Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

31 May 2012

At noon there were cloudy periods, with a cool breeze blowing. In the sun it was warm, in the shade it was cool. Yesterday was check day for all the people on government assistance. At the park were Serge,  Heartless, Loretta, Mariah, Anastasia, Little Jake, Andre, Hippo, Shark and Irene.

Today there was a motorcycle parade from Parliament Hill down Elgin Street in view of the park. RIDE to REMEMBER “say never again” Ottawa 2012. Motorcycle clubs from around the world are riding from Ottawa to Toronto in remembrance of veterans and to say “never again” to the Holocaust.

Some Jewish and Christian bike clubs have made the trip from as far as the UK and Australia to remember those lost in the Holocaust and to support Israel.

Anastasia, white-haired, probably in her sixties was jumping up and down. “There’s one with ‘ape hangers’, one with a side car, some BMW’s, a few Indians, on the trailer is a 1939 Knucklehead Bobber. I’ve ridden one of those.

Little Jake said, “This is Harley heaven, man. Listen to that rumble. There must be hundreds of them.”

“Settle down you two”, said Andre, wearing a women’s, hot pink, peaked cap. You’re going to have an orgasm.”

I talked first to Irene. I knew that she had been to the doctor, so I asked how she was feeling. “Not so good. I’m on antibiotics, but they gave me the wrong kind. I’m menopausal, borderline diabetic, I have cirrhosis, hep. c, cancer. From the head up I’m okay, the rest of me is falling apart. Yesterday, I didn’t even get out of bed. I needed a beer to get me feeling level. Shark with AIDS is in better shape than I am. He’ll far outlive me.

Shark  said, “You’re going through alcohol withdrawal. That’s the way I feel when I haven’t had my morphine. I take medication for AIDS, but I only take two tablets a day. Some people take about nine pills and they have to be at different times during the day. I’ve been this way for about seven years.”

Irene said, “We’re looking for another apartment, a two bedroom. We can afford it, and it doesn’t make sense us each having our own places. We’re either at one or the other. I want something closer to downtown. I can’t take the long bus rides from where I am now.”

“How about a place near where Joy is?” I asked.

“In the market? No, I know too many people there. Maybe in Vanier, but I know too many people everywhere.”

“Did I tell you that Joy, Donald and I, all lived on Lacasse Street in Vanier? It’s quite a coincidence. I was two blocks from Montreal Road, Joy lived a few blocks further down, and Donald lived further still near Blake Boulevard.”

“I’m giving my two months notice where I am, so we have quite a while to look for a place. I want to make sure it’s in a nice neighbourhood.”

“That’s important.” I said.

Little Jake came up to me, “Do you see how everyone is broken up into little cliques today.” Shark, Irene and Heartless have moved away because they think this is the place where the police will come first.”

Silver said, “I’m not sitting with those women, they’re the ones that took Chester’s money. They got him drunk and then went through his pockets. He had an $8,000 inheritance that they went through in a month. Now that he’s run out of money they won’t have anything to do with him.”

Loretta was holding on to Matches. “Can you give me a hand?” she asked.

“What’s he trying to do? Get up, or sit down?”

“He says it’s slow motion.”

I held Sparky’s hand and he gradually lowered himself to a sitting position.”

I asked him,”How did you get the cut on the bridge of your nose, Matches?”

“I was jumped by two guys on Rideau Street last night. I’ll remember their faces. They even wanted to press charges against me. It was them that started it.

“I’ve lost something. Can you help me? I’m looking for two brown envelopes.” He pointed to a plastic grocery bag. “Whenever I go to the bank, I put my money in a brown banking envelope.”

“I’ll have a look, Matches. You’ve got lots of brown paper napkins, packs of pepper, plastic knives and forks, a muffin, your bottle of wine. Here’s one brown envelope. I can’t find a second one. I’ll put your bag near the fence.”

Loretta said to me, “Did you hear my good news?”

“No,” I said, “what’s your good news.”

“I’m going to be moving to Gatineau. I have permission from my probation officer. I came here today to collect my clothes from all my friends. Tomorrow, I move. My roommate is going to be a woman I’ve lived with before. She’s six months pregnant. We’re getting a two bedroom apartment.”

“Congratulations!” I said, “You must be excited.”

“Yes I am. Have you seen Joy today?”

“No, she wasn’t on Metcalfe Street, but I wasn’t expecting her. She usually stays away for a few days after she gets her check. She likes to be on her own for a while, where it’s quiet.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s the way you get to know yourself.”

“I agree. It’s a good idea. I enjoy doing that as well.”

I walked over to where Hippo was standing alone. I shook his hand, he winced. “Did you break your hand?”

“Yes.”

“Shouldn’t it be in a cast like Nick’s?’

“No, they said it wouldn’t help.”

“I see that you have stitches above your eyebrow.”

“Yeah, they stitched it on the inside then on the outside. I can’t wait to get my hands on the guy who did this to me. He was a crack head.

