Daytona 2008

29 July 2016

For the past three days Theodore has been wearing the same Daytona 2008 tee shirt. It certainly had 8 years worth of cigarette burns. We met on the sidewalk as I was walking to the park. “Hi, Dennis,” he said, “they’re all up there, a few of them at least. It’s payday so some aren’t around.”

“Thanks, Theodore, maybe I’ll see you up there.”

I sat next to Little Jake on a blue tarp that was spread on the grass. Mariah handed me a cushion. She was seated in Jacques’ walker. I said I just saw Theodore heading west.”

Mariah said, “He just got a call on his cell phone and said, ‘I have to head to Chinatown.’ so it must have been good news. I’ve been trying to call Wolf but he’s not answering.”

Outcast said, “He’s probably high. His check was deposited in his bank account at midnight. I’m guessing that he’s been stoned since 12:15.”

“Dennis,” said Little Jake, “take a look at what I’m drinking. It’s Bacardi with iced tea. Do you want a gulp?”

I said, “No thanks, not right now. Is that better for you?”

Mariah said, “Oh yeah, sherry will rip your guts out. That’s why I drink vodka.”

Jake said, “The only problem with iced tea is that it’s so damned good. I’m going to be drunk in no time. Maybe I should have bought Coke. I guess what I could do is buy another iced tea and dilute what I got in this bottle. That would work.

“I may visit with my family this weekend. My brother’s going up there but I can never get hold of him. When I try to call him on a pay phone. I’m told that it’s a long distance call, because he hasn’t changed his phone plan since he left Winnipeg. He delivers for the post office, so he gets off work at about 3:00. I could call him on my landline at home. If I had his phone number with me I could call from here on somebody’s cell phone. Maybe He’ll drop by my place. It doesn’t matter. It’s not that important.

“Since my mom died, he’s doing some repair work on her house. I signed my share over to him.

“Do you know what?”

“What, Jake?” I replied.

“I lost my wallet.”

“What did you have in it?”

“Just identification. I don’t need it right away. It was just a thin wallet. Maybe it is in the shirt I was wearing yesterday. I felt something stiff, maybe it was my wallet.”

Jacques said, “I just felt something drop on me.”

Outcast asked, “Is it white?”

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Finish the job you started…

28 July 2016

The park was much like usual and the usual gang was there. Theodore was asleep on the cedar chips between the wall and the grass. Mariah said, “He says he sleeps there because he’s out of range of the sprinklers that turn on every so often.” She handed me a plastic crate with a folded newspaper on which to sit.

“Thanks, Mariah, I’m really being treated in style.”

I asked her how her day was going. She said, “Don’t even ask. It started at 6:30 this morning and never quit. Just don’t ask.”

I asked Wolf, “What books are you reading now?”

“A lady gave me some of those Spencer and Hawk books, the ones we like. I can’t remember the name of the author (Robert B. Parker). You know the ones I mean — easy reading. Apart from that I got a good bill of health from my doctor. I weigh 115 pounds. He asked me, ‘How many meals do you eat a day? 5?’ I said, ‘It’s more like 10.’ For breakfast I had one egg. I’m not supposed to eat heavy bread like rye or pumpernickel. It’s too hard to digest. If I eat any bread it should be toasted. I’m stuck with that for the rest of my life. Donuts are a no-no. That’s what I used to look forward to on Sundays. I’ve cut my smoking back to about five a day. I don’t buy them I just bum one every so often.”

Loon threw over a lighter. He said, “There’s not much fuel left. You should use it soon.”

Outcast said, “Loon will sell you a cigarette for 60 cents. He’s even got the white ones.”

Wolf said, “What are you guys talking about. Did I ask for a cigarette? If I wanted a cigarette, I’d ask for one. I don’t even want your damned lighter.” He threw it back to Loon.

To me he said, “Now where was I? Oh yeah, I’ve been drinking these little bottles of Vox vodka. I like the blue color. After about four of these, I still feel fine. Yesterday, Blaine stopped by with a bottle of sherry and asked me if I wanted a drink. We were sitting right on the sidewalk. I said, ‘Sure!’ and I took a big swig. Later he asked me if I wanted another — well, you know how I am. I said, ‘Sure, I’ll have another.’ So, by the time I got here I was fairly wasted.”

