Posts Tagged ‘hookers’



25 November 2012

It’s Sunday, I don’t get to see my friends until tomorrow, but I miss them. I wonder where Shakes slept last night. Was it in a bank kiosk? I also wonder where André slept last night. Perhaps, it was behind the dumpsters in the back of Starbucks. I wonder if Joy slept last night since the temperature went below freezing. I’ve slept in a tent in those temperatures and know that it isn’t life threatening if one has the proper sleeping bag and warm clothing. I can also remember shivering so much that I couldn’t get to sleep. There wasn’t anything I could do to improve my situation at the time.

When I read over my previous entries I realize just how important my friends are to me. Despite their addictions, their choices and what life has thrown at them; they are doing the best they can with what they have. Can any of us do any better? They are always entertaining and a joy to be with.

Several colleagues at work have seen me sitting with Joy before I go to work in the mornings. They ask about her story. I give them a condensed version of the facts as I know them. They ask, “Do you believe that what she says is the truth?” I have known Joy for two years now. When she tells her stories there are variations, perhaps due to memory, perhaps due to the amount she’s had to drink, the amount she wishes to reveal; but in essence, what she has told me is consistent and I don’t believe her to be a great actress who can pull tears out of nowhere.

I’ve been asked, “Are these people dangerous?” I know that several have committed murder. Two have served sentences of twenty and twenty-five years in prison. Another wasn’t charged but has lived with the guilt, even attended the dead man’s funeral and met his family. These people, my friends, are capable of murder. I am capable of murder. Most people, in certain situations, especially under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are capable of murder.

I know that if I was in a desperate situation, any of my friends would do their best to protect me, or help me, with whatever resources they had. They’ve offered food, drink and protection on many occasions.

I don’t really know why I am drawn to the park at noon hours. I say that the conversations there are more interesting than what I hear at work. That is certainly true. More than that I see raw life, without a safety net. Like Silver, who died September twenty-ninth, at the age of fifty-two, most of my friends are only too aware that they won’t see sixty. Many are surprised and sometimes disappointed, that they made it through the night. I enjoy sharing the time they have left. I am honored to have made their acquaintance.

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5 May 2015

“Good morning, Chuck, have you heard anything from your neighbor, Lou?”

“No, haven’t heard a peep. There is another neighbor checking on him as well. Every time he passes Lou’s door, he knocks on it, but there’s been no answer. It could be that Lou’s in hospital, or on vacation. If he died near the front of the apartment, we’re bound to smell it soon. If he was in a back room, it’ll take longer.’

I asked, “Have you heard anything about a service for Joy?”

“No, what they usually do is go to the person’s panning spot at an assigned time, have a drink to them and someone will say a prayer. Some people bring flowers.

“In another forty-eight hours, I’ll be going in for my surgery. I expect that everything will go okay, otherwise I won’t be back here, not that that’s a bad thing. I think of all the times I’ve been in hospital. When I was about twenty years old I was working for a moving company. We had to unload an industrial oven from a truck. It was about six feet long. We pulled it over the edge of the dock, then I hopped down. I pulled and my partner pushed. I told him, ‘When it gets to the balance point, I’ll count to three then you let go.’  I was counting, one… two… then the son of a bitch let go. It slammed down on my hands. I was quick enough to pull my left hand out, but it crushed two fingers on my right hand. I still can’t use my little finger properly. With my adrenaline pumping I jumped up on the dock and punched him in the face, then I threw him off the dock.

“I got some other injuries where it was my fault. There was construction on the bridge. They’d removed the centre section and left a catwalk crossing the span. I was fine walking across that. I went to the pub, got drunk. When I came back to the bridge, the catwalk was gone. I looked down, there was a drop of about six feet to a ramp. I could jump back then. I landed fine, but because of the incline, I heard my ankles snap, then I rolled to the bottom of the ramp and out on the street.

“They took me to hospital, took an x-ray and said to come back at 10:30 Monday morning to have a cast put on. I hobbled home on crutches, set up a mattress near the bathroom, so I wouldn’t have to be on my feet too much, then fell asleep. My wife woke me the next day. I asked what time is it was. She said, ‘Noon.’ I asked what day it was. She said, ‘Monday.’  ‘Shit,’ I said, ‘I’ve missed my appointment to have a cast put on.’ My wife phoned to see if they could fit me in later. They said that they were completely booked, so I never got a cast. I was on crutches for about a year, then switched to a cane. I was in a biker bar when a fight broke out. I smashed my cane across this big guy’s shoulders, then I ran like hell.