“I also got barred from the Sally again. I was eating my dinner, when a guy came and said, ‘You can’t eat here. You’ve already eaten.’ I said, ‘Okay, you eat it then!’ I tossed it into the bubble (the information desk).

“I really liked the poem you wrote. I made copies and gave them to all my friends. Some people think I’m kinda slow, but here I am.”

“I love you, man,” and gave him a hug.

“I don’t want to cry, but I feel it coming. Someone still loves us.”

“Take care, Hippo. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

As I was leaving, a man came up to me. I shook his hand and said, “Hi my name is Dennis.”

“Yeah, we’ve met before. I shaved off my beard.”

“I haven’t seen you for a couple of months.”

“Yeah, I’ve been away. I bought beer for the guys. Would you like a beer?”

“Thanks, but I have to get back to work.”

“Do you need any money?”

“No, I’m good, but thanks anyway.”

“You’ve always treated me like gold, man. I appreciate it.” He gave me a hug and I returned to work.

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31 May 2013

Last week the temperature was below freezing (28 degrees F) today it’s hot (90 F) with the humidex reading it feels like 110. Nobody in the park had much energy. Hippo had a bad sunburn on both of his legs.

I said, “I heard of Hippo’s adventures last night. What else happened?”

Joy said, “It was hilarious, I got a phone call from Mariah, she said, ‘You’ll never guess, but Hippo phoned. He just got out of jail.’ I said, ‘I’d wondered what happened to him. He was in my apartment, I went out to get some honey garlic wings, when I came back he was gone. I ate four and put the rest in the fridge.’ ”

“How can someone, going from point A to point B, end up in jail?”

Hippo said, “It was because of that bitch.”

“What bitch? You mean that crazy Portuguese woman down the hall?”

“No, the bitch cop. Sorry, I meant woman cop.”

I said, “Hippo, you could have been shot.”

“She had her gun out, alright. She said,  ‘Get down!’  I got down. They put the hand cuffs on and dragged me to the back of the cruiser. That’s how I got these scrapes on my arm.”

Joy said, “I’d rather be shot that tazed. When they get you down they always give you a few extra zaps to increase the pain.

“Let’s back up a bit, Hippo, I don’t mind you calling her a bitch. I got no problem with that, but you chased a woman with a hammer?

“I guess I did. I don’t remember.” Joy smacked his left sunburned thigh, Mariah smacked the other.”

Joy asked, “How do I know that some time you won’t hit me with a hammer?”

“I’d never do that, Joy.”

“You just keep talking and I’ll do to you what I did to Brian yesterday. He just wouldn’t stop talking.

“Yesterday, you and me went to the bank. You could only get $120.00 out.”

“Yeah, that’s all the bank machine would let me take. We’ll go back today and I’ll talk to a teller.”

Joy said, “You mean go inside the bank, just like humans?”

“Yeah, just like humans.”

“Then we’ll go to my place and finish those wings.

“Before this night’s out I’m going to get your PIN (Personal Identification Number) for the bank machine.”

Hippo said, “What year was the first Harley built?”

“1903?”

“That’s my PIN.

“People always say I’m full of shit, but down a quart.”

Joy was looking beyond the railing into the park, “Jacques, take a look. Doesn’t that dog look just like Harley; you know, Rosie’s dog — Big Titties Rosie?”

“Ah, yes, I remember her. Harley looked something like that but didn’t have the white on his nose. Also, he was skinnier.”

“I know it’s not the same dog, but the same breed.”

“Yes, maybe you’re right.”

Deaf Donald was sitting beside me. He’s been deaf since birth, so he sometimes has trouble communicating. He said, “I can read lips, you know. Even if two people are across the street I can tell what they’re saying. It nearly got me in trouble one day. I walked across the street and repeated word for word what these people had been saying. The guy got really pissed off.

“I’ll show you. I’ll go over to the fence and you mouth something. I’ll tell you what you said.”

I mouthed, “Hi Donald, are you having a good day?”

“You said, Hi Donald, you’re deaf. Is that right?”

“No, I said, ‘Hi Donald, are you having a good day?”

“You move your lips too fast. Let Joy try it. Say something to me, Joy.”

You said, “I’ve got shit stains on my underwear?”

Joy said, “That’s right. That’s what I said.”

Donald said, “I got news for you. I’m not wearing underwear.”

Joy said, “I’m not sure if I really want to go there, but why aren’t you wearing underwear?”

“Because I’m wearing white pants and I’m clean.

“I have to go for my methadone treatment, but after that I’ll buy some chicken and maybe Hippo and I could come over to your place for supper?”

“That ain’t hapennin’, dude. You’re never coming to my place. I’m down here, dude. Look at me.”

Donald left, Joy said, “That guy gives me the creeps, especially when he does that thing with his eyes. I think he was dropped on his head too many times when he was a baby.”

