Posts Tagged ‘empathy’

……

6 March 2013

This afternoon I found Weasel and his dog, Bear panning on the sidewalk. I stopped to talk to him and the first thing he asked was, “Have you heard anything about Joy?”

I said that I hadn’t and mentioned that I had phoned the hospital today with no result.

I said, “She has her own place now. She has friends nearby if she has any problems.”

“She has to stop drinking. For the past year, she’s been watering her wine down to almost nothing, but she still gets sick. Her kidneys are ready to shut down. She may have been on dialysis again. I don’t know. Do you have her phone number?”

‘No, I’ve never had a phone number for her.”

Weasel said, “I have a phone, but I don’t have any numbers on it. I barely know how to use it.”

“It’s hard to quit drinking, I just got out of the hospital myself. I was dehydrated. The doctor said, ‘I don’t want to state the obvious, you should quit drinking, but if you have a glass of juice or water, between drinks of alcohol, that will help.’

“The people at the Shawarma Restaurant here kind of mother me. Mia will come out on her break and bring me a bottle of vitamin water or Gatorade. She’ll say, ‘Now, Weasel, I want you to drink this to keep your electrolytes up. I’m going to stand here until you drink it.’ Another waitress will bring me a bottle of something when her shift has ended.

“Little Jake, Wolf and I were talking a while back and we counted fourteen of us who have gone this past year. That’s really sad. I’m not going to last much longer.”

I asked, “Have you seen anything of Claude, lately?”

“No, I haven’t seen him for three or four months. I don’t know what’s happened to him.”

I said, “I visited him in the hospital when he had his last fall…”

“Yeah, he said it was a fall, but nobody falls that much. He was beaten, probably by some of those young punks. He was a nice guy, always quiet, minded his own business, kept to himself.”

 

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……

23 January 2013

This morning on the 176 bus I met Ian. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He said, “I have to go to Kanata to see my probation officer. I told you, I got six months of probation with community service. I’m at the Oaks Residence where they have a ‘Managed Alcohol Program’– I’m doing really well.”

http://www.shepherdsofgoodhope.com/programs/supportive-living/oaks/

“I can see that. You look good. You must be anxious to get back to moving furniture?”

“Yeah, going to work would be good.”

“How about plans to move back to British Columbia? Do you think that will ever happen?

“No, I like it here.”

“Even in this cold weather?”

“Yeah, I can put up with it.”

24 January 2013

When I got off the bus this morning I was greeted, as usual by Two-four and Metro. They both hand out free newspapers: Metro Ottawa and 24 Hours (no longer published). Two-four said, “Hey, Joy was here yesterday. She’s using a cane now. She only lasted about ten minutes because of the cold.”

“It’s great to hear that she’s out of the hospital.”

“Yeah, she’s looking good.”

Metro was wearing a balaclava. I asked him, “Are you going to rob any banks after your shift?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, five of them: the Royal, the Imperial, BMO, TD and another one. I can’t remember the name.”

“Well Metro, you don’t need to know the name of a bank to rob it. Good luck with that.”

“Have a good day, Dennis.”

“You too Metro, Two-four. Stay warm.”

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……

 
18 January 2013

Friday night, on the bus, I heard a commotion at the front. My view was blocked by other riders so I couldn’t see what was happening. I heard, “Jesus Christ, can’t you give a guy a break. He’s been hit by a car and just wants to get home. He doesn’t have any money.”

The mood settled down and gradually people exited the bus. To my surprise, sitting across from me were Little Jake and Shakes. We greeted each other, then Shakes said, “Dennis, did you hear what happened to me? Last Wednesday night I was hit by a car at the corner of Merivale and Moriset. The woman driving said she didn’t see me. The piggies drove past and didn’t even stop.”

Jake said, “Shakes, you were dressed in black with your hood pulled over your head. That’s probably the reason she didn’t see you.”

I asked Shakes, “Did you go to the hospital, or see a doctor?”

Jake said, “No, Shakes doesn’t like hospitals or doctors, but you should see his knee, it’s swollen like a grapefruit.”

I said, “Maybe he needs a brace for his knee or crutches.”

Jake said, “He doesn’t want that, he’d rather lean on me. By the way, have you heard from Joy?”

“I went to see her in the hospital before Christmas. She seemed okay, I pushed her in her wheelchair downstairs so she could go for a smoke. I know she has issues about staying alone, especially without furniture.”

