Posts Tagged ‘battered’

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25 September 2012

I saw Joy briefly this morning. Already packed up, she asked me to watch her backpack while she went into Tim Horton’s to use their washroom.

When she returned she said, “They were mopping the floor in there. They’ve got to change the brand of their cleaner. It smells like wet dog, even worse than Bear, it’s horrible. The stuff they use the first thing in the morning is even worse. I could never eat there with that odor in the air.

“Weasel was by earlier with Bear. Because of that dog, he collects more money than any of us. Now he has Little Jake caring for the dog while he goes off someplace. He’s always getting somebody to stay with Bear: Wolf, Andre, Hippo.  And he never pays them, not even a beer. There’s no way I’d look after that dog. For one thing, you never know when he’s coming back, it could be days. Then you’re stuck with feeding him, cleaning up after him.

I said, “I’m sorry I didn’t make it to the park yesterday. I had a dental appointment that took longer than I expected.”

“What did you have done?”

“I got a partial plate, to replace three missing molars.”

“I don’t have any back teeth. It makes chewing difficult. I have my boyfriends to thank for that.”

“Yesterday, everybody was asking, ‘Where’s Dennis?’ We thought that maybe you had been in an accident, or that something had happened to you. You’ve hardly ever missed being at the park at noon.”

I asked, “What did I miss?”

“Not much, the usual. Jacques was there, Chester, Shakes and Serge. Andre and Little Jake weren’t there, thank God. I guess Shakes and Andre were together on Sunday.  Shakes lost his backpack. He’s hoping that Andre has it. Shakes said to me, ‘Without my bag, where am I going to put my booze?’ I said, ‘Shove it up your sleeve, where you usually put it.’ ”

“Weasel was by earlier with Bear. Because of that dog, he collects more money than any of us. Now he has Little Jake caring for the dog while he goes off someplace. He’s always getting somebody to stay with Bear: Wolf, Andre, Hippo.  And he never pays them, not even a beer. There’s no way I’d look after that dog. For one thing, you never know when he’s coming back, it could be days. Then you’re stuck with feeding him, cleaning up after him.

I said, “I’m heading off to work now. Will see you at the park later?”

“I’ll be there.”

This afternoon, as I was approaching the group, I saw Hippo, standing head and shoulders above everyone else. I gave him a wave and he waved back.

“Hi Hippo!” I said, “I haven’t seen you around much.”

“I haven’t been around. I fucked up again.”

“It’s good to see you.”

It’s good to see you, Dennis.”

I shook hands all around. Joy and Andre were discussing the television program ‘1000 Ways To Die’ (now on YouTube) —  the ways that people have accidentally killed themselves — winners of the Darwin Award.

Joy said, “This one woman was masturbating with a carrot. It tore her vaginal wall, she developed an air embolism and died. The title of the video is ‘kill-do’, that’s hilarious. You’ll never see me masturbating with a carrot.”

Andre said, “One guy accidentally touched his crotch with a live cable from a battery. He liked the feeling, so he wrapped his penis in tinfoil and plugged it into a live socket in the house. He was electrocuted and died.”

Joy said to Jacques, “Have you got any wine ready to be turned?”

“I don’t have any wine. Oh, you mean at the house? Yes I have one batch ready to be transferred. I like to transfer a little at a time.”

Steve came over to Jacques and handed him a ticket, probably a liquor violation. “Another one for my wall?” asked Jacques. “I must have over a hundred stapled to my wall now, and I have two stuffed envelopes to be put up. I want to take them to my new place. I hope I can get them all down.”

Andre said, “What you need is one of those special staple removers. You’re going to need to fill a lot of holes in your walls before you move out. You can fill the small holes with a bar of soap or a stick of deodorant. It can even be painted over. You’ve got to use the chalky stuff, not the gel.”

Joy said, “The last time I was over at Jacques’, I tried to find my name on that wall. I’m sure I must be there a couple of times.”

“Andre,” I said, “you’ve shaved again.”

“Yeah, I’m trying to clean myself up a bit. Nothing too drastic. I want to set little goals for myself. If I meet one goal, I can set another. If I tried to do it all at once, I’d screw up, for sure.”

I asked, “Did Shakes find his backpack? Did you have it?”

“No, I was up on Greenwood, the opposite side of town to where Shakes was. I noticed earlier in the day that he seemed to be having trouble carrying his bag. Me and some others offered to carry it for him, but he said, ‘I can carry my own damn bag!’ You know Shakes. When you sleep outside, people will just come by and help themselves to your stuff. I know, it’s happened to me.”

Andre asked Hippo, “Where are you staying now.”

“At a hostel in Gatineau. I’m going for a butt run now, then I”m going back across the bridge.”

Joy said, “We call that Pepperville.”

To Andre, she said, “He said they were feeding him well over there, but he’s lost weight.”

Andre replied, “It’s probably all the walking he’s been doing. It’s a long way from that hostel to here.”

“Joy,” I asked, “did you mention to me this morning that you don’t have any back teeth.”

“Yeah, that’s thanks to boyfriends. My teeth got punched out or broken. When I was in prison the broken, half teeth, got infected. It was considered an emergency, so I had them extracted right away.”

“How are the dentists in there?”

