Posts Tagged ‘crack’

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wheel

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17 September 2014

While on my usual bus to work I noticed a woman with familiar face, walking with a cane. It took a few minutes to remember her name. Then I said, “Hi Chili!”

“Hi Dennis, I didn’t know you lived around here. I live with my boyfriend Spike, just a block from here. It’s handy to the methadone clinic and to school.”

I said, “You’re walking much better. The last time we met you were using a walker.”

“Yeah, I still use a walker sometimes. My surgery is coming up soon, so hopefully after that I’ll be able to walk on my own. I have osteomyelitis that caused a bone abscess. It needs to be opened, washed out, and drained. I may need a bone graft.

“This is my stop. It was nice seeing you, Dennis.”

“Bye, Chili.”

I arrived downtown and met Chuck. “Good morning, Dennis.”

“Hi Chuck, how is your day going?”

“Today is fine. I’m supposed to go to a wedding on the weekend.  I’d like to see my family, but every one will be dancing, smoking and drinking, all the things I can’t do. I think I’m going to give it a pass.

“Seeing Ghyslain down the street, reminds me of two brothers I went to school with. They were really good at track and field, track mostly. They were always racing each other. Then they got into drugs — I don’t know what exactly — but it fried their brains.  They still like to run, but it’s in slow motion, just like when you slow down a movie.

“I used to be on crack. I’d mostly just use it on the weekends. My girlfriend at the time had been an addict for a few years. We snorted back then, using a dollar bill. That’s when they had dollar bills. I started using more and more. You know how it is. One morning I woke up, my head was splitting, I couldn’t remember anything. I decided that I’d had it. She’d given me a key to her apartment. I took it, hung it up on the key rack and, without a word, just walked out. I never went back. A few weeks later I heard that she’d been picked up by the police. The guy she was with was her dealer. She was small and cute, he talked her into taking the rap.  She served seven years.

“I got a joke for you. I’m not allowed to tell jokes about blond women, so this is about a blond guy. Anyway, he’s driving downtown and he gets a flat tire. He pulls over, opens the trunk and takes out these life-size cutouts of two men and sets them up behind the car. They were both wearing trench-coats, holding them wide open, and were completely naked. The guy goes about changing his tire. Meanwhile traffic is slowing down, drivers are shaking their heads and looking at these cut-outs. Soon the traffic is backed up a bout a mile. A motorcycle cop at the back of the line roars up to see the cause of the hold up. He sees these cutouts and asks the blond guy.  ‘What’s this all about?’ The guy says, ‘I’m changing a tire.’ The cop says, ‘I can see that. What are these cut-outs?’ The blond guy says, ‘Doh! Hello? These are my emergency flashers.”

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group3

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Walking to the park at noon, I was greeted first by Shaggy. She knows me too well to bark. Wolf handed me two dog biscuits to give to her. She ate them contentedly then put her head under her caboose.Joy and Big Jake were also there, but left a short time after.

“Dennis, I wanted to tell you what I bought with the Tim Horton’s card you gave me. I got my two Boston Creams, two Canadian Maple and two of the ones with the raspberry, strawberry goop in the center and the white fluffy stuff on top. Of course, I shared with Shaggy.”

Joy asked, “Did you give her chocolate? I heard that dogs weren’t supposed to eat chocolate.”

Wolf responded, “When I said I shared with her, I didn’t mean that I gave her six chocolate donuts. But a little piece here and there won’t hurt her. She deserves a treat. I don’t know how much longer she’ll be with me. I want her to be happy in the time she has left.

Joy said, I ordered a chocolate glazed donut this morning and a bottle of water, because I forgot to bring water with me. The woman at the counter asked, ‘Are you sure you want water with your donut? Wouldn’t you rather have tea or coffee?’ I said to her, ‘I’m not going to drink the water when I eat the donut. It’s for after.’ She seemed to think that was okay.”

