Loretta Saunders Murder

Dennis 

 

Thanks to all of you, my petition for a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women has crossed the 300,000 signature mark!! This is the largest show of public support EVER on this issue!

The Federal Government’s stance that a public inquiry is not needed is looking weaker and weaker by the day. Several weeks ago we learned that the RCMP have documented 1186 cases of aboriginal women being murdered or going missing — way higher than anyone previously thought. Following that James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, published a report slamming the Canadian Government for inaction and calling on them to launch a “comprehensive, national inquiry” into the issue of why aboriginal women and girls are vulnerable to abuse.

And of course rallies and vigils are being held almost daily across the country and the media coverage is not letting up. Justice for our women feels close!

The Federal Government is doing their best to ignore our calls, so it’s our job to make sure the pressure is relentless and that those in power like Justice Minister Peter Mackay, Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch, and of course Prime Minister Harper are confronted daily by this tragedy and the need for them to call a public inquiry immediately.

Will you help me reach 350,000 signatures by forwarding the email below to your friends and asking them to sign my petition?

Thank you,

Holly Jarrett

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Here’s a message you could adapt and email to your friends:

Hi,

I’m supporting this petition started by Loretta Saunders’ cousin Holly Jarrett calling for a national inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of over 1186 Aboriginal women in Canada. 

Loretta was a 26 year old Inuit woman who was writing her university honours thesis on missing and murdered Aboriginal women when tragically, in February, she was added to that list. 

Over 300,000 have signed Holly’s petition. All provincial premiers, federal opposition party leaders and the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Issues have said a public inquiry is needed. 

Will you sign? www.change.org/AmINext

Thanks,

 

Pandemonium

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bench

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30 May 2014

Pandemonium reigned at the park today. While I greeted Joy, Chester interrupted by asking, “Dennis, do you have any bus tickets?” I shook hands with Jacques, Mariah,  Debbie and Shakes  on the curb,  Ghyslain and Little Jake sitting on the sidewalk.

Ghyslain said, “I’d get up to shake your hand, but I’m on roller blades.”

I came back to Joy who said, “Big Jake has gone for the weekend.”

I asked, “Where has he gone?”

Chester asked, “Dennis do you have any bus tickets?”

Joy said, “He’s gone to his parent’s cottage in the Muskokas. We’ve been together for eight years now and he hasn’t introduced me to his parents. What do you think of that? I ‘m so pissed off.”

Chester asked, “Dennis, do you have any bus tickets?”

“Here, Chester,” I said as I handed him the tickets.

Jacques offered me a cushion and I sat between him and Shakes. Ghyslain was on the sidewalk in front of me. He asked, “Dennis, did you see the game last night?”

“No,” I said, “I didn’t see it.”

“You don’t follow hockey? It was a real disappointment. Montreal was beat out by New York. It’s been twenty-two years since a Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup. It wasn’t Tokarski’s fault, he was standing on his head to make some of those saves, he allowed only one goal, but that was all it took for the Rangers to win.  Now it will be the winner between Chicago and Los Angeles who plays New York for the finals.”

Little Jake came over to talk to Shakes, “You got paid yesterday. It’s time to pay your debts.”

“What debts?”

“To me, asshole. Who do you think has been feeding you?”

Jake stormed off with a scowl on his face. Shakes said to me, “He’s on new meds. That’s why he’s so cranky. He’s had a go at everybody today.” He pulled a bottle of Jack Daniels from his inside jacket pocket and passed it around.

Debbie stood up to try to soothe Jake. “Come on Jake, sit down and relax.”

You, get away from me. Don’t you dare put a finger on me.”

“Or what, Jake? What are you going to do to me? Are you going to hit me? Don’t you dare touch me again.”

As this was going on Joy was yelling at Raven, “You piece of shit. You stole money from Chester. I know he gave you his bank number and you cleaned out his account. You did the same thing when I was living there.” Mariah was holding Joy back as Raven walked away. Chester was rocking back and forth on the plastic crate he was sitting on.

Jacques said to me, “Chester isn’t supposed to drink hard liquor. It could kill him. His legs go when he drinks that stuff.”

I asked, “What’s wrong with his legs?”

“He’s got a bad knee, but the real problem is when he drinks, he can’t stand. Me, I just have a couple of beer and leave it at that. I know I can’t drink hard liquor or wine.”

