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28 March 2013

As I approached the park I could see Wolf rummaging around in Shaggy’s ‘caboose’. Beside him were Little Jake, Jacques and Chester. I handed a Ken Follett book to Wolf.

“What’s this about?” asked Wolf.

“Espionage, the kind of stuff you like.”

“Yeah, Ken Follett, I’ve read some of his stuff. He’s good. Thanks, Dennis.

“Can I get you to fill Shaggy’s water dish. I’d do it myself, but she wants it right now. There, see, she’s trying to drink it before it even comes out of the bottle.

“I didn’t even go to work this morning. Do you know what time Shaggy and I got up? Eight o’clock, imagine that. Usually, I get up at 4:30 to get ready for 5:30, but not today, no siree. I had to come down here because I owed Jake forty bucks, otherwise, I would have stayed home. Now, I’m drunk.

“Did you see the game last night? Boston against Montreal. At one point Montreal was behind four to two, then in the last thirty seconds, they tied it up, and won in overtime. That’s why I have my Montreal sweater on. See what I’m wearing under this, another Montreal sweater. I got my Montreal cap and I’m sitting on a Montreal cushion. Just wait until some Boston fan comes by. I’ve got everything covered. It was really a fans game. I’m just waiting for Weasel to come by, he’s a Boston fan. He’s probably hiding from me.”

Jacques was feeding Shaggy some pieces of his sandwich. Wolf said, “At least give her a piece with meat. She smells the cheese in your pack.”

“Dennis,” said Jacques. “You like cheese? Look what I got this morning at the Metro store.” He showed me a plastic container of garlic spiced, creamed cheese. Two of these for five dollars, that’s about half price. When they’re near the expiry date they put them on sale. Smell this! You like Limburger? I love it, me. Again, two for five dollars. I had some brie, but already I ate all of it. It’s better warmed up a bit. It was cold this morning so it didn’t have much taste.”

Wolf said, “Jacques and his exotic cheese. Yesterday I boiled some big chicken drumsticks with carrots, onion and celery, just like my mother used to cook. She’d say, ‘Now you boil it for an hour and a half, so it absorbs all the flavor from the carrots and celery.’ It was delicious, of course, Shaggy got some of it.”

Jake said, “Jacques, do you want to come over to my place for some surf and turf? I’m really a good cook. I’ve got steaks, a bag of shrimp. I spent fifty bucks. My arm is sore from carrying two plastic bags of groceries all the way home. I really pigged out yesterday.

“Thanks for getting my bus pass, now everything is taken care of.”

Jacques said, “I can’t go to your place, I still have to get my pills.”

“Shit, that’s something I forgot to do, get my pills.”

Chester got up to leave. “I’ll be back.” he said, “I just have to pay my Rogers bill.”

“Dammit!” said Jake, “I got a Rogers bill at home that I haven’t paid. I forgot all about that. I hope they don’t cut off my television.”

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27 March 2013

As I approached the park I could see the Salvation Army van parked beside the traffic island. About a half dozen people were milling around. I couldn’t make out their faces.

On the opposite curb were Wolf and Shaggy, Shakes and Buck.”

Buck said to me, “Joy’s over there.”

Shortly after, Joy came limping across the street. “I’m sorry I haven’t been around much. My legs are really giving me trouble.”

I asked, “Have you talked to your worker about getting your health card and your prescriptions?”

“I was just asking these ladies to pass a message along to her. I better go back, there’s still some stuff I have to discuss with them.”

“I’ll come with you.”

At the traffic island were Andre, Chester, Mariah and Jacques.”

“Andre!” I said, “I haven’t seen you for months, and you shaved this morning.”

“I not only shaved, but I’ve also been sober for three months now. I’ve just been staying around home. I haven’t been down here for ages.”

“How is your stomach feeling?’

“A lot better now. I’ve still got problems, but not nearly as bad as before.”

I shook hands with Jacques, Mariah and Chester. Chester said, “Dennis, remember those bus tickets you gave me a while back. I think I gave them to Joy or somebody. Do you have any more?”

