Posts Tagged ‘addict’

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group3

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21 August 2012

Joy was in her usual spot this morning. The weather was cool with the threat of rain. Joy asked, “Is that the girlfriend of Alphonse, in the next block?”

“Yes, it’s Magdalene. I spoke to her last week after she lost her baby. Later in the week I talked to Ambrose. He said it was a ‘crack baby’ induced prematurely. He had a hole in his heart and his lungs weren’t able to supply oxygen to his other organs.”

“I’m sorry,” said Joy, “but she should be charged. Every kid I’ve brought into this world has been clean. I quit crack, cigarettes and alcohol while I was pregnant. That way, they at least had a fighting chance in the world. The night before my oldest was born, I smoked a joint. It showed up in the baby’s blood tests. They were ready to take him away from me. I said, “You’re going to take my baby away, because I smoked one joint? Over my dead body!

“My sister had a ‘crack baby’. You couldn’t even look at him or he would spaz out. Can you imagine what kind of  life is in store for that kid?

“Alphonse is on the skids with a lot of people right now. He and Magdalene have been sleeping in the hut with  Andre, Hippo,  Little Jake, Weasel and his dog Bear. Bear sleeps by the door, as a guard. Everyone knows that you have to be careful opening the door because Bear is behind it. Ambrose came by one night falling down drunk and just pushed in the door. It scraped Bear’s paw and she had to get five stitches. Nobody’s seen Alphonse since. Bear is still limping and has to have special ointment put on her paw twice a day.

“I just love Bear, she’s really a sweet dog, but has horrible breath. Weasel said to me, ‘I feed her Dentabone.’ I said, ‘That’s for removing plaque and tartar from her teeth. For her breath you have to give her Doggie Mints. If those don’t work she should be taken to a vet. That probably won’t happen, because all Weasel’s money goes on crack. I gave Doggie Mints to my dog, Roxie; she was a boxer and had great breath. She used to sleep with me every night. I didn’t even mind if she put her paw on my face when she slept. I couldn’t tolerate that with any of the men I’ve lived with.

“Like me, she was epileptic. If I had a seizure, she’d pat my face until I came out of it. I’d do the same for her. One time she had a prolonged, grand mal seizure and died before I could get her to the vet.”

I said, “I saw Bearded Bruce last Thursday. He and Inuq have applied for housing.”

“Yeah, I met them at Chuck’s new place. They were staying there. Maybe I should have held out at Chuck’s a while longer. His new place is a huge two bedroom. I don’t know about Inuq. She and Bruce have been together three years now, but while he was in prison she was living with other guys. I met her one day with her oldest son. He isn’t of legal drinking age, but he was staggering drunk.”

I said, “Bruce and Inuq are each getting their own apartments. That way Bruce said, ‘When we get into a fight we’ll each have our own place to go home to.”

Joy said, “I don’t know what’s happening with Fran. They’ve called her into court about three times. She’s so afraid of Gene, she doesn’t even want him to see her. It was just January that he got out of prison for beating her the last time. He was in a holding cell with my Jake, before they moved him to Millhaven.”

Chester stopped by to say hello. To Joy he said, “I didn’t hear you leave this morning.”

“If I’d stopped to make the bed, you probably would have heard me. Is there anything you want me to bring home?”

“I wouldn’t mind some pot. Do you know where I could get some?”

“You could try the Mission. I could give you some phone numbers, but I don’t know if anyone is coming downtown this afternoon. I saved some roaches. You might be able to get one joint with what’s in the can on the kitchen table.

“Chester, I want to use your phone later. I want to make an appointment with the Elizabeth Fry Society.

To me she said, “I’ve been thinking of looking into some kind of employment. I couldn’t do nine to five, but I’d like landscaping, maybe with flexible hours — of course, I’d want to be paid under the table… I’m good at growing flowers and plants. A neighbor, one time, had a couple of rose bushes that never bloomed. He was going to dig them up and toss them out. I said, ‘Let me try to do something with them. I dug them up, replanted them somewhere else, and within a couple of months they had pink and white blooms on them.

Noon in the park was quiet. Weasel was asleep with Bear under a tree. Andre was drunk, professing his love for Joy. “We could make such a great team,” he said to her.

“Yeah, sure we would,” said Joy.

Weasel awoke and asked, “What time is it?”

Bearded Bruce said, “It’s only twelve ten. Go back to sleep for another hour.” Later Weasel said, “I don’t remember coming here.”

Bruce said, “We started out up the hill. Then we came down here.”

“Weasel,” said Joy, “you missed a great fight. That big native guy and Andre were scrapping. He pushed Andre down on his ass. Andre got into that karate stance he uses, but he was so drunk that he couldn’t keep his balance. I kept egging him on saying, ‘You shouldn’t let him get away with that.’ Andre took a swing, missed, and the big guy pushed him on his ass again. The cops were strolling through the park and didn’t do a thing. I was sure someone would get a ticket.”

Weasel walked over to Hippo. I overheard him say, “If you even try to get up, I’ll knock you back down.” He then walked down the line to Bruce who said, “Well, didn’t we wake up with a gut full of grumpy juice?”

“What?” said Weasel, “Can I have a cigarette?”

“Of course you can,” said Bruce.

I asked Bruce, “How are the arrangements coming for housing?”

“Monday, I got my first Welfare check for $300. I’m waiting for my program (Ontario Disability Support Program) to kick in. Nothing can happen until that’s in place. Then we’ll sign the papers for housing. Hopefully, we’ll have a place in September.”