I said, “He told me that — while his mother was pregnant with him, his father beat her up and threw her down a flight of stairs.”

“Yeah, I heard that. Just before my second son was born, my ex beat me something fierce. The baby was born with a broken leg and two broken ribs. Jay did two years for that.

“I can also read lips and sign. When I was a kid I had lots of ear infections and got a perforated ear drum. I can’t hear with my right ear. It’s handy sometimes even with Donald. I watch his eyes, and can say things when he’s not looking.”

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14 June 2013

Tim Hortons Coffee & Bake Shop

Tim Horton’s Coffee & Bake Shop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I approached Shakes, sprawled as usual, on the sidewalk. I noticed that he wasn’t wearing his trademark hat, leather with a shell band. I asked, “How is your day going?”

“Terrible!”

“What’s wrong?”

“I was robbed. They took everything: my three grams, my bottle, my pack, my wallet, my house keys. They even took my hat.”

“How did it happen? Were you jumped?”

“No, I passed out. When I woke up everything was gone.”

“You mentioned that your wallet was missing. Did you have your health papers in there?”

“I don’t know what I had in there. You know how it is, I don’t look in there unless I need to.”

“Will you be able to get into your apartment?”

“I got an extra apartment key. I’d left it at the convenience store that gives me credit. What I don’t have is a key for the main door. They say they’re going to charge me fifty dollars to get a new one. Steve, over there lives in the same building that I do.”

“So, he’ll be able to let you in.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll  have to climb up the balcony.”

“Do you think you could do that?”

“I don’t know. We’ll have to see. Forty years ago I could shimmy up any tree there was.”

Jake said, “Dennis, I’ve got something funny to tell you. It was around Christmas time. I went over to Shakes’ place, because he owed me something. I forget what it was. Anyway, it was three o’clock in the morning. I parked my self — my back against his door — and started pounding with my elbows and yelling ,’Matches, let me in!’ He opened the door, grabbed my jacket by the hood, dragged me down the hall and threw me down the marble stairs. I was so drunk I couldn’t feel anything. I found it so funny I just lay at the bottom of the stairs laughing. Shakes said, ‘Merry Christmas!’ Then walked back to his apartment. The hood was ripped off my coat. I managed to crawl home, somehow. I don’t remember that part.

“Do you know what I wake up to every morning? A photo of Bear after Animal died. Bearded Bruce had it framed and gave it to me. It’s just Bear, and part of Bruce. It makes me smile every time I look at it.”

Wolf said, “I’m having a great day. A lady came by — I may have seen her before. She gave me a bag with a bandanna for Shaggy. See, it has paw prints on it. She also gave me two Tim Horton’s cards worth five dollars each, some dog treats and this book, “A Bird in the House” by Margaret Laurence. I don’t know who she is, but I started right in reading it. Some women came by and told me about the story. I like it.

“Margaret Laurence is a very good writer,” I said. “I’ve read, The Stone Angel and The Diviners by her. I’m sure you’ll like the book.”

“I liked the horse book you gave me. I didn’t think I would,  so, maybe I’ll like this too. I was just so impressed that the lady thought about me and took the trouble to put this bag together.  She’s a good person. It really made my day. I’m still happy — but now I have to take a piss. When I get back we can talk more about books. There’s no point trying to talk to to Shakesor Jake. They wouldn’t know what I was talking about.”

Deaf Donald came by and, pointing to an empty spot on the curb, asked, “Is any body here?… Is anybody here?”

Little Jake said, “No, sit down.”

“What did you say?”

“I said, sit the fuck down.”

“What’s your problem? I just asked if anybody was sitting here. I’ll remember what you said. What did I do wrong? I don’t know what it is that I did.”

“Donald, come here and sit down.  You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Donald sat on the blanket where Wolf had been sitting. Wolf came back and said, “What the fuck are you doing on my blanket!  Did I give you permission to sit there. You don’t just sit down on someone’s blanket. Now, get the fuck away from here!”

Donald, with tears in his eyes, said to Frank, “You told me to sit there. Why did you do that?”

“I told you to sit down. I didn’t tell you to sit there.”

Donald said, “I’m having a really bad day. Last month my grandma died. I’ve just learned that my mom’s dying of cancer and she’s kicked me out of her house.”

“Donald, for Christ’s sake, I’m sorry, man!” said Wolf. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I’m just a cantankerous, grumpy old man. You know that.  Ask anybody.”

I said, “I agree with that. How about you Jake, do you agree? Shakes? Is Wolf a cantankerous, grumpy old man?”

There was a resounding, “Yes!” Wolf and Donald shook hands and Wolf returned to where he was sitting.”

Gaston said to me, “I read that this location is rated number ten in the city as far as homeless people are concerned. The Mackenzie Bridge is rated number one.”

I asked, “Who establishes these ratings, and what’s the criteria?

“I don’t know. I’m wondering how we can get moved up the scale. I hate that we’re coming in last. What does that say about us?