Jake said, “I have issues about staying alone. I trashed my apartment last week. I went to see Jenny, my worker, and she’s going to send a cleaning team on Monday morning. She’s really great. They’re going to bring mops and buckets and cleaning supplies. I told her she didn’t have to do that. I’ll have the place cleaned by Sunday, but she wouldn’t listen. She’s arranged for me to see a doctor as well. I’m going to be going to the General Hospital, where Joy is. I know she doesn’t like people to just drop by on her, but if I have a reason to be there, it should be okay.”

I asked, “Jake, do you have your furniture yet?”

“No, I was supposed to contact Jenny the first week of January, but I just wasn’t up to it. I don’t have a phone, so she wasn’t able to contact me. I’ve still just got the bed and the air conditioner, still in its box that I sit on. I don’t have any money, except for a few Tim Horton cards. I go there, have a coffee and watch TV. I pick up butts, that’s all I have to smoke.”

Shakes had his head on his knees and his eyes closed. I said to Jake, “Is Shakes asleep?”

Shakes opened his eyes, “I’m not asleep, it’s just that I’m in pain because of my knee.”

I said, “I’ve been to the park a few times, but nobody has been there except for Magdalene. I talked to her one day. I’ve had a cold, so I haven’t been going out much at noon. I heard that André has an apartment now.”

Jake said, “I haven’t seen anybody since before Christmas. The last time I saw André, he was bumming off us. We didn’t part on very good terms.”

Their bus stop was coming up, so Jake said, “Come on Shakes, let me help you up. We have to get off soon.” Shakes put his arm around Jake and they hobbled off the bus. I was surprised at how much I had missed them.

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……

 
2 January 2013

The temperature at noon was 1 degree Fahrenheit with a 13 mph wind, making it feel like -17. Last night it went down to -5. The only person at ‘the heater’ was Magdalene.

She said, “Hi, Dennis, my boyfriend, Alphonse is in hospital.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, which hospital is he in.”

“He’s in the Montfort. He’s been there for a couple of days now. He has pneumonia. Also, he’s had paranoia. He thought he saw people standing around his bed, but there was nobody there. He thought they were trying to kill him. He ran outside. The police brought him back in. They said that if he stayed outside he would die. When he got back to his hospital bed they gave him a glass of whiskey, because he’s an alcoholic.”

“I said, “Irving is on a program at The Oaks. They give him a glass of wine every hour. Gradually he’ll be able to stop drinking altogether. He wants to get back to work moving furniture, but it’s hard for him while he’s an alcoholic.”

Magdalene said, “We’ve been sleeping outside lately. We are on a list to get an apartment, but nothing has happened.”

“Where, exactly, have you been sleeping?” I asked.

“On York street. If you go to the end, there is a little boutique there, turn left into the alley. There’s a place with a heater that blows down on you. We have a covering that goes around us.

“For a couple of days, he wasn’t able to eat. His face was getting very thin. That’s when he decided that he should go to the hospital.”

“Have you thought of staying at some place like the Mission?”

“After Alphonse gets out of the hospital, we may have to. I don’t like those places. They’re rough, noisy, crowded and stuff gets stolen there.”

I said, “Shakes told me that every time he sleeps at the Mission, Shepherd’s or the Salvation Army, things are stolen from him: his backpack, money, bottles, weed, even his clothes.”

“I’m going to see Alphonse at the hospital this afternoon, but first I have to go to Welfare to see if I can get my bus pass. Ambrose has a check waiting there but only he can sign for it. I’m going to talk to them and see if they can release it to me. I’m listed on all his forms. I don’t even have his phone number at the hospital.”

I asked, “When you visit your worker at Welfare, can she help you to get an apartment? She should be able to get the phone number for Alphonse at the hospital.”

“Maybe, I don’t know, they were looking for us, but we haven’t been back there for two weeks. Maybe they found someplace.

“Alphonse has an appointment with his probation officer, tomorrow morning at 8:30. He’s going to have to cancel. I don’t know the phone number, I hope he’s awake, so I can get the number from him.

“This morning I ate at McDonald’s. I didn’t think I had any money, but I found four dollars and twenty-five cents. I was so hungry.

“Next week I start at New Directions. They’re going to help me deal with my anger management issues. I want to stop fighting, especially with Alphonse.”