William came by with a two-wheeled cart. “I got this from a bar that was being refitted. One wheel was off the cart, but I took it to the Shepherd’s and a guy helped me to get the wheel back on. We inflated the tires and it’s good as new. The bar was throwing out a mini freezer, a fridge, all sorts of stuff. I saw some empty beer bottles in the garage and asked if I could have them. They gave me six cases of two fours, so I got $14.40 for those.

“Hippo, don’t throw that wine bottle away. I’ll take it.”

“Come get it yourself.” William rooted through the garbage container for the wine bottle and also pulled out a large paper coffee cup with a plastic lid.

Joy said to me, “I hate it when he does that.”

“William,” said Joy, “you’re not going to drink out of that are you?”

“It’ll be fine. I’ll swish a little beer in it first, to clean it out. I forgot my cup at home.” He pulled out a can of beer and filled the paper cup, so it looked like he was drinking coffee.

He said to me, “Would you like to know what I did with the Tim Horton’s card you gave me? I didn’t sell it to buy beer. I bought two coffee, a bagel with cream cheese — did you know that Tim Horton’s ran out of meat? I was in there at 10.00 pm, they close at 11:00, they didn’t have any meat. I went in the next day, a bit earlier. I still had about $1.50 on the card, and got some kind of meat wrap. I made good use of the card.

“I met a woman in the park once. I was sitting on a bench, shaved, dapper looking. We started talking. It turned out that we had both previously lived in Montreal. We talked about that for a while. She said, ‘You’re a very interesting man.’

“I was straight forward with her. I said, ‘I left my wife because she had been cheating on me. I lost my job, my unemployment insurance ran out and now I’m homeless.’ She said, ‘I left my husband because he had been cheating on me.’ She was a beautiful woman, had lots of money, ran her own business. She said, ‘I have some errands to run. Will you wait for me here, for about twenty minutes?’ I said, ‘I won’t wait right here. I was planning to go to the liquor store to buy a couple of bottles of beer, but that will only take about fifteen minutes, so I’ll be here before you get back.’ She said, ‘Can I give you money to buy a six-pack? Then we can share a few beer.’ I said, ‘You don’t have to give me any money. I’ve got a cheque on me for $547.00. I’ll buy a six pack.’ She said, ‘You’re so generous.’ When I got back with the beer she had two huge bags with her. She said, ‘I’ve bought you a gift.’ There were clothes in there, chips, chocolate bars. She even bought me a return ticket to Toronto and back. She said, ‘If things don’t work out for you in Ottawa, come visit me in Toronto. The tickets are good for a year.’ She gave me her address and phone number. I said I’d call her.

“My apartment was robbed. They took my back-pack with the address and phone number in it. She’d told me where she lived, but I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t even remember her last name, so I couldn’t look her up in the phone book. That’s the way it goes. Perhaps, we’ll run into each other some other time.”

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womanbox

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7 May 2014

“Hi, Sunshine”

“Hi Joy.”

“Big Jake came down with me today. He’s got a p.o. appointment. I didn’t stay at the park very long yesterday because Jake came by. We’re not supposed to be seen together, because of the restraining order. I hope he stays downtown. I’d  like to have some time to myself.”

Ghyslain stopped by, “Hi Joy. Hi Dennis. Joy, I haven’t seen you since Christmas.

“Nobody has. I’ve been sick, but I’m okay now. It’s good to see you. How was it at your sister’s?”

“It was okay. I went to the corner to see Chuck, but he hasn’t been there the last couple of days. Do you know what’s wrong with him?”

I said, “I saw him last Thursday. He had a bad cold. He was coughing so hard that his heart was racing. He thought his defibrillator was going to be set off, but it wasn’t. After he left Thursday he was going to get more cough medicine, some soup and go straight to bed.”

“Well,” said Ghyslain, “I’m going for a coffee.”

I said to Joy, “I saw Loretta yesterday, I thought it was Michelle. She has her new teeth.”

“Yeah, I saw her yesterday. I was taken aback at first. I thought to my self, Who the fuck is this? She looks familiar.  When she spoke I realized it was Loretta. Why is it that dentists make dentures a size too large for a person’s mouth. When she smiles, I’m reminded of a h0rse. It’s the same with Buck. They also make them too white and too even. I told Jacques that he should get a set, but he said, ‘For what I eat, these few will do me just fine.’ I’m not sure what he meant by that.

I said, “Both of my parents wore dentures. Eventually, the skin around their mouth stretched, or their gums shrunk, so they didn’t have that horsey look. But, there is a piece of plastic between the gum and the lips; it has to go somewhere.

“They were playing dice yesterday.”

“Yeah, they were going to play when I was there. I said I didn’t want to, then Jacques said he didn’t want to, so nobody played. Wolf was really out of it. Did you notice?”

“Yeah, he could barely talk. He mentioned that he went to a dummy dust party on the weekend.”

“He said that to you? Yeah he’s into the crack alright, so is Andre, and Rhino. Three days after payday, nobody has any money. Why can’t they just stick to a little pot and some booze. It would be a lot cheaper.

“Rhino came over yesterday. He gets financial help from his parents, but yesterday he asked if he could come over for supper. I asked, ‘Don’t you have any groceries?’ He said he didn’t have a thing. Then he asked how Frank and I make it from payday to payday. I said, ‘We share expenses. It’s cheaper that way.’  For the first time, Frank is paying his way. I’m going to make sure he keeps it up.”

I asked, “What type of  high does crack give?”

“A short one. For ten minutes you’re up, then you feel all sluggish, so you  take another hit. That’s the way it goes. You never get enough, so you just keep paying for more.

