Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle gangs’

 

homeless family L

 

14 May 2013

It was sunny and almost warm at the park today. I sat between Hippo and Joy. On her other side was Mariah, Wolf and his dog Shaggy. Shakes was sprawled, as usual, on the sidewalk.

“Shakes,” said Joy, “For Christ sake, will you sit up before we get reported and the cops come? I saw one pass on his bicycle just a few minutes ago.” With great effort, and not much balance, Shakes relocated to the curb.

With talk of cops came talk of prisons. Joy said, “The worst  I’ve seen is Bordeaux Prison in Cartierville. I visited my boyfriend there. We’d been walking around Montreal and Jake decided to boost a car. He was drunk, so I said I’d crack it, but no, he’s The Man. He drove the car away, realized how drunk he was , parked it, got out and fell asleep on somebody’s lawn. He woke up a couple of hours later and took the car, but by that time there were two of  Montreal’s finest tailing him. Anyway, he went to Bordeaux. It was half H.A. (Hell’s Angels) half Rock Machine. Talk about tense.”

Debbie said, “Hey, this leaves me in the middle. If  I go to either end I won’t be able to talk to anybody. Wolf will you make some room and let me sit beside Shakes?”

“Hold on! Get out of my fuckin’ way, woman. I can only do so many things at once.”

Wolf maneuvered Shaggy’s cart further down. He wasn’t happy about it. Debbie sat down between Shakes and Wolf. She said to Shakes, “You know, in all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never known you to get laid.”

Shakes said, “I can’t afford it unless women come on to me.”

“Does that ever happen?”

“No, because I play hard to get.”

Debbie said, “I guess I’m the same way. Every once in a while I get a little urge.”

Joy said to me, “Just shoot me right now.”

From Shaggy’s cart, Wolf pulled a six pack of Old Milwaukee and passed the cans around. Joy took one. “The only reason I drink this is to make me burp. Here it comes. I hate the taste of this stuff and it’s hard to hide. If a cop comes and tells me to dump it I won’t mind at all.”

I asked Joy, “How did you sleep last night?”

“I ended up sleeping on my side with the broken ribs. I managed a few hours sleep, but when I got up and tried to take a deep breath, that’s when the pain hit. This morning native Brent came by. We haven’t seen each other in ages. I said, ‘Don’t try to hug me — broken ribs.’ He grabbed me anyway. I thought I was going to pass out.

“I’m not sure if I will go to Chucks for that barbecue today. It means taking one bus then walking about five blocks. I don’t think I’m up to that. I think I’ll just go to my place and relax. I know Nicholas will be pissed, he brought those moose steaks especially for me. He’ll get over it.

“This morning one of my regulars stopped by. She asked, ‘How are you feeling now? Is there any chance you’ll be able to get a job?’

“I should have told her, ‘I don’t do employment.’ I had a job at Arby’s once. That lasted about two hours. Then I said, ‘That’s it I’m out of here.’ I had a warehouse job one time. I liked that. It was a big place so I was always moving; not like being behind a counter somewhere.”

“Hippo, do you want to come to my place?” asked Joy. ” I’ve got chicken for supper.”

“I haven’t had chicken for months. Sure I’ll come. I’m expecting a care package from home. Can we stop at my place on the way?”

Debbie looked at Joy and said, “You’re not looking right. I can sense these things.”

“Well, I’ve been on my period for fifteen weeks now. I didn’t think I had that much blood in me. If I tried to slash my wrists my veins would be fartin’ dust.  Before that I’d gone five months without a period. I don’t know what’s happening.”

Debbie said, “I wasn’t expecting that much information.”

Mariah asked, “Where are we meeting for Weasel’s funeral? I heard that a lot of people aren’t coming.”

I turned to Hippo and asked, “How are you liking your apartment?”

“The place is okay, it’s just the fuckin’ neighbors. If I had a gun with a silencer I’d shoot them.”

 
 

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walker

 

9 July 2015

I was expecting to meet my friends at the park. They said they’d be there, but street people have a very flexible concept of time. Most of them don’t wear watches (an obvious indication of wealth). One has a cell phone, but the screen is so shattered that viewing is nearly impossible. I continued past the park, towards the bridge, where I saw Joe in his walker. We both waved.

“Hi Joe.”

“It’s good to see you,” said Joe. His upturned cap was on the sidewalk in front of him. “Good afternoon, ladies,” he said to some women walking by. “Don’t mind me I like people and if I’m cheerful they treat me better.

