Out Of Prison

 

jake

 

17 May 2013

I was late this morning,  so I only had a few minutes to talk with Joy.  She was sitting on her crate and was visibly shaking.  “I just heard this morning, from Jacques, that Big Jake was out of prison.  I thought he was getting out today. I didn’t sleep a wink last night.

“Rodent had a party for him yesterday. Jacques was invited, but didn’t go.  Shark and Irene were invited. They may have gone,  I don’t know. Rodent told me that, if Jake ever came near me, he’d kick him out of his house. That’s never stopped Jake before. He’d just stay somewhere else.”

I said, “You mentioned that you’d been in contact with Jake and that he’d wanted to get together with you. That sounds like he still cares for you.”

“Yeah, he wants to hook up, but twenty-six months in prison would make him a bit pissy. Even when we were on good terms, that didn’t stop him from beating me.

“I thought I saw him on the corner a while back. I nearly shit my pants. It turned out to be someone else. I’ll see him sooner or later. I’m definitely getting drunk today. I’ve panned enough for a bottle.”

“I wonder if Jake’s heard about you being beaten by Andre. That would upset him.”

“Yeah, Andre’s spent next month’s rent.  He’s just finishing out his last months rent.  He said he’ll be leaving town next month. I’m sure his sister won’t take him in. Can you imagine? He’d be drunk, having pool parties until all hours, kicking in doors. She wouldn’t put up with that, even from her scumbag brother.

 



 
 
 
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Blood Suckers

 

homeless family L

 

16 May 2013

Today the park was cool and breezy.  I had two books for Wolf, one by Ken Follett, Winter of the World and one by Dick Francis, Comeback. From reading the back covers they seemed like the type of shoot-em-up books that he would enjoy. Shakes was seated on the curb, lying back into the bushes, sound asleep.

Jacques said to me, “I don’t think you’ll see Joy today. She hasn’t been panning for the past few days. Today is the day that Big Jake gets out of prison.”

I said, “I wonder how that’s going to work out. She already has broken ribs.  Jake may be upset that it was her testimony that sent him to Milhaven. Also, he’s going to be upset with Andre, who will be no match for him.”

Jacques said, “I talked to Mariah,  she said that Joy hasn’t been home. She did mention going to Chuck’s place for some moose steaks. Maybe she stayed over there. Maybe she went to visit Bleeding Heart. I hope not, he’s not good people.”

Wolf added, “Yeah, what’s the point of going to his place if, ten minutes later, he throws you out.”

Shakes woke up, “Hello Dennis, I was just having a little cat nap. The blood suckers were after me this morning.”

“What do you mean the blood suckers were after you?  Do you mean the police?”

“No,  at my doctor’s, they took a whole lot of blood out of me. My arm is still sore.”

 

Wolf motioned me over. “I want to tell you something in confidence.” I moved closer. “I went to my legal aid worker this morning. She’s really a nice person… You remember, when I was charged for treating Shaggy too rough. Well, that’s going to court soon. Anyway, what I wanted to tell you was, she said to me, ‘Wolf, you don’t have to wait until you have legal problems to visit me. You can come anytime, even if you just want to talk.’  I wanted to share that with you. I thought it was really nice of her.

“You know, I just found out today about Darrell’s death and his funeral. Jacques went. The place was packed. I couldn’t go anyway, I was too drunk. If I’d walked all the way here, then walked to the funeral parlor, I wouldn’t have had enough energy to walk home. I would have ended up sleeping at ‘the heater’, then I would have had the police to deal with.

“Little Jake went. He was drunk and caused a big scene. Trudy was there, she brought this new purple leash for Shaggy. That was nice.  Anyway, I’ve finished with you. Thanks for bringing me the books. I really appreciate it. I mean it. Now, go!”

 

 



 
 
 
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Fartin’ Dust

 

group3

 
14 May 2013

It was sunny and almost warm at the park today. I sat between Hippo and Joy. On her other side was Mariah, Wolf and his dog Shaggy. Shakes was sprawled, as usual, on the sidewalk.

“Shakes,” said Joy, “For Christ sake, will you sit up before we get reported and the cops come? I saw one pass on his bicycle just a few minutes ago.” With great effort, and not much balance, Shakes relocated to the curb.

With talk of cops came talk of prisons. Joy said, “The worst I’ve seen is Bordeaux Prison in Cartierville. I visited my boyfriend there. We’d been walking around Montreal and Big Jake decided to boost a car. He was drunk, so I said I’d crack it, but no, he’s The Man. He drove the car away, realized how drunk she was , parked it, got out and fell asleep on somebody’s lawn. He woke up a couple of hours later and took the car, but by that time there were two of Montreal’s finest tailing him. Anyway, he went to Bordeaux. It was half H.A, (Hell’s Angels) half Rock Machine. Talk about tense.”