Outcast said, “I heard a joke today: I’ve got Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but I forget to shake.”

Loon said, “That’s not a very nice thing to say.”

“What!” said Outcast,  “It was a joke. Nobody around here has Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.  At least, not that I know of. Okay, it was a bad joke. I’ll remember not to repeat it again.”

Scruffy started barking. Wolf said to me, “You started scratching her and then you stopped. She didn’t give you permission to stop. Now, finish the job you started.”


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Shaggy’s Christmas

5 June 2013

It was a wonderful day in the park today as, I suppose, it was in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. In attendance were Jacques, Gaston, Yves, Wolf and his dog Shaggy, I shook hands all around.  Wolf said, “I’d get up, Dennis, but you know me. It’s one of those days.

I was about to sit down between Wolf and Gaston when Yves handed me  Metro newspaper. “Sit on this, it’ll keep your pants clean.” I said, “Thanks Yves.”

Gaston said, “Now, isn’t that a lot softer?”

“Yes, it is.”

Wolf said, “I’ve got something even better. I’ll  go over to Shaggy’s cart.” He brought back a thick folded blanket. “Try this. I just got it this morning, rather Shaggy just got it this morning. A lady — maybe it was the Christmas lady for dogs — she brought a big bag filled with the blanket, a toy rubber boot, a stuffed dog and dog food, lots of dog food. Shaggy really  hit the jackpot. She gave me something too. I think I spent it.”

“This blanket is really soft and comfortable. Thanks, Wolf.”

Wolf said, “This morning when I woke up the first thing I saw was a six-pack of beer, so that’s when I started. If I hadn’t seen it I would have been alright, but if I see it I drink it. That’s why I’m the way I am now. You understand?

“Dennis,  tell those fucking Frenchmen to shut the fuck up! I’m having trouble concentrating. Let them go ahead and mumble to themselves.

In unison Gaston and Yves said, “Ta Gueule!, colis, tabarnac.”

Jacques said, “Wolf speaks  perfect French, he just doesn’t like to use it.”

Wolf said, “I’m German not French!  Don’t make me get up!”  He laughed, then continued conversing with them in fluent French.

I said to Wolf, “You couldn’t get up if you tried.”

“I know,” he said, “I just like to stir the shit sometimes.”

I asked Jacques, “How are you liking your new apartment?”

“I love it. Did you know I have a balcony? Yesterday I bought a mattress, a futon. I think that is the good one. I don’t buy the most expensive, but not the cheapest either. I bought the next one up.  Me, I don’t like the coil mattress, because after a year, you get one coil sticking through into your back. I don’t want that.  In my other place I had been sleeping on the floor for the last four months, and I had no window.  This place is nice, and I can brew my wine again.

“It used to be that they would give you a start-up allowance when you moved and every three years,  but not any more. I had to pay for the mattress myself. I don’t mind.”

Shamus and Judy from  Innercity Outreach approached. They were wearing red vests with the crest of their organization embroidered in yellow. They had brought sandwiches, socks and a variety of other things to hand out.

“Wolf, what kind of sandwich would you like? We have egg, minced ham and tuna.”

“This is my drinking day, not my eating day,” said Wolf. ” I’m a shaving guy. Do you have any razors?

“No, sorry , Wolf.”

Jacques said, “I’ll take an egg, and leave me a minced ham for Wolf.  He’ll eat it later. Can I have some socks?” Judy handed socks to Jacques, Shakes and Wolf

Shamus said to me, “Dennis it looks like you’re holding court.”

I said, “It may look that way, but Jacques is King.”

Jacques said, “Shakes is King.”

I said, “Okay, we’ll go along with that.”

Judy asked, “Has anybody seen Serge? We haven’t seen him for a long time. I know he was in hospital, but then he was out.”

I said, “I visited him a couple of times in hospital, but he escaped, in his hospital gown. He was too sick and was taken back to hospital.”

Jacques said, “I was talking to Greg from Outreach. He got a message saying that Serge passed away April 7th. Nobody knew, otherwise we would have gone to the funeral.”

Judy asked, “He had cancer, didn’t he.”

I said, “I’m not sure. He didn’t talk much and when he talked it was in French.”