Joy said, “I have to get Chester back to his place. We’re going to have to get a cab. Can somebody help me get him up.” Mariah, Jake and Debbie tried to help get him vertical.

A woman stopped and asked, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

Mariah, the voice of reason, said, “He’ll be fine, we’re going to phone a cab.”

Mariah said, “Okay, we got him up, now what do we do? He won’t walk. It would probably be better if we took him over to the lawn where he could sleep it off for a while.” He was a dead weight and ended up lying on the sidewalk. “The police will be here if we don’t move him soon.”

Jake said, “He’s not garbage, you’re not going to just dump him on the lawn.”

Mariah said, “Nobody’s dumping him, Jake. There’s nothing else we can do. After he sleeps it off for a while we can get him in a cab.”

We all lifted, dragged and pushed Chester to a secluded part of the lawn. He lay down and fell asleep.

Jacques picked up his radio, drinking bottle and cushion and said, “I’m getting away from all this bullshit. I don’t need this drama in my life. I’m going home where it’s quiet.”

Debbie and Joy were sitting on the curb. Debbie had her arm around Joy who was visibly shaking. “She’s having one of her epileptic seizures. It’s okay girl, you’ll be alright.”

I asked, “Was it all the stress with Chester that brought this on?”

“Stress, booze, malnutrition, anything can bring one on.”

After about five minutes joy awoke. She sobbed, “I hate when this happens. Do I have snot all over my face.”

“No,” said Debbie, “you look just fine. If you want you can blow your nose on my sleeve. It’s clean.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Sure you can. I do it when I don’t have Kleenex. What else am I supposed to do.”

Joy said, “Thanks, Dennis. I’m sorry about all this. I’m really hammered.”

I said, “Just take care of yourself. There’s nothing to be sorry about. I’ll see you Monday. Have a good weekend.”

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Six Years Sober

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wheel

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30 May 2014

“Good morning, Chuck. It’s a beautiful day.”

“Hi Dennis. It’s a great day. I can’t figure why Joy isn’t down here. This is the second day in a row that she’s missed. I know she has a drinking problem and she has her monthly check, but that shouldn’t make a difference. I used to be in that situation, drinking and smoking a pack a day but, as long as the weather was good, I never missed a morning here. I was even complimented. One of my regulars was talking to a panhandler up the block. She asked, ‘Do you know Chuck?’ He said, ‘Yes he’s a great guy, always smiling, punctual. Did you know that he quit smoking and drinking?’ She said, ‘I had no idea that he smoked or drank. He’s always clean-shaven and polite. I never would have thought he had a drinking problem.’ It’s six years tomorrow,  that I had my heart surgery. That’s when I quit smoking and drinking.

“It was the same when I had a regular job. I worked in a tavern. At the first of my shift, I’d put aside some money for two jugs of draft and a meal. I remember one time I was serving this table of six. I’d overheard that they were attending or competing in the dragon boat races. One of them, a big guy, asked me if I had a cigarette. I handed him one. He said, ‘You’ve just handed me a native cigarette. I’m an off duty police officer from North Bay. He pulled out his badge. I’m sure you know that possession of these is illegal. I’m going to have to charge you. I’m also a judge, so I’ll sentence you right now. You’re ordered to sit at our table and have a drink and a meal with us.’

“My boss nodded his head, so I spent the rest of the evening at their table. I had a great time. I can’t remember much of it. I have no idea how I got home. Next morning I was up at my usual time, showered and shaved. I made it for my regular shift.  I asked one of my buddies if I’d done anything wrong. They said, ‘No, you were the life of the party, telling  jokes, keeping everyone entertained. I’ve never seen such a cheerful drunk. Do you know what that guy’s bill came to at the end of the night?’ I said, ‘ have no idea.’ He said, ‘Fifteen hundred bucks. We’ll split the tip.’

I said, “I checked on the computer for the electric car you want to buy. It looks great.”

“I’ll have to see. When this chair packs in, perhaps they’ll give me some money towards a new one. I’ll have to check that with my worker. What it would represent to me is freedom.  Now, I can take the wheelchair taxi, but I have to be at a certain place at a certain time. I never know when they’re going to arrive. Coming home could take hours. Sometimes they have half a dozen people they have to drive home before me. That’s no way to live. Someway or another I’m going to get that car.”