“Someone had to distract her so I could give Wolf a hug. She doesn’t like Wolf hugging me. She doesn’t like me. She moved out a bit from her caboose then a guy came by with a wheel chair. He bent over to pat her and his front wheel went over her paw, so she yelped. He backed up and tried again, but he ran over her other paw. I was sure he was going to get bitten.”

I said, “Yesterday she didn’t even chase a skateboarder. She barked, but that was it. I think she’s going downhill fast. How old is she?”

“Eleven years. I remember when Wolf got her.”

I said, “For some breeds that’s old. My Doberman died at ten.”

“Yeah, I don’t know what Wolf would do with out that dog. He’d probably drink himself to death.

“Yesterday, Little Jake nearly scared the shit out of me. He rode up fast on his bicycle, then stopped right behind me. I thought he was going to run me over.”

“He love riding fast on that bicycle. I guess it’s better than taking the bus from where he lives.

“Have you heard that Shakes was evicted?”

“Yeah, I wonder where he’s going to stay. Wolf said he could stay at his place, but I can’t see that lasting long.”

I said, “He’s couch surfing at Little Jake’s now. Shakes said that he’d had a seizure, that’s why he was kicked out.”

“He may have had a seizure, but I figure he hadn’t paid his rent. Part of our disability check goes straight to the landlord. The rest is our responsibility. Shakes isn’t too organized that way, he probably spent it all on booze.”

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group3

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6 May 2014

I arrived at the park to a bunch of waving hands.

Jacques handed me a newspaper to sit on. Wolf handed me a blanket. “Here,” he said, “This is better. It’s on loan from Shaggy. She’ll tell you when she want’s it back.”

“Thanks Jacques. Thanks, Wolf.”

“Hi, Dennis, I haven’t seen you all winter,”  said Shakes.

“How are you Shakes?”

“I got evicted from my apartment.”

“What was the problem?”

Little Jake said, “He had a seizure in the hallway, going to his apartment.”

I asked, “What kind of seizure, Shakes?”

“Dennis,” replied Shakes, “are you sure you’re all there?”

Little Jake said, “In the meanwhile, he’s couch surfing.”

I asked, “Is he staying at your place?”

“Yeah, for now.”

“How are you, Dennis?” asked an attractive woman.

“Hi, your name is Michelle, right?”

“Dennis, it’s Loretta, I have my new dentures.”

“You look beautiful. How do they feel?”

“A bit weird.” That was attested to by the number of times she removed and replaced them. It seemed like a complete personality change.

“Dennis,” said Wolf, “I want to tell you about my weekend. I can’t talk to any of these people. Jacques got his diploma in Quebec, so he’s no use.  I told you before that I go to my Tim Horton’s on Sunday. Well, this weekend I went on Saturday. I just had a craving. Usually I buy my Boston Creams, which I did, but now they got these new ones called Canadian Maple. They have goop in them like the Boston Creams, but the goop is maple, so I bought two of those.  Then I got  an Apple fritter and one of the shiny ones with strawberry goop in it. All together I had six donuts. It was a real mess.

“I didn’t eat them all there. I brought some with me when I went to a dummy dust party, but it wasn’t in my apartment. I know better than that. Gnome was there, he was wasted, so I brought him home, put him to bed and tucked him in. A while later some ladies came down. Gnome wanted to join in, but I said, ‘No.’ He threw a temper tantrum and started banging his feet on the floor. I don’t have anybody living below me, but just the same, there’s only so much I can take. I threw him out. He was wearing my Montreal sweater; I lent it to him for the party. I asked for it back. He said, ‘No.’

“Now, maybe a better man would have decked him and took the sweater, but that’s not me. I believe in a society —  there’s  a word I’m trying to think of… I’ve got it. I believe in a civilized society — that’s the word — where we don’t just go around beating people. Anyway, he stormed out. That was my weekend. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Jacques rooted in his sports bag and pulled out a plastic tray. I asked, “What are you serving, Jacques?”

He said, “Dice, I got a brand new set of six. Who’s in?”  Wolf, Shakes, Mariah and Jacques indicated that they wanted to play. Mariah took part of Jacques newspaper and drew four columns.

I asked Jake, “What are they playing?”

“It’s called ten thousand. That’s how many points you need to win the game. The hard part is to get started. To get on the table you need to score a thousand points or more. Fives are worth fifty, ones, a hundred; three of a kind are worth 100 points times the number rolled; except for three ones which are worth 1000 points;  a straight from one to six is worth fifteen hundred. One time Jacques and I finished a game with about four rolls each, but we were really lucky.

‘Here comes Little Chester. I can tell he’s drunk by the way he’s limping. He only limps when he’s drunk.”

Jacques said, “Hi Chester. Keep walking, Chester.”

Wolf yelled, “The Germans and the ladies are winning!

“I’ve got an announcement to make. My birthday is coming up on May eleventh, the same day as Mother’s Day. Every so often my birthday falls on May eleventh and this is one of those years. Anyway, I’m sending out invitations to a party at my place, so bring presents.”

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tony-on-the-bus-march-20-2010

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20 March 2014

I was on the Queen bus, on my way home from the gym. It was packed and noisy. Getting closer to the end of the route I took an open seat near the front. On the seat along the side was Little Jake.

“Dennis, how the fuck are you? I haven’t seen you for ages. What are you doing on this bus? Oh, I forgot, you live up this way. Shakes and me met you one other time on this bus.

“I was talking to Bearded Bruce earlier. We were going to cook a big meal. He asked me to get the split peas. You know, the hard ones in the bag. Anyway, I get to his place and he’s not there. I don’t know what happened. I stopped by to see Snake and Irene, but their place was all locked up. I went to  Jacques’ place. He was cooking supper. I asked, ‘Do you mind if I stop by for a while?’ He said, ‘Can’t you see I’m getting ready to eat? Fuck off.’ He hadn’t cooked enough for two, so I just pulled up a chair,  opened my bottle and had a few joints.