“Some are good, but you can get some real butchers. I love the drugs you get when they put you in the medical ward. I was high all weekend”

Andre said, “I’ll be able to get all my teeth extracted. I’m just going to get them to put me out. They’re going to help me get some dentures, upper and lower. Most of mine have been knocked out in fights.”

Joy said, “Tomorrow, my worker, Angie, is going to be meeting me, to take me to Elizabeth Fry. She apologized that she couldn’t get the Salvation Army van. We’ll be taking the bus up to Bronson and Gladstone — somewhere around there. I think we take the number 86. I prefer her to Janice — she seems afraid of me, she’s so uptight. It’s probably because I say it like it is. I don’t pussyfoot around. I’ll tell you what time it is.

“They’re going to be escorting me to every class, usually with the van, so I don’t get breached. That’s the only way I would go to that course. I shouldn’t even be required to take anger management.

“Andre, you and I are going to have to chip in and buy Dennis a new pair of shoes. He could give you the ones he’s wearing for panning shoes.”

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14 September 2012

This morning was pleasant. Metro greeted me waving a newspaper, “Good morning, Dennis. Are you going to keep out of trouble this weekend?”

“Not if I can help it, Metro. Have a good day.”

“Joy’s down there.”

“Great, thanks Metro.”

“Hi Joy, how did you sleep?”

“Great, when I woke up I thought it was 5:15, my usual time, but it was 6:15. I really had to scramble to get everything together. When I got outside the door, I realized that my keys were at the bottom of my bag. So, I just left the door unlocked. We always used to leave the door unlocked. We never had any problems.”

“Weren’t you afraid that someone would steal Chester?”

“They can have him. He was all pissed off last night because I came home late.”

“Why, on earth, should he care what time you come home?”

“Ever since he fell down the stone steps, backwards, he hasn’t been right in the head. Every woman he’s been involved with, in any way, he falls in love with. Sometimes, I hear him talking in his sleep, ‘Joy, I love you.'”

“Has he made any arrangements, with the Health Department, for an exterminator?”

“Yeah, somebody is supposed to come by on Monday, but I told Chester, ‘I don’t care. If everything goes well at my appointment this afternoon, I’ll be out of here soon — maybe, even next week.’

“He may come by later. He’s out of cigarettes, so he’ll probably be doing a butt run. He’ll be wanting to bum a cigarette from me as well; but I smoke natives, he prefers a stronger cigarette.”

“What are natives?” I asked.

“They’re made from the scraps of what they use to make tailor-mades. The tobacco is supposed to be for ceremonial purposes. It’s not meant for human consumption.”

“Who makes them?”

“Natives.”

“At $20 a carton, some young entrepreneurs from the Kanasatake reserve near Montreal are selling a lot of cigarettes. The brands they are pushing may be unfamiliar to most people – Native and Mohawk Blend – but they come from a manufacturing plant on the American side of the Mohawk reserve in Akwasasne.”

“Making cigarettes has become an important business in Akwasasne. There are two manufacturing plants employing a couple of hundred people. The cigarettes are sold in native communities all across the United States, and now in some Canadian communities as well.

“I was talking to Timmy the other day. He said that smoking them gives him the dry heaves in the morning, and he’s been coughing up blood. He figures it’s not the liquor that gives him a hangover, it’s the native cigarettes.

“On the number fourteen bus last night I saw, Kit’s brother, Ronny. He must live ear where Little Jake moved in, and where Irene move out.”

“I don’t want to live near any of those people. My worker was surprised that I wanted to live in Vanier. She said a lot of hookers are moving from Vanier to Carlington, but there are still a lot in Vanier. I probably know them all. Jacques won’t live in Vanier. I’ve never had any problems there.”

I said, “I’ve lived in Vanier. I liked it. I never had any problems.

“I couldn’t believe how quiet Shakes was yesterday,” I said.

“Yeah, that was something, wasn’t it? I think he’s still upset about being robbed. I’ve told those guys that sleep at the Sheps, or the Mission, “Don’t store money in your socks.” I said, “Put it in a plastic baggie and stuff it in your underwear. If someone touches your crotch, you’re going to wake up.”

“It’s strange that Shakes and Andre were both robbed within days of each other.”

Joy said, “I think it was Sharron who got Andre’s money. When she was at the park I saw her rearranging her bra a few times, as if something felt uncomfortable. I think that’s where she hid Andre’s money.” Andre said, ‘I had my hand down her top a few times. I’d have noticed if it was there.’ I said, ‘If she had it right at the bottom of her cup, you’d never know it.’

I said, “Andre told me that he was robbed by two guys and one of them kicked him in the head.”

Joy said, “He put up a fight when the money was taken from his sock, but I kicked him in the head. He kept touching me. I warned him, “Next time you do that you’re going to regret it. He put his hand on my thigh. I stood up and kicked him in the head. He tried it a second time, I kicked him again. You think he’d learn. He put his hand right on my crotch. I got up and kicked him with all my might. The third kick was the best. It connected with the back of his head, his head snapped foreward and bobbled — just like one of those bobble-headed figures. He was out cold. Chester and I left shortly after that. He said, ‘Do you think he’s okay? Maybe he has a broken neck. I said, ‘I don’t care if he has.” Then we left.