“I’ve been working on the book I’m writing. It’s been twelve years since I started. It’s finally coming together.”

“Have you published any other books, in English?”

“Yes, in 1992. It didn’t do much. The title is, Tu Parles , To Speak. All my books have something to do with psychology. In this book there are four characters who live in the same apartment. They each have girlfriends. The conflict comes when someone hasn’t contributed to the rent. They don’t know who it is, but one character pleads his case to get the others on his side…”

 

 

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English: Ryan Hobson joins Michael Ignatieff f...

English: Ryan Hobson joins Michael Ignatieff for food bank photo op. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

13 June 2013

At the park, I sat between Little Jake and Joy. I asked Joy, “How are you feeling today? Sick? Sore? Tired?”

“All of the above. Big Jake is coming over tonight.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Okay, I guess. He came over Monday. He’s quit drinking. He’s in a wheelchair.”

“Did you beat  the shit out of him?”

“No, maybe that will come tonight.”

“He phoned this morning, on Jacques’ phone. He asked to come over. I said, ‘I’m cooking chicken, will that be alright?’ What a stupid cow. I shouldn’t be feeding him after what he did to me.”

“I hope it goes okay.”

“I hope so too. This morning I got on the bus, put in my ticket, walked to the back and sat down. The driver yelled, ‘Hey lady!’ I didn’t know who he was talking to. ‘You, lady with the blue back pack, would you come to the front please?’ I look to see what color my backpack is — blue. So I walk to the front. He asked, ‘What’s in the bottle that you’re drinking?’ I said, ‘It’s bubble tea with ginger ale. You know, bubble tea? Usually it’s made with tea and sparkling water, but I use ginger ale.’ He said, ‘Okay, you can sit down.’

Little Jake said, “Didn’t he ask to smell it? The cops always ask to smell my bottle.”

“No, bus drivers don’t do that. They wouldn’t want their nose anywhere near my bottle.”

“I’ll have to remember that one.”

Mariah  said, “I went to the Food Bank today. I could only get a few things. They allowed me three cans: one of vegetables, one stew and one tuna. They also gave me a tiny plastic container of margarine and a few other items.”

“What kind of stew did you get?” asked Joy, “Is it the one that tastes like dog food — Gravy Train?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“I had to get there three hours before they opened, even then there was a line up. By the time I got in, there was hardly anything left.”

“Didn’t you get any meat or eggs?”

“When I had kids, they used to give me meat and eggs, but not as a single.”

Shakes asked, “Mariah, would you help me to get my groceries some day.”

“I can’t do it Friday, but maybe Saturday.”

“Saturday is fine. The doctor has me on a special diet.”

“Dennis, ” said Shakes, “you know me?”

‘Yes, I know you.”

“I know when it’s coming and I know when it’s going — right?”

“That’s right Shakes, you’re The Man.”

 

 

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homeless family L

 

12 June 2013

The park was welcoming today. The sun was shining the weather was warm and the regulars were sitting on the curb. “Shark, ” I said, “I haven’t seen you for a long time.”

“No, I don’t come here very much any more.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay. My feet hurt — that’s because of the HIV.”

“How is Irene?”

“This morning she was puking her guts out. It’s a reaction to the new medication. She hasn’t been outside since winter;  just doesn’t have the energy. There is always an excuse, ‘It’s too hot? It’s too early. It’s too cold.’ When she does invite me out with her, it’s evening, and I’m drunk by then. I keep telling her, “Let’s do our shopping in the morning when it’s cool and the crowds aren’t as large. I have to stop by Wal-Mart for groceries on my way home. I’ll be leaving shortly.”

This is a selfmade image from the english wiki...

This is a selfmade image from the english wikipedia. The photographer has uploaded it as GFDL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Joy has been staying at Chuck’s place, just around the corner from me. She wouldn’t come over to our place because of me.  Irene didn’t want to go to Chuck’s place, so they didn’t get to see each other.”

Loretta came down the sidewalk and stopped to talk.

“Loretta, ” I said, “Shark and I were just discussing how complicated women are. They always invent new rules and forget to tell us about them.”

Loretta said, “Yeah, I can’t even figure myself out.

“Shark, did you hear that I finished a two month program? I’ve been sober for over five months.

“Congratulations, Loretta! I said. “You mentioned that you’re going back to school. When does that start?”

“In another month. I have to finish my grade twelve first, then I’m going to secretarial college.”

“Buck has quit smoking. He’s got two patches and a puffer. It’s been four days now.”

“Yeah,” said Shark, “I saw him this morning to buy some smokes. He told me all about it. He’s been sober four years, hasn’t he?”

“Five.”

“Good for him, ” said Shark. “I should quit smoking. It would save me a lot of money. Mind you, I’ve been saving money not buying diapers. I get a two hundred-dollar allowance for those. This morning, at Buck’s place I let a wet fart, I said, ‘Oh, oh, I better go home.'”

