Posts Tagged ‘police’




27 September 2012

Five of my friends sat on the curb, near the park today.

Outcast said, “Dennis, before you sit down, here’s a copy of the Metro to keep your cheeks dry.”

“Thanks, Outcast.

“How’s everything going, Hippo?”

“Great, I get the keys to my new apartment tomorrow.”

“Where will it be?”

“Vanier, on some street starting with ‘L’, a French name. It’s really nice.”

Outcast asked, “That’s in one of those projects, isn’t it?”


“Where did you sleep last night, Hippo?” I asked.

“We all slept behind Starbucks, the old place.”

“Were Bruce and Weasel there?”

“Yeah, and Bear. I slept next to the dumpster, nearly underneath it. I was the windbreak.”

Andre said, “You should have seen it, Dennis. Bear’s nose was about an inch from Hippo’s.”

To Hippo, he said, “It’s a good thing you didn’t make any sudden movements in your sleep. You could have lost part of your face. I don’t know how you could have put up with Bear’s breath, or how he could have put up with yours.”

“Bear and I are good,” said Hippo.

“Don’t get too friendly,” laughed Andre.

A female police officer, followed by a male, rode up the sidewalk.”

“Hello gentlemen, does anyone have any open liquor.” Outcast had kicked his can over the railing. She noticed an open can of beer between Hippo and Andre. “Who does that belong to? Is that your’s Hippo?”

“Yes, ma’am.” He held up the can.

“If I dump it, do I still get a ticket?”

“If I don’t see anything, you don’t get a ticket” Andre put his cap in front of the can and took a swig.

Hippo said, “This is my last beer. I’ll take the ticket.”

The ticket was written and handed to Hippo. He took it, folded it and handed it to Jacques. “Another one for your wall, Jacques.”

Andre said to the police officer, “You guys know that we don’t pay these things. Does that bother you at all?”

The officer said, “We do our job, the courts do their job. We’ll be back in fifteen.”

After she left Andre said, “She’s my cousin.”

Outcast said, “That’s the second beer I’ve kicked over the rail today.”

Andre said, “I’m just glad they haven’t changed the law, so we’d have to do jail time for unpaid tickets. I know I’m over $8,000.”

Shakes said, “I’m over $10,000.”

Outcast said, “It would be ridiculous to have us do jail time. It costs over $70,000 a year to keep a man in jail. We’ve got no assets, no houses, no cars, no jobs. There’s nothing they can take from us.”

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download)




18 July 2012

Noon at the park was pleasant. The weather was warm with a refreshing breeze. Many of the regulars had gone to the Don River, near where Jacques lives. On the sidewalk were Jake, Loon, Hippo, Andre, and Danny.

“How do I get to the Don?” asked Loon.

“Fastest way,” said Andre, “is to take any of the long busses  on Queen and get off at Bayview. Make sure you don’t try to jump any of the short busses.”

Loon said, “What if I take the streetcar. Won’t that take me there?”

“For one, “said Andre,”The streetcars are harder to jump.  Two, it’s a two hundred and thirty-five dollar ticket if you get caught.”

Jake said to me, “I can’t panhandle any more.”

“Yeah,” I said, “You told me that yesterday.”

“No, I got charged again last night. I don’t know why they have such a hard-on for me, but I was at my usual spot and a cop car pulls up. He writes me a ticket and says, ‘This is the last time, Jake. I know that as soon as I’m gone you’re going to be panning again. I won’t be back, but the next time I catch you, you’re going to jail.’

“I asked, ‘Was anyone following him?’

‘No, not as far as I knew.’

“It wasn’t ten minutes before a cop on foot patrol came and wrote me up. He said, ‘Next time, Jake, you’re going to jail.’ It all started with Peterman, that’s what we call him. Now, I’m on probation and have two breaches against me. I’m going to start fighting back.”

“What are you going to do, Jake.”

“Spit on them!”

“Don’t do that Jake,” I said, “You’ve got AIDS, the charge will be assault with a deadly weapon. Because of Joy’s hep c, she did eighteen months for spitting near a cop. It didn’t even hit him.”

“What am I supposed to do? It’s still two weeks to check day and I’ve got no money. None of us have been doing very well, except for the Jazz’n Blues Festival. I’ve got a hearing tomorrow. That’ll just be in and out. Then I’ve got a court appearance on the twenty-ninth, I think. I’ve got it written down someplace. I’m going to fight it.”

Hippo said, “When you go to court, Jake, ask for legal aid. At the legal aid office, get an appointment with Sherry. Tell her you’re an alcoholic and that you’re living on the street. She’s an alcoholic herself.”

Andre said, “I don’t know why they bother you guys. I’m at my usual spot in front of Tim Hortons. I’ve got some regulars. One buys me a large coffee every morning. Today, I shared it with Hippo. There’s another who buys me a bagel or an English muffin. A cop came by and asked me what I was doing. I said, ‘Officer, I’m eating my breakfast.’ He said, ‘You’ve got your hat out.’ ‘Yes I do,’ I said, ‘I live on the streets. What else am I supposed to do?’ He left me alone.

“I worked at this bar in Calgary once. I was the cook, the maintenance guy, the bartender and the bouncer. When customers would come in I’d tell them, ‘We only got one rule here — don’t piss off the cook. If you piss of the cook, you won’t get anything to drink, and you’ll be thrown out.”

Danny said, ‘I have a regular who brings me heart-shaped cookies every morning. She calls them love cookies. This morning she said, “I’ve never given you money before, so take this.’ She dropped a twenty. She’s cute too.

“I found a lot of booze at the Jazz’n Blues Festival. I brought my flashlight to look for empties and I came across a bag behind a curb. In it was half a twenty-six of V.S.O.P cognac. It wasn’t Remy Martin, or anything special, but it sure was good. I almost threw the bag out when I noticed this can of weed. I also found sixteen full beer cans that people had stashed in the bushes and the hedge.”

Andre said, “Shakes and I didn’t make it through the gate until the last night. It’s a bit harder when you’re riding a bicycle. You can’t just jump the fence. Anyway, we were coming by one of the back trails and I saw an empty bottle of vodka. Nearby was a water bottle, but it had something orange in it. I thought to myself, That’s odd, what do people usually mix with vodka?. I put two and two together and took a sip. It was powerful.”