“I got two bottles of wine with me, three grams and some chicken breasts. I’m ready to party and I can’t find anybody. It’s like everybody’s dissin’ me; but not really, ’cause they’re not home. I got my check today, two days before everybody else. I don’t know how that works. It has somethin’ to do with the fact that I don’t have direct deposit.  For some reason, my Trillium check and my G.S.T check come two days later than everybody else. I can’t figure that out. It works out for me though. I lend people money when I first get my check. When I’m running low, before my next check, they pay me back. I only lend to people I trust.

“I’m going to stop on my way home to see if Shakes is in. He’s just a couple of buildings down. What time is it? — eight,thirty? It’s near his bed time, he should be home. Am I near my stop yet? Oh no! I’m out of rolling papers. I’m going to have to walk a block down and get some.

“I left my bike near the St. Lawrence Market. It’s locked, but I’ve only got a small, cheap lock. I’ve also got quick release wheels. There’s nothing stopping someone from taking my wheel, but I can always steal another one.

“You’ll never guess who I saw today, Mariah. She was nearly in tears when she saw me. Well, not really in tears, but her voice sort of choked up. There was Bruce, Jacques, me, Buck and Mariah.  It’s the first time the crew has been together in months.

“Jacques has lost a lot of weight, probably about twenty pounds. He still has a pot belly, but he doesn’t look like Santa Claus any more. He’s cut back to just two beer a day and he stays off the wine. He’s eating well too.”

I said, “His doctor probably told him to lose a few pounds because of his heart. He’s had three heart attacks already, hasn’t he? I’m glad to hear that he’s taking care of himself. How is Shakes?”

“He staggers around like he always does. He hasn’t been panning much because of the cold weather. He’s doing more bumming off people. Apart from that, he’s the same old Shakes. He knows everybody. If he passed out downtown, when he woke up he’d know somebody nearby who’d put him up for the night. He’s collected a few cracked up friends that I don’t  much care for. You don’t want to be bumming off the wrong people, if you know what I mean. It’s just not healthy. This is my stop coming up. I’ll see you man.”

Bye, Jake. I’ll see you soon.

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Hi my name is Dara, I am a “Newbie”, I found this website when I was searching author forums & Advice on getting something I have worked on for a long time, that means a great deal to me personally published for charity purposes. I started a Tumblr blog in September after losing my 18-year-old younger brother Casey to a heroin overdose this past August. Where i grew up, on the jersey shore teenage heroin overdose epidemic. I lost three friends myself personally as well as my younger brother. My high school was featured on intervention and several alumni have passed away from heroin overdoses and yet the community and law enforcement are yet to be proactive in trying to fix conditions. The week my brother passed away 5 other teenagers died of the same cause. Nothing seems to open people’s eyes to the problem. Also, no one has ever spoken out publicly, until i did. I have always been a writer, i have had a blog since as long as i can remember, mostly comedy material but this one, not so much. I wanted to document publicly and honestly what happens to a family after the funeral, how heroin effects a family for the rest of their lives whether they were the addict or related to the addict. I loved my brother with all my heart he was my only sibling. My family did not have enough money to send him away to rehab last summer, so in addition to my blog i created a non-profit called “Cause for Casey Low” in hopes to raise awareness and money to send addicts that are truly looking to make a change in their lives to receive aid in treatment to do so. My brother desperately wanted to be clean. My blog began to receive a lot of attention & the Facebook fan page “Cause for Casey Low” began to grow in popularity. As hard as i tried to get people to help me to raise funds, it wasn’t happening. The popularity of the blog is what i am hoping will give me what i need to generate a revenue to start saving lives. I have read several of your entries and i am reaching out to all of you in hopes that you have a few free minutes to review a few of my entries about my brother and my grieving process because i plan to get it published and have a certain amount of the proceeds from sales to go toward his cause. Be as honest as possible is you do review my work, I trust in all your opinions. I need to honest critique, I’m a strong girl I can handle it. I wrote an entry today which I feel like is my most powerful entry so far, it would be an honor to me if you would review it, or put it out there in the community. New to this still.

But the main blog is on Tumblr.com
UN: Cause for Casey Low

Thank you so much,
Merry Christmas

Dara Low

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Originally posted at:

http://www.writing.com/main/campfires/item_id/1968517-My-First-Christmas-without-My-Brother

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My First Christmas Without My Brother

[Introduction] 12/25/13 Christmas Day

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I’m squinting with one eye open and one eye closed in my efforts to write this entry. I thought it would be better to jot my feelings down sooner than later because my eyes might very well be swollen shut by the end of this day. My body aches with a pain that is incessant. It begins at the fingertips, the prickling numbness then slowly begins to trickle down through my arms and seeps into my chest permeating through out my whole entire body, stretching to the furthest points of my limbs. I stare hard at the ceiling waiting for the precious moment in which my body reaches a final state of stoniness from the inside out. A brief moment of tranquility that allows my valves to loosen, allowing the release of imprisoned oxygen to begin to steadily stream throughout my body.

This has become routine sometimes less than or more so than other days, I feel my body begin to perish on it’s own leaving only my own inner obstinate will to survive mentality to bring my body back from the dead. When I read about the process a human being endures while entering into internal rest, I find too all to many similarities with my current state of being involving the separation of a human’s body from their soul. I feel super human, the ways in which I have trained my body to disconnect and reconnect on command.