“He was by here this morning, he’s okay. He was hanging around — I finally had to tell him to move on. This is Friday, it’s government pay week. I’ve got to make some money.”

“Maybe I should move on.”

“Whatever you like. You could go talk to Andre. I saw him going around the corner. He’s probably panning in front of Timmy Ho’s. I’ll see you this afternoon anyway, I have to be at the park to meet my worker. She’s coming at 2:00.”

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sunny wheels august 2012

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22 August 2012

This morning I spoke with Sunny, of Sunny’s Newswire. “Hi, Sunny.”

“Hi, I’m glad to see you. Did you visit my website? What did you think?

“It’s great. I also listened to your proposal to the Ottawa City Council. It was very well presented.”

“Thanks! Yesterday, I was on the Lowell Greene Show, on talk radio, but he blew me off. I have a recording of the program, if you’d like to hear it.”

“Sure!”

“I’ll rewind this. Anyway, what I was proposing was that Ottawa investigate the building of a solar monorail, like they have in Bologna, Spain.”

Solar Monorail Proposed for Bologna

“Did you hear that we lost Phyllis Diller? She had a great laugh. I was talking to a friend about which celebrity we would most like to meet. My choice would be Doris Day. You’re old enough to remember her. She’s an animal activist (founder of Actors and Others for Animals, the Doris Day Animal League and the Doris Day Pet Foundation). I sent her an email saying that I’d like to meet her, but I didn’t get an answer.

“See that guy, sitting on the sidewalk, with his hat out (referring to Francis). I don’t know what that’s all about. I find it disgusting. Doesn’t he have any sense of dignity?”

“There’s something coming up on the radio that I want you to hear. Maybe, you’ve already heard it. President Obama’s ratings have gone up four points because of a gaffe made by the opposing party. The remark has angered a lot of people, especially women. It’s coming on now:

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who is running for the Senate against Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, stated in a television interview on Sunday that “women’s bodies are able to prevent pregnancies if they are victims of a LEGITIMATE rape”. This is the dumbest statement I have heard a man make about women’s bodies since an 18-year-old kid told me once years ago that women can only get pregnant if they have an orgasm during sex….but that was a dumb 18-year-old warehouse stocker…..Akin is a member of the United States House of Representatives and is running to unseat Senator McCaskill of Missouri.

“What do you think? I’m sure that’ll cost Romney the women’s vote.

“Here’s that recording from the Lowell Green Show. I went by the name of Steve. Don’t put it too close to your ear, I have it turned up loud.”

“We have Steve on the line from Ottawa. Hi Steve, what would you like to talk about?”

“Hi Lowell, I understand that our mayor is interested in saving money on our proposed light rail system. I suggest that we investigate the possibility of a solar monorail, like the one they have in Bologna, Spain.”

“A solar monorail? There’s just one problem with that, Steve. What do we do when it’s dark?”

“We sleep… Actually the solar energy is stored in cells, and is released as necessary.”

“They don’t have storage cells that big. Steve, have you heard about Spain’s financial crisis?”

“Yes, I have. That’s the reason they opted for solar power. Energy from the sun is free.”

“Steve, I think you’ve been out in the sun too long. I think your brain is a bit fried.

“Next caller.”

“Well, so much for that. I still think it’s a good idea. With the help of an engineer friend of mine, from Newfoundland, we’re designing a solar-powered ship. It would be huge: with ballrooms, swimming pools and luxury condos.”

“Sounds great Sunny. I wish you all the best with it.”

Wednesday at noon was pleasant. The sky was sunny, the temperature warm, but not hot. As I was walking up the sidewalk to the park, I saw Serge laying on his side. “Hi Serge, are you alright?”

“I think I passed out, but I’ll be alright.”

“Are you sure? I’ll check on you later.”

“See you later.”

On the curb were Shark and Jillian. Shark said, “Elaine was here earlier, but she had to see her worker, so I’m alone, free and loving it. We got cable and satellite in our new place. Elaine is paying for the satellite, I’m paying for the cable. I’m going to drill a hole in the wall of my room, so I can watch both.”

Joy was on the lawn. Outcast and Hippo were talking at the railing.

Outcast said to me, “Were you away for the weekend?”

“Yes, I was at the lake. It was great.”

“How about the long weekend? Will you be away then?”

“I’m not sure. I had planned on visiting my granddaughter in Toronto, but my sons are going to be in Renfrew, visiting friends. They used to live there.”

“I used to live in Renfrew. Actually, I was there on an alcohol recovery program. It’s a nice little town.”

“Yeah, it is,” agreed Hippo. I lived nearby in Almonte. I went to Renfrew a lot.”

Joy came over to me and said, “I need to sit down. Let’s go over to the curb with Andre.”

“Hi Andre, you haven’t been fighting with any big natives today, have you?”

Andre laughed and said, “James and I made a truce. This morning I brought him a bottle and we drank together. There was no point in us hurting each other every day. I’d rather have him at my back than have him facing me. This city can be dangerous.”

Joy said, “I’ve told Dennis about that.”

“That reminds me, Joy, You’ll never guess who I saw last night… Sharon, the former girlfriend of Ambrose.”

