Posts Tagged ‘prostitution’

5.0 out of 5 stars This book might make you cry, shout, feel completely helpless and think really hard, but it’s absolutely worth it!, February 2, 2015
This review is from: Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People (Kindle Edition)
Reading this book has made me think a lot about homeless people, pan handlers and anyone that seems an outsider in developed countries. I’ve always found it difficult to know how to interact with someone in the street that asks for money or help. As a young woman I find some of them scary or aggressive and with those that seem really in pain, ill or in great need, I don’t really know how to treat them because I’m afraid of sounding condescending or pitying them. Where I live, there are not many people living in the streets and those that do are never in groups, usually alone with a cat or a dog, or sometimes as a couple, when they’re young, which is highly unusual. Then, there are organized groups of beggars from different groups but they have nothing to do with the people in the book like Joy. Reading the book has been a humbling experience and also a scary one. It’s unfair and totally unacceptable that in developed countries with a lot of money there are so many people suffering, ill and with no roofs over their heads. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done before or how they got there, it’s everybody’s business to take care of them, to provide them with basic needs and make their life human. If they don’t want the help, let them say so. Today I’ve bought honey to an old man that produces it and was selling in the street. He looked really old and spoke very well but not much, he just sold me the honey and kept asking people to buy him some of it. I wonder what happened to him, although I’m sure he has his own home, but how come you need to sell in the streets when you’ve worked your whole life? Questions keep pouring into my head…brace yourself for this read…

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23 September 2014

“Good morning Chuck, it’s cool today.”

“Yes, it sure is. Not what the weather forecast predicted at all. It was supposed to be sunny this morning. We were supposed to be able to see the moon and stars last night. I was up at 5:30 walking Goldie and could hardly see a thing. One of our streetlights is also out. I know we have a couple of skunks in our neighborhood. This morning we couldn’t see them and we got sprayed. Goldie was sick. She vomited three times. She’s still a bit shaky now, she doesn’t want to get down from my lap.

“This morning I saw two beautiful women, in fact they walked by a number of times. They were wearing the high hooker shoes, short tight skirts. I though to myself, ‘They’re either strippers or hookers. Then I thought, there are no strip joints around here. So that narrowed it down. I also saw Chili down by the market. She went out with my son for a while, but got badly messed up with drugs.  A couple of months ago I saw her standing on the corner, waving at truck drivers. She’s a young pretty girl. It’s a shame that she’s ended up like she has.

I said, “She sat with me on the bus last week. We had a long chat. She’s lives not far from me. She said that she’s near her methadone clinic and going to school, so that sounds good.”

“I’m glad to hear that she’s getting treatment. She’s a nice girl.”

I asked, “How difficult is it to get treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism? I was talking to Ian a while back. He was on a wet program with the Shepherd. The waiting list was two years.”

Chuck said, “If you don’t have much money you can get on a program where they monitor your drinking and Teach you how to get along without alcohol. The trouble is it only lasts a month. It’s not worth a shit. You can’t break a thirty year habit in a month. On the other hand, if you’ve got lots of money, you can go to an addiction facility with the best psychiatrists, like you see the Hollywood stars doing. You can stay there as long as you can afford.”

I asked, “How about affordable housing? I’ve heard that a lot of people wouldn’t be homeless, if there was housing within their budget.”

“I’m in a good situation where I live. It’s the best in the city. For a two-bedroom apartment that would normally rent for $900 a month, I get it for $318. Then I have to pay the hydro. It’s a good deal, but I still have to panhandle to get enough to eat.”

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Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People is coming to stores and e-retailers around the globe in June. Join Dennis (author) and Karen (publisher) on Tuesday, June 10th 3 pm – 9 pm (US Eastern time) for a good time celebrating the book’s release.

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https://www.facebook.com/events/296294317205171/

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29 May 2014

“Good morning, Chuck, how are you today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 April 2014

Good Morning, Chuck, did you meet with your lady friend yesterday?

“Hi Dennis,  yes, I met her in the afternoon, but not in the morning. You’re late, I didn’t know if you’d be here this morning or not.”

“I  missed my bus;  as I was stepping out my front door I could see it going past. It was a twenty-minute wait for the next one.”

