Posts Tagged ‘prostitution’

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25 June 2013

A storm was on its way. Dark clouds were moving in. The air was heavy with humidity. The sun had disappeared from sight. I sat between Matches and Magdalene who said, “Everybody thinks that Matches is my father, but he’s not my father. My father is in prison for fifteen years, for rape and murder.”

“I don’t like that,” said Matches, “rape and murder?”

I asked, “Has your father ever assaulted you?”

“No, my grandfather stopped him. I was raised by my grandparents.  It happened when I was five years old. My father was drunk. He came into my bedroom and had his hand on my thigh. My grandfather came in and threw him down the stairs before he could do anything. It was a shock to me,  a trauma.

“My grandfather has always protected me. He wants me to call him every week, but I don’t have any more time on my calling card.

“Do you know why I was born?   One time my mom came home, opened the door and my father was fucking another woman.  My mother jumped on her and punched her, then beat my father. Then she got a knife from the kitchen and she cut him from his right side up to his neck. He was just sitting there holding himself together.” She was going to kick him out, but he said, ‘I want to have a child with you. If you do that for me I won’t report you to the cops. ‘ So she let him stay. Nine months later I was born.  She died giving birth to me. That is a reason why I’m here.  That’s why I fight with men so much.

“I just got out of jail for beating up my husband. I was in there two weeks. I didn’t eat anything. I felt too sick. I just drank water and they kept feeding me pills.

“This morning I beat up three men. Alphonse just ran away. I just kept punching and punching them. See my knuckles, and the blood on my hands and shirt. When I catch Alphonse, I’m going to beat him for running away.

The three of us moved up the lawn to where Jacques, Gaston Chili, Little Frank and Loretta were sitting. Joy had brought her box to sit on.

I asked Loretta, “How is your recovery coming along?”

“It’s been five months now, but today is hard. I was helping my boyfriend with roofing, we had an argument and were shouting at each other. I just had to get away. He gave me ten dollars, I bought some cigarettes and two cans of pop, but I really wanted something stronger. I still do. I’m an inch away from taking a drink.

Jacques overheard part of the conversation, he asked, “Do you want a drink? I have some here… You don’t drink any more? I didn’t know… Five months? I should quit drinking.”

Loretta continued, “I finished my fifty hours of community service today. I have to go to court in two months. The prosecutor wants me to get jail time. My lawyer said that if I do extra community service it will look good when I go to court. Actually, I have fifty hours to do from two years ago. We figured that if I work one day a week, by the time of my court date, I will have it completed. If I don’t go to jail, I hope to go to secretarial school. Thanks for talking to me. I feel better now.

Joy said to Gaston, “You look hot in those long pants. You should have worn shorts today.”

“I’m going to work later. If I was to wear shorts to where I work, I’d be raped.”

Loretta reached in her bag and pulled out a bandanna that she gave to Joy. “Cool, this is great. I’ll wear it tomorrow. People must be getting tired of me wearing this same old one all the time.”

Chili said, “I know the store where they sell those. It’s on Rideau. Often they have racks of stuff out on the sidewalk.”

Joy said, “I know that place. I’ve snagged a skirt from there.”

Chili continued, ‘If you wear baggy pants like these you can get a bunch of stuff. I’m going to get two yellow scarves and one red one. I’ll sew them together like a flag. Brazil is my favorite soccer team. It’ll be like the Brazilian flag.”

Panhandler

Panhandler (Photo credit: jon.guillen)

As I approached Joy, she smiled and said, “Another day in the neighborhood. It’s going to be a hot one… Oh no, here comes Chester.”

“Hi Chester, have you finished your run?”

He held up a long cigarette butt, and said, “No, I’m just starting.” He wandered off in search of the next ashtray.

“Did I miss anything in the park yesterday?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t stay long it was just too hot. Bearded Bruce was there. He complained the whole time about the heat. I said, ‘Hey dude, if you’d lose a few pounds it wouldn’t bother you so much. Just push yourself away from the dinner table’… He doesn’t listen…

“Even I’ve gained a few pounds. Now, I’m between one twenty-five and one thirty.”

I said, “I remember last winter, after you got out of hospital you were a hundred and five.”

“Yeah, I’m comfortable staying at my present weight. Debbie and Little Jake seem to be living together now. He wasn’t out yesterday. Maybe he’ll stay home and she’ll do the boosting.”