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……

 
28 December 2012

The sun was shining at noon. The temperature was 16 degrees Fahrenheit. It was pleasant as long as one stayed in the sunshine and out of the shadows. At the traffic island were five of my street friends. I asked Hippo, “Did you have a good Christmas?”

“Yeah, it was good. My mom, my dad and my sister came over. They brought me a coffee table and two end tables.”

“How about you, Jake? Did you have a good Christmas?”

“I had a shitty Christmas. On Christmas day they turned my hydro off, so I have no lights. I’ve been there for three months. I haven’t even seen a hydro bill. My stove still works. I guess they aren’t allowed to let people freeze in the winter. I’ve got three outlets on my stove, so I can plug in my coffee maker, my toaster and my radio. That’s all I really need. My worker is out of town now. I hope she can get this sorted out.

“I got a money order for four hundred dollars. I hid it in my closet. I’m saving that to pay the rent.”

Hippo said, “Hey, Jake, do you need a dresser?”

“No, thanks buddy, but the first week of January I’m supposed to get my new furniture. I’ll have to tidy up a bit. When I found out the hydro was off I went a bit crazy. Can you blame me? I broke my broom, my lamp and kicked a lot of other stuff around.

“On top of that, I was over at Shakes’ place drinking with him and a friend of his. They asked me to go out for a smoke run. They gave me fifteen bucks and I went to Mac’s Milk. I bought the smokes and brought them back the change. The next morning I saw my loose change on the window sill, but I didn’t see any bills. There should have been eighty bucks. I went through all my pockets, but there were no bills. I thought back and the only thing I can think of is that it fell out of my pocket at Mac’s. I was drunk, so I may have missed my pocket. The guy in line behind me must have been happy. That’s the first time I’ve lost money in a long time. I lived on the street. If there is one thing I take care of it’s money.”

“How about you, Jacques?” I asked, “How was your Christmas?

“I was at ‘the heater’ with Bearded Bruce. I was wearing my Santa hat. A guy came by and wanted to take my picture. He had one of those collector cameras that you look down into. He turned a lot of funny buttons, then ‘click.’ He said he’d come by and give me a sample. You’ve never seen me in my Santa hat?”

“No,  Jacques,  I haven’t

“Chester,” I asked, “did you have a good Christmas?”

“Yes, I did. My daughter took me out to Mother Tucker’s in the market. We had dinner, then she took me to the Chateau Laurier. She’s only twenty-three years old and she has her own fitness business.”

“Do you get to see her often?”

“Whenever she can fit me into her schedule.”

Big Chester asked, “Have you seen Joy lately?”

“I was at the hospital two weeks ago. I hope to go there this weekend. How about you?”

“I haven’t seen her. I don’t have any bus tickets.” I gave him four.

Jake said, ” Did I tell you about my cat?”

“Yes, I knew you had a cat named Spaz. You have a cat too, don’t you Rhino?”

“I had one, he came mewing at my door at 2:30 one morning. I took him in. When he shit on my floor I threw him out.”

Jake said, “This cat of mine likes to sleep on the pillow next to me and purr. I’ve never had that before. She also likes to smell my breath.”

I said, “She must like sherry.”

“Yeah, I guess so. She was running around, so I fed her some Tender Vittles and she settled right down. She’s just a kitten but she has sharp claws. See these marks on my arm? Those aren’t from bed bugs, they’re from my cat. I think I’ve also got a scratch by my ear. Can you see it?”

“Yes I see it,” I said.

“I’ve got a cat now,” said Big Chester, “But he doesn’t scratch.”

Jacques said, “Did you see that! The bus just ran over that bicycle! I don’t know if there was anybody on the bicycle, It doesn’t matter. It may have been pointing the wrong way, but that’s no reason to run over it.”

Jake said, “Jacques, you’re drunk. Nobody listens to you when you’re drunk.”

“I may be drunk, but I know what I see.”

“Jake,” I asked, “did the bus run over the bicycle?”

“No, that’s Oscar’s bicycle. The bus didn’t run over it. Oscar stopped to talk to someone on the sidewalk. He picked up his bike and rode away.”

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……

20 December 2012

At noon the weather was pleasant. At ‘the heater’ were Jacques, Shakes, Wolf and his dog Shaggy.

