Posts Tagged ‘love’

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5 October 2012

At 10:15 this morning I entered the Kelly Funeral Home, Somerset Chapel, to attend the viewing and memorial service for Silver. Most of the viewing rooms were empty. I heard voices and walked into one of the rooms. I didn’t know if I was in the right room until I saw, at the front, two boards of photographs with Silver lettered on top. There must have been a dozen photos on each board. Many of the photos I wouldn’t have recognized. They were from Silver’s childhood, teenage years and as the adult that I had considered my friend for the past nine months. As I was looking, I was approached by a woman with blond hair, and a welcoming smile.

She asked, “Did you know Silver well?”

“Yes,” I answered, “I sat and talked with him nearly every day. In the mornings, in front of Starbucks, and at noon at ‘the benches’ at Confederation Park.”

“I’m Silver’s’s sister, Cathy, by the way.”

“Silver spoke fondly of you,”

“Did you also know that he has three brothers, a son and a grandchild? Did Silver mention that? I’ll introduce you to them when I see them.”

“Silver may have mentioned the rest of his family. The last time I saw him was about two weeks ago. He showed me the swelling of his ankle and varicose veins he was worried about. He said he had an appointment with his doctor that same day. Jacques mentioned that Silver’s stomach was swollen. We all noticed that he had lost weight, especially in his face, and were worried about him. Sometimes, he would sit alone and just gaze into the distance. It just seemed to be his way. It was a great shock to hear that he had passed away.

“What was given as the cause of death?”

“Liver failure. Swollen ankles and abdomen are symptoms of liver failure. Luckily the whole family was able to be at his bedside for the last week. His son and granddaughter, of course, his mother and father, his brothers, his nephew. We all had lots of stories. It was good to see Silver laugh.”

“Here’s Cody now, Silver’s son, and Cody’s daughter Jennifer, Jenny for short.”

“Hi, Cody, and Jenny. I knew your father well. I’m so sorry for your loss. You have a striking resemblance to your dad.”

“I know. I’m proud of it.”

Cathy said, Dennis have you met Steve?”

“Hi Steve.”

Linda said to Dave, “You saw John fairly regularly too, is that right?”

“Every day or so we’d go for a beer together. I lived next door to him at the Lafayette.”

Cathy said, “We’d lost contact with Silver. We didn’t know he was so close. He didn’t have a phone. If we’d know where he was we would have whisked him away.”

“Steve, how long was Silver at the Lafayette, about four years?”

“Nearly five years.”

“Dennis,” asked Cathy, ” what was your impression of Silver?”

“He was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man. He always had a smile to greet me. It was always a pleasure talking with him.”

Cathy said, “He was a glass-half-full kind of person, wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” I said, “He was always cheerful and optimistic.”

I saw Danny, Outcast, Spike, Shark and Irene. Outcast walked over to the photographs and said, “Here’s me with Silver, this other one is of me also, but my head is cut off.”

I said, “Outcast I’d recognize your crotch anywhere.”

Shark said, “We’re not staying for the service. We just came to pay our respects to Silver’s family, then we’ll raise a few glasses to Silver.”

Irene and I walked over and signed the visitor’s book. I saw Danny sitting down, so I went over and sat with him.

“I’m just on my way to Thunder Bay,” he said. “After I leave here I’m, going to the bus depot to pick up my tickets.”

I asked, “Is that where you’re from. Do you have family there?”

“My mother’s in hospital, so I want to spend time with her. She has had part of her colon removed. Now they’ve found more polyps in the remaining colon. Doctors want to remove another two inches. She doesn’t want to go through that again. She said, ‘I’m ready to go. Why won’t they just let me die at home.’

“She’s had a hard life. My dad passed away a while back. He was on life support. The family was asked for permission to stop the machines that were keeping him alive. I was talking to my mom, on my cell phone, when they pulled the plug. I heard laughing in the background. The family thought that after he was removed from life support that he would die immediately. He drifted off to sleep for about ten minutes, then he awoke. He said, ‘I must be in heaven, I see all the angels of my family around me.’ Everyone laughed. I think he was trying to hold on until I arrived, but he didn’t last long enough for me to see him alive. At least I got to talk to him, and tell him that I loved him.

I met Silver’s brothers and his nephew. I also met Spike. I introduced myself. I said, I think we’ve met before at ‘the benches’, or at the ‘heater’. “Maybe, he said, I go to those places.”

Shark said to Spike, “What do you think of this place?”

Spike said, “It’s handy to the Somerset Street Beer Store.”

It was time to go upstairs for the memorial service. I’m guessing there were about fifty to seventy-five people in attendance. The Minister, who hadn’t met silver, started the service with a reading from  the Book of John:

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 

Jesus the Way to the Father

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know [b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

The minister added a personal note. “I am getting on in years. I know that when my time comes that my Lord will have prepared a room for me, even though in my life I have made mistakes. I am human. We all make mistakes. The dead are not gone, they live on in our hearts and memories, and in the genes of Jesse and Abbie.

He then went over and blessed Silver’s cremation urn with holy water.

A family member read a poem she wrote for John.

Cathy talked about stories from their childhood, stories that they had recounted at Silver’s bedside:

In the winter, Silver loved ‘bumpering’. To go bumpering, you grab the bumper of a moving vehicle and allow it pull you as it careens along the icy roads. This is dangerous and not at all recommended.

Silver enjoyed board games such as Monopoly and Clue, and playing cards. He and his older brother, Don, played a game called Hi-Lo. The loser of each hand would have to do push ups. What Silver didn’t know was that Bob was stacking the deck against him. Don was ahead in the short run, but Silver developed massive shoulders, that gave him the advantage in wrestling.