“She was showing off the haircut that Jake gave her.”

“Yeah, that was a laugh. I didn’t say anything, but the best thing she could do now is shave her whole head. There’s no way I’d let any of those guys near me with a pair of scissors.”

“I guess they were both stoned at the time.”

“It shows.” Joy took a scrap of bread and threw it to a sparrow that had landed just a few feet from her. He contentedly nibbled. “He’s my little friend. I spit at the pigeons who come near. I feed this little guy and a squirrel that comes by every so often. Sometimes he’ll climb right up on my shoulder and scratch to let me know he’s hungry. People  love it, but it kind of freaks me out. I’m never quite sure whether or not he’s going to bite me.

“Yesterday, I just wanted to go home and lie in my bathtub. That’s the only place I could stay cool. I guess I’ll have to invest in one of those little fans. The apartment wasn’t too hot early on but with the sun shining on the windows it got hotter throughout the day.

“This morning I put black garbage bags over all the windows to try to keep the heat out. I hope it makes a difference. At least today there’s more of a breeze.

“Matches missed his delivery of Ensure yesterday. His workers arrange it because he doesn’t eat properly. If he had his way he’d just drink. He asked me to phone and ask when they would be coming by. They said, ‘We’ll be there in a few minutes,’ so, there’s no way he could have made it home. He’ll have to reschedule.

“Chester went to the Welfare office on Catherine Street yesterday, because his hydro had been turned off. He told them that he’d lost all the food in his refrigerator —  which was a lie — but they cut him a check for a hundred and thirty-seven dollars. That should keep him going until his pension checks come in. He shouldn’t have any trouble paying his rent, hydro and food. Even when I was there I was always buying groceries and helping with bills. He just spends too much on women. They hang around him on check day;  when his money runs out they leave.”

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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.”

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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.”


The_Mammoth_Hunters_cover

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?”

“12:20”

“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?

“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…”

feller   Caterpillar Feller Buncher

19 June 2013

It was crowded in the park and tempers were short.  Alphonse yelled, “Dennis, aren’t you going to say hello to us?”

I replied, “I’m working my way in that direction, just be patient.”  I made my rounds, shaking hands, asking how people were feeling, what had happened since Id seen them last.”

I came to Alphonse and Julianne. I said, “I hear that you have a new apartment now. How do you like it?” Alphonse said, “We like it there. It’s far from downtown, but it’s nice. Dennis, I’d like you to meet my friend Manisee.”

We shook hands. He said, “Do you want to know an easy way to remember my name. Just think of Man I See, Manisee.”

“I’ll remember that, Manisee.” I sat down near Little Jake, Wolf and Jacques. “I see you have a new hat, Jacques. It looks good on you.”

“Thank you. It keeps the sun off.”

“How are you doing, Jake?”

“Not so good. Those people over They’re drinking straight vodka. They’re getting too loud, especially Julianne.  Her screeching in my ear is driving me nuts. I’m about ready to swat her.”

Alphonse yelled over, “Jake, what’s that boo-boo on your lip? It looks pretty bad.”

“It’s just a cold sore. I’ve been smoking too many butts.” To me he whispered, “See what I mean.”

Wolf said, “I woke up here at six thirty yesterday evening. Matches woke me up. It took about two hours to walk home pushing Shaggy’s cart. When I got to my apartment building I saw Heartless and some others sitting on the curb so I gave them my drunk talk. I didn’t have my teeth, in so I don’t know if I made any sense.

“After I got unpacked I was ravenously hungry. I didn’t trust myself to use the stove, so I went to Subway.  I gave the guy my card and he said, ‘I know just what you want.  I gonna make you something special.’ He did. I don’t know how he knew what I wanted, I didn’t know what I wanted, but he did good. It was really delicious. I still got half in the fridge.

“Yesterday I wanted to tell you about the new book I got. I was too drunk last night to do any reading. I didn’t even crack it open. I don’t even remember the title. I guess I must have read the back cover, but I don’t know. I don’t remember very much,  just  little bits and pieces,  of last night.

“Jake, have you got a dollar twenty-five?”

“Sure,”

“If I give you ten bucks will you do a run for me and get a case of beer? I don’t want to move. I’ll give you one.”

“Will you give me two?”

“Sure, Jake. You look like you could use them.”

Wolf said to me,  “I can see that Jake is getting grumpy. That’s why I don’t mind giving him two beer.”