It’s not something that comes with ease, it takes a certain amount of repetition. Mastering this technique takes much time and preparation, I wasn’t always a master at controlling my emotions, no human is born with the skill set associated with such, it’s self taught. It’s just another skill set I was gifted in this life that I hadn’t even thought to ask for. I’m blessed in the way that I can control my emotions and talk myself off the ledge, but it’s a lonely way of life. Lonely in a sense that you have accepted the reality that you and only you yourself can save you from yourself. People go their whole lives without mastering this technique, but I often ask myself whether my mastering of this technique has aided in the acceptance of my loneliness and the lowering of my expectations of other human beings. Having a strong mind is a gift and and a curse, in ways I have yet to understand in it’s entirety.
Is it better to assume that you will be left to your own defenses or better to hope that someone might arrive at your side?

Shit, your guess might as well be mine and as far as guessing goes these days I don’t do much of it.

There was a time in my life not to long ago where I enjoyed living a life based solely on chance and chance alone. Living on the edge was the only way I thought there was to live. There is a big difference between living a life that’s on the edge and living life in which you have been pushed over the “said” ledge and you have one hand on a crumbling, unstable limb. Hunter S. Thompson says it best, “The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. Needless to say Hunter and I have something in common with being of the edge that is, I won’t be committing suicide over any united states presidential reelection, but the thought of one day having my remains shot into the atmosphere via firework is a thought worth entertaining.

You know I wish I had the money to shoot my baby brother’s ashes into the atmosphere amongst the stars, a place that would be far better fitting for him than this dirty stinking earth is. But I have enough faith in myself that he won’t be to disappointed in the places that I go, that I will be taking him along side for the ride.

Today, right now, here in this moment I lay, lap top on chest in the bed that was once my baby brother’s bed not to long ago. Here I lay gazing out the window he had once gazed out of, I look to the right of me and I see the giant dream catcher he had once hung on his wall to the right of his closet. In my hand, right now as of this moment I hold the shirt he had once worn on the day that he died. I clench it tight in my fist, allowing my fingertips to feel this t-shirt in it’s entirety, letting the rougher edges of this cotton blend T shit scour amongst my finger tips. I hold this t shirt up to my nose and I take a long, concentrated whiff only to find that his spoor and his evidence of life no longer subsists within this t shirt or any other Inanimate object for that matter.

Did I mention that it was Christmas Day? Well, mid Christmas day to be exact. I just momentarily took a glance out his window and noticed the sun was well on it’s way to settling and in this moment, I can allow myself to take that deep breath I have been waiting to take since the very moment I set my sights on the first shrub of the year imprudently, entangled in a strand of LCD Christmas lights.

It has always bothered me, even as a child when I would take notice of people’s deprivation and disorderly attempts to decorate their landscaping. I hate when it is so apparent that someone is just doing something just to do it because they feel as though it is something that needs to be done. Dropping a few strands of Christmas lights on unkempt shrubbery doesn’t show your admiration for the holidays. It’s sad that I judge people’s sanity and overall feelings of fulfillment in regards to their life based on their ability to decorate their front lawns during the holiday season, but I do and I always have.

Which makes me especially sad for my parent’s this Christmas because they have always paid so much attention to detail. When my parent’s decorated our front lawn, it wasn’t over the top, it was just right. My mom has always thought colored lights were cheesy when it came to decorating outdoors and she is one hundred percent correct.

My parent’s decorated the two small, potted Christmas tree’s that sat on either side of our front steps with small, traditional white lights and each strand was distributed evenly amongst the branches of those small trees. My mom made sure she found the perfect wire coiled ribbon to sit on top of those two tree’s and she made sure both of those tree’s ribbons matched perfectly with one another. When my parent’s do things they do them right, other wise they just don’t. Our house isn’t small, but it isn’t giant but it’s just right. It was exactly the right size, feel and offered them the perfect level of comfort in which they were trying to achieve.

Last night I went over to an old friend’s house where i became apart of a conversation amongst him and his mother and sisters about how their mother never wrapped any of their presents and that is why they in return never wrapped any presents. The mother began to laugh as she said well, my mother never wrapped any of my presents so I guess that’s why I never wrapped any of your presents. Which made me very sad for the moment being because, my parent’s wrapped every single one of mine and my brother’s Christmas present’s throughout our whole lives.

Not only did they wrap every present but my dad being that he is a skilled wallpaper hanger, he wrapped each and every single present to the point where the designs on the wrapping paper matched up perfectly. My parent’s never did anything with a lack of better wording, “half assed”. It just wasn’t in their make up, either one of them. My brother and I got pretty much everything we ever wanted in this life, and if their was something my parent’s possibly couldn’t of offered us, they wouldn’t have promised to do so or presented us with some slighted version of what had anticipated.

Although this Christmas has been hard on me and I must say I have done my share of self- loathing today, I feel the worst for my parent’s because they always did things right and when they built our home, on their own without any help. They made this home big enough to have two babies and they made enough money to feed and cloth to babies, love two babies and wrap every single one of their two babies presents perfectly every Christmas.

All for them to have to drive around the rest of this area of unkempt landscaped lawns and disorderly shambolic, holiday decoration. My parents didn’t deserve to have woken up this morning on Christmas day, one child short of attendance.

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This morning was painfully cold, minus fifteen degrees (five degrees Fahrenheit), and with the windchill it felt like minus twenty-five (minus thirteen degrees F.).  Overnight it’s going to minus twenty-four,  it will feel like minus thirty-one (minus twenty-three F.). I had a scarf wrapped around my face, but the wind against my forehead was a searing burn, near to being unbearable. Seeing Gyslain was a surprise.

