Posts Tagged ‘bruises’

.

bench

.

12 September 2012

Joy was in good spirits this morning. The sun was shining.

“Hi Joy,” I said, “you have an appointment with your worker today, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I’ll be meeting Janice and Darla at the park at 10:30. I have the same workers as Andre.”

“What will they be talking about today?”

“Just details of the place I’ll be moving into.”

I said, “You must be excited. This is the first time since I’ve known you, that you’ll be having an apartment of your own. You’ve always shared with somebody.”

“Yeah, it’s exciting and scary. It’s been so long since I’ve lived alone, I’m not sure how I’ll cope.”

“It has to be better than living with bed bugs, and you won’t have to put up with Chester’s noises. You’ll be able to watch English television, whatever programs you choose. There’ll be no one to beat you.”

“Yeah, that will all be good. I just worry about my mind. The last time in prison I was in the psych ward, under suicide watch because I kept stabbing myself with pencils. That was when they put me on Seroquel, it’s an antipsychotic for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. When I’m on that I don’t hear the voices. Lately, it’s been television commercials that are going around in my head, like the one for Yop. It has kind of a reggae beat:

When I wake up in the morning I’m still asleep
I really don’t want no toast
I want no water, no tea, no cereal
give me a yogurt drink I’m wanting first.

Ooooooh! Give me Yop! me mama oh
Yop! me mama when the morning come.

Give me Yop! me mama
Yop! me mama
Yop! for when the morning come…

I said, “Andre was really wild yesterday.”

“Yeah, he was being a real asshole.”

“He said he got rolled. Where did he get $140.00”

“The workers arranged that for him. It was his street allowance. On Monday he got a check for $150.00. With the last of his money he bought three bottles. Little Jake invited him over to his new place. Andre didn’t even have bus fare. Jake, of course, is all proud because he has a bus pass.

“Andre is going to get the shit kicked out of him, or else he’ll be exiled. I’d rather take the beating. Being exiled is hell.

“I saw Hippo this morning. He’s been hiding out with Jacques at Dow’s Lake. He’s afraid of Bearded Bruce.”

I asked, “How did that all come about?”

“Hippo was drunk. he was ten feet tall and juiced to the gills. He was in Starbucks performing when someone called the cops. They knew he was staying behind the dumpsters so that’s where they went. They recognized Bruce because of his record, and were holding him up against the fence. Bruce was upset with Hippo. He said, ‘I could have been breached.’

“That doesn’t make sense to me. Bruce said he took jail time instead of probation, because he knew he’d never show up for appointments. For missing appointments they’d put him back in jail. If he’s not on probation he couldn’t be breached.

“There’s something funny. Bruce tried to sell crack to an undercover cop and he gets probation? Crack is a narcotic, that’s automatic jail time. I know. He does the same thing again and they only give him 180 days. That’s unheard of! I think he’s a chatter, someone who will rat out his friends. It’s the same with Weasel.

“The exterminators are coming today. I just hope that Chester remembers to tell them about the day bed. The stuff they spray will completely soak the mattress. I’ve been sleeping in the middle of the room on an air mattress. I was thinking, there’s no way they’ll be able to hold onto plastic, but sure enough they were there. I could feel a bump in my sheet, and it moved, so I squished it and smelt my fingers. It had that rotten wood smell of bed bugs. In the morning I saw a streak of blood where I squished it.

At noon the regular crew was at the park. As soon as I sat down Shakes asked me, “Dennis, how do you like my shades?”

“Very nice Shakes! Are they yours? I guess they’re yours now.”

“My worker took me shopping for clothes today. They didn’t have everything I wanted, but I did get a nice winter coat and a belt. Now, I don’t have to wear this dog leash to hold my pants up. When we got to the cash the guy said, ‘Shakes, you need some sunglasses, don’t you?’ I asked, ‘Can I have these?’ He said, ‘Go for it, Shakes.’ ”

Joy sat next to me. I asked, “How did it go with your worker today?”

“Really great!” she said. “Friday I go to see a place. Janice said it was the biggest bachelor apartment she’s ever seen. The guy who owns the building is friendly to homeless people. I guess one of his family was homeless and they died.