Debbie said, “Hey, this leaves me in the middle. If  I go to either end I won’t be able to talk to anybody. Wolf will you make some room and let me sit beside Shakes?”

“Hold on! Get out of my fuckin’ way, woman. I can only do so many things at once.”

Wolf maneuvered Shaggy’s cart further down. He wasn’t happy about it. Debbie sat between Shakes and Wolf. She said to Shakes, “You know, in all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never known you to get laid.”

Shakes said, “I can’t afford it unless women come on to me.”

“Does that ever happen?”

“No, because I play hard to get.”

Debbie said, “I guess I’m the same way. Every once in a while I get a little urge.”

Joy said to me, “Just shoot me right now.”

From Shaggy’s cart, Heinz pulled a six-pack of Old Milwaukee and passed the cans around. Joy took one. “The only reason I drink this is to make me burp. Here it comes. I hate the taste of this stuff and it’s hard to hide. If a cop comes and tells me to dump it I won’t mind at all.”

I asked Joy, “How did you sleep last night?”

“I ended up sleeping on my side with the broken ribs. I managed a few hours sleep, but when I got up and tried to take a deep breath, that’s when the pain hit. This morning native Brent came by. We haven’t seen each other in ages. I said, ‘Don’t try to hug me — broken ribs.’ He grabbed me anyway. I thought I was going to pass out.

“I’m not sure if I will go to Chuck’s for that barbecue today. It means taking one bus then walking about five blocks. I don’t think I’m up to that. I think I’ll just go to my place and relax. I know Nicholas will be pissed, he brought those moose steaks especially for me. He’ll get over it.

“This morning one of my regulars stopped by. She asked, ‘How are you feeling now? Is there any chance you’ll be able to get a job?’

“I should have told her, ‘I don’t do employment.’ I had a job at Arby’s once. That lasted about two hours. Then I said, ‘That’s it I’m out of here.’ I had a warehouse job one time. I liked that. It was a big place so I was always moving; not like being behind a counter somewhere.”

“Hippo, do you want to come to my place?” asked Joy. ” I’ve got chicken for supper.”

“I haven’t had chicken for months. Sure I’ll come. I’m expecting a care package from home. Can we stop at my place on the way?”

Debbie looked at Mo and said, “You’re not looking right. I can sense these things.”

“Well, I’ve been on my period for fifteen weeks now. I didn’t think I had that much blood in me. If I tried to slash my wrists my veins would be fartin’ dust.  Before that I’d gone five months without a period. I don’t know what’s happening.”

Katy said, “I wasn’t expecting that much information.”

Mariah asked, “Where are we meeting for Weasel’s funeral? I heard that a lot of people aren’t coming.”

I turned to Hippo and asked, “How are you liking your apartment?”

“The place is okay, it’s just the fuckin’ neighbors. If I had a gun with a silencer I’d shoot them.”



 
 
 
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Weasel’s Funeral

 

womanbox

14 May 2013

Joy was looking better this morning, at least she didn’t appear to be in pain.

“Hi Sweetie,” she said.

“How’s your day going?” I asked.

“Shitty, I haven’t even made enough for a bottle.”

“How was your weekend?”

“It was okay — quiet. Sunday was the anniversary of my mom’s death. I picked some flowers and tossed them in the river. That’s what I do every year. My mother loved the water. When I was in Montreal I could feel her presence all around me. It’s not so strong here.”

I said, ” She’s nearby, watching over you. I believe in spirits — I’ve seen them. I’m sure she’s proud of you.”

“I hope so.

“I saw Nicholas this morning. He came back from visiting his parents in Mani…it’s not Maniwaki…Mani…something or other. He brought me back some moose steaks. I love moose, even though it will give me the runs for three days, it’s so rich.”

I asked, “Is he still going out with Christine? I think I remember her. She’s pretty isn’t she?”

“Gorgeous, with that beautiful smile and her long black hair, but they all sleep around. When she’s been drinking sherry she really goes crazy. She’s taken a swing at me. I just grabbed her throat and pushed her to the ground. I said to her, ‘It’s okay, sweetie, it’s me…everything is okay.’ She was fine after that. She’s a scratcher and a biter. Nicholas was just trying to hold her away and she bit the palm of his hand; a really nasty bite. I said to him, ‘You should go to a doctor. A human bite is more dangerous than an animal bite.’ He didn’t go.

“Chuck wants to have a barbecue today. I feel bad, they’ll have booze and I’ll be walking in empty-handed. Do you think you could buy me a bottle?”

“We’ll see.”