“That one’s Inuit from Baffin Island. Do you know how to tell the difference between a woman from the Northwest Territories and the ones from Baffin? The ones from the Territories have a nice round bum, the others have a flat bum. I’m part Cree, but I don’t speak it. There are twenty-seven different dialects, that’s a lot to learn. I’m fluent in French though. Bonjour, Madam.”  A grey haired woman turned and smiled. “I have a lot better luck with the older ones. The young ones are nicer to look at, but I only get one of those every six months or so. A couple of nights ago two women walked by. We talked for a while and I asked them, ‘Would you care to join me behind the bushes for a little fun?’ One of them said, ‘Show us the tool you have between your legs, then we can decide whether or not it’ll be worth our while.’ I didn’t mind, I stood up and dropped my jeans. ‘It looks like you’ll do,’ one of them said. The three of us spent most of the night together.

“I sleep back there. Last night it rained for about twenty minutes. I thought, This will be a good chance to wash my beard. I went down near the water and the rain stopped. It’s a good thing I wasn’t all lathered. There’s no way I’d wash in that water from the river; it’s too polluted.

“I have a lot of nasal congestion, so when I go to a restaurant I grab a big handful of napkins. When I buy my beer I always ask them to put it in a bag. When I have to blow my nose I put the used napkins in the bag. Later, I’ll dump it in one of the trash containers. I like to keep my place neat.

“The cops came back there one time. They said ‘Joe, you really shouldn’t be sleeping back here.’ They looked around and found an injection needle. ‘Do you know anything about this?’ they asked as they picked it up with rubber gloves. I said, “Sure, I found a guy shooting up back here. With one hand I grabbed him by the shirt collar, with the other I grabbed him by the ass of his pants, then I tossed him in that dumpster there. It took him most of the night to get out. At about that time my brother — who is six foot nine — and twenty of his gang buddies rode up on their Harleys. ‘Are these two pigs giving you a rough time, Joe?’ my brother asked. They picked up the squad car and carried it to the railing of the bridge. He asked, ‘Should we throw it over?’ I said, ‘Hell no, a shitload of grief would come down on me and I’d have to find another place to live.’ They dropped the car on the pavement, it bounced a few times, the cops jumped in and drove away. It helps to have family and friends in high places.

“I’ve got ten brothers and six sisters — my mother was a nympho — I’m the shortest of the boys at six foot four. I teased my mom and asked, ‘Before I was born, are you sure you weren’t cheating on Dad?’ I got out of there quick. Mom kept a sawed off shotgun in the kitchen.

“Another time, before breakfast,  I took a carton of eggs out of the fridge. With a needle I made a tiny hole in the shell of each egg, then sucked the egg out of the shell.  I filled the shells with water, put them in the freezer, just long enough so they would start to freeze. When my mom tried to crack one of the eggs all that came out was water. I nearly busted a gut laughing. Mom was alright, she could take a joke.”

 

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shovelhead

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23 August 2013

When walking up the sidewalk to the park the only person I saw was Richard, shirt off sunning himself. I thought he was alone, but when I rounded the curve I saw Mariah, Shakes and Chester.

Joy was the first to speak, “Dennis, I’m hammered, man. I’m not even sure I can stand up. I was just thinking about how I can fuck my neighbor’s weekend. He said he knows cops that can put me in prison. He’s just a fucking gardener, for Christ’s sake. I’ve been in prison before, for some really nasty shit, but that’s all behind me. Who does this guy think he is? Cops have checked my record, there’s no way they’re going to bring me back to Toronto for things I did there twenty years ago.

“I even talked to my family. They were glad to hear from me and glad to help. The only thing is, I’ll have to put up with my uncle’s crazy, witch, girlfriend. She spends a hundred bucks a month on black hair dye and she still ends up with a white stripe down the middle.

“Are you with me on this , Mariah? I wish we had your Harley right now. I had a Sportster in Toronto that my uncle rebuilt specially for me. Then I lent it to my sister. You know what happens when you’re going up a steep driveway and you gun the engine?”

“I know, ” I said, “you go right over backwards. I’ve done it myself.”

“Ass over tea kettle!” agreed Mariah.

Joy said, “My uncle was really pissed off. He said, ‘I built that bike for you. Now you’re barred.’ That gave me the opportunity to beat the shit out of my sister. I enjoyed that, but I missed the bike.”

I said, “I used to ride a 650 Suzuki GL, but I always wanted a Harley.”

Mariah said, “I usually rode a Shadow, I had a Harley for a while, but that was way back. What you need to do is get someone to rebuild you a bike. They’re a lot better.”

“Like a knucklehead or shovelhead? I asked.

“Yeah, they have great vibrations. Every woman loves a Harley!”