Julianne sat next to Wolf and put her hand on his shoulder. He said, “Hey, watch the fingerprints!”

“I just wanted to say hello.”

“Saying hello is one thing; touching is another. Just keep your hands off me.”

Someone in white pants and a white jacket came along and called to Julianne. She went over to talk to him. He said, “You ran out on me yesterday. I gave you money to buy a bottle of vodka and you never came back.”

“Yeah, I got delayed. I was talking to someone. See, I just got out of jail and this person was looking after my stuff. I was worried about my stuff, but don’t worry I’ll pay you back for the vodka as soon as I get some money.”

“Alphonse entered the conversation, “You don’t have to worry about your money, my friend. We’re good for it. Just give us a few days. You’ll see us around.”

I asked Hippo, “Have you gone to court yet?”

“Yeah, they remanded it to sometime in July. I was told that they’re going to drop the charges. I have to go back to be fingerprinted.”

“Don’t they have your fingerprints?”

“No, I guess I was too intoxicated. I’m not allowed to drink, smoke pot or carry any weapons, especially hammers. If I get caught it’s straight to jail. I don’t mind, it’s just until my court date.”

I asked, “Have you been home to see your family lately?”

“My mom came by yesterday, bought me some groceries, gave me some money. She’s going down to Kitchener this weekend to visit her brother, my aunt, my nephews, my nieces.”

“Do you ever get down there to visit your relatives?”

“No, I don’t get along with her brothers.

“Jerry here just got back from B.C. where I’d eventually like to go. He operates a feller buncher.”

feller buncher is a type of harvester used in logging. It is a motorized vehicle with an attachment that can rapidly cut and gather several trees before felling them.standard heavy equipment base with a tree-grabbing device furnished with a chain-saw, circular saw or a shear – a pinching device designed to cut small trees off at the base. The machine then places the cut tree on a stack suitable for a skidderor forwarder, or other means of transport (yarding) for further processing (e.g., delimbing, bucking, loading, or chipping).

Jerry said, Hippo, you could operate one of those. It’s no more complicated than the skidders you’ve operated. I was working at a dry camp. The only liquor was what you brought in, otherwise nothing. After two months I came into a bar in the city and was mixing, vodka, whiskey, rum; anything I could get my hands on.  The waitress said to me, ‘Man, it looks like you haven’t had alcohol for months.’ I said, ‘That’s exactly it.'”

panhandlers-topper

As I was approaching the park, Danny came running to meet me. “Dennis, I hate to ask, but could you spare me some bus tickets? Yesterday, Matches jumped the bus and I was left walking, but it turned out for the best. I ran into a lady I know and she wants to buy two of my paintings. She offered to drive me to Tunney’s Pasture. I was planning to visit a friend on Preston Street, so that worked out. When I got to my friend’s place, he wasn’t home, so I ended up walking the rest of the way.”

“How long did it take you to walk home?”

“About three hours, but I didn’t mind walking. I’m a fast walker. I’ve got a painting that I’m working on. I’ll bring it out” The image, outlined with a wood burning tool, was of an eagle in flight. “See the way its wings are up and his claws extended. He’s swooping. I’m going to put a rabbit over to the side here.  He won’t have caught the rabbit, but he will. That’s the way they hunt; they swoop and grab.”

Matches said, “The same thing happened to me a few days ago. The bus driver wouldn’t let me on the bus because I didn’t have the full fare. I walked to the Rideau Centre and tried a few different buses.  I told the driver, ‘Look, I’ve only got $1.63 and I’ve got no other way to get home.’ Luckily one of them let me ride. I started at 5:30 and didn’t get home until 10:30.”

I sat near Joy. She was going through her purse, then called Chester over. “Have you got any money?” Chester checked his pockets and said, “I’ve got $3.60.” Joy said, “That will just make it. Hippo, can you make a run for me?”

“Sure!”

Joy waved the money at him. He indicated that she should bring it to him. Finally, he came over to get it.  Joy said, “Look, if  it’s too much trouble, I can try to get in there myself.”

“No, it’s okay.”

“You say it’s okay, but you’re not moving.”

Hippo said, “What? You want me to run there? I can run.”

Gaston said, “Yes, show us the Hippo trot.”

Hippo said, “If you think I’m fat. Look at the guy coming down the sidewalk.”

Joy said, “It’s not his fault. He doesn’t eat much. It’s some kind of eating disorder.”

