Every Woman Loves a Harley


 
 
 
 
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shovelhead

.

23 August 2013

When walking up the sidewalk to the park the only person I saw was Richard, shirt off sunning himself. I thought he was alone, but when I rounded the curve I saw the others.

Joy was the first to speak, “Dennis, I’m hammered, man. I’m not even sure I can stand up. I was just thinking about how I can fuck my neighbor’s weekend. He said he knows cops that can put me in prison. He’s just a fucking gardener, for Christ’s sake. I’ve been in prison before, for some really nasty shit, but that’s all behind me. Who does this guy think he is? Cops have checked my record, there’s no way they’re going to bring me back to Montreal for things I did there twenty years ago.

“I even talked to my family. They were glad to hear from me and glad to help. The only thing is, I’ll have to put up with my uncle’s crazy, witch, girlfriend. She spends a hundred bucks a month on black hair dye and she still ends up with a white stripe down the middle.

“Are you with me on this , Mariah? I wish we had your Harley right now. I had a Sportster in Toronto that my uncle rebuilt specially for me. Then I lent it to my sister. You know what happens when you’re going up a steep driveway and you gun the engine?”

“I know, ” I said, “you go right over backwards. I’ve done it myself.”

“Ass over tea kettle!” agreed Mariah.

Joy said, “My uncle was really pissed off. He said, ‘I built that bike for you. Now you’re barred.’ That gave me the opportunity to beat the shit out of my sister. I enjoyed that, but I missed the bike.”

I said, “I used to ride a 650 Suzuki GL, but I always wanted a Harley.”

Mariah said, “I usually rode a Shadow, I had a Harley for a while, but that was way back. What you need to do is get someone to rebuild you a bike. They’re a lot better.”

“Like a knucklehead or shovelhead? I asked.

“Yeah, they have great vibrations. Every woman loves a Harley!”

Loretta, Buck and his dog Dillinger came by. Dillinger licked my face as I sat on the sidewalk. Joy said, “I’ve fed that dog, given him treats, looked after him; he doesn’t give me kisses.”

I said to Loretta, “I see that you’re drinking coffee, or at least it looks like coffee.”

“It’s coffee. I’ve just passed my anniversary, eight months sober.”

“Congratulations, that is a great accomplishment. I’m so  proud of you.”

“Well, you saw me while I was drinking. I was a real mess.”

“I’ve been the same. Now is what counts.”

A plump, middle-aged woman stopped by. She asked, “Does anybody here know where I can buy some pot.”

Joy, nervously said “Yeah.”

“I’ve asked kids on the market, but they just laugh at me. I’m from the seventies, I just want something to mellow me out.”

Joy said, “You’d only get shit from them anyway.”

“How much can you sell me?”

“A gram.”

“What do you charge?”

“Ten.”

“If I want more can you hook me up with somebody.”

“Yeah.”

“Where can I meet you. Are you around here every day.”

“Most mornings until about one o’clock.”

“Okay, I’ll see you again.” She took her gram then walked away.

Mariah said, “I hate having to deal with strangers.”

Joy said, “Don’t worry, It’s my pot. You’re safe.”

Shakes said, “One time, in Toronto, a guy came by my place and asked to buy a gram. That was fine. Then he came again and wanted to buy forty grams. The third time he arrested me for possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. I got ten years.”

 

 

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Cooking Crack


 
 
 
 
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womanbox

 

22 August 2013

Rain was pouring, pedestrians were scurrying under umbrellas trying to avoid collisions. Joy was sitting hunched on her box below the overhang of the library.  She said, “Come back here, I’m dry.  Just watching the puddles and people being splashed by the cars.  There’s another one. The ones with the umbrellas are dangerous. Everybody’s cranky this morning; they’ve all got scowls on their faces, as if they’d never seen rain before. I’ve hardly made a thing.

I asked, “Have you heard anything about Big Jake? Did you phone his parole officer?”

“Yeah, I phoned, but didn’t get much information. He said it was confidential. I don’t like that guy, Jake doesn’t either.”

“That’s what happens when people are given power. They love to lord it over everybody else. What will this mean for Jake?”

“He’s got a parole violation, so that’ll mean an extra three months added to the five left on his sentence.”

“What violation was he charged with? Was it missing appointments with his parole officer or drinking?”

“He violated the restraining order that said he couldn’t come anywhere near me. He stayed over one night. Someone knocked at the door. I didn’t know who it was, but I answered it. It was the cops. It wasn’t like it was eleven o’clock at night. I never would have answered then.”

“How did they know he was at your place?”