Loretta, Scarface and his dog Dillinger came by. Dillinger licked my face as I sat on the sidewalk. Joy said, “I’ve fed that dog, given him treats, looked after him; he doesn’t give me kisses.”

I said to Loretta, “I see that you’re drinking coffee, or at least it looks like coffee.”

“It’s coffee. I’ve just passed my anniversary, eight months sober.”

“Congratulations, that is a great accomplishment. I’m so  proud of you.”

“Well, you saw me while I was drinking. I was a real mess.”

“I’ve been the same. Now is what counts.”

A plump, middle-aged woman stopped by. She asked, “Does anybody here know where I can buy some pot.”

Joy, nervously said “Yeah.”

“I’ve asked kids on the market, but they just laugh at me. I’m from the seventies, I just want something to mellow me out.”

Joy said, “You’d only get shit from them anyway.”

“How much can you sell me?”

“A gram.”

“What do you charge?”

“Ten.”

“If I want more can you hook me up with somebody.”

“Yeah.”

“Where can I meet you. Are you around here every day.”

“Most mornings until about one o’clock.”

“Okay, I’ll see you again.” She took her gram then walked away.

Mariah said, “I hate having to deal with strangers.”

Joy said, “Don’t worry, It’s my pot. You’re safe.”

Shakes said, “One time, in Toronto, a guy came by my place and asked to buy a gram. That was fine. Then he came again and wanted to buy forty grams. The third time he arrested me for possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. I got ten years.”

Daimon Realeased from Prison 

5 June 2012

As I was approaching the corner of Queen Street and Parliament I saw Irene and Big Titties Rosie waiting for the ‘walk’ light.

“Hi Irene, Rosie, are you leaving?”

“We’re just going to the restaurant to use the ladies’ room, we’ll be back.”

“I’ll see you then.”

This afternoon at the park, Buddy had passed out on the lawn. I have often seen him panhandling on Queen, playing his harmonica. The police were expected, so people spread out, hiding any open liquor bottles. Large groups are illegal without a permit. In one group were Andre, , Gene and his girlfriend Fran. In another group were Joy, Hippo, Rocky, Shark, Lucy In The Sky and Daimon. In another group were Jacques, Charlie and Chester.

I first sat between Shakes and Andre who was wearing a light blue cap with a ‘Psssst’ badge on it. He had taken off his tee shirt and spread it on the ground. On it was an imitation of the Warner Brother’s movie logo and the words, ‘If you see da cops, warn a brother’. He was feeling better than yesterday. His throat infection is healing.

He said, “A cop car just pulled up, and the paramedics are following them. Just wait and see, after they take Buddy away they’ll come up to check on us. They’ll say, ‘How’s everybody doing?’ We’ll say, ‘Just fine officer, enjoying the nice weather.’ ”

Gene said, “Andre and I were throwing a hardball around. I was pitching to him. I used to be pretty fast in my younger days. I’d throw at around eighty, ninety miles an miles an hour, sometimes. I’m down to about seventy now. I asked Andre if he was ready, he said, ‘Let ‘er rip.’ Twice I caught him right in the center of the chest.”

Andre said, “When I was younger, both of my uncles used to pitch to me. They were fast. I used to catch the ball ninety-eight per cent of the time. I had really quick reflexes; but not any more. I remember my uncle throwing a bit wide one time. The ball missed my glove and went right through the backboard, left a neat circular hole.”

Shakes, who was laying on the lawn, said, “Dennis, do you remember me?”

“Of course I do, Shakes. I’d recognize that hat anywhere.” I shook his hand. He pulled me to the ground.

I moved on to the second group to say hello to Joy and Hippo. I was surprised to see Shark sitting next to Daimon, since, before he went to prison,  Daimon robbed Shark of his change, then beat him for not having any bills. I guess they settled their differences. Shark is skinny and is certainly not a fighter. Lucy had beat up Irene, Shark’s girlfriend.

As I was approaching, I heard Joy saying to Shark, “I don’t like you either, and I don’t punch like a girl,  so watch what you say.”

Shark said, “You always pick fights with men, because you know they won’t hit you back.”

“Hi Joy,” I said, “how’ve you been doing?”

“I’ve been keeping pretty quiet, staying at home and off the booze for the past few days. I’ve been cleaning the house, doing laundry, watching TV, resting. I’ve got marks on my arm where V has been biting me. I hate that dog.”