Jake said, “People think I’m lucky because I get to sit in the sun and get a good tan. The only reason I do is because I have to sit for hours, in the sun, waiting to get my price.”

Andre said, “I’ve still got a full bag of food left over from last night. I’ve got a slice of pizza, some steamed rice and half a sub.”

“I’m getting hungry,” said Hippo. I’m going to have to make another trip to Freshco. Yesterday, I got seventeen bucks worth of food and only paid a dollar for a bag of chips. That canned ham I brought over last night — that’s where I got it.”

“There’s the Farmer’s Market south of Dundas between Sumach and Sackville Streets.” said Danny.

Jake said, “I don’t have any batteries for my radio. I’m going to have to steal four double A’s.”

“You really are in a hurry to go back to prison,” said Andre.

Sample my books for free — To date $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download) ($.99 Download)


homeless family L

31 May 2013

Last week the temperature was below freezing 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Today it’s 90 degrees with the humidex reading of 110 degrees. Nobody in the park had much energy. Hippo had a bad sunburn on both of his legs.

I said, “I heard of Hippo’s adventures last night. What else happened?”

Joy said, “It was hilarious, I got a phone call from Mariah, she said, “You’ll never guess, but Hippo phoned. He just got out of jail.’ I said, ‘I’d wondered what happened to him. He was in my apartment, I went out to get some honey garlic wings, when I came back he was gone. I ate four and put the rest in the fridge.

“How can someone, going from point A to point B, end up in jail?”

Hippo said, “It was because of that bitch.”

“What bitch? You mean that crazy Portuguese woman down the hall?”

“No, the bitch cop. Sorry, I meant woman cop.”

I said, “Hippo, you could have been shot.”

“She had her gun out, alright. She said get down. I got down. They put the handcuffs on and dragged me to the back of the cruiser. That’s how I got these scrapes on my arm.”

Joy said, “I’d rather be shot that tazed. When they get you down they always give you a few extra zaps to increase the pain.

“Let’s back up a bit, Hippo. I don’t mind you calling her a bitch. I got no problem with that, but you chased a woman with a hammer?”

“I guess I did. I don’t remember.” Joy smacked his left sunburned thigh, Mariah smacked the other.”

Joy asked, “How do I know that you won’t hit me with a hammer some time?”

“I’d never do that, Joy.”

“You just keep talking and I’ll do to you what I did to Brian yesterday. He just wouldn’t stop talking.

“Yesterday, you and me went to the bank. You could only get $120.00 out. ”

Rhino said, “Yeah, that’s all the bank machine would let me take. We’ll go back today and I’ll talk to a teller.”

Joy said, “You mean go inside the bank, just like humans?”

“Yeah, just like humans.”

“Then we’ll go to my place and finish those wings.

“Before this night’s out, I’m going to get your PIN (Personal Identification Number) for the bank machine.”

Hippo said, “What year was the first Harley built?”


“That’s my PIN.

“People always say I’m full of shit, but down a quart.”

Joy was looking beyond the railing into the park, “Jacques, take a look. Doesn’t that dog look just like Harley; you know, Rosie’s dog — big titties Rosie?”

“Ah, yes, I remember her. Harley looked something like that but didn’t have the white on his nose. Also he was skinnier.”

“I know it’s not the same dog, but the same breed.”

“Yes, maybe you’re right.”

Deaf Donald was sitting beside me. He’s been deaf since birth, so he sometimes has trouble communicating. He said, “I can read lips, you know. Even if two people are across the street I can tell what they’re saying. It nearly got me in trouble one day. I walked across the street and repeated word for word what these people had been saying. The guy got really pissed off.

“I’ll show you. I’ll go over to the fence and you mouth something. I’ll tell you what you said.”

I mouthed, “Hi Donald, are you having a good day?”

“You said, Hi Donald, you’re deaf? Is that right.”

“No, I said, ‘Hi Donald, are you having a good day?”

“You move your lips too fast. Let Joy try it. Say something to me, Joy.”

You said, “I’ve got shit stains on my underwear?”

Joy said, “That’s right. That’s what I said.”

Delbert said, “I got news for you. I’m not wearing underwear.”

Joy said, “I’m not sure if I really want to go there, but why aren’t you wearing underwear?”

“Because I’m wearing white pants and I’m clean.

“I have to go for my methadone treatment, but after that I’ll buy some chicken and maybe Hippo and I could come over to your place for supper?”

“That ain’t hapennin’, dude. You’re never coming to my place. I’m down here, dude. Look at me.”

Donald left, Joy said, “That guy gives me the creeps, especially when he does that thing with his eyes. I think he was dropped on his head too many times when he was a baby.”

I said, “He told me that, while his mother was pregnant with him, his father beat her up and threw her down a flight of stairs.”

“Yeah, I heard that. Just before my second son was born, my ex beat me something fierce. The baby was born with a broken leg and two broken ribs. Jay did two years for that.

“I can also read lips and sign. When I was a kid I had lots of ear infections and got a perforated ear drum. I can’t hear with my right ear. It’s handy sometimes even with Donald. I watch his eyes, and can say things when he’s not looking.”


Buy my book for $0.99 — proceeds feed the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home; Conversations with Street People





31 May 2013

This morning, as I was waiting for the walk light to cross the street, I heard someone bellow, “Dennis!

I turned around, recognized who it was, and shouted, “Hippo!

His eyes were half-shut, his arm scraped. I asked, “Where did you sleep last night?”

“At the police station.”

“How did that come about?”

“I don’t know, I was drunk. I was with Joy last night.”

“I asked, “Is Joy alright?”

Yeah, she went home, then I went to my place.”

“Did you get into a fight?

“I remember going at a cop with a hammer.”

“What brought the cops in the first place? Were you making a lot of noise?”

“I remember that we were playing music. There was somebody else there. I remember who it was.”

“Was it someone I would know?”


“Someone in your building?”