“Dennis,” Wolf said, “I was at my usual place panning this morning and from seven o’clock to ten thirty I made more money than I usually make in a week, I made three hundred and forty dollars — in just those three and a half hours. It only happens at Christmas, that’s the only time people feel generous.”

Jacques said, “That was the same with me when I first came to town. I was panning with my dog, near Christmas time. I made seven hundred dollars. It’s never happened since.”

“Jacques, do you have any plans for Christmas?”

“No, I’ll be here. For me, it’s a day like any other.”

I asked, “Will you be going to any of the special Christmas dinners at the Shepherd’s or at the Mission?”

“The Shepherds had their big meal last week, and the one for the Mission was yesterday. I always hear about them a day too late. I may go to the Mission for breakfast on Christmas, that’s all. When Pikpik was around we used to celebrate, but he’s not around anymore. Maybe we’ll go to Shakes’ new place. It’s big. I only have a room and I don’t like cigarette smoke. All these guys smoke. I don’t even have a window that I can open. There’s plywood where the window used to be. Shakes has a big patio door that he can open. The smoke has a way out then.”

“Jacques,” Shakes asked, “If you smoke pot, why is it that smoke doesn’t bother you?”

“It’s just different. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I smoke it from a pipe.”

Shakes said, “When I was fourteen, I was in a juvenile home. The guy who ran it had a collection of maryjane pipes, really nice ones. I stole one of them one time. He knew exactly who took it. He came knocking on my door. ‘Shakes,’ he said, ‘I know you stole my pipe. Now give it back.’ I never gave the pipe back to him, ha, ha, ha.”

Jacques said, “I used to have about twelve pipes, but with all the moving around I lost most of them. I make them out of river rock. I find the nice smooth ones, then I drill them until they break. All I have is a drill. To make the sides smooth I rub it against a concrete wall. It acts just like sandpaper.

“You see here, a pot pipe has a larger hole in the stem. Resin collects there. even after the last of the pot has been smoked, holding a flame to the bowl will light the resin. You can get a buzz just from that. This pipe has been broken, see the crack, so I fixed it with glue. It works fine.”

“Dennis,” said Shakes, “Will you do me a big favor? When you’re ready to leave, will you walk with me to the World Exchange and buy a forty of J.D. for me. I’ll give you the money.” He is barred from the liquor store.

Shakes is barely able to walk at the best of times. His knees give out on him, so I agreed. When it was about twenty minutes before I had to be back at work I asked Shakes, “Are you ready to go now?”

“Dennis, would you mind going by yourself and bringing the bottle back to me?”

“I guess I have time. Sure, Shakes.”

Wolf said, “Are you going to the World Exchange? Would you mind bringing me back six cans of Old Milwaukee?”

I hadn’t thought about the Christmas line ups I’d have to face in the liquor store. I made the run and was only five minutes late for work.

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……

13 December 2012

Jacques, Wolf and Shaggy were my only friends at the park today. The sun was shining and Jacques was enjoying the warmth.

“I’m always happy, me, especially when the sun is shining. I come down here — where else am I going to go? I was looking in the Loblaws flyer today, they got the big lasagna and the big cabbage roll, the five-pound one for seven dollars. I love that, but living alone, I can’t eat that much. Even Hippo he can’t eat that much. At the market, I buy camembert and brie, the round ones. At Loblaws it costs four seventy-five — me, I can’t afford that, but at the market, they sell the ones near the expiry date that they can’t sell in stores, two for five dollars. I leave it at room temperature for two days and spread it on crackers. That’s my favorite.”

Wolf said, “I don’t like cheese that much. The only kind I buy is mozzarella, and on a hamburger, I’ll have cheddar.”

“You like mozzarella, that stuff they shave? It tastes like puke.”

“I like it, okay? I know, I’m German, they make lots of cheese, but I just like Mozzarella. You don’t have to like it, but it’s what I like.

“Jacques is supposed to be watching his cholesterol. I’ve heard of beef stew, chicken stew even rabbit stew, but have you ever heard of someone making bacon stew? If his doctor knew that, he’d flip.

“I eat bacon every day. I like to fry it and then cook my eggs in the grease. That’s what gives them the good taste.”

Jacques said, “In my place, you’re not supposed to cook after ten o’clock, but at one thirty I woke up and smelled grease. The young guy was frying something. He’s not a very good cook, but the smell of that grease frying sure smelled good. He left his frying pan and dishes in the sink for another day.”