“Hi Dennis,” said Shark. “Irene and I had a tiff, I can’t remember what we were arguing about, but I kept laughing at her. She hit me with her fist on the side of my head. I said, ‘Irene, don’t do that.’ She hit me on the other side of the head. I said, ‘Irene, if you do that again, I’ll hit you back.’ Then she hit me in the nose. I just kept gaming on my Playstation.”

Joy said, “She’s small and skinny, but with those knuckles she can pack quite a punch. Where is she now?”

“She took the bus home to get her health card, then she was going to White Cross Drugs to have her prescription filled, then she was going somewhere else. I wasn’t paying too much attention.”

“That’s what I used to do with Jake,” said Joy. “When he’d hit me, I’d just laugh and say, ‘Is that all you got, big boy?’ That would really make him mad. He’s six-foot four. I didn’t win many fights, but I hurt him.

“That’s Charlie the Chaser over there, Jakes’s so-called friend. He had to come and rub my nose in the fact that he’s been in contact with Jake. He said he’s sending him a TV, at Millhaven. There’s something strange about that. The last time Charlie was here he was flashing a lot of cash and giving money to all the men. Do you think he gave me any? No! If he was interested in women at all, you’d think he would have given me something. Do you think he’s ever shown any interest in me, since Jake has been in prison? No! He’s a cock slinger (male prostitute).

“Charlie bragged that he had been in prison for twenty-five years and he was affiliated with the gangs. I’ve had some experience with that in the past. If he was affiliated, and went around talking about it — like he has been — he’d be dead meat.”

Daimon said, “Was he saying he was with H.A. (Hell’s Angels)?”

“That’s what he was saying,” said Joy.

Daimon, who has distinctive prison pallor and crude tattoos covering both hands and arms, laughed and said, “There are lots of prison stories. Some of them are even true, but not many. He has ‘Shannon’ tattooed on the back of his neck. Is that his street name?”

Joy said, “Daimon, what’s that you’ve got on your face? Were you in a fight? It looks like you did a face plant.”

“If I’d been in a fight, it would have been the other guy who would’ve done the face plant.”

Lucy said, “I wondered how long it would take Joy to ask about that. Didn’t I Daimon?”

“It’s an infection,” said Daimon. “I must have picked it up from a guy in prison. He had sores like this on his thigh and his stomach. I didn’t go near him, but I must have touched something he had touched.

“I went to the doctor. He gave me antibiotics and some creme to put on the sores.”

“It looks like impetigo. My sister got that when she was young. That’s what comes of sitting on park benches wearing only a bathing suit.”

“Impetigo, that’s what the doctor said. I couldn’t remember the name, but that’s what it is. It hurts, and being near my mouth, it’s always breaking open.”

“Chester!” said Joy, “where are you going? Just because Charlie is going over there that doesn’t mean you have to. These guys follow him around hoping he’ll give them something, money, cigarettes….”

I said to Joy, “Did you hear that Rocky got jumped the other day.”

“I’ve seen him fight. He blacks out and goes wild, just like me. I fought with my sister once. I injured her neck, shoulder and back. That was before they charged people for things like that. I can imagine that Rocky did some damage to the other guy.”

I said, “It was five kids who jumped him. Shakes thinks it was the same gang that jumped him. Rocky didn’t fight them, because he would have gone back to jail. They stole his cap.”

“How are you feeling,  Rocky?” I asked. “Any better than yesterday?”

“Not really. I’ve got a pain in my liver.”

“What does the pain feel like? Is it a sharp pain, or a dull ache like a bruise?”

“It feels like I have to shit, but nothing comes out. When I was in the hospital, I asked them to check my heart and kidneys. I had surgery on my heart and had a hole fixed in my kidney, when I was four days old.

“I was born near Greenland. I have seven sisters. My parents never wanted a boy. My youngest sister wants to come down here, but I told her not to. She’s only sixteen.”

“I can understand why you wouldn’t want her to come down here. It can be a rough life.”

I said good-bye to the group. It was nearly time for me to go back to work.

Joy said, “I’ll see you tomorrow. I won’t be panning, I have to buy some groceries. I have Hamburger Helper at home, but Chuck wants to have a barbecue.”

“Bye, Joy.”

I stopped to say good-bye to the other group.

“Chester,” I said. “I heard you were hit by a bus last Wednesday. How are you feeling?”

“It happened at the corner of Jarvis and Queen. I’m in a lot of pain, but I keep it to myself.”

“Take care, Chester.”

“Do you remember my name?” asked Charlie. “Of course, I remember your name; You’re Charlie.”

“Do you know why they call me that?

“Because your parents named you Charles?”