Judy said, “I hear that Outcast is in remission. Is that right?”

I said, “I knew that he had lung cancer. I didn’t hear that he was in remission.”

Jacques said, “I saw him a few days ago. He seems fine. He doesn’t come here any more.”

“How about Joy? How is she.?”

I said, I saw her Thursday, she seemed fine then.”

After they left Jacques said, “They gave me all these bars that I can’t eat. I don’t have enough teeth for things with nuts.”

Shakes said, “You, know, Dennis, I’ve known Wolf since ’95. I’ve always called him Pudding, because he looks like a pudding. I’m the one that got Bowser for him. He looks like Shaggy, but he’s stuffed. I remember bringing him home on the bus. I barked and pretended that he was going to bite people. Now, he sits on Pudding’s balcony.”

“Yeah,” said  Wolf, “People will say they passed my place, I must have been home because the dog was there, but he wasn’t barking.

“Shaggy loves Bowser, they lay beside each other all the time. One time when it was raining Shaggy went out on the balcony, grabbed Bowser with her teeth and brought her inside the living room. Isn’t that something?”

Wolf said, “Dennis, we should pick on you for a while.”

I said, “Go ahead.”

“I was going to get Shaggy to bite Jacques, but you’ve got some meat on your arms.  Shaggy, bite Dennis! She won’t bite you, she likes you.”

Shaggy wandered around and lay next to me, her warm side pressing against mine. I petted her. After being freshly clipped she felt like velvet.


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Bologna Stew

27 July 2016

The regular group was at the park. Jacques handed me a tarp. I sat beside Theodore — bushy beard, baseball cap and a teardrop tattoo below his left eye (The teardrop tattoo or tear tattoo is a symbolic tattoo of a tear that is placed underneath the eye. The tattoo can have various meanings: it can signify that the wearer has killed someone[1] or has spent time in prison;[2] that the wearer was raped while incarcerated[3][4] or it can acknowledge the loss of a family or fellow gang member. Sometimes, only the wearer will know the exact meaning of the tattoo. Wikipedia: I didn’t ask him the meaning of the tattoo.

He immediately started talking, “Hi, man, great weather, eh? We got a nice breeze here. It’s hot in the sun. I’ll be going back out there later with my paper cup, but now I’m enjoying it here. Some nights, I sleep across the street at the heater. Last night I slept by that tree over there. It’s cool in the shade. When the sun moves, I move. They don’t piss there, that’s further down.”

I said, “The park workers don’t know that. Last week a guy wearing a construction vest was sleeping there. Mariah walked up to him and said. ‘Hey, man, I thought I should tell you that you’re lying in a place where a lot of the guys piss. The reason is that between this brick wall and the bushes there’s a bit of privacy. You’re okay further down, but suit yourself.’ The guy packed up and walked away.”

Jacques handed me a copy of the Metro newspaper. He asked, “Do you want to read this. It has all the flyers in it. They’ve got packages of bacon on sale for $4.99.”

I asked, “Do you still make your bacon stew? Joy said you used to make that.”

“No, I have to be careful what I eat because of my heart. I’m supposed to cut out animal fat.”

Theodore asked, “Have you ever tasted bologna stew? It’s really good, My mom used to make it for me when I was a kid:

Newfoundland Bologna Stew:

1 lb. bologna, thickly sliced and cut in quarters
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 medium onion sliced
some celery, diced
Carrot, Turnip and Potatoes; cut as for any stew.
2 to 3 tablespoons ketchup (optional)

Fry bologna until lightly browned. Place in a pot and add salt, pepper, and vegetables.
Add enough water to just cover. Let boil slowly until vegetables are tender.
Add ketchup, if desired, for flavour and colour.

Thicken slightly with flour and water OR cornstarch and water.

“That’s my lunch over there, in the bag tied to the fence rail. I want to keep it away from the ants. Yesterday, I left the bag on the ground and when I went to eat my sandwiches, they were covered in ants. I had to throw the bag into the trash container. I don’t eat ants.”

I asked, “What do you have for lunch today?”

“I’ve got three sandwiches, tuna, egg and ham. I’ve also got a container of pudding. Do you want a sandwich?”