I think I’ve got the papers here. Yeah, here it is, CAUSING A DISTURBANCE WHILE DRUNK and POSSESSION OF A WEAPON DANGEROUS TO PUBLIC SAFETY (highlighted in yellow). It says here that I have to appear in court on June 18th at 8:30.”

“That’s in less than three weeks!”

I asked, “Do they still serve those cold fried egg sandwiches on a paper plate, with lukewarm coffee, milk and sugar in a paper cup?”

“No, not even that. I would’ve loved to have a coffee. I had a slice of banana bread and a box of orange juice. I’m starved.”

“Do you have enough for breakfast?”

“Yeah I’m good.”

“If  there’s anything you need, let me know.”

“Thanks bro. I gotta stop drinking. In fact I’ve been ordered to stop drinking. If I get caught drunk, I go straight to jail.”


Buy my book for $0.99 — proceeds feed the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home; Conversations with Street People





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.”


Read about my friends here






2 December 2013

“Good morning Chuck! Hi Sandy!” I bent down and she licked my nose. “How was your weekend?”

“In some ways it was okay, but in another way it was the shits. It’s something I can’t talk about.”

“That’s okay, Chuck. I don’t want to pry into your personal affairs.”

“No, I mean I can’t tell anybody, not for the next five months, anyway.”

“After five months, will things be better?”

“I don’t know. All I know is that sometimes I’d rather not be alive.”

“I’ve felt that way, Chuck. I’ve even attempted suicide.”

“I have to get my money problems in order. Then I can look after other things.”

“Do you have any plans for Christmas?”

“I don’t know. I suppose something will come up.

“I haven’t seen that crazy lady around. You know, the one who is always picking up trash. She hasn’t been around for a couple of months now. She’s so skinny anything could have happened.  I used to watch her. People would give her food. She didn’t trust any of it. One time a woman gave her a sandwich. She broke it into pieces and fed it to the pigeons. Another time someone gave her a meal in a box. She threw that in the trash. Occasionally, she’d ask me for a dollar or two to make a phone call. I don’t know what it costs to use a pay phone these days. Anyway, this happened a couple of times. The last time I gave her some money she bent down and kissed me. She said she wanted to marry me. Imagine that!” Chuck laughed. “I was quite flattered, actually.” It was good to see the change in his mood.

“Have you seen Joy, or heard about whether Big Frank is out of prison?”

“I only saw her the once, last week. I’m not sure I know this Frank — you say he’s in a wheel chair.”

“He wasn’t in a wheel chair before. He’s the one who beat Joy and has served three years in prison. He’s a big guy, about six feet four, probably about three hundred pounds. They used to call him Mountain. Since he’s been in prison, he’s developed arthritis and has to have his hip replaced.”

“I guess I was thinking about another guy. It was when I was with my wife and three kids. We heard an awful racket coming from the apartment next door. This big guy was kicking the shit out of his wife and eleven year old daughter. Can you imagine a grown man putting the boots to an eleven year old girl? It’s disgusting. He went to prison. The guys in there didn’t take kindly to some one beating a girl. They broke his legs. He hasn’t walked since. Serves him right.

“Did you hear about the guy who cut his dog’s ears off, so it would look more vicious.  He served six months. When he was inside,  a bunch of guys held him down and bit his ear off.

“I had a friend who worked for the prison system. One of the questions they asked him during his interview was, ‘If you saw two inmates making out, what would you do?’  My friend said, ‘Well, I’d wait for them to finish, then I’d ask to take my turn.’ He was just kidding. They knew that.”

I said, “I knew a person who worked in the prison system. They asked her opinion on capital punishment. She said, ‘I’m in favor, as long as it’s not too severe.’ They thought that was funny.”

“As far as capital punishment is concerned, I’m all in favor.”

I said, “As long as they convict the right person. There are a lot of people who’ve served time in prison, then are found to be innocent.”

Chuck said, “All this talk about DNA.  It’s accurate, as long as it’s fresh, but after fifteen years it can’t be relied on. I remember in the park, a few years back, a guy was attacked, and murdered,  just because they thought he was homosexual. Those guys that attacked him should have  had a rope put around their necks and hanged until dead.


1989: The murder police couldn’t ignore

Published Tue, Jun 24, 2008 8:00 pm EDT
How everything changed for Ottawa’s gay community
THE MATCH IN THE POWDER KEG. The murder of Alain Brosseau at the Alexandria Bridge ignited the community, leading to a thawing in police-gay relations in Ottawa and the induction of gays into hate crimes legislation. (Peter Fritz photo)***
It’s a story that’s hard to hear, but harder to forget. In the August of 1989, after working a late shift at the Chateau Laurier, 33-year-old waiter Alain Brosseau stepped out into the summer night and made a shortcut through Major’s Hill Park.Maybe Brosseau didn’t know that the park was a popular cruising spot for the city’s gays; maybe he never looked too closely into the shadows on his walk home.But a gang of teenagers went to the park that night well aware of what they might find. Laying in wait, they found Brosseau.
Jeffrey Lalonde, one of the four young men convicted of Brosseau’s murder, admitted during his trial in 1990 that he and his friends had gone out that night “to roll a queer.” In court, the teens said that they saw Brosseau walking alone; that they saw he was small and well-dressed. In other words, they’d seen enough. As Brosseau crossed the Alexandria Bridge, heading towards his home in Quebec, Lalonde and his friends attacked. They beat him, stole $80 and pried a ring off his finger. Then seizing the man’s legs, they hoisted him up and over to dangle off the edge of the bridge.According to testimony at trial, Brosseau “freaked out” while his attackers laughed.”I like your shoes,” said Lalonde, holding Brosseau by the ankles.Then he let go, and Alain fell, face-first, to the rocks below.Although Brosseau wasn’t gay, he was perceived so by his killers. At the time, violent hate crimes against gays were as common as they were underreported.Earlier that month, the Ottawa Citizen ran an article explaining that there would be no inquest into the number of men who had “fallen off cliffs” that summer,  all near Major’s Hill Park. The headline of the article emphatically quoted the chief regional coroner, declaring that an “inquiry won’t solve cliff deaths.”

