Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

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womanbox

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16 October 2012

This morning, as I approached Joy, I could see that she was shivering, even though she had her blanket wrapped around her legs.

“Hi, Joy,” I said, “don’t you have any warm, winter clothing?”

“I’m wearing two pairs of long underwear under my jeans. This coat is warm, it’s just sitting on the concrete that’s making me cold. Chester is going to give me his winter pants. He doesn’t want them anymore. I said, ‘If you’re going to throw them out, I’ll take them.'”

“I asked, “Did your worker come by yesterday?”

“No,” she said, “she’ll come today or I’ll see her for my regular appointment tomorrow.

“Yesterday I hung out with Andre, Little Jake and Shakes. I went at Andre, he just won’t get the message. I said to him, We’ve been through this before. I don’t want you touching me. ‘But, Joy,’ he said, ‘I’m clean now!’ I said, ‘Andre, you’ve got five days dirt under your fingernails. Don’t tell me you’re clean. Even if you were, I haven’t been with a man for the past year. I don’t intend to start with you.’ Still he kept putting his hand on my thigh, as if it were some kind of joke. Even Shakes and Jake yelled at him, ‘Andre, for Christ’s sake, leave her alone, she’s family!’ Again he put his hand on my thigh and started moving it up, so I punched him in the side of the head. I said, ‘Next time, I’ll stand up and kick you in the head.’ Can you believe it, he started crying. His eyes welled up and he said, ‘Joy, I love you. We’d be good together.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ I just want to be left alone.

“This morning, when I was in the bathroom, I saw a red spot on the wall. I thought to myself, That spot shouldn’t be there. I took a piece of toilet paper, wiped the spot, sniffed it — sure enough, it was a baby bed bug. Next time the guy comes to spray, I’m going to be there. I’ll make sure he souses the carpet, the baseboards, anywhere else they like to hide.

“It was just getting to the point where I was sleeping through the night. Now, I have to worry again, about whether or not the sheets and covers on my air mattress are touching the carpet. Besides that, I think that the tube-shaped air chambers are affecting my fibromyalgia.”

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group3

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9 October 2012

Joy was huddled in her blanket with her hood pulled close to her face. She was rocking back and forth. When I came closer, I could see that she was shivering.

“I’m freezing, ” she said. “I didn’t see you on Friday.”

“I was at Silver’s funeral. I met his sister, his three brothers, nephew, son and granddaughter. She’s a little sweetheart, just four years old.”

“I know that Outcast, Shark and Irene went.”

“Yeah, I saw them there. They didn’t stay for the service. Stella was also there.”

“We were too bummed out. Chester was crying. He got me crying. He took it really hard. He said, ‘What am I going to do with the dvds that Silver lent me.’ They’d often get together to watch movies, game shows, eat pizza and drink beer.”

“How was your weekend?” I asked.

“Quiet, I went to visit Loretta for the weekend. She’s renting a room in a house near Mer Bleu. It’s out in the country, a gorgeous house. Her landlord doesn’t like her boyfriend, Vance. He’s been really ignorant on the phone when the landlord has answered. He said, ‘Why the fuck are you answering Loretta’s phone?’

“The landlord was away this weekend. Vance came to visit. I hardly saw Loretta at all. When I woke up Sunday morning they were gone. I had no bus fare, because I’d given tickets to Loretta. I had no cash, because I spent the last of it on a bottle for her. So, I was stuck. The landlord had change in a dish near the door. Without that I wouldn’t have been able to get home.”

“So, you and Loretta are friends again?”

“Yeah, we’re fine. It’s just when she gets drunk that she acts crazy. When she’s relatively sober she’s okay. She has to go into rehab, sometime soon. She’d previously said, that she was going to come back to the house after she finished. Vance gave her an emerald ring on Friday. I could see that it was an antique ring. I talked to her landlord on the phone yesterday and he seemed really pissed off. Now, Loretta is saying she’s going to find a new place to stay after rehab. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vance had stolen the ring from her landlord.”

“Irene was really upset Friday, after Silver’s funeral. She had been going out with Silver for about six years. She dumped him for Shark. She and him have been together now, for about five years.”

“Silver mentioned that. When I told him that Shark and Irene were going to share an apartment, he said, ‘He’d better have a place to hide when she gets crazy.’ He also mentioned that Irene was the reason he started smoking again.”

“It hit Silver really hard when Irene left him. He didn’t go out with any women since her. He’d say, ‘I still love Irene, I have no interest in other women.’ ”

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group3

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4 October 2012

Sitting on a curb near the park was the regular congregation. Serge, who had been sleeping on a park bench on Elgin Street, came walking up the sidewalk with William.

I asked, “Does anybody know any details about Silver’s funeral? I’d like to attend if I can.”

Andre said, “From what I’ve heard, it’s at Kelly’s Funeral Home on Somerset. The viewing of the body is at 10:00, and the service is at 11:00. You won’t see me there. I’ve been to too many funerals, dozens of them. I want to remember Silver the way he was, not the way they’ll have him in his casket. I can’t take that.”

I said, “Hi Serge, William. Serge, have you seen the doctor yet. You mentioned that you wanted to see him about your stomach and your shoulder.”

“My stomach is okay. I have an appointment with the doctor next Thursday. It was arranged through Center 507, with a doctor at the Clinic on Cooper Street. William and I are just going for something to eat now.

“Shakes, how are you today? You didn’t look too good yesterday when the fire truck and the paramedics arrived.”

“I’m fine, I’m just tired that’s all.”

“How are you Andre?”

“Last night Joy, Jake and I were drinking at Jake’s new apartment. Joy and I got into a little tiff. We were both drunk. I decided to leave and I woke up in somebody’s garden. I was eating carrots, some kind of squash. I used a Tim Horton’s card to slice a tomato. That worked really well. I killed a pumpkin, a big sucker. I just wound up and ‘kapow’. Now, I got all these stains on my pants.”

I asked, “Did Joy find out when she’s going to be able to see a doctor?”

“Yeah, she’ll be going tomorrow.

“I’m just waiting for my worker, she’s supposed to be here at 12:45. She’s going to take me to see an apartment. Next week she’ll take me to see a doctor. She asked me, ‘Do you have any medical problems?’ I said, ‘How much time do you have? I can keep you writing for an hour with all my medical problems.’