I asked, “Has anybody heard anything from Joy lately?”

Jacques said, “I went to the hospital to see her this morning. She was looking okay. She’s moving around a bit.”

I asked, “She isn’t walking yet, is she?”

“She uses a walker. She seems weak on her left side. Her left foot she kind of drags. They told her that she can’t drink anymore, but already she told me that she has two bottles of sherry in her fridge at home. They want to keep her over Christmas. She say she want to be out to spend it with friends and have a few drinks. The drinks might kill her.”

Wolf said, “Sometimes they’ll do that, let patients out for Christmas, but in her case, it isn’t such a good idea.”

I said, “When the doctors told her she wasn’t allowed to drink, she said, ‘You told me that last time and I got ten months, without coming back here.’ So she has no intention of quitting.”

Wolf said, “People are different, what hurts one, may not hurt another. It’s the same with animals. Weasel really gave me shit for giving Shaggy a little piece of chocolate. I can’t see the problem of giving her just one little chunk. It’s not like I’m giving her a whole chocolate bar.”

Jacques said, “I saw on TV, a doctor was saying that for some dogs, the sweetness of the chocolate turns into a poison inside the dog, but it’s not all dogs.”

“Well, Shaggy’s had chocolate before and it didn’t kill her, so I guess she’s not one of those dogs.”

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.

sonny

.

3 December 2012

It was rather quiet at ‘the heater’ today. In attendance were Shakes, Little Jake, Amigo, Donny with the motorized wheelchair and Loretta.

I said to Shakes, “How do like your new place?”

“It’s fine. I got robbed there on Saturday night.”

“Shakes, how did you get robbed in your own place?”

“I was drinking with a guy who lives downstairs, in the same building I’m in. I gave him money to go out and buy me two bottles. I left my door open so he could get back in. He didn’t show and when I woke up, my other bottle was gone. I’ll make sure I get those bottles next time I see him.”

Loretta said, “Do you see the boots that guy walking by is wearing? My boyfriend, Vance wears that kind of boots. He has to, he’s a roofer. He’s working his last day today. The season is over. He can’t roof in the snow. This hat I’m wearing is from the company he works for, Reliable Roofing.”

Jake said, “What does he do when he’s not roofing?”

“He goes on unemployment insurance, so I’ll have him all to myself.”

“Jake said, “He doesn’t come around here very much. Doesn’t he like us?

“It’s not you that he doesn’t like. He doesn’t like me drinking with you guys, because that’s when I get into trouble.”

Jake said to me, “These antibiotics I’m taking make my face itch and my ankles swell. I have to keep taking them until the end of December. I see my doctor this afternoon. He’s putting me on a special diet. I took the menu to my worker. She says that I’ll qualify for an extra two hundred dollars a month.

“Did you hear that Debbie was hit by a bus last week? She had bags of groceries in both arms and was running to catch the bus. She was banging on the side trying to get the driver to stop. She slipped, groceries went flying and the bus ran over her arm. I told her to go to the hospital, but she didn’t want to. Her upper arm is all purple now.

“I should bring my mountain bike down and sell it. Right now I’m using it to hang my clothes on.”

I asked him, “How is your new apartment working out?”

“I won’t be getting my furniture until January — it’ll be better then.

“It’s nice here, in the sun. I don’t want to get up at all. How about you, Shakes?”

“I just want to sit here.”

A security guard wearing a reflective vest walked by. He looked at us, but didn’t say anything.”

Jake said, “That’s the nice one. He doesn’t care if we’re here. It’s the old guy who tells us to move along. Shakes got a ticket the other day for trespassing.”

I asked, “Did he get the ticket here?”

“Yeah, right here. He wasn’t charged for alcohol, just trespassing.”

Jake asked Loretta, “Are you going to the World (World Exchange Plaza) today?”

“No.”

Jake asked, “Are you barred from there?”

“No, just from the Rideau Center.”

“I can’t find anyone to go for a run. I guess it doesn’t matter. I’ve got no money anyway.

“Shakes, have you got any money?”

“I’ve got five dollars and five cents.”

“Loretta, have you got any money?”

“I don’t even have enough to buy a pack of smokes, but I’ll buy a cigarette off you for a dollar.”

“I’ll buy one too, Jake,” said Amigo. Shortly after he left.

Jake said, “Well, we’ve got enough for a bottle, we just don’t have anyone to go for a run.”