Gaston said, “Yes, it’s glandular.”

Hippo headed toward the liquor store. Joy said, “I swear, when he brings that bottle back I’m going home, alone. He’s been over four times in the last week. Sunday he came over at 4:30. I was already in my boxers, ready to settle in and watch TV. I was cooking supper and I’d only cooked enough for myself.  I hate eating when there is somebody looking at me, drooling, so I told him to help himself. That didn’t leave very much for me. I told him, “Look man, don’t come over at such weird hours.’  The next morning he came over at 10:30. I was just sweeping up. I said, ‘I really don’t want company now. I’ve got things to do.’

“I have a hard time affording food for myself,  let alone feeding someone else. He has his mommy to put money in his bank account, but I never see him then; only when he wants something.

“If  I weren’t waiting for Hippo, I’d be outa here. The cops are sure to come, especially with so many people and Frank being as loud as he is. Bearded Bruce came by earlier with  bottles of vodka, sherry and some kid of dark beer in a green can. He mixed them all together and called it a brucinator. Frank had most of it and you know how obnoxious he gets when he’s wasted.”

A cell phone started ringing. Jacques said, “That’s an incoming call! It shows that I’m important!” He spoke a few words then brought the phone to Joy, he said, “It’s Chili, for you.”

“Hi sweetie, how are you doing… What do you mean you’re a hop, skip and a jump from here… You’re at the Rideau Center?… Are you coming here?… If you are I’ll stick around, otherwise I’m leaving… I’ll see you tomorrow then… I better not see any smash marks on your arms and legs, or I’ll slap you silly. I’m also going to check between your toes… Okay, good-bye.”  Stupid chick. There are three buildings there. She has her own apartment, but she has half the complex staying at her place. They’re all getting high.”

I asked, “Is she still in a wheel chair?”

“They’d put her in a walker, but she got fucked up again. She went to hospital and is back in a wheel chair.”

I asked, “What is the problem with her legs?”

“She doesn’t take care of herself. She’ll get a small cut, or damage an artery with a hypodermic needle. It’ll get infected, then she gets blood clots. If it’s not taken care of,  it causes death of tissue in the limb. It also affects the immune system.  The same thing happened to me. See this scar below my knee? It was a cut that got infected.  They gave me a powerful antibiotic and said, ‘If this doesn’t work, we’re going to have to amputate your leg.’ That’s the position she’s in.”

“We’re you on crack then?”

“No, just on booze.”

panhandeling-women

18 June 2013

This morning after getting off the bus, greeting Metro, I noticed Joy’s feet sticking out from behind a pillar. I fished in my wallet for bus tickets,  Joy always  needs them, or else she’ll try to hop the bus from the back door. I didn’t notice Chester approaching. He asked ,”Are those for me?” I asked, “Do you need some?” “Yes please. Thank you very much. Do you want a coffee? I have coupons for Tim Horton’s.”  I declined, “No thanks, Chester, you hang on to them.”

When I approached Joy she was huddled over, her sweater pulled over her knees. “I’m definitely under dressed for this weather.”

“How have you been feeling?”

“Not so good, I’ve got a pain like something I swallowed didn’t go down right; but I get that pain if I swallow spit. It’s because of this cage I’ve got in my chest. It deems to be going away now. I’ve still been having dizzy spells, like I get before I’m going to have a seizure. It happened yesterday at home. I was watching television, then this wave of dizziness came over me. I looked around my apartment for my medication. I usually keep a stash somewhere, but couldn’t find it. I lay down on the bed. I  must have passed out because I woke up on the floor.

“The torn rotator cuff I have, had turned purple. I can’t lift my arm. Have a look at this.” She lifted her bandana to reveal a split in her eyebrow. “I took the legs off my bed, so next time I won’t have as far to fall.

“This afternoon I have an appointment with my women to see about furniture. I hope I don’t have to pay for delivery, because I’m strapped. These people are supposed to help people without money. They aren’t offering much help.”

I commented, “You moved into your apartment seven months ago? And you still don’t have furniture?”

“I moved in November ninth.”

“How has it been going with Jake? You mentioned that he would be coming over.”