Our father died when Silver was nine years old. The three oldest siblings had to take turns minding the two youngest. Silver wanted to go riding on his bike, but it was his turn to care for his younger brother. Silver found a way to do both things at the same time. He tied his brother to the front stair railing and hopped on his bike. He rode around and around the block, waving at his brother each time he passed.

Cathy read the following poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye,

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

The service ended, and as the congregation arose and left the chapel the following song was being played:

 

Spirit in the Sky

by Norman Greenbaum

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best

Prepare yourself you know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He’s gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
Gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
That’s where you’re gonna go when you die
When you die and they lay you to rest
You’re gonna go to the place that’s the best

Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He’s gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky
Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best
Go to the place that’s the best

At the door leaving the building I had a chance to speak with Stella, who has known Silver and the rest of his friends for the past sixteen years. I hope to collaborate with her and share information. She had the following to say about Silver:

I met Silver at the beginning thru Tom, who used to pan at the Metcalfe & Albert corner. They both decided they would hitch-hike up to Timmins for some reason, but only got to Carp and came back. Guess there weren’t many beer stores along the way. Very funny. Tim passed away a few years ago. 

This was a very emotional service. Over the past nine months silver had become one of my family — my street family. It filled a void in me where my own family once was. They have all passed away, or are living in different parts of the continent. I too am a father and a grandfather.

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25 September 2012

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

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

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

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

“What did you have done?”

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

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

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

I asked, “What did I miss?”

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

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

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

“I’ll be there.”

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

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

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

“It’s good to see you.”

It’s good to see you, Dennis.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joy said, “We call that Pepperville.”

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

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

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

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

“How are the dentists in there?”

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

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

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

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

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

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14 September 2012

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

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

“Joy’s down there.”

“Great, thanks Metro.”

“Hi Joy, how did you sleep?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are natives?” I asked.

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

“Who makes them?”

“Natives.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Maybe I should move on.”

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

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13 September 2012

This morning the sun was shining and Joy seemed in good spirits.

“How did you sleep? Were you outside on the balcony?” I asked.

“No, it was a bit too cool for that, but I slept okay. I took the sheet off my air mattress and made sure that none of me touched the carpet. The bed bugs didn’t seem to have been able to climb up the shiny plastic. I didn’t get any bites during the night. I have a chalk line of powder around where I sleep.

“When I was in the bathroom I saw something move. I squished it. Sure enough, it was a bed bug. I could tell by the rotting wood smell. I’ve never known of bed bugs to crawl across tile.”

I said, “I’m still pissed off with Chester.”

“Why is that? What’s he done now?”

“I just think it’s very selfish of him to turn the exterminator away. He knows how much the bed bugs bother you. Just because they aren’t bothering him, that’s no reason not to have them exterminated. It’s not a safe, healthy environment for you.”

“Yeah, I was pissed off about that, alright. I stayed out until 9:00 last evening. He was upset that I came home so late. I said, ‘I’m forty-six years old. Are you saying I have a curfew? I wasn’t planning to come back at all.’ I told him, ‘I can’t live like this.’ He said, ‘I’m sorry. I’ll phone the Health Department and have them come another day.’ I said, ‘They’re not going to drop everything and come here, when they’ve already been turned away once. They may charge you for the visit.’

“I do the cooking, the cleaning. Before I moved in he said he kept his place very clean. It was a mess. It took me an entire day to wash the floors, the fridge. There was some kind of dairy product that had gone bad in the sink. That nearly made me sick. I bought groceries. He was supposed to buy some, but he hasn’t. We’re down to our last slice of bread.

“He doesn’t do anything, but make messes after I’ve cleaned up, and piss on the toilet seat. He said that if I’m concerned with the bed bugs he’ll share his bed with me. ‘No, thanks!’ I said. ‘I have no interest in sleeping with any man.’

He said, ‘Oh, Joy, I would never touch you. You don’t have to worry about that.’ I said, ‘I’ve heard that before.’

“I wish Chester would bathe more often. I have a shower every morning. He has one a week. All the guys are smelling a bit ripe now.

“I’ve heard from Rodent that Jake wants me to write to him. Why would I do that? I still love him, but I don’t have a death wish.

“I heard that Silver is at the Mission Hospice recovering.”

I said, “I know that he had an appointment with his doctor, last Thursday, to see about the swelling in his ankle. I haven’t seen him since.”

Joy said, “Chili may have to have both of her legs amputated. I’m so angry with her. I told her months ago to have the swelling in her knee taken care of. She’s been smashing cocaine into her arm and it’s become infected. The infection has spread to both legs as high as her hips.”

At noon I met my friendsat the curb near the park. Joy was waiting for her worker. We saw a Salvation Army van pass by and stop near the park. Joy walked over, but the van left before she arrived. Shortly after, her worker arrived. They were gone for about twenty minutes.

While Joy was away I talked to Jacques. He said, “I’m looking for a new apartment also. They raised my rent in June by three percent. It was $685., now it’s $710. I can’t afford that. I’ve had to cancel my cable. I tried to fix up an antenna using wire, but now I only get a few channels and they aren’t very clear. I saw an ad in this newspaper — on Donald Street I can get an antenna for $6.99. That’s not too bad if it works. I’m going to go there this afternoon to talk to them about it.”

“You’re going to miss living by Dow’s Lake.” I said.

“Yes, it’s a great bachelor apartment, but it has bed bugs. I’ve told the landlord about them, I suggested that he remove the carpet. It doesn’t matter what kind of floor is underneath. He isn’t interested in having it removed. I’m not paying $710. for a place with bed bugs. I hear that Chester has them too. They’re everywhere.