“Another problem I had, when I was a kid in a small town, was with the optometrist. He said that I needed glasses. I wore them for a few months and kept getting headaches. My mom took me to an eye doctor in the city. He asked, ‘What asshole prescribed these. They’re completely wrong.’ I’ve always hated that first optometrist, but my parents wouldn’t say a word against him. Professionals were like gods, especially in a small town. Maybe one day I’ll forgive him, but I’ll kill him first.”

“I’ve had a good day today. My twenty-dollar man came by and a construction worker came up to me and handed me five twenties. I got my hydro bill today. It’s for a hundred dollars, so I’ll pay that and have it out of the way.  I’m going to treat myself to a nice meal to get away from my cooking.

I said, “Enjoy your meal, Chuck, I have to go now.

Chuck said, “I’d enjoy it more if it was at my place with four beautiful naked woman.

I said, “Dream on.”

This afternoon, while strolling downtown, I saw a man sitting on the sidewalk, his back against a storefront. He had a coke in his hand and was eating french fries. I said to him, “We’ve met before haven’t we? My name is Dennis.

He said, “I’m Ron.”

I said, “I think  I have you mistaken with someone else. Do you mind if I sit down?”

“Go ahead. I’d shake hands, but my fingers are greasy.”

“I was looking for a big guy with a beard who speaks with a Scottish accent. Do you know him?”

He said, “I may have talked to someone like that. Does he usually wear some kind of a funny head covering?”

“Yeah, that sounds like Bruce.”

“He usually pans about three blocks up.”

“I tried there. He may have stepped away for a while, perhaps to use the bathroom.”

He yelled to a man passing by, “Hey mister, can I buy a smoke? That’s rude, he didn’t even turn around. It isn’t as if I was asking for a gift. I offered to buy a cigarette. I can’t figure people sometimes.

“This morning I was at a restaurant and asked for a junior burger. The owner knew that I panhandled and asked if I’d like another for free. I said, ‘Sure.’ When I stepped outside a woman came up to me and asked, ‘Can I have a bite? Can I have a bite? Can I have a bite? She must have asked me six times. I said, ‘No, this is my food. Get your own.’ I don’t mind sharing with people, but not if they ask for it.

“I was in the market and I met some actual hookers. We got to talking. They were really nice. One was drinking something out of a coke can. She asked, ‘Do you want to try some?’ I took a couple of swigs, then I started getting really high. I think it must have been crack. They were good though. They stayed with me until I came down.

“Usually I don’t drink anything out of an opened can, but I could see that she was drinking it. Sometimes people will put glass in a can of soda and hand it to a street person.”

I said, “Both Mather, down the street and Chuck have been given what they thought to be coffee, but it made them sick. You also have to be careful with fruit and home-baked goods.”

“Yeah, if I’m given fruit, I always check for puncture marks. What makes people like that? I get along with everybody. One guy threatened to punch me. I said, ‘Go ahead, take the first punch. You’ll be charged with assault, then I’ll beat the shit out of you.’

“When I was in high school I was quite the scrapper. A kid kept bugging me, he’d flick his finger against the back of my ear. We got rolling around on the ground and I bit him. He stayed away from me after that.”

I asked, “Where did you bite him, in the ear?”

“No, I think it was in the leg. Maybe it was his arm. I forget.

“Another time we were playing soccer. A guy drilled the ball at me. I stopped it, but a bone in my wrist broke. I was in a cast for a couple of months. One day we were both assigned to hospitality — that’s working in the kitchen. It was just the two of us. I locked the door and smacked him with my cast. He left a head sized impression in the wall.”

I said, “I have to leave now, but maybe I’ll see you tomorrow, Ron”

He shook my hand and said, “See you.”

Read more about my friends at






Happy Easter, Dennis. I was talking to a friend of yours earlier, we were talking about suicide. I guess she felt comfortable talking to a street person about such a sensitive subject. She had mentioned it yesterday and I didn’t have any response, but I thought it over. We talked about it today. There were many times, especially when I was drinking, that I thought about ending it all. I wasn’t going to take a gun to my head or take pills. I was just going to drink myself to death.”

I said, “That’s what Shakes did. Everyday he drank until he couldn’t stand, then he’d sleep where he’d passed out. He’d told me previously that he was in poor health, but he didn’t go into detail.”

Chuck said, “Then there was Alphonse. He’d talked to me about suicide. I told him, ‘Why don’t you go back up north where your mother and other family live? Turn your life around. I thought he was going to do that. Then he was beaten by that big guy with the dog. That shouldn’t have happened. Then he got into some trouble in Montreal. He went to court and they asked him how he pleaded. He said, ‘Well, of course I’m pleading guilty — I did it!'”

