Blue Steel – 31 July 2013

JW

31 July 2013

Warm, clear and breezy, a perfect summer day at the park. Shark and Spike were standing at the rail. Sitting in a circle, in various states of inebriation were Manisee, Debbie, Little Jake, Jacques and Mariah. I hadn’t seen Shark for a few months so I walked over to him.

“Hi Dennis, haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I’ve been around, but you don’t come down much anymore do you?”

“No, there’s not much here for me. I came down to buy some native cigarettes and a few prescriptions.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’ve got a pain in my shoulder and my right leg. It’s been twelve years since I’ve had this (HIV). There’s a cocktail of pills I take twice a day, then my morphine three times a day. I’ve got blood work to be done. That’s going to hurt. There’s only one type of pain medication that works for me. Sometimes, because I’m a junkie, they don’t want to give it to me. That’s when I get on the phone to my doctor and have them explain to him why they want to change my meds.”

“How’s Irene?” I asked.

“She’s fine. She never wants to come out, at least not when I want to come out. I can understand, we have the air conditioning there. She hates the heat.  If her friend Sue comes over then they both want to go shopping. I hate that. What is it about women and shopping?  For me, I know exactly what I want and where it is, so I get my own cart and I’m in and out. I tell Irene to meet me at the van, because I got beer in there. She has to read all the labels, she walks slow then she can’t decide. I hate it.

“I bought a little dinghy that I use at the bridge near the Vanier Parkway. I can’t remember the name… the Saint Patrick Bridge, that’s the one. I really enjoy it, in fact I’m thinking of getting a bigger one and towing the other behind.”

Mike said, “You have paddles for that don’t you? I mean, you don’t have to paddle with your hands or anything do you?  That would be exhausting.”

“It came with paddles. I started paddling with just one, otherwise it kept going in circles. I got it worked out now. I was out with a couple of friends a couple of days ago. They jumped in the water and got their feet cut on some sharp rocks. I gave them some alcohol to  clean the cuts with.  There’s stuff like e coli in that water. You gotta be real careful with stuff like that or you could get a blood infection. That’s painful. A friend of mine had that and was in hospital for six weeks.”

I said, “I’ve had blood poisoning before, but I went to the doctor as soon as I saw the red line going up my leg. It was the most painful experience I’ve ever had.”

Jake said, “That makes me want to jump off the bridge. I’ll end up doing it sometime this summer.”

Debbie said, “You wouldn’t really do that,  would you Jake? Don’t do it when you’re drunk. That’s a no no.” He was looking at three young women wearing tight pants and tee shirts in the park below.

Mariah said, “What are you looking at Frank… fresh meat?”

I said, “It’s a good thing they aren’t on the other side of the canal.  Jake might just dive in like he did last September.”

Gaston and Jean came by. Shark said, “Here come a couple of queers!”

Mariah said, “Shark, be nice. They’re our friends.”

“I know, but that’s what they are.”

“How are you doing, Jean?” I asked.

“Exhausted! I cleaned three apartments today, then I’ve been running around.”

“Do you run?”

“I meant I’ve had a lot of errands to run. I think I many be coming down with some kind of virus. They mentioned it on the news today. At the apartment building where I’ve been working, a bunch of ladies are down with it. I didn’t catch the whole broadcast, maybe they’ll have it on the news at six. It seems to affect mostly people over forty. The symptoms are flu-like with sore muscles, tiredness. I hope I haven’t caught that.”

I noticed a DVD in Jacques’ back pack. I asked, “What movie are you going to watch. He pulled out a handful, mostly pirated. “This is a funny one, ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ with Clint Eastwood. It’s the one with the monkey, or orangutan. Then I got a bunch with John Wayne: ‘Blue Steel’, ‘The Dawn Rider’, ‘True Grit’. This one looks good,  ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’ starring James CoburnKris Kristofferson, and Bob Dylan.  I think I got enough to keep me going  for days. Of course I’ll have to put it on pause, every once in a while, to take a piss.

I asked Mariah, “Have you seen Joy today?”

“No, I rushed down here to pick up some cigarettes and some other stuff (marijuana) then I’m heading back.”

Little Jake Rants – 30 July 2013

panhandlers-topper

30 July 2013

At the park today were Little Jake, Shakes (asleep),  Mariah Wolf and Shaggy (asleep). Joy hasn’t been around for a couple of weeks. I asked Mariah if she had heard from her.