“No, it’s because people say I look like Charlie Manson. They also call me that because I’m nuts.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t take the bandage off.” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 May 2012

This morning was warm, sunny and pleasant. Joy was in her usual spot. All was as it should be.

“How are you feeling, Joy?”

“I’m a lot better than yesterday. I went home, lay down and drank a lot of water. I was able to sleep most of the afternoon, until Chuck came home at 4:30. This morning, I was able to keep my breakfast down.”

“How is it going with you and Marilyn, getting a place together?”

“She’s going to phone them today and, hopefully, we’ll be able to see it this afternoon. It’s furnished, that worries me a bit. I don’t want to be in a place with bed bugs. There are mattress covers, that have a very fine weave, that the bedbugs can’t get through. A friend of mine has one, but you can still see the bugs crawling around underneath. It creeps me out.

“Some people have told me that I shouldn’t move in with Marilyn. They say she can get wild when she’s drinking, but she’s cut back quite a bit. I think we’ll get along fine.”

“If she does get wild, I’m sure you can handle her.”

“No problem there.”

“Have you heard anything more about the funeral for Dennis ‘Fingers’?”

“That was a mistake. I talked to a friend of his and he’s doing fine. He just hasn’t been downtown for a while. He was in hospital and is still very weak. He prefers to pan on the Quebec side of the river, since he’s been robbed several times in Ottawa. You’d think they’d pick on someone with more money. Panhandlers just make enough to get by. Whenever I get my check at the end of the month, you won’t we me on the street for a couple of days.

“Silver is down here almost every day. I asked him, ‘What are you hoarding your money for? Are you that greedy?’ He’s not here today, though. There was someone else sitting in his spot this morning, but it wasn’t very long before a gray-haired man chased him off. I don’t know what that was about.”

“I saw Nick yesterday, panning on Elgin Street.”

“He, Hippo and Little Jake were kicked off Bank Street, but Elgin Street is even worse. The police don’t like you panning on Elgin. They’re patrolling it all the time. The same with the park. That’s why they’ve been by so often. It’s the same every summer.”

I said, “I was talking to Claude yesterday. He’s in the Wet Program at Shepherds, but he doesn’t like it.”

“On that program they give you a bit of home-made wine every hour, sometimes it’s watered down. Claude is used to drinking rubbing alcohol and Listerine. He wouldn’t like drinking wine. He doesn’t panhandle. I don’t know where he gets his money. He probably just has a small pension.

“He’s another one that won’t be around much longer; another one to add to the list.”

A man stopped and handed Mo a banana. She said to me, “Do you want this? Since my kidney failure my doctor said I’m not allowed to eat bananas. They have too much potassium.”

At noon I talked briefly with Claude. He was sitting in his usual shaded place, on the curb of the sidewalk leading across the bridge, adjacent to the lawn. “Hi Claude, how did you sleep last night?”

“I slept at the Shepherd’s.”

“Yesterday you mentioned that someone was opening and closing the door all night. Did that happen last night?”

“Yes, he did that for a while.”

“How about the other man who shit on the floor. Did he do that again?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure. I changed beds, so I’m near the kitchen. I like it better there. They have me on the Wet Program. I don’t like that.”

“I hear they give you wine every hour. Is that right? Do you like wine?”

“No, I don’t like it. They give me cheap wine, and the beer they give me has no alcohol. It’s awful.”

“How is the pain in your hands and legs?”

“My hands are worse in the morning. If I try to move them, before I’ve soaked them under hot running water, the pain goes right down to the bone. I have pains in my legs, and I can’t walk fast, but apart from that I’m okay.”

“Can you talk to the doctor? Maybe he can give you pills for your pain.”

“I’ll just wait. I’m going to move to the Salvation Army.”

“I’m going up to talk to the others. I’ll see you on my way back.”

A group of people were standing in a circle on the lawn, Chester, Silver, Hippo, Heartless and Joy. Katy, Heinz and Shaggy were sitting by the bridge railing.

As I approached, Heartless was giving advice to Silver, “For your blood test tomorrow, don’t eat after six tonight, and drink only water.”

“What do you mean, ‘drink only water?’ I can have juice and coffee in the morning — can’t I?”

“No, Silver, only water and lots of it. It’ll make your veins stick out, so they’ll have an easier time extracting your blood. They love to see addicts come in because they have such large veins.”

“Here, Silver,” said Joy, “have a swig from my water bottle so you’ll know, in advance, what it tastes like.”

Silver said, “My doctor wants to prescribe some pills for my alcoholism. If they make me better will I have my O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program) cut off?”

“Silver, You’re too far gone,” said Joy. “You’re not going to get better.”