Loretta said, “Nothing a shower and a change of clothes can’t fix.

“I had his dog Dillinger all day yesterday. He loves to chase a ball.”

Shark said, “He can play with it all by himself. He bats it with his paw, then runs after it.

“What’s happening with that asshole you went out with?”

“He’s in detention now.”

“Has he been bothering you lately?”

“Not since they put the restraining order against him.” To me she said, “This all has to do with to when I was raped.  It’ll be a year ago July seventh.  I went to the hospital immediately after, so they have evidence and were able to charge him. There’s been a preliminary hearing. The official court date has been set for September.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to charge a guy with rape. At home it used to happen all the time.

“See what I made?” Loretta showed me a lighter that had a red, beaded cover. “A guy in the recovery program showed me how to do it. It’s made with seaweed beads and clear fishing line. I want to try to make cell phone covers.”

Wolf said, “Dennis, I read that horse book you gave me. I didn’t think I’d like it. I don’t know anything about horses. I always thought it was a sport for rich people;  but I didn’t have anything else, it was on the top shelf,  so I started reading. I really dove into it. I couldn’t put it down.  I had to find out who was killing the horses. Have you read the book?

“No, I haven’t read it.”

“Then you won’t mind me telling you that the vet was behind it. He was poisoning them. I wouldn’t give the book a first rank, but it was still good. I prefer the shoot-em-up detective kind.

“I’ve been sober for the past five days. Because of the rain, I didn’t feel like going out;  but after a while — even with the books — Shaggy and I get bored, so we come down here.  I don’t like everybody here. I told Jacques to fuck off the other day.

“Jacques, I’m sorry about the other day. Are we okay?”

Shamus  and Brent from the Innercity Ministries stopped by. “Would anybody like a sandwich?”

Shark said, “Yeah, I’ll take one. Do you have any razors? How about Chapstick, or lip gloss, or something like that. Irene wants me to get her some.”

Shamus said to Shakes, “How have you been?”

“I’ve been trapped in my apartment. I didn’t want to leave with the door unlocked,  so I had to stay there for two days.  I haven’t paid my cable bill, so I didn’t have television. I haven’t paid my phone bill so I didn’t have a phone. I had nothing.”

I asked,  “Did Sammy have your keys?”

“Yeah, Sammy had them. Yesterday he came back and apologized. He said, ‘I forgot I had your keys. I brought you a bottle.'”

I asked, “So, everything is good now?”

“Yeah, everything is good.”

 

 

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homeless family L

 
30 May 2013

I approached the group of people near the park. I tried shaking hands with Shakes who was lounging on the grass.  He pulled me down. “Dennis, do you know where I slept last night? Right over there (He pointed to another section of the park.) I passed out in the rain.”

I asked, “When did you wake up?”

“Seven o’clock this morning. Danny woke me up. He was sleeping over there (pointing behind him). Dennis, could you spare me enough to get a bottle?”

“I’m sorry, Shakes. I don’t have my wallet with me. You know I’d help you out if I could.”

“Yeah, I know that, Dennis. I’m a street person. I had to ask.

” Some people look down on us, don’t give us any respect.”

“You know I don’t feel that way, Shakes, don’t you?

“Yes, I know that, Dennis.” He opened his palm and showed me three grams of weed. Then he laughed.

I said, “That should be enough to get you there.”

Hippo was wandering around in the bushes. Shakes said, Hippo is incognito.”

I asked, “Do you mean he’s disguised as another animal?”

Joy said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately.  The cops were at my place last night. They kept asking me where Andre is.   I said, “Have a look around, if you find any green slime that will be him.

One of them said, ‘Your old man is out, he’s staying at the Sally.’ I said, ‘He’s not my old man, he’s my ex. I know he’s out he’s been out two weeks today.’

“Anyway, They’re going to meet me at my place in an hour. That is if they don’t come by and pick me up here.”

Little Jake said, “Andre is dead to us. He’ll end up like Kenny back there. I have to take a leak. I’ll be right back.”

Joy said, “If  Brian’s got his mouth open, piss in it.”

I asked, “What happened to Brian?”

Joy said, “He was actin’ like an asshole, a dickhead. He wouldn’t stop talking.  I told him that he should go; that every guy here wanted to kick the shit out of him.” Jacques,  Shark,  Hippo and Little Frank walked away.

“I said to him, ‘Are you going to leave now?’ He just sat there, so I nailed him in the face. His nose exploded — there was blood everywhere. Then I kicked him in the back of the head. He said, ‘Joy, you broke my nose!’ I said, “Let me straighten it out for you.’ I kicked him on the other side of his head. That knocked him out. I think he’s still laying back there.

“I’m not usually like that. These guys know me as a fighter, but this is the first time they’ve actually seen me fight. I don’t know what’s happening to me. It’s been this way for the last month.”

I asked, “Did Greg take you to get your Health Card yesterday?”