“You know the kind I like, don’t you? Don’t buy me any of that Pale Dry shit. That’ll really make me sick.”

“Have you heard anything about Andre? Has anybody seen him?”

“Nobody’s seen him because he’s hiding out. He was by here this morning on his bicycle. He pulled up right in front of me.  I said, ‘If you’re going to stop, at least have the courtesy to get your bike out of the way. I’m trying to work here.’

“I said to him, ‘What took you so long to come around. At least Big Jake had the decency to apologize the next day, when he beat me.’ Andre said, ‘Don’t put me in the same category as Jake.’ I said, You’re worse than Jake,  he came back to see if I was still alive.’ I could see tears welling up in his eyes. He said, that he’d be leaving town for about a month. Since he spent his rent check on booze, he’s probably just staying there until his last month is paid off. He’ll be kicked out after that and I can’t see his sister putting up with him. She’s got a beautiful apartment.

“Anyway, Chuck is on the look out for him now. He, and a lot of other people want to beat the shit out of him.”

We could both see Chester coming towards us. Joy said to me, “What does that old fart want.”

Chester said, “Hello Dennis, hello Joy.”

Joy asked, “Are you going to Weasel’s funeral?” Chester just shook his head (no). “Why not,  is it for the same reason the rest of us aren’t going?” He shook his head (yes) and walked on.

I asked, “Where is Weasel’s funeral?”

“It’s at Kelly’s. That’s where they put all of us. I guess it’s cheaper. Beechwood Cemetery has a special place for us, out of the way.  It used to be that they’d pile the bodies one on top of another. Now, I think, they bury them standing up. I don’t know why they don’t just burn them and sprinkle the ashes somewhere. That would make more sense.”



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Can you fly?

 
walker
 
23 June 2016

Joe looked contented sitting in his walker, in the shade of a tree, listening to the blues band playing in the park. One of his regulars said to him, “Joe, you’ve got the best job ever, perfect weather, beautiful women walking past and you’re listening to great music. How do I get a job like yours?” He bent down and put a two dollar coin in the paper cup at Joe’s feet.

“You’re right,” said Joe. To me he said, “I like to watch the women, but that’s all. I’m 68 years old, I’ve been married three times, twice to doctors and once to a nurse. My daughter is now a nurse. She lives in Vancouver and keeps saying to me. ‘Daddy, you should come here and live with us. I could take care of you.’ I like to visit them, but I don’t want anybody taking care of me. I take care of myself. I’ve been on this bridge for ten years. A couple of guys tried to set up close to me. I asked one of them, ‘Can you fly? Can you swim?’ I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and the seat of his pants and threw him over the railing. The other one ran away.”

A man and woman in military uniforms walked past and waved to Joe. “I’ve known those two for a long time. They’re both in special forces. They do a lot of spy work for the army. They travel all over the world.

“I’ve got a granddaughter in Vancouver. She’s eight years old. Every month I send her $1000. When she’s 18 it will pay for her education. I’ve been doing that since she was born. I don’t need much. I stay at a hospice, one room with a hospital bed. It has those buttons to raise, lower or tilt the mattress. There is a nurse who checks on me. I’m allowed three beer a day, because I’m alcoholic. She labels my bottles. I asked her, ‘Why do you do that? I’m the only one who uses that fridge.’ She said, “It’s our policy and you may want to drink these outdoors.’ I said, ‘If I wanted beer outside, I’d buy it outside.’ I have special food in there as well. I have a lot of allergies, diabetes and other medical issues.

“I told her that I’d be coming in late tonight. One time I was visiting a lady friend and I stayed away three days. We were watching the news on TV and saw my picture. The announcer said, ‘If anyone has information about this man, please call the station. He uses a walker, is bald and was last seen wearing a red shirt. He’s been reported missing by medical staff.’ We laughed at that, but now I always leave a note if I’m going to be away.

“I use the walker because of Parkinson’s and because of my knee. The plastic has worn away and it gets stiff on me. I also have diabetes. I’m thinking of getting one of those electric wheelchairs. They’re so expensive. They range in price from $2200. to $2600. If I hold off sending money to my granddaughter for a few months I can put that towards a wheelchair.

“My mother left me a lot of money, but I only use it for special circumstances, like if I fly to Vancouver. I have 10 brothers and 6 sisters. When my mother was sick in hospital not one of them came to visit her. When she died I made all the arrangements and none of them came to the funeral, so I don’t have anything to do with them any more.

“Do you have the day off?”

“No,” I said, “I work in that tall building over there. I’m on my lunch hour. I’ll have to head back soon.” I reached into my pocket to check my watch. It read 12:50 pm.