“I asked what I should wear. She said, You don’t have to dress fancy, but lose the bandana.”

“I told her that I had paid all my bills and didn’t have any money left. She said, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll cover it.’ ”

I asked her, “Are they any closer to getting you a health card?”

“They’re going to take me to a clinic doctor tomorrow. I said to her, “Things aren’t right in my head. I hear voices and they keep me awake all night. With them and the bed bugs I’m not getting much sleep at all.

“I told her that when I pee, there’s blood. I cough up blood, then my nose starts bleeding. I’m bleeding everywhere. That’s not right. I’ve got no energy. I can’t keep food down.

“If I get this place, and it could be as early as September 20, I’m going to cut back on the drinking. She asked me, “Why do you drink?’ I said, ‘I drink to pass out, to get away from the pain in my legs. My hip feels like it’s burning. I’m having seizures. I’m glad I haven’t had any here. Yesterday, I had two at Chester’s place. He didn’t even notice. My eyes just rolled back in my head and my mind went blank for a while.

Jacques answered a call on his cell phone. He handed it to Joy. “Chester,” he said.

I heard Joy ask, “Did the Health Department guy come by to spray. He said he would… You told him what? I’m going to be coming home soon.’

Joy handed the phone back to Jacques. She said, “That stupid, stupid man.” Then she started sobbing. The sobbing turned to gasping. She reached into her backpack and pulled out her inhaler. After four puffs, the gasping stopped. Tears were still falling from her eyes.

I asked, “Did something go wrong with the exterminator?”

“Chester wouldn’t let him spray. He said it would be an invasion.”

“It is an invasion,” I said, “an invasion of bed bugs.”

Joy said, “After we sprayed Chester’s room the first time, they don’t seem to have gone back there. We found their nest under his bed and we soaked it with spray. Maybe they bite him and he doesn’t react, but I see him scratching. I’m going to have to sleep on the balcony. That’s the only way I can get away from them. They don’t like the cold.

“That really pisses me off. I paid him $400. for rent, I filled the fridge with groceries. He was supposed to buy more but he hasn’t. He says he has no money. He shouldn’t be spending it on the muk muks. I clean, I cook, I just can’t take it anymore.”

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2Gkoyxj ($.99 Download)
Podcasts:http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
http://www.blunttalk.libsyn.com/
http://buff.ly/1XU368M
http://buff.ly/2iYvOE4
http://buff.ly/2jdjZd6

.

bench

,

26 September 2013

Sitting on the curb were Little Jake, Shakes, John, Mariah and Jacques. I parked myself cross-legged on the sidewalk in front of them.  Jake said, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” He was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, but took off his shirt. “This must be Indian Summer, don’t you think, Jacques?”

“I don’t know, it seems early.”

Jake said, “I was reading the Farmer’s Almanac. It says we’re going to have a cold winter. Even at home, we always read the Farmer’s Almanac. They were always right about the weather.

“Jacques said, “Did you hear, they’re building a big hydroponic plant to grow medicinal marijuana, but the government is causing problems for them.”

“Yeah,” I said, “they’re doing that in Smith Falls at the old Hershey Chocolate Factory. It’s a huge place.”

Jake said, “Did you hear what happened to me?”

“No, Jake, what happened?”

“I was hit by a car, that’s what happened. I was just riding along then ‘bang’, I was sitting in the middle of the street, just like you are. I said, ‘What the fuck just happened?’ A guy on the sidewalk said, ‘You were just hit by a car, man.’ I was all kinda woozy. I just sat there. my bike was  ten feet away.”

I asked, “How did the accident occur. Was it at an intersection? Was the car turning?”

“I don’t know. I was so fuckin’ hammered, I don’t know what happened. One minute I’m on my bike. The next minute I’m on the ground. I didn’t realize it but the crash loosened my front wheel. I have quick release wheels. I was going down the hill near Gladstone and Preston and it started wobbling. Imagine what would have happened if it had fallen off.  I got bruises on my ribs, on my leg. I’ve got a scraped elbow, just when the other elbow had nearly healed. It happened last week.”

Shakes said, ” It didn’t happen last week. It happened on Monday.”

“Well, last week, Monday, it’s all the same to me.”