“No,” I said, “but thanks anyway. I’ve just eaten my lunch.” I remembered that, this being Wednesday, The Innercity Ministries would have stopped by with their sandwich cart.

Theodore continued, “Did you hear that Hippo ripped off Wolf again for his last 13 bucks. He was supposed to meet Wolf across the river with a pack of smokes and three cans of beer. He didn’t show. Wolf is really pissed off. You don’t treat a friend like that.”

I said, “I remember the last time he did that he went into hiding for about two weeks. When he showed his face again he apologised and said, ‘I’m sorry, Wolf, I fucked up’. Wolf said, ‘You’re damned right you fucked up. That’s serious shit, man. We’re family. You don’t treat family like that. Now fuck off.’ Nobody trusted him for a long time after that.”

Theodore said, “If he keeps ripping people off he’s going to get into big trouble; like, buried under the ground trouble.”

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Little Chester, Back from Hospital

4 June, 2013

When I arrived at the park the only friend I saw was Little Chester. He was standing in the middle of the sidewalk. He took a few unsteady steps forward. I was worried that he would fall into traffic, so I suggested that we sit on the curb.

“Do you know where I spent last night?” he asked.

“No, where did you spend last night?”

“In the hospital.”

“Why were you in the hospital?”

“I was drunk.”

“Did you pass out someplace?”


“Where did you pass out?”

“I don’t know. On the sleeping bench. The police were by earlier. They asked if I was drunk . I said, ‘Yes.’ They left me alone. They came by an hour later and asked me if I was drunk. I said, ‘No.’ They left me alone.”

I asked, “How long have you been on the street?”

“I’m not really on the street. I have a place to stay, with my daughter. She’s twenty-seven. She’s into fitness. She has her own studio.”

“You told me where you’re from, but I’ve forgotten.”


“That’s  a  beautiful province . I’ve never been there, but I’ve seen it  featured on television.”

“They make that all up. It’s not beautiful; it’s ugly.”

“I like rocks and being near the ocean.”

“They’ve got plenty of that.”

Maryjane came by and asked, “Is anyone else here?”

I said, “Chester said it was just him and me. The police were by a couple of times.”

“I’ll go take a look.”

Wolf came down to the sidewalk, “Dennis, we’re over here! What do you think of my girl?” Shaggy had been clipped and groomed.

“She looks great, Wolf. It’ll be a lot cooler for her.  I see she’s not panting. ”

“No, she likes it. She’s still got a head like a lion, and a funny tail, with nothing in the middle.” Shaggy started barking. Shakes took her tail and pretended he was winding her up. She lunged and nearly bit his finger.

“That’s it Shaggy, take another bite. She’s acting like she’s hungry, but I’ve run out of biscuits. It’s not like she’s on starvation rations, she ate a whole bag this morning.”

Shakes said, “You know Dennis, since I’ve had my apartment I’ve slept outside two nights. Both nights it was friggin’ pouring friggin’ rain.”

I said, “You’re lucky the police didn’t find you. They would have taken you to Hope Recovery.”

“Yeah, but they would have released me the next day. There was only one time that they kept me for three weeks. I was on probation and had a stipulation saying that I wasn’t allowed to drink. When I was in jail they asked me, ‘Shakes, why do you keep drinking when you know it’s not allowed?’ I said, ‘I didn’t listen to my parents either.’ The piggies have only been to my apartment once. It was the time I was jumped and the other guy said I had stolen money from him, can you imagine that?

“It was downtown. I was on the ground, but I kept fighting. I was like a turtle on it’s back, my fists were going, my feet were kicking. Ha, ha, ha.”

“I guess they believed your word over his. Was that it?”

“The police said to me, ‘Shakes, show us your money.’ It had been in a banking envelope in the inside pocket of my jacket. The guy couldn’t find it. I gave the envelope to the police. There was two hundred and twenty dollars there. They said, ‘Shakes we’re going to keep this and return it to the man you stole it from.’ I said, ‘You’re not taking my money. I’m the victim here.’ They let me keep the money.

“Sammy gave me a lighter and, you know, I lost it. This morning I was going through the pockets of my leather jacket. Do you know what I found — my lighter. The only thing I need to get before I go home is two bottles of wine and some shit paper. Sammy bought some groceries, so we got food.  I’ve got a gram.”