Neither the police nor the press publicized the sexual orientation of these “fallen” men.

Tom Barnes is the oldest active member of Pink Triangle Services (PTS.) He’s the chief librarian at the Kelly McGinnis Library.

“The mainstream attitude was that we got what we deserved,” says Barnes.

Barnes knew men who “fell” near Major’s Hill Park and lived.

“We weren’t falling from cliffs, and they knew it — we were hurled over. If you were lucky, you grabbed onto something and broke your fall.”

As president of PTS in the late 1980s, Judy Girard had been fighting the passivity of the Ottawa police for years before Brosseau was murdered, trying desperately to have gay-bashings taken seriously.

“At the time, the police were certainly no different than anybody else,” says Girard. “As Canadians, gays and lesbians had achieved their rights on paper, but we still had to warn kids saying, ‘You’re going to get your ass kicked one way or another, so be careful.'”

Barnes remembers calling on the owners of downtown bars for help as bashings took place outside. They told him it wasn’t their problem, he says.

Reluctance to claim responsibility became a common theme in the wake of Brosseau’s death. It was, from an early stage, tied up in jurisdictional red tape.

One roadblock was police reluctance to claim jurisdiction. Although the murder itself took place in Ottawa, because Brosseau’s body was discovered along the riverbank in Quebec, the Ottawa police felt that the case should be handled by the Quebec police and vice versa.

The police also dragged their feet in acknowledging that anti-gay sentiment fuelled Brosseau’s murder, even though it was clear that Lalonde and his friends were targeting queers.

Only hours after throwing Brosseau over the Alexandria Bridge, Lalonde and the other young men hopped a cab and followed a gay couple back to their home in Orleans. There, the teens forced their way into the couple’s home and stabbed the two men with screwdrivers and knives.

In 2008, Lalonde’s name resurfaced in the press. He died in prison in Quebec May 26, marking the end of a sad story arc. Suicide was reported as the likely cause of death.

Barry Deeprose has worked with both Gayline and PTS over the years. In 1989, he saw how Brosseau’s murder acted as the catalyst for the gay community to confront the Ottawa police, fighting for the protection that was their right.

“People were hesitant to report crimes for fear they would be victimized a second time,” writes Deeprose in an email. “Gays of Ottawa took up the cause, which lead to a demand for greater sensitivity and awareness on the part of the Ottawa police.”

Rallying around Brosseau’s murder, activists organized a “Blow the Whistle” campaign, and taking to the streets of Ottawa, distributed safety pamphlets and raised awareness about the lack of services available to the gay and lesbian community.

Gays of Ottawa, along with other organizations, created a Task Force on Violence to bring the concerns of gays and lesbians to the new chief of police, Thomas Flanagan, who at the time had only recently been sworn in.

Girard recalls going as a member of the Task Force to meet with Chief Flanagan for the first time.

“The moment that I arrived to talk with the chief, I noticed we were wearing the same shirt,” says Girard, laughing. “I knew we’d get along. It’s the little things that were so strategic in building community in a bigger sense.”

The matching shirts seemed to work. Chief Flanagan was quick follow up on suggestions given by the Task Force, including, among other things, mandatory diversity training for all the officers in the Ottawa Police Service — a first for Canada.

“The pilot sessions were difficult,” says Girard, who helped run training sessions for more than 600 officers on the force at the time. “One of the first things an officer said to me was, ‘No man’s penis belongs in another man’s rectum.'”

In order to overcome the mistrust inherent in the relationship between the police and the gay community, Girard had both the officers and the training facilitators air their own dirty laundry lists of prejudices.

“In the end, we determined we were a lot more like each other than not,” says Girard. “We each have our own cultures, we each have our own language — and nobody wants either of us at parties. I gained such an appreciation for each of those officers and the job they do.”

Outside of the training, Girard saw changes in the way gays and lesbians were treated by police.

“When there were meetings between our communities, there was more respect. Same goes for when officers were working with domestic disputes between same-sex partners,” she says. “The discrimination had come out of fear and not knowing who we were, how to handle us, or what we might do.”

By the time Brosseau’s killers were making their testimonies in court, the work of the Task Force had gained significant momentum. In 1991, gays and police officers sat down for the first time under the banner of the Ottawa Police Service Liaison Committee for the GLBT Communities — another first for Canada.

Douglas Janoff wrote about the relationship between police and gay communities across the country in his book, Pink Blood: Homophobic Violence in Canada. In an interview, he reflects on some of the positive changes that came out of the Liaison Committee.

“There’s something about the consistency of the dialogue in Ottawa which I think is very admirable,” said Janoff. “You can always complain that the dialogue isn’t good enough or representative enough of the gay community, but at least it’s something and a lot of communities have zero communication.”

Janoff was recently in Paris, France, on a book tour for Pink Blood, where he met with “40 angry queer activists” and was amazed at how seldom gay issues are discussed with other police forces around the world.

“They have absolutely no committees to deal with the police, yet their problems are much bigger because Paris is a much bigger city,” he says. “When I was telling them about Ottawa and the fact that a group has been meeting for the past 20 years, they were really impressed. It made me realize that we’re further along than we sometimes give ourselves credit.”

The liaison committee has made a point of documenting hate crimes reported by both police and community members, even when no police report was filed.

A StatsCan report released last February on hate crimes in Canada showed the fruit of that communication: Ottawa was ranked as one of the top three cities in Canada for the most comprehensive police reporting on hate crimes.

The mandate of the Committee to make visible and validate the diversity within Ottawa’s queer community, as well as that of holding the city’s police accountable, has led to the increased visibility of queer realities in police procedures and training, as well as increased police involvement in queer community events like Ottawa Pride. And even if inertia has hampered in recent years, these early victories put Ottawa ahead of the rest of the country by the mid-’90s.

The work of the Liaison Committee also resulted in the creation of a Hate Crimes Section in 1993 and a Partner Assault Support Team in 1997 — also unique developments to their times.

This progress wouldn’t have been possible, particularly with the atmosphere of hatred towards gays in the late 1980s, if Brosseau’s story hadn’t sparked the compassion and support of the Ottawa community at large.