“I talked to Serge yesterday about us sharing a two bedroom apartment somewhere. He seemed interested, but today he isn’t here. I think he’s staying at his friend William’s place, while he is away. He has his own key.”

When Joy came back she said, “That was a waste of time. I still can’t see a doctor until they get my identification sorted out. They’ve moved the viewing of the apartment to two o’clock tomorrow. At least that’s something to look forward to.”

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11 September 2012

Today on the curb, by the park, were six of my friends. I sat on the sidewalk in front of Joy. Shortly after, Andre came staggering up the walk, followed by Sharron. The sides of his track pants were unsnapped, his shirt was off. He had a four-foot length of gold chain with two-inch links, a padlock attached to the end, wrapped twice around his neck.

“What do you mean I’m acting like an asshole?” asked Andre? He started swinging the chain. Joy said, “Andre, if you hit Jake in the back of the head with that padlock, I’m going to kill you. You know I mean it.”

Andre sat down, “I’m sorry for being an asshole. I’m just waking up. I passed out in a park last night. You all know what that’s like.”

Joy said, “Been there, done that, couldn’t afford the tee-shirt.”

Shakes, who was surprisingly sober, said, “I think Andre’s still upset about being rolled last night.”

I asked, “Is that right Andre? How much did they take? Was it a gang?”

“No,” said Andre, “It was just two guys. They got a hundred and forty bucks, but I did quite a bit of damage to one guy. I had him in a head lock and was punching him in the face, when the other guy kicked me in the side of the head. Things are a bit confused after that.”

Shakes asked, “Do you have my radio? I lost it twice yesterday.”

I said, “That means you must have found it once.”

“Yes, I did.”

Debbie said, “Have you seen Jake’s new apartment? I was there last night. It’s gorgeous. The walls are freshly painted, the floors have been varnished. Jake’s bedroom is as big as his living room.”

Jake said, “They even gave me fifty bucks for groceries. Tomorrow they’re going to see about getting me some furniture, even a television.”

Joy said, “I’ve got an appointment to see an apartment in Vanier. It’s six hundred a month.”

I said, “You saw one on Beechwood didn’t you?”

“I had an appointment, but my worker cancelled at the last-minute. They wanted seven ninety-five for that one. I’d only have fifty dollars left, after I cashing my check.”

Two workers from the Housing Outreach Program of the Salvation Army came by. One said, “Shakes, can we meet with you tomorrow around 10:30.”

“Sure.”

Joy said, “I’ll make sure he’s here, because I have an appointment with my worker tomorrow at the same time.”

After they left Joy said, “I got four dollars. Has anybody got any change? Andre, in the mesh pocket of your backpack I can see some change.” Andre threw over two quarters and a dime.

Joy said, “Okay, I’ve got $4.60. I still need forty-five cents.” Everyone checked their pockets and came up with the needed change.

To Chester, Joy said, “Honey, would you mind going to the World Exchange and picking me up a bottle?”

“Sure,” said Albert, “and if they don’t have Imperial? I’ve been there sometimes when they’ve been out.”

“If they don’t have it, don’t bother getting anything. It would only make me sick.”

“Jake,” I asked, “Are you moving into the apartment that Irene moved out of?”

“No, it’s the next building on Moriset — different apartment, different building. I’m really going to make it work this time.”

Joy said, “Every Fall the workers try to get us off the street and into apartments, that way they don’t have to bury so many of us.”

Shakes pulled a new bottle of sherry out of his backpack. He cracked the seal, poured some into the cap and threw it over his shoulder. Then he handed the bottle to Joy, who poured some into her coke bottle, then passed it back to Shakes who took a sip from the bottle. Joy then reached into her backpack for a large Sprite bottle of partly frozen water. She added water to the sherry then took a drink.

Jake said, “I’m going to get some sweet grass to smudge my apartment.”

Joy said, “Sweet grass has a beautiful smell, especially when it’s mixed with sage, burnt properly and wafted with an eagle feather. It’s so relaxing and peaceful.”

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10 September 2012

I wore my Autumn windbreaker today. The sky was overcast and there was a cool breeze blowing. The congregation was at the far end of the park. Joy walked toward me and we met at the sidewalk.

“I didn’t know whether or not you’d be coming,” she said. “I was about ready to leave when I saw your head above the bushes. I’m feeling sick. I cooked some chicken from Loblaws and I’ve been throwing up all night. It didn’t affect Chester, but it’s the second time I’ve gotten sick after eating their chicken. I’m always careful to cook it thoroughly, same with pork, I know how sick it can make you. I’m going to leave now. I just want to lie down and take it easy today. I can’t even drink.

”You wouldn’t happen to have some extra bus tickets for Chester would you?”

“No, I’m sorry. I’m all out. I’ll have to get more at the convenience store.”

“I just thought I’d ask. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Take care, Joy. Get lots of rest, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Hey,” said Andre, “Don’t I get a hug?”

“If I bend over, I might puke all over you.”

Andre put his wide-brimmed hat upside down on his head and said, “Okay, I’m ready. How about my hug?”

The grass was still wet from the overnight rain. Sitting on the curb, near the railing, were Timmy, Clint and Chester. On the lawn were Andre and Shakes. I sat between Timmy and Shakes who, as usual, was lying on his side, resting on one elbow.

“Shakes,” I said. “I haven’t seen you for a while. How are you?”

“I just got back into town from Kingston. I spent the last week there. A friend took me. He wanted to get out of Ottawa for a while, just to have a change of scenery.”

“Did you enjoy yourself?”

“The first day was awful. A dog died, some women were fighting and one guy tried to commit suicide; but that was just the first day.”

“Were these friends of yours? Did the dog belong to one of your friends?”

“No, I didn’t know them.”