Wolf asked, “Has anybody seen my little buddy Jake? He wasn’t around yesterday and I didn’t see him Friday. You live close to him, don’t you Shakes?”

“Yeah, we live on the same street. There’s four buildings in a row. I live in one, he lives in the end one. I went over to his place Sunday at eight in the mornin’. I was afraid of making too much noise,  it bein’  Sunday and all.  He was sick — pukin’ all mornin’. I brought four bottles and two grams. I said, ‘Let’s have a drink!’ He said, ‘No man, I’m too sick.’ I said, you mean I have to drink these four bottles all by myself.”

I said, “That doesn’t sound like Jake.”

Shakes continued, ”Then I said, ‘How be I roll us a joint?’  He said, ‘No man, I’m too sick.’ ”

Wolf said, “That certainly doesn’t sound like the Jake I know. Here’s a little song that my dad used to sing:

Well, I walked round the corner
and I walked round the block,
and I walked right into a bakery shop.

I picked up a doughnut
and I wiped off the grease,
and I handed the lady a five cent piece.

Well, she looked at the nickel
and she looked at me,
and she said “Hey mister, you can plainly see.

There’s a hole in the nickel,
there’s a hole right through.”
Said I, “There’s a hole in the doughnut too!
Thanks for the doughnut, good-bye!”

I went by Little Chester on my way back to work. He was passed out, lying on the curb. The police will be taking him to Hope Recovery,  if he can walk, otherwise it will be to the hospital.

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She Bit Me!

26 July 2016

As I was approaching the group in the park I heard Little Jake yell, “Dennis, how’ve you been, man. I haven’t seen you since I was in hospital.”

Outcast said, “Jake, do you remember what you told us in the hospital, that there was a zoo in the waiting room?”

“Yeah, I saw kitties and tigers. The kitties were cute and cuddly, but the tigers…ROAR. I thought they were going to claw me to pieces. My arm was strapped to the bed, because I was flailing about trying to fend off the tigers. I thought it was just a wire that I could undo with my free hand. A couple of weeks later I realized that it was some kind of black nylon double zip tie that the police use for handcuffs.”

I said, “You had some cute nurses.”

“Yeah, I was scared of them at first. I thought they were going to gouge me and take my internal organs.”

Outcast said, “Jake, Remember in the hospital you said you were never going to drink wine again?”

I asked, “How long did that resolution last?”
Jake laughed and said, “Until the day I got out of hospital.”

Mariah said, “Frank still has to build up his strength. When I saw him in the hospital he was just skin and bones. I’ve been telling him to eat molasses. Blackstrap molasses contains vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. Frank bruises easily. That’s usually a sign of anemia — a condition where your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells — he often feels tired and weak. One type of anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the diet. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron. About 5 tablespoons of molasses contains 95 percent of your daily allowance of iron. I keep telling him to eat lots of bananas for the potassium. I had to learn that stuff when I hit bottom as a crack addict. I had infection in my ears and when I finally went to the doctor he said that without medication, I had about 24 hours to live.

“I don’t know if you know it, but Weasel proposed to me. I knew that I had to get away from Louis because he would get so violent with his PTSD. I said yes to Weasel because then I’d be committed. I wouldn’t be able to go back to Louis. It was a rough time. If I drank like these guys I’d be dead. I dilute my vodka with water and only take small sips at a time. A 26 ounce bottle will last me a week.”

Wolf shouted, “Dennis, don’t you see what’s going on. You’ve been ignoring Shaggy and she’s getting upset. You’re not doing your job.” I turned to pat Shaggy and scratch her around the ears.”That’s better, now she wants a treat. Look at her she’s trying to get right into the bag. Here girl, this is what you’re after.” Wolf gave her the bacon flavored dog treat that she gulped down. Wolf’s finger was near Shaggy’s mouth and she bit him. “Did you see that, she bit me.”

“Shaggy,” I said, “you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you. That’s an official doggy rule.”

Wolf said, “It’s not that bad. She didn’t draw blood like she does sometimes.”