“Someone must have told them, but not that many people know where I live. I’m thinking it may have been Rodent. That’s where Jake stayed when he first got out. He probably said, check with Jake’s old lady.

“Mariah said she saw Andre yesterday. She said he looked like shit, just skin and bones. He’s either contracted something from his new girlfriend, or he’s back on the crack. That stuff will really make you lose weight.

“Mariah asked Andre if everything was settled between him and me. He said, ‘Yeah, it’s all sorted.’ I said, ‘Bullshit, nothing’s sorted. It’s just like the last time I told you’. Then she said, ‘So, it’s okay if I pound the shit out of him, next time I see him?’ I said, ‘Yeah, fill your boots.’

“The crack you get on the street now is combined with all kinds of shit that you can get under the kitchen sink. Some mix it with ammonia, hydrochloric acid and acetone. I see  people with sores on their mouths, it eats their skin, some have even lost their lips.

“When I was cooking,  people knew what they were getting, just straight shit.”

“You cooked your own crack? How did you do that?”

“It’s just  four to one coke to baking soda in a teaspoon, add a tiny bit of water to make it muddy and run a lighter until it  until turns into rock.  I messed up the first time, but the guy I was with had an eight ball. He said, ‘Try again, you gotta learn sometime.’ So I did, and it worked. That’s all there is to it.

“Hardly anybody uses straight cocaine anymore, unless they’re shooting it into their arms.”

 

 

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Live Slow, Die Laughing

 
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group3

 
21 August 2013

Another beautiful day at the park. Mariah spread a newspaper for me to sit on the grass. Shakes was wearing a marijuana tee-shirt with the slogan ‘Live Slow, Die Laughing’. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so close to the truth.

He said, “I may be a drunk and a stoner, but I’m still here.”

I asked Mariah, “How are you feeling since the food poisoning?”

“I feel better.  The last of the boils came out today. It was really uncomfortable sleeping; I was flip-flopping all night. They were itchy and burning.  With my sharp fingernails I cut myself a couple of times.

“Since the weekend I’ve been eating vegetarian. I’ve been popping baby cucumbers, snow peas, carrots and berries.  I love all kinds of berries, everything but meat.”

Steve said, “I can’t eat raspberries. They get stuck in my teeth. I’ve just been to the dentist.”

Mariah said, “Yeah, you really got to really crush those little suckers.”

Shakes asked, “How about ‘shrooms, Mariah?”

“No, I’m allergic to them. As soon as I eat one my tongue swells, my throat closes and I begin to itch.”

“How about the magic kind?”

“Them too. The next day I’ll be scratching all over.”

I said, “Joy has the same problem with bananas and carrots.”

Mariah said. “I haven’t seen Joy today. Jake left some cards on her table with his probation officer’s telephone number. She was wondering if she should call and see what’s happening. I said, ‘If he left them, it must mean that he wants you to call.’ The police were over one night at eleven o’clock and again the next morning trying to serve her, but she didn’t answer. It must have something to do with Jake. Maybe they want her to appear in court, but she hasn’t done anything.”

Little Jake said, “Everyone was trying to get it contact with Joy. Rodent called me, I called Jacques, he called Mariah. Nobody could get through because Jake had unplugged the phone.”

I asked, “Why wouldn’t Jake keep his appointments with his parole officer? He’d know that  by missing them, he’d be going back to jail.”

“Beats me. All he’d have to do is take the number 5 bus, it would drop him off right in front of the office. He’s done that before.”

I said, “Even if he’s having problems with his wheel chair, he could always call Para Transpo. They’d pick him up right at his door.”

Steve said, “I’ve got a really good dentist. She’s just over there in that big tall building.”

Mariah said, “Speaking of dentists. I have to make an appointment to see my dentist. He pulled my two fangs out. That was quite a job. They were in so deep he had his knee on my chest trying to pull them out. I think I’ve still got bruises. Now I’ve got to get a bridge to fill in the missing spaces.”

Steve said, “My dentist kept telling me to open my mouth wider.  I had it open so wide I could feel it cracking at the edges. It was bleeding. She wanted to pull my front teeth and give me a plate, but they aren’t hurting me, so I don’t want to have to have to deal with a plate.”

Alphonse walked away. Shakes said, “Sometimes I just have to get mean. I get tired of people asking me for cigarettes and never paying me back”

Jake said, “I can’t imagine you getting mean, Shakes.”

“Oh, I can get mean if I have to.”