“Sure, Chester, I’ve got extra.”

Chester said, “Thanks, Dennis, I’m going to be leaving now.”

Mariah said, “He’s just going to the Mission for his lunch. Joy and I were over at his place yesterday. Joy brought some steaks. Raven was there. Joy was really polite to her. She said to me, ‘This is Chester’s place, he can have anyone over that he wants to. I just wish he’d stay away from the people who are just after his money.’

“I don’t know why he invites her over. She probably lets him play with her a bit, I don’t know how far it goes.

“Anyway, Joy was cooking the vegetables and had the steaks in the frying pan. Raven comes over and starts fussing with the meat and flicking her hair. Both Joy and I got pissed off. Joy said, “Just why are you here? Were you invited, or did you just decide to drop by? I’m trying to cook dinner for my friends.” Raven got the hint and left. Chester didn’t say anything.

“I don’t go out very often. I like to be alone and I have a certain reputation, being that I’ve lived there for four years. Whenever there is a vacancy the landlady always asks me if I know them, and what kind of a person are they. There was a real problem with the guy who used to be in the basement. He was a real nut job. I probably had something to do with getting him to leave. He destroyed that apartment. The landlady sued him, but he must have had a really good lawyer because he didn’t have to pay for any damage.”

“What kind of damage did he do?”

“The kind of flooring, that he had, came in a roll, but it had lines on it. Do you know the type I mean?”

“Linoleum?”

“Something like that, anyway, when it’s flat it looks like tiles. He used duct tape over every one of the lines, every place he thought a draft might come through. He took a hammer to the counter, left that in pieces, ripped the cupboards down. For some reason, he threw a bucket of water at the door. Like I said, he destroyed the place.”

“I like to smoke every once in a while, when I lived at the back I could never see the landlady coming. I’d hear her in the hall yelling, ‘I know somebody’s smoking here.’ I’d get out the Fabreze and some other things I use to clear the smell from the air. Now, I live in the front so I can see her car pull up. She told me once, ‘I know you smoke, but I’ve never seen you.’

“Yesterday, I invited Joy to come up. Outcast came over and they went back to her place for a while. He didn’t stay long. She came back up and we listened to music, danced a bit, smoked, had a few beers.

“Every once in a while I have my concerts in the evening: The Eagles, another night it might be Santana, what ever I’m in the mood for. Around 10:30pm I lower the volume. I don’t want to get in trouble with my neighbors, but they all know me.”

It was time for me to leave, so I said my good byes and crossed the street. I said goodbye to Jake and Wolf who said, “Dennis, if you’re coming by tomorrow, could you bring me a book. You know what I like, a spy story, espionage, that sort of thing. I’ve got the whole Easter weekend and no book to read.”

“Sure, Wolf.”

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26 March 2013

Today, Jacques, Wolf and Shaggy were sitting on the curb. A short while later Raven joined them. Wolf asked me, “Dennis, did I see you here yesterday?”

“Yes, Peter, I was here.”

“I thought you might have been, but I couldn’t be sure. I’m a bit foggy about yesterday, it being Jake’s birthday and all. It was my job to take care of him, so to speak. All I remember is being woken up at ‘the heater’ at 11:00pm by the police, saying I couldn’t sleep there. It took me another two and a half hours to walk home. I stopped at Tim Horton’s on the way. I left Shaggy’s blanket behind. I left her water dish behind…

“It’s a good thing you didn’t forget Shaggy.”

“No, I’d never do that. She’d remind me. We’ve been through a lot together.

“So, Dennis, do you have a cigarette for me?”

“No, Peter, I haven’t had cigarettes for thirty years.”

“You’re no help!

“Excuse me, Ma’am, could I buy a cigarette from you?”

“Sorry I only have a few left.”

“Raven, I hate to ask you since you just sat down, but could I have a cigarette?”

“Yes, Wolf, here you go. Jacques will you pass this down?”

