Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

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They Call Me Red

……

24 May 2013

I asked, Joy, “How was your weekend?”

“It was quiet. I’ve been having dizzy spells. I’d be watching television, and I’d go to get up, then find myself flat on the floor.”

“Have you seen the doctor?”

“No, Greg was supposed to come by Friday to take me to get my health card. I had all the information he asked me to bring. I’ve got it in my backpack in a plastic bag, so it doesn’t get wet. I guess he thought, because it was raining Friday, I wouldn’t be out, but I was. I waited all morning for him.”

“Can you phone him to arrange another time?”

“Yeah, I can do that at noon. They always come by. My leg is really hurting where I scraped it on the bus. I’ve been cleaning it with peroxide and putting Polysporin on it, but it looks really red at the edges. I think it’s infected.

“Chester has been by, just hanging around. I don’t know why he does that. He knows I’m working. I still need four dollars and twenty cents.”

“I guess he was on a butt run, was he?”

“Yeah, I guess so. He probably didn’t find enough on Friday to last him the weekend.”

“Nobody has seen anything of Andre. He’s really gone AWOL. Last month, O.D.S.P (Ontario Disability Support Program) fucked up. They gave everyone their full check, without first taking off rent payments. Andre spent his on booze. He has until the end of the month to get his stuff out of his apartment — and he has a lot of stuff. He lasted there a lot longer than I figured he would.”

I asked, “How long has he been staying there?”

“He moved in just before I did, so that would be six months.

“I’m waiting for Shark to come by with my native cigarettes. He’s taken over from Buck, but I’ve hardly seen him. He usually comes by on Tuesdays.”

“When I’ve seen him, he seemed very quiet.”

“Yeah, I think he’s doing junk again. Smashing crack into his arm. It seems so stupid. Five or six Valium will give you the same feeling and doesn’t leave you drug sick.”

“Wolf, has been downtown all weekend. He’s been too drunk to walk home. He’s been sleeping at ‘the heater’, of all places. I’m glad I have my apartment. I’d hate to be sleeping outside right now.”

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……

6 March 2013

This afternoon I found Weasel and his dog, Bear panning on the sidewalk. I stopped to talk to him and the first thing he asked was, “Have you heard anything about Joy?”

I said that I hadn’t and mentioned that I had phoned the hospital today with no result.

I said, “She has her own place now. She has friends nearby if she has any problems.”

“She has to stop drinking. For the past year, she’s been watering her wine down to almost nothing, but she still gets sick. Her kidneys are ready to shut down. She may have been on dialysis again. I don’t know. Do you have her phone number?”

‘No, I’ve never had a phone number for her.”

Weasel said, “I have a phone, but I don’t have any numbers on it. I barely know how to use it.”

“It’s hard to quit drinking, I just got out of the hospital myself. I was dehydrated. The doctor said, ‘I don’t want to state the obvious, you should quit drinking, but if you have a glass of juice or water, between drinks of alcohol, that will help.’

“The people at the Shawarma Restaurant here kind of mother me. Mia will come out on her break and bring me a bottle of vitamin water or Gatorade. She’ll say, ‘Now, Weasel, I want you to drink this to keep your electrolytes up. I’m going to stand here until you drink it.’ Another waitress will bring me a bottle of something when her shift has ended.

“Little Jake, Wolf and I were talking a while back and we counted fourteen of us who have gone this past year. That’s really sad. I’m not going to last much longer.”

I asked, “Have you seen anything of Claude, lately?”

“No, I haven’t seen him for three or four months. I don’t know what’s happened to him.”

I said, “I visited him in the hospital when he had his last fall…”

“Yeah, he said it was a fall, but nobody falls that much. He was beaten, probably by some of those young punks. He was a nice guy, always quiet, minded his own business, kept to himself.”

 

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……

23 January 2013

This morning on the 176 bus I met Ian. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He said, “I have to go to Kanata to see my probation officer. I told you, I got six months of probation with community service. I’m at the Oaks Residence where they have a ‘Managed Alcohol Program’– I’m doing really well.”

http://www.shepherdsofgoodhope.com/programs/supportive-living/oaks/

“I can see that. You look good. You must be anxious to get back to moving furniture?”

“Yeah, going to work would be good.”

“How about plans to move back to British Columbia? Do you think that will ever happen?

“No, I like it here.”

“Even in this cold weather?”