“I walked into a clinic one time, there were all kinds of people in the waiting room. I walked up to the counter and said, ‘I’m in the middle of one of my mood swings. I want a doctor NOW! I guess I looked real freaky. The doctor saw me right away and gave me some medication. It was potent stuff. I felt like a zombie for three days. I don’t want to take that again, I couldn’t do anything but sleep. When I was awake, it was like I was in a fog. I smoke pot instead. It keeps me mellow. If I don’t have any for about three days, I start to get wired up.

“One time the cops were chasing me and I pulled myself over a five foot fence. What I didn’t realize was there was a thirteen foot drop on the other side. I broke some ribs that time. I had a floating rib for a while. That really hurt. Sometimes, I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath.

“Another time I jumped out a second story window. There was a wooden shed below that broke my fall and my ribs on the other side.”

Wolf said, “Did I tell you that Shaggy bit me this morning. That’s why she’s over there in front of Nick. She started the day well, she walked all the way down here on her own. For a thirteen year old dog that’s pretty good. These guys get her all wound up. I reached in front of her and she chomped down on my wrist. It didn’t break the skin, but it’s so sore.

“That’s all I got to say to you.

“Andre, can I have a drink from your bottle?”

Andre said, “Yes.”

“You know, I don’t often ask you for anything, do I?”

“No, you don’t, Wolf. I don’t remember the last time you asked me for something.”

“Alright then, just so we have that straight.”

A skateboarder went by and Shaggy started barking and chasing him. Andre grabbed Shaggy’s leash, just in time. He said to the frightened kid, “She doesn’t like skateboards.”

Andre said to  a woman passing by, “That’s a beautiful shawl you’re wearing, sister. Has anybody told you today, that you’re beautiful too?”

To me he said, “See how tall she is, she must be six one or two. I love tall women. They can wrap their legs around you twice.”

Nick was chattering away to nobody in particular, mumbling something about, “I know how to survive. I’ve even slept in a snow drift with a piece of cardboard, newspaper inside my pant legs and in my sleeves. I was fine until the cops kicked me in the face.

“Can somebody throw me that bottle?”

Wolf said, “It’s not mine. I’m not going to throw it to you.”

It was time for me to go. I said my good byes and said that I would see everyone tomorrow.

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salvationarmy

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3 October 2012

As I got off the bus this morning, I was approached by Metro. He had a grim look on his face. “Dennis, someone just told me that Joy is in hospital. I’d like to visit her, but I don’t know her last name.”

“It’s, Wolford,“ I said, “Joyce Wolford.”

“Thanks, Dennis, I’m not good at hospitals. There are too many sick people there, but I’ll try to get over to see Joy.”

“Thanks for telling me, Metro, I really appreciate it.”

“No problem.”

Nearly beside me, sitting at a patio table outside Tim Horton’s, drinking coffee from a paper cup, was Deaf Donald.

“Dennis, something really bad happened to me. I just got out of jail. The police, all they say is lies. My landlord phoned them last night. He said I was making too much noise. I wasn’t making a lot of noise. It’s just that my landlord doesn’t like me. The police say I assaulted them. I didn’t do that. They came to my door; when I opened it they grabbed me, put me in handcuffs and pushed me to the floor. I spent the night in jail. My mother posted bail for me. I have a ticket for disturbing the peace. It says I have to pay $350.00, within fifteen days, or I go to jail. On top of that, I’m not even allowed to go back to my apartment. My rent is paid until the end of the month, but my mother and some friends are going to have to move my things. I’m not allowed. That’s not right.

“I’ve stopped taking drugs. I can’t go to jail again. Do you know the name of a good lawyer?”

I wrote down, on a piece of paper, the name of a lawyer I’ve used in the past and handed it to him. I said, “Contact this person, if she can’t help you she’ll refer you to someone who can. She’s very pleasant. There’s no charge for the introductory visit. She’ll explain the charges to you, and what your rights are. Any information needed for your court appearance can be collected by her office. If you want, she’ll represent you. Don’t worry, you won’t go to jail.”

“Thanks, Dennis, I’ll walk there after I go for my methadone treatment.”

“Take care, Donald.  Everything will work out.”

At noon I was relieved to see Joy. I said to her, “I’m so glad to see you. Metro said that you were in the hospital. He said that someone gave him the message to pass on to me. Are you alright? Metro didn’t know your last name, but wanted to visit you in hospital.”

“I’m fine, thank him for me when you see him next.”

I shook hands with Chester, “How are you, Chester?”

“Not so good.” He then turned and walked away.

“We did get some bad news,” said Joy. “Silver died on Monday at the Mission Hospice. He and Chester were really close. Silver checked himself into the Mission, they moved him to the Salvation Army, then he was moved to the Hospice. There’s something not right there. He should have gone to the hospital, not the Mission. They have no trained medical staff there.”

Bert pulled out a photo of a very healthy looking  Silver, sitting by the canal. “I must have known him for ten, twelve years, maybe. It was strange. He had a swollen ankle, then his belly swelled up, his face became skinny. He died so soon. I think he must have had some sort of virus or an infection. I wonder if they’ll do an autopsy. I’d like to know what he died of.

“We were just talking about all the people we know who have died. Just in one year, Rip died…”

Shark said, “Rip’s still alive.”

“Oh, I meant Tim, he died at Easter, Digger died on Canada Day and Hobo died on Labor Day, all in the same year.”

I said, “I saw some of those people in a video.”

Shark said, “It was called ‘Under the Bridge’. Most of those people have left town or are dead.”

Jacques said, “I had an uncle. He retired and stayed home with his wife. He had nothing to do, nothing to keep him busy. He died within two weeks of retiring. Me, I don’t have to worry about that. I’ve never had a job, so I’ll never die from stopping work.”

I said, “That’s good preventative medicine, Jacques.”

Andre said, “I out drank Hippo; he’s gone. I out drank Shakes; see he’s going fast. He’s giving me the evil eye, pretending he’s not falling asleep; he’s gone.”

“Where is Hippo?” I asked.

“He’s at his apartment,” said Jacques. “Didn’t you know? I saw his place. It’s a one bedroom, the size of a bachelor. The bedroom is so small, there’s only room for a single bed. When they brought it to him he said, ‘Hey, I wanted a double bed.’ They said, ‘There’s no room.’ He’s over in Vanier. I was there but I don’t know what street he’s on. It goes in this way, out that way, before you know it, you’re lost.”