“Thanks, Raven. I hate asking. I don’t mind panning. I can get ten bucks that way, but asking for a cigarette? Some of my regulars won’t even give me money if they see me smoking.

Jake asked, “Raven, do we get our checks today?”

“I got mine, Joy got hers. Yours should be in the mail today.”

I asked Raven, “Have you seen Joy lately?”

“Yeah, I saw her earlier today at Chester’s. I decided not to stick around, Joy and I aren’t on good terms lately.”

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25 March 2013

At the park, sitting on the curb, were eight of my street friends. Little Jake asked me, “Dennis, do you know what day this is? It’s my birthday. I turn 42 again. Ha ha ha! I’m half in the bag now, thanks to Wolf, and I got some pot from Jacques.”

“Happy birthday, Jake!”

I walked over to Hippo, who I hadn’t seen for about six months. “Hi Hippo, it’s been a long time. How is everything going?”

“Fine, same old, same old. I got a picture on my phone here that I want to show you. It’s a D-11 dozer, the kind I drove in B.C.”

“That looks like an expensive phone.”

“Yes, it is, very expensive.”

“Do you have any plans to go back there?”

“No, they’re getting me set up on disability allowance. I’ll wait to see how that works out.”

Wolf called me over, “Dennis, I’m a bit wasted, but I wanted to tell you about a book I’m reading. It’s written by a guy…”

Little Chester interrupted, “Hi Wolf!”

“Chester, will you give us a few minutes. I’ll lose my train of thought. Now, where was I? If I get distracted the little mice, running around in their wheel in my brain, get confused and go in every which direction, then I never know what will come to mind.

“Anyway, the book was written by somebody Sandford. I can’t remember his first name (John). The title has ‘Prey’ in it, there is a whole series of them (Eyes of Prey, Winter Prey, Naked Prey, Silent Prey, Night Prey). The main character is Lucas Davenport, a so-called detective from Wisconsin. One of my ladies gave the book to me. I was surprised — it’s a bit raw for their tastes. Anyway, you’d like it — a real shoot-em-up. You know the type. It’s about this ninety-one-year-old man, with dementia, who still thinks the Cold War is still going on. He believes he’s in some kind of a sleeper cell working for the C.I.A. He engages his grandson to do his dirty work. He gets him to shoot an envoy from the Russian Embassy; of course, the grandson screws it all up. You get the idea.”

Shaggy was getting restless and started barking. Wolf said, “Shaggy, stop pacing in circles. Pick someone, anyone, and bite them. How about Jacques over there? No, it’s just Jacques’ shoes you like to bite. How about Jake, or Chester? Okay then, just lie down on your blanket and be quiet. Here’s a doggy biscuit. Dennis, you give her a biscuit. She’ll love you for life.”

I asked Jake, “Do you have your furniture yet?”

“No, not yet. I’m hoping to get some things soon.

Jake asked Pierre, “Do you guys ever come across used or discarded furniture?”

“Sometimes we do. What is it you need?”

“I really need a microwave.”

“We’ll see what we can do.”

“Thanks, man, I’d appreciate that.”

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22 March 2013

A couple of my street friends were at the traffic island trying to avoid Security Guards or Police who would ask them to move along. We greeted each other and I was about to sit on the sidewalk. Little Jake said, “Be careful, Dennis, don’t sit on that metal plate. You’ll freeze your ass off.”

Jacques handed me a folded hoodie, I sat on that. When I was settled Shakes said, “Thanks Dennis for giving me those bus tickets yesterday. I paid my fare and they took me home in handcuffs.”

“How did that happen, Shakes?”

“I wasn’t even drunk, I was just tired. I fell asleep and when I woke up I was in the bus garage at the end of the line. The driver called security. They drove me home in handcuffs.

“I still don’t have my hydro. I phoned my worker this morning. She said, ‘I don’t think we’ll have time to see you today, Shakes.’ I said, ‘You mean I’m going to have to go all weekend without hydro. How would you like to go all weekend without hydro?’ Then she said, ‘We’ll try to make room for you sometime this afternoon.”