Dr Dawn Moore, the managing editor of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, published the 2006 article “Hated Identities: Queers and Canadian Anti-Hate Legislation,” and she believes that Brosseau’s murder was the perfect storm for political, social and legislative change in Canada.

“The murder happened quite literally in the shadow of parliament, so it was very difficult politically to ignore,” says Moore. “Also, it happened at a time when the Ottawa community was already trying to galvanize around gaybashings, so the issue wasn’t coming from left field, but from within.”

Moore also pointed out the importance that Brosseau was only perceived to be gay, versus actually being gay.

“Going back through the parliamentary debates after the murder, the vast majority of MPs were able to stomach new hate crime legislation because the justification wasn’t that it was wrong to beat up a gay person,” Moore explains. “Alain’s murder was just as much a case for the need to protect straight people from the hate-on for queers proliferating at the time, as it was to protect the queers themselves.”

For this reason, Brosseau’s story spoke to even the most conservative critics of anti-gay hate crime legislation, and according to Moore, brought them onside with more liberal MPs to extend 1966’s hate crimes law — a sentencing provision that allowed judges to increase the penalty for crimes motivated by hate — to include gays and lesbians.

Janoff agrees with Moore that the fluidity of Brosseau’s own identity in the eyes of the public helped to serve as a wake up call for straight people by confronting them with the danger of making assumptions about identity and sexual orientation.

“It was shocking for the heterosexual community to suddenly be forced to come to terms with violence that the gay community knows too well,” he said. “It’s not just straight people looking out for straight people — it’s more complex than that — because he represented both communities, anyone could see themselves in his shoes.”

While the changes that Brosseau’s murder set in motion have tangibly made a positive impact on policing and handling of anti-gay discrimination in Ottawa, the problem of violent hate crime against queers is not one that will disappear any time soon.

The same StatsCan report that showed Ottawa Police Service’s initiative in acknowledging hate crimes found that over half of all hate crimes involving sexual orientation were violent, with one in 10 resulting in serious bodily harm.

According to Janoff, despite the improvement in how the Ottawa police are reporting hate crimes, the more violent of these crimes usually go unreported, or if they are reported, are not acknowledged as hate motivated.

“There’s still a two-tier system in the hate crime categorization in police departments. If it’s a minor assault or vandalism, the police will categorize it as hate motivated, but when it comes to murder, it’s the killer’s word against the victim’s family,” he explains.

Of the total hate crimes reported by police across Canada in 2006, only one was a homicide, whereas 129 incidents of minor assault were reported that did not involve a weapon or bodily harm.

Moore believes this disconnect is not as much a problem with police services as it’s a problem with the justice system at large, with part of it being the difficulty in proving an assault was a hate crime.

“If somebody goes and sprays swastikas on the tombstones in a Jewish cemetery, there’s a clear message. With personal assault, the law has always danced around allowing people to be violent towards gays,” Moore says.

She points to the “gay panic” defense. The term refers to the habit of gay-bashers to claim unwanted sexual advances provoked the beatings. As late as 2006, defense lawyers were still using a thinly-veiled version of this argument before juries — although with mixed results.

“I think it’s naïve to assume that a system that acted for years as incredibly repressive and violent towards queers could easily shift to protect a community it used to brutalize,” says Moore. “The onus for change doesn’t rest with the law, because the law doesn’t change people — people are changed by other people.”

In 1992, a survey of gay youth conducted by PTS found that more than a third of the respondents, most of whom were university students, said that they always or often limited their activities out of fear for their personal safety.

But things have changed since then.

The StatsCan report on victimization released last February showed that although members of the queer community are still more likely to be victims of violent assault than straight people, they now feel equally as safe.

“I’ve interviewed people all across Canada — police officers, prosecutors, victims and activists — and many of them point to that case as the turning point,” says Janoff. “They may not know his name, but they know his story, and that shook us out of our complacency.”


English: Giant Tiger Discount store, Cannon St...

English: Giant Tiger Discount store, Cannon Street, Hamilton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I approached Joy she was doubled over, holding her knees. When she lifted her head her face looked pale and gaunt.

“You don’t look very good,”  I said.

“I don’t feel very good. I’ve been this way for five or six days now. Can you spare some change so I can get some Gravol. I can’t seem to keep anything down. I even tried my grandmother’s remedy of burnt toast scraped into water. It’s supposed to have the same effect as the charcoal they give you when you o.d.

“One time I got picked up by the police and I had a bunch of prescription drugs on me. They didn’t check, they just threw me in the back of the cruiser. I wolfed down these pills, I nearly gagged. When they got me to the station I was kind of dazed. They said to me, ‘You weren’t like this when we picked you up. What did you take?’ They found the empty pill bottles on the floor of the cruiser. The Desk Sargent asked the cops, ‘You didn’t check her for drugs?’ They didn’t know how many pills I’d taken so they sent for the ambulance. I went to hospital and had my stomach pumped.

“Even granny’s remedy didn’t work. I couldn’t hold that down. Since last Tuesday I’ve been going from the sofa to the garbage pail. Half the time I don’t make it. I’m tired of mopping my floor. At least I don’t have the runs, but since I don’t have any food in my system there’s nothing to come out.”

A lady stopped by and handed Joy a blister pack of Gravol and two slices of dry toast. ‘Bless you,’ said Joy.   To me she said, ‘ I didn’t think she was going to come back. I’m going to save the toast for later. I can’t face the idea of eating right now. I  think I’ll just stop for a cup of tea.

She took two of the tablets and waited a few minutes. “These are supposed to make me feel better, but I feel horrible. They have an orange taste, like the Tang we used to mix with vodka. Remember that orange powder stuff? Supposedly the astronauts drank that —  Yuck!  I think I’m going home.

“I have to stop at Giant Tiger on my way. They have those frozen burgers on sale. I can just fry them or nuke them. If I can’t eat them it’s not much to throw in the trash. I hate going to Giant Tiger this time of day. It’s when all the skids are there. They smell so bad. I don’t know if I’m going to be able take it.”