“Yeah,  he was over on the weekend. I fixed him supper. He was over again last night. He’s really fat. He’s in a wheel chair and doesn’t know how to use it very well —  I used to be able to do wheelies in mine. He says he’s two hundred and thirty, but he’s way more than that. He’s really getting it at the Sally. Guys will just come up to him and give him a shot in the back of the head, or a one, two, three combination. I said to him, ‘Well, in the past, you shouldn’t have been such an asshole, to so many people.’

“He noticed the condoms in my drawer. He asked, ‘Who are these for?’ I said, ‘For you, if I ever decide to fuck you.’ There’s no way I’d let him do it without a condom. Who knows what diseases he’s carrying. He asked, ‘Have there been any other guys you’ve been with?’ I said, ‘No, I’ve been waiting for you.’ There’s no spark though. Nothing at all. He asked if he could come over today, but I said, ‘I’ve got an appointment with my women. I don’t know how long that’s going to take.’ He said, ‘Well, I can’t come Wednesday, because I’ve got my piss test.’ It seems crazy. He’s got a condition on his parole that he doesn’t drink, but they warn him before he’s tested. He has plenty of time to get it out of his system.”

I said, “You mentioned that he had been sober for a while.”

“All the time he’s been inside, but there’s the jailhouse hooch. Everybody drinks that. It’s easier to get drugs there than it is on the outside. He was drinking and smoking pot on the weekend.

“He’s acting really dependent, like I should be catering to him or something. When I told him it was time for him to go home he asked, ‘Will you push my chair to the bus stop?’ all whiny like. I said, ‘There’s a slight hill from here to the bus stop, you can make it there yourself. Maybe when I can afford to get a cell phone, you can phone me from the bottom of the hill and I’ll come and push you.’

Chester came back with only one coffee. He said, “They aren’t taking the coupons any more. They’d only give me one coffee.”

“Don’t worry about it, they’ll be having another roll up the rim to win soon. ” Joy showed me a clear plastic box with dozens of torn coffee rims. “A woman just dropped these in my hat. I guess she didn’t want to wait until the next promotion.”

“I’m going to leave soon.  I’m still not feeling well. I’m going to  the park to  wait for my workers.”

I said, “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, and, Chester, I’ll see you at the park this afternoon.”

“Bye Dennis.”

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11 June 2012

The weather at noon today was ninety degrees and sunny. Typically, everyone was complaining about the heat. I met Serge sitting on the curb. We shook hands.

“How are you doing, Serge?”

“Not bad. I’m just drinking my lunch. The others are up top.” He was sipping from an innocent looking clear plastic water bottle that also contained rubbing alcohol.

“I’ll see you later, Serge.”

“See you.”

At the park were four of my friends.

Loretta said, “I’m sad today. It’s my birthday, I had to appear in court on an assault charge and I met my ex. We had a big fight right in the Courthouse. They think I may get jail time. I hope not.”

“Hey,” said Silver, “my birthday is coming up this month. What kind of present are you going to buy me, Outcast?”

“How be I give you a kick in the ass? My birthday was in January. What did you give me?”

“Well, could I have a smoke?”

“I’ll throw it over the railing. Will you get it?”

“Sure I’ll get it.”

“How be I throw you over the railing?”

“How old will you be, Silver?” I asked.

“On the 23rd I’ll be 52. Outcast is a couple of months older than I am.”

“How old are you, Chester?”

“I’m sixty-four.”

“How are you feeling. Are your toes still black  from being run over by the the bus?”

“Yes they’re still black, but they’re getting better. I’m still in a lot of pain. I usually don’t take pills. The only thing I take is demerol. My doctor gives it to me for migraines. They get very bad. I get them about once a month.”

“Have you seen Joy today?” asked Loretta.

“No,” I replied, “she wasn’t panning this morning.”

“She was here yesterday,” said Silver. “Maybe she panned large and doesn’t need to come out today. I’m just staying around until the pigs come. Then I’m taking off. I hid my backpack with my beer in it, so if they come, all I can lose is this can on the railing.”

“Friday, they were here nearly every hour,” said Outcast. “I kicked over three cans.”

Loretta said, “I left my beer on the railing, right where it was. They didn’t say anything.”

Outcast said, “Debbie’s computer crashed today. I had some savings put away, so I bought her this laptop. It was regularly $400.00, I got it for $200.00.”

Silver said, “Sorry, Dennis, for my smoke getting in your face. It’s getting so we’re not allowed to smoke in parks, on public patios or any public places.