“Hello, my friend. It’s a cold one isn’t it?”

“Hi, your name is Ghyslain, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, that’s me.”

“I have a hard time remembering names. Even people I’ve known for five years; I forget their names. Where did you sleep last night?

“I slept inside.”

“Were you at the Mission or the Salvation Army…”

“Salvation Army. It’s really dirty there.”

“Were you bothered by bed bugs?”

“I didn’t ask for a bed, they’re on the second floor. I just asked for a mat. I slept in the basement.”

“Are there no bed bugs in the mats?”

“I cleaned it with alcohol before I put my sleeping bag down.”

“Jacques used to bring bed bug spray with him, whenever he slept in any of the shelters.”

“Yeah, alcohol does the same.”

“Do the mats have plastic covers?

“Yeah, I just took a rag, poured alcohol on it and wiped the mat.

“How long have you been on the streets? How many years?”

“Twenty. I started in 1995.”

“What was it that caused you to be on the streets?”

“I had an addiction problem since I was twenty-five. When you’re addicted you end up on the street. I used to live on the Quebec side (of the Ottawa River), but I owe money there, so I moved here.”

“Do you get any pensions, or street allowance?”

“I get the GST (Goods and Services Tax) Rebate and some others. In January I’ll be getting Welfare. My worker has set up the papers for me.

“After twenty years on the street, they want to see you housed. She wants me to live at Hunt Club, but that’s too far. I need to be downtown.”

“Little Jake, Shakes and I live in Carlington Park. Shark and Irene used to live there. It takes us forty-five minutes to get downtown on the number fourteen bus.”

“Yeah, that’s too long. I gotta get out of this cold. Thanks, man. Maybe I’ll see you next week.” He packed his belongings into a duffel bag and headed off towards the coffee shop.

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“Joy’s here today, Dennis.”

“Thanks, Metro. Have a good day.”

Joy was bobbing her head looking the other way.  I said, “Hi Joy!”

“Geez, you startled me. Jacques did the same thing earlier. Can you imagine a guy that big trying to sneak up on someone.”

“Was he wearing his orange pants, khaki shorts and lime green shirt?”

“Yeah, that seems to be his uniform of choice these days? He’s coming back, then we’re both going back to see Stella. She’s got some things for me. I asked him, ‘You just came from that direction, now we’re going back to the same place. Why didn’t you just stay there?’

“See that guy across the street, the one with the shaved head and red bandanna. He really freaks me out . He’s got a teardrop tattoo under each eye. He stops by and asks me for smokes. I said, ‘Do you think I’d be panning here if I had any extra? Take a seat across the street and pan for yourself.’ He grumbled a bit then moved on. He looks like a guy that would have offed a few people. He’s got that crack walk too.”

“What’s a crack walk?”

“Well when I was on crack, I was on my feet all the time, hardly ever slept. I kept getting blisters on my feet. With most people who use crack it’s the same thing.”

I said, “I’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy on TV. Is that true to life?”

“Yeah, it sure is. Especially the woman who used to play Peg Bundy (Katey Segal), with the scar on her chest. You see lots of scars. I’ve seen her interviewed on some program, she’s really aged well;  she’s gorgeous. My stomach looks like a jigsaw puzzle after being stabbed with a saw-toothed machete, My leg being hacked with a hatchet… I’ve got scars all over.

I asked, “How was your weekend?”

“Quiet, this cold has really got me down. Migraines, weak. sore throat, stuffed up, coughing. Mariah’s got it too, only with her it’s coming out the other end. I hope I don’t get that next.

I asked, “How’s it coming with your health card?”

“I can’t get a hold of John. He says he’s coming over than he doesn’t show. I phone him, get voicemail, leave a message and he never gets back to me. I figure, if you’re going to help somebody, you help them, you don’t just leave them dangling.

“Yesterday, Hippo phoned. He had his welfare check and bought a bunch of groceries. I said, “Great, come on over. I’ll cook.” I waited until about seven. He never showed. It’s a good thing I still had time to thaw some of the stuff I had in the freezer, or else I wouldn’t have been able to eat.

“I got a letter from butthead. I can’t find the envelope to write him back. I’ll have to go to the John Howard Society to get his address. I looked all over for that.  Usually, I stuff letters back into the envelopes they came in.”

“So how is Frank doing?”

“He’s in Joyceville still. He said he’ll be getting out around November sixth. I thought it was going to be in January. It’s been two years since we’ve had Christmas together, so I guess that’s a good thing. I feel sorry for the guy, but my apartment is too small for two people. He’s up all night and sleeps all day.

“How is Jake doing with his hip?”

“It’s bad. He’s in a lot of pain. He was scheduled to be first on the list to have a hip replacement, but then he went back to jail., so Now he’ll have to start the process all over. If he’d only kept up the phone calls with his probation officer, he wouldn’t be in there now; not very bright.

“My upstairs neighbor, the guy, is being friendly with me now. When we meet on the stairs, he nods, but now Josephine, his girlfriend, is stomping down the stairs. So I go back to slamming doors.

“That’s a weird situation up there. They used to have separate apartments. Then the landlady’s daughter moved out. She had a three bedroom. They both moved into that apartment, then her girlfriend moved in. I think the guy is doing the girlfriend when Josephine is out. None of them seem to be working.

A man, one of Joy’s regulars, stopped by. He handed Joy a muffin. “Thanks,” she said. After he passed she said to me, “The guy’s mother isn’t a good muffin maker. This will be pigeon food, unless you want it. Maybe, I’ll save it for Jacques.”