“Yeah, I can put up with it.”

24 January 2013

When I got off the bus this morning I was greeted, as usual by Two-four and Metro. They both hand out free newspapers: Metro Ottawa and 24 Hours (no longer published). Two-four said, “Hey, Joy was here yesterday. She’s using a cane now. She only lasted about ten minutes because of the cold.”

“It’s great to hear that she’s out of the hospital.”

“Yeah, she’s looking good.”

Metro was wearing a balaclava. I asked him, “Are you going to rob any banks after your shift?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, five of them: the Royal, the Imperial, BMO, TD and another one. I can’t remember the name.”

“Well Metro, you don’t need to know the name of a bank to rob it. Good luck with that.”

“Have a good day, Dennis.”

“You too Metro, Two-four. Stay warm.”

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……

 
18 January 2013

Friday night, on the bus, I heard a commotion at the front. My view was blocked by other riders so I couldn’t see what was happening. I heard, “Jesus Christ, can’t you give a guy a break. He’s been hit by a car and just wants to get home. He doesn’t have any money.”

The mood settled down and gradually people exited the bus. To my surprise, sitting across from me were Little Jake and Shakes. We greeted each other, then Shakes said, “Dennis, did you hear what happened to me? Last Wednesday night I was hit by a car at the corner of Merivale and Moriset. The woman driving said she didn’t see me. The piggies drove past and didn’t even stop.”

Jake said, “Shakes, you were dressed in black with your hood pulled over your head. That’s probably the reason she didn’t see you.”

I asked Shakes, “Did you go to the hospital, or see a doctor?”

Jake said, “No, Shakes doesn’t like hospitals or doctors, but you should see his knee, it’s swollen like a grapefruit.”

I said, “Maybe he needs a brace for his knee or crutches.”

Jake said, “He doesn’t want that, he’d rather lean on me. By the way, have you heard from Joy?”

“I went to see her in the hospital before Christmas. She seemed okay, I pushed her in her wheelchair downstairs so she could go for a smoke. I know she has issues about staying alone, especially without furniture.”

Jake said, “I have issues about staying alone. I trashed my apartment last week. I went to see Jenny, my worker, and she’s going to send a cleaning team on Monday morning. She’s really great. They’re going to bring mops and buckets and cleaning supplies. I told her she didn’t have to do that. I’ll have the place cleaned by Sunday, but she wouldn’t listen. She’s arranged for me to see a doctor as well. I’m going to be going to the General Hospital, where Joy is. I know she doesn’t like people to just drop by on her, but if I have a reason to be there, it should be okay.”

I asked, “Jake, do you have your furniture yet?”

“No, I was supposed to contact Jenny the first week of January, but I just wasn’t up to it. I don’t have a phone, so she wasn’t able to contact me. I’ve still just got the bed and the air conditioner, still in its box that I sit on. I don’t have any money, except for a few Tim Horton cards. I go there, have a coffee and watch TV. I pick up butts, that’s all I have to smoke.”

Shakes had his head on his knees and his eyes closed. I said to Jake, “Is Shakes asleep?”

Shakes opened his eyes, “I’m not asleep, it’s just that I’m in pain because of my knee.”

I said, “I’ve been to the park a few times, but nobody has been there except for Magdalene. I talked to her one day. I’ve had a cold, so I haven’t been going out much at noon. I heard that André has an apartment now.”

Jake said, “I haven’t seen anybody since before Christmas. The last time I saw André, he was bumming off us. We didn’t part on very good terms.”

Their bus stop was coming up, so Jake said, “Come on Shakes, let me help you up. We have to get off soon.” Shakes put his arm around Jake and they hobbled off the bus. I was surprised at how much I had missed them.

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……

 
2 January 2013

The temperature at noon was 1 degree Fahrenheit with a 13 mph wind, making it feel like -17. Last night it went down to -5. The only person at ‘the heater’ was Magdalene.

She said, “Hi, Dennis, my boyfriend, Alphonse is in hospital.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, which hospital is he in.”

“He’s in the Montfort. He’s been there for a couple of days now. He has pneumonia. Also, he’s had paranoia. He thought he saw people standing around his bed, but there was nobody there. He thought they were trying to kill him. He ran outside. The police brought him back in. They said that if he stayed outside he would die. When he got back to his hospital bed they gave him a glass of whiskey, because he’s an alcoholic.”

