but we had some booze to drink first. We walked across the black bridge. I’m afraid of bridges anyway. We were on our way back, nearly across the bridge, when I lost my balance and fell over the edge. Landed in the river on some sharp rocks. Could have killed myself. Larry helped me to get out of the water.”

“How many lives is that you’ve used up?” asked Larry.

“Two, I have seven left.”


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