Shakes said, “Dennis, Dennis, do you know what happened to me? I was panning on Elgin, near Scrimm’s Florists. There’s a  bank across the street there at Somerset, and Mc Donalds is just down the block… Anyway, I bought a Big Mac and put it beside me. After a while, I’d made the price of two bottles and a pack of cigarettes. I got up and my Big Mac was gone. Somebody stole it. I was really looking forward to that Big Mac.”

“DId you see who stole it?

Jake said, “Shakes never knows who stole things. He probably fell asleep. He’s lost shoes, backpacks, cash, pot, cigarettes, beer.”

Shakes said, “There were all kinds of people around, some crossing the street, some walking behind me. I didn’t see who took it.”

Mariah came by. I asked her, “Have you had any more problems with spirits?”

“Not me, but Joy has. That little girl was being very bad. I hadn’t really prepared my self but I confronted her. Sometimes they just want to be noticed. She came from a family where she was ignored, just pushed aside. That’s the impression I got. She was a daddy’s girl, but then he left. I don’t know what happened to him.”

I asked , “How did you confront her?”

“I just faced her and took her energy away. That’s what she had been doing to Joy, taking her energy; it was causing her to get sick. We had a talk. The little girl wasn’t happy about where some of the things were placed on the walls, so we changed them. Moved some other things around.  After that, she seemed happy. ‘Whoosh’ she was gone.

“The next day Joy came upstairs and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I got a full nights sleep. That hasn’t happened for weeks.’ I got a kick out of that.”

“You said that you weren’t prepared. What did you mean by that?”

“I’ve been looking for eagle and hawk feathers; on my hands and knees in the woods, but I didn’t find any. I had some others that I used. After a cleansing like that I don’t use the feathers again. I’ll tie them into a dream catcher, or something.”

“When did you realize that you could contact spirits.”

“I’ve always known. If I go into the woods, I’ll hear voices. I don’t see anything, but I’ll feel the presence of a spirit as a cold spot, or an unusual breeze that just passes then is gone.”

Frank said, “I saw a beautiful feather the other day. It was kind of brownish gold, turning to black. I think it was some kind of hawk feather.”

Mariah said, “It sounds like an eagle.”

“Yeah, ” I said, “It sounds like a golden eagle, We have them out at the lake. They’re huge.”

Jake said to Mariah, “Is that beer you’re drinking. I didn’t know you drank beer.”

“I usually drink vodka. It’s not as noticeable. and I don’t have to pee so often.

Frank said, “Yeah, with beer, once you start pissing, you’re up every ten minutes.”

I said, “I usually figure it’s once for each beer.”

Jake passed me a joint, “No thanks, if I had that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back to work.”

Shakes was taking pot out of small baggies, breaking up the buds and putting them into a small, black plastic container. He handed me a bud and said, “Here’s some for later.” I put it in my shirt pocket. He said, “Here, I’ll give you a baggie. I hate getting shirt lint in my joints.”

As I was walking back to work I met Magdalene. She said, “I know you, but I forget your name.”

“I’m Dennis.”

“Yeah, Dennis.”

I asked, “How’s everything going? I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I don’t know. Okay, I guess. I just came from down there,”  indicating the direction I was walking.

I asked, “Is Alphonse with you?”

“He’s in jail.”

“Why is he in jail.”

“Assault. I didn’t charge him. I know some women go to the police, but this happened on the street. Somebody else reported it.”

“How are you feeling now?”

“Not so good. Have you got any bus tickets? I haven’t been home for three weeks. I’ve been staying at the Sheps.”

panhandeling-women

18 June 2013

This morning after getting off the bus, greeting Metro, I noticed Joy’s feet sticking out from behind a pillar. I fished in my wallet for bus tickets,  Joy always  needs them, or else she’ll try to hop the bus from the back door. I didn’t notice Chester approaching. He asked ,”Are those for me?” I asked, “Do you need some?” “Yes please. Thank you very much. Do you want a coffee? I have coupons for Tim Horton’s.”  I declined, “No thanks, Chester, you hang on to them.”

When I approached Joy she was huddled over, her sweater pulled over her knees. “I’m definitely under dressed for this weather.”

“How have you been feeling?”