“Joy hasn’t been too well lately with her fibromyalgia and headaches. At first her right leg and left arm were stiff, then it was her two legs. She was thinking that she’d have to go back to hospital, but she’s getting around with two canes. Every once in a while she manages to climb the stairs to my place. She hopes to come visit everybody shortly. She was asking about you. I’ll tell her you said hello.

“I don’t know how Joy will make out when I leave. I’m looking for a different apartment. It’s just getting too bad.”

Little Jake said, “You mean you want to get out of Vanier. I don’t blame you.”

“No, Vanier is alright, it’s just our landlady. She does nothing for us.  It used to be I’d keep everything under control tenant-wise.  We used to have a lot of riffraff, but I let her know what was going on. I helped her get rid of this schizo guy that lived where Joy is now. He was a real nut case. Every crack he saw he put duct tape over it; every seam in the tile floor, the seams around the door, cracks in the wall. He always carried around a bag of rotten potatoes. That was really smelly and gross. He took a hammer to the counter, the cupboards the walls. He destroyed the place, but he had a really good lawyer. It went to court and his lawyer claimed it was all wear and tear. The guy did it again before he moved out.

“We got this one old lady who wears diapers and she leaks, if you know what I mean. It’s not her fault and she can’t clean it up herself, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to clean that shit every day. It’s disgusting to find that in the hallway all the time. I’m usually the one who phones the landlady.

“We got this other guy who just moved in. He bought some kind of air conditioner/dehumidifier and it’s always tripping the breakers. It’s a damn nuisance if you’re in the middle of cooking supper, or relaxing in the evening watching a bit of TV. Only the landlady has access to the breakers. Now, every time she picks up the phone she asks, ‘Has he done it again?’ Actually, it hasn’t happened for about two weeks.

“Then there’s this problem of the floor sagging. There’s a pole in the corner of my bedroom, that used to be the living room.  When I first moved in there was a gap above it of about a half-inch. Now it’s about four inches. I told her that if my floor collapses, my lawyer will sue her for alternative accommodation for the whole time they’re fixing the floor. That has her scared shitless. I better not call her again or I’ll be out. A rat lives down beside the pole. I see him every so often.

“The thing is they just bought this other sixteen unit building that they put money into fixing up. Got it all freshly painted. They rented it to a bunch of crack heads;  now it looks like a disaster area. If they had money to fix that place, why didn’t they put some money into our place where we have decent tenants.”

Charles walked up the sidewalk, “I just got out of court.”

Jake asked, “What did you steal this time?”

“I didn’t steal anything. I broke into an Anglican church.”

I said, “…and stole a jar of peanut butter.”

“Yeah, I told you that already, didn’t I. I’m allergic to peanuts. I just had a craving. When I was a kid I was abused by an Anglican minister in Saskatoon. Anyway, at court I told them I had a fit at the front of the church. They let me off. I just have to pay a hundred dollars for the door I smashed.”

“Charles,” asked Jake, “did you pawn your guitar again?”

“No, I got two guitars now, but I left them at home. It was too much trouble bringing a guitar in the cab and I’d have no place to leave it in court.”

“You look naked without your guitar, that’s all.”

“Yeah, I’ll have it next time. Gotta go.’

I asked Jake, “You’re looking for a new place aren’t  you?”

“No, I worked that out with my social worker. I’m going to stay there for the winter.”

“Has she arranged furniture for you yet?”

“No, I’m on a waiting list. I think a hundred and fifty-seven people are ahead of me.”

“Why is that, You’ve been there nearly a rear now, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, but I missed a few appointments. Each time I miss an appointment I get moved to the bottom of the list.”

Mariah said, “You’re going to have to get that place cleaned up. Get all that garbage out of there.”

“Yeah, I know.

“Well, I paid all my debts and I got a hundred and thirty dollars to last ’till the end of the month. Jacques owes me fifty bucks.”

I asked, “Does he still owe you fifty bucks?”

“No, he paid that back. This was fifty he borrowed yesterday, just until he gets his check. I always get mine a day or two earlier.