“Anyway, back to the donuts. After I used the card I had thirty-two cents change. I wondered what I was going to spend thirty-two cents on. I wasn’t planning to roll a line of crack. Then it came to me, I’ve got lots of coffee at home, but no milk. So I asked her if she’d give me a dozen of those creamers. I’ve eaten donuts with black coffee, but it’s not the same. So, I walked out of there with a box of six donuts and twelve creamers. I just wanted you to know how I used your card and how much I appreciated it.

“I guess I told you I’m reading The Inquisitor. It’s that big hardcover book that one of my ladies gave me. I think I showed it to you. Anyway, I’ve been reading it. It’s sort of my kind of book, except this guy tortures people. I don’t mind if people get shot, but this  torturing the truth out of people makes me a bit squeamish.

“It reminds me of prison. I wasn’t in very often, or for a long time, but I didn’t like to see people getting beat up. I remember there was this big sign that said, ‘Don’t take things that don’t belong to you’. I thought that was a bit stupid. If I went to Joy’s place or your place I wouldn’t take anything.

“When you’re in a cell with a bunch of guys they may bring out a joint. It would cost you five bucks to join the circle. They’d light a match by sticking it in an electrical socket. You would never say, ‘I don’t want any because it’s illegal’, or ‘because it’s against the rules’. Every guy in penitentiary is there because he did something against the rules. That’s a sure way to get your head bashed in. Now, if you said, ‘I can’t afford it.’ They’d understand that.

“When I was inside I learned to look straight ahead, keep to myself and read my book.

“Do you know what Doreen said to me this morning?”

“I’m not sure if I know Doreen.”

“Yes you know her, a native girl. She’s been here lots of times.”

“I think I know who you mean. She goes out with Nicholas, doesn’t she?”

“I don’t know. I can’t keep all these people straight. Anyway, that’s not important. She said that I should have Shaggy put down. Can you believe that. I know her legs don’t work so good any more, but the rest of her works fine. It’s like, if someone said that Big Jake should be put down because he’s in a wheelchair.”

“Well,” I said, “You might find a lot of people would agree with that.”

“Okay, poor choice of names, but you know what I’m getting at.”

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bench

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8 May 2014

Jacques said, “I got some chocolate this morning, but the sun is so hot now I worry that it will melt. It’s in my duffel bag, inside a pair of socks. I’d better not forget that it’s there, or when I put my socks on my feet will be  covered with chocolate. That might not be so bad,  maybe I could get someone to suck the chocolate off my toes.”

Loretta asked me, “What did Jacques say?”

I said, He’s looking for someone to suck his toes.”

“No thanks, he had his hand on my thigh earlier. I told him I wasn’t interested.

“I had a fight with my boyfriend on the weekend. I really got physical. I just phoned him to see if he’d called the cops. Everything’s okay, we made up. Where I come from we always fight first, talk later. It’s not quite so bad now that I’m not drinking. My sister phoned me and asked me If I wanted to come home  to Coppermine for a month or so. She was going to send me a return ticket. There are some people I have forgiven, sort of, but I don’t want to go back there. I told her to spend the money on her kids. They’ll appreciate it more.”

Chili said, “I’d like to go home sometime. I have surgery in a few months for my leg. The first two times I was in hospital I was still smashing crack. I’ve been clean for almost a year now. The infection can still come back, by natural causes, but it won’t be because I did something  stupid, like use a dirty needle. My boyfriend still drinks. He’ll go on a binge for days. I get so pissed off. I tell him, ‘drink one or two beer a day. That’s not a problem. It becomes a problem when you’re drunk and you start beating me.”

Maria said, “That’s the same way with my Charlie. He also has PTSD.  When he’s been drinking and has flashbacks he’s tried to strangle me. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, but that doesn’t help me. He has a job now so he can help with the bills for a change.”

I asked Maria, “How is your stomach feeling today?”