“I said, “Irving is on a program at The Oaks. They give him a glass of wine every hour. Gradually he’ll be able to stop drinking altogether. He wants to get back to work moving furniture, but it’s hard for him while he’s an alcoholic.”

Magdalene said, “We’ve been sleeping outside lately. We are on a list to get an apartment, but nothing has happened.”

“Where, exactly, have you been sleeping?” I asked.

“On York street. If you go to the end, there is a little boutique there, turn left into the alley. There’s a place with a heater that blows down on you. We have a covering that goes around us.

“For a couple of days, he wasn’t able to eat. His face was getting very thin. That’s when he decided that he should go to the hospital.”

“Have you thought of staying at some place like the Mission?”

“After Alphonse gets out of the hospital, we may have to. I don’t like those places. They’re rough, noisy, crowded and stuff gets stolen there.”

I said, “Shakes told me that every time he sleeps at the Mission, Shepherd’s or the Salvation Army, things are stolen from him: his backpack, money, bottles, weed, even his clothes.”

“I’m going to see Alphonse at the hospital this afternoon, but first I have to go to Welfare to see if I can get my bus pass. Ambrose has a check waiting there but only he can sign for it. I’m going to talk to them and see if they can release it to me. I’m listed on all his forms. I don’t even have his phone number at the hospital.”

I asked, “When you visit your worker at Welfare, can she help you to get an apartment? She should be able to get the phone number for Alphonse at the hospital.”

“Maybe, I don’t know, they were looking for us, but we haven’t been back there for two weeks. Maybe they found someplace.

“Alphonse has an appointment with his probation officer, tomorrow morning at 8:30. He’s going to have to cancel. I don’t know the phone number, I hope he’s awake, so I can get the number from him.

“This morning I ate at McDonald’s. I didn’t think I had any money, but I found four dollars and twenty-five cents. I was so hungry.

“Next week I start at New Directions. They’re going to help me deal with my anger management issues. I want to stop fighting, especially with Alphonse.”

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……

31 December 2012

The snow was lightly falling at noon, the temperature was around the freezing point with no wind. Jacques, Jacquie, Mariah, Wolf and Shaggy were standing at the heater.

Wolf said to Jacquie, “Is your name like Downtown Jackie Brown? I think that was a movie.”

“No, it’s like Jacquie Kennedy.”

“Hi Wolf,” I said, “Did you and Shaggy have a good Christmas?”

“It was quiet, I haven’t been back here since I saw you last. I dropped over to André’s new apartment. It’s actually Rodent’s old place in the same building as Outcast. They had to gut it when Rodent left. I’m not sure what kind of infestation he had. They replaced the walls, put in a new wooden floor. He has new appliances. I had a few beers with Andre. I sure hope he takes care of the place. It’s like a palace.

“I’m worried that Little Jake is going to be evicted. He has a hydro bill of two hundred dollars that he hasn’t paid. They’ve cut off his power except for his stove. Two hundred dollars seems a lot for three months. I only pay about thirty-one. He has electric baseboard heaters. I’d never get a place with them. They’re expensive. Jake’s got to get that sorted with his worker. I’m surprised that they aren’t covering his hydro.”

I said to Wolf, “Weasel has a nice place too, doesn’t he?”

Peter said, “Well, it’s smaller, it has carpet. He has a dog. That’s hard on a carpet. It’s not just the dog hair, but the wet, muddy feet. Darrell’s not much of a housekeeper.

“I’ve had my place over three years and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to invite you over. It’s reasonably tidy and well taken care of.”

I asked Jacques, “Have you heard from Joy, lately? Has she phoned you?”

“No, but Bruce is supposed to go visit her. I guess she’s still depressed.”

“So, how was your Christmas, Jacques?” I asked.

“Same old, same old. I was here on Christmas with my Santa hat on, but I left. Everybody has apartments now, so they didn’t come down here. I was looking for the chicken man, but I didn’t see him either.”

I asked, “Has the security guard been by yet?”

“No, not yet. He doesn’t usually come by. Now it’s the city cops giving out tickets for trespassing. They have them all made out ahead of time. They gave one to Shakes. It was just written out to ‘Shakes’. I don’t think that will hold up in court.

“How about you, Mariah?” I asked, did you have a good Christmas?”

“It was just me and my son, so it was quiet.”