I said, “You could have asked Amigo.”

“I don’t know him well enough, at least not well enough to trust him with seven bucks. He might not come back.

.

sonny

.

After leaving work I met Sunny James.

He said, “Did you hear that I was kicked out of a city council meeting. Not only that, two goons, that’s what I call them, escorted me out of the building. The police arrested me for trespassing. How can I be trespassing in our city hall? Tell me that! The police roughed me up in the car and again when we got to the jail.

“I appeared before the judge the next morning. I told him how I was treated and mentioned that our mayor is in a conflict of interest situation. He also sits on the board of Ontario Hydro. I was at the council meeting expressing my concerns about the city not adopting my idea of a solar-powered mono-rail, similar to ones they have in Europe. Of course, the mayor was against the idea because it’s going against what Ontario Hydro wants.

“The mayor of Toronto, Bob Ford, was fired. I think our mayor should be fired as well. Did you hear that Joe Fontana, mayor of London, Ontario, was charged with fraud and breach of trust? Our Chief of Police, Charles Bordeleau, what do you think of him? I don’t know how good your Spanish is, but ‘bordello’ in Spanish means whore house.

“Gerald Tremblay, Montreal’s former mayor, quit amid multiple corruption allegations last month. Did you hear what his severance package is worth? It’s more than $216,000.

“Have you seen my website?”
http://www.youtube.com/user/sunnynewswire
http://www.123people.ca/s/sunny+newswire
http://sunnynewswire.blogspot.ca

“Yes, I have, Sunny. It’s very impressive.”

“Did you see my presentation to city hall? What did you think of that?”

“Yes, I thought you put your ideas forward very effectively. Are you still sleeping outside?”

“Oh, yes, I always do. I don’t mind it. There was a lady who offered to let me leave some of my stuff in her backyard. Now, she says I can’t. Do you know of any place I could store my grocery cart? Someone mentioned a place near the bus depot. Maybe I’ll try there.”

“That sounds like a convenient location for you. It’s within walking distance.”

“Did I tell you that I’m building a solar-powered ship? A friend of mine from Newfoundland, an engineer, is working on it with me. It will have condos aboard, the world’s largest dance floor, swimming pools. We’re looking for investors. Are you interested?”

“Not now, Sunny, but let me know how it is progressing.”

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……

 

30 November 2012

It was cold at noon (minus four Fahrenheit) and windy. The only person at ‘the heater’ was Shakes. Beside him was a sports bag, a purple plastic shopping bag with a globe sitting on top — all his worldly possessions.

“Dennis,” said Shakes. I’ve got a favor to ask you.”

“What is it, Shakes?”

“I need a bottle.”

“Sorry, Shakes, I don’t have any cash on me.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

He pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed me a twenty-dollar bill. “Would you please go to the World Exchange for me? Get a coffee for yourself.”

“Sure I’ll go,  Shakes, but I don’t need a coffee. We get it free at work.”

“Don’t say I didn’t offer.”

It’s only about a five-minute walk to the World Exchange Center. I didn’t mind making a run and Shakes is barred for life. “Okay, Shakes, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

When I came back Shakes was talking to Fred. I looked at the globe and asked, “Shakes, are you planning to do some world traveling?” He laughed.

“How about Australia?” I asked. “Would you like to go there?”

Fred said, “I have a friend who came from New Zealand.”

I said, “I’ve seen pictures of New Zealand. It’s really beautiful.”

“Yeah,” he said, “they also have seventeen women to every man. I asked my friend if it was true, and why he left. He said, ‘They have lots of women alright, but they’re all ugly.’ I don’t think any women are ugly. Every one of them has something beautiful about her.”

I asked Shakes, “Have you heard anything about Joy? Did she phone Jacques?”

“First things first. I lost my glove.”

His yellow glove was just a few feet back, near where we were standing previously. Every time the sun moved farther behind one of the tall buildings, Shakes moved out of the shadow and into the sunlight.

“Where have the others gone?”

“They had places they had to go. Jacques, André and Travis were here. Do you guys know Travis.”

I said, “I know Travis. He talks a lot.”

“Yeah, he not only talks a lot, but it’s what he says. Sometimes I just have to say, ‘Travis, go away. I don’t want to listen to you.’

“I’m waiting here until two o’clock. My workers are coming by in the van, to pick up me and my stuff. They’re going to be giving me the keys to my apartment on Moriset.”