“I haven’t had a drink for six days. Jacques is the same way. We just can’t face it. I feel chilled, then I feel hot. Jacques gave me this purple hoodie. I put it on, then take it off.

“I was really pissed off last week. I told you the cable guy was supposed to come by Tuesday. I waited around all day, but he didn’t show. He came Thursday — that meant I missed my appointment with 507 to see about my health card. Greg was acting all pissy about that, but I couldn’t phone him to cancel or explain because the phone guy didn’t leave me a phone. He said, ‘We don’t do that any more. Too many phones were being stolen.’ I have to admit I’ve stolen a few in my time.

“At least I have television now. That makes a big difference. I don’t have to watch the same old shit all the time.”


27 June 2013

The park was nearly deserted, strange since the weather was perfect. Little Jake, Wolf and his dog Shaggy were the only ones there. There was an empty plastic box, so I pulled it over and was about to sit down. Jake handed me his jacket to sit on.

“Thanks, Jake.”

“You’re welcome. Do you want to know why nobody’s here. Because our crew is a   bunch of assholes. That’s why. Do you know what I did yesterday when I got my check. First I paid all my bills, then I lent the rest of my money to friends. Do you see anybody here to pay me back?  No! I did it just to see what would happen. Now I know.

“I gave Jacques two hundred dollars. I saw him this morning and he gave me back fifty. He said he’d give me the rest back Monday. ‘Monday!’ I said, ‘how am I going to get through the weekend with only fifty bucks?’ ”

Wolf said, “Jake, he was doing you a favor, You know he’s good for the money.  You got two bottles, you got cards to get meals, you got your pot. What else do you need?

“I was panning at my spot at O’Connor and Laurier — Animal’s old spot; you wouldn’t believe how people were rushing around. One woman ran across a red light, nearly got hit by a car, just to get to a cubicle in some government building, where she’s probably worked for twenty years. She risks her life just so she won’t be three minutes late? Maybe her boss is a real asshole. How would I know? It just seems so ridiculous, cars are edging through red lights and where’s it going to get them? To the next block so they can do it all over again.

“I worked for twenty years, but that was construction. We’d work one place for a couple of months, then we’d move somewhere else. There’d be no work in the winter, so it’d be pogey until late Spring. It wasn’t so bad. We sure didn’t rush like I saw this morning. Crazy!”

I asked Jake, “How did the cooking go at Bruce’s place?  When I talked to you yesterday you were discussing recipes.”

“Yeah, well, Inuk was over there. At around midnight Bruce and her were going at it, so I said, ‘I can see that you two want to be alone, so I’m outta here. He lives out in Britannia, I’ve been walking nearly twenty-four hours.”

I asked, “Did you walk straight here, or did you get lost?”

“Oh man, I got lost three times. I zig zagged all over the place, up one street, down another. I started out going the wrong way. I’d walked nearly out to Scotiabank Place. Hell, I’d walked half way home to Deep River. I asked a bus driver how to get to Merivale Road. He said, ‘Fuck man, you’re going the wrong way. You’ve got a lot of walking to do.” It was the last bus, so I couldn’t even get a ride. ”

“So, after you got your directions straight you walked directly here?”

“I think so. No, I went to my place and had a cup of tea, then I walked down here.

“See my ear? Danny did that to me. I was at Matches place. Danny seems to be taking over. He has everything tidy. He’s running Matches’ life! Anyway, I was talking to Matches, Danny was going on about something, so I told him to fuck off. Next thing I know he’s punched me right in the ear. It’s still bleeding. I can take a punch to the jaw, but to the ear? That’s just wrong. Anyway, I told Bruce about it. He’s going to take care of Danny.”

Wolf said, “I’ve known Danny a long time. I’ve never heard about him acting like that.”

Jake said, “I even apologized, but you know the way I get. I can be a bit of an asshole sometimes.”

I said, “We know Jake, you’re an asshole right now.”

“Dennis, fuck off! I think that’s the first time I’ve told you to fuck off.”

“I’m sure it won’t be the last time, Jake. You mentioned Deep River. Do you plan to go home anytime soon?”

“My mother said I couldn’t come home until I got a haircut. Well, I got a haircut, so there’s no excuse there. It’s only fifty-five bucks, but I think I’ll hitch hike, just because of the freedom. I’ll meet people. Maybe I’ll get dropped off at Arnprior and have to get another ride there. Who knows?

“I went to the food bank this morning and picked up a few things. Because I’ve got AIDS I get to go to the Living Room. I can go once every two weeks. They give me really good food there, bags of it. Problem is I can’t carry very much. When Shark goes there He brings a friend with a truck. They gave me a choice six eggs or a half pound of hamburger. I took the hamburger. They said if I wanted I could have a can of beef stew instead of the hamburger. What would you have taken? …The hamburger, of course. I love hamburgers.”

Wolf said, “It’ll be cold cuts for me. Tony came by this morning and gave me some bologna, sliced chicken and turkey, potatoes, broccoli and a red pepper. He’s really good to me — comes by once a week.

“Six up, behind you.” Jake hid his open bottle of sherry between his legs. Two uniformed police officers rode up on bicycles. One asked, “What are you guys up to?”

I said, “We’re just chatting, enjoying the nice weather.”

One walked over to Wolf, “Is that can empty?”

Wolf said, “It could be. I could dump it.”

“Can I see some identification?”

“Yes, officer, you sure can.” Wolf handed him his health card.” The officer wrote a liquor violation ticket and handed it to Wolf. He then picked up the open can and turned it over.

“What you got in that bottle, I assume it’s apple juice?” Wolf didn’t say anything.

The officer said to his partner. “You can write-up Jake for the bottle between his legs. How much is in there, Jake?”

He held up the bottle of sherry. “Fuck,” he said, “you’re not going to make me dump this whole bottle are you? Shit!”

Wolf said, “Jake, the officers are just doing their job, so be nice.”

The officer said “One swallow, Jake, then dump the rest.” Jake tipped the bottle and began to chugalug.

“So, it’s going to be that kind of swallow is it?”

Jake started coughing, then threw the bottle over the railing. “That was my last bottle and I’ve got no money!”