Gaston said, “I had to get mean last night. My neighbor upstairs had the music playing so loud that all I could hear was the ‘thump, thump, thump’ of the bass. I took a broom and pounded the ceiling. I said, “If I hear that music again, I’m coming in.’ He said, ‘You can’t come in here.’ ‘Just watch me!’ I said.  I’ve got a temper and I can handle myself. Charles, my bitch, is more physical, but I’ve put him in the corner. Oh, yes!”

Steve said to Gaston, “I heard they’re moving the Living Room (part of the AIDS Committee Services). I was there the other night. They’re moving closer to downtown.”

Gaston asked, “Why are you telling me that?”

Steve said, “I just thought you might like to know.”

Gaston, annoyed, said, “Steve, I’m the Director. It was my decision to move to the new location. You should know that.”

Little Jake said, “Yeah Steve, smarten up or next time they won’t let you in.”

Shakes took his sneaker off and was waving it in the air. A hoard of fruit flies started circling around his shoe, everybody laughed.

I said, “Shakes is the only one who can clear a room with just one shoe. Shakes, watch where you point that thing. You could hurt someone.”

 

 

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Joy Returns

 
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seated

 

20 August 2013

From the corner, near the coffee shop, I could see Joy. She stood up from her box, waved and gave me a big smile.

“How are your legs feeling,  Joy.”

“A little better, I was using a cane this morning, but forgot it on the bus. Oh well, I have more at home. It’s been so long since I’ve used the bus, I didn’t realize that they’d raised the fares and changed the color of the tickets. All I had was two of the old purple ones. I snuck them in, hoping the driver wouldn’t notice. Then I noticed a lady pointing at me, gesturing and pinching her nose. Then the smell hit me. The man in the front seat reeked of b.o. That’s what the lady was trying to tell me, to move farther back. I waved at her to let her know I understood.

“Someone was banging on my door at eleven o’clock one night. It was really loud, like cops. Anybody who knows me, knows not to call on me late at night, so I ignored it and they went away. The next day Mariah, asked me, ‘What was that ruckus in the back yard last night? There were two cops with flashlights. They were looking around the yard.’

“I couldn’t think why cops would be banging on my door. I don’t have any outstanding warrants, not from here anyway. The ones from Montreal are twenty years old. Anyway, they checked my record the last time I was taken to the detention center.

“Little Jake said he came by my place, but didn’t want to disturb me. He  was going to tell me to contact Rodent, because the cops were after him. Why the fuck would I care if the cops were after him? I couldn’t figure that out. Little Jake was too timid to knock on my door, but he wasn’t too timid to break into Bearded Bruce’s place. Bruce found him sitting on his bed, eating a cold pork chop.

“I think Rodent’s been arrested now, along with Big Jake, for parole violations. I think they picked them up at the Mission, or wherever they were staying.”

I asked, “What might the violations have been?”

“He’s been drinking, that would be a violation. Also, I don’t think he’s been keeping up with appointments to see his parole officer. That would be my guess. I haven’t talked to him for a while.”

From beside Joy, we saw a small mouse streak across the street. Some people on the sidewalk stopped to look at it. Then it went under a parked car.  Joy and I were hoping it would either stay there or run down to the parking garage. No such luck. It tried running back across the street and a big orange truck passed over. The turbulence from the wheels threw it off-balance. He limped away behind a car. We watched for it, but didn’t see it come out. Neither of us felt spry enough to dodge the traffic. Joy was going to check to see if it was still there when she left for home.

Joy said, “I’m not a big fan of mice, but I hate to see any animal injured. One time I was sitting here and a tiny little bird was fluttering  nearby.  A shit hawk swooped down and grabbed him right out of the air. I could hear the sound of cheeping as he flew away with the bird hanging from its claws. I didn’t know they ate other birds.

“This morning I ate a banana. I know I’m not supposed to have them, but I haven’t had any problems with my kidneys lately.  After I ate it I got this tingling sensation on my tongue, then my throat started to swell. A lady stopped to see if I was alright. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m just trying to scratch my tongue.’

“I haven’t seen many of our friends around. I was expecting  Jacques this morning. Tuesday they have the big breakfast at the Mission. He usually comes down for that.  Chester will probably be sniffing around, picking up butts. Most people are housed now, but I thought that we’d at least try to stay in contact.

“Mariah is fighting with Charlie again. She kicked him out. He has his own place near Chester. Deaf Donald and Tall Paul came by, they were arguing in French. I gave Donald shit for wanting to bum a cigarette. I can’t afford to supply these people.

“I haven’t seen Shakes for a while. Some of us were talking the other day about who would be the next to go. Little Frank was saying that Shakes is going downhill fast.  I hate going to funerals.”

 

 

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You hit me, you hit the road!