“’Heartless told me that they might cut off my O.D.S.P. if I get better. If that’s the case, I don’t want to get better.” (Died 29 September 2012 from cirrhosis of the liver. He was a good friend. I attended his funeral.)

“Silver,“ said Heartless, “if I said that, I was only joking. Get the doctor to prescribe as many pills as possible, and while you’re at it, tell him that you have a bladder problem and you need a diaper allowance. Wet your pants right in his office if you have to.”

Joy said, “You can let a juicy, wet fart that stains your underwear. Wear white, so the stain shows. It would have worked great yesterday when you split your pants.”

“Dennis,” said Heartless, “how long have you been around this area?”

“I’ve worked around here for the past five years.”

“You wouldn’t remember it then. This whole area used to be covered with bushes. Now, they’ve cut them back. Hoover and Elaine lived here for nearly a year. They had a tarp stretched out to keep the rain off. We could all sit under there and keep dry. It wasn’t even visible from the sidewalk.

“There was a rumor going around, about a ‘tent city’ being erected; part of ‘Occupy Ottawa.’ It was supposed to start last Saturday. The city tore up all the grass, like they did last year. It’s not so pleasant camping in the mud. I haven’t heard what’s going to happen next.

“So, how did you come across this group? You don’t drink, you don’t smoke. Did you just stop by one day and start-up a conversation with someone?”

“It’s not that I don’t drink or smoke, I just don’t do it during working hours. I’ve known Joy for about a year and a half. She invited me here, in January, to meet some of her friends.”

“Dennis asked me if he could buy me breakfast. He does that most mornings, when I’m panning.”

‘Heinz called me over, “Dennis, you’re really looking dapper today.”

“I’m wearing Value Village from top to bottom.” (Value Village is a used clothing store, similar to Goodwill or the Salvation Army Thrift Store.)

“I don’t care what you’re wearing. I just wanted to say something nice to you. I just celebrated my fifty-seventh birthday. I wanted you to know that. I’m more miserable and grumpy than ever. I’ve been really nasty to Katy. Half the people here I don’t talk to at all. I just like to come down some times to have a few beer, talk to my friends.

“How is Shaggy doing under her trailer? I can’t see her.”

“She’s got her head out, watching what’s going on. Trying to decide who to bite next.”

“I won’t keep you, Dennis. I just wanted to shake your hand, and I’m not sure I can get up.”

Silver was asking Joy, “What’s Katy’s problem? She hasn’t said more than three words since she’s been here.”

“She’s got the same problem I’ve had all week; she’s starting menopause. Since September, my period hasn’t been regular. It’s all over the place — four months off, one month on. It leaves me feeling miserable.”

I was late this morning,  so I only had a few minutes to talk with Joy.  She was sitting on her box and was visibly shaking.  “I just heard this morning, from Jacques, that Jake was out of prison.  I thought he was getting out today. I didn’t sleep a wink last night.

“Rodent had a party for him yesterday. Jacques was invited, but didn’t go.  Shark and Irene were invited. They may have gone,  I don’t know. Rodent told me that, if Jake ever came near me, he’d kick him out of his house. That’s never stopped Jake before. He’d just stay somewhere else.”

I said, “You mentioned that you’d been in contact with Jake and that he’d wanted to get together with you. That sounds like he still cares for you.”

“Yeah, he wants to hook up, but twenty-six months in prison would make him a bit pissy. Even when we were on good terms, that didn’t stop him from beating me.

“I thought I saw him on the corner a while back. I nearly shit my pants. It turned out to be someone else. I’ll see him sooner or later. I’m definitely getting drunk today. I’ve panned enough for a bottle.’

“I wonder if Jake’s heard about you being beaten by Andre. That would upset him.”

“Yeah, Andre’s spent next month’s rent.  He’s just finishing out his last months rent.  He said he’ll be leaving town next month. I’m sure his sister won’t take him in. Can you imagine? He’d be drunk, having pool parties until all hours, kicking doors in. She wouldn’t put up with that, even from her scum bag brother.

“Are you going to be at the park at noon?”

“I’ll be there. Take care.”

Today the park was cool and breezy.  I had two books for Heinz, one by Ken Follett, Winter of the World and one by Dick Francis, Comeback. From reading the backs they seemed like the type of shoot-em-up books that he would enjoy. Matches was seated on the curb, lying back into the bushes, sound asleep.

Jacques said to me, “I don’t think you’ll see Joy today. She hasn’t been panning for the past few days. Today is the day that Jake gets out of prison.”