I asked, “Do you know what it was that he did?”

“I don’t know, some drunken stuff. It doesn’t take much to cause a disturbance. Then he decided to hang himself. It was such a shame. He had a good heart.

“I still see his girl friend. She’s a hooker, but I don’t talk to her. I didn’t like the way she treated him. He was willing to raise a baby, that probably wasn’t his. He would have made good father, but she could never stay away from the drugs. Whenever she needed a hit, she’d go off and find a guy who wanted sex.

“There was this big guy who lived in the same rooming house as I did. I didn’t have much to do with him. One morning he went downstairs and killed the super with a knife. Then he car-jacked a cab. There was an old woman who tried to get in the back seat. He stabbed her. The cops finally caught him, not far from our building. It took six of them to hold him down. I had a hold of his leg. He was throwing everybody off.

“When he went to court, asshole that he was, he decided to present his own defense.

“The judge sentenced him to twenty-five years to life, with no chance of parole. The guy laughed. He said, “My doctor said I only have ten years left to live. What are you going to do with the other fifteen years?”

“One time I was at a British pub playing darts. The waiter brougnt me a rum and coke. I asked, ‘Where did this come from?’ He pointed to a friend of mine sitting at the bar. I went over and sat with him. He said, “I want to share a last drink with all of my friends. I held off until the end of the month until my welfare check came in. There’s no way I want the government holding onto this money.”

“That’s happened to me three times. It’s not that people want to kill themselves. It just gets too depressing to keep on living.

“I went to McDonald’s yesterday, bought a coffee, then took it to the food court to sit with my friends. I know a lot of people there, but most of them drink too much. I don’t associate with them. There was this one guy cursing and swearing about how rotten the food was at the Mission — the food he gets for free. He’d killed his wife. She was the first person I’d know who was later murdered. Since then, there’ve been lots. I knew this young native woman. She was working as a prostitute, but I don’t judge what people do to earn money. She was always friendly to me, not that I ever paid for her services. She was just a nice person. I don’t think the cops even investigated her death — just another native hooker.”





29 May 2014

“Good morning, Chuck, how are you today?

“Well, you know my life is a series of ups and downs. Today’s been a real downer. For one thing I’ve only seen two nice asses all morning. I sat here all winter when the female population was wearing pants and long coats, then we get Spring, the coats come off and, OH MY GOD, women have legs.

“I told you about the problem I’m having with my satellite dish. I thought that was settled, but I got my last bill and there’s an outstanding amount that I’ve already paid. I got a phone call from this guy, he had a heavy foreign accent and said his name was Jock. He went on to ask when I was going to pay the money I owed. I said, ‘First of all your name’s not, Jock, it’s asshole.’ All this collection stuff is outsourced to other countries. How is he going to fix my problem when we’re not even in the same country?  I said to him, ‘Second, I don’t owe that money and I have the records to prove it.’ He said, ‘No, you don’t.’ I said, ‘Yes I do, I’ve got them right here in front of me. If you want to take me to court, go ahead. We’ll see how far that gets you. You’ll not only lose money on my satellite service, but my landline and my mobile as well. So, do your worst, cocksucker.’ With that I slammed the phone down.

“A lot of women don’t approve of what I do. They think I’m demeaning myself, but I’ve got no choice, because of my health. If I didn’t need to do this, you can bet that I’d just as soon stay home, or visit with my friends.

“I remember when Jody used to stop by here, she was a prostitute, a cute little thing. She was around here for about a year before they made her move to another area, near the strip clubs. You remember, in 1996  the courts decided that being topless is not  a sexual act, or indecent, because it’s not commercial. It doesn’t apply to prostitutes. Jody tried to test the law, or didn’t understand it, and went topless. She was charged and served three months.

“I’ve known a lot of hookers. They stop and talk to me. We’re both, in a sense, killing time here, it can get boring. If I was in a bar — this was before I stopped drinking — they’d buy me a drink, or I’d buy them one. I was never a client, I never paid for it, but I’ve had sex with one or two of them. They like to have some fun sex as well as the next person. It’s not just a job to them.

I said, “I think they should legalize prostitution. It would make more sense. They’re never going to eliminate it, and it would be a lot safer.”