“Whadyaknow, here comes Little Chester and he’s dragging his foot. That means he’s drunk. He was dragging his foot at eight thirty this morning. AND HE’S ALWAYS CUTTING MY GRASS, THE BASTARD. YES, I’M TALKING TO YOU, CHESTER!”

Chester said, “I love you too. What do you mean I’m cutting your grass. When you come along I move.”

“Yeah, you move fifteen feet up the bridge. THE BRIDGE IS MINE. That’s been my spot for ten years. Go downtown or find some other spot. How about going for a swim? I’ll push you off the bridge.”

“No, thanks.”

“Actually, I love jumping off that bridge, especially when it’s hot.”

Mariah said, “You gotta wait until they cut the weeds, otherwise those things can pull you down.”

“Yeah, I know, the last time I dove in there was last September. I was drunk and stoned out of my mind. I saw this gorgeous girl across the canal. She had one of those big dogs with the blue tongue. What are they called?”

Mariah said, “Maybe an Airedale or an Akita?”

“Yeah one of those. Anyway, I just took my shoes off and dived in, pants on and everything. I got caught in the weeds and the more I struggled the further down I went. I saw a cop standing beside the canal and I yelled at him, ‘Help! I’m caught in the weeds!” Before he pulled me out with a pole he asked, “If I pull you out are you going to dive back in?” I said, No, for Christ’s sake, just get me out of here before I drown.

“When I was living with Weasel and Bruce, sometimes I’d wake up with Bear right in my face. Weasel had his face in Bear’s ass.”

I said, “I remember you saying  you woke up one time licking Bear’s face.”

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you live under a bridge.”

Shakes woke up, “Dennis, how’re you doin’? I haven’t seen you for ages. Where you bin? Dennis, do you have any bus tickets?… Great, now I’ll be able to get home tonight and get to the bank tomorrow. My check should be in my mailbox.”

Folded Harley – 17 July 2013

Sun Media
Sun Media (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After I got off the bus I was approached by Brent who hands out the newspaper  ’24 hours’.  He asked, “Have you heard?”

“Heard what?”

Sun Media is shutting down the ’24 hours’ newspaper. I’ll be out of a job in two weeks.” He unfolded the paper and showed me the article. The headlines read:

Sun Media announces restructuring. 24 hours in Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary among paper closures.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Well, it’s not like I haven’t been through this before. I’ll pick something up. Maybe,  Metro is hiring. Who knows, I might be back at this same spot. It’s not the job I’ll miss it’s the people. I’ve really gotten used to my regulars. They make the job seem worthwhile.

“That’s the way it goes.”

“Best of luck, Brent.”

When I approached Joy, she had her head down on her knees. “Joy?’ I asked, “Are you feeling alright?”

“Yeah, I was just laughing. Did you see the guy who walked by with the Hawaiian shirt and the faux hawk hairdo? The lady I was talking to was saying what a womanizer he is. I said, ‘He’s gay!’ She said he’s always coming on to all the women in the office. He even asks them out. He’ll usually cancel at the last minute.’ Joy said, ‘That’s because he likes penises.’ The lady said, ‘Why would he go to all that trouble? We all know he’s gay.’

“I wasn’t here yesterday because I was still feeling sick. I didn’t go to the park, just went straight to Giant Tiger. I threw up three times in there —  great gobs of phlegm. ‘Cleanup in aisle 4!’ They didn’t have the hamburgers I wanted, so I got bacon instead. I threw that up too.”

I asked, “Do you think you’re suffering from withdrawal?”   “No, I’m drinking. It’s just the heat. I can’t take it.”

“Did you go to 507 to arrange for your health card?”

“Yeah,  I filled out all the papers. They mailed them. I should get my card in two or three weeks. Then, I’ll be all set.

“I’m half in the bag today.”

“Did you have trouble sleeping?”

“Yeah, Big Jake and Hippo were over yesterday. I said to them, ‘You guys can’t just drop over here anytime you want.”   “Jake said, ‘Yeah, well they kicked me out of the Sally. I’m over at Shepherd’s now and they don’t have storage space for my boxes.’ I said, ‘Jake, I got a small place here I don’t have room to store stuff for people.