“Not so good. I couldn’t finish supper last night and I was afraid to eat breakfast. The mistake I made was having Chinese food. The meat was marinated in soya sauce. With all that salt my stomach bloated. I didn’t have any shape at all, just like a balloon from my neck down. I always have trouble with bloating because I have  irritable bowel syndrome. It started with bleeding ulcers in my stomach. I was bleeding from nearly every orifice in my body. I was shitting blood, peeing blood and vomiting blood. They put me on Prilosec right away. It was new then in the early 1980’s. I also had to take antacids after every meal. I was supposed to quit coffee, alcohol and smoking but, as you can see, I didn’t.

“That was around the time when my doctor told me to lose forty pounds, because I have brittle bones. There was this new fat loss drug Lipozene. It’s actually Glucomannan, a  natural fiber from the Konjac root. It’s common now, you can see the ads on television, but back then the only place I could find it was in Switzerland. They were the only ones who made it commercially available. So, after about three hundred dollars worth of phone calls, a hundred dollars for shipping, then the cost of the pills, I’d spent about five hundred dollars. It worked, I lost the forty pounds.

“Now, I’m starting to feel a bit woozy, because I’ve got no food in my system.”

Chester asked, “Would anybody like to see some pictures of my baby?” He handed a stack of twenty photos of a black and white kitten to Loretta, who in turn handed them to me.

“What’s her name, Chester?” asked Loretta.

Bébé, isn’t she sweet?”

“She’s adorable.”

I asked Mariah, “You have a cat don’t you?”

“Yes, Precious, she’s a monster, eighteen pounds. She’s the size of a raccoon.”

I said, “Joy is afraid of her.”

“Joy has allergies and if Precious gets riled she’ll take a chunk out of whoever is nearby. She’s bitten me and Charlie enough times. He teases her though.  I have all kinds of toys for her. She has a tube that she just loves. When she’s inside,  Joy reaches in and scratches her on her backside. Precious can’t turn around in the tube, so she gets frustrated. Joy loves doing that.

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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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womanbox

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“As I was crossing at the walk light I heard, “Dennis, your friend is back!”

“Thanks, Grant! Have a great day!”

As I approached Joy she said, “Hi sweetie, did you miss me?”

“Of course I missed you. How are you feeling?”

“I’m better now. I’ve had pneumonia for the past two and a half months. I didn’t want to go to hospital for fear they’e keep me. I’ve just been staying around home.”

“I said, “Mariah has been keeping me up to date on your condition.”

“Yeah, I know. One day I was talking to you on the phone. Have you been to the park since?”

“Yeah, I was there Thursday, Jacques, Mariah, Loretta, Wolf and Scruffy were there.

“That reminds me, Loretta has been dropping in unannounced lately. That’s gotta stop. Now I recognize her knock, so I just don’t answer. It’s amazing how you can recognize a knock after a while.

“I don’t see Big Jake much. He’s up to something at the Salvation Army. It use to be that I couldn’t get two words out of him, now he won’t shut up. His pupils are dilated; I think he’s smoking crack. He’s got this friend over there who is smashing cocaine. He want’s to bring him over for supper. I said, ‘No way! I’m not having anyone over here who’s using, that includes YOU!’

“Have you got a few minutes? I have to go to the bathroom. Can you watch my stuff. The cushion is warm.”

I said, “Sure.” I kept wondering when somebody would stop to ask my story. I’m wearing designer glasses, a leather jacket and my shoes are shined.

Joy returned with Kenny on his bicycle.

Kenny said, “Hi Dennis! I haven’t seen you since October.”

“Hi, Kenny, how’s it going?”

“Okay, I sometimes pan at the church up the street. I do okay.”

I asked, “Is that the church where Silver used to pan?”

“Yeah it is, the same one.  My brother Lenny saw Andre the other day. They live in the same building. They’re both really messed up.”

Joy said, “You got a brother named Lenny? Kenny and Lenny, that’s original.”

I asked, “Do I know Lenny?”

Joy said, “You may have met him. I don’t know.”

Kenny said, “My brother has a disability pension of four hundred a month. Working part time, he brings in another two hundred. Yesterday was payday and today he’s hounding me  for the ten bucks I owe him. Something’s not right. There’s someone his floor, Erica, who sells crack. Every time he or Andre get any money they head straight there.