Jacqui asked, “Didn’t you have Charlie with you?”

“No, I kicked him out two and a half months ago.”

“I’m so sorry,” said Jacquie.

“I’m not,” said Mariah, “He was someone who could just suck the energy out of a place. Do you know what I mean?”

Wolf said, “I know what you mean. It can really affect your health when you live with someone like that.”

“Yeah, I was tired all the time, was getting colds. I was tired of being in debt. I’m a bit lonely now. It was nice to have someone to snuggle up to, but I can live with being alone.

“Another thing, when I lived with Charlie I was always cold. Mind you, we had our bed on the floor, that can make a difference. Now I sleep on a bed that folds into a couch when I don’t need it for sleeping. I think just being a foot higher makes a big difference.”

Wolf pulled his toque off and said, “Has everybody seen my new haircut? I went to the barber shop on Montreal Road, across from the bank. There’s a little Lebanese lady that runs it. Just twelve dollars for a haircut. She asked me, ‘How do you want your hair to look?’ I said, ‘Do anything you want.’ That put a smile on her face. When I left I said, ‘See you again next year.’ It’s been a year since I last had it cut.”

Mariah said, “I’ve stopped having my hair cut. I think the last time I had it done was 1994. It’s long, but it doesn’t grow anymore. I don’t have it colored or anything. If I get split ends I use some of that beef marrow shampoo. That seems to repair all the damage.”

I said, “I like the grey in your hair. It looks a lot more interesting than if you had it dyed all one color. If you had to pay to have your hair colored, like you have it naturally, it would cost a fortune.”

Mariah said, “They say that when men have gray hair they look distinguished. When women have gray hair they just look old.”

“I don’t agree, I think your hair looks beautiful.”

“It really does,” said Wolf.

Jacques pulled off his sheepskin hat to show off his bald head. I have a set of clippers. Every couple of months I cut Shark’s hair, just cut it all off. I’ll do the same with mine one day.”

Jacquie said, “Jacques, Your hair is really long at the back, but it’s so little.”

“It’s so little,” repeated Jacques, “that’s the story of my life.”

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……

 
28 December 2012

The sun was shining at noon. The temperature was 16 degrees Fahrenheit. It was pleasant as long as one stayed in the sunshine and out of the shadows. At the traffic island were five of my street friends. I asked Hippo, “Did you have a good Christmas?”

“Yeah, it was good. My mom, my dad and my sister came over. They brought me a coffee table and two end tables.”

“How about you, Jake? Did you have a good Christmas?”

“I had a shitty Christmas. On Christmas day they turned my hydro off, so I have no lights. I’ve been there for three months. I haven’t even seen a hydro bill. My stove still works. I guess they aren’t allowed to let people freeze in the winter. I’ve got three outlets on my stove, so I can plug in my coffee maker, my toaster and my radio. That’s all I really need. My worker is out of town now. I hope she can get this sorted out.

“I got a money order for four hundred dollars. I hid it in my closet. I’m saving that to pay the rent.”

Hippo said, “Hey, Jake, do you need a dresser?”

“No, thanks buddy, but the first week of January I’m supposed to get my new furniture. I’ll have to tidy up a bit. When I found out the hydro was off I went a bit crazy. Can you blame me? I broke my broom, my lamp and kicked a lot of other stuff around.

“On top of that, I was over at Shakes’ place drinking with him and a friend of his. They asked me to go out for a smoke run. They gave me fifteen bucks and I went to Mac’s Milk. I bought the smokes and brought them back the change. The next morning I saw my loose change on the window sill, but I didn’t see any bills. There should have been eighty bucks. I went through all my pockets, but there were no bills. I thought back and the only thing I can think of is that it fell out of my pocket at Mac’s. I was drunk, so I may have missed my pocket. The guy in line behind me must have been happy. That’s the first time I’ve lost money in a long time. I lived on the street. If there is one thing I take care of it’s money.”

“How about you, Jacques?” I asked, “How was your Christmas?

“I was at ‘the heater’ with Bearded Bruce. I was wearing my Santa hat. A guy came by and wanted to take my picture. He had one of those collector cameras that you look down into. He turned a lot of funny buttons, then ‘click.’ He said he’d come by and give me a sample. You’ve never seen me in my Santa hat?”

“No,  Jacques,  I haven’t

“Chester,” I asked, “did you have a good Christmas?”