HARLEY

“It’s all his paper stuff. He can make a Harley out of folded paper —  little handlebars and everything. Something he learned  in prison.  He’s really good at it.  One sale was for a hundred bucks. He’s making one for me now. I said, ‘I want it purple with silver flames.’ He said, ‘I do them with black flames.’ I said, ‘Either do it the way I say, or I’ll paint over it with yellow.’ That changed his mind. I even showed him how to make a v-twin engine. He was just making two boxes, but the way I did it looks really neat.

“He was asking if I would take care of him when he has his hip replacement surgery. I asked him, ‘You want me to take care of you? After what you did to me? No way! I don’t do that care shit.’  I’ll help him out a bit when he gets out of hospital, but I told him, ‘You gotta get out of that chair and exercise. You can’t just sit there all day. Your joints meed to move around or they’ll get stiff.”

I asked, “does he know when he’s going into hospital?”

“He’s on a waiting list, but his situation is critical, so he’s at the front of the line.”

I asked, “Did you hear that 24 hours is shutting down? Brent will be out of a job.”   “Yeah, he said he’s going to try at Metro. I hope he replaces that asshole they got now. He’s always asking me how my day is going. I’ll say, ‘Okay.’ He’s say you should be having an EXcellent day!  Bye now and have an EXcellent day!” I’d like to ram that newspaper down his throat.”

Chester came by and said, “Hi Joy, hi Dennis.” He waited for a while without speaking then asked Joy, “Do you have some money for a coffee?” Joy handed him a Tim Horton’s card with five dollars credit on it. “How about bus tickets?”

“Chester, It’s Wednesday, seniors ride free all day.”

“Well, there’s always tomorrow.”

“You’ve had enough, Chester. I’ll see you later.”

After he left I asked, “Why doesn’t he panhandle if he needs extra money?”

“I don’t know. He picks up butts and eats at the Mission, the Salvation Army or Shepherd’s. He can be a pain in the ass sometimes. He’s too proud to ask the public for money, but he’s not too proud to ask us, who have hardly any.”

“Hi sweetheart!” Joy yelled to a woman crossing the street. “I haven’t seen you in ages.”   “I don’t work around here any more. I’m just dropping something off.” To me Joy said, “She’s lost half her ass. I notice everything.”

A ragged looking man wearing shorts walked by. Joy said, “Hey, Buddy, want a smoke?” She held one out.

“Yeah, thanks.”

“There was another woman by earlier who was really nasty, she had a kid with her too.  She said to me, ‘You’re no better than dirt.’ I said to her, ‘How would you like to see your hair on fire?’ That shut her up pretty quick. At first she wasn’t sure if I was serious or not, but the look I gave her told her I was.’ Sometimes I just like scaring people.

“After I leave here I’m going to meet Tracey. She has a phone for me. I’ll really feel human then.”

Psycho – 20 June 2012

cops

Psycho

20 June 2012

“Hi Joy, how did everything go after I left yesterday? Was there any more trouble with Daimon and Lucy?”

“No, Andre walked Chili and me down to where she had to go, then I took the bus home. When I was on the bus I realized that I didn’t have my phone. I had it tucked into the cuff of my jeans. It must have fallen out when I was helping Chili. I tried phoning the number and it sounded like a kid that answered. I said, ‘Look, I’ve just gotten off the number fourteen bus. I really need my telephone. Would you do me a really big favor and bring it to the mall’ Then the phone went dead. I tried calling the number later, but it wasn’t in service.

“A guy gave me a phone, but I have to pay a thirty-five dollar activation fee. I’m going to check around and see if I can get a better deal than that.

“I swear that I’m going to give Loretta a shot in the head today.”

“What did she do?” I asked.

“She was panning in front of Tim Horton’s. I said to her, ‘You can’t stay here, you’re cutting my grass.’ I sent her over to see Silver. He sent her over to Hippo’s spot. She’s probably only got about ten minutes before the woman from the hotel asked her to move.

“Chuck has been real pissy lately. He’s always talking down to me. Last night when I came home I still had a piece of steak in the fridge. I nuked it, then put it in a bun with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It tasted just like one of those Philly Steak and Cheese sandwiches that you can get at Arby’s. I worked at Arby’s one time. It was mostly a front for a drug operation. I used to call it Garby’s. I left just before they got raided.

“Nicholas was really getting on my nerves. He just kept talking and talking about everything. He even followed me into my room. I said to him, ‘Nicholas, you may know about some things, but you don’t know everything. If you don’t shut the fuck up, I’m going to do you right here.’ ”

“But, I have a girlfriend.”