“Buses are a pain. I had planned to meet my lady friend at the bus stop in the morning. She was there but my bus came right away. The other buses take a long, round about route and don’t take me as near to where I live. We agreed to meet in the afternoon, after she finished work. I went home, charged my wheelchair. I also have one of those little three-wheel scooters that I’ll be using soon. I went to a place where one of my friends works. He oiled and greased it; didn’t charge me labor. There is a place close to me that services wheel chairs, but your wouldn’t believe their hourly rate. I guess they figure, we don’t have a choice.

“See that woman across the street; the one waving. That’s the mother of my granddaughter, the wife of my oldest son. I don’t get to see them very often. They don’t have an elevator in their building. We see each other at family gatherings, like Christmas. It takes four of them to carry me up the stairs. They don’t often  have that many people around. They have to carry my wife up as well. She doesn’t walk so well either. She had to go down the steps on her bum. I said to her, “At least you’re making some use of that.”

I asked, “You’re not still with your wife are you?”

“No, I walked out on her  twenty years ago. We had a big blow up one day. I got up, had my shower, put the coffee on. I poured us each a cup then sat down in the living room, as I always did, to watch the news. Muriel started cooking breakfast; bacon and eggs. I don’t know what got into her, but, all of a sudden she was shouting, throwing things at me, including the frying pan full of hot grease.”

“I was dumbfounded. I walked over to her, grabbed her by the throat and saw red. It was just like in the movies. I was thinking,  I could kill her, with my bare hands, now!  I came to my senses, walked into the bathroom and shaved. I  threw some clothes into a knapsack, along with a couple of cans of dog food. I had D4 (dog) back then. I could only carry so much. I was on disability, but it came as a family benefit addressed to both of us. I said to Muriel, ‘Get down to the pension office and apply for your own  disability. I’m going there now to change my status to single.’ She was okay for money; I saw to that.

“I’d two dollars and fifty cents in my pocket and no place to go. I slept on somebody’s lawn that night. The next night, I went prowling around the alleys near our place. I found a car unlocked, so I slept there for the night. I did that for a few nights. One morning, I hadn’t been out of the car for two minutes when the owner came out. That’s when I started panhandling. With what I was able to collect on the street, and after my check came in, I rented a room — It was in a rooming house. One of the places I stayed was a house of ill repute. I didn’t get any discounts for living there. It was a lively place.

“One time, I was walking to the liquor store. A pretty young woman asked if I could spare some change. I said I only had enough money for a bottle, but If she’d wait there, I’d share a drink with her. We were outside, standing between two parked cars. She said, ‘I like you,’ then went down on her knees and gave me a blow job. I hadn’t made any suggestive remarks to her. There were guys across the street giving me the ‘thumbs up’. I still get plenty of offers.

“Back then, a lot of my money went on cigarettes, booze and, every so often, pot. I had my first heart attack and had to cut all of that stuff out. Just stopped cold turkey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”

wheel

8 July 2013

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

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

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

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

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

“Is he still drinking?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USA Panhandling Signs

3 July 2013

There was a small group at the park,  sitting in a circle. I sat between Lucy In The Sky and Matches.

Lucy said, “Dennis, you’re sitting in my spot. Would you move please?

“Sure,” I said, “Where would you like me to move?”

“Anywhere! You’re sitting in my spot.”

“I’ll sit beside Little Chester.”

“Chester said, “Hi Dennis, did you have a good Canada Day?”

“Yes I did.”

Lucy asked, “Did you get drunk?”

“No, not exactly.”

“Why the fuck not?” asked Lucy.

“What do you mean, not exactly?” asked Gene. “Either you got drunk, or you didn’t.  How do you get not exactly drunk?”

I said, “I was drinking non-alcoholic beer.”

“Ooo!” said Gene while making a sour face. “Why would anybody drink non-alcoholic beer? That defeats the whole purpose. That’s like fucking one of those blow up dolls. That’s what it’s like, one of those fucking blow up dolls. Why would you do that?”

I said, “It keeps me from doing a face plant on the floor. or whatever else I’m near.”

“I guess that’s a good reason. I’ve done that enough times.”

Keith said, “One thing about those dolls, they don’t grab your wallet out of your back pocket. And they don’t give you shit all the time.

“I broke my nose just last week. My old lady bought me a used bike. I was riding just down here. The whole front of the bike came off. I was knocked out on the grass. Somebody phoned the paramedics. All they did was give me a wet towel to hold over my nose, then they took me to emergency. I waited there for eight hours. One of the paramedics said, ‘Just hold each side of your nose and push upwards. That’s all the doctors are going to do.’  I tried it. I heard a lot of crunching, but I think it’s as straight as it’s going to get. Whadya think?