“I nearly burnt my bed the other night. My mattress is on the floor. The end of my cigarette fell off and I guess it rolled under the edge of my mattress. I kept asking my roommate, ‘Do you smell something burning?’ I flipped over my mattress and there was a plate sized, smoldering hole. I got two or three pans of water from the sink and doused it. Then I had to sleep on the floor.”

“Silver,” said Outcast, “you’re dropping ashes on Chester’s backpack. Soon, it’s going to be on fire.”

“Chester,” said Loretta, “come over here and stand in front of me. I want to take off these long pants and put on my shorts. I’m too hot in these.”

Outcast said, “I’m really being stupid. I have asthma, I’m smoking and I don’t have my puffer with me.

“I’ve got lung problems too. Now, it’s turned into cancer. In the 1980’s I was working on the Post Office building, removing asbestos. We weren’t wearing masks. We didn’t even know it was dangerous, back then. Of the twenty-seven guys I worked with only thirteen are still alive. The rest of us are still waiting for a settlement from the government.

“At least I have insurance so my kids are taken care of. My brother was a firefighter during 9/11 in New York. His lungs are so badly corroded, from the dust and the smoke, that, he can’t do anything. I come from a family of eleven boys and one girl. I’m the youngest.”

“That’s a big family,” I commented.

“How was your weekend, Silver?”

“I panned in my usual place on Saturday. On Sunday, I was at the two churches downtown in four shifts from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. I always do well there.

“This morning I went for breakfast at the Salvation Army. Mondays they always have a full breakfast. I had a three egg sandwich. They have really good sausages there. Tuesday, at the Mission, they’re having their full breakfast.

“On Father’s Day Chicken Man will be coming by. He came into a lot of money, now he’s spreading it around. On Father’s Day and on Mother’s Day he gives away chicken and turkey hot dogs, and with them he hands out $5.00 bills.”

English: Ryan Hobson joins Michael Ignatieff f...

English: Ryan Hobson joins Michael Ignatieff for food bank photo op. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the park, I sat between Little Jake and Joy. I asked Joy, “How are you feeling today? Sick? Sore? Tired?”

“All of the above. Jake is coming over tonight.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Okay, I guess. He came over Monday. He’s quit drinking. He’s in a wheel chair.”

“Did you beat  the shit out of him?”

“No, maybe that will come tonight.”

“He phoned this morning, on Jacques’ phone. He asked to come over. I said, ‘I’m cooking chicken, will that be alright?’ What a stupid cow. I shouldn’t be feeding him after what he did to me.”

“I hope it goes okay.”

“I hope so too. This morning I got on the bus, put in my ticket, walked to the back and sat down. The driver yelled, ‘Hey lady!’ I didn’t know who he was talking to. ‘You, lady with the blue back pack, would you come to the front please?’ I look to see what color my back pack is — blue. So I walk to the front. He asked, ‘What’s in the bottle that you’re drinking?’ I said, ‘It’s bubble tea with ginger ale. You know, bubble tea? Usually it’s made with tea and sparkling water, but I use ginger ale.’ He said, ‘Okay, you can sit down.’

Little Jake said, “Didn’t he ask to smell it? The cops always ask to smell my bottle.”

“No, bus drivers don’t do that. They wouldn’t want their nose anywhere near my bottle.”

Jake said, “I’ll have to remember that one.”

Mariah  said, “I went to the Food Bank today. I could only get a few things. They allowed me three cans: one of vegetables, one stew and one tuna. They also gave me a tiny plastic container of margarine and a few other items.”

“What kind of stew did you get? Is it the one that tastes like dog food — Gravy Train?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“Which Food Bank did you go to, Gatineau or Marier Street?

“I never go to Gatineau. It means I’d have to get there three hours before they open, even then there’s  a line up. By the time I get in, there’s hardly anything left.”

“Didn’t you get any meat or eggs?”

“When I had kids, they used to give me meat and eggs, but not as a single.”

Matches asked, “Mariah, would you help me to get my groceries some day.”

“I can’t do it Friday, but maybe Saturday.”

“Saturday is fine. The doctor has me on a special diet.”

“Dennis, ” said Matches, “you know me?”

‘Yes, I know you.”

“I know when it’s coming and I know when it’s going — right?”

“That’s right Matches, you’re The Man.”

12 June 2013

The park was welcoming today. “The sun was shining the weather was warm and the regulars were sitting on the curb. “Shark, ” I said, “I haven’t seen you for a long time.”