“The problem with that is, the pretty ones would all get jobs with the high-class escort services, and make a bundle of money. The ones that aren’t so pretty, who are getting older, or are on drugs are still going to work the streets. If they’re crack addicts, they’ll do you for twenty bucks, but they’re carrying all sorts of diseases. The way you can tell whether or not a prostitute is clean is if she thoroughly examines your dick. That shows she’s careful.  If she doesn’t  she’ll fuck anyone, clean or not. You never know what you’ll come away with. The ones I’ve had, I didn’t even use a safe. I knew I was taking a risk. There are no guarantees, but we were friends, so I kept my fingers crossed.

Moneywise, I’ve had a good week. I told you about my regular guy who drops me a twenty. I hadn’t seen him for a few weeks, so I figured he was taking a different route, maybe giving the money to somebody else. I’ve got no problem with that. Other people are in need.  He’s been by three days in the last four. It makes it worthwhile coming down here.

“Did I tell you what I’ve decided about my wheelchair? The cost of replacing it with a new one is ten thousand dollars. For the same price I can buy a Nissan Micra electric car. I have some money put aside, and a friend will lend me the rest. I’d pay him back fifty dollars a month.  If I die, he sells the car for whatever he can get. I’d have something that’s warm in winter. There’d be room for Goldie and groceries. I wouldn’t have the problems I have now  with snow drifts. I think it’s a good idea.

“That sounds great, Chuck. I have to go. Will I see you tomorrow?”

“We’ll see, it depends on the weather. Take care and thanks.”





“Good morning Chuck. Is it going to rain today?”

“That’s what they’ve forecast, showers later on. That means no work for me.”

“The last time we spoke you mentioned that you were writing out your will. How is that going?”

“It’s all done. There are just a few things I have to change. I’ve got two lamps with red globes. They have a nice light, but too low for reading. I want to make sure my girlfriend gets those. The other stuff is pretty much settled. I want to get everyone together so we can discuss it. I’ve got one daughter and four sons. There are a few things that I’m not sure who would want.”

I asked, “Is your wheelchair fixed?”

“No, it’ll be raining tomorrow so I’ll phone the shop, They’ll pick it up then return it to me in about a week. The paperwork all has to go through social services. I can’t stand those people, they won’t hurry anything. They’ll either agree to fix it, replace it, or they wont. It’s a piece of shit machine. It’s not even the one I ordered. What I ordered, and what I had before was a Quantum 6000. What they gave me was a Quantum 1402. There’s a big difference. When social services asked me why I accepted it, I said, ‘They had me in a room at the back, I had no way to get home. They forced me.’ I even told the worker, “I need that wheelchair. If I don’t get it, and I’m held prisoner in my home all winter, I’ll kill myself.’

“I’ve got it all planned out too. I’ll go to a strip club, have a cigarette, order a whiskey and a lap dance. If that doesn’t kill me, I’ll try again.  The last thing I see in hope to see in this world is be a nice, sweet pussy. That reminds me of a joke. This old guy phoned a call girl. She arrived and they were doing the nasty in his bed.  It was too much for him and he died. The case went to court and the judge asked the hooker what happened. She said, ‘We was a humpin’ and a bumpin’. He said, ‘I’m comin’, but he never said he was a goin’.

I asked, “Did you get any more of your antibiotics.”

“No, I didn’t. That’s something I’m going to do when I leave here. I also have to go to the grocery store and get a twenty pound bag of Cesar cat food, the dry roast kind. It’s the cheapest. Then I’ll also get some of the salmon, lamb and turkey flavored food to mix it with it. They even have  duck, wild boar & rabbit, maybe I’ll try some of those, see how she likes them. That will be Goldie taken care of. Then I’ll go to the drug store to see about my antibiotics. I still feel a bit snuffly.

A large German shepherd on a leash was crossing the street towards Goldie. She started getting very agitated. I patted her head. Chuck put his cap over her. He said, “Some of these dog owners should be shot. They don’t care how close their dog gets to me. Goldie will attack in order to protect me. Even when I tell them, ‘Keep your dog away from me!’ they’ll just mouth off saying, ‘My dog has every right to be here. On the bus the other night, this guy sat near me acting all important, doing stuff on his laptop. When he got up to leave he put his face right up to mine and yelled, “I don’t like your dog being on this bus!’

“Nobody knows the future, they could step off the curb and get hit by a car. In my case it could be three seconds and I’d be dead. Goldie is trained to let me know if I’m about to have a seizure, so I can at least sit down or lie down. Problem is, if I have a seizure, that’s it, game over.