“It looks good, Keith.”

“Then I had to phone my old lady to leave work and pick me up. She wasn’t too pleased about that.

“Do remember Duane?…  Sharon and Duane?… He’s back inside. They had that brand new apartment. He threw a chair through the window. They got him on a domestic. You know all about that, eh Gene?”

“Yeah I know about that. I did eighteen months.”

“That Sharon, she’s a tough broad,” said Keith. Danny was playing his guitar down on Sparks Street and she asked him to play that Willie Nelson Song, Stardust. Then she asked him to play it again. He did. Then she asked him a third time. He said, ‘No, I  played that enough. I wanna play somethin’ different.’ Sharon kicked his guitar… kicked a hole clear through… I was able to fix it though… I brought it to him this morning. 

Matches said to me, “Lucy stayed at my place last night. I told her she’d be safe there.”

I said, “It must be a nice change to be able to lock your door at night, instead of sleeping in the park and getting your stuff stolen.”

“Yeah, it’s nice. I been here Saturday, Sunday, Monday, that was Canada Day. I was here Tuesday and now it’s Wednesday…right?”

“Yeah, it’s Wednesday.”

Lucy asked, “Can I please have a cigarette?…Will somebody please give me a fuckin’ cigarette?…Matches, give me a smoke… If you don’t give me one I’ll go through your pockets until I find one.” She climbed on Matches who was lying, propped up on one elbow. Going through his pockets she didn’t find any cigarettes. “Somebody give me a hand to pull him. He’s probably sitting on those damn smokes. Help me, God damn it!” Lucy had pulled Matches about four feet.

“Hey! ” said Gene, “you’re pulling his pants off.”

I said, “Matches just wants to have his pockets searched by Lucy. Isn’t that right, Matches?”

Lucy climbed on top of him again. All the time Matches was laughing. She reached into the inside pocket of his leather jacket.”

“Hey, whadya doin?” Matches now seemed concerned. Lucy pulled a flattened pack of Players cigarettes out of his pocket and put one in her mouth.

“Now, who’s got a fuckin’ light?”

Keith handed her his lighter and she sat back down on the grass to enjoy her cigarette.

After all the excitement Matches’ eyes started drooping.

I asked, “Are you getting there, Matches, or are you done?”

“I’m okay, but I’d like a drink. Dennis, would you go to the World Exchange and buy me a bottle?”

“Sorry, Matches, I have to get back to work.”

After finishing her cigarette, Lucy lay back and fell asleep.

Keith said, “He can really put it back. Can’t he?”

Gene said, “I’ve drunk him under the table. He likes his Imperial sherry mixed with Jack Daniels. Do you know what that tastes like?…Moose piss, that’s what it tastes like… Moose piss.

I said, “I don’t think I’d like to get that close to a moose to find out.”

Cover of "Lullaby Town : An Elvis Cole No...

Cover of Lullaby Town : An Elvis Cole Novel

I sat next to Magdalene,  she seemed upset. “Hi Dennis, will you talk to me? Nobody else wants to talk to me. I’ll tell you the truth, I fight people, men, women, it doesn’t matter. I want to talk with my mother. I dream about her every night. I think she still loves me, but I’ve done bad things.”

“Your mother isn’t alive is she?”

“No, she died when I was five years old. She was a strong woman. I saw her fight three men one time.”

“What was the cause of her death?”

“Drinking. Her liver quit working. When I was in hospital, and they cut me open, they said my liver was falling away in pieces.” She pulled some grass and sprinkled it. “Just like that.”

“I’m sure your mother still loves you and is very proud of you. She’s looking down on you right now. There’s no such thing as good or bad. It’s a matter of choices and consequences. You may have made choices in your past that you now regret, but the  past is over, it’s gone;  nothing can be done about it.  It doesn’t define who you are now. It’s only what you do next that is important. You have lots of choices and I know you’ll make the best of them. You’ll do what’s best for you. Only you know what that is.” (When not panning for change, Magdalene has worked as a prostitute.)

“Do you think so? I was talking on the phone to my aunt. I told her about everything that’s happened to me. She asked me to come home. She said, ‘Give me one good reason why you can’t come home right now.’ I said, ‘Because I’m drunk.’ She said, ‘At least you’re honest.’ I only drink, I don’t do drugs and I’m not crazy.”