I said, “He told me he was moving to Lavergne Street.”

“Yes, Yes that’s the name, Lavergne Street.”

Joy said, “That’s the place I should have gotten. I know why I didn’t get it, my worker told me; they thought I was a hooker. If I was a hooker, I wouldn’t have been wearing that cheap, polyester dress.

“I told Chester I wouldn’t be coming home tonight. Last time, he waited up for me. I said to him, ‘Chester, I’m forty-six years old, nobody has to wait up for me. If something is going to happen, it’ll happen. If I’m not home by eight o’clock, figure that I’m going to be gone for the night.

“He’s invited Raven over, can you imagine? She’s worse than Loretta. At least I won’t have to deal with getting her out of the apartment.”

I asked, “Have you seen Loretta lately?”

“Not since I threw her out, Monday. I took her down in the elevator, bounced her around the walls a bit. Nothing was broken. She was able to walk away from the building.”

We saw a fire truck pull up. Jacques said, “We better leave, soon the police will be here.”

Firemen came over to Shakes and tried to wake him up. Shortly after, a Paramedic truck pulled up. It was time for me to be back at work. I expect that Shakes will be taken to Hope Recovery, at the Shepherds of Good Hope. He’ll be allowed to sleep the night and will be back in his usual place tomorrow.

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
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bench

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1 October 2012

I walked toward the park. I recognized Jacques’ bushy white beard and waved to him. While I was still about a dozen feet from the group an attractive, young woman, with long black hair, approached me.

She said, “We haven’t met before. My name is Doreen.”

“I’m Dennis,” I said.

“Do you happen to have a cigarette?”

“No, sorry, I don’t smoke.”

“Good for you. I wish I didn’t smoke. It’s bad for you and it smells bad.” Doreen then sat on the curb.

I shook hands with the woman beside her and said, “Hi, I’m Dennis.”

“We’ve met before, “she said, “I’m Jenny.”

I shook hands with Chester, “Joy will be here shortly, ” he said.

The rest of the group were either sitting on the curb or standing nearby. I sat between Shakes and Doreen.

“How was your weekend, Shakes?”

“I’ll tell you in a minute.” He was counting coins and putting them in a plastic pill bottle. “My weekend was good, except for the rain on Sunday. I was walking in that. My leathers didn’t dry until about three this morning.”

“Have you been sleeping behind Starbucks, or inside somewhere?”

“Both, it all depends on who kidnaps me, ha ha ha ha.”

“I guess you mean that in a good way?”

“I stayed at Danny’s place last night. He lives in Little Italy.”

Doreen asked me, “Where did your family come from?”

“My grandparents came from Iceland in 1902.”

“I know people from Iceland. I’m from Baffin Island, not far from Iceland.”

I said, “My mother didn’t learn to speak English until she went to school.”

“Where I went to school,” said Doreen, “If we spoke Inuk to anybody we got a slap on the head. When I went home, if I spoke English, even to someone who spoke English, I’d get a slap on the head. I got it from both sides.

“Do you know whose land were on?”

I said, “I was told it was Algonquin land.”

“There is a dispute about that. It’s Huron and Algonquin land. It makes me so mad to think about it, but this land was a native burying-ground. How would you like it if they built over the place where your grandmother was buried?

“I may live in the city, but I still make my stamp on the ground.” She demonstrated by hitting the sidewalk with the side of her fist.

To some women passing on the sidewalk, Doreen yelled, “Will you please give me a smile?”

The women turned and smiled. Doreen, replied, “Thank you, you did give me a smile. That makes me so happy.”

To me she said, “I just want to be happy. I think that is what most people want, just to be happy.”

I agreed, “If everybody expressed love to each other, the world would be a happier place.”

I could see Joy walking up the sidewalk. She didn’t look happy.

“Hi Joy, how was your weekend?”

“It was okay — quiet. I’m so fuckin’ pissed off right now. I haven’t been able to get my check yet. It was supposed to be ready Friday, but my worker said that because I switched to the Salvation Army it was going to be delivered to a different office. I phoned this morning. They said, ‘Your check will be ready any time you want to come down and pick it up.’ ‘Great,’ I said. I used my last bus ticket to come down to the office. When I got there they said, ‘Come back at two o’clock.’ What a run around.”

Jenny stood up and tried to give Joy a hug. Joy said, “Jenny I’ve had a bad day and I’m not in the mood for a hug. I just want to be left alone for a while.”

Jenny said, “Joy, don’t be like that. I just want to be friendly.”

“Jenny, what did I just say? Now, sit down or I’ll knock you down.”

Danny said, “Joy, that’s no way to talk to your friends. Whether you’ve had a bad day or not, there’s no excuse for taking it out on the rest of us. I’ve talked to you about that before.”

“Danny, keep your mouth shut, before I come over there and smack you.”

“Come on over. I’ll smack you right back.”

Joy was quiet for a while, then she said to Minnie, “I’m sorry for talking to you like that. I had no right. I apologize.”

“It’s alright, Joy, I understand.”

“Danny, I apologize to you too.”

Minnie, walking with a cane, stopped and asked Doreen, “Aren’t you cold, with bare arms?”

Doreen said, “Since the accident, I’ve lost all feeling of heat or cold, in my arms and legs. If I wear too many clothes I get itchy all over.” (major spinothalamic or spinal cord injury)

“Let me give you a hug,” said Minnie.

Doreen stood up and they hugged. Jenny said, “Can I have a hug too, Skinny Minnie?”

Minnie hugged her and said, “Jenny, you’re skinnier than I am.”

It was nearly time for me to go. I walked over to Jacques to shake his hand. He said, “You know, I woke up in the middle of the night with such a sore throat. Then I had to go to the bathroom. An hour later I had to go again. It was back and forth, back and forth, all night long. You better not get too close to me.”

I said good-bye to Joy, she said, “Do you have to go already?”

“Yes, but I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Not in the morning. I have a meeting with my P.O. (Probation Officer), but I’ll see you here at noon.”

Sample my books for free — To date, $1945.00 has been donated to the homeless:
Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People
http://buff.ly/1SGzGCY ($.99 Download)
http://buff.ly/1qLHptc ($.99 Download)
https://buff.ly/2lUfp6Q ($.99 Download)
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26 September 2012

Ottawa Citizen

Acclaimed Inuit artist comes to terms with her greatest work.