“My guitar is over there. I haven’t picked it up because because his apartment has cock roaches. They’re probably in my guitar. I’ll wait until a warm day when I can leave it our in the sun. They don’t like the heat.”

Joy said, “I’m waiting to see Chuck Senior; want to find out about the rumors he’s been spreading, about me being stabbed.

“I don’t know if I’m going to the park today. Are you going?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there. Maybe I’ll see you both there. Take care.”

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jesus

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17 October 2013

After finishing work I caught the fourteen bus, as usual. I sat near the front and read my book. About three stops later I heard my name being called, I also noticed the smell of sherry. I looked up and on the handicapped sets at the front was Shakes. He smiled. We talked a bit, but since he has a very low voice, I sat beside him.

“Hi Shakes, how was your afternoon?”

“I was at my ‘office’. A guy comes along and says to me, ‘I’ve seen you before. Here, take this.’ He hands me a folded twenty.”

“That was nice, too bad it didn’t happen every day.”

“I bought four bottles, three grams and a block of hash.”

“That should last you the night.”

“I’ll save a bottle for tomorrow.”

“How are Fran and Bettie?”

“I dont know. I haven’t seen them since Friday. I got a problem with her boyfriend though.”

“Ah, do you mean Gene or Kip?” Both Gene and Kip had assaulted their girlfriends. Gene served eighteen months in prison, for permanently injuring Fran’s back.”

“Gene’s no longer in the picture. He’s out of the family — his choice.” I could tell this was a sensitive area for Shakes, so I changed the subject.

“What are you having for supper?”

“Nothing, I meant to buy something, but I didn’t. There’s no point anyway, Dave or Jake would probably eat it all. I can’t afford to feed them all the time. I don’t know why they don’t buy their own food. I had a big can of coffee from Tim Horton’s, now there is an inch left in the bottom. I don’t even drink coffee. A can like that should last me five years.”

I said, “Jake mentioned cooking schnitzel, and tossing a salad, to bring over to you.”

‘Yeah, that was last Wednesday, but it doesn’t happen very often. Jake doesn’t have any food. He didn’t last night and he didn’t go out today.”

I said, “I guess Jake is at home watching movies on the VHS player he got.”

“He’ll come over to my place to borrow more. I don’t have television, I didn’t pay my bill.”

“Jake told me that he doesn’t either, for the same reason. How much do used VHS tapes cost?”

“My friend who owned the used music and video store had a going-out-of business sale. He was selling them seven for three bucks.”

“That’s a good price.”

“He must have had about five hundred thousand. I got about fifty.”

I said, “I haven’t seen Wolf and Shaggy since Wolf had his jaw broken.”

“It was his own fault.”

“Yeah, he can be pretty mouthy sometimes, he seems to make a lot of enemies. I remember Weasel threatening to punch him in the face.”

“Yeah, and he had crack dealers operating out of his apartment.”

“I don’t suppose they are very tolerant people.”

“I guess not. The convenience store on Moriset has a collection jar for me. It’s called the ‘Shakes Relief Fund’. I think there’s enough change in there for about five grams.”

Shakes’ stop was coming up. He said to me, ‘Miigwetch’. He pulled the cord, pulled himself to his feet using the pole and ambled to the front. He picked up his bag from  the luggage carrier. To the driver he said, “Thank you.”

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womanbox

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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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three

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Pay-day

29 August 2013

There was a party atmosphere at the park today since everybody had received their monthly check. Chester was passed out on the sidewalk. He was led away before it was reported it to the police.

“Dennis,” said Shakes, “Do you know what happened to me this morning?”

“No, tell me Shakes.”

“My workers picked me up to take me to my doctor’s appointment. I needed to have my blood test and some other things. When I got there, they handed the receptionist a photo copy of my health card. She said it had expired. I said to her , ‘You might as well say that I’ve expired.’ They wouldn’t take me. We went all that way for nothing. I don’t know what the problem was, they had my health number.”