“I spent seventy dollars on food, but mostly I had meals, home cooked by friends I met.

“Since I got back, I lost my wallet. Could you give me another of those Tim Horton’s cards? The one you gave me before was in the wallet I lost.”

“Sure, Shakes.”

Timmy put some Kleenex in Andre’s wide brimmed hat. “That’s for Shakes, he’s drooling.”

“He’s just drunk, that’s all.“

“Andre,” I said, “you’ve got a couple of fancy hats, since I saw you last.”

“Yeah, I’m starting to get a collection. This one has feathers around the brim. If I ever get lost in the woods, I can use them to tie flies for fishing. I lost most of my clothes at the Salvation Army. A friend, who’d been sleeping at the hut with us, was leaving town. He made a pile of all the stuff he couldn’t carry with him. There was a pair of size twelve work boots. I was going to bring them to Clint. There was also a pair of size ten, Gortex winter boots with Kevlar toes, heels and shanks. They were insulated and Thinsulated — do you know what I mean? — two layers of insulation. They came up to my knees. I’m guessing they were worth about $400.00. I stayed at the Sally Ann one night. The next day, I left my things in storage. They were locked and were supposed to be secure. I stayed at Katrina’s for two nights.

“When I came back to the Sally, I went to bed 245, where I thought I had slept; but the locker was empty. It looked like my bed, same color blanket, made up like mine. I always make my bed after I get up in the morning. I went to the desk and asked the guy, ‘What bed was I sleeping in? I thought it was 245.’ He checked and said, ‘You were in 295.’ I checked that bed and again, an empty locker. I was really pissed off. I figure the guys at the desk cut the lock and took my stuff.

“I went down and yelled at them, ‘I had two brand new pairs of boots in there, and a bottle and a half of sherry.’ One guy said, ‘Andre, are you ratting yourself out, telling us you brought liquor on the premises?’ I said, ‘I’m just being truthful.’ They said, ‘It shows on our record, that the contents of that locker were signed out.’ I said, ‘Well, I didn’t sign anything out. I don’t believe that. You guys cut the lock and took my new boots. They were so new they didn’t even have dirt on the treads. You don’t want to see any of us building up a stock of anything.’ I stormed out.” I was living outside for four months and after one night at the Sheps and one night at the Mission I’ve lost everything.

“I’ve been getting these bites all around the waistband of my track pants.” He pulled his pants down to expose his hip and to show the red marks. “They’re some kind of mites, I think. I threw all the clothes I was wearing in the garbage, then took a shower. When I came out all I had to put on was a towel. The guy at the desk asked, ‘Why are you walking around like that, Andre?’ I said, ‘I need new clothes. My old ones were full of bugs.’ He said, ‘We can’t help you with that until 7:45.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I guess I’ll be walking around in this towel until 7:45.’ ”

I said, “I haven’t seen Hippo for a while.”

Andre said, “You’re not likely to, either. He’s probably in hiding. Jake was drunk and Hippo came up and punched him four times in the head for no reason. Then he was causing trouble at Starbucks. They called the police. The police knew we were staying out back. Bearded Bruce said the police ripped down our hut and threw all our stuff into the dumpster. Later, someone set fire to it.”

Shakes said, “I lost my brand new sleeping bag.”

Andre said, “Those women at Hope Recovery are really saints.”

Clint asked, “Do you mean at the Sheps?”

“Yeah” said Andre. “They all know me there. It’s funny though. I went downstairs and they said I was too drunk, so I went upstairs and they said I wasn’t drunk enough. One of them  even asked me, ‘Andre, do you have any more booze? Go out, have a few more drinks and we’ll let you in.’

“I went out back to, what we call, the pig pen. A sister came by and asked me, ‘Do you want to buy a twenty-six of rye for $13.00?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. That’s a pretty good price. I just happened to have $13.70. I’d already drunk two and a half bottles of sherry. A guy sat next to me, pulled out a fancy crack pipe and put a forty in it. His buddy, sitting next to him, said, ‘Be careful.’ The guy looked around for cops then lit his pipe. I drank more and more of the rye, straight up. Then I smacked the guy in the back of the head. The pipe flew out of his mouth, the forty went rolling across the parking lot. Some sisters picked the stuff up, but the pipe was fucked. The guy’s buddy said, ‘I told you to be careful. When Andre gets into the hard stuff, he gets crazy, especially around crack smokers.’

“I went back upstairs and they let me in.”

Timmy said, “That reminds me — we should have walkie-talkies. Then I could six you if I saw the cops coming from my direction, and you could six me if you saw them coming from where you were.”

Andre said, “They’ve got this new fangled invention now. It’s called a cell phone. That’s what people use them for.”

Clint said, “You know, one time a cop was really nice to me. I was up in North Bay. I asked him if there was any place I could set up a tent. He said, ‘Sure, get in.’ He let me sit in the front seat. He didn’t pat me down or anything. He took me behind this gas station, where some empty rigs were parked. He said, ‘You should be safe here.’ Then he left.”

Timmy said, “I’ve been given rides by the cops before, but they always frisked me. They even apologized, said it wasn’t anything personal, it was regulation. If a guy was in the back seat with a gun, he could shoot the cops and steal the car. They left the sliding window open so we could chat back and forth. I’ve never ridden in the front seat of a cop car. Sometimes, they even have shotguns mounted on the console, on a swivel.”

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bench

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7 September 2012

Today at the park the weather was pleasant, but the mood was tense. Sitting on the curb were six of my friends. Facing them on the sidewalk were Andre and Clint.

“Andre,” I said, “How did it go with your worker on Wednesday? Did you get your papers signed for housing?”