“Where is their office? Where do you have to go to meet them?”

“Their office is on Preston, but they know where I’ll be. Where I am every day — at my office.”

Jake asked, “Is everything turned off? When I had problems with hydro a guy took me to the basement. He flipped a breaker switch and everything was okay after that.”

Shakes said, “My heat isn’t on, my stove doesn’t work, my fridge doesn’t work, my radio doesn’t work, my lamp doesn’t work, my microwave doesn’t work, my dishwasher doesn’t work…”

“Shakes, you don’t have a dishwasher!” said Jake, “but you’ve got a hell of a lot more than I have.”

Jacques was paging through a flyer from the Metro grocery store. He said, “I have to buy some margarine. They have
Beycel here for $3.79, but that’s too expensive. Here they have the meat pies I like. They’re so good. Three Meat Pies they call them for $3.50 each. If someone had hydro, he could buy some of these. They’re frozen, you just heat them up in your oven or microwave.”

Jake asked, “When you’re finished with that, Jacques can I have a look at it.

“When do we get our check this month?”

“This month we get it on the Thursday, because the next day is Good Friday.”

“My birthday is on Wednesday. You mean I get my check the day after my birthday. For four days my younger brother and I are the same age. I get that extra $200.00 for my special diet. I’m spending it all on food this time. I’m going to stock my freezer full.”

Jacques said, “Don’t forget your bus pass. It’s only $35.00. I always buy mine on check day. That way I don’t forget.”

Jake said, “Okay, Jacques you remind me and we’ll both get them at the same time.”

Jacques said, “I don’t mind buying yours if you promise to pay me back.”

“Thanks,  I’ll pay you back. I’ll be able to pay everybody back, as long as I don’t celebrate too much on my birthday.

“Look over there, Uncle Wolf is really drunk. Shaggy is rolling in the snow.”

Jacques said, “She wants to go home. She’s been out all morning. Look who else is there, Billy and Troll, the biggest leeches in town. I bet they rob him blind. They know Wolf always makes lots of money on Friday because people know he won’t be panning on the weekend. If Wolf sends Troll on a run, he probably won’t come back.”

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21 March 2013

I saw Joy huddled in her blanket, hood pulled up, with another blanket wrapped around her legs. Under the blanket, she was wearing white and pink striped socks over her summer shoes.

After we greeted she said, “Where were you yesterday? I was worried about you. I even asked Metro if he’d seen you. I guessed that you drove to work.”

I said, “Yesterday I was running late and took another bus route down Elgin Street. Because it was snowing I didn’t think you’d be here.”

“Yeah, I was here. I’m freezing now. This cold weather is really hard on my fibromyalgia. My legs are stiff. At least at home, I have the heater that a friend gave me. I even take it into the bathroom with me. What I’m looking forward to now is a nice hot soak in my bathtub. At home I’m fine. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t running short of money.

“I see these chicks wearing miniskirts up to here, nylons and pointy heeled come-fuck-me-boots. I want to say to them, Put a pair of pants on. When you get to work you can peel off in the washroom and come out looking fly. Who are you trying to impress out here on the street… me?”

“Do you have your health card and your prescriptions, yet.”

“No, I’m still trying to get in contact with my worker. I’ve left all kinds of phone messages for her. I told her, ‘Either I’ll be here, panning, or I’ll be at home.’ How complicated is that?

“There is an apartment opening up on the main floor. I’d be between the guys that stomp around — there’s a third one now — and the crazy lady that screams all the time, but I could take care of that.

“I don’t think I’ll be at the traffic island at noon. It’s just too cold.”

At the traffic island were four of my friends and two dogs. The two dogs didn’t get along, so Weasel tied Bear to a fence on the far side and Buck kept Dillinger on his leash. There was still some barking, growling and howling. Darell said, “Bear thinks he’s the boss, Dillinger thinks he’s the boss. It’s better just to keep them separated. Dillinger is just a pup.”

Weasel asked Shakes, “How’s it going, Shaky? Everything okay at your place?”