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22 August 2013

Rain was pouring, pedestrians were scurrying under umbrellas trying to avoid collisions. Joy was sitting hunched on her box below the overhang of the library.  She said, “Come back here, I’m dry.  Just watching the puddles and people being splashed by the cars.  There’s another one. The ones with the umbrellas are dangerous. Everybody’s cranky this morning; they’ve all got scowls on their faces, as if they’d never seen rain before. I’ve hardly made a thing.

I asked, “Have you heard anything about Big Jake? Did you phone his parole officer?”

“Yeah, I phoned, but didn’t get much information. He said it was confidential. I don’t like that guy, Jake doesn’t either.”

“That’s what happens when people are given power. They love to lord it over everybody else. What will this mean for Jake?

“He’s got a parole violation, so that’ll mean an extra three months added to the five left on his sentence.”

What violation was he charged with? Was it missing appointments with his parole officer or drinking?”

“He violated the restraining order that said he couldn’t come anywhere near me. He stayed over one night. Someone knocked at the door. I didn’t know who it was, but I answered it. It was the cops. It wasn’t like it was eleven o’clock at night. I never would have answered then.

“How did they know he was at your place?”

“Someone must have told them, but not that many people know where I live. I’m thinking it may have been Rodent. That’s where Jake stayed when he first got out. He probably said, check with Jake’s old lady.

“Mariah said she saw Andre yesterday. She said he looked like shit, just skin and bones. He’s either contracted something from his new girlfriend, or he’s back on the crack. That stuff will really make you lose weight.

“Mariah asked Andre if everything was settled between him and me. He said, ‘Yeah, it’s all sorted.’ I said, ‘Bullshit, nothing’s sorted. It’s just like the last time I told you’. Then she said, ‘So, it’s okay if I pound the shit out of him, next time I see him?’ I said, ‘Yeah, fill your boots.’

“The crack you get on the street now is combined with all kinds of shit that you can get under the kitchen sink. Some mix it with ammonia, hydrochloric acid and acetone. I see  people with sores on their mouths, it eats their skin, some have even lost their lips.

“When I was cooking people knew what they were getting, just straight shit.”

“You cooked your own crack? How do you do that?”

“It’s just  four to one coke to baking soda in a teaspoon, add a tiny bit of water to make it muddy and run a lighter until it  until turns into rock.  I messed up the first time, but the guy I was with had an eight ball. He said, ‘Try again, you gotta learn some time.’ So I did, and it worked. That’s all there is to it.”

“Hardly anybody uses straight cocaine anymore, unless they’re shooting it into their arms.”

JW

31 July 2013

Warm, clear and breezy, a perfect summer day at the park. Shark and Spike were standing at the rail. Sitting in a circle, in various states of inebriation were Manisee, Debbie, Little Jake, Jacques and Mariah. I hadn’t seen Shark for a few months so I walked over to him.

“Hi Dennis, haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I’ve been around, but you don’t come down much anymore do you?”

“No, there’s not much here for me. I came down to buy some native cigarettes and a few prescriptions.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’ve got a pain in my shoulder and my right leg. It’s been twelve years since I’ve had this (HIV). There’s a cocktail of pills I take twice a day, then my morphine three times a day. I’ve got blood work to be done. That’s going to hurt. There’s only one type of pain medication that works for me. Sometimes, because I’m a junkie, they don’t want to give it to me. That’s when I get on the phone to my doctor and have them explain to him why they want to change my meds.”

“How’s Irene?” I asked.

“She’s fine. She never wants to come out, at least not when I want to come out. I can understand, we have the air conditioning there. She hates the heat.  If her friend Sue comes over then they both want to go shopping. I hate that. What is it about women and shopping?  For me, I know exactly what I want and where it is, so I get my own cart and I’m in and out. I tell Irene to meet me at the van, because I got beer in there. She has to read all the labels, she walks slow then she can’t decide. I hate it.

“I bought a little dinghy that I use at the bridge near the Vanier Parkway. I can’t remember the name… the Saint Patrick Bridge, that’s the one. I really enjoy it, in fact I’m thinking of getting a bigger one and towing the other behind.”

Mike said, “You have paddles for that don’t you? I mean, you don’t have to paddle with your hands or anything do you?  That would be exhausting.”

“It came with paddles. I started paddling with just one, otherwise it kept going in circles. I got it worked out now. I was out with a couple of friends a couple of days ago. They jumped in the water and got their feet cut on some sharp rocks. I gave them some alcohol to  clean the cuts with.  There’s stuff like e coli in that water. You gotta be real careful with stuff like that or you could get a blood infection. That’s painful. A friend of mine had that and was in hospital for six weeks.”

I said, “I’ve had blood poisoning before, but I went to the doctor as soon as I saw the red line going up my leg. It was the most painful experience I’ve ever had.”

Jake said, “That makes me want to jump off the bridge. I’ll end up doing it sometime this summer.”

Debbie said, “You wouldn’t really do that,  would you Jake? Don’t do it when you’re drunk. That’s a no no.” He was looking at three young women wearing tight pants and tee shirts in the park below.

Mariah said, “What are you looking at Frank… fresh meat?”

I said, “It’s a good thing they aren’t on the other side of the canal.  Jake might just dive in like he did last September.”

Gaston and Jean came by. Shark said, “Here come a couple of queers!”

Mariah said, “Shark, be nice. They’re our friends.”

“I know, but that’s what they are.”

“How are you doing, Jean?” I asked.

“Exhausted! I cleaned three apartments today, then I’ve been running around.”

“Do you run?”