“Yeah he did. I made an appointment with the doctor for this afternoon, but I had to cancel because the police are coming over.

“Everybody else got their check today, even Mariah, who lives upstairs from me.  I’ve got a suspicion that the nut case down stairs goes through my mail. I check the mail in the late afternoon. There won’t be any. In the morning there’s mail in my box. Go figure.

“Jacques called me a rat and a goof for pressing charges against Andre. I said, ‘Jake was beating me for three years. Nobody said anything when I put him in prison. Why is it different with Andre?’

Wolf said to me, “As you can see I’m that way again.”

“I can see, Wolf. I’ve heard that you’ve been this way all week.”

Debbie intends to write a book about her life. I had an extra notebook and pen that I gave to her.  She said, “Thanks, Dennis, I really appreciate this.”

 

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homeless family L

 

 July 10, 1965 – May 8, 2013. Outdoors-man, dog lover, storyteller, avid reader, sportsman, son, brother, stepson, brother-in-law, uncle, great-uncle, nephew, friend and faithful Boston Bruins fan. His was a sensitive and creative soul whose life did not follow a conventional path.

In his early years, David was an athlete who excelled at hockey and soccer. He also enjoyed a love of sailing.

He worked as a videographer, a tradesman and a nanny.

While David lived most of his life in Ottawa, he also lived in Vancouver and spent time in Ireland.

His last years were challenging and he spent much of his time on the streets of Toronto with his loyal companion, his dog Blackie. They were very grateful for the kindness of strangers.

David’s family and friends love him, miss him and wish him safe and happy travels.

A private celebration of David’s life has taken place. His ashes are now in Halifax and will be scattered on the Atlantic, as he wished.

 

 

18 May 2013

Wolf handed me Weasel’s obituary. He said, “I like the line, ‘His was a sensitive and creative soul.’ He was a good friend and I don’t want to get Little Jake upset, but just between me and you, it doesn’t say anything about how many times he punched Jake in the head when he was high on crack; or the time he kicked my door down, trashed my apartment and beat me. I know I shouldn’t speak bad of the dead, but I just had to say that. You understand?”

“I understand, Wolf.”

“Okay, enough said about that. I really enjoyed the book you gave me, the  one about the war;  not the one about the racehorse. Horse racing is for rich people. I didn’t think I’d understand the racing terms. I put it in my bookshelf and I’ll read it some day: but the other book, by Ken Follett, that was really great. It gave me something to read all weekend. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down. Did you like it?”

“I haven’t read it.”

“You haven’t? Do you want me to bring it back to you? Have you, at least, read the back of the book, so you know what it’s about?”

“Yes, I read the back, but no, Wolf, you hang on to it. I’ve got too many books on the go right now.”

“Okay, I understand, but just so you know, that’s the kind of book I can really get into. Did you know that it starts on the first day of the Second World War? They had some massive planes that could land on the sea, but then they built so many runways that these planes just weren’t practical. After all the whole idea was to use them for bombing and if they had to land near the shore that wasn’t so good.  Have you ever seen a big plane that could land on the ocean?”

“I’ve seen pictures of big sea planes.”

“At first, when I started reading, I thought the Germans were after a spy on the plane, but it turned out that they were really looking for a  scientist. If they caught him they’d put him in chains in some prison and would have interrogated him until they got all the information they needed to develop the atomic bomb. You know what would’ve  happened then.  We wouldn’t be here.”

I asked, “Has anyone seen or heard anything about Serge,  in the past six months?”

Little Frank said, “No, the last I heard, he was in hospital, on life support. He didn’t have any family, that anyone knew of. We didn’t even know his last name.  Another person we haven’t seen for a while is Blaine. I’m guessing that they’ve both passed on.

Mariah was sitting on the other side of me. I asked her, “How have you been feeling?”

“I’m okay today, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got a pain in my hip caused by two slipped disks in my spine. I have two others  that have been fused since I was nineteen. I was having treatment for about six months.  At first,  I could hardly move.  My back was hunched over and I couldn’t straighten up. They gave me anti inflammatory pills, and put those little electric pads on me; but that’s all they could do for the first couple of months. They couldn’t manipulate my back,  have me do exercises, or anything. Eventually, it eased up and they got the disks back in alignment. That was a year ago. Now, when I feel a pain coming on. I just rest at home for a few days. That seems to take care of it.”

 
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homeless family L

 

17 May 2013

I was late this morning,  so I only had a few minutes to talk with Joy.  She was sitting on her box and was visibly shaking.  “I just heard this morning, from Jacques, that Jake was out of prison.  I thought he was getting out today. I didn’t sleep a wink last night.

“Rodent had a party for him yesterday. Jacques was invited, but didn’t go. Shark and Irene were invited. They may have gone, I don’t know. Rodent told me that, if Jake ever came near me, he’d kick him out of his house. That’s never stopped Jake before. He’d just stay somewhere else.”