I said, “You may have  past your best before date; but you haven’t expired. Your workers will make sure you get a new health card, won’t they?”

“Yes they will. This morning I was panning on Bank Street. A woman stopped and asked me if I’d like something to eat. I said, ‘Sure, but I have to make a stop on the way.’ I bought a bottle of Imperial at the liquor store, then we both went to Hartman’s. She bought me two frozen pizzas, two two-quart bottles of apple juice and some scalloped potatoes.”

Little Jake said, “Yeah, he invited me over for supper and wouldn’t let me have any of the scalloped potatoes. The pizza was so friggin hot I had to take a swallow of beer with each bite. We watched videos, got stoned and drank beer. I live two buildings down from Shakes, about one hundred and fifty feet, still I managed to fall and bruise my arm.”

Shakes said, “Frank likes playing in the dirt.”

Frank said, “Last time I was taking a shower, I was leaning against the wall, looking down at the drain — the water was brown. I couldn’t believe it.”

“What movies did you watch?” I asked.

“What did we watch, Shakes. I can’t remember.”

“Gone in Sixty Seconds and True Lies.”

“That’s right. Shakes has a big collection, about fifty movies.”

“Yeah, I got a friend, I served time with about fifteen years ago. He’s got a used dvd and record store.  He always gives me good deals.

“I haven’t paid the bill for my telephone or my tv; but I got two friends that work for Bell. They’re going to hook me up.”

I asked, “How have you been Jake?”

“This abscessed tooth started bothering me  a couple of days ago, but this morning it’s really swollen and painful.”

Shakes said, “I’m good at removing teeth, just lean in my direction.”

I asked, “Do you think a right hook would do the trick?”

Jake said, “I pulled this bottom one by myself. I tied some fishing line around the tooth, then tied the string to the door knob. I gave the door a kick and out popped the tooth. It flew straight up. I couldn’t find it until I looked in the garbage pail beside me — there it was. Isn’t that amazing?. I couldn’t have done that twice in a row.”

Raven had been here earlier, but she disappeared. Shakes asked, “Where’s Raven? Oh yeah, she’s down in the park with her crackhead. I meant to say granddaughter, but crackhead came out.”

Mariah came over, “It’s good to see you, Dennis. I don’t know where Joy is. I called her place, but there was no answer. She probably has her check now, so there will be people she has to pay back, and errands to run. We don’t expect to see her until next week, some time.”

“I heard that Andre came by yesterday and you took care of him.”

“Well he deserved it for what he did to Joy. He was with his new girlfriend and I didn’t like way he was treating her either. “I was talking to her for a while, I said, ‘Look, I don’t know you and I don’t have any beef against you, but if this guy ever gives you a hard time, just let me know. She was pretty quiet at first, but when Andre stepped away she said, ‘I’ve just had laser eye surgery and Andre keeps telling me to take off my sunglasses, but the sun really hurts my eyes.’ So I had a talk with him about that.  It seems every time I see him I’m either smacking him in the face or punching him in the belly. It started one time he was over at my place. He kept taking pictures of me with his phone. I said, ‘Don’t take my picture!’ He kept on doing it.  There are reasons that I don’t want my picture all over the place, so I let him have it. He was whimpering like a little kid, ‘You’re not going to hit me again are you?’ I said, ‘If you stop acting like a dickhead, I won’t have to.’ ”

Chili is still in her walker, I heard her mention that she was scheduled for an operation. She said,  ‘I’ve got osteomyelitis (infection of the bone, common to intravenous drug users. In this case, injecting crack.) I’ve already had about a half-inch of bone loss. They’re treating me with antibiotics. If that clears it up the infection., they’ll schedule a hip replacement. That will probably happen in about four months.

Frank said, “Shakes, hand her a drink will you. That’s the only way to shut her up, otherwise she’ll never stop talking.”

Before I left, Jake handed me a twenty-dollar bill. I asked, “What’s this for?”

“Just for safe keeping.  I’m sure to be broke before next pay-day, so you can give it back to me then.”

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womanbox

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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.”