I was riding along the sidewalk one day, and a woman opened her car door right in front of me. I was able to maneuver my chair so that  the door came right between my seat and my arm rest. There was only about an inch to spare. My chair wasn’t damaged, but I nearly took her door off. I told her, ‘There’s no damage to my chair. Don’t report it to the police, because you’ll be charged. Don’t report it to your insurance company, or your rates will go up. The least expensive thing to do is to just pay for the repairs to your car.’ She said that she wanted to call the police. I said, ‘Here’s my name and phone number. Do what you like.’ Well, she didn’t take my advice. In fact, she went right down to the police station and filled out a statement and signed it. Later, a  police woman phoned me. I said, ‘This must be the easiest case you’ve had. You’ve already got a sworn confession.’  She said to me, “Either you know a lot about the law, or you’re very funny.’ I said, ‘I know a pretty woman when I hear one and I coming over to give you a kiss.’ She laughed at that.






28 April 2014

“Good morning, Chuck. I see that you have your winter coat on.”

“Yeah, I had a lighter jacket on yesterday and I nearly froze. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the wind. As it is only my hands and feet are cold. I’ve got some nice leather mitts at home somewhere, but I can’t find them.

I asked, “How was your weekend?”

“Pretty good; I only got into one fight. For me, that’s good.”

“What happened.”

“There was this cranky old guy, complaining that he didn’t have enough money for a coffee. I was going to buy him one,  then this guy comes by with a case of  empty beer cans. He said, ‘Take these, they’re worth ten cents a can,  you can turn them in for enough money to buy a coffee.’ ‘Oh no,’ the guy says, ‘I can’t have people see me trading in empties. They’d think I’m poor. I don’t want that.’ I really laid into him for that. I put myself on the line out here. A cop could give me a hundred-dollar ticket for panhandling. If I didn’t appear for court, I could do jail time. Mind you, if I did appear. The judge would probably throw the case out. I’ve never actually seen the charges stick. I’d probably say something like, ‘Your honor, I can’t afford to pay the ticket now, but if you’ll give me a few days, I can probably collect enough money panning, to pay for it.’

“I bought a lottery ticket yesterday. It sure would be nice to win some money. I know it’s selfish, but what I’d really like is to buy a small electric car. They cost about seven thousand, but if I could get a down payment of three thousand, a guy I know would let me pay the rest in monthly installments. That would give me a lot more freedom. Since the Wheelchair Taxi can’t get near my place in winter because of the snow drifts, I’m stuck inside. If I’m desperate I can get through the snow with my walker. I have enough strength to get to the corner store and back, but that’s about it.

I said, “I met Little Jake and Little Albert yesterday. Jake chased Albert away, he was drunk.”

“Drunk or sober that guy is an imbecile. I’ve chased him away a few times myself. If a person has a mental disorder I can empathize with that. I’m a bit crazy myself. I remember when I was a kid in Perth there was a kid that was slow. A local bully dropped a candy, rolled it in the mud, then gave it to this kid to eat. I slapped it out of his hand. I got beaten up for it, but I didn’t care. I don’t like to see people treated like that. When I got home I got a beating from my dad for fighting.

“At school I told my teacher off one day. Of course my parents were phoned. I got a beating for that too. Seems  I got a beating for just about everything.

“Sitting here, day after day, I see a lot of things. Quite a few hookers stop to talk to me; not a bout sex, just because they’re bored and I’m bored.  Speaking of hookers.  I was reading about some of these film stars from the thirties. Clara Bow had quite a reputation. A newspaper named her as the mistress of several men and claimed that she of ten had sex in public, engaged in threesomes with prostitutes, slept with women when no man was available and turned to animals when no human companionship was at hand.stated that between scenes. She’d go to her trailer and ask her manager to bring her some good-looking extra or stage hand. Another one was the same, I can’t remember her name — the one from Mommy Dearest” … Joan Fontaine. She had a ninety year feud with her sister Olivia de Havilland.  When wrestling, as children, Olivia broke Joan’s collarbone. They were both interested in Howard Hughes at the same time.

A beautiful woman, bent over, placed a five dollar bill in Chuck’s cap and smiled at him.

When she left I said, “That woman is gorgeous!”

“Yeah,” said Chuck, “I’d love to dive into that. Some people say I’m a dirty old man, but I’ve died nine times, so I’m entitled.

That reminds me of  nursery rhymes. They sound innocent until you start looking into them, Like The Muffin Man.” He sang:

Oh, do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane?

Oh, yes, I know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Yes, I know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane.