The officer said, “If you hadn’t thrown the bottle away, you could have cashed it in for twenty cents.”

Wolf said, “He’s right Jake.”

The officer said, “We see you’ve got another bottle in your bag. We’ll let you keep that. Just try to be a little more discreet, Jake. Have a good day.”

They left. Wolf said, “It could have been worse. I’ve still got beer in my bottle, you’ve got a bottle and some pot in your bag.”

Jake said, “I’m going down to get that bottle I threw. I bet there’s still some left in it.”


Joy was all smiles this morning.  She was seated on her box, but any minute I expected her to break into dance.

“How did it go with getting your furniture?”

“Great, The place is huge.  I got a new sofa, a shelf that will go on one of the tables I have. I took the legs off my bed because of the seizure I had, but I wanted to get a wicker headboard that I saw there. I didn’t get it. I also wanted a silver frame in the shape of three hearts. I didn’t get that either. My worker was so impatient. I wanted to look around to make sure I got things I wanted to live with, but she kept checking her watch. I think we were only there half an hour.

“When I got home and we got everything set up I did a little dance. I’ve waited seven months for this stuff, now I’m going to enjoy it.

“I haven’t seen many of the guys lately, not even dickhead.”

I asked, “Who would dickhead be?”

“Jake, he’s been over a couple of times. He wanted me to push him from the Salvation Army to the park. I said, “No way!”

“Has he apologized for beating you?”

“Yeah he has, he was even crying. He said, ‘Joy, I’ll never hurt you again. I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t want to go to prison again.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I bet you learned a lot in prison. I don’t want to hear about it. Instead of being sorry now, you should have thought before you broke my ribs, especially since you’d broken them just two weeks before.

“‘You’re whining like Antonio.’  He asked, ‘Who’s Antonio? Is that someone you’ve had living over here? I said. ‘No, you dumbass, it’s Mariah’s boyfriend!  She kicked him out six months ago.  For the last twenty-two months I’ve enjoyed living by myself and sleeping by myself.  Jake said, ‘I could help you with that.’  I said, ‘For now just consider us friends. We’ll see how it goes.”

I said, “You mentioned that he had to have a piss test as a requirement of his parole. How did that go?”

“It was funny. There was a new parole officer there, who didn’t know Jake’s, medical history. After the test he came back and said, ‘You’re in trouble, Jake. The test came back positive.’ Jake said, ‘Positive for morphine, right?’ The guy says, ‘Yeah.” Jake pulls out of his pocket a piece of paper and waves it at the guy. ‘Prescription!’ he says.

“His regular parole officer is a really hard case. He can pounce on Jake anytime  and have him tested.  If  Jake has any advanced warning, all he has to do is drink a cup of vinegar. That’ll get any trace of drugs or booze out of his system.  My brother was in prison. He  had the same booze and drug prohibition on his parole. He used to carry a bottle of vinegar with him all the time.

“What time is it now?”

“”Eight thirty.”

” That means I’ve been here two and a half hours. I even made sure I got the early bus. So far, I’ve made four dollars and twenty-six cents.”

I said, “On Wednesday, two cruisers pulled up on the sidewalk. The male cop demanded that Debbie give them her last beer. She was pissed off and shoved it into his chest. She was handcuffed and thrown into the back of the cruiser.”

“Was she arrested?”

“No, they let her go with just a ticket.”

“That’s assault, and she’s been in and out of jail a dozen times. If that had been me, I would have gone straight to prison.

“I’ve got no use for that stupid, loud-mouthed bitch. When we were up at the bridge one time she was going on and on about something.  I was ready to throw her off the side. I had her back to the railing.  She was whimpering, ‘Please, Joy, please don’t push me over.’  Sometimes I think I should have.”

“Maryjane just got out of jail.”

“Yeah, that was because she had three no shows at court. She’s been charged with assault. There again, if that was me I’d be in prison.”


I sat on the sidewalk beside Matches and in front o f Debbie,  Little Jake and Joy. Wolf had gone for a piss. I gave a used copy of the book “Women Who Run With the Wolves to Joy. It seemed appropriate since she was wearing a sweatshirt with a wolf on the front.” She thanked me and said, “Sorry I have to run, but I have an appointment with my landlady to fix my toilet.”

I pulled out another book, Mob Rule, that I intended to give to Wolf. Matches looked at it and asked, ‘Are you going to give this to Wolf?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘I like to read too, you know, especially since I don’t have television.’ I said, ‘You take it then, Matches.’ Shortly after Wolf returned. He saw the book Matches was holding. ‘That looks interesting. Mind if I read that after you’re finished?’ ‘Sure,’ said Matches.

I said,  “It’s about Paul Volpe, the boss of the Toronto Mafia from the early-1960’s up to his death in 1983. It mentions his bootlegging days as a young man, to his initiation into the Mob, his stints in jail, and then the details of his death. Maybe you’ll recognize some of the names.”

Little Jake said, “We don’t remember names, we remember faces.”

I said, “There are pictures, too.”

Wolf reached into Shaggy’s cart and pulled out three books. One was by Danielle Steele, ‘We all know what this one’s about. This one’s by Catherine Cookson, I don’t know her. This last one is a murder mystery. Doesn’t look like there’s much shooting, but it’s more  my style.  Anyway, I got lots to read for the weekend. I’m going  to Tim Horton’s, have a coffee, a couple of donuts and read my books.”

Debbie asked, “Dennis, how do you like my new summer haircut?”

“It looks very nice. It suits you.”

“Little Jake cut it. We were both stoned, but it came out alright, didn’t it.?”

I said, “It looks professional. Nobody would ever know that it wasn’t done at a salon.”

Little Jake said, “Yeah, it’s a lot better than the haircut that Jacques gave me.”

Wolf, whose white hair is almost to his shoulders said, “There’s no way that any of you guys are going to cut my hair.”

Matches asked me, “Dennis, are you going to the Rib Fest?”

“No, ” I said, “are you?”

“I’ve been two times already and I’m going again tonight. I should do pretty well I always go to the Blues Fest, the Jazz Fest and the Folk Fest. My favorite is the Blues Fest. I can’t get past the gate, but people always give me booze and get me stoned.