“Not so good, I’ve got a pain like something I swallowed didn’t go down right; but I get that pain if I swallow spit. It’s because of this cage I’ve got in my chest. It deems to be going away now. I’ve still been having dizzy spells, like I get before I’m going to have a seizure. It happened yesterday at home. I was watching television, then this wave of dizziness came over me. I looked around my apartment for my medication. I usually keep a stash somewhere, but couldn’t find it. I lay down on the bed. I  must have passed out because I woke up on the floor.

“The torn rotator cuff I have, had turned purple. I can’t lift my arm. Have a look at this.” She lifted her bandana to reveal a split in her eyebrow. “I took the legs off my bed, so next time I won’t have as far to fall.

“This afternoon I have an appointment with my women to see about furniture. I hope I don’t have to pay for delivery, because I’m strapped. These people are supposed to help people without money. They aren’t offering much help.”

I commented, “You moved into your apartment seven months ago? And you still don’t have furniture?”

“I moved in November ninth.”

“How has it been going with Jake? You mentioned that he would be coming over.”

“Yeah,  he was over on the weekend. I fixed him supper. He was over again last night. He’s really fat. He’s in a wheel chair and doesn’t know how to use it very well —  I used to be able to do wheelies in mine. He says he’s two hundred and thirty, but he’s way more than that. He’s really getting it at the Sally. Guys will just come up to him and give him a shot in the back of the head, or a one, two, three combination. I said to him, ‘Well, in the past, you shouldn’t have been such an asshole, to so many people.’

“He noticed the condoms in my drawer. He asked, ‘Who are these for?’ I said, ‘For you, if I ever decide to fuck you.’ There’s no way I’d let him do it without a condom. Who knows what diseases he’s carrying. He asked, ‘Have there been any other guys you’ve been with?’ I said, ‘No, I’ve been waiting for you.’ There’s no spark though. Nothing at all. He asked if he could come over today, but I said, ‘I’ve got an appointment with my women. I don’t know how long that’s going to take.’ He said, ‘Well, I can’t come Wednesday, because I’ve got my piss test.’ It seems crazy. He’s got a condition on his parole that he doesn’t drink, but they warn him before he’s tested. He has plenty of time to get it out of his system.”

I said, “You mentioned that he had been sober for a while.”

“All the time he’s been inside, but there’s the jailhouse hooch. Everybody drinks that. It’s easier to get drugs there than it is on the outside. He was drinking and smoking pot on the weekend.

“He’s acting really dependent, like I should be catering to him or something. When I told him it was time for him to go home he asked, ‘Will you push my chair to the bus stop?’ all whiny like. I said, ‘There’s a slight hill from here to the bus stop, you can make it there yourself. Maybe when I can afford to get a cell phone, you can phone me from the bottom of the hill and I’ll come and push you.’

Chester came back with only one coffee. He said, “They aren’t taking the coupons any more. They’d only give me one coffee.”

“Don’t worry about it, they’ll be having another roll up the rim to win soon. ” Joy showed me a clear plastic box with dozens of torn coffee rims. “A woman just dropped these in my hat. I guess she didn’t want to wait until the next promotion.”

“I’m going to leave soon.  I’m still not feeling well. I’m going to  the park to  wait for my workers.”

I said, “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, and, Chester, I’ll see you at the park this afternoon.”

“Bye Dennis.”

This morning, as I was waiting for the walk light to cross the street, I heard someone bellow, “Dennis!”

I turned around, recognized who it was, and shouted, “Hippo!”

His eyes were half-shut, his arm scraped. I asked, “Where did you sleep last night?”

“At the police station.”

“How did that come about?”

“I don’t know, I was drunk. I was with Joy last night.”

“I asked, “Is Joy alright?”

Yeah, she went home, then I went to my place.”

“Did you get into a fight?

“I remember going at a cop with a hammer.”

“What brought the cops in the first place? Were you making a lot of noise?”

“I remember that we were playing music. There was somebody else there. I remember who it was.”

“Was it someone I would know?”

“No.”

“Someone in your building?”

“Yeah. I think I’ve got the papers here. Yeah, here it is, CAUSING A DISTURBANCE WHILE DRUNK and POSSESSION OF A WEAPON DANGEROUS TO PUBLIC SAFETY (highlighted in yellow). It says here that I have to appear in court on June 18th at 8:30.”