“She’s out of prison?”

Andre continued, “I was panning on Elgin, in front of Bridgehead. Sharon was inside having a coffee. I got Inuvik to sit with my cap on the street and I went in to talk to her — I was inside when it started raining, Inuvik got soaked — I went back outside, as soon as I sat down, somebody dropped me ten bucks. Inuvik was pissed. I saw Magdalene walking towards us. Sharon came out to continue our conversation. I knew they both liked to scrap, so I said, ‘You’re both my friends, I don’t want any trouble between you.’

“Magdalene was drunk, acting like a smart ass. Sharon punched her right in the mouth. Here I am in the middle. Magdalene looked at me as if to say, Who are you going to side with? I said, hold on, whatever you two have to work out, go ahead, but I’m staying out of this.”

Joy said, “You should have sided with Sharon, she’s the better fighter. The last time we got in a fight, I had a broken ankle and was walking with a cane. She kicked my cane and punched me in the side of the head. I took the bus home.

“I told Big Jake about it. He didn’t say a word. He walked into the bathroom, took the plastic handle off the plunger and filled it full of dimes. Then, he untwisted a wire coat hanger and wrapped the open end of the handle. He sealed the opening, and wrapped the wire with duct tape. There was quite a weight to that.

“The next day, I was sitting in my usual spot when Sharon came by. She told me to move on. I said, ‘Make me!’ She bent down to take another swing at my head. I ducked and pulled out the club from my sleeve. I hit her, with all my might, on each side of her head. She was knocked out cold. I pushed her off the sidewalk, onto the slush of the street, and went home.

“She saw me a while later and said, ‘You pack a good punch.’ She didn’t give me any trouble after that.”

Fran rode up on her bicycle. Joy said, “Hi Fran, I haven’t seen your dad for a while. Is he okay?”

“He’s at Innes serving thirty days for a breach. He was panning in front of McDonald’s on Bank Street. That’s a red zone for him.”

Joy said, “They must really have him medicated. He’s probably on lithium; that’s what they put me on. The last time I was there was for assaulting Jake. Mind you, I was on suicide watch. I was kept in Observation. They kept giving me cheese sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, supper and snack. I didn’t have any appetite, so I made a pillow of them. I said, couldn’t you at least give me some soup in a styrofoam cup, or some meat?”

Three men approached. They shook hands with Andre then Joy, who introduced me to them, “Dennis, this is Tommy. He’s Jim’s brother, Hattie’s boyfriend.” We shook hands.

Tommy introduced his two friends, Hank and Dan. “We’re all from the same place. We used to call ourselves the ‘four horsemen’ but, one is in jail.  Jim is at Innes right now. He was sentenced to six months for assaulting Hattie. He’ll serve four… I know, he’s an asshole.”

Andre said, “So, he got 120 days. When I was there last, I was sick at first too. Then I got my appetite back. I was ‘fishing’ down the corridor for food. I’d pass my paper plate to the guy in the next cell. It’d get passed down the whole block. I’d always get something: fruit, a juice box, a muffin.”

Andre was wearing baggy shorts and Johnny noticed, what appeared to be, claw marks on his upper thigh. “Andre, did you get in a fight with a cat?”

“No,” said Joy, “he got too close to a pussy that he wasn’t supposed to get close to. He’s lucky that I have my fingernails rounded. When I was in prison I used to file them like claws. I’m talking flesh tearing claws. That reminds me of my days at P4W (The Prison For Women located in Kingston, Ontario).”

Tommy said to Joy, “How old are you?”

“How old do I look?”

“I’d say about fifty.”

“Oh, thanks! I’m forty-six.”

“It’s the lines around your eyes. Are you and Andre together?”

“No, we’ve known each other a long time. We’re not living together, we’re not going out together, he’s not fucking me. He tries to touch me and I don’t like it. Maybe now he’ll learn his lesson.”

I said, “I’m her father.” Everybody laughed. Tommy winked at Joy. He said, “We have to go now, but I’ll see you around.”

After they left, Joy said, “Why do guys always hit on me?”

“Because you’re pretty,” I said.

“It’s your charm,” said Andre.

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9 August 2012

The first person I saw at noon today was Bright Sky. “I asked him, “How long have you lived on the streets?”

“Oh gosh, my parents died in 1999, I wasn’t in very good shape, so that’s when I decided to travel around the world in eight hundred days. I still havent’s made it. I was down in Mexico for a while. I liked it there, but there is a lot of violent crime.

If the state of Chihuahua were a country, today it would have the fourth-highest level of major violence in the world”, the murder rate in Mexico is 13 per 100,000 (sixth highest in the world) compared to only 4.2 per 100,000 in the USA (24th highest in the world). 

“I’ve lived in Toronto and Vancouver. In Trois Riviere, Quebec, I was arrested for hitchhiking and threatened with rape. Last year I appeared on ‘The Lowell Greene Show” on talk radio. I announced on the radio my intention of running for Prime Minister of Canada, since our current Prime Minister Harper is doing such a poor job. Later I was beaten by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who also confiscated my photography equipment, laptops and files. I still haven’t been able to get them back.