“No, I haven’t had a drink.”

Weasel said, “I can help you with that.” To the rest of us, he said, “Shakes and I are the only ones of us who can’t function at all before we’ve had a couple of drinks. I can’t even make it from my couch to the fridge, and I live in a small bachelor apartment.”

Shakes said, “Besides that, they’ve cut off my hydro. I phoned my worker about it. They’re supposed to take care of that. She said, ‘Just take your last bill to the bank. They’ll look after it for you.’ I said, ‘What’s the point of me taking it to the bank. I don’t have any friggin money. I didn’t even have money for the bus yesterday. I got on with Buck, he showed them his pass and I just sat down. The driver said to me, ‘This bus isn’t leaving until you get off.’ ”

I asked, “Did you get off?”

“No, I just sat there. Other people were getting off. They were asking, ‘How long do we have to wait here?’ The driver said, ‘Until this guy gets off, or the police come, whichever happens first.’ Eventually, the transit security guys came. They took me off, then gave me a day pass so I could catch the next bus to get home.”

Darrell said, “So security didn’t mind you bothering another bus driver. They just didn’t want you bothering that one.”

“I guess so.

“Another problem I’m having is my phone doesn’t work. It exploded.”

Weasel said, “Don’t give me that, Shaky! You threw it against the wall. We’ve all been there, done that.”

Jacques asked, “Did you hear that Donny, in the electric wheelchair died. It happened just last Friday. They amputated both his legs, but the gangrene went higher. He died in hospital.

“His brother came down from Toronto. Donny had already died by then. The first thing the brother did was to contact Donny’s worker, then he had the locks changed. That’s strange, isn’t it? Donny had a roommate. Now the roommate can’t get in, get his stuff out or anything. The brother went back to Toronto.

“I saw Joy earlier. She and Chester went over to his place. They asked if I wanted to come, but they both smoke. I don’t want to breathe that stuff. I’d rather stay out in the fresh air. I’d go home, but my window is boarded up and it’s dark in there.”

I asked, “Has anybody heard anything more about Louis?”

Jacques said, “You mean guitar player Louis? Last I heard, from somebody here, was that Louis had been beaten up and was taken to hospital. He wasn’t expected to live through the weekend.”

I asked, “Does anybody know his last name? Maybe I could look him up on the computer.”

Darrell said, “John Loeb. His real name is John Loeb.”

I said, “His name is John, but they call him Lewis for short.”

“Something like that.”

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10 March 2013

This morning Metro said to me, “Your friend is back. I think she’s still there. I didn’t see her pass this way.”

“Thanks, Metro.”

Sure enough, Joy was sitting in her usual place. She said, “I was wondering if you still came by this way. I’ve been out of the hospital for thirteen days, but it was just too cold to come down here. I’m using a cane now, so I have to be careful walking on icy sidewalks. They gave me a walker to use at home, but I can’t carry it up the stairs. I’ve been put on a list for subsidized housing. They’re going to try to find me a place with no stairs.

“Weasel was worried about you, I talked to him last week.”

“Weasel should be worrying about himself. Did you hear what happened to him?”

“He mentioned that he had been in the hospital.”

“He went really crazy. They had him in the Psych. Ward. He thought that people were shooting at him. He was sitting there dodging bullets. I guess they have him on meds. now.”

“Do you have your Health Card now?”

“No, they seemed to have lost it at the hospital. I don’t have my prescriptions either. I thought they would be in the envelope they gave me, but they weren’t there. I was just anxious to get out,

“Before I went into the hospital I had portions of food in baggies. I forgot to put them in the freezer. When I got home there was a horrible smell and a real mess in the fridge.

I walked to the park at noon. It had started raining, so I wasn’t expecting to see anybody. At the benches were a half dozen of my friends and Shaggy. As I approached Wolf said to me, “You just missed Joy, she just left.”

I said, “I didn’t think she’d stay out in the rain.

“How are you Jake, Do you have your furniture yet?”