“That’s in less than three weeks!”

I asked, “Do they still serve those cold fried egg sandwiches on a paper plate, with lukewarm coffee, milk and sugar in a paper cup?”

“No, not even that. I would’ve loved to have a coffee. I had a slice of banana bread and a box of orange juice. I’m starved.”

“Do you have enough for breakfast?”

“Yeah I’m good.”

“If  there’s anything you need, let me know.”

“Thanks bro. I gotta stop drinking. In fact I’ve been ordered to stop drinking. If I get caught drunk, I go straight to jail.”

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

I asked, “When did you wake up?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“MacKenzie said, ‘Your old man is out, he’s staying at the Salvation Army.’ I said, “He’s not my old man, he’s my ex. I know he’s out he’s been out two weeks today.’

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

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

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

I asked, “What happened to Brian?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was time for me to go back to work. I shook hands with everybody, then I stopped by the other group with Debbie, Jacques, Heinz and Shaggy. Heinz said, “As you can see I’m that way again.”

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

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

Joy was looking dejected as I approached this morning. She said,”Today is even worse than yesterday.”

I said, “You’ve told me that Mondays are always bad.”

“Some people do okay on Mondays, but I never have. Yesterday I made just enough for a bottle and a pack of smokes. I need cigarettes. Nobody’s seen Shark for over a week. He’s probably in his bedroom smashing crack into his arm. I’ve had to pay full price.

“A lot of people have been complaining to Scarface. He may decide to go back to selling cigarettes. He smokes up to two packs a day. It costs him a fortune. He says he wants to quit. It would save him a lot if he were getting them straight from the reserve. Maybe, I can get some from Mariah. I’ll see if I can get hooked up with her guy.

“I don’t think I got more than an hours sleep last night. When I was in hospital they told me I have a torn rotator cuff. They said that if I was an athlete they’d operate right away, but I’m not, so they didn’t. It sure hurts. I’m still not able to sleep on that side and I’ve got one rib that seems to be pinching my lung. I’m also getting dizzy spells while lying down. That’s scary. If it doesn’t clear up by Friday, as much as I hate it, I’m going to hospital.

“I took the bandage off my shin. The cut looked really red at the edges. It was weeping some ugly yellow stuff. I washed it with peroxide and put more Polysporin on, then bandaged it again. It really hurts.

“I’m also trying to soften the scab, where the stitches are, in my head. I rub on Polysporin every day, but it doesn’t seem to help.

I asked, “Were you able to talk to Greg from 507.”

“Yeah, he was up there yesterday. He said he was here Friday. I said, ‘Look, dude, I waited in the rain until 10:30.’ He said, ‘I was here looking for you, I even checked Tim Horton’s and the pizza place. I didn’t see you anywhere. Believe me, I looked.’ Anyway, we’re going Thursday morning to get my health card.

“Hippo came over yesterday. He just hung around. I told him, ‘Dude, I’m going to make myself lunch, but I don’t have enough for both of us.’ He got all pissy then and left. I don’t know why he comes to my place to eat. He has plenty of food at his apartment. His parents buy him groceries.

“Everybody’s been asking if I’ve seen Andre or Jake. I haven’t, and I don’t want to. People have written off Andre completely. He has no friends at all. I don’t understand that, Jake was beating me for three years, but he always found a place to stay, either with Little Jake or Animal. I’d say to them, ‘You guys have known me a lot longer than you have Jake. I introduced him to you. Don’t you think you should give me some support here?’

“Another person I haven’t seen around is Blair. He’s probably dead. I’m sure they pulled the plug on Claude. If a person has no money they turn off the life support really fast. It’s a shame.

“I get my check on Friday, then I can pay back everybody I owe. Chester should have his Old Age check by now. That’s probably why I haven’t seen him. I hope he pays his rent and doesn’t spend all his money on hookers, who are just going to rob him. He’s done that before.

“Here he comes now. He walked past an ashtray — I can’t believe it. No, he’s gone back. I don’t know how he can smoke other people’s butts. Sometimes, they’re still burning. It’s just wrong. I hope he doesn’t stay long.”