I asked, “Will you be able to go home soon?”

“On Friday I get my check. I’ll go home then. Do you have a phone so I can call my aunt? Mariah let me use hers, but just for a minute.”

“I’m sorry, Magdalene, I don’t have a phone.”

“That’s okay. Sometimes, I just want to go away someplace and be alone.”

“Being alone is okay. I enjoy being alone.”

“No, it’s not okay. Sometimes I want to kill myself. See these scars on my neck. Three times I tried to cut my throat.”

“I can understand you feeling that way. I’ve felt that way before, but think of all the people who love you, your friends, your family. They would miss you terribly.”

“My friends are all drunk.”

I had two books for Wolf.  One was Lullaby Town by Robert Crais.  The other was The Chamber by John Grisham.  “Thanks, Dennis, I’ve read a lot of John Grisham books, but I haven’t read this one. Robert Crais, I haven’t heard of him, but it looks good.”

Bearded Bruce was sitting on the other side of me. “Robert Crais is good. You’ll like that. When you’ve finished it I can give you some more by him. Nancy brought me a book today, Whirlwind. It’s the third in a series by James Clavell. I’ve read nearly all of his books. When I get on to an author I want to read everything they’ve written. I’ve read Shogun,  King Rat, Noble House, Tai-Pan. He’s great.

“I’ve read those too.” I said, “great books.”

“Dennis,” said Wolf, “Did I tell you about my adventure this morning. Of course I didn’t you just got here. The tire on Shaggy’s cart went flat. You can see why it went flat, there is no tread on the tire. Anyway, I was talking to Abigail, and she suggested that I go to Foster’s Sports, on Somerset and Bank, and ask for Darsh. Those are two funny names, aren’t they; Abigail and Darsh? She said to mention her name to Darsh and he would charge it to her account. That’s a nice gesture isn’t it? It took me about half an hour to walk there and I asked, ‘Is there a Darsh who works here?’ The owner said, ‘There is, but it’s his day off today. Can someone else help you?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ I had to get the tire fixed. Shaggy can’t walk all the way home by herself since she was hit by the car. I asked, ‘How much?’ He said, ‘Seven dollars for the tire, eight dollars for the labor.’ What do you think of that? Anyway, I didn’t mind paying fifteen or eighteen dollars — whatever it was. I had a twenty. Shaggy is all I got. I don’t mind spending money on her.  So, until next time, the tire’s as good as new. That was my adventure for today.”

Bruce asked, “What do you think of this weather?”

“It’s great,” I said, “nice and warm, no rain in sight.”

“It’s no good for panning. I do better when it’s thirty below. The best I can do now is twenty or thirty bucks and that’s doing three shifts, about eleven hours a day. In winter I can make that much in three hours.

“I got a recipe book from the liquor store. They have great recipes for marinades, sauces.”

Little Jake said, “It’s amazing what you can do with mayonnaise,  even in a microwave or a toaster oven.”

Bruce asked, “Can you spare two bus tickets? Jake  is coming home with me tonight. We’re going to do some cooking.”

“Sure Bruce, no problem. Do you do any barbecuing?”

“Yes, I barbecue, but I’m not allowed to have one at my apartment. My landlord just died.”

“Does that mean that nobody can prevent you from having a barbecue?”

“I don’t know who will be taking over. He was a great guy. He’s the reason I was able to get such a nice place. He knows I’m a bum that panhandles for a living, but he took a chance on me. I really appreciated that. One time he gave me a huge television set. It was twelve years old, but it worked fine. All I had to do was carry one end and we brought it to my place.

“I don’t know what he died of. He was only forty-seven years old. Maybe it was the drinking, I don’t know. Maybe he took his own life.”

“Did he have a wife, kids, any other family?”

“No, he lived all by himself.”

I had to go back to work. I stopped for a moment to talk to Mariah. “How is Joy doing? Is she okay?”

“Yeah, she’s okay. She was here earlier, but left because of this one,” pointing down at Magdalene. Also she wanted to see Big Jake.”

I said, “I hope everything works out. You take care of her, Mariah.”

“Oh, I will. I’ll keep checking on her.”

On my way down the sidewalk I saw Warren who I haven’t seen for about a year. “Hi Warren, how are you? Do you remember me? We’ve spoken a few times where the benches used to be. It was about a year ago.”

“Sorry man, I don’t remember. What’s your name?”

“Dennis.”

“Take care, Warren. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Take care, man.”