“On July 14, 2001, I spoke at an Ottawa City Council Meeting about the proposed Ottawa Light Rail Transit Project and my Solar Monorail vision.

“In Europe monorail systems are used almost exclusively for mass transit. With monorails, there is not the problem of traffic congestion or snow removal. It’s far more cost-effective to build up for monorails, as opposed to digging down to build subways.”

I asked, “Do you know the people who congregate in the park near the Arts Center? The group varies from day-to-day.”

“I know of them, but I don’t associate with them. I met some of them at the tent city for ‘Occupy Ottawa’. Shakes just lay on the edge of the fountain. I can’t figure him out.”

I said, “He’s a very nice person. He’s been panhandling for the past seventeen years. He comes from Toronto. While he was there he was a boxer. He sparred with George Chuvallo and Shawn O’Sullivan. He must have been good. It’s possible that he sustained some brain injury while boxing.”

Bright Sky said, “Getting a few knocks to the head can cause a lot of damage. I’m concerned about the baby carts that some people pull behind bicycles. I saw one involved in an accident right on this corner, last winter. I took some pictures and asked the woman riding the bicycle if her child was wearing a hat and mittens. She was an army girl. A couple of army fellows were there as well. They said, ‘That’s no way to speak to a woman.’ The police arrived and asked what the problem was. I tried to explain, but they wouldn’t listen. They just told me to move along.

“Another time, I was attacked by a woman. I was taking pictures from across the street. She came up to me and said, ‘Hey! I don’t want my picture taken!’ I said, ‘I’m not photographing you, just the street scene.’ She didn’t believe me and grabbed my camera.”

The next person I saw was Serge, his left eye still black. He told me that yesterday he overslept until 10:00 am at the Shepherds. He said he almost never does that. This morning he was up at 7:30, thinking that it was Friday, P.N.A. (Personal Needs Allowance) day, when he receives a check in the amount of $27.00. He had fallen again and showed me where he scraped his arm.

On the grass at the park were Hippo, Andre ( who had shaved off his beard and left only a mustache), John (he said to remember his name just think of toilet), Daimon (on crutches with his right leg in a cast) and his girlfriend Lucy-in-the-Sky.

I hadn’t seen Daimon or Lucy since they were beaten up while trying to mug a black dude named Lucky. Lucy was knocked out, Daimon was left with a broken ankle. Whenever I’m near them I feel like the gingerbread man faced by a pair of foxes. My thought was not if I will get mugged, but when. Hippo and Andre would have my back, so I’m safe for another day.

Both John and Hippo had bicycles and planned to cross the Ottawa River into Gatineau, Quebec, where beer is cheaper. They prefer the tall cans of Labatt Maximum Ice (7.1 percent alcohol), not available in Ontario.

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8 August 2012

Today at the park, the congregation included ten regulars, including Shawn ‘Sausage Fingers’, Buck and his dog Dillinger. The first person to approach me was Joy. I hardly recognized her. Gone was her do rag, her hair color had changed from black to blond and was professionally cut and styled. She was wearing a loose cotton, black on white print blouse with gray stretch pants.

“Joy,” I said, “you look beautiful!”

“Thanks, I thought I needed to pamper myself for a change. Were you on vacation?”

“Yes, I was at the lake for a week. It was great, except for Saturday. I was working on the roof of my cabin and got a case of heat stroke. I had to be wrapped in cold, wet towels. I’d been drinking lots of water.”

Outcast said, “It was brutal here, one hundred and four degrees Fahrenheit. The rain we had just increased the humidity, but didn’t lower the temperature. I used up one of my inhalers. I have to go to the pharmacy today to get a new one.”

Joy said, “I still don’t have my health card, so I borrowed Chester’s inhaler. That probably isn’t a good idea, but it’s all I could do. I was hardly here at all last week. It was just too hot.”

I said to Joy, “I was so sorry to hear that Magdalene’s baby died.”

“I didn’t know that. What happened?”

“I don’t know any details. I spoke to her yesterday morning. I asked, ‘How is your baby?’ She said, ‘He died two days ago.’ I asked how Alphonse was taking it. She said, ‘I don’t know.’ Perhaps they aren’t together any more.

“I mentioned it to Trudy. She had seen Alphonse earlier that day, but he wasn’t talking to anyone.”

Joy said, “Trudy was by earlier, but she didn’t stay. She was acting funny. She probably knows something that she doesn’t want to talk about.”

Outcast said, “It sounds like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. A baby can turn over in bed and suffocate. It happens a lot.”

I said, “If anyone hears about funeral arrangements, please let me know. I’d like to attend.

“I was talking to Shakes yesterday. He was at his daughter Bettie’s, for her birthday party on Sunday. She had been beaten by her boyfriend.”

Joy said, “That Kit, what a scumbag, beating a woman six months pregnant with his twins, their son looking on. Someone is going to take care of this. I see him every day crossing in front of our apartment.”

Shakes came over. I asked, “What kind of injuries does Bettie have?”

“Her face and ribs are badly bruised; beyond that, I don’t know.”

I asked, “Has her boyfriend been charged?”

Joy said, “We don’t do that. We wait until someone is nearly beaten to death, and left in a pool of blood to die, as I was; or like Fran, with her back permanently fucked. That’s the reason that Big Jake and Gene are in jail.”