I said, “I wonder how that’s going to work out. She already has broken ribs.  Jake may be upset that it was her testimony that sent him to Milhaven. Also, he’s going to be upset with Andre, who will be no match for him.”

Jacques said, “I talked to Mariah,  she said that Joy hasn’t been home. She did mention going to Chuck’s place for some moose steaks. Maybe she stayed over there. Maybe she went to visit Bleeding Heart. I hope not, he’s not good people.”

Heinz added, “Yeah, what’s the point of going to his place if, ten minutes later, he throws you out.”

Matches woke up, “Hello Dennis, I was just having a little cat nap. The blood suckers were after me this morning.”

“What do you mean the blood suckers were after you?  Do you mean the police?”

“No,  at my doctor’s, they took a whole lot of blood out of me. My arm is still sore.”

“Is Tom still staying at your place?”

“Yeah, he’s still there.”

“I bet he likes to clean and tidy things. Am I right?”

“Yeah, he likes to tidy things.”

Heinz motioned me over. “I want to tell you something in confidence.” I moved closer. “I went to my legal aid worker this morning. She’s really a nice person… You remember, when I was charged for treating Shaggy too rough. Well, that’s going to court soon. Anyway, what I wanted to tell you was, she said to me, ‘Heinz, you don’t have to wait until you have legal problems to visit me. You can come anytime, even if you just want to talk.’  I wanted to share that with you. I thought it was really nice of her.

“You know, I just found out today about Darrell’s death and his funeral. Jacques went. The place was packed. I couldn’t go anyway, I was too drunk. If I’d walked all the way here, then walked to the funeral parlor, I wouldn’t have had enough energy to walk home. I would have ended up sleeping at ‘the heater’, then I would have had the police to deal with.

“Little Jake went. He was drunk and caused a big scene. Trudy was there, she brought this new purple leash for Shaggy. That was nice.  Anyway, I’ve finished with you. Thanks for bringing me the books. I really appreciate it. I mean it. Now, go!”

It was time for me to leave for work, so I shook hands with Heinz, Serge, Jacques and Matches.  When I approached Raven I said, “You’re looking really nice today. You’re beautiful.”

“Thanks, Dennis.”

It was sunny and almost warm at the park today. I sat between Hippo and Joy. On her other side was Mariah, Heinz and his dog Shaggy. Matches was sprawled, as usual, on the sidewalk.

“Matches,” said Joy, “For Christ sake, will you sit up before we get reported and the cops come? I saw one pass on his bicycle just a few minutes ago.” With great effort, and not much balance, Matches relocated to the curb.

With talk of cops came talk of prisons. Joy said, “The worst  I’ve seen is Bordeaux Prison in Cartierville. I visited my boyfriend there. We’d been walking around Montreal and Jake decided to boost a car. He was drunk, so I said I’d crack it, but no, he’s The Man. He drove the car away, realized how drunk she was , parked it, got out and fell asleep on somebody’s lawn. He woke up a couple of hours later and took the car, but by that time there were two of  Montreal’s finest tailing him. Anyway, he went to Bordeaux. It was half H.A, half Rock Machine. Talk about tense.”

Katy said, “Hey, this leaves me in the middle. If  I go to either end I won’t be able to talk to anybody. Heinz will you make some room and let me sit beside Matches?”

“Hold on! Get out of my fuckin’ way, woman. I can only do so many things at once.”

Heinz maneuvered Shaggy’s cart further down. He wasn’t happy about it. Katy sat down between Matches and Heinz. She said to Matches, “You know, in all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never known you to get laid.”

Matches said, “I can’t afford it unless women come on to me.”

“Does that ever happen?”

“No, because I play hard to get.”

Katy said, “I guess I’m the same way. Every once in a while I get a little urge.”

Joy said to me, “Just shoot me right now.”

From Shaggy’s cart, Heinz pulled a six pack of Old Milwaukee and passed the cans around. Joy took one. “The only reason I drink this is to make me burp. Here it comes. I hate the taste of this stuff and it’s hard to hide. If a cop comes and tells me to dump it I won’t mind at all.”

I asked Joy, “How did you sleep last night?”

“I ended up sleeping on my side with the broken ribs. I managed a few hours sleep, but when I got up and tried to take a deep breath, that’s when the pain hit. This morning native Brent came by. We haven’t seen each other in ages. I said, ‘Don’t try to hug me — broken ribs.’ He grabbed me anyway. I thought I was going to pass out.

“I’m not sure if I will go to Chucks for that barbecue today. It means taking one bus then walking about five blocks. I don’t think I’m up to that. I think I’ll just go to my place and relax. I know Nicholas will be pissed, he brought those moose steaks especially for me. He’ll get over it.