Matches was wearing a pair of shorts. Debbie asked, “What’s that scar on your leg?

“Which one?”

“The one that runs from your knee to your hip?”

“That’s where I got shot. The bullet went in here,” pointing to a circular scar, “it broke my femur and came out here.” He lifted his leg to show the scar from the exit wound.They had to cut me open to put the rod in.

“I didn’t mean to be nosey,” said Debbie, “I was just wondering.”

“I got it at a house party. I knew there was going to be trouble so I went to my street sister and asked for my nine millimeter. She didn’t wasn’t to give it to me. She said, ‘If I give you this gun, you’re going to get into trouble. I just know it.’ I said, ‘That’s why I need my gun.’ I was at the party, there was lots of booze, drugs, but I decided to leave. My bro asked for my gun. I took it out of my pocket, took the clip out, but forgot there was still a shell in the chamber. It had a hair-trigger, much too sensitive. When my bro took my gun, he accidentally shot me in the leg.

I asked, “Why did your friend want your gun?”

“‘Cause he wanted to shoot the guy.

“The last time I was in prison was in 1995. I was in Collins Bay for nearly five years.”

I asked, “What were you in for?”

“Bank robbery. I was just seventeen, selling drugs, robbing banks, boxing. That’s when I was sparring with George Chuvallo and Shawn O’Sullivan. I still got it.”

I said, “I guess it’s just like riding a bicycle. You never forget it.”

“I don’t get into fights any more, but if I’m backed against a wall, watch out, the fists are going to fly.”


20 June 2013

The park was empty today except for Little Jake and Debbie.  “Are you going for beer?” Jake asked Debbie.

“Yeah, I’m going. I’ll leave my jacket here.”

Jake commented, “You’re going the wrong way.”

“I can’t go to the World Exchange, they won’t let me in. I have  to go to Rideau. Is there anything else you want?”

“No, just beer.

“I don’t know where everybody is today. Wolf and Shaggy were here this morning, but Wolf got too drunk. He had to go home. I think they got scared by the cops.  After you left yesterday two cruisers pulled right up on the sidewalk.”

Debbie said, “Yeah, they had me in hand cuffs. This cop wanted my last beer, so I shoved it in his chest. That’s when they grabbed me and put me in the back of  the cruiser.”

“Did they let you go?” I asked.

“Yeah, after a while they gave me a ticket and let me go.”

Jake said, “They were going through our bags and everything. They aren’t allowed to do that —  are they? I said, “Get the fuck out of my bag. You got no business going through my things like that.” I get mouthy when I’m pissed off.  That’s just me.  I walked away after that. A cop chased me. He gave me a ticket. This is going to be a bad summer, man. They’re really down on us.”

An attractive woman, looking slightly lost, came over to us and asked, “Do you know what time it is?”

“Yeah, it’s 12:20.”

“Oh, thanks.” She started to walk away, Frank asked, “Can you spare some change?”

“No, sorry.”

“Well be that way, then.” To me Frank asked, “What time did you say it was?”


“Are you serious? I thought it was about five o’clock. What day is it?”

“The twentieth, summer starts tomorrow.”

“No, I meant the day of the week. Is it Wednesday or Thursday?


“I wonder why nobody’s around. Maybe there’s something going on that I don’t know about.

“I’m glad that Deaf Donald isn’t around today. I can only take him in small doses. I guess that because he’s deaf  he doesn’t realize how fucking loud he is. His trick is to ask people for money so he can replace the batteries in his hearing aid. One time the cops came up to me and said they’d had complaints about somebody yelling. It was a couple of the regular guys. I said, ‘You guys know me. I don’t yell.’ After they left, I heard Donald, down the stairs in the park. Then I figured it out. He was cutting my grass.”

“So how are you doing today?”

“I made sixteen dollars,  so far, but  I spent some of it.”

“Did you ever get your furniture?”

“No, I was talking to my worker yesterday. You saw her. She’s always good to me, but still no furniture. I got a bed a table and a TV that doesn’t work. I got a radio and one lamp. The only thing for me to do is read. Bearded Bruce lent me a book, it’s part of a series of six. It’s called The Clan of the Cave Bear. He said I had to start with that one, but I’ve already read The Mammoth Hunters. It’s the third book, so I already know what’s going to happen. Now, I’m reading what went before.

“It takes place about thirty-five thousand years ago. There’s this five-year-old girl, Ayla, who gets lost because of an earthquake. She comes across another tribe called the Clan of the Cave Bear. The medicine woman feels sorry for her and takes care of her. When the clan gets a new leader he throws her out — she’s considered one of the ‘Others’, the tall ones who have blond hair and blue eyes.

“She changes the course of history. The Clan of the Cave Bear hunted horses for food, but Ayla traps a foal, raises it and learns to ride him. She befriends  a wolf and a saber-toothed tiger. Ayla  also discovers how to make fire. That’s as far as I’ve got,  so far…

“I got to tell you —  I always tell the truth; that’s something my mother taught me…”

I said, “I’m the same way. I don’t have a good enough memory to lie. I’d never remember what I said before.  When Joy got busted for jumping the bus, they wanted her name. She asked, “What name did I give last time?”

“Anyway,  I went to Metro last night and stole two pork chops. I took them over to Bruce’s place, cooked them with lemon  juice,  garlic, oregano and pepper. They were delicious.  Sometimes Bruce and I try to outdo each other with our cooking… I’m a good cook. I grew up in a restaurant… I got to be maitre d at a five-star hotel.   We served Austrian and Canadian food… I wore a tux and everything.

“For some reason I ended up at Steve’s place with half a bucket of ribs. I think some girl gave them to us.

“You heard that Matches got robbed, eh? Yeah, he passed out… They took his pack, his three grams, his bottle, his change and his hat. Anybody who knows him would recognize that hat… I think I know who did it. His name is right on the tip of my tongue… What is it?… I hate when this happens… Anyway, the guy just got out of jail.”

I asked, “Would I know him?”

“No, he did about two years for something… I can’t remember… It’ll come to me…”