Outcast waved at a woman passing by on the sidewalk. “Did you see that woman I waved to? She’s my boss. Two days a week I volunteer at the Salvation Army. She’s the Executive Director. She posted bail for me one time. I’ll always be thankful to her for the help she gave me. She’s not surprised to see me here. She knows that I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict… and always will be. I was sentenced to ten years, of course, I didn’t have to serve the full term.”

I sat down on the grass with Little Jake. “How have you been this past week?”

“I’m not allowed to pan, because I’m on probation. That sucks!”

“Have you had your court appearance yet?”

“That’s on August 30th. I’ll know what’s going to happen then. I fell off my bike a few days ago.”

“Where were you injured?”

“My knees and my elbows were scraped. I have bruises on my right leg. I was wasted. I don’t know what happened. They found my bike in the hedge. It was in pieces, so I threw it away.”

“You probably hit the curb. I’ve done that before and have the scars to prove it.”

“Yeah, that’s probably what happened.”

“Riding drunk probably seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Joy said, “Everything seems like a good idea at the time.”

Shawn said, “There is such a thing as common sense, and everybody has it to some degree. Even people with down syndrome, or any of the syndromes have it. I’ve had some experience with that, mind you, I have a mental disability and I’m getting a pension for it, but my mind has two settings; either I’m polite, or I’m all out crazy. There’s no in between.” He took off his shoe and said, “See how the middle three toes come up and down as one? I got three pins in them attached to another piece in my instep. That’s from jumping out of a three-story window. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I wish I had just put my hands up and gone with the cops.

“What happened was, me and another guy were in a hotel room making a drug deal. He left to get some more, and the cops followed him back. We were both standing there, at the table, the scales at one end, the drugs at the other, when the cops broke the door down. I backed towards the balcony, said, ‘I’m out of here!’ and over I went. I landed in the alley, which was concrete. It would have been nice if I had landed in soft earth or even some bushes. I was lucky to have gotten off so easy, but I still went to prison. I could have saved myself a lot of pain.

“Now when I go through a metal detector, at the airport, all the alarms go off. They ask me to take my shoes off. ‘No problem,’ I say. It happens all the time.”

I said, “I have the same problem with metal detectors. I have an artificial hip and a rod in my right femur from a motorcycle accident. Do you think it would help, for you and I, to bring an x-ray to the airport?”

“No, they want to see for themselves.

“On another occasion, I was at home listening to music. It was 10:30, I had the volume up. Then I heard this pounding and kicking at my door. When I heard that I figured somebody had come for a fight. I opened the door and this guy was screaming at me to turn the music down. I said, ‘No!’ I saw his fist coming up. I just reached over it and connected with his jaw. He took off, like a scared rabbit, down the street. I thought he lived next door. If he lived down the street why would he be complaining about the music? It wasn’t that loud. I yelled after him, ‘You can stop running now. I’m not going to hit you again.’ I did turn the music down. Some people — go figure!”

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jesus

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7 August 2012

Monday mornings have always been considered unproductive days for panning. The reasons given are that office workers, returning after the weekend, tend to be tired, grumpy and not particularly generous to those in need. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised to see the spots usually occupied by Joy and Silver were vacant. I looked farther up the street and saw Magdalene.

“Hi, Magdalene, do you mind if I sit down?”

“Hi, sure, sit.”

“He died two days ago.” Baby Alphonse Jr. would have been eight weeks old. I had talked with Magdalene last week. Social Services had found a nice place for her and her husband Alphonse to live, near the hospital. The last time I saw them as a couple was before the birth. They were both excited about their expected son. I was shocked to hear that their baby died. I never know what to say at times like this.

“I’m terribly sorry to hear that. You must feel devastated.” I put my hand gently on Magdalene’s shoulder, knowing that she doesn’t like to be hugged.

“I’m okay.”

“How is your husband, Alphonse taking it?”

“I don’t know.” she replied.

“I’m asking too many questions. You have my deepest sympathy.”

“Do you have a cigarette? No, I remember, you don’t smoke. I’ll see if I can find one.” She stood up and walked to an outdoor ashtray, near the door to Starbucks. She picked out a couple of butts and returned to her spot.

“Perhaps, I’ll see you at noon, Magdalene. Once again, I’m so sorry. Remember, you are loved by many friends.”

At noon I walked to the park. Sitting on the curb, hiding under a baseball cap and behind a bushy gray beard, was Serge.

“Hi Serge. I haven’t seen you for the past week. Have I missed anything while I was away?”

“No, every day the same thing.” I noticed that he had a black eye.

“Serge, did you fall again?”

“Yes, I fell. I was walking between two cars to have a pee, and I fell.” This is Serge’s standard excuse for black eyes. A few weeks ago he had two, probably from beatings. He doesn’t want to cause any trouble for anybody. Also, he’s afraid of repercussions.

“I’m sorry to hear that Serge. You take care. I’ll see you later.”

Walking further up the sidewalk I met Trudy. “Hi, I was so sorry to hear that Magdalene’s baby died.”

“I didn’t know that. When did it happen?”

“She said it was two days ago.”

“I saw Alphonse this morning, but he wasn’t talking to anyone.”