“I got a lot of things sorted. They set me up with a street allowance because I said, ‘Hey, I sleep behind a dumpster, or if I’m lucky I do some couch surfing.’ So, on Monday I’ll be able to pick up a check for $200.00.

“I’m forty-six years old, I can’t be on the street like Weasel and Jake. I’m going to get on the ball, go to my appointments — They’re giving me a monthly bus pass, otherwise I’d have to go there to pick up bus tickets every time I have to see somebody — With O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program) alone, I have to go nine times a month. I have to go to the doctor twice a week, then there’ll be visits for housing.

“I’m staying at the Sally Ann right now. That’s good, because that’s where my workers are. If I need to contact them, after hours, I can just slip a message under their door. If they need to contact me they can come to my room, or leave a message for me. I know they’re going to work really hard to get me settled.”

Clint said, “The best fish and chips I’ve ever had were at the Sally Ann in Halifax. Every Friday they’d serve them. It was a great big plate and the fries were just like you’d get at a fish and chip shop — hand cut, crispy.

“I got in trouble at a dance there. I was dancing with a woman — I didn’t know she had a boyfriend. It turned out that he had boxed for ten years in prison. He broke my nose, broke my jaw — I had to have it wired shut. Now, If I yawn, sometimes it’ll lock open.”

Andre said, “That’s why I don’t go to dances. I was at a dance one time — I was drunk, I started dancing by myself, I turned around and, you know how it is, I was dancing with three women. I was having fun, clowning around, then three guys showed up. They’d been there all the time, but they didn’t want to dance, that’s why the women were dancing together.

“The first guy caught me with a left hook. It was a good left hook, flattened my nose to one side. The next guy hit me with a right hook, flattened my nose to the other side. By this time my white tee-shirt was red. I said to the third guy, ‘bring it on, let’s see if you can get my nose straight again.’ ”

“I’ve had my jaw broken, ” Said Joy. “Isn’t it great having to get all your nutrition through a straw?”

Joy kept looking down the line at Mina. Andre said, “Just take a few deep breaths and count to ten.”

Joy was punching her fist into her open palm. “You don’t know the half of it. That Chester is so stupid. It was Raven’s old man who stole Chester’s bank card and drained his bank account. And how did he get in? Raven! Now he wants to invite her over to where I’m staying. Over my dead body!

“I’m feeling really pissy today. I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was awake chasing cooties most of the night. I’ve found out that the mature bed bugs have a numbing agent, so you can’t feel when they bite, but the young ones don’t seem to know about that. You can feel when they bite. They start out kind of colorless, then turn orange when they suck your blood. When you crush them between your thumb and finger, they have a rotten wood smell about them.”

I asked, “Do you sniff every bug you crush?”

“Every one. See all these bites I have below my knees? I’ve got them all over my body. They’re either from the bed bugs or from the spiders I bring in from the balcony to eat the bed bugs.”

Andre said, I remember going to visit a guy in Guelph, at the Bluebird Hotel, I think it was. It was a long time ago. Anyway, we were going to go to his room. He couldn’t get the key in the lock — he was that drunk. So, I had to unlock the door for him. I turned on the light and there were thousands of roaches everywhere. The walls looked alive with them scrambling away. He asked, ‘Do you want to sit down?’ I said, ‘No way, man! I don’t want to be carrying those things to the next place I go.'”

Joy said, “I think my lungs are worse since I moved into Chester’s place.”

I asked, “Is it because of the bed bug spray, or are you using the powder now?”

“The powder is better, but I’ve run out of that too.”

Andre asked? “Do you dust it over all the carpets?”

“I sprinkle it only in the area where I sleep. Chester is on his own. I wash and dry my clothes, cook them, powder them, bag them and put them out on the balcony. Chester takes his clothes out of the bags and puts them in his drawers. He won’t listen to me.

“Now he says he’s broke. I gave him money for food, but that’s not what he spent it on. At least I have a Tim Horton’s card if I get hungry. Last night I made spaghetti sauce. Tonight I’m turning it into chilli. I’ve got it in the crock pot now. Chester asked, ‘Can I still put it on noodles?’ I said, ‘Do anything you want with it.’

“I’m going to go home now, before Chester gets there, so I’ll be able to watch English television. Sometimes, I’ll be in the middle of watching a movie and Chester will say, ‘I don’t like this,’ and he’ll switch over to one of his French channels.

“He gets up so early. This morning he got up just as I was falling into a deep sleep. First thing, he goes to the fridge for a beer, then he lights a cigarette. As soon as he does that I start coughing, and I have to use my inhaler. I wish there was a door he could close. At least he doesn’t smoke in bed. That would really scare me.

“Andre, can I ask you something that I never thought I’d ask?”

“Sure.”

“Will you come sit between me and Jake. He’s driving me nuts with his babbling. It’s all I can do to keep from punching him.”

To me she said, “The only reason I don’t punch him is because he’s HIV positive, or has full-blown AIDS.”

Andre said, “Jake, will you wipe your mouth, you’re drooling.”

To Joy he said, “If he needs straightening out, I’ll do it.”

Chester came over to Joy. She said, “What is it honey? Do you want to sit on your blanket?” She pulled it out from under her and handed it to him.. “Come sit down.”

Chester took the blanket and went back to sit with Raven. Andre said, “I thought he was going to sit with us.”

“So did I,” said Joy. “I think part of the reason I feel so schizoid is because of menopause.”

I asked, “Are they any closer to getting your health card and other identification?”

“Yeah,” she said, “I just have to go in and fill in some personal stuff about my parent’s birth dates and my mother’s maiden name. I have all that. They were both born in 1944, My father was such an asshole.” Joy was weeping as I left.