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Bleeding on the Counter

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bench

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29 May 2014

“Hi, Dennis,” said Little Chester, ” it’s an honor to see you. Do you have any of those Tim Horton cards?  How about bus tickets, do you have any of those?”

“Sorry Chester, I’m all out.”

“Here’s a cushion, Dennis,” said Jacques.

“Thanks, how are you today?

“Okay, my check should be in the mail today. Last night the fire engines came to our building at about four in the morning. I sniffed the air in my apartment. Stuck my head out the door to the hallway.  I could smell something, but not much, so I put my earphones back in and went to sleep. The apartments are all concrete. If a guy came home drunk, started cooking something on the stove, then fell asleep, it might cause a fire, but it would all be contained in the one apartment.

“Look what I found yesterday. It’s a case to carry my pot pipe and my lighter.”

Mariah said, “It looks like the case for one of those electric shavers, or clippers. It’s a good, solid case.”

Jacques pulled a tall can of Old Milwaukee out of his canvas bag.”

Chester said, “Jacques, I see you’ve got a beer.”

Jacques said to me, “See the cut I got on my thumb. I did something really stupid yesterday. I was cutting the side handles off my bag, because I only use the shoulder strap and the others get in the way. The knife slipped. It cut really deep. I put Polysporin and a band aid on it last night. When I woke up this morning it was bleeding. I put another band aid over top. I took my cans back to the beer store and it started bleeding again, I thought, Oh, no, they’re not going to serve me, I got blood on one of the cans. That’s what happened to me at the liquor store one day. I had a cut that started bleeding on the counter and the guy jumped back. He said, ‘This cash is closed.  We need to disinfect.’ I guess he thought that maybe I have HIV. He didn’t know.”

Chester said, “Jacques, can I have a beer?” Jacques poured his beer into a red drinking bottle. Took the can, twisted it, crushed it between the palms of his hands, then put it in his bag.”

Chester said, “I got a watch. I found it on the day of the marathon. That reminds me, the government owes me some money. I should go see them about it.”

Mariah said, “Maybe you should wait until sometime when you’re sober, before you try to do that. It might go better for you,” She passed Jacques an empty vodka bottle. He put it in his bag.

Jacques said, “What do you mean when he gets sober. Don’t you mean if he gets sober?”

Gnome stopped by and said, “This is Wolf’s court date. Does anybody know how it went for him?”

Jacques said, “I hope that he remembered to go.”

Chili said, “I got some good news. My hip operation is going to be scheduled for November at the latest.”

Mariah said, “That’s good, sometimes they’ll have a cancellation and will be able to take you early.”

“I hope so. I’m really having trouble walking. I can’t sit down properly either. I have to keep my leg straight.

Chili said, “I’m going to meet someone downtown so I’ll see you guys.”

I said, “Bye Chili. I’ll  I have to leave also. Will everybody be back tomorrow?”

Jacques said, “I don’t know. It being my check day and all. I’m going to check the flyers and make my grocery list. I got a flyer from Target. What’s Target, what do they sell?”

Mariah said, “It’s just like Wal-Mart, but not as good.”

Chili said, I go to my Independent Grocer on Mondays and pick up their flyers for the week. For clothes I like to go to Winners, or Value Village.”

I said, “I buy nearly all my clothes from Value Village. Everything I’m wearing is from there.”

Mariah said, “That’s a nice shirt.”

“I think I paid five bucks for it, a couple of years ago. For the pants, I may have paid seven. As you can see, they’re due to be replaced.”

Take care, Mariah, Jacques.”

Wolf said, “Maybe, I see you tomorrow”

“Bye, Dennis,” said Mariah. “I’ll probably be here.”

I waved and walked down the sidewalk.

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Hookers

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wheel

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29 May 2014

“Good morning, Chuck, how are you today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Shep

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group3

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28 May 2014

I shook hands all around.  “Dennis,” said Shakes, “you  didn’t shake with Shaggy, hahaha.”

“She knows I love her,”

“Here’s a cushion for you,”  said Jacques.

Shakes said, “You know, I’m staying at the Shep now. They served a big breakfast today, eggs, sausages and home fries.  They had the big sausages,” making a circle with his thumb and forefinger, “like that. I put one in my pocket for Shaggy. First I asked Wolf if it would be alright. He said, ‘Okay,’ then I gave a piece to her. She’s been looking at my pocket ever since.”