“No, I fucked up again. I was supposed to have seventy dollars for the delivery. You don’t get anything for free. I’d spent the money, so they put me on the list again. Maybe, next month.”

I said, “I heard that Weasel was in the hospital.”

Wolf said, “He was out with me. We were both over at Shark’s place doing some mushrooms. It was about 1:30am, I guess Shark wanted to go to bed, he asked us to leave. That’s why I don’t like to have people at my place, you can never get them to leave. Anyway, Weasel and I staggered back to my place. He was in rough shape, We’d both been into the Cosmo thing  — if you know what I mean. I think he’d been snorting some dummy dust. I put him in the bedroom, then I heard crashing noises. I went in, he’d torn my metal table in half and was hiding in the closet saying that people were shooting at him. I was pissed off, so I told him to leave. Half an hour later he came back with three cops. I told them that I had to put the two dogs in a room, so I had plenty of time to stash my pot and anything else I had out.

“I opened the door, invited the cops in. They asked me about the shooting. I told them, ‘There’s been no shooting here. It’s all in Weasel’s head.’ I showed them the mess he made. Showed them some photos of him and me together with the dogs, so that they knew we were buds. I asked them to take him somewhere. They said, ‘We don’t operate a taxi service.’ I said, ‘Do what you like then, but he’s not coming back in here.’ He was in the hospital for about five days. When he came back to get Bear he apologized, but he didn’t offer to pay for any of the damage. If he’d offered me a hundred bucks, I wouldn’t have turned him down.”

 

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11 March 2013

It was raining this morning until about 9am. At noon I went to the park, not expecting to see any of my friends. Wolf and his dog Shaggy were there along with Little Chester.

Wolf said, “Hello, Dennis, I hope you’re going to help me beat up Jacques today. He really pissed me off. The number of years I’ve been around I don’t need anybody telling me where to sit. I’ve been downtown since six this morning. I was at my spot until nine then came here. I’m soaked, Scruffy is soaked and our caboose is soaked. I got something here, but don’t tell anyone.” He pulled out a bottle of sherry from under Scruffy’s blanket and took a drink. (Scruffy prefers to lay in the mud.) Then he took out a can of Old Milwaukee and poured it in his drinking bottle and down his leg.

“Sit down, Chester. Oh, I forgot, we had this conversation yesterday, you prefer standing.”

“Yeah, I like to stand. I’m short enough anyway. The only way I get to look down on people is if they’re sitting and I’m standing.”

I asked, “So, how’s it going, Chester?”

“About five feet, one and a half inches. Standing on the curb makes me a bit taller.”

“No, I meant how are things going for you?”

“I’m doing okay, I only think about what’s going on right now. I don’t think about the future.”

“That’s a good attitude. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We don’t even know what’s going to happen in the next hour.”

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https://rainn.org/

 

……

28 June, 2012

At noon I walked past Serge who was asleep on a park bench. I proceeded to the park where Shakes was asleep on the grass. Andre was talking to Little Jake and his brother, Steve about how he single-handedly took on four attackers. He beat three of them and the fourth ran away. Andre offered me his stool, which I gratefully accepted. Steve talked about a fight he had with Gilles, a former hockey player, whose head was harder than Steve’s elbow.

There was another group of seven further on, so I moved on to talk to them. Rocky had been sent on a run and came back from the liquor store loaded down with two large bags full of beer and sherry. Hippo offered everyone a beer.

“Rocky,” I said, “how are the arrangements coming for your housing?”

“As far as I know, I’ll be moving on July 15.”

I said to Irene, “You’re moving soon too, aren’t you?”

“Well, I move at the end of July, The Salvation Army is showing my apartment at 1:30 today. The fridge is leaking and it’s causing the wood flooring underneath to buckle. I’ve put in a report to the superintendent. I got almost all my deposit back. Because I’m leaving two months before the end of my lease, I don’t get it all.

“I told the Salvation Army that I needed to move closer to my doctor. Since Shark had to call an ambulance for me twice in the last month there was no argument.”

“So, are you and Shark moving in together?”