“I meant I’ve had a lot of errands to run. I think I many be coming down with some kind of virus. They mentioned it on the news today. At the apartment building where I’ve been working, a bunch of ladies are down with it. I didn’t catch the whole broadcast, maybe they’ll have it on the news at six. It seems to affect mostly people over forty. The symptoms are flu-like with sore muscles, tiredness. I hope I haven’t caught that.”

I noticed a DVD in Jacques’ back pack. I asked, “What movie are you going to watch. He pulled out a handful, mostly pirated. “This is a funny one, ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ with Clint Eastwood. It’s the one with the monkey, or orangutan. Then I got a bunch with John Wayne: ‘Blue Steel’, ‘The Dawn Rider’, ‘True Grit’. This one looks good,  ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’ starring James CoburnKris Kristofferson, and Bob Dylan.  I think I got enough to keep me going  for days. Of course I’ll have to put it on pause, every once in a while, to take a piss.

I asked Mariah, “Have you seen Joy today?”

“No, I rushed down here to pick up some cigarettes and some other stuff (marijuana) then I’m heading back.”

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8 July 2013

Joy was smiling when I greeted her this morning. “How have you been doing? I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I’ve just been chillin’ in my apartment. I didn’t feel like coming downtown.  Last Wednesday I had a fight with Magdalene, so I didn’t stick around. Butthead was over once.”

“Which Butthead was that? Jake Butthead or someone else?

“My Jake, he reeked. I told you he gained a lot of weight in prison because of his bad hip. First he used a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair.  I asked him, ‘Babe, don’t you ever take a shower?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I had one yesterday.’ I said, ‘You need to take one every day, being stuck in that chair. You smell like piss. Have you been pissing yourself? He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘You can take a shower here if you like.’ He said, ‘No,’ so I left it at that.

“When he was ready to leave I went out to the hall to get his wheelchair. I could smell it from ten feet away. He had a folded blanket to sit on. I asked him, ‘Where did you get this blanket?’ He said, ‘The Sally Ann.’ I asked, ‘Was it clean?’ He said, ‘No.’ I haven’t seen him since then. Maybe I hurt his feelings. I don’t know; I don’t care. He phoned once and asked if he took the bus to my place would I push him up the hill. I said, ‘No, dude. You’ve been in that chair long enough, you should be doing wheelies. I can after all the time I’ve been in a wheel chair, for my broken ankles and my fibromyalgia. You really need the exercise.”

“Is he still drinking?”

“After his piss test, he drinks as much as he used to. That’ll never change.

“I’ve been picking away at the stitches in my head. Sometimes I’ve scratched some hair out — they didn’t shave my scalp where  they stitched me. Mariah was looking at my head the other day and said, ‘You’ve got a bald spot!’ All day long she was calling me Spot.”

I said, “I’ve got a scar on my head where I had eight stitches as a kid.”

“Yeah, “I’ve got a scar from my forehead right to the back of my head. My sister pushed me down the stairs on a stuffed lion. I’ve got another one on the side where Buddy hit me with a crowbar. My scalp isn’t a pretty sight. It’s like a road map. There’s no way I’m going for that shaved look.”

A lady stopped to put some change in Joy’s cap. “Thanks, Sweetie, I haven’t seen you for a long time.” It’s true, I wonder if she changed departments or something.

“I’m still getting those headaches and dizzy spells fro, the concussion I got.”

“Have you seen a doctor? Do you have your health card yet?”

“I’ve been leaving messages with my workers, but they don’t get back to me. I’m hoping to see someone from 507. They haven’t been around lately either.”

Another lady stopped, smiled and dropped some change, “Bless you, dear,” she said.

“Bless you too,”  said Joy. “Have a nice day.”

Joy asked, “Have you been up to the park lately? I haven’t been keeping in tough with anybody.

“I hope Chester doesn’t come by. He’s been getting really cranky lately. I don’t like being around him.”

“I saw him Wednesday. It was after you had the fight with Magdalene.”

“Yeah, I went after her because she was harassing Chili, in her walker.”

“I was talking to Magdalene. She was drunk and nobody else would talk to her. I didn’t know the circumstances from before. Anyway, Chester asked me for some bus tickets. I said, ‘Okay, Chester, hold on, I’ll get to you.’ Magdalene was sobbing and talking about going home on the weekend.  I agreed with her and said it was a good idea. Then I went over to talk to Shark and Matches. Chester  was getting so agitated, he was shaking.”

“Magdalene didn’t go home. I’ve seen her since then, but she needs to get straightened out. I don’t know how old she is, but she seems like just a kid.”

I said, “She’s twenty-four. Alphonse is forty.”

“I thought she was young,  just like Sinead, who sometimes hangs around with Ricky. I think she’s twenty. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen her passed out in the bushes with her panties  around her ankles.  She probably doesn’t even know what happened while she was unconscious. I never let myself get that wasted. After I get a little buzz I go home.”

I asked, “Have you seen Matches lately. Lucy has been staying at his place. Frank was worried that she’d beat  and rob him. I thought that maybe she had split with Daimon, but I saw Little Jake on the bus and he told me that he’d seen them together. They were both wired.”

“That’s bad news. Lucy told me they had their own place… Why would she be staying with Matches? She’s smacking that stuff in her arm… I’m worried about Matches.”

It was time for me to go to work, Joy said, “I’m off vacation now. I’ll be at the park for most of this week except for tomorrow. I’m getting a land line hooked up and cable installed. I’ll be human again. I’m tired of watching the same DVDs over and over again. Last night I watched “Pirates of the Caribbean” for about the hundredth time. I have all the dialog memorized. That Johnny Depp is weird.  Did you know that he based the Jack Sparrow character on Keith Richards? Now there’s a pot headed, druggie to have as a role model.”