“That’s the reason. I’m sure he’s very upset. He wanted so much to be a father.”

“Dennis, do you have any more of those Tim Horton’s cards? I was just talking to Nick. He said he was hungry.”

“Sure, I’d be pleased if you gave it to Nick. I really admire what he does to help people.

”If you see Larry, tell him that I’ve finished the first three volumes of ‘Confessions with God’. He recommended them to me. I really enjoyed them, so if he has any more recommendations I would be interested in hearing them.

“I’ll see you later.”

“Bye, Dennis, thanks.”

I next went to what Shakes calls his ‘office’, a curb beside an underground parking garage on Laurier Street near Kent. “Hi, Shakes, I have a pair of track pants for you (50% off, at Goodwill). Do you want to try them on?”

“Thanks, Dennis, I’ll try them on later, after I’ve had a shower.

“You know, Dennis, I’ve been in this spot for seventeen years. At first it was just a dirt parking lot. The owner asked me if I’d pick up any trash. I said, ‘Sure!’ He gave me five bucks a day. Now it’s become a condo city.”

The parking lot attendant came over and asked Shakes if he would mind moving over about a foot, because he was in the path of cars entering the garage. He obliged.

“Yesterday, I went to visit my daughter, Bettie and my grandson. It was Bettie’s birthday. She was in bad shape. Her boyfriend had beaten her up.”

“I’m so sorry, Shakes. I also heard that your daughter Fran was beaten, and her boyfriend, Gene is now in prison. I heard that she has hairline fractures in her spine from when he jumped her.”

“Yes, Fran was there too. They’re both in rough shape. I can’t understand these guys.”

“Dennis, would you mind doing me a favor? Would you buy me a salad from the restaurant behind us? Maybe, cole slaw, or potato salad, whatever they have… and pepper… and don’t forget a fork.”

“Sure, Shakes.” I came back with his salad and said, “Perhaps, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Sure, I’ll be with the rest of the congregation.”

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ottawacops

19 July 2012

This morning was cool and breezy. Joy was wearing a hoodie, with her hands in the pocket, and hood pulled over her head.

“You’re looking good, Joy,” I said.

“Thanks, it was too hot to drink yesterday. I didn’t sleep much. The people downstairs were out on their balcony, talking loud. They were also smoking pot.”

“Are they the neighbors directly below you?”

“Yes.”

“You could always spill something on them.”

“I thought of that. Chester’s also being a real pain, especially when he’s drunk. I was doing the laundry yesterday, he came in and said, ‘I’m hungry. Will you make me something to eat?’ I said, ‘Dude, you know where the fridge is, make something yourself.’ I’m not his housekeeper.

“Outcast was over last night. He brought twelve beer and gave Chester six. After a while Chester came to me and said, ‘I want him out of here, and he’s not sleeping over.’ ‘Look dude,’ I said, ‘If you want him out, you tell him, and tell him why.’

“Later on he said to me, ‘Joy, will you sleep with me? I won’t do anything. I just want to be close to you.’ ‘Chester,’ I said, ‘we’ve been over this before. I’m not sleeping with you. It’s not going to happen, not now, not ever.’ Guys always try that. They say they just want to sleep next to you, then they start touching you. I hate that.”

“You can see why Anne left him,” I said.

“I sure can, but he still goes on about her, ‘I miss my Annie,’ he says. She’s never going to take him back.”

“There’s nothing worse than jealousy, to spoil a relationship,” I said.

“That’s for sure. Outcast isn’t getting along with Debbie. She wants to up his rent because her daughter is pregnant again. Why that should affect his rent, I don’t know. I told him that, if things with Chester get any worse, we could find a two bedroom somewhere and share it.

“I saw Little Jake this morning, he’s over at Silver’s spot. He’s got a huge bump on his forehead. Fran’s new boyfriend head butted him last night. Jake was wasted, he doesn’t know what happened, or why.”

“Fran’s new boyfriend? Isn’t she with Gene any more?”

“Gene is in prison. He jumped Fran and she has two hairline fractures in her back. The doctors are going to monitor it for a while to see what happens. She may need surgery. This new guy may be the father of one of her sons. He’s a big guy. Sounds a lot like Daimon. I can’t wait to meet him to see how tough he is.”

“How is it going with Pierre?”

“I don’t know. He sent me a text at eleven thirty last night. I just read it this morning. He says he won’t be coming by the park. I know why he hasn’t been coming to the park, it’s because he owes Outcast a hundred dollars.

“I also saw Weasel this morning.”

I said, “You know why Silver hasn’t been using his spot, don’t you?”

“Yeah, because Weasel accused him of stealing two beer from him. Weasel is a real mess. His eye and the whole side of his face is a massive bruise, with strange marks across it. He said he was boot fucked. He doesn’t remember who it was, or why. Probably some of the crack heads at the Sally Ann.”

Sitting on the curb near the park were some regulars and and Levi from Arizona – just passing through. Andre arrived on his bicycle shortly after. Hippo said, “Six up, coming up the hill.” I turned to see two bicycle patrol officers stopping.

One of the officers asked, “What are you people doing, just congregating?”

“Yes, officer,” said Shakes.

“Does anyone have any booze?”