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mariah

15 August 2013

A beautiful summer day.  Adding to my pleasure, in the lobby of the building where I work, the management company was giving out free ice cream. I walked to the park expecting a crowd; there was only Mariah and Big Chester. After asking for bus tickets he left. Later, Little Chester arrived.

“Happy vacation, everybody!” he welcomed.

I asked Mariah, “How has Joy been lately?”

“Her legs are a little better, she managed to climb the stairs to my place the other day. Her worst problem is getting rid of Big Jake. He’s paranoid, because he can’t contact his parole officer. He’s been phoning, but never gets an answer. I don’t know why he doesn’t just go to their office. I know it’s difficult for him, getting around in a wheelchair, but he should be able to manage; other people do. He keeps the door locked, the blinds pulled and is worried that people will be able to track him through the GPS in his phone. Joy feels like she’s back in prison.

“At first he’d go back every night to where he was staying; either the Shep’s or the alley, wherever; but when Joy’s legs got bad he started staying the night and for the past two weeks he hasn’t left. He doesn’t even go outside in the afternoon for some fresh air.”

I asked, “He hasn’t been drinking and beating Joy has he?”

“Not that I’ve heard of. They can’t afford to drink.”

“How have you been lately, Mariah?”

“Whew, I bought myself a treat on Friday, some fresh lobster. I got them from the Chinese place  near the beer store. He keeps them live in tanks, in the front window. You can pick whichever one you want. There must have been something wrong with it. After boiling, the flesh seemed a bit mushy. I thought that was odd, but I didn’t want to waste food, and I love lobster. I started puking and couldn’t stop. I’d poisoned myself. Charlie called an ambulance. I spent the weekend in hospital.”

“I guess they gave you antibiotics, did they?”

“No, I don’t take any pills. I let my body take care of itself. After a few days without eating I wasn’t puking any more, so they released me. When I got home I had a glass of vodka and started puking again, so no more vodka for a while. I’ve got my mix with me, just in case, but, so far, I’ve been sticking with straight water.

“I’m feeling better now, but I’ve been getting these lumps around my knees and ankles. I squeeze them and a lump of pus pops out. I guess it’s the body’s way of isolating the poison. It has to come out somewhere — either you  throw it up,  poop it out, or it comes out somewhere else. With me It’s my knees and ankles.

“That reminds me, I have to go for one of those exams, you know, where they go up your behind.  It’s for acid reflux. Last time they went in fifteen units. This time they’ll have to go further. What’s really uncomfortable is the air they pump into you. It really hurts.

“My guy, Charlie is back staying with me. I kicked him out about six weeks ago. He’s nearly killed me before.  He has PTSD. He woke up in the middle of the night and tried to strangle me, tried to pull my face apart. I said to him, ‘That’s it!  You hit me,  you hit the road!’ ”

I asked, “Was he in the military? Is that how he got PTSD?”

“Yes, he’s being treated for it, but it’s when he’s into the booze that he has the flare ups.   I had a twenty-six of vodka. He asked if he could have a drink. He downed about six ounces in one gulp, straight from the bottle, went down just like water.

“He also has complications because of a collapsed lung. He had double pneumonia and had the tubes coming out of him to drain the fluid. I looked after him while he was going through that.

“I saw him a few days ago at the Mission. He asked if there was any chance he could come home. I said, ‘Let’s walk and talk. I told him what he had put me through. He said, ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry.’ I let him come back.

“When he’s sober he’s the nicest guy in the world. He’s gone into burning buildings to help someone get out. He even went back for their luggage, then I had to go in after him.”

Little Chester said, “That’s what we have firemen for. They have the protective suits, the masks, the fire hoses.”

 

 

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Fight!

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bumfight

2 August 2013

The weather was perfect at the park. Shakes, Mariah and Little Jake were sitting quietly in the shade. I made sure Jake saw me before I went to shake his hand. Yesterday, he nearly freaked out,  He said, ‘Jesus, Dennis, don’t sneak up on me like that.’

Jake said, “I been alone most of the morning. Before Shakes showed up at ten, there was nobody but me. Since then a few people stopped by for about ten minutes then left.”

Mariah said, “I just came down to pay a bill, but they’re in the middle of upgrading their equipment. They asked, “How do you want to pay this bill?” I said, “Cash.” The guy looked in the till. He said we’ve got no money to make change. Can you use some other method.” I asked, “How about my debit card?” The guy checked the machine and said, “Sorry, that’s not working either. Do you have a credit card?” I said, “Yes, but it’s maxed out.” So that was a waste of time. That’s when I came here to visit with Jake and Shakes.