Jacques asked, “Shakes, have you talked to your worker about getting a new place?”

Shakes shook his head (yes).

“What did she say?” asked Jacques.

“I find out on Friday. That’s when she’s going to tell me. I hope I can get a place soon.”

Jacques said, “You know it’s almost a year since I’ve been in my castle. It’s not really a castle, it’s a bachelor, but to me it’s my castle. June first, that’s the day I moved in last year. I love it there.”

I said, “It’s nice that you have a balcony.”

“Yes, I love my balcony.”

“Do you have room to make your rice and raisin wine there?”

“I have the room, but my doctor says I’m not to drink so much. So, I drink until I run out of money, then I go the rest of the month without. He said to me, ‘If you drank more expensive liquor, you’d drink even less.’ I said, ‘Yes, but I like it my way.’

Wolf asked Shakes, “Are you going for a pack of smokes?”

Shakes nodded (yes). “Can you do a count for me?” He hauled a handful of change out of the inside pocket of his leather jacket and put it in a pile on the sidewalk. “How much do I have there?”

Wolf counted, he said, “You got five eighty-five. How much do you need? What’s your price?”

“Seven seventy-five.”

Wolf said, “Here’s two, you got ten cents more than you need. Now, are you going for smokes?”

Shakes said, “I’m going. I just need a cigarette first.” To a man walking past he asked,  ‘”Excuse me, can I buy a cigarette from you? Ma’am, can I buy a cigarette?”

Wolf said, “I don’t want to rush you, but fuck off already. I’m waiting for a smoke.”

“Hey soldier, can I buy a cigarette?”

Wolf said, “I guess since you’re the one going, I shouldn’t be trying to hurry you. I’m just, what is it they say? — busting your balls.”

Two men from the Innercity Mission stopped by. One was driving a refrigerated vehicle, powered by a bicycle.  “Would anyone like a sandwich, a bottle of water? How about you, Shakes. Is there anything you’d like?”

“A sandwich please, but not egg. I like scrambled eggs, but not hard boiled or sunny-side-up. I can’t eat those. I don’t know why.”

I said, “Maybe it’s the mayo you don’t like.”

“No, give me a can of ham and some mayo — Jake’ll tell you — I’ll go through that like nothing flat.”

“Wolf,” the man asked, “anything for you?”

“Water, please, and one for Shaggy.”

Shakes said, “I’ll take one for Shaggy too. Do you have socks? We’ll all take a pair of socks. Shaggy needs two pair.”

Jacques said, “When I had my dog, Star, women would get mad at me if I called her a bitch.  They’d say, ‘ That’s no way to talk to your dog.’ Id say, ‘But, she is a bitch, that’s what female dogs are called. I didn’t make it up.’ “

Wolf said, “Women get mad at me when I call the Queen a bitch.”

Jacques said, “That’s something we agree with. So, we don’t have to go to war now, France against Germany.”

Wolf noticed that the man in the red vest was wearing a Montreal hat. “That was some game last night, man? We stayed alive over the Rangers in game five. It was too much stress. We had them 4-1, then  Nash, Stepan and Kreider all struck within  four minutes to even the score. I was tearing my hair out. I put back six beer before the end of the second period. I was throwing empty cans all over the place. I calmed down a bit after Bourke put in two. Then Desharnais scored on an empty net to end the game 7 -4.  So, now we wait  for them to meet in Game 6 on Thursday in New York.

“Thanks for the water and the socks.”

Jacques said, “I don’t like those guys.”

I asked, “Why is that, Jacques?”

“Sometimes they come by and ask everyone but me, if they want something.”

I said, “They asked you today.”

“Yeah, but I still don’t like them.”

Jacques asked Wolf, “How much do you pay for your smokes?”

“If I buy Du Maurier, or Export A, it’s twelve bucks, but I only get them on check day. I bring them here and share with everybody. Other days, I buy natives for seven bucks.”

“So, it costs me less for my one gram of pot a day, than it does you for your cigarettes.”

Wolf said, “I never thought about it that way, but you’re right.”