I said, “Hi Chester, how are you doing?”

“I’m okay, I’m going to stop in for breakfast at Tim Horton’s. Will I see you there, Joy?”

“No, I’ll see you at the park, later.”

Jacques also came by, “I’m going to the store, Joy. Can I get you anything?”

“No, I haven’t made enough yet. I just have four twenty. I’ll see you up at the park.”

At noon I met in the park with Joy, Serge, Jacques, Roland, Heinz and Shaggy. I gave Heinz a book by Ken Follett, one of his favorite authors.

“Thanks, Dennis, I really appreciate this.”

Serge said to me, “Dennis, I have a joke for you. There were these two guys. One guy says to the other, ‘This apple tastes just like a woman.’ The other guy says, ‘Let me try it’ so the first guy throws him the apple. The guy takes a bite and says, ‘This tastes like shit.’ The first guy says, ‘Bite the other side.’ Funny, eh?”

Someone wearing a Beatles tee-shirt came along. “Where’s Jacques? I see his radio, but no Jacques. What happened to him?”

Joy said, “That’s his radio, alright. It’s tuned to BOB FM. Do you hear Katrina and the Waves? That’s the only station he listens to.

“He went on a liquor run. He’ll be back soon.”

Sure enough, Jacques arrived. He sat down and proceeded to empty a small bottle of vodka into half a bottle of soft drink. “Now,” he said, “If the cops come along and smell my drink, they’ll think it’s Kool-Aid. Smell it Joy. Tell me what you think.”

He handed the drinking bottle to Joy who took two large swallows.

“I said smell it, not taste it!”

Joy said, “Yeah, it smells fine. Vodka never has an odor, unless you get into the really high-octane stuff.”

Bert said, “Speaking of the cops, I haven’t seen them around today. Yesterday they were here three times.”

Joy said, “Today they’re more concerned about that body they pulled out of the river. On the news they say that foul play isn’t suspected, but I don’t know. They haven’t released the guy’s name, and they said there was no water in the lungs. That means he was dead before he hit the water.

“If you want to kill somebody and get rid of the body, it’s best to beat him to the point where he’s unconscious, but still breathing. Then, throw him in the river. He’ll automatically breathe in the water. When he’s discovered they’ll just think he drowned. Any bruises could be from rocks in the river.

“I really shouldn’t know this stuff. These other guys should know it, maybe, but for me it’s just wrong. I shouldn’t know all these ways to off people.

“Do you find this kind of talk morbid?”

“No,” I said.

“Do I entertain you?”

“Yes.”

Two women were approaching on the sidewalk, Joy said, “Some people should not wear pink. That other woman should know that if her ass cheeks are hanging out, her shorts are too small. If I had a daughter I’d never let her dress that way.”

A light rain was falling,  it was see-your-breath cold. Metro said to me, “You won’t believe it, but Joy is at her spot.”

As I approached I could see her huddled over, rocking slightly. “Joy,” I said, “you look cold.”

“I am. I forgot my heavy coat. By the time I realized how cold it was I was half way to the bus stop. I’m wearing Jake’s sweater, two layers of long underwear under my jeans, but I’m still freezing.

I said, “I didn’t go to the park yesterday because of the rain.”

“We just huddled together inside the glassed in bus shelter: Heartless, Jacques, Little Jake. Finally I said, ‘Why don’t we just go to my place? I’ll cook something.’

As I was getting on the bus I slipped and landed on the front step of the bus. I didn’t notice at first but there was a deep gash in my shin. Heartless said, ‘You should go to the hospital.’ I’ll show you.”

“Don’t take the bandage off.” I said.

“It’s okay, unless this kind of stuff really freaks you out.”

“No, I don’t have a problem with that.” Joy removed the bandage and revealed a one inch gash on the front of her shin. “You wouldn’t believe how much blood came out of there, some is still on my shoe.”

I asked, “Has Jake tried to get in contact with you?”

“No, but I’m tempted to park myself in front of the Salvation Army and watch for him. Jacques has seen him. Chester has seen him. He’s still wearing my GG’s Sweatshirt, number sixty-four. I’ll never peel that off him. He’s wearing shorts too. I said to Chester, ‘I bet they’re tan color, cargo shorts.’ Chester said, ‘Yes, that’s what he was wearing.’