“I had something weird happen today. I was doing my laundry when I heard a dog barking. I looked outside and my friend was on his balcony with his dog, some kind of a pit bull mix. When he saw me he said, ‘I’ll be right down.’ We were  chatting near the gate when this guy, from across the street, came over with a stick in his hand. He demanded a cigarette. My friend said, ‘I told you a hundred times, I’m not giving you any smokes.’ The other guy started swinging the stick near me. My friend took his dog inside, then came out with a stick of his own. They were going at it in the middle of the street, swinging these sticks. I got on the phone and called the cops. They got there really fast, in about five minutes, but the other guy had already gone back to his apartment. When the cops confronted him he denied everything. Said he wasn’t even outside.  I pointed to the sticks on the ground and said, ‘That’s evidence right there.’ Anyway, he took our statements, and said they’d had other complaints against this guy, so they’d keep an eye on him. Can you imagine that? You’re not even safe in your own yard.”

A man walked  over and shook the hands of Shakes and Jake. He asked, “And who is this lovely lady here?”

“I’m Mariah,”

I introduced myself. He said they call me Peanuts. Don’t ask why. It’s a long story. Anyway, the last time I saw Shakes was on Bank Street in front of the liquor store. I saw this young kid, about twenty, punch Shakes. He must have hit him about six times in the face and was trying to go through his pockets. Shakes had a black eye.  I ran over and grabbed the guy. I said, ‘Do you know who you’re hitting? Shakes is a legend. It’s like hitting Muhammad Ali. You just don’t do that.’

“Shakes got up off the ground and fists started flying. He was like a whirlwind — “floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee.’ Soon the cops came by. The first thing they did was put Shakes in handcuffs. I said to them, ‘Hey, Shakes is the victim here. He’s the hero not the villain. Take those cuffs off immediately.’ Store employees came out and said, ‘We saw the whole thing, officers. He’s right, this guy had been in the store and when he left we saw this other guy punching him. We’re the ones that phoned you guys.’ At that point they removed the cuffs and told Shakes he could go. The other guy was thrown in the back of the squad car.

“Did you have much money on you, Shakes?”

“Yeah, I had two hundred and twenty dollars, I’d just cashed my check and still had the money in the brown bank envelope, but he didn’t get it. Nobody steals money from me”

Peanuts said, “I just came through some hard times. I was at the Shep and met this woman. She was beautiful, fifty-two years old, same as me. We got on really well. We went out and had a few drinks and she said to me, ‘I got eighteen hundred dollars. We could rent an apartment.’ We looked at a few places and found a really nice one for nine hundred a month. We moved our stuff in. I don’t want to get gross here but we made love at least twice a day, in every room of the place.

“One morning I woke up, she was wrapped in my arms, I looked down, there was a rat curled up at the bottom of the bed — a big fucker, about a foot long. The place was infested with them.

“Her sister came over and while they were talking a rat ran across the floor. She screamed and said, ‘My sister can’t live in a place like this. You’re coming home with me.’

“I went back to the Shep. After a few days I was feeling really sick, had the sweats, the shakes, the DTs, because I hadn’t had a drink for about four days.”

Mariah said, “I know. I been there.”

Peanuts continued, “I couldn’t buy a drink, because I’d given all my money to this woman, three hundred dollars. I’ve always given my money to my women to look after. They give me some to spend each day. I’m no good at looking after my own money, never have been. I went back to the apartment and all her things had been moved out. Didn’t leave a forwarding address, telephone number, nothing.”

I said, “So she didn’t leave you any money?”

“No, but the money wasn’t a worry, I can always get more money. I packed all my clothes, my leather jacket into a recycling box and went back to the Shep. When I woke up the next day all my stuff had been stolen. All I got to my name is what’s on my back.

“I’ve had three wives before, but I didn’t love any of them the way I loved this woman, even though we hadn’t been together that long. She broke my heart.”

To me Peanuts said, “I think I’ve seen you around before.”

‘Yeah,” I said “I’ve been coming around here for a couple of years. I work in that tall building over there.”

Peanuts said, “I think the last time I saw you was on the corner near the market. You were charging fifty bucks.”

I said, “You must have me confused with someone else, I’ve never charged as much as fifty bucks. A twenty could get me anytime.”

Peanuts laughed. He said, “That’s what I like, a guy that can take a joke. Hey, if you ever need anybody rubbed out, keep me in mind.”

I said, “I’ll call Mariah first, then you.”

 

 

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Blue Steel

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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/AIDS). 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 Parkway. I can’t remember the name. You know 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 Jake… 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 may 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.”

 

 

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