He’s never in a hurry
Never has a worry
Bringin’ joy to everyone
Then he knows his work is done

Oh, you should know the Muffin Man
The Muffin Man, the Muffin Man
You should know the Muffin Man
Who dwells in Drury Lane

I’ve read two versions  of this story. In the first, the Muffin Man was a pimp who went by the name  of Muff.  He worked Drury Lane which was the Red Light District of London.  Actors, drunks, and even Queen Elizabeth flocked to the street after a play for a quick hand or blow job (or the like, for the females). That’s where the term ‘muff diver’ came from. His main street cookie went by the name Ginger Bread.

In the other version, the Muffin Man was actually a baker, otherwise known as the Drury Lane Dicer.  He would tie a muffin to a string, and as one of the street urchins tried to grab it, he pulled the string, eventually luring the child to his house. He’d knock the child out with a wooden spoon. He was convicted of killing fifteen children and seven rival pastry chefs.

There are also some other rhymes like:

Mary had a little lamb
she also had a bear.
I’ve often seen her little lamb
but never seen her bare.

Or this one:

Mary had a little lamb.
She tied it to a pylon.
10,000 volts went up its arse,
And turned its wool to nylon.


Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone;
When she bent over,
Then Rover drove her,
‘Cause he had a bone of his own.

I said, “I was talking to Bearded Bruce, Friday night. He said he was getting a job in Scarborough. He didn’t say what he’d be doing. I wonder if he’ll be a cook in a restaurant. That’s what he’s trained for.”

“He’s supposed to be working with my son, Chuck, laying sod. I hope Chuck doesn’t screw up. It would be just like him.”





28 March 2014

Tickets Found


On his usual corner was Chuck Senior and Goldie. A light dusting of snow fell overnight, but the freezing rain predicted, has held off.

“Hi Chuck, Any news about your missing tickets?”

“Well, you can’t find what was never lost in the beginning. I did something really dumb.” He formed his fingers into the shape of a gun, held them to the side of his head and said, “Boom”.

I told you that I received the tickets, by mail, in a big brown envelope. There was also a nice letter that said, I hope you enjoy attending the game with your daughter. I threw the envelope away. I didn’t have any use for it. I put the tickets in a smaller envelope with the rest of my papers. I must have looked in that envelope a hundred times. I was sorting through my envelopes last night and saw some advertising in one of them.  I pulled it out to throw in the trash and on the other side was printed my tickets. I guess they had gotten stuck together. So, this weekend I see the game with my daughter. I feel so stupid.”

A lady stopped by, “Hi Charlie, do you have time to talk with me?”

“I always have time to talk to a pretty girl.”

“Charlie, I’m not pretty and I’m older than you are, so I’m hardly a girl. I’m seventy-eight. I’ve still got six years on you. Anyway, I wanted to give you something, but it’s in my backpack at home. I only brought my purse today.” She bent down and kissed him.

Chuck said, “You see, this job I got isn’t so bad after all. You’d be surprised how many women kiss me throughout the day. Then of course in the warmer weather there’s the crazy lady. The one that picks up the cigarette butts and other trash off the sidewalk. I’ve always been nice to her. I can’t understand a word she says, but I nod my head, say, “That’s nice.” Whatever seems appropriate at the time. She doesn’t harm anybody, but  lots of people abuse her. She just wants to be listened to. If I’ve got extra change I’ll give it to her for a coffee and a donut.

Sometimes, she makes perfect sense.  She showed me her journal one day.  It was beautifully written, but it was all in French. I don’t speak French, so I don’t know if it made sense or not. Once came up to me and said. ‘If I ever decide to get married, I’ll choose you.’ Then she gave me a big kiss. I said, “Wait a minute, not so fast.”

“She has some mental problems. We all do. I certainly do. ”

I said, “I do, too, Chuck.”

“That reminds me of the time I applied for my disability pension. You wouldn’t believe the number of hoops you have to go through to get that. I’ve got a bad back. They wanted me to see a psychiatrist. I can’t figure that out. They said they had to make sure I was telling the truth. Okay, I agreed to see a psychiatrist. Actually, I’ve been on various occasions.  One time, I arrived at my appointment early. The psychiatrist said, ‘You’ll have to wait about ten minutes, my receptionist isn’t in yet. While your waiting I have some papers for you to fill out. It was all the standard stuff. Back then we didn’t have a health card, like we do now. I came to the part where I had to fill in my medical insurance number. It was a long number, but I remembered all the numbers, except for the last three. So, I pulled a paper out of my wallet and wrote down the rest of the number.  All the other numbers, like my driver’s licence, Social Insurance; I remembered all them. The psychiatrist asked me about the paper I pulled out of my wallet. I said, ‘I forgot the last three numbers for my medical insurance.’ He said, “You mean you had all the other numbers memorized?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, “Why are you here. You have a better memory than I have.’ I told him that I needed a signature for my disability insurance. He said, ‘Sure, I can do that for you. Apart from that your mind is as healthy as can be.’