I said, “You mentioned that you’d been in contact with Jake and that he’d wanted to get together with you. That sounds like he still cares for you.”

“Yeah, he wants to hook up, but twenty-six months in prison would make him a bit pissy. Even when we were on good terms, that didn’t stop him from beating me.

“I thought I saw him on the corner a while back. I nearly shit my pants. It turned out to be someone else. I’ll see him sooner or later. I’m definitely getting drunk today. I’ve panned enough for a bottle.”

“I wonder if Jake’s heard about you being beaten by Andre. That would upset him.”

“Yeah, Andre’s spent next month’s rent.  He’s just finishing out his last months rent.  He said he’ll be leaving town next month. I’m sure his sister won’t take him in. Can you imagine? He’d be drunk, having pool parties until all hours, kicking doors in. She wouldn’t put up with that, even from her scumbag brother.

“Are you going to be at the park at noon?”

“I’ll be there. Take care.”

The park was sunny, warm, everything one could hope for in the way of weather.  I sat next to Joy on the curb.

“Has anything happened?” I asked. “I see you’re still in one piece.”

“No, Jake hasn’t been around. You know the party that Rodent arranged for his homecoming? Nobody came. Shark and Irene were invited, but they didn’t want to go. Shark said, ‘Why would we want to go there?’ Rodent thought he had friends, but the only ones he has are the ones he buys with booze or drugs.

“I almost wish Jake had come by. I wanted to ask him if he felt violated last night. I wouldn’t put it past Rodent to drop some Dilaudid in his beer. I’m sure that’s what he did to Chester, that time I was staying there. After two beer Chester was staggering — and he can drink a lot. Rodent was rubbing his back, rubbing his thigh. I didn’t stick around, but I’m sure he waited until Chester passed out then it was slam, bam, then he rammed. I shouldn’t talk like this, but when it comes to Rodent, he’s such a perv. I can’t stand the guy.”

I asked, “Do you have any plans for the weekend?”

“No, I need some pot, so I invited Buck over for supper. He asked, ‘What are you cooking?’ I said, ‘Steak.’ So he said, ‘Okay, I’ll be over.’ I really don’t want to be alone this weekend, and you can bet I’m staying sober. I want to be able to see what’s coming, so I can duck.

“Jake should be getting  his forms filled out for O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program).  He was on it for a few months before he went inside. He’s using a cane now. He should have had his hip replaced two years ago. If he had, he wouldn’t have gone to prison. If he was on crutches, he wouldn’t have been able to hit me. He’s got to be pissed after twenty-six months inside.”

I said, “I notice that Lucy is here; is Nick around?”

“No, he’s in hospital. He’s having problems with his ankle that Buddy broke in their fight  last year. That’s the way with ankles. I should know, I’ve had mine broken five times each.

“I see that Willie’s getting crazy. He’s into  the sherry again. I don’t know what it is with these guys. I water mine down, so it tastes better,  but I drink as much as them. It’s just over a longer period of time.”

Mariah came by and asked Joy, “Was that you screaming last night?”

“No, I went to bed at six o’clock and was watching videos. I didn’t sleep all night. I didn’t hear a thing.”

“The neighbor above you, heard something too. She said it sounded like, “No you can’t come in! Get away from here!’ I thought it might have been that scumbag, Andre, skulking around again.”

Serge said, “Something funny happened a while ago. It wasn’t really funny. I guess, it was sort of bad for me. Anyway, I found this doctor’s bag, you know with a stethoscope, blood pressure meter, the light they use to look in your ears and nose, all that kind of stuff. It was just lying on the sidewalk. I took it home and tested my blood pressure; it was bad — one ninety over ninety. My dad died at fifty-one of a heart attack. I’ve already outlived him by four years. I think my blood pressure is up because of stress. I just bought a Harley; I’ve got payments to make. I’ve never had that before.  I’ll just have to learn to relax.

“I’m happy, we’re all happy. Even if I had lots of money, I wouldn’t be happier than I am now. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Do you know what’s important in life?”

I said, “Love, friends, family?”

“That’s right, what you see all around you. This is family.

“Do you know why the cops give us tickets? It’s because at the end of the year, when they show a deficit, they say they need more money because of unpaid parking tickets. They’d never say it’s because homeless people haven’t paid their fines for drinking violations. Some of the people here owe, thousands, tens of thousands of dollars.”

I said, “I know, Jacques has his walls covered with them.

“A cop said, the other day, ‘Three tickets and I get a toaster.’ I guess he was happy to meet his quota.”

Serge said, “I don’t think it’s fair that they have a quota. Do you think it’s fair?”

“I don’t know, Serge, it’s too complicated for me.”

 
 

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womanbox

 

9 May 2013

Joy was sitting on her box, head in hands, obviously still in pain. I approached,  she was startled. “Jeez, I didn’t see you coming.”

“How are you feeling?”