Acclaimed Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook has given birth to a baby girl, a month before she was due, at a Lowertown shelter.The premature child, named Napachie Marie Pootoogook-Watt, was born about 4 a.m. Friday in a washroom of the Shepherds of Good Hope on Murray Street. Pootoogook says she was in the washroom, experiencing labour pains. Suddenly, her water broke and out came the baby.

Pootoogook’s cries were heard by staff and others staying in the shelter, who rushed to help. They had her lie on blankets on the floor until an ambulance arrived to take the mother and baby to the Montfort Hospital.

William Watt, the baby’s father and Pootoogook’s boyfriend, says Napachie is only 1.64 kilograms (three pounds, 10 ounces) and is in an incubator at the Montfort, where she is expected to remain for a month.

“But) she’s doing fine,” says Watt. “Her motor skills are fine. She’s a perfectly healthy baby. She’s just tiny.”

Pootoogook says she “feels good. I could go dancing.” Watt says his girlfriend doesn’t look any worse for wear. “She was in labour only five minutes.”

Pootoogook says she was released from hospital at 4 p.m. Friday, had dinner at a native drop-in centre on Rideau Street, and then stayed the rest of the weekend with friends, until she was reunited Monday with Watt. He had spent four nights in jail. That’s why Pootoogook went to the shelter late last week, he says, as “she didn’t want to be alone” because of her pregnancy. Coincidentally, Watt was in jail last January for theft when Pootoogook found out she was expecting.

Tuesday afternoon, Pootoogook was back on Rideau Street where the artist has been seen drawing during the past three months. The parents visited Napachie earlier in the day. It was the first time Watt had set eyes on his daughter.

“I’ll be (at the hospital) every day,” says Watt. “I heard on the Oprah show that you have to hold them, nurture them and show you love them.”

Pootoogook, 43, and Watt, 49, have a meeting with her social worker today. They think the possibility of giving up the baby to the Children’s Aid Society for adoption will be raised.

“The CAS is involved,” says Watt, who is optimistic they’ll be able to keep Napachie because “I’m a good fighter.”

CAS involvement was expected after the couple detailed months and months of homelessness as well as drug and alcohol abuse in a Public Citizen story in July. But the couple claimed they were cleaning up their lives for the baby’s arrival, and, at that point, had not had any drugs or alcohol for six weeks. They were also looking for a home.

The couple spent most of the summer sleeping outdoors in Lowertown and eating at shelters. A social agency recently found the couple a one-bedroom apartment near Bank and Walkley streets, where they moved on Sept. 15.

Watt is paying for the unit with income he receives from the Ontario Disability Support Program. Watt says rent and hydro will take most of his monthly cheque, so the couple will have to depend on food banks and shelter kitchens until they can get into a subsidized unit.

“It’s very nice,” Watt says of their new digs. “It’s an upper-class building.”

Pootoogook is considered one of Canada’s most pre-eminent Inuit artists and began her career in Cape Dorset, Baffin Island. She was discovered about 10 years ago by a Toronto art gallery that began buying her work through the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset.

Pootoogook’s work, often depicting disturbing and chilling scenes of Inuit life, has been exhibited in major shows in Europe and the U.S. She was given glowing reviews by various American papers, including The New York Times, and honoured with the $50,000 Sobey Art Award in 2006. Her earlier drawings, done with coloured pencils, sell for as much as $2,600 at Feheley Fine Arts, the art gallery that help her raise her profile as an artist. Limited edition prints go for as much as a $1,000.

But Pootoogook, who has fought demons all her life — beatings, sexual abuse, alcohol and drugs — disappeared from view for the past few years. She has lived in Ottawa since 2007, with a variety of acquaintances and at homeless shelters. She started drawing again this summer, while awaiting the baby.

Passersby on Rideau had been paying her $25 to $30 per drawing when the Citizen caught up to her in July. The money paid for her cigarettes. She says she now receives upward to $300 per piece and was trying to sell a drawing Tuesday for $260. Many people just stop to say hello. Some give them a few dollars to help them by.

The couple say they do not expect to hang around downtown as they used to, mostly because they now have their own place and then a baby to look after once she’s released from hospital. But Watt says sleeping outside over the summer didn’t bother them.

“I know it sounds sad, but we slept good. In retrospect, it was nothing because I was with the love of my life.”

Accommodation was offered to the couple by Citizen readers. However, they turned down the offers.

They say their apartment is sparsely furnished. They have been sleeping on a couch left behind by the previous tenant. Watt says they expect to be getting a bed as early as today, and then they can start worrying about furnishings for Napachie.

Says Watt about his daughter’s birth: “It’s a happy ending to the story

This afternoon at the park, I sat with Andre, Shakes and Little Jake.

“Hi, Jake, how is everything at your new apartment.”

“Fine, but I still don’t have any furniture, just an air conditioner still in its box; that’s what I sit on.”

“When will they be getting your furniture?”

“Around the first of November, that’s what my worker said.”

“So, you’ll be without any furniture for over a month?”

“That’s the way the system works. Yesterday, my worker — you’ve met her before — took me to the doctor. I’ve been having raging migraines, ringing in my ear, pain in my sinuses and behind my eyes. When I try to roll a cigarette, I notice that the skin on my fingers is very dry. I think I’m a bit dehydrated. The doctor had me close my eyes, stand with my feet together, with my arms straight out at my sides. I nearly fell over. He’s going to send me for a CAT scan to see what’s going on in my head — I hope it’s not a tumor.”

“Did the doctor suggest to you that it might be a tumor?”

“No, he wants to see some pictures first, before he tells me what’s wrong. Yesterday morning I took a Seroquel. It was a drop. This guy said to me, I’m sorry, I don’t have any money, but here are three Valium and two Seroquel. Joy and I shared the Valium, I took the second Seroquel before lying down for the night. That knocked me right out.”

“I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions about having a tumor. There may be a lot of reasons for balance problems. Perhaps, you have an ear infection. It may be something simple that can be treated with antibiotics.

“Shakes,” I asked, “Did you find your bag?”

“No.”

“What did you have in it?”

“My clothes, my bottle, my cigarettes, my weed, my house — everything.”

“How are you doing, Andre?”