“Another time, I was waiting for a psychiatrist appointment. He had his office door opened about two inches.  I was curious, so I peeked inside. He had a tourniquet around his upper arm and was shooting up. I told my worker about it. She said, ‘We know that he has diabetes.’ Well I know that you don’t need a tourniquet to inject insulin. It was probably heroin, or else he was a crack head.”

“I knew this woman one time. She was very pretty, a prostitute. Lots of guys wanted to marry her, but she held them off. Then this psychiatrist and her got married. I asked him about it. He said, ‘I want to write a book about life with a prostitute, so I married her.’ I asked, ‘What happens to her after you finish your book.’ He said, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead.’

“Speaking of prostitutes, I get propositioned quite a few times while I’m sitting here.”

I said, “I expect that their out of your price range; are they?”

“No, they’re all on crack. I could get head for fifteen to twenty dollars, if I wanted it. I’d make sure I was wearing at least three condoms. You never know what diseases they’re carrying. There are a lot that hang around where I live. It’s a rough area. A guy was stabbed to death right in front of my building, just a few days ago. It was probably a drug deal gone bad.”

I asked, “How did you initially injure your back? Was it quite a while ago?”

“I’ve injured it a number of times. I blame a lot of it on my dad. He had a job as caretaker of a cemetery. At that time they used push mowers, not these gas or electric jobs that they use now. I was about eleven at the time. He’d mow around the tomb stones; I’d go around with the clippers and get the long strands beside the stones. There was this old stone we were working around. I was on my hands and knees at the back. He was mowing in front. I guess he hit the stone a little too hard and it toppled over on me, caught my leg between my knee and hip. He refused to take me to the doctor. I lay on the sofa for about three days, then he asked, “Are you ready to go back to work?” I said, “No I’m not ready to go back to work. My leg is fractured.

“When I was fifteen, I was playing high school football. I tackled this guy, my helmet dug into the dirt, my legs bent back over my head. I told my dad about it. He said, ‘Stop your whining. Suck it up and act like a man.’ I’ve also been in a car accident. I was thrown out against a rock.”

“My dad’s dead now, but If I ever got the chance to see him again I’d say to him, “It’s good to see you dad. I love you. Then I’d shoot him in the head.

Other people had stopped to drop Chuck change or folded bills. Others were patting Goldie, so I made my exit and waved to Chuck.






“Hi, Dennis,” said Chuck, “Chilly this morning. Do you have the time?” I showed him my watch. ” Twenty to nine. I’m only going to stay another ten minutes. I’ve collected enough for a pizza. After that I’ve got some groceries to pick up. I made my beef stew last night. It was delicious, but I put in too many spices — three Oxo packets. Next time, I’ll only use two. I had the farts all night.

I said, “Yesterday you were telling me all the interesting things that happened when you worked at National Defense. Do you have any more of those stories?”

“No, I told you all the interesting stuff, the rest was drudgery. I had another job as bell boy at the Alexandra Hotel. I sure learned a lot there. It used to be on the north-west corner of Bank at Gilmour.  In its hey-day, it was one of the best hotels in the city. It was called the Alex, and was known primarily for cheap draft at the Leprechaun Lounge. It ended up as a strip joint.  It was disgusting, they hired girls as young as twelve years old to work as strippers. In the late 1970’s  it was declared a heritage site and torched to make room for new development.  I don’t know what’s there now — some high-rise.

“There is a maze of tunnels, called the Beer Tunnels under Bank Street. All  the businesses used them to bring in black market goods. One led from the kitchen of the Alexander to the McLaren apartments.  Weeks in advance, big shots would book a room. They’d enter the McLaren, but instead of going upstairs to the apartments, they’d go downstairs.  Their room would be all ready for them, anything they wanted. They’d phone room service at the Alexandra. We’d we’d bring their meals, drinks, girlfriends or prostitutes through  the tunnel. Nobody’d be the wiser. I won’t mention any names, but some  of our regular guests were Cabinet Ministers and a Supreme Court Judge.  All politicians are crooked.

“At the Alexandra they only served Carlsberg beer. One of the bosses would drive a van to the docks at Montreal and,  miraculously, it would be loaded with cases of beer. They’d drive though the tunnel and unload right at the hotel.