Jacques pulled out his pot pipe. “Once, when the cops came by, I was holding this in my fist, but they noticed the end sticking out. The cop asked to see it. He asked, ‘Do you have anything to put in this?’ I said, ‘No, I have to go downtown to buy some.’ Maybe I should have asked him if he had any. You know, it’s not illegal to have a pipe, as long as there’s nothing in it. I scraped the bowl with a screwdriver. I got nearly half a gram. That makes a good smoke, that stuff that gets caked around the edge, but I don’t like the resin. I tried those water pipes. I don’t like them… and when they put wine or cognac in them, ugh, it makes me sick.

“I think I’m going to make this pipe flatter on top.” He rubbed it back and forth on the sidewalk. “See, when it’s shaped it’s white, but when it’s handled, the fat from people’s hands turns it dark green.

“Shakes, do you still have that big pipe I gave you?”

“Yeah, I still got it at home.”

“Dennis,” asked Shakes, ‘Would you please help me up. Can you go to the liquor store for me? I got the money.”

“I could have gone earlier, Shakes, but I have to get back to work now.

“I’ll see everybody tomorrow.”

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Check Day

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wheel

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28 May 2014

“Good morning Chuck. Is it going to rain today?”

“I don’t know, it wasn’t forecast, but I can feel it in the air. I hope it holds off until I get home.

“I didn’t see Joy down there. I wonder where she is.”

I said, “It’s her check day. I don’t expect to see her for a week or so.”

“What day is it today?”

“The twenty-eighth.”

“There aren’t any checks due today. I wonder what she’s talking about.”

“I can’t keep track, Little Jake gets his check a day early. There are Trillium checks, that I don’t know anything about. Joy mentioned yesterday that today was her check day, or maybe it’s Big Jake’s check day.”

Chuck said, “Well, she should still be down here.”

Goldie started barking fiercely. Chuck pulled on her leash and lifted her into his lap. “It’s okay girl, working dog.” A black Standard Poodle leading a blind man passed close to Chuck’s wheelchair.”

“I didn’t see that dog coming. It’s not his fault but if any dog comes too close, Goldie goes nuts. If I didn’t have her on a leash she would attack. A surprise like that is bad for my heart.

“There was a guy walking his dog earlier, a big Malamute, beautiful animal. The owner deliberately crossed the street to push the dog in my face. He said, ‘I pay taxes, you got no right being here!’ I also had a problem on the bus. Goldie was sitting contentedly on my lap, just like now. This woman came up to me and said, ‘If your dog is allowed on the bus, mine should be as well.’ I said to her, ‘This issue  was brought before city council in 1999. It was rejected because pet dander could be life-threatening to allergic or asthmatic riders and drivers. There are also concerns about driver distraction if animals escaped their cages. Service dogs are exempt, because they save lives.

“I was at the liquor store the other day. I don’t drink, but my neighbor does. Each month when he gets his check he buys a forty ounce of Captain Morgan. It’s a treat for him. He has one glass before bed each night. I was bringing the bottle to the cash and when the guy behind the counter  saw Goldie, he yelled, “Someone take over my cash. I’m allergic to dogs!’ He left his till wide open and ran out of the store.

“I was waiting for the bus the other day when a Muslim driver, wearing a hijab, refused to stop for me. They believe  that dogs, and especially their saliva, are impure, so pious Muslims avoid them. This also happens in the case of Muslim taxi drivers, not allowing guide or service dogs in their cabs.

“That reminds me of the Bible story about the guy, what’s his name… God ordered him to kill his son… Abraham, Isaac  and the burning bush. That’s the story, anyway, before that time they allowed human sacrifices. Abraham, by sacrificing a ram, defied the Israelite practice of child sacrifice to the deity Molech.

A man with a beard, wearing scruffy clothes came by. He was pointing in the air and saying something about surveillance. Chuck agreed with him and said to me, I don’t know what he’s talking about, but it’s safer to agree with him.

“I saw Little Chester yesterday. There was a cop on either arm just holding him up. He was laughing and singing, without a care in the world. He’s crazy even when he’s sober. I always have to tell him to get lost when he hangs around me.”

I asked, “Do you have any more news about having your wheelchair fixed? Big Jake had his fixed right on the street. Check with Joy, maybe she knows the name of the guy or the agency that does that.”

“Yeah, I’ll ask her. When my last chair finally gave out, I phoned this place that would come to pick it up. They didn’t pay me for it, but the guy said they have volunteers who will refurbish them. They give them to people who can’t afford their own. Maybe they can help me.”

I said, “I have to rush now, Chuck, but I’ll see you tomorrow.”

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