“This is kind of an off day for me. I was drinking last night, then at 3:00 am I was wide awake. I drank a couple more bottles and slept until 5:00. I came down here and haven’t moved more than six feet since. See that sweater on the curb? That’s mine. It’s there in case anybody wants to sit down. That’s where I started this morning. I’ve been watching and thinking about people. I try to figure out where they’re coming from, what their motives are.

“Joy said to me yesterday, ‘if you point your finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at you. So, you shouldn’t point at people.’ By the way, do you know where Joy is today?”

“She had an appointment with her worker. They were going to take the bus to the Elizabeth Fry Society for Joy’s anger management course.”

A woman walked by. Emile said, “Hi darlin’, blue really works well on you, it brings out the color of your eyes.”

“Andre,” I said, “her eyes were brown.”

“Doesn’t matter. This is what I do all day long. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

A soldier in uniform passed by. Andre said, “Thank you sir, for protecting our country.” The soldier waved.

To me, Andre said, “I really mean that. I have a lot of respect for the military.”

Lucy passed in her motorized wheelchair and waved. We all waved. Andre said, “Hi, sister, take care.”

Shakes reached for Emile’s insulated travel mug. “No you don’t,” said Andre. He threw Shakes an unopened bottle of sherry. A few minutes later he asked, “Did you honor it, before you took a drink?” (Honoring means to fill the cap of the bottle with liquor and to throw it over one’s shoulder.)”

“Yes, I did”

“Good, ” said Andre. “I don’t know where I slept last night, but I have green stuff all over my pants. I’ve been picking it off all morning.”

I asked, “Did you sleep outside?”

“Yes.”

Jake said, “I’m going home now.”

I asked, What are you going to do, Jake, watch your air conditioner?”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Andre said, “I’m just sort of floating right now. Everything is mellow. I don’t have a plan. I don’t know what I’m going to do for the rest of the day.

“Shakes, I’m going to take you someplace where we can get something to eat.”

“That sounds good.”

“Eating is good,” I said.

It was time for me to go back to work. I shook hands with Andre and Shakes.

“See you, brother,” they said. “See you tomorrow.”

“See you, brothers.”

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womanbox

.

24 September 2012

From the corner of the street, I looked for Joy in her usual spot. I could see a folded blanket on the sidewalk, but no Joy. I waited to see if she had, perhaps, gone into the pizza place, or the Library, to use their washroom. A large truck, stopped at the traffic lights, blocking my view. When it moved ahead I saw Joy. I walked over to her.

“Hi Joy, I was looking for you, but didn’t see you here.”

“Weasel and Bear passed by the corner, just before you got there. I didn’t want him to see me. I saw you there, leaning against the post. I couldn’t figure that out.”

“Why didn’t you want to see Weasel?”

“Not just Weasel, any of the guys. They make more money than me, sometimes they’re out panning all day and evening. I’m only here for four hours. First thing in the morning, no matter how much they collected the day before, they come to me for a cigarette. Chester had a carton and supplied me all weekend because I ran out, but that’s rare. Usually, he’ll come by in the morning, on a butt run and will bum off me.”

“How was your weekend?” I asked.

“Fine, quiet… I’ve got to get out of Chester’s place by Christmas.”

“Did the exterminator come to spray?”

“Yeah, he sprayed alright. We could smell that stuff for three days. It’s really powerful.”

“Are there any bedbugs now?”

“I only saw one in the bathroom. I watched it for a while. It didn’t move, so I threw it in the toilet.”

“Did you squish and sniff it first?”

“I squished it, but I knew what it was. I didn’t need to sniff it. Jacques got me started sniffing bugs I’d squished. He still has bedbugs. I didn’t know it before then, but bedbugs have a rotten wood smell, that’s how dogs are able to sniff them out. I saw one on television. They had a beagle sniffing around a hotel room. He could direct the exterminator to the exact location of the bugs.”

“I’ve seen that too. Do other insects have a distinctive smell?”

“No, just bedbugs. The guy is supposed to come back in two weeks, to a month. I told Chester to make sure it’s two weeks. There’s a final spraying after that.

“Chester’s still putting his clothes back in his dresser drawers. I told him not too, but he wouldn’t listen to me. Last night he offered me a blanket that had been on his bed before they sprayed. I said to him, ‘Thanks, Bud, but no thanks.’ He said, ‘It’s cold, Joy, you should have more to keep you warm.’ I said to him, ‘I’d rather be cold than have to deal with those bugs again.”

“Has your worker contacted you about any available apartments?”

“Not yet, but she’s working on it. I have an appointment with her Wednesday morning. It has to do with the Elizabeth Fry Society and the anger management course I’m supposed to take. She’s going to escort me to every meeting, so I don’t get breached. My probation ends on November second.

“Guys, like Andre, keep asking me if I want to share a place with them if they get one before me. I told him, “For one thing, my name’s higher on the list than yours; I’ve been waiting longer than you have. For another, I don’t want to share.”

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.

bench

.

20 September 2012

I didn’t learn my lesson yesterday. It was so cold this morning that my hands were balled in fists and, like a turtle, they were trying to pull themselves into my sleeves. I was eagerly anticipating Joy’s news of whether or not she was accepted for her own apartment. This is something I have wished for since 13 December 2010 when I first met her. Now, it seems near to becoming a reality. The system may move slowly, but at least it moves.

When I arrived at the corner of Metcalfe and Slater I could see that Joy’s spot was empty. I was disappointed since I won’t be seeing her at noon due to a dental appointment. I saw Nick and Magdelene. I crossed Slater and in front of Starbucks, I met Bearded Bruce.

“Good morning, lad.” he said, “How’ve you been?”

“Great, Bruce. You’re looking well. I haven’t seen you at the park lately.”

“I’m not like some of those people, who pan until they have enough for a bottle or two, then sit around for the rest of the day. Noon is my work time, the best time to pan. I like to make enough to carry me over the weekend, or for a rainy day. We have lots of rain this season; when there’s raining there’s no panning.”

I said, “I was hoping to see Joy this morning. Yesterday, she was to find out if she was accepted for an apartment of her own. I don’t know if she’s absent because she was celebrating, or depressed because she didn’t get it.”

“I hope she gets it. She deserves a place of her own, where it’s quiet. She’s good people. I’ve known her a long time.”

I said, “I hear that Hippo is in hiding.”