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Shit Stains

31 May 2013

Last week the temperature was below freezing (28 degrees F) today it’s hot (90 F) with the humidex reading it feels like 110. Nobody in the park had much energy. Hippo had a bad sunburn on both of his legs.

I said, “I heard of Hippo’s adventures last night. What else happened?”

Joy said, “It was hilarious, I got a phone call from Mariah, she said, “You’ll never guess, but Hippo phoned. He just got out of jail.’ I said, “I’d wondered what happened to him. He was in my apartment, I went out to get some honey garlic wings, when I came back he was gone. I ate four and put the rest in the fridge.

“How can someone, going from point A to point B, end up in jail?”

Hippo said, “It was because of that bitch.”

“What bitch? You mean that crazy Portuguese woman down the hall?”

“No, the bitch cop. Sorry, I meant woman cop.”

I said, “Hippo, you could have been shot.”

“She had her gun out, alright. She said get down. I got down. They put the hand cuffs on and dragged me to the back of the cruiser. That’s how I got these scrapes on my arm.”

Joy said, “I’d rather be shot that tazed. When they get you down they always give you a few extra zaps to increase the pain.

“Let’s back up a bit, Hippo, I don’t mind you calling her a bitch. I got no problem with that, but you chased a woman with a hammer?”

“I guess I did. I don’t remember.” Joy smacked his left sunburned thigh, Mariah smacked the other.”

Joy asked, “How do I know that you won’t hit me with a hammer some time?”

“I’d never do that, Joy.”

“You just keep talking and I’ll do to you what I did to Brian yesterday. He just wouldn’t stop talking.

“Yesterday, you and me went to the bank. You could only get $120.00 out.”

“Yeah, that’s all the bank machine would let me take. We’ll go back today and I’ll talk to a teller.”

Joy said, “You mean go inside the bank, just like humans?”

“Yeah, just like humans.”

“Then we’ll go to my place and finish those wings.

“Before this night’s out I’m going to get your PIN (Personal Identification Number) for the bank machine.”

Hippo said, “What year was the first Harley built?”


“That’s my PIN.

“People always say I’m full of shit, but down a quart.”

Joy was looking beyond the railing into the park, “Jacques, take a look. Doesn’t that dog look just like Harley; you know, Rosie’s dog — big titties Rosie?”

“Ah, yes, I remember her. Harley looked something like that but didn’t have the white on his nose. Also, he was skinnier.”

“I know it’s not the same dog, but the same breed.”

“Yes, maybe you’re right.”

Deaf Donald was sitting beside me. He’s been deaf since birth, so he sometimes has trouble communicating. He said, “I can read lips, you know. Even if two people are across the street I can tell what they’re saying. It nearly got me in trouble one day. I walked across the street and repeated word for word what these people had been saying. The guy got really pissed off.

“I’ll show you. I’ll go over to the fence and you mouth something. I’ll tell you what you said.”

I mouthed, “Hi Donald, are you having a good day?”

“You said, Hi Donald, you’re deaf. Is that right?”

“No, I said, ‘Hi Donald, are you having a good day?”

“You move your lips too fast. Let Joy try it. Say something to me, Joy.”

You said, “I’ve got shit stains on my underwear?”

Joy said, “That’s right. That’s what I said.”

Donald said, “I got news for you. I’m not wearing underwear.”

Joy said, “I’m not sure if I really want to go there, but why aren’t you wearing underwear?”

“Because I’m wearing white pants and I’m clean.

“I have to go for my methadone treatment, but after that I’ll buy some chicken and maybe Hippo and I could come over to your place for supper?”

“That ain’t hapennin’, dude. You’re never coming to my place. I’m down here, dude. Look at me.”

Donald left, Joy said, “That guy gives me the creeps, especially when he does that thing with his eyes. I think he was dropped on his head too many times when he was a baby.”

I said, “He told me that — while his mother was pregnant with him, his father beat her up and threw her down a flight of stairs.”

“Yeah, I heard that. Just before my second son was born, my ex beat me something fierce. The baby was born with a broken leg and two broken ribs. Jay did two years for that.

“I can also read lips and sign. When I was a kid I had lots of ear infections and got a perforated ear drum. I can’t hear with my right ear. It’s handy sometimes even with Donald. I watch his eyes, and can say things when he’s not looking.”

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