“This morning one of my regulars stopped by. She asked, ‘How are you feeling now? Is there any chance you’ll be able to get a job?’

“I should have told her, ‘I don’t do employment.’ I had a job at Arby’s once. That lasted about two hours. Then I said, ‘That’s it I’m out of here.’ I had a warehouse job one time. I liked that. It was a big place so I was always moving; not like being behind a counter somewhere.”

“Hippo, do you want to come to my place?” asked Joy. ” I’ve got chicken for supper.”

“I haven’t had chicken for months. Sure I’ll come. I’m expecting a care package from home. Can we stop at my place on the way?”

Katy looked at Mo and said, “You’re not looking right. I can sense these things.”

“Well, I’ve been on my period for fifteen weeks now. I didn’t think I had that much blood in me. If I tried to slash my wrists my veins would be fartin’ dust.  Before that I’d gone five months without a period. I don’t know what’s happening.”

Katy said, “I wasn’t expecting that much information.”

Fifi asked, “Where are we meeting for Darrell’s funeral? I heard that a lot of people aren’t coming.”

I turned to Hippo and asked, “How are you liking your apartment?”

“The place is okay, it’s just the fuckin’ neighbors. If I had a gun with a silencer I’d shoot them.”

Joy was looking better this morning, at least she didn’t appear to be in pain.

“Hi Sweetie,” she said.

“How’s your day going?” I asked.

“Shitty, I haven’t even made enough for a bottle.”

“How was your weekend?”

“It was okay — quiet.  Sunday was the anniversary of my mom’s death. I picked some flowers and tossed them in the river. That’s what I do every year. My mother loved the water. When I was in Toronto I could feel her presence all around me.  It’s not so strong here.”

I said, ” She’s nearby, watching over you. I believe in spirits — I’ve seen them. I’m sure she’s proud of you.”

“I hope so.

“I saw Nicholas this morning. He came back from visiting his parents in Mani…it’s not Maniwaki…Mani…something or other. He brought me back some moose steaks. I love moose, even though it will give me the runs for three days, it’s so rich.”

I asked, “Is he still going out with Christine? I think I remember her. She’s pretty isn’t she?”

“Gorgeous, with that beautiful smile and her long black hair, but they all sleep around. When she’s been drinking sherry she really goes crazy. She’s taken a swing at me. I just grabbed her throat and pushed her to the ground. I said to her, ‘It’s okay, sweetie, it’s me…everything is okay.’ She was fine after that. She’s a scratcher and a biter. Nicholas was just trying to hold her away and she bit the palm of his hand; a really nasty bite. I said to him, ‘You should go to a doctor. A human bite is more dangerous than an animal bite.’ He didn’t go.

“Chuck wants to have a barbeque today. I feel bad, they’ll have booze and I’ll be walking in empty handed. Do you think you could buy me a bottle?”

“We’ll see.”

“You know the kind I like, don’t you? Don’t buy me any of that Pale Dry shit. That’ll really make me sick.”

“Have you heard anything about Andre? Has anybody seen him?”

“Nobody’s seen him because he’s hiding out. He was by here this morning on his bicycle. He pulled up right in front of me.  I said, ‘If you’re going to stop, at least have the courtesy to get your bike out of the way. I’m trying to work here.’

‘I said to him, ‘What took you so long to come around. At least Jake had the decency to apologize the next day, when he beat me.’ Andre said, ‘Don’t put me in the same category as Jake.’ I said, You’re worse than Jake,  he came back to see if I was still alive.’ I could see tears welling up in his eyes. He said, that he’d be leaving town for about a month. Since he spent his rent check on booze, he’s probably just staying there until his last month is payed off. He’ll be kicked out after that and I can’t see his sister putting up with him. She’s got a beautiful apartment.

“Anyway, Chuck is on the look out for him now. He, and a lot of other people want to beat the shit out of him.”

We could both see Chester coming towards us. Joy said to me, “What does that old fart want.”

Chester said, “Hello Dennis, hello Joy.”

Joy asked, “Are you going to Animal’s funeral?” Chester just shook his head (no). “Why not,  is it for the same reason the rest of us aren’t going?” He shook his head (yes) and walked on.

I asked, “Where is Animal’s funeral?”

“It’s at Kelly’s. That’s where they put all 0f us. I guess it’s cheaper. Beechwood Cemetery has a special place for us, out of the way.  It used to be that they’d pile the bodies one on top of another. Now, I think, they bury them standing up. I don’t know why they don’t just burn them and sprinkle the ashes somewhere. That would make more sense.”