“He should be, the lazy asshole.”

“I heard that you guys lost a lot of stuff. Shakes said that his new sleeping bag was taken. I also heard that there was a fire.”

“The fire was nothing. There was a lot of exaggeration.”

I said, “So, where are you staying now, Bruce?”

“Same place, in behind Starbucks.”

“Does Weasel let you stay there?”

“I let Weasel stay there. That’s been my place for the last year and a half.”

“Andre told me, that Weasel said, only he and Bear were allowed to stay there.”

“I know, I told him to say that.”

“It’s good seeing you, Bruce. You’re looking great. I won’t keep you from your work. Have a good day.

“Thanks! Bye, lad.”

My dental appointment didn’t take as long as expected, so I had a half hour to spend at the park. The first person I saw was Serge. I still can’t get used to seeing him cleanly shaven.

“Hi, Serge, I was surprised to see you yesterday, panning by the church.”

“I pan there a lot. Sometimes, I go up to Lyon.”

“I guess it’s because I only go out at noon that I don’t see you. Take care, Serge. I’ll catch you later.”

“See you,”

“It’s one o’clock on a working day
The regular crowd shuffles in.
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin”
  (with a nod to Billy Joel, Piano Man.)

“Hi, Joy, do you have any news about your apartment?”

“My worker called this morning. They’re still sorting out the details of the contract — who’s responsible if I cause damage, that sort of thing. It’s the daughter that wants all this contract bullshit.”

I said, “If they’re working on a contract, that has to be good news.”

“I guess so. I’m just tired of waiting. I asked my worker if I could get a sleeping bag, she said, ‘We’ll see what we can do,’ — you know, whatever.”

“So how long has it been since you’ve had a place of your own?”

“Frank and I lived at Montreal Road and the Vanier Parkway, for five years; until he started beating me and the cops kept coming over. I had the place on St. Mary, with Carl, for nearly a year; until he stopped paying the bills and the rent. This past year has been the worst. I’ve been all over the place.”

I said, “I’m sure it will all work out. By the way, I saw Bruce this morning. He wished you all the best with your apartment. He said you deserved a quiet place of your own.”

“That was nice of him.”

“I also watched the documentary, ‘Life on the Heater’. It was really well done.”

“Yeah, Goober and I missed out on that one. I think they filmed Jacques. I know he has a copy of the video. It was mostly about Rip and Faye.”

Steve said, “It was Faye that stabbed him, wasn’t it? No, It was Theresa — got him in his junk.”

Joy said, “Rip and Faye were both crazy. I think they’re both still alive. I haven’t seen them for a long time. Most of the others are dead. It was really wild to see Star as a puppy.”

Steve and I were comparing scars and broken knuckles. Steve said, “I’ve got a lot of scars from Winnipeg. This one on my middle knuckle was where I caught a guy’s tooth. My hand got infected and swelled up like a grapefruit. He must’ve had rabies. I don’t know how many times I’ve broken this outside knuckle on my right hand. I had to learn to hit with my left hand.

“One time I was in a fight with this guy. I can’t remember his name. He tried to rape my street-sister and ripped her off for a hundred and fifty dollars to boot. I remember her name. I didn’t know it at the time but he was a Dilaudid dealer. After I beat him, a big native and a black dude came looking for me. Luckily for me, I was sitting in a bar with about thirty bikers.

“I talked to these two guys. I said, ‘Hey, what would you do if somebody tried to rape and rob your sister?’ They understood that. They said, ‘We’ll let it slide, but don’t let it happen again.’

“A while later, my real sister got in a fight with this same guy. This lady is over six feet tall and knows how to fight. I guess the guy tried the same thing with her as he had with my street sister. She beat the shit out of him. The same two guys came after me. I said, ‘Hey, I didn’t have anything to do with it. I wasn’t even there.’ I told them that it was my sister who punched the guy out. They couldn’t say much about that.

“I remember when I was a kid in Mississauga. There were three of us. We called ourselves the “Three Musketeers.” If you saw two of us, you could be sure the third wasn’t far away — Dave, Dennis and me. Dave’s been dead thirty-two years now. I still have his picture. If there was a fire at my place, I’d grab that picture and jump out the window. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost that. It’s irreplaceable. Dennis is around somewhere, but I’ve lost contact with his parents and I don’t know how to use a computer.”

I asked, “How did Dave die?”

“Dave was nineteen. He and his brother were joyriding in a stolen car. They crashed it. It was such a mess, they couldn’t tell who was driving — it was that bad.”

“Were you born in Mississauga?” I asked.

“Yeah, then I moved to Barrie. The cops were hassling me a lot, so I moved to Winnipeg. I was there for fifteen years. I have a son there. It’s hard to panhandle in Winnipeg.”

“I know,” I said, “it’s cold.”

“It’s cold and the Welfare system is really hard to deal with. Believe it or not, as bad as it is, it’s better in Ontario.”

Shakes said, “Joy, can I bum a cigarette?” She opened her white, plastic case, secured with a rubber band, and threw one to him and Scott.

“Miigwech,” said Shakes.

Joy said to me, “That means thank you in Ojibway.”

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.

 

 

.

group3

.

10 September 2012

I wore my Autumn windbreaker today. The sky was overcast and there was a cool breeze blowing. The congregation was at the far end of the park. Joy walked toward me and we met at the sidewalk.

“I didn’t know whether or not you’d be coming,” she said. “I was about ready to leave when I saw your head above the bushes. I’m feeling sick. I cooked some chicken from Loblaws and I’ve been throwing up all night. It didn’t affect Chester, but it’s the second time I’ve gotten sick after eating their chicken. I’m always careful to cook it thoroughly, same with pork, I know how sick it can make you. I’m going to leave now. I just want to lie down and take it easy today. I can’t even drink.

”You wouldn’t happen to have some extra bus tickets for Chester would you?”

“No, I’m sorry. I’m all out. I’ll have to get more at the convenience store.”

“I just thought I’d ask. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Take care, Joy. Get lots of rest, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Hey,” said Andre, “Don’t I get a hug?”

“If I bend over, I might puke all over you.”

Andre put his wide-brimmed hat upside down on his head and said, “Okay, I’m ready. How about my hug?”

The grass was still wet from the overnight rain. Sitting on the curb, near the railing, were Timmy, Clint and Chester. On the lawn were Andre and Shakes. I sat between Timmy and Shakes who, as usual, was lying on his side, resting on one elbow.

