When I squatted down to talk to Joy she said, “Nick and Lucy have been creeping about this morning. They’re both drug sick. Nick went somewhere to get some sleep. Lucy said she’d stop to talk with me, but she had to get fixed. You wont believe believe it but she asked me, ‘Do you have a rig with you?’ I said ‘I’m not a user, and even if I was I wouldn’t keep that stuff on me.’ It would be just my luck to have a cop check my bag and get pricked with a needle. That would be an attempted murder charge against me. Jake has AIDS and he spit at a cop last summer. They told him that, if it had landed on them, he could have been charged with attempted murder.
“Anyway, Lucy slunk off to Tim Horton’s to use their bathroom. They won’t let her into Lorenzo’s. She’ll be smashing in there. It’s been a while since she left. Maybe she’s nodded off. I guess I’ll find out when I go there later.
“She was looking really rough, wearing baggy winter pants. It looked like she hadn’t bathed for a while.
“I’ve got a sore neck from that office chair I got. It has a high back and the only way I can rest my head is to stretch out. I have to hunch my back to watch my DVDs. Animal brought me a bunch. The ones I enjoy the most I’ve been watching over and over, there’s The Godfather, Serpico, Bladerunner. I have the dialog memorized from that one. Pirates of the Caribbean. He also brought me Charlie’s Angels. I can’t see myself watching that.
I said, “I like movies with Johnny Depp.”
“They’re weird, man.”
“Do you mean weird as in Edward Scissorhands?”
“Yeah that and Willie Wonka, and there’s the one where he plays the Mad Hatter and Finding Neverland. I heard that in real life he wears women’s underwear under his clothes.”
I said, “He played in the movie Ed Wood. His character was a producer of b movie, who is also a cross dresser.”
“That wouldn’t be much of a stretch for him. I can’t imagine any guy wanting to wear women’s underwear. Even I don’t like to wear women’s underwear. I wear men’s boxers, because they’re more comfortable.
“When I was with Jake he wanted me wearing these panties cut way up on the sides. He thought they looked sexy. He even had me wearing a thong. Can you imagine walking around with a string up your ass? if you sat or squatted wrong, they’d cut you.”
I asked, “Have you been taking your medication?”
“I’ve been taking it, but not the way I’m supposed to. I’m trying to make the pills last until I get my health card. It pisses me off that my worker hasn’t got me one after five months. Everybody else has theirs.”
A well dressed lady stopped to talk to Joy and dropped a five. She asked, “How have you been, I haven’t seen you around for a while?”
“I was in hospital from December to the end of January. It was because of the fibromyalgia I’ve got in my legs. I was in a wheelchair for a while, then a walker, then a cane. I couldn’t get out much.”
“How are you feeling now?”
“I gimp around a bit. I won’t be running anytime soon. If I get chased by a ferocious dog, I’ll just lay down and get eaten. I won’t have any choice.”
“All the best to you,” said the lady as she walked away.
I said, “She seems nice.”
“Yeah, she doesn’t usually drop me money. She’s a big shot with the government. When she’s alone, and only when she’s alone, she’ll stop to talk with me. When she’s with people from work, she doesn’t even look at me. I guess she’s embarrassed.”
I met the rest of the group at eleven o’clock, at ‘the point’. They were all there: Joy, Bearded Bruce, Little Chester, Danny, Jacques, Shakes and Jake.
I asked Joy, “Did Nick and Lucy come back after I left?”
“No, and I checked the washroom. I just can’t understand people smashing that stuff in their arms. It just makes you nod off.”
Two women, Sophia and Becky approached. Sophia said, “We just graduated on Tuesday, so we’re free now.”
“Congratulations!” said Joy. “Hey, you’ve put on some weight. The other day I saw you from across the street. I was going to say, ‘Sophia, your ass is bigger.’ I decided not to.”
After they left I asked, “What did they graduate from?”
“I don’t know, probably rehab. I think that was part of Sophia’s parole, that she’d have to attend rehab. They’re confined to a house. They have to do chores. They’re monitored all the time.”
“When I was released from rehab I was sent to the Phoenix Program in Hamilton. It was all paid for. I was using crack then.
“They gave us these little, blue 12 Step books from A.A. I said to the woman, ‘I’m not here for alcoholism I’m here for drug addiction.’ She said, Just replace the word alcohol with the word drug. It’s the same program.
“I got kicked out of there. You couldn’t buy crack in Hamilton so my friend and I went out and got drunk.” They made a mistake in refunding to me the unused portion of the money paid for the program. I got really wasted after that.
“My mom wouldn’t speak to me while I was taking drugs. I quit, but I’d lost weight, so she thought I was still using. She wouldn’t let me see my kids. I had lots of money then. She liked that.”
“Earlier, I tried taking a pee behind that brick wall. Bruce yelled over at me, ‘Joy, I can see your bum.’ I tried to turn around a bit, but the shrubs don’t give much cover. I couldn’t pee after that. I’m going to go back there to try again.”
Joy walked across the street and I talked to Bruce, who I hadn’t seen since he’d invited me over for Christmas dinner. “How are things going in your new place, Bruce?”
“Great, sometimes I don’t even want to leave. I pan in my usual spot from six to around nine. I make about twenty bucks, enough to buy my smokes and a few groceries. I go grocery shopping twice a week. My freezer is full. I’m eating well. I only drink once a week — today.
“My place is small, just a bachelor with a big double bed. My girlfriend had been staying with me, but she had to go to hospital for gall stones. They did, what they call, non-invasive surgery. They put a tube through her nose and vacuumed the stones out that way.
“It was awful when I went in to see her. She had the tube in her nose, the oxygen tube, she had to have a blood transfusion. There were machines with wires hooked to her arms. Her blood pressure was going up and down. I thought I was going to lose her.
“Then she developed pancreatitis. I’m sure she picked that up in the hospital, because it was antibiotic resistant. She’d never taken antibiotics before so she wasn’t immune. It wasn’t an allergy. Anyway, they had to use two of the strongest antibiotics they had. She’s fine now.
“Now, she’s gone to stay with her folks for a while. I hope she doesn’t start drinking again. When she was here, I could keep an eye on her.”
It was time for me to return to work, so I said my goodbyes.
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