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4 September 2012,

Today is the first workday after the Labor Day, long weekend. I had a relaxing time at the lake and was anxious to hear any news from my friends. Metro was handing out newspapers as usual. “Good morning, Dennis. Did you have a good weekend?”

“It was great, Metro. How was yours?”

“Good! Are you hoping to see Joy this morning? I haven’t seen her. Maybe she’s still recovering from the weekend.”

I didn’t see her in her usual spot. I looked across the intersection for Silver, but his spot was vacant also. Pat was nowhere to be seen. I was surprised at how disappointed I felt. I wondered about the results of Silver’s appointment with his doctor. I wondered how Joy’s viewing of an apartment went on Friday. Even Shakes, who I sometimes see in the morning, is getting a new apartment. I wonder if he’s moved yet. Sleeping outdoors is so dangerous, I can’t help but worry. Hopefully I’ll see them at noon.

Sitting on the curb near the park, all alone, was Silver. “Hi,” I said, “How was the appointment with your doctor?”

“It was fine. He took some blood tests, but I won’t get the results until next week. I have another appointment for a week Thursday. He should be able to tell me something then. I showed him how swollen my ankles were. He didn’t tell me what was causing the swelling.”

“You were telling me that you had varicose veins, perhaps it’s a circulation problem.”

“That’s what I think it is, but I won’t know for sure until next week.”

“How are you sleeping?” I asked.

“I’ve been sleeping okay. I woke up at 6:30 this morning, did what I had to do, then went back to bed and slept for another couple of hours. I didn’t bother panning today.”

“How was your weekend?”

“It was quiet. My neighbor, Don and I ordered a pizza and watched some movies. That’s about all.”

“I’ll talk to you a bit later, Silver. I’m just going up to say hello to the rest of the guys.” Sitting on the lawn was Little Jake. Standing at the park railing was Shark, Andre, Jacques and Danny who had a guitar case strapped to his back.

“Hi Danny, I said, “I didn’t know you played guitar.”

Shark said, “Either did he, but he knows how to hock it.”

Jacques said, “Maybe it’s not a guitar in the case. Maybe it’s a gun, like in a movie I saw a while ago. There was an Elvis convention and these five guys, dressed in Elvis costumes, robbed a casino. Kurt Russell was in it and another guy with long hair in a ponytail. He was a mean one, shooting into the crowd with a machine gun.”

Jake said, “That was Kevin Costner. The movie was called 3000 Miles to Graceland.”

Shark said, “Dennis meet your new neighbor, Jake. He’s moving into Elaine’s old place, if the landlord ever gets around to fixing it up. He’s supposed to change the carpet, but he didn’t do that when Elaine moved in. He’s drunk most of the time. He knows all the people in the building who drink and will come to the door and ask, ‘Can I have a beer?’ I’ll say, ‘No, but you can take these empties, since you’re here.’ Otherwise the maintenance man will go rooting through the trash for them. You’ll see the landlord drinking on the front steps. If not there, he’ll be on the back steps. The maintenance guy moves things from one apartment to another. When you view the place everything looks all nice and new, then they switch the nice furniture for crap.

“It took Irene ten months to get out of that place. The landlord said that she would be on probation for the first three months, then he was supposed to have her sign a lease, but he never brought it around. When she was moving out he said, ‘You know you’re breaking your lease.’ I said to him, ‘She never signed a lease you drunken bastard. There’s no lease to break.’ He said, ‘You don’t have to get nasty about it.’

“Eventually, we’re going to get all new furniture. Irene and I have a difference of opinion when it comes to buying things. She always wants to buy what’s cheap; like her mattress, she paid $125.00, I paid $300.00, but mine is twice as thick as hers. I don’t want to be sleeping on something that has pieces of metal sticking out. If I want something I pay for it, I don’t care what it costs.”

“So, when are you moving, Jake?”

“They’re supposed to get back to me, but I think it should be next week or the week after.”

Jacques said, “Those Salvation Army people, they don’t look very hard for an apartment for you. It’s okay if you find one yourself, then they’ll help you with moving. Otherwise, they’re useless.”

Danny said, “I nearly had a place lined up last week. I told the landlord that my disability pension would cover the first $450.00 of the rent. If there were any extras my mom would pay them. He could just give her the bank information and she would deposit a check every month. She’s an elder and a Clan leader. She’s been handling my finances for the last twenty years because of my addiction problems.”

“Andre, how was your weekend?” I asked.

“The weekend was pretty wild, but I’m trying to keep it cool today. I have to see my worker to arrange for my identification and my health card, again. This time I’m going to have them keep a copy on my file in case I lose them.

“Here are my workers now.” Two women walked into the park and Andre met them.

Jacques said, “Who are those two? I thought it was a big guy and a girl who came around. Maybe they fired him because he wasn’t doing his job.”

I asked, “Jacques, did you hear if Joy got her place?”

“I saw her Saturday, no it was Friday. She went with her worker, then she was going to 507 to pick up an air mattress.”

“Yes, she didn’t want to bring bed bugs into her new place.”

“It’s best if you don’t have carpets. They make nests everywhere in carpets. I found a big spider web with lots of dead bed bug husks. I love the spiders, me. I don’t mind how many I have of them as long as they keep eating the bed bugs.”

Jake said, “I saw Chester having breakfast at the Mission, but Joy wasn’t there.”

Shark received a telephone call, “Yes, Elaine?” he said. “What’s Hippo doing there? Tell him to get out. Tell him anything — tell him you and Kat have to go out. Tell him you have to go to the doctor. That’s what we had to do last night. We were at Buck’s playing Bingo. Trudy wanted to wash the floors. So Buck said, ‘Okay, Hippo, time to go.’ He left with no problem.

To me he said, “We’ve got Kat with us now.”