“No, I don’t come here very much any more.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay. My feet hurt —  that’s because of the HIV.”

“How is Irene?”

“This morning she was puking her guts out. It’s a reaction to the new medication. She hasn’t been outside since winter;  just doesn’t have the energy. There is always an excuse, ‘It’s too hot? It’s too early. It’s too cold.’ When she does invite me out with her, it’s evening, and I’m drunk by then. I keep telling her, “Let’s do our shopping in the morning when it’s cool and the crowds aren’t as large. I have to stop by Wal-Mart for groceries on my way home. I’ll be leaving shortly.”

This is a selfmade image from the english wiki...

This is a selfmade image from the english wikipedia. The photographer has uploaded it as GFDL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Joy has been staying at Chuck’s place, just around the corner from me. She wouldn’t come over to our place because of me.  Irene didn’t want to go to Chuck’s place, so they didn’t get to see each other.”

Loretta came down the sidewalk and stopped to talk.

“Loretta, ” I said, “Shark and I were just discussing how complicated women are. They always invent new rules and forget to tell us about them.”

Loretta said, “Yeah, I can’t even figure myself out.

“Shark, did you hear that I finished a two month program? I’ve been sober for over five months.

“Congratulations, Loretta! I said. “You mentioned that you’re going back to school. When does that start?”

“In another month. I have to finish my grade twelve first, then I’m going to secretarial college.”

” Scarface has quit smoking. He’s got two patches and a puffer. It’s been four days now.”

“Yeah, ” said Shark, “I saw him this morning to by some smokes. He told me all about it. He’s been sober four years, hasn’t he?”

“Five.”

“Good for him, ” said Shark. “I should quit smoking. It would save me a lot of money. Mind you, I’ve been saving money not buying diapers. I get a two hundred-dollar allowance for those. This morning, at Scarface’s place I let a wet fart, I said, ‘Oh, oh, I better go home.'”

Loretta said, “Nothing a shower and a change of clothes can’t fix.

“I had his dog Dillinger all day yesterday. He loves to chase a ball.”

Shark said, “He can play with it all by himself. He bats it with his paw, then runs after it.

“What’s happening with that asshole?”

“He’s in detention now.”

“Has he been bothering you lately?”

“Not since they put the restraining order against him.” To me she said, “This all has to do with to when I was raped.  It’ll be a year ago July seventh.  I went to the hospital immediately after, so they have evidence and were able to charge him. There’s been a preliminary hearing. The official court date has been set for September.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to charge a guy with rape. At home it used to happen all the time.

“See what I made?” Loretta showed me a lighter that had a red, beaded cover. “A guy in the recovery program showed me how to do it. It’s made with seaweed beads and clear fishing line. I want to try to make cell phone covers.”

Wolf said, “Dennis, I read that horse book you gave me. I didn’t think I’d like it. I don’t know anything about horses. I always thought it was a sport for rich people;  but I didn’t have anything else, it was on the top shelf,  so I started reading. I really dove into it. I couldn’t put it down.  I had to find out who was killing the horses. Have you read the book?

“No, I haven’t read it.”

“Then you won’t mind me telling you that the vet was behind it. He was poisoning them. I wouldn’t give the book a first rank, but it was still good. I prefer the shoot-em-up detective kind.

“I’ve been sober for the past five days. Because of the rain, I didn’t feel like going out;  but after a while — even with the books — Shaggy and I get bored, so we come down here.  I don’t like everybody here. I told Jacques to fuck off the other day.

“Jacques, I’m sorry about the other day. Are we okay?”

Shamus  and Brent from the Innercity Ministries stopped by. “Would anybody like a sandwich?”

Shark said, “Yeah, I’ll take one. Do you have any razors? How about Chapstick, or lip gloss, or something like that. Irene wants me to get her some.”

Shamus said to Matches, “How have you been?”

“I’ve been trapped in my apartment. I didn’t want to leave with the door unlocked,  so I had to stay there for two days.  I haven’t paid my cable bill, so I didn’t have television. I haven’t paid my phone bill so I didn’t have a phone. I had nothing.”

I asked,  “Did Sammy have your keys?”

“Yeah, Sammy had them. Yesterday he came back and apologized. He said, ‘I forgot I had your keys. I brought you a bottle.'”

I asked, “So, everything is good now?”

“Yeah, everything is good.”