“There’s no way I can sit that I don’t hurt.  Sitting on the grass yesterday was a mistake. I won’t do that today.  I have a splitting headache.  A lady gave me three Extra Strength Tylenol.  They’re helping a bit.  Every time I bend down I get dizzy. When I got up this morning I went to the bathroom and had a glass of water.  As soon as I got that down I knew I had to hurl.  The room started spinning and I thought,  ‘Great, no matter where I fall I’m going to hit my head on something.’ I managed to get on my knees. Throwing up hurts more than coughing and sneezing.”

I asked, “I wonder why drinking water would upset your stomach?”

“It’s because I was drinking beer yesterday. It always makes me sick. I had four cans. It sure made me burp. I was belching all afternoon. Debbie laughed at me, but it felt good.”

I asked, “Did they give you medication at the hospital?”

“Yeah, they gave me something, but I forgot it there.  I’m going to go to the Mission to get myself checked out by the doctors there.  I don’t have my drug card with me.  I never carry identification —  I’m thinking differently about that now.  Usually, when I’m off probation I use an alias.”

I said, “When I lived in Vanier, my landlord’s sixteen year old daughter became pregnant. Her father was really pissed with the guy. He made a phone call to Montreal and had him beaten. The guy didn’t even see it coming.  A stranger asked him for a light, he reached in his pocket and awoke in hospital. The cost was fifty dollars for each broken bone. The father paid two hundred and fifty.”

Joy asked, “How many years ago was that?”

“About thirty.”

“Yeah, I thought so. It’s a couple of hundred now.”

“When I talked to my uncle he asked, ‘Was it the same goof  that beat you up last time? I thought he was still in prison.’ I said, ‘No, it was another guy that I’ve known for two and a half years.’  He asked, ‘Who’s the goof you’re with now?’ I said, ‘I’m not with anybody. I haven’t been since I put Jake in prison. This guy bought me a few drinks and figured I owed him. When I said, no go, he decked me. I woke up in hospital. I don’t even know how I got there.'”

 

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womanbox
 
8 May 2013

I was pleased to see Joy at the park.  She gave me a wave and a weak smile. I asked, “How are you feeling? We’ve all been worried about you.”

“I’ve got three broken ribs in front and one fractured in back. I have a concussion. This is the first day I’ve been able to keep from passing out. Even today Jacques had to grab me, things started spinning, then black. I’ve got stitches in my head, I cant tell how many. My ear is still ringing.  I have trouble opening my mouth, my jaw is so sore.”

I could see the bruises on Joy’s jaw and an abrasion on her cheek. I asked, “Was it Andre?”

“Yeah, the fuckin’ slime ball. We’d been drinking at the Star Palace, my favorite bar, it closed at 2:00, so we decided to go to my place. Andre was pestering me, as usual. I told him to fuck off. He said, ‘You mean after all the money I spent on you tonight, I’m not getting anything?’ I said, ‘You got it right.’ I don’t remember much after that he cold cocked me on the chin, I hit the sidewalk and was out cold. I may have had a seizure as well, I don’t know, but my tongue is pretty chewed up. Hippo tried for five minutes to wake me up.  He was afraid I was dead. I guess it was the guy upstairs who phoned the cops. Andre had thrown his bike against the side of the guy’s van — made a real mess there.”

“The guy was complaining, ‘I got to get up at four o’clock and you guys are making a racket out there.’ I know for a fact that he never gets out of the house until quarter after six. I’m the one that gets up at four.”

I said, “It’s not like you haven’t told Andre before. In fact, every time I’ve seen you two together, you’ve told him.”

“Yeah, it’s being going on for two and a half years. As if I’d ever sleep with that fuckin’ troll.”

“How did you get to the hospital?”

“I don’t know. They told me that I passed out, right in the waiting room.

“I don’t have trouble sleeping now. I just lay down, the room starts spinning and I’m out.”

“You told me before that he’s hit other women.”

“Yeah, he’s hit skinny Debbie, and red haired Debbie, who he was staying with. I don’t think you’ve met her. There are probably lots more. The thing that really pisses me off is that he’s such a coward, he won’t even show his face around here. At least Jake, when he beat me, would be down the next day with some cock and bull story, but at least he came.”

I said, “Both Weasel and Toothless Chuck are ready to punch his lights out. Have you talked to your uncle?”

“Yeah, that’s all taken care of, I phoned him, told him what had happened. He only asked one question, ‘When do you want it done?’ I said wait until his sister is around. I want her to know what kind of a scum bag her brother really is. I like his sister. We get along great.”

“Was Andre that drunk?”

“He was right out of it, man. We’d agreed to meet at the Star on Saturday. I didn’t know it at the time, but he’d been drinking triple tequilas at the bar, then he brought us some shots. He spent his rent check on booze.”

A bicycle patrol cop rode up. He said, “What are you guys up to? I see three open beer, so that’s three tickets. I should be due for a toaster.”

 

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