“You have a cat?”

“No, Kat is a person, a friend of Elaine’s. She’s over there now. She’s small, doesn’t take up much space — not like Hippo. When we sweep, we can just ask her to lift her feet, there’s no problem.

“Silver hasn’t moved in the last twenty minutes. Is he okay? I don’t think he’s drinking today, is he?”

“Yeah, “ I said, “he has a beer on the go. He’s not feeling too well.”

“I know he went to the doctor last Thursday. Elaine said to me, ‘Make sure he goes to his appointment.’ Our doctors are both in the same direction. He goes to Sandy Hill Clinic, my doctor is further up, but my appointments are Mondays and Wednesdays. Thursday he’s on his own.

I want to go to Brantford to visit my son, but my dad said, ‘It’s not a good time.’ I’d like to go for two weeks but I have to arrange it with my doctor. I said to him, ‘You phone my dad and arrange it. I can’t get anything out of him.’ ”

It was time for me to go. I said good-bye to everyone and headed on my way. Danny was walking ahead of me with the guitar case on his back.

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bench

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30 August 2012

At noon the temperature was 87 degrees Fahrenheit. On my way to the park, I stopped to talk to Serge and William.

“How are you, Serge?”

“I’m tired, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I slept over there (he pointed north-west), outside.”

“You didn’t sleep at the Shepherd’s?” I asked.

“No.”

William said to me, “I forgot your name.”

“I’m Dennis,” I said. “I’m just on my way to the park. I’ll check on you on my way back. William, try to make sure that Serge doesn’t fall down.”

They both laughed, “See you,” said Serge. I waved at both of them.,

Sitting on the curb at the park were four of my friends. Buck and his dog, Dillinger stopped for a while then walked on.

“Hi, Loretta” I said, “You haven’t been coming around as much as you used to.”

“I live way out past Orleans. Do you know where Mer Bleu is? That’s where I live, Mer Bleu Road.

“Joy’s feeling a bit better than she was yesterday. She’s with her worker, viewing apartments. There’s one she could get for August 15, if she likes it.”

“I said, “That’s great. She’ll love having a place all to herself.

“How have you been?” I asked.

“Fine, I’ve been working.”

The sandwich ladies came by offering juice, granola bars, sandwiches and socks. Danny took a peanut butter sandwich, Shakes asked for something with meat. Miles explained that he had severe allergies to mustard, mayonnaise and onions. He showed me the EpiPen (epinephrine autoinjector) that he always carries.

Miles said, “Did you know that apple juice is poisonous? It contains cyanide and arsenic. Over a long period it can cause organ damage and cancer.

“I just came back from San Francisco. I have my own landscaping business there. When we first moved to the States we lived in Ocala, Florida. Later, we moved to San Francisco. I got a real break there. I got a job with a landscaping company. There was nobody to look after my daughter, so I brought her with me. My boss really liked my work and would always call for me if she needed something special done.

“One of our clients was Arnold Schwarzeneger. It would take a crew of us about three days to do his property. He would always give my daughter some money. He’d say, ‘Don’t tell your Daddy.’ She’s grown up now and has kids of her own. She lives with her boyfriend in Anchorage, Alaska. She’s studying accounting, business and something else she won’t tell me about. It has to do with the land.

“I have a proposal to build a three floor complex for homeless people. There would be the lower floor with facilities for storage, because that’s a problem for the homeless. We’d also have bunks for sleeping on that floor. Food facilities would be on the second floor and the top floor would be for games. My daughter and I would be partners. She would have her own apartment, on the third floor, for whenever she comes to town.

“It would be a safe place for alcoholics and the homeless. Even if people were drunk we’d let them in, but they wouldn’t be allowed to drink on the premises. I estimate the total cost would be about 1.3 million dollars. I even have a location picked out, near the river.”

Shakes said, “I’m going to be getting my own place soon.”

“Do you know the location, yet?” I asked.

“Right in the middle of ‘Crack Haven’, behind the Sally Ann. After I’ve been there for a while, I’m going to ask to be relocated. After I get my place they’re going to take me shopping for clothes. I’ve got a television set at my daughter, Betty’s apartment. I also have a DVD player put aside. The guy said, ‘As soon as you have your place, Shakes, we’ll deliver it.’ ”

“That sounds great, Shakes. It will be better than sleeping on the street.”

“I think I’ll sleep outside, sometimes.”

“I said, “At least you’ll have the choice of where to sleep. If it’s raining, or if it’s cold, you can come inside.

“It’s time I got back to work. Your plans sound great, Miles. Maybe we can work together.

”I’ll see everybody tomorrow,” I said as I waved good-bye.

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group3

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29 Aug 2012

This morning Joy’s spot was vacant. I looked north on Metcalfe Street towards Parliament Hill. Hippo was on the west side, Silver was on the east, in his usual spot in front of Starbucks.

I sat beside Hippo. “How’s it going with your housing application?” I asked.

“Great,” he said. I got a place on Charlevoix Street, or some French name like that. It’ll be ready for the first of October. They’re completely renovating the building, including new parquet flooring. There won’t be any carpets – I’m glad of that. I won’t have to worry about bed bugs.”

I said, “I was talking to Bruce yesterday. He had to take his sleeping bag to the laundromat to have it dried. Have you had any problems with water seeping in where you are?”

“No, we’re just over there, on the other side of Starbucks, behind the dumpsters. We put up a roof. It’s nice and dry. We just pile up the cardboard and go to sleep. I found it really cold last night.”

“Have you seen Andre, lately?” I asked.

“No, the last time I saw him, he was going to visit red-haired Debbie. He asked if I wanted to come, but I said no. I really don’t like her, but Andre seems to like her fine.”