“We can’t afford it,” said Shakes.

One of the officers got off his bike. I could read his name tag, Budmiester. He walked around the group and noticed an open can of Old Milwaukee behind Serge. He picked it up and emptied the contents on the sidewalk. “I’m going to have to charge you with this. What’s your name?”

“Serge Martin, just like Steve Martin. You can write me a ticket, but I’m not going to pay it. You might as well save the paper. I’ll just throw it out.”

“You can do as you wish, but the courts have been giving thirty-day jail sentences, depending on how many outstanding charges you have.”

Andre said, “I’m looking at your name tag, does it say Budweiser?”

Officer Curtis said, “We’ve had a complaint. You’re going to have to move somewhere else.” We all stood except Jake who said, “I’m supposed to stay here to meet my worker. I have to appear in court this afternoon.”

“On what charge?” asked officer Curtis.

“Panning. I was charged by officer Lang.”

“You’d better appear then.”

We walked to the far end of the park and sat on the grass. It was still damp from the sprinklers. Andre reached into his backpack and pulled out a bottle of sherry and threw it to Shakes who opened it and passed it around. When it got to Levi, he said, “I don’t drink, I only smoke.” Shakes reached into his pocket and pulled out a small round can. He threw it to Joy. Andre handed her a rolling paper. Soon, a joint was being passed around.

Levi asked, “What are the laws concerning marijuana in Ontario?”

Marujuana posession laws in Ontario:

Currently, it is against the Criminal Code to possess any amount of marijuana anywhere in Canada, unless you have received a medical exemption from Health Canada.

For a first conviction, if you had less than 30 grams of marijuana, the maximum penalties are a fine of $1000 or 6 months in jail, or both. But the penalty for a first offense is usually much less.

In practise, police agencies are reluctant to charge individuals for simple possession preferring to target dealers and grow-ops, and the courts would prefer not spending time prosecuting these cases. Even if one is charged, it is very easy to have the case dismissed in exchange for a charitable donation. There does however continue to be convictions in Ontario courts for simple possession.”

Joy said, “It all depends on the cop who stops you. You just saw Serge get a liquor violation ticket, while Sparky had a bottle right in front of him. Frank got a ticket for panhandling, I’ve been panhandling for fifteen years and never got a ticket.

“If a cop stops you and you’ve got five grams of weed, he’ll probably just throw it out on the ground and grind it with his heel. He may give you a warning, he may give you a ticket.”

“Dennis,” said Jake, “what time is it?”

“Twelve, forty-five.”

“Court starts at one, my worker hasn’t shown up. I’m never going to make it. It’s all the way across town, even if I took the bus I wouldn’t get there in time.”

“Sounds like a failure to appear,” said Joy.

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.kept2

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This was a fantastic read. I enjoyed the fast pace, the riveting plot, but most of all the believable character development of Kate Mercer. I haven’t read the first book in the series, but I know Kate to be the survivor of an abusive husband. She now helps other women in similar situations. This proves to be a very dangerous position, especially when faced with an angry husband who is also on the police force. Kate shows bravery, determination and empathy. With her husband and daughter she shows love and tenderness. She also has doubts and insecurities. She is a complex, compassionate, empowered woman.

The writing and dialog are flawless and engaging. I look forward to reading other books by Tracey Lampley. Put Kept on your must read list.

 

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See my 5 Star Amazon Review at:

http://ow.ly/LdM0N   

In my humble opinion “Strictly for Seniors” is a misnomer. This book can be enjoyed by anyone of legal drinking age. Sid Nachman is an amazing author, who invites us into “a secret place deep down inside himself where pain and fear collide, where he can hide and make everything bad disappear.”

Like James Joyce, Sid Nachman can take the ordinary and turn it into magic with a fluency that is imperceptible. There are no awkward moments. Our disbelief is suspended and we fly to another world of street games played between rows of parked cars, to the daily adventures of people living in the 1940’s and ’50’s, the good, bad and indifferent. “The world was a much different place…” Read “Strictly for Seniors” and discover the magic of this “much different place.” You’ll be glad that you did.

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The Devil’s Cradle by Darcy Daniel is a thrilling suspense novel. The reader is drawn into the plot by the fact that Nina Holt has been held prisoner in her own home for ten years. Previous escape attempts led to  brutal punishment by her husband Michael and his brother Greg.

A second plot line develops as Case Herder, an ex-cop, discovers a lead in the two year old murder case of his wife. This lead involves Nina’s brother-in-law Greg. Herder wonders if Nina can provide answers to some of his questions.

Nina and Case are brought together when, in trying to escape, she and her son are involved in a car crash. Case is the first motorist on the scene and offers the pair a ride and an offer of assistance. Nina doesn’t trust him, but accepts his offer since no other alternative is available. Case needs to earn her trust In order to connect Greg with his wife’s murder.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the subtle changes in the relationship between Case and Nina. Her past brutalization by Mike and Greg has stripped her of her self-assurance and caused her to fear all men. In her we see the effects of spousal abuse which has become a world epidemic.

Gradually, Nina evolves from a victim, to not only a survivor, but to an independent woman capable of providing a livelihood for herself and her son. This is a testament to all women caught in an abusive relationship.