“Shakes,” I said. “I haven’t seen you for a while. How are you?”

“I just got back into town from Kingston. I spent the last week there. A friend took me. He wanted to get out of Ottawa for a while, just to have a change of scenery.”

“Did you enjoy yourself?”

“The first day was awful. A dog died, some women were fighting and one guy tried to commit suicide; but that was just the first day.”

“Were these friends of yours? Did the dog belong to one of your friends?”

“No, I didn’t know them.”

“I spent seventy dollars on food, but mostly I had meals, home cooked by friends I met.

“Since I got back, I lost my wallet. Could you give me another of those Tim Horton’s cards? The one you gave me before was in the wallet I lost.”

“Sure, Shakes.”

Timmy put some Kleenex in Andre’s wide brimmed hat. “That’s for Shakes, he’s drooling.”

“He’s just drunk, that’s all.“

“Andre,” I said, “you’ve got a couple of fancy hats, since I saw you last.”

“Yeah, I’m starting to get a collection. This one has feathers around the brim. If I ever get lost in the woods, I can use them to tie flies for fishing. I lost most of my clothes at the Salvation Army. A friend, who’d been sleeping at the hut with us, was leaving town. He made a pile of all the stuff he couldn’t carry with him. There was a pair of size twelve work boots. I was going to bring them to Clint. There was also a pair of size ten, Gortex winter boots with Kevlar toes, heels and shanks. They were insulated and Thinsulated — do you know what I mean? — two layers of insulation. They came up to my knees. I’m guessing they were worth about $400.00. I stayed at the Sally Ann one night. The next day, I left my things in storage. They were locked and were supposed to be secure. I stayed at Katrina’s for two nights.

“When I came back to the Sally, I went to bed 245, where I thought I had slept; but the locker was empty. It looked like my bed, same color blanket, made up like mine. I always make my bed after I get up in the morning. I went to the desk and asked the guy, ‘What bed was I sleeping in? I thought it was 245.’ He checked and said, ‘You were in 295.’ I checked that bed and again, an empty locker. I was really pissed off. I figure the guys at the desk cut the lock and took my stuff.

“I went down and yelled at them, ‘I had two brand new pairs of boots in there, and a bottle and a half of sherry.’ One guy said, ‘Andre, are you ratting yourself out, telling us you brought liquor on the premises?’ I said, ‘I’m just being truthful.’ They said, ‘It shows on our record, that the contents of that locker were signed out.’ I said, ‘Well, I didn’t sign anything out. I don’t believe that. You guys cut the lock and took my new boots. They were so new they didn’t even have dirt on the treads. You don’t want to see any of us building up a stock of anything.’ I stormed out.” I was living outside for four months and after one night at the Sheps and one night at the Mission I’ve lost everything.

“I’ve been getting these bites all around the waistband of my track pants.” He pulled his pants down to expose his hip and to show the red marks. “They’re some kind of mites, I think. I threw all the clothes I was wearing in the garbage, then took a shower. When I came out all I had to put on was a towel. The guy at the desk asked, ‘Why are you walking around like that, Andre?’ I said, ‘I need new clothes. My old ones were full of bugs.’ He said, ‘We can’t help you with that until 7:45.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I guess I’ll be walking around in this towel until 7:45.’ ”

I said, “I haven’t seen Hippo for a while.”

Andre said, “You’re not likely to, either. He’s probably in hiding. Jake was drunk and Hippo came up and punched him four times in the head for no reason. Then he was causing trouble at Starbucks. They called the police. The police knew we were staying out back. Bearded Bruce said the police ripped down our hut and threw all our stuff into the dumpster. Later, someone set fire to it.”

Shakes said, “I lost my brand new sleeping bag.”

Andre said, “Those women at Hope Recovery are really saints.”

Clint asked, “Do you mean at the Sheps?”

“Yeah” said Andre. “They all know me there. It’s funny though. I went downstairs and they said I was too drunk, so I went upstairs and they said I wasn’t drunk enough. One of them  even asked me, ‘Andre, do you have any more booze? Go out, have a few more drinks and we’ll let you in.’

“I went out back to, what we call, the pig pen. A sister came by and asked me, ‘Do you want to buy a twenty-six of rye for $13.00?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. That’s a pretty good price. I just happened to have $13.70. I’d already drunk two and a half bottles of sherry. A guy sat next to me, pulled out a fancy crack pipe and put a forty in it. His buddy, sitting next to him, said, ‘Be careful.’ The guy looked around for cops then lit his pipe. I drank more and more of the rye, straight up. Then I smacked the guy in the back of the head. The pipe flew out of his mouth, the forty went rolling across the parking lot. Some sisters picked the stuff up, but the pipe was fucked. The guy’s buddy said, ‘I told you to be careful. When Andre gets into the hard stuff, he gets crazy, especially around crack smokers.’

“I went back upstairs and they let me in.”

Timmy said, “That reminds me — we should have walkie-talkies. Then I could six you if I saw the cops coming from my direction, and you could six me if you saw them coming from where you were.”

Andre said, “They’ve got this new fangled invention now. It’s called a cell phone. That’s what people use them for.”

Clint said, “You know, one time a cop was really nice to me. I was up in North Bay. I asked him if there was any place I could set up a tent. He said, ‘Sure, get in.’ He let me sit in the front seat. He didn’t pat me down or anything. He took me behind this gas station, where some empty rigs were parked. He said, ‘You should be safe here.’ Then he left.”

Timmy said, “I’ve been given rides by the cops before, but they always frisked me. They even apologized, said it wasn’t anything personal, it was regulation. If a guy was in the back seat with a gun, he could shoot the cops and steal the car. They left the sliding window open so we could chat back and forth. I’ve never ridden in the front seat of a cop car. Sometimes, they even have shotguns mounted on the console, on a swivel.”

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.

group3

.

29 Aug 2012

This morning Joy’s spot was vacant. I looked north on Metcalfe Street towards Parliament Hill. Hippo was on the west side, Silver was on the east, in his usual spot in front of Starbucks.

I sat beside Hippo. “How’s it going with your housing application?” I asked.