“That’s what he was wearing when he went in. They’re supposed to launder them for you before you’re released. I was in for three years. I couldn’t get into the jeans I came in with. They were too tight.”

I asked, “Did you gain weight in prison?”

“Yeah, that and I had my son, Nicholas.”

I said, “I remember you telling me that you had been raped by a jail guard.”

“Yeah, Bob Cunningham. He isn’t with the prison system any more. I saw to that. When Nicholas was old enough, I told him that his father died in the war.  One day he came home from school and said to me, ‘My dad didn’t die in the war, if he had that would make you about eighty years old. What really happened? Where did I come from? So I had to tell him the full story.”

“One day, at my mom’s place where we were staying, I heard a banging at the front door. Nicholas was crying upstairs. I was yelling at my mom to answer the door. She was yelling at me to answer it. I could hear a Harley revving up in the driveway. My uncle and some of his friends were there with Bob Cunningham spread-eagled on the driveway. ‘What do you want us to do with him?’ he asked. Fuck, I figured that costing him his job was enough, but my uncle didn’t see it that way. With the back wheel of the bike spinning they forced his hand in, again and again. He ended up with two fingers and a thumb on one hand, the other was just a stump. I still remember the screams.”

Joy greeted we with a grimace. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I hiccupped, it hurt my ribs, apart from that I’m in a good mood. I’m still drunk from yesterday. I was so wasted at noon, I had to go home. I passed out for a few hours then watched the DVD, McClintock, for about the hundredth time, got drunk again and woke up this morning.

“Guess what? I know where Jake is. He’s not staying at Rodent’s place he’s at the Salvation Army. Chester saw him there, Jacques saw him there. He’s in a wheel chair. He was wearing my old, number sixty-four, GG’s sweatshirt. I want to go by there and just watch to see how he gets around. He’s got the long arms, but I bet he can’t do wheelies like I can. I’d like to sneak up behind him and take him for a ride. He might try to stop with his feet, but I don’t think it would help. I’d like to take him for a long ride on a short pier.

“Anyway, I just watch these people go by. Humans — go figure. I wonder what I look like to them. Then I see some crack head, twitching, scratching and I wonder if I used to look like that. I was on a twenty-one day high one time. I tell people that and they say it’s not possible, but I did it. I didn’t eat, just smoked and drank; then I had a meltdown. I saw my ex sitting in a tree, from a twelfth floor apartment window. He was just sitting there, outside the window. ‘Hi Edmund.’

“Then I went to my mom’s place and begged her to take me in. She pretty well locked me in the basement for about three weeks. That’s how long it took for me to dry out, but I did it. Then I went out-of-town for a while. I used to weigh two hundred and sixty-five pounds. I was always fat. Even in my baby pictures you can see a belly hanging out. I dropped that weight because of crack. When I came to visit my mother I was still skinny, so she thought I was using. She wouldn’t let me see my kids. I went through every kind of test, because that stuff stays in your system for at least a month. I had hair follicle tests, piss tests, blood tests. I’d bring the results to her. She wouldn’t believe me.

‘Now, she’s dead.  My oldest son and I write letters back and forth, but I don’t hear from the others. I saw my father when I was in Toronto. I said, ‘Hi John.’ He said, “Don’t call me, John. I’m your father.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘you’re just a sperm donor. You were never a father to me.’

“I think I’ve drunk myself sober.”

Bible of a Pimp

Bible of a Pimp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joy was in good spirits this morning. She said, “I almost thought you were going to walk right by. Who is that woman sitting on the box? For some reason I’m in a good mood today, I don’t know why. I was at Scottish Bruce’s yesterday. I did some cleaning for him. What is it about guys that they leave things in such a mess?”

“I’m surprised,” I said, “with him being a cook and all.”

“Yeah, if it was a restaurant, I wouldn’t want to eat there. I was just about to throw out a cup of bacon grease. Dave said, ‘Hey, don’t throw that out. That’s my grease. I use it for everything I cook.’

“He does, I couldn’t find any margarine, so  I buttered his toast with it. It’s no wonder he had a heart attack.

