Moose Piss

 

 

3 July 2013

There was a small group at the park,  sitting in a circle. I sat between Lucy In The Sky and Shakes.

Lucy said, “Dennis, you’re sitting in my spot. Would you move please?

“Sure,” I said, “Where would you like me to move?”

“Anywhere! You’re sitting in my spot.”

“I’ll sit beside Little Chester.”

“Chester said, “Hi Dennis, did you have a good Canada Day (July 1)?”

“Yes I did.”

Lucy asked, “Did you get drunk?”

“No, not exactly.”

“Why the fuck not?” asked Lucy.

“What do you mean, not exactly?” asked Gene. “Either you got drunk, or you didn’t.  How do you get not exactly drunk?”

I said, “I was drinking non-alcoholic beer.”

“Ooo!” said Gene while making a sour face. “Why would anybody drink non-alcoholic beer? That defeats the whole purpose. That’s like fucking one of those blow up dolls. That’s what it’s like, one of those fucking blow up dolls. Why would you do that?”

I said, “It keeps me from doing a face plant on the floor, or whatever else I’m near.”

“I guess that’s a good reason. I’ve done that enough times.”

Keith said, “One thing about those dolls, they don’t grab your wallet out of your back pocket. And they don’t give you shit all the time.

“I broke my nose just last week. My old lady bought me a used bike. I was riding just down here. The whole front of the bike came off. I was knocked out on the grass. Somebody phoned the paramedics. All they did was give me a wet towel to hold over my nose, then they took me to emergency. I waited there for eight hours. One of the paramedics said, ‘Just hold each side of your nose and push upwards. That’s all the doctors are going to do.’  I tried it. I heard a lot of crunching, but I think it’s as straight as it’s going to get. Whadya think?”

“It looks good, Keith.”

“Then I had to phone my old lady to leave work and pick me up. She wasn’t too pleased about that.

“Do remember Duane?…  Sharon and Duane?… He’s back inside. They had that brand new apartment. He threw a chair through the window. They got him on a domestic. You know all about that, eh Gene?”

“Yeah I know about that. I did eighteen months.”

“That Sharon, she’s a tough broad,” said Keith. Danny was playing his guitar down at the square and she asked him to play that Willie Nelson Song, Stardust. Then she asked him to play it again. He did. Then she asked him a third time. He said, ‘No, I  played that enough. I wanna play somethin’ different.’ Sharon kicked his guitar… kicked a hole clear through… I was able to fix it though… I brought it to him this morning.”

Shakes said to me, “Lucy stayed at my place last night. I told her she’d be safe there.”

I said, “It must be a nice change to be able to lock your door at night, instead of sleeping in the park and getting your stuff stolen.”

“Yeah, it’s nice. I been here Saturday, Sunday, Monday, that was Canada Day. I was here Tuesday and now it’s Wednesday…right?”

“Yeah, it’s Wednesday.”

Lucy asked, “Can I please have a cigarette?…Will somebody please give me a fuckin’ cigarette?…Shakes, give me a smoke… If you don’t give me one I’ll go through your pockets until I find one.” She climbed on Shakes who was lying, propped up on one elbow. Going through his pockets she didn’t find any cigarettes. “Somebody give me a hand to pull him. He’s probably sitting on those damn smokes. Help me, God damn it!” Lucy had pulled Shakes about four feet.

“Hey! ” said Gene, “you’re pulling his pants off.”

I said, “Shakes just wants to have his pockets searched by Lucy. Isn’t that right, Shakes?”

Lucy climbed on top of him again. All the time Shakes was laughing. She reached into the inside pocket of his leather jacket.”

“Hey, whadya doin?” he now seemed concerned. Lucy pulled a flattened pack of Players cigarettes out of his pocket and put one in her mouth.

“Now, who’s got a fuckin’ light?”

Keith handed her his lighter and she sat back down on the grass to enjoy her cigarette.

After all the excitement Shakes’ eyes started drooping.

I asked, “Are you getting there, Shakes, or are you done?”

“I’m okay, but I’d like a drink. Dennis, would you go to the mall and buy me a bottle?”

“Sorry, Shakes, I have to get back to work.”

After finishing her cigarette, Lucy lay back and fell asleep.

Keith said, “