“Yes, I did. My daughter took me out to Mother Tucker’s in the market. We had dinner, then she took me to the Chateau Laurier. She’s only twenty-three years old and she has her own fitness business.”

“Do you get to see her often?”

“Whenever she can fit me into her schedule.”

Big Chester asked, “Have you seen Joy lately?”

“I was at the hospital two weeks ago. I hope to go there this weekend. How about you?”

“I haven’t seen her. I don’t have any bus tickets.” I gave him four.

Jake said, ” Did I tell you about my cat?”

“Yes, I knew you had a cat named Spaz. You have a cat too, don’t you Rhino?”

“I had one, he came mewing at my door at 2:30 one morning. I took him in. When he shit on my floor I threw him out.”

Jake said, “This cat of mine likes to sleep on the pillow next to me and purr. I’ve never had that before. She also likes to smell my breath.”

I said, “She must like sherry.”

“Yeah, I guess so. She was running around, so I fed her some Tender Vittles and she settled right down. She’s just a kitten but she has sharp claws. See these marks on my arm? Those aren’t from bed bugs, they’re from my cat. I think I’ve also got a scratch by my ear. Can you see it?”

“Yes I see it,” I said.

“I’ve got a cat now,” said Big Chester, “But he doesn’t scratch.”

Jacques said, “Did you see that! The bus just ran over that bicycle! I don’t know if there was anybody on the bicycle, It doesn’t matter. It may have been pointing the wrong way, but that’s no reason to run over it.”

Jake said, “Jacques, you’re drunk. Nobody listens to you when you’re drunk.”

“I may be drunk, but I know what I see.”

“Jake,” I asked, “did the bus run over the bicycle?”

“No, that’s Oscar’s bicycle. The bus didn’t run over it. Oscar stopped to talk to someone on the sidewalk. He picked up his bike and rode away.”

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……

20 December 2012

At noon the weather was pleasant. At ‘the heater’ were Jacques, Shakes, Wolf and his dog Shaggy.

“Dennis,” Wolf said, “I was at my usual place panning this morning and from seven o’clock to ten thirty I made more money than I usually make in a week, I made three hundred and forty dollars — in just those three and a half hours. It only happens at Christmas, that’s the only time people feel generous.”

Jacques said, “That was the same with me when I first came to town. I was panning with my dog, near Christmas time. I made seven hundred dollars. It’s never happened since.”

“Jacques, do you have any plans for Christmas?”

“No, I’ll be here. For me, it’s a day like any other.”

I asked, “Will you be going to any of the special Christmas dinners at the Shepherd’s or at the Mission?”

“The Shepherds had their big meal last week, and the one for the Mission was yesterday. I always hear about them a day too late. I may go to the Mission for breakfast on Christmas, that’s all. When Pikpik was around we used to celebrate, but he’s not around anymore. Maybe we’ll go to Shakes’ new place. It’s big. I only have a room and I don’t like cigarette smoke. All these guys smoke. I don’t even have a window that I can open. There’s plywood where the window used to be. Shakes has a big patio door that he can open. The smoke has a way out then.”

“Jacques,” Shakes asked, “If you smoke pot, why is it that smoke doesn’t bother you?”

“It’s just different. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I smoke it from a pipe.”

Shakes said, “When I was fourteen, I was in a juvenile home. The guy who ran it had a collection of maryjane pipes, really nice ones. I stole one of them one time. He knew exactly who took it. He came knocking on my door. ‘Shakes,’ he said, ‘I know you stole my pipe. Now give it back.’ I never gave the pipe back to him, ha, ha, ha.”

Jacques said, “I used to have about twelve pipes, but with all the moving around I lost most of them. I make them out of river rock. I find the nice smooth ones, then I drill them until they break. All I have is a drill. To make the sides smooth I rub it against a concrete wall. It acts just like sandpaper.

“You see here, a pot pipe has a larger hole in the stem. Resin collects there. even after the last of the pot has been smoked, holding a flame to the bowl will light the resin. You can get a buzz just from that. This pipe has been broken, see the crack, so I fixed it with glue. It works fine.”

“Dennis,” said Shakes, “Will you do me a big favor? When you’re ready to leave, will you walk with me to the World Exchange and buy a forty of J.D. for me. I’ll give you the money.” He is barred from the liquor store.