“Andre was telling me that Sharon was out of prison. Have you seen her?”

“I saw her once. We call her the super bitch, but not to her face. She fights like a man.”

I said, “That’s what I heard from Andre. She’s the one who punched Magdalene. I’m going across the street to talk to Silver. Will I see you at noon?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there. I’ll see you then.”

I walked across the street to talk to Silver, “How are you feeling? You have your doctor’s appointment today, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I’m going to the Sandy Hill Clinic at one o’clock. It’s on Nelson just off Rideau. That’s where my doctor is. I’ve been going to him for a long time. I asked my worker about him. She said he’s a good doctor, so I keep seeing him. It’s important to have a doctor that you can depend on. I know a lot of people who don’t have their own doctor.”

At the park were nearly a dozen of my human friends and Shaggy. Hawk and his dog Dillinger dropped by later.

“Silver,” I said. I guess you’re getting ready for your doctor’s appointment this afternoon.”

“No, I got that mixed up. It’s tomorrow. Today is ladies day.”

I walked over and shook hands with Outcast. “Hi,” I said.

“Dennis, what time is it?”

“It’s about five after eleven.”

“I don’t usually see you here until noon. You’ve thrown my whole schedule off. Don’t do that again.”

“Okay, Outcast, I’ll keep that in mind.”

I sat next to Joy, “How are you feeling now?”

“I’m really sick. I’ve been throwing up blood, and from the other end as well. My poo isn’t black it’s red. Don’t tell any one.” She was near tears. “I feel dizzy and have a full blown migraine. I just want to go home and lie down. I think it may be from the bed bug spray I’ve been using. I’ve got some powder now. I’ll see if that’s any better.”

Following are some of the side effects of common bed bug sprays:

Pyrethroids:
Inhalation: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, chest pain, or difficulty breathing.
Skin contact: rash, itching, or blisters.

Long term effects: disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking the female hormone, estrogen, thus causing excessive estrogen levels in females. In human males, its estrogenizing (feminizing) effects include lowered sperm counts. In both, it can lead to the abnormal growth of breast tissue, leading to development of breasts in males and cancerous breast tissue in both male and females.

Neurotoxic effects include: tremors, incoordination, elevated body temperature, increased aggressive behavior, and disruption of learning. Laboratory tests suggest that permethrin is more acutely toxic to children than to adults.

Other: A known carcinogen. There is evidence that pyrethroids harm the thyroid gland. Causes chromosomal damage in hamsters and mice; deformities in amphibians; blood abnormalities in birds.

I said to Joy, “Shouldn’t you see a doctor?”

“I can’t. I still don’t have my health card. I talked with my worker this morning. She checked with Oasis – the woman I dealt with before, back in April, didn’t even submit my request. They have nothing on file. It’s been sent now. It’ll take about three weeks until I get it in the mail.

“They may have a place for me as early as August 15. I told them that I don’t want to be in a crack house. I want someplace safe with no bugs. An apartment would be ideal. I’d like to be on one of the lower floors, so I’d be able to climb over the balcony and drop to the ground if necessary.

“If that place isn’t available, or if I don’t like it, there’s another coming vacant September first. I get to take a look at them next week.

“I have to get away from Chester. He’s a nice man, but I’m tired of all the noises he makes. He grunts and groans when he sits down or stands up. I have no time to myself. It used to be that he would be asleep when I got up in the morning, then I’d have peace and quiet while I was drinking my tea. Lately, he’s been getting up when I get up. I don’t want to have to talk to people that early.

“I’m going to leave soon. There are some people here that I really don’t care to be around.

“I have to go by Chuck’s old place. My check may have been left in the mailbox. I’ll just sneak up and take a look.”

Joy left to talk to Silver, so I sat with Elaine and Outcast. “How is your new apartment, Elaine?”

“It’s great. We’re still moving things around.”

“Shark said you had a plastic Mickey Mouse stapled to the wall.”

“Yeah, that’s in Shark’s games room. Outcast came over with his tools yesterday to hook up our satellite and the cable TV. He used a three-way splitter so we have TV in the bedroom, living room and in Shark’s room. The TV is free.”

“How are you feeling today?”

“I feel better than I did yesterday. I just had a couple of beer today. I had a terrible hangover yesterday.”

Anastasia came over and sat by me, she said. “Elaine was telling me that you live in our neighborhood, or Elaine’s old neighborhood. I live on Silver at Dorchester. I take the number fourteen bus.”

“Yes, that’s the same one I take. Once, on the bus, I met Shark and Irene. They got off three stops before I did. I live just off Kirkwood.”

“I’ve never seen you there. What times do you take it?”

“I leave for work at 8:00 in the morning and come home at 6:00 in the evening, unless I go to the gym after work, in which case I catch the 8:30.

“Those aren’t my times.

“They’ve just sprayed my apartment for bed bugs, but they didn’t get all of them. I phoned the exterminator, now he says they might be in the woodwork, or in my books. He didn’t tell me that before. He should have given me a full account of what he could do and what he couldn’t. He didn’t do that.

“I went to the Salvation Army to get some bed bug powder. They wouldn’t give it to me. They said that I had to be homeless. Well, I’m the next thing to it. I’m on disability pension. Sometimes, I think I’d be better off to just shut my door and move to the Sally Ann.

“I didn’t get to visit my family this summer. The other day I lost my upper front tooth. It just fell out. It was an implant, it cost me a thousand dollars. All my other teeth are fine. They can’t put a bridge there, but they can get me a ‘flipper’. Some people have told me that it’s difficult to chew when you have a ‘flipper’. They take it out when they eat.”

I said goodbye to everyone, and told Joy I’d see her in the morning.

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