” ‘I didn’t mean that I wanted to have sex with you. I meant that I was going to punch you in the head.’

“Chuck was barbecuing and asked me if I wanted a sausage. I said, ‘No’ He got all pissy about that and I really lost it. I packed all my things, put them in my bag and walked out. I slept behind Starbucks. I had my blanket under me, a soft pile of cardboard underneath and another blanket that I pulled over my head.

“Hippo and Andre came by sometime in the night. Andre peeked under the corner of the blanket and said, ‘Hey, it’s Joy.’ Later on he said, ‘I may accidentally put my arm around you in my sleep.’ The first time he did it, I just moved his arm. The second time, I gave him a shot in the head. I didn’t want any spooning going on. I was all snugly, Andre and Hippo shivered all night. I don’t know why they don’t get some blankets or a sleeping bag. There are lots available now.

“Hippo had a shower the other day and he’s acting all different like, ‘I’m King Hippo’. He’s still wearing the same dirty pants that are nearly worn through. He said to me, “Joy we should go down to Queen Street now.” I don’t need him telling me where I should and shouldn’t go.

“I have to see  my probie today. She wants me to move to a womens’ shelter. I don’t even know where it is. I’ve talked to a few women who’ve lived there. They say there are a lot of rules, like doing daily chores; not coming in drunk; once a week having to cook a meal for the entire floor. I don’t even cook for myself. If I can’t throw it in the nuker, I don’t buy it.”

I said, “How about sharing a place with Chili? You seem to get along fine with her.”

“The only problem is that she has a place In Scarborough. I don’t want to stay somewhere it takes three busses to get downtown. The only person I would consider living with is Pierre. He’s invited me over sometimes on the weekend. He has a twelve-year-old son that he talks to on the telephone. I hear him saying, ‘I love you, son.’ I can here the son saying, ‘I love you dad.’ That’s really special.

“Pierre says he’s not interested in a relationship. He’s interested in a friend with benefits. He’s a bit older than I am, but it’s something to think about.”

I said, “I met Pierre yesterday. He seems nice. I think he’d probably treat you well. Why don’t you give it a try?”

Before getting ready to leave I asked, “So, what’s going to happen with Daimon and Lucy. Are they going to just keep on jumping, beating and robbing people?”

“Yeah, until Daimon goes back to jail again. I felt so bad when I saw that you weren’t wearing your watch yesterday. It’s really bad when friends can’t visit friends without stashing their stuff.

….

Before I left work I had taken the precaution of putting my watch in my pocket. Noon at the park was very hot and humid. Everyone felt drained of energy. Asleep on the grass was Shakes. Sitting in a circle were Daimon,  Lucy, Chili, Hippo, and Andre. In another group were Little Jake, Chester, Wolf and his dog Shaggy. The police had been by earlier and said that any groups larger than five people had to disperse.

I sat next to Hippo. Someone had found a newspaper photo of a hippopotamus. The photo was being passed around and someone was teasing Hippo that it was an image of his father. Hippo said, “Yeah, he’s famous. He got his picture in the paper and he’s being fed by a prince or something.”

“I remember one time going to the Clayton fair. It’s a tiny town but they have a big fair. That’s where I got driven over by a car. Another guy drove his truck straight into the swamp. He was just sitting there in the cab, he thought he was still driving. Somebody was there with a big winch truck. Nobody wanted to jump into the swamp to hook up the chain, so I did — ‘bloop.’  ”

I was surprised to see Chili sitting next to Lucy and Daimon. Her bruises still haven’t healed from the last time she was with them.

“We went to pan this morning,” said Daimon, “There was a guy in our spot. I said, ‘Get the fuck out of here! This is our spot.’ He didn’t move so I kicked him in the head. Then he moved.”

Hippo said, “I had to ask Loretta to move. She was in my spot.”

“What if she hadn’t moved?” asked Andre.

“Then I would have asked Lucy to move her.”

Daimon said, “There is someone else that’s looking for a beating. It’s Alphonse and Magdalene.”

Gene said, “Daimon could take Alphonse, Lucy could take Magdalene.”

Andre said, “The problem is, Magdalene is five months pregnant.”

“I don’t have a problem with hitting a pregnant woman, ” said Daimon.