“You carry your watch in your pocket just like I do. I’ve had this a long time. It never needs batteries, it’s self-winding. As long as I’m active, it keeps running. It tells the time, the day of the week,  the date, has a compass and an alarm that can be set. Unlimited is etched on the back. I got it from a guy who wanted to borrow $50.00. I said to him, ‘Leave me your watch and your wallet, take your identification out. I’ll return them when you pay back the money.’ He never came back. I checked the wallet and although it looked empty, I found a secret compartment with a $50.00 bill tucked out of sight. So, I got the watch and my $50.00.”

watch



 
 
 
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Blacky

 

womanbox

 
10 May 2013

Joy was looking more cheerful this morning. I asked, “How did you sleep last night?”

“Not bad, I smoked a joint, then passed out for four hours. When I awoke, my heating pad was bunched up. I rolled over, then I heard my rib pop. It’s been hurting ever since.”

“Have you heard any details about Weasel’s funeral?”

“I haven’t heard anything. I seriously doubt that anyone would be attending anyway. I’m not aware that he has any family. I don’t get Jake blubbering about Darrell being his best friend. Weasel was a piece of shit and used to beat him on a regular basis. I never liked the way that he treated Blacky.

“Weasel was so messed up on crack that I think he lost every friend he had. He kicked the door down at Wolf’s place and trashed his own apartment. he was always mooching off somebody. I say, good riddance.

“As far as Jake looking after Blacky. Jake needs looking after himself. That dog is vicious. The only humane thing is to have him put down.”

Toothless Chuck’s younger brother dropped by. “Hi sweetie,” said Joy. It’s good to see you. What are you up to?”

“I’m taking the bus to Montreal to visit friends. I want to get to the station early to line up. I’m hoping to get the back seat so I can stretch out and get some sleep.”

“You better be first in line then. That’s the seat that everybody wants.

“I’ve had it with Montreal. When I was there last week the cops said I had two outstanding charges of assault and battery. I asked, ‘Isn’t there some statute of limitations? Those charges were laid twenty years ago, but if you think you can make them stick, put me in cuffs right now, otherwise I’m out of here.’ ”

 



 
 
 
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Four Months Sober

 

bench

 

 

10 May 2013

On my way to the park this afternoon I saw Loretta, she was sitting on a low wall near the bus stop. “Hi, Dennis,” she called.

“Hi Loretta, I haven’t seen you for a long time.”

“It has been a long time. Did I tell you that I finished a four month program? I’ve been over four months sober now. At the program I told them I was only there because of my addiction to alcohol, I didn’t want to give up weed. I never want to stop smoking weed. I need something to help me relax. I did buy some patches though. I want to stop smoking cigarettes.”

“Congratulations, that’s an amazing achievement. I know that addictions are very difficult to control. I’m proud of you. Don’t try to take on too much at once. Take things one step at a time.

“Andre only lasted two months and look where he is now.”

“I know, that business with Joy. It’s such a shame. I like her, she’s been a friend for a long time. She didn’t deserve that. Nobody does.”

“My heart goes out to Joy and to Andre. They’ve both been my friends for years. Now, Andre has thrown away everything that he worked so hard for. He spent his rent money on booze, so he may get kicked out of his apartment. Everybody wants to punch him out. He probably won’t be able to stay in the city. It won’t be safe for him anywhere.

“Is there anybody at the park?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to go there because I know that people will be drinking. I really want a drink right now. I’m just waiting for a bus. I’m planning to go to school.”

“What will you be taking?”

“First I have to finish my Grade Twelve, then I want to go to Secretarial School.”

“That’s a good choice. Where I work they’re always looking for Secretaries.”

“I see my bus coming. It was good to see you, Dennis.”

“Bye, Loretta.”

I walked up the sidewalk to the park and sat beside Jacques. “How are you feeling, Jacques?”

“Oh me, I feel fine. My body is healthy. When people see me they think I’m big and strong, but it’s like a car. The body can be good, but the motor is shot. My heart is in bad shape. People don’t know I’m dying, but I am. I tell them, but they don’t believe it.

“I’ve been shitting water for the past three days. I don’t know what that’s about. Maybe I picked up some kind of bug. I don’t know”

Jake came wandering up the sidewalk. Katie said, “Well, let’s not all look at him.”

Jacques said, “That’s what we do. Where are we supposed to look.”

“I guess you’re right, I shouldn’t be telling everybody else what to do or how to act. It’s just the way I am, you know that.

“Has anybody got a joint? How about rolling papers? I got pot if somebody’s got papers.”

“You can use my pipe,” said Jacques. “I’ll fill it fresh.”

As Jake approached Katie he said, ” Come here, I need a hug.”

Katie took him in her arms and he started crying.



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