“Great,” he said. I got a place on Charlevoix Street, or some French name like that. It’ll be ready for the first of October. They’re completely renovating the building, including new parquet flooring. There won’t be any carpets – I’m glad of that. I won’t have to worry about bed bugs.”

I said, “I was talking to Bruce yesterday. He had to take his sleeping bag to the laundromat to have it dried. Have you had any problems with water seeping in where you are?”

“No, we’re just over there, on the other side of Starbucks, behind the dumpsters. We put up a roof. It’s nice and dry. We just pile up the cardboard and go to sleep. I found it really cold last night.”

“Have you seen Andre, lately?” I asked.

“No, the last time I saw him, he was going to visit red-haired Debbie. He asked if I wanted to come, but I said no. I really don’t like her, but Andre seems to like her fine.”

“Andre was telling me that Sharon was out of prison. Have you seen her?”

“I saw her once. We call her the super bitch, but not to her face. She fights like a man.”

I said, “That’s what I heard from Andre. She’s the one who punched Magdalene. I’m going across the street to talk to Silver. Will I see you at noon?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there. I’ll see you then.”

I walked across the street to talk to Silver, “How are you feeling? You have your doctor’s appointment today, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I’m going to the Sandy Hill Clinic at one o’clock. It’s on Nelson just off Rideau. That’s where my doctor is. I’ve been going to him for a long time. I asked my worker about him. She said he’s a good doctor, so I keep seeing him. It’s important to have a doctor that you can depend on. I know a lot of people who don’t have their own doctor.”

At the park were nearly a dozen of my human friends and Shaggy. Hawk and his dog Dillinger dropped by later.

“Silver,” I said. I guess you’re getting ready for your doctor’s appointment this afternoon.”

“No, I got that mixed up. It’s tomorrow. Today is ladies day.”

I walked over and shook hands with Outcast. “Hi,” I said.

“Dennis, what time is it?”

“It’s about five after eleven.”

“I don’t usually see you here until noon. You’ve thrown my whole schedule off. Don’t do that again.”

“Okay, Outcast, I’ll keep that in mind.”

I sat next to Joy, “How are you feeling now?”

“I’m really sick. I’ve been throwing up blood, and from the other end as well. My poo isn’t black it’s red. Don’t tell any one.” She was near tears. “I feel dizzy and have a full blown migraine. I just want to go home and lie down. I think it may be from the bed bug spray I’ve been using. I’ve got some powder now. I’ll see if that’s any better.”

Following are some of the side effects of common bed bug sprays:

Pyrethroids:
Inhalation: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, chest pain, or difficulty breathing.
Skin contact: rash, itching, or blisters.

Long term effects: disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking the female hormone, estrogen, thus causing excessive estrogen levels in females. In human males, its estrogenizing (feminizing) effects include lowered sperm counts. In both, it can lead to the abnormal growth of breast tissue, leading to development of breasts in males and cancerous breast tissue in both male and females.

Neurotoxic effects include: tremors, incoordination, elevated body temperature, increased aggressive behavior, and disruption of learning. Laboratory tests suggest that permethrin is more acutely toxic to children than to adults.

Other: A known carcinogen. There is evidence that pyrethroids harm the thyroid gland. Causes chromosomal damage in hamsters and mice; deformities in amphibians; blood abnormalities in birds.

I said to Joy, “Shouldn’t you see a doctor?”

“I can’t. I still don’t have my health card. I talked with my worker this morning. She checked with Oasis – the woman I dealt with before, back in April, didn’t even submit my request. They have nothing on file. It’s been sent now. It’ll take about three weeks until I get it in the mail.

“They may have a place for me as early as August 15. I told them that I don’t want to be in a crack house. I want someplace safe with no bugs. An apartment would be ideal. I’d like to be on one of the lower floors, so I’d be able to climb over the balcony and drop to the ground if necessary.

“If that place isn’t available, or if I don’t like it, there’s another coming vacant September first. I get to take a look at them next week.

“I have to get away from Chester. He’s a nice man, but I’m tired of all the noises he makes. He grunts and groans when he sits down or stands up. I have no time to myself. It used to be that he would be asleep when I got up in the morning, then I’d have peace and quiet while I was drinking my tea. Lately, he’s been getting up when I get up. I don’t want to have to talk to people that early.

“I’m going to leave soon. There are some people here that I really don’t care to be around.

“I have to go by Chuck’s old place. My check may have been left in the mailbox. I’ll just sneak up and take a look.”

Joy left to talk to Silver, so I sat with Elaine and Outcast. “How is your new apartment, Elaine?”

“It’s great. We’re still moving things around.”

“Shark said you had a plastic Mickey Mouse stapled to the wall.”

“Yeah, that’s in Shark’s games room. Outcast came over with his tools yesterday to hook up our satellite and the cable TV. He used a three-way splitter so we have TV in the bedroom, living room and in Shark’s room. The TV is free.”

“How are you feeling today?”

“I feel better than I did yesterday. I just had a couple of beer today. I had a terrible hangover yesterday.”

Anastasia came over and sat by me, she said. “Elaine was telling me that you live in our neighborhood, or Elaine’s old neighborhood. I live on Silver at Dorchester. I take the number fourteen bus.”

“Yes, that’s the same one I take. Once, on the bus, I met Shark and Irene. They got off three stops before I did. I live just off Kirkwood.”

“I’ve never seen you there. What times do you take it?”

“I leave for work at 8:00 in the morning and come home at 6:00 in the evening, unless I go to the gym after work, in which case I catch the 8:30.

“Those aren’t my times.

“They’ve just sprayed my apartment for bed bugs, but they didn’t get all of them. I phoned the exterminator, now he says they might be in the woodwork, or in my books. He didn’t tell me that before. He should have given me a full account of what he could do and what he couldn’t. He didn’t do that.

“I went to the Salvation Army to get some bed bug powder. They wouldn’t give it to me. They said that I had to be homeless. Well, I’m the next thing to it. I’m on disability pension. Sometimes, I think I’d be better off to just shut my door and move to the Sally Ann.

“I didn’t get to visit my family this summer. The other day I lost my upper front tooth. It just fell out. It was an implant, it cost me a thousand dollars. All my other teeth are fine. They can’t put a bridge there, but they can get me a ‘flipper’. Some people have told me that it’s difficult to chew when you have a ‘flipper’. They take it out when they eat.”

I said goodbye to everyone, and told Joy I’d see her in the morning.

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