“No, we thought of that, but it wouldn’t be feasible. Is feasible the right word? Anyway, Shark has a license for medical marijuana and morphine because of his HIV. If he was away, and the stuff was on the kitchen table, and for some reason, the cops came by, I could be charged with possession.

“I don’t have a new place yet. I’m not having my rent paid through O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program) so I had to wait to get my deposit money first, before looking for a place. They’re going to want first and last month’s rent and I wouldn’t have that without my deposit money.

I asked Joy, “How did it go with Chuck, telling him that you were moving out?”

“Not good.”

“He didn’t hit you or anything did he?”

“No, that’s something I never had to worry about with Chuck. I packed my bag and took a cab to Chester’s place. I got him stoned this morning. That’s why he isn’t here.

“Now, I’m waiting for Buck and Pierre, who had to go to court this morning, so I’m just waiting for a phone call to let me know when he’s coming by. I’ve tried phoning him, but all I get is his voice mail.”

“Joy,” said Outcast, “you look like you’re going to cry. Is that because of your allergies or menopause?”

“I’ve been feeling this way for the past two months. It’s called stress. You try to live with Chuck and his friends. See how you make out.”

“No thanks, living with Debbie, going through menopause, is bad enough. Dennis, you’re married, you know what I’m talking about.”

Joy’s phone rang. “Hi, Pierre, when are you coming up here? I thought you’d be finished by now. Not until 3:00? Okay, I’ll see you later.

“I thought he was going to be finished at 1:30. He isn’t going in until 1:30. I’m waiting for Buck. I wanted to get some pot from him. Shark, will you sell me some pot? I don’t know when Buck will be coming. I have to get some groceries.”

Andre said, “Maybe you could have it delivered. I remember we did that one time. We phoned a liquor delivery service and said, ‘Can you deliver twenty-four beer to the second bench, north of the Laurier Bridge?’ They delivered it.”

“How much did that cost?” I asked.

“$42.50, plus the cost of the beer.

“Hippo, I’ve got something for you. I waited until you were sober to give it to you.” He handed him a carved wooden elephant. “It looks sort of like a Hippo. All you have to do is cut off the tusks, the trunk and the tail. People won’t know the difference.”

Hippo started scraping it against the cement to remove the redundant parts.

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……

6 March 2013

This afternoon I found Weasel and his dog, Bear panning on the sidewalk. I stopped to talk to him and the first thing he asked was, “Have you heard anything about Joy?”

I said that I hadn’t and mentioned that I had phoned the hospital today with no result.

I said, “She has her own place now. She has friends nearby if she has any problems.”

“She has to stop drinking. For the past year, she’s been watering her wine down to almost nothing, but she still gets sick. Her kidneys are ready to shut down. She may have been on dialysis again. I don’t know. Do you have her phone number?”

‘No, I’ve never had a phone number for her.”

Weasel said, “I have a phone, but I don’t have any numbers on it. I barely know how to use it.”

“It’s hard to quit drinking, I just got out of the hospital myself. I was dehydrated. The doctor said, ‘I don’t want to state the obvious, you should quit drinking, but if you have a glass of juice or water, between drinks of alcohol, that will help.’

“The people at the Shawarma Restaurant here kind of mother me. Mia will come out on her break and bring me a bottle of vitamin water or Gatorade. She’ll say, ‘Now, Weasel, I want you to drink this to keep your electrolytes up. I’m going to stand here until you drink it.’ Another waitress will bring me a bottle of something when her shift has ended.

“Little Jake, Wolf and I were talking a while back and we counted fourteen of us who have gone this past year. That’s really sad. I’m not going to last much longer.”

I asked, “Have you seen anything of Claude, lately?”

“No, I haven’t seen him for three or four months. I don’t know what’s happened to him.”

I said, “I visited him in the hospital when he had his last fall…”

“Yeah, he said it was a fall, but nobody falls that much. He was beaten, probably by some of those young punks. He was a nice guy, always quiet, minded his own business, kept to himself.”

 

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