Little Chester and Donny in his motorized wheelchair came over to where we were standing. He picked up the globe and looked at it. I pointed out Iceland, where my grandparents came from.

He pointed at Newfoundland. “This is where I came from. They’re the same color.”

I said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Newfoundland. It’s really beautiful.”

“No, it’s not. I lived there for twenty-four years. I couldn’t wait to get away.”

“I hear the economy has really picked up since the oil discovery.”

“I’ve been hearing about that for forty years. I don’t think anything has happened yet.”

I asked, “Were you a fisherman?”

“My mother said I had lazy bones. I’ve always had lazy bones. I snared rabbits. Once, some friends and I were out in the bush. We had a cable and made a lasso out of it. We hung it between two trees. A moose came running along, right into the snare. My friends hauled it up in a tree. We had meat to last us all winter. Lots of people have heard of snaring rabbits, not too many have heard of snaring moose.”

I said, “I’ve eaten moose, It’s really good.”

Shakes said to Chester, “Get the fuck out of my sun!”

“I don’t understand you, Shakes. What did you say?”

I said, “I think he means you’re making a shadow on him. You’re standing in his sun.”

“Oh, I didn’t know what he wanted. Sure, Shakes, I’ll move down.”

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……

29 November 2012

As I arrived at ‘the heater’ I could see that the security guard was already there. He was smoking a cigarette but had already told the group to move along. Jacques, Chester, Donny with the motorized wheelchair, Loretta and I walked across the street to the traffic island. Jacques spread a folded blanket on the cold cement ledge to make it slightly more comfortable. Timmy arrived shortly after.

“Hi Timmy,” I said, “You’re not riding your bicycle today.”

“No, it’s too slushy.”

“How did it go with your workers. Did they visit the apartment yesterday?”

“I went to see them this morning. They had the date wrong. It’s today they’ll be viewing the apartment. Tomorrow, they’ll let me know when I can pick up the keys.

Two workers from the Salvation Army came by, “Is Shakes around?” they asked.

Jacques said, “He just left with his daughter Fran. We should be able to get a message to him sometime today.”

“Will he be on the bridge later?”

“Should be.”

“If you see him, would you let him know we have the keys for his apartment?”

“We’ll tell him.”

I asked Jacques, “Have you heard anything from Joy? Did she phone this morning?”

‘Yeah, she phoned. She sounded better, but you never know. Some people don’t say much on the telephone. Maybe she’s worse. Mariah was supposed to bring me keys, but she didn’t come down today. Joy’s check should have come in the mail today. I guess Mariah picked it up for her.

“I was going to visit Joy this afternoon, but I don’t have her check. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.”

I said, “Joy said to me that when her check arrived she’d try to go to Money Mart to have it cashed, but now they have her attached to so many tubes and wires that she can’t leave her bed.”

Jacques said, “There’s a bank in the hospital. She could cash her check there. There may be a small fee, but it’s a government check, there shouldn’t be any trouble cashing it.”

Loretta was feeling emotional. “I get so fed up. My old man is nice to me sometimes — I really love him — but then he’ll call me names, tell me to go back to where I came from.”

I asked, “Where did you come from?”

“Coppermine.”

Kugluktuk (Inuinnaqtun: Qurluktuk, “the place of moving water”; Inuktitut:   formerly Coppermine until 1 January 1996) is a hamlet located at the mouth of the Coppermine River in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, Canada, on Coronation Gulf, southwest of Victoria Island. It is the westernmost community in Nunavut, almost on the border with the Northwest Territories.

“I’m a bit wasted now. Do I look alright? Will I be okay to get on the bus?”

I said, “You look fine.”

“Did Joy tell you that she came to visit me at my place in Orléans? I have a past like hers. That’s why we get along so well.”

“Joy told me that she drinks to forget her past, to help her with the pain and to help her sleep.”

“I’m the same way. sometimes I’ll hear somebody say something and it brings it all rushing back.”

“Yes, she told me.”

“I moved from there to a place next door. I’ve applied to go to a mission, especially for Inuit women. They told me it was okay to move, but now they say that because I’m already in a ‘safe house’ I can’t go to the mission. I was so mad. It was on October 30th. I got drunk, got arrested and spent Hallowe’en in jail.”

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Podcasts:http://buff.ly/1Pxlf9p
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