“It’s a shame,” said Gene, “that someone would beat and rob Shakes. All you have to do is ask him for something and he’ll either say, ‘Yes!’ or ‘No!’ That’s not complicated.

“If he says, ‘No,’ ” said Daimon, you can wait until he passes out, then take it… I was just kidding!”

.

Joy Overdoses – 15 July 2013

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

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

“You don’t look very good,”  I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paramedics – 9 July 2013

para2

09 July 2013

This morning when I neared Joy’s spot I saw a Paramedic Vehicle parked close to where she sits. I thought the worst, then I saw her feet sticking out from behind a concrete pillar. Joy said, “I feel so bad. That poor woman was one of my regulars. She was reaching in her purse for change when she tripped on that uneven sidewalk — I don’t know how many people have tripped there. Anyway, she fell face down with her arm across her chest.  Her knees were scraped, her hand was scraped and swollen. I jumped up and helped her, then I held her hand until the paramedics came.  She acted so surprised that I stayed with her.  I said,  ‘I’m human, I feel bad when somebody gets hurt.’ She said, ‘But you people…” I asked, ‘What do you mean, us people…street people… panhandlers? Just because people treat us like shit doesn’t mean we don’t  have feelings.’ At that point Joy’s eyes brimmed with tears.

“I think I freaked her out a bit. When I get nervous I start signing and scratching. I explained to her that I’m deaf in one ear and learned to sign when I was young. I don’t know what she thought of that.

“The paramedics arrived, checked her over and wanted to take her to hospital, but she refused to go. The van has been here for about an hour. I thought by now that the fat driver would have gotten out to get a donut at Timmy Ho’s, but he hasn’t moved. The woman is long gone. She’s gone to her office or somewhere.

I asked, “How are you feeling? It must have been upsetting for you.”

“I’m alright. They installed my land line and my cable. I still have to buy a phone. I didn’t know that Bell didn’t install their own phones, but the installer said that too many have been stolen. I guess I’ll try to get one at Giant Tiger, or someplace. I just want something really simple, but I want call display. I’m not sure I can get that at Giant Tiger. I want to know who’s calling. If I don’t know them I won’t answer. Having a television and a phone makes me feel scared for some reason. It makes me feel too human, most times I just want to hide away.”

I said, “You don’t have to answer the phone. Maybe, you can find a used answering machine somewhere.  I never answer the phone. You don’t have to watch the television. I watch very little. I never watch the news, it’s too depressing.”

“I guess it’s staying alone that I’m scared about.”

I asked, “Have you thought about Jake moving in with you?”

“No, not the way he smells. Even if he did clean himself up I’m not ready for a relationship.”

“How about having Loretta move in with you. She’s been sober for five months now. You seem to get along with her.”

“No, I’d kill her. I think I’m better off by myself. I’ve got my name down on a couple of different housing registries. I didn’t put down any restrictions as far as neighborhood is concerned. I just want someplace clean, with no bed bugs.

“I was over at Chester’s the other day. I checked his mattress. Beside the piping at the bottom, where that crease is, was black with bed bugs; big black ones. He said to me, ‘I don’t know where they come from.’ I said, ‘Did you ever think that they may come from the people who stay over. It just takes one bed bug to lay about a thousand eggs. I read up on them. I also had a friend whose husband was an exterminator. She told me all about them. They’re nasty.

“When I had them I put two in a sealed bottle and put it in the freezer. When my friend came over I showed her the bottle. They were still alive and crawling up the sides of the bottle. My friend said, ‘I’ve going to put these in my purse and show my husband.’ I said, ‘You’re going to put them in your purse just like that? I think you should double bag them. I gave her a couple of Ziploc bags to put the bottle in. When her husband saw them he said, ‘Get that bottle out of here! Put it outside somewhere! I don’t want it in the house!’ That’s from a guy who knows bed bugs.”

I said, “You can spray for them, can’t you?

“You spray the first time, wait two weeks, spray again, wait another two weeks then do a final spraying. If I was married to an exterminator I’d spray every week.

It was time for me to go to work.  I asked, “Are you going to be at the park at noon?”

“I don’t know. If nobody’s there when I go past, I think I’ll just go home.”

Butthead – 8 July 2013

wheel

8 July 2013

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

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

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

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

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

“Is he still drinking?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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