“Nearby there was also a clothing store where my girlfriend worked. She said she could get me a good discount. The suit I picked out was priced at seven hundred dollars, imported from Italy.  I got another priced at three hundred. My son was with me at the time, he said, ‘I could use a suit.’ We got all three for a total of three hundred. It was all controlled by the mafia.

“When I was a kid we used to fish in the Ottawa River.  There was none of this catch and release stuff then. I think that’s stupid we fished to eat not to hurt fish.  We’d take them to the back of this Chinese restaurant. They’d give us fifty cents a piece for them.  They’d mix it in with the chicken to cut their costs.

“There used to be a great bar at the Chateau Laurier. That’s where all the high-class prostitutes would hang out — they were expensive though. A couple of times the hotel was shut down by a food inspector for serving cat, disguised as chicken. The fanciest hotel in town serving cat.



09 July 2013

This morning when I neared Joy’s spot I saw a Paramedic Vehicle parked close to where she sits. I thought the worst, then I saw her feet sticking out from behind a concrete pillar. Joy said, “I feel so bad. That poor woman was one of my regulars. She was reaching in her purse for change when she tripped on that uneven sidewalk — I don’t know how many people have tripped there. Anyway, she fell face down with her arm across her chest.  Her knees were scraped, her hand was scraped and swollen. I jumped up and helped her, then I held her hand until the paramedics came.  She acted so surprised that I stayed with her.  I said,  ‘I’m human, I feel bad when somebody gets hurt.’ She said, ‘But you people…” I asked, ‘What do you mean, us people…street people… panhandlers? Just because people treat us like shit doesn’t mean we don’t  have feelings.’ At that point Joy’s eyes brimmed with tears.

“I think I freaked her out a bit. When I get nervous I start signing and scratching. I explained to her that I’m deaf in one ear and learned to sign when I was young. I don’t know what she thought of that.

“The paramedics arrived, checked her over and wanted to take her to hospital, but she refused to go. The van has been here for about an hour. I thought by now that the fat driver would have gotten out to get a donut at Timmy Ho’s, but he hasn’t moved. The woman is long gone. She’s gone to her office or somewhere.

I asked, “How are you feeling? It must have been upsetting for you.”

“I’m alright. They installed my land line and my cable. I still have to buy a phone. I didn’t know that Bell didn’t install their own phones, but the installer said that too many have been stolen. I guess I’ll try to get one at Giant Tiger, or someplace. I just want something really simple, but I want call display. I’m not sure I can get that at Giant Tiger. I want to know who’s calling. If I don’t know them I won’t answer. Having a television and a phone makes me feel scared for some reason. It makes me feel too human, most times I just want to hide away.”

I said, “You don’t have to answer the phone. Maybe, you can find a used answering machine somewhere.  I never answer the phone. You don’t have to watch the television. I watch very little. I never watch the news, it’s too depressing.”

“I guess it’s staying alone that I’m scared about.”

I asked, “Have you thought about Jake moving in with you?”

“No, not the way he smells. Even if he did clean himself up I’m not ready for a relationship.”

“How about having Loretta move in with you. She’s been sober for five months now. You seem to get along with her.”

“No, I’d kill her. I think I’m better off by myself. I’ve got my name down on a couple of different housing registries. I didn’t put down any restrictions as far as neighborhood is concerned. I just want someplace clean, with no bed bugs.

“I was over at Chester’s the other day. I checked his mattress. Beside the piping at the bottom, where that crease is, was black with bed bugs; big black ones. He said to me, ‘I don’t know where they come from.’ I said, ‘Did you ever think that they may come from the people who stay over. It just takes one bed bug to lay about a thousand eggs. I read up on them. I also had a friend whose husband was an exterminator. She told me all about them. They’re nasty.

“When I had them I put two in a sealed bottle and put it in the freezer. When my friend came over I showed her the bottle. They were still alive and crawling up the sides of the bottle. My friend said, ‘I’ve going to put these in my purse and show my husband.’ I said, ‘You’re going to put them in your purse just like that? I think you should double bag them. I gave her a couple of Ziploc bags to put the bottle in. When her husband saw them he said, ‘Get that bottle out of here! Put it outside somewhere! I don’t want it in the house!’ That’s from a guy who knows bed bugs.”

I said, “You can spray for them, can’t you?

“You spray the first time, wait two weeks, spray again, wait another two weeks then do a final spraying. If I was married to an exterminator I’d spray every week.

It was time for me to go to work.  I asked, “Are you going to be at the park at noon?”

“I don’t know. If nobody’s there when I go past, I think I’ll just go home.”


8 July 2013

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

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

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

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

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

“Is he still drinking?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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