“His place is even smaller than mine. If his was this much bigger (holding her arms apart about four feet) it would be my apartment. Then he has this huge bed. It takes up almost the entire room.

“I had a great time playing with Blacky. I took him down to the river. He ran right in. I tried putting this collar on him (indicating a strap wrapped around her ankle). He wouldn’t have anything to do with it. I put it around my neck and said to him, ‘See, Mommy wears a collar. It’s okay.’ I’m glad that he’s with Bruce now. He’s officially retired. Bruce doesn’t take him panning like Animal did.

“Can you get me a copy of Animal’s obituary? Heinz was showing it around yesterday, but he snatched it back before I could read it. I don’t know why Little Jake was so upset, considering how Animal abused him. Heinz read a few things that really seemed funny, like Animal being an athlete. He could barely get up off his ass. There was something else about him being caring.  He didn’t care about anybody but himself, but something happened a week or so ago. I asked him for two dollars. He said, ‘I’ve only got a twenty.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m not running for change.’ He said, ‘Keep the whole thing. Consider it a gift.’ I said, ‘Sure, it’s eighteen dollars more than I needed.’ A few days later he died.”

A man walked by and sneezed, Joy said, “Bless you!” To me she said, “I wish I could sneeze like that. You can’t imagine how much that would hurt my ribs.”

I asked, “Are you going to see the doctor today?”

“No, tomorrow. Yesterday I phoned and made an appointment. I’m so glad I have my immunization card. I asked if he wanted my Birth Certificate. He said, (imitating a deep voice) ‘Yes, please bring that along too.’ So, I’ll get everything checked out and taken care of.”

Metro walked by, seeing Joy and I sitting together he said, “What’s the split — sixty forty? Seventy thirty? Is he your pimp?”

“Pimp, none of the girls have pimps anymore, unless they’re high-class call girls. Now, forty to sixty bucks will get you anything you want. Fuck, a crack ho will do you for soup and a sandwich.

“When I was in Toronto, my girlfriend and I had a pimp — a big black guy. We did all the work, he got most of the money. We figured, ‘What do we need this guy for? Protection? We were getting the shit beaten out of us by the johns all the time. We decided to go independent. That was a mistake. One night a big black car came down the street where we were working. It stopped, we were told to get in. They took us to the bus station, gave us a ticket and said, ‘You’re going to Detroit.’ I said, ‘Better kill me right now, ’cause there’s no way I’m going to Detroit alive.’

A large garbage truck stopped near by, Joy yelled,  “Hi, Sunshine!” A good-looking, young man waved before emptying the garbage cans. I asked Joy, “I’ve been introduced to him before, but I forget his name.” Joy said, “I forget his name too. I just like looking at his tight butt.” He came over, shook hands with us both, then went on his way.

A man wearing a Senators hockey jersey walked by. Joy said, “Hi, Father Peter!” He stopped and chatted for a while. Joy said, “I see you’re not wearing your collar today.” He said, “I just came from breakfast; I didn’t want to get it dirty.” Joy asked, “Have you seen Father Jacob lately?” After he left she said, “They’re getting younger and cuter every day. Those priests would surprise you. I saw Father Jacob grab some woman’s ass the other day; at least it wasn’t a guy’s ass he grabbed.

Chester came shuffling along. I took that as my cue to leave.  I asked Joy, “Will I see you at noon today?” She said, “You sure will, even if it’s just to bitch at the guys.”

Pimp C in mid-2005.

Pimp C in mid-2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animal’s family extends a special thanks to Leigh and Karen at HighJinx.

If desired, a donation may be sent to The HighJinx Homelessness Initiative, 621 Somerset Street West.

Published in The Ottawa Citizen on May 18, 2013

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

“I understand, Heinz”

“Okay, enough said about that. I really enjoyed the book you gave me, the  one about the war;  not the one about the racehorse. Horse racing is for rich people. I didn’t think I’d understand the racing terms. I put it in my bookshelf and I’ll read it some day.

“but the other book, by Ken Follett, that was really great. It gave me something to read all weekend. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down. Did you like it?”

“I haven’t read it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now, when I feel a pain coming on. I just rest at home for a few days. That seems to take care of it.”