Shakes is barely able to walk at the best of times. His knees give out on him, so I agreed. When it was about twenty minutes before I had to be back at work I asked Shakes, “Are you ready to go now?”

“Dennis, would you mind going by yourself and bringing the bottle back to me?”

“I guess I have time. Sure, Shakes.”

Wolf said, “Are you going to the World Exchange? Would you mind bringing me back six cans of Old Milwaukee?”

I hadn’t thought about the Christmas line ups I’d have to face in the liquor store. I made the run and was only five minutes late for work.

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……

19 December 2012

At noon the weather was mild, slightly above freezing, with no wind. The streets were slushy, but most of the snow had either been cleared, or it had melted. At ‘the heater’ I met six of my homeless friends and Shaggy. I’m never quite sure about Shaggy’s mood.

I said to Wolf, “I downloaded the James Ellroy trilogy, the one that ends with Suicide Hill.”

“You say you downloaded it? How did you do that?”

I said, “I have an electronic reader, a Kindle, and I downloaded the book from the internet.”

“I didn’t know you could do that. It’s a great series. It really gives you a feel of what life was like in Hollywood in the 1950s. They didn’t have cameras everywhere like they do now. No cameras in the holding cells. The cops could do anything they wanted. Don’t tell anybody I said this, because some of these guys, criminals, gangsters, think they’re tough by spitting on the cops and calling them names. Not me, it’s, ‘Yes officer, no officer.” If I’m drunk and they take me to jail, which they’ve done a few times, I’m polite. I say, ‘I don’t want to cause any trouble.’ We have it good now. I’m glad you got those books, you’ll enjoy them.

“Does anyone want a chocolate covered muffin?” Wolf passed the plastic container to Jacques who took one. He broke off a piece and asked Wolf’s permission to give it to Shaggy.

“Sure, Jacques, Shaggy likes chocolate.” To me, Peter said, “Now if it was Weasel, he’d have a fit if anyone offered chocolate to Bear. He’d kill them. But, I figure, a little piece of chocolate, just a little one, mind you, I wouldn’t give her a whole chocolate bar, but one square of a Cadbury’s Caramilk, or something like that, isn’t going to hurt her. I know I shouldn’t smoke or drink beer. I shouldn’t use pot or the other stuff, that we don’t talk about, but I’m healthy. I don’t have stomach problems. I enjoy a drink and a smoke with my friends every once in a while. It’s a treat for me. Shaggy needs a treat sometimes too.”

I saw Bearded Bruce. He walked over to me and shook my hand. He said, “I haven’t been around here for the past four months, but I was hoping I’d see you. I have my own apartment now. I’ve been there about three weeks now. I still can’t believe the words coming out of my mouth, but I have my own place, my own brand new oven, fridge and a new floor. I still sleep on the floor in my sleeping bag, but gradually I’m getting some furniture. I’ve got a couple of chairs to relax in.

“Jenny from 507 approached me a couple of times. She said, we have spots for ninety people in our program and we want to choose you to be a part of it. I said I wasn’t interested, then she visited me in jail when I did the five months. I was in there with thirty guys. When she came we were allowed to go to a big empty room to talk. Just being in a room with so much space got me thinking about how much I was missing. Anyway, when I got out I started on this program, she found me the apartment, got me on O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program). They cover part of my apartment rent, the rest comes directly out of my monthly check. I haven’t even cashed my last Welfare check. Jenny asked me about it. I said, ‘I’ve still got some of my start-up allowance.’

“I’m cooking Christmas dinner, it’ll be Weasel and some of the homeless people. If you don’t have any plans, you’re welcome to come. I got a fourteen pound, Lilydale, grain fed turkey. I’ll be cooking that on Christmas day. I’ll be getting a ham Friday. I’ll cook that Christmas Eve because my oven isn’t big enough for them both. We’ll have mashed potatoes, stuffing and all the trimmings. I’m a certified chef you know. I’m qualified to work at the Chateau Laurier.

“I have a good resume, good qualifications, it’s just the five-year gap when I was into drugs and alcohol. I’ve been to a few interviews, and I’m straight forward about my time in jail. I just have to find an employer who’s been there, who knows where I’m coming from.”

“It’ll come, Bruce. Just give it time.”

“I’ve also joined A.A., but I don’t like it. I may find another group I like, but at this one there’s too much talk about God. I’m not a God person. I was when I was little and I may be later on, but not now, so that puts me in conflict with a lot of the steps in the twelve step program. I have cut my drinking back to about eighteen beer a week. I smoke more pot, but no crack, no other drugs. I won’t even allow them in my house.

“Have you seen Hippo?”

I said, “Not for the last week or so.”

“Tell him that I want to see him. He owes me money, but he doesn’t have to worry. I’m not going to fight him. I wouldn’t beat that lovable, fat bastard. I forgive him the debt and I want to forgive him in person. It’s a Scottish tradition that on New Year’s Eve I put on new clothes, new socks, new underwear, and forgive all those people who have wronged me, or who I have wronged.”

“That’s a good tradition. Have you seen Joy, she’s in the hospital?”

“I mean to go see her. She may not want to see me. We had kind of a falling out a while ago. I said some bad things to her. I want to apologize and set things right.”

It was time for me to go. I shook hands with Wolf and Jacques. Wolf had been to the food bank. Bruce asked him, “Wolf, will you sell me those eggs for two dollars?”

“Sure, I’ll even throw a loaf of bread in for free. Sorry, I don’t have any cheese, you could have made an omelet.”

Dave said to me, “See, Peter knows I cook and Inuk’s tasted my cooking. Inuk, tell Dennis what a good cook I am.” She nodded.

“Inuk, you’re welcome to come over to my new place. I won’t sleep with you, but you’re welcome to visit.”

We all said goodbye for another day.

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……

13 December 2012

Jacques, Wolf and Shaggy were my only friends at the park today. The sun was shining and Jacques was enjoying the warmth.

“I’m always happy, me, especially when the sun is shining. I come down here — where else am I going to go? I was looking in the Loblaws flyer today, they got the big lasagna and the big cabbage roll, the five-pound one for seven dollars. I love that, but living alone, I can’t eat that much. Even Hippo he can’t eat that much. At the market, I buy camembert and brie, the round ones. At Loblaws it costs four seventy-five — me, I can’t afford that, but at the market, they sell the ones near the expiry date that they can’t sell in stores, two for five dollars. I leave it at room temperature for two days and spread it on crackers. That’s my favorite.”

Wolf said, “I don’t like cheese that much. The only kind I buy is mozzarella, and on a hamburger, I’ll have cheddar.”

“You like mozzarella, that stuff they shave? It tastes like puke.”

“I like it, okay? I know, I’m German, they make lots of cheese, but I just like Mozzarella. You don’t have to like it, but it’s what I like.

“Jacques is supposed to be watching his cholesterol. I’ve heard of beef stew, chicken stew even rabbit stew, but have you ever heard of someone making bacon stew? If his doctor knew that, he’d flip.

“I eat bacon every day. I like to fry it and then cook my eggs in the grease. That’s what gives them the good taste.”

Jacques said, “In my place, you’re not supposed to cook after ten o’clock, but at one thirty I woke up and smelled grease. The young guy was frying something. He’s not a very good cook, but the smell of that grease frying sure smelled good. He left his frying pan and dishes in the sink for another day.”

I asked, “Has anybody heard anything from Joy lately?”

Jacques said, “I went to the hospital to see her this morning. She was looking okay. She’s moving around a bit.”

I asked, “She isn’t walking yet, is she?”

“She uses a walker. She seems weak on her left side. Her left foot she kind of drags. They told her that she can’t drink anymore, but already she told me that she has two bottles of sherry in her fridge at home. They want to keep her over Christmas. She say she want to be out to spend it with friends and have a few drinks. The drinks might kill her.”

Wolf said, “Sometimes they’ll do that, let patients out for Christmas, but in her case, it isn’t such a good idea.”

I said, “When the doctors told her she wasn’t allowed to drink, she said, ‘You told me that last time and I got ten months, without coming back here.’ So she has no intention of quitting.”

Wolf said, “People are different, what hurts one, may not hurt another. It’s the same with animals. Weasel really gave me shit for giving Shaggy a little piece of chocolate. I can’t see the problem of giving her just one little chunk. It’s not like I’m giving her a whole chocolate bar.”

Jacques said, “I saw on TV, a doctor was saying that for some dogs, the sweetness of the chocolate turns into a poison inside the dog, but it’s not all dogs.”

“Well, Shaggy’s had chocolate before and it didn’t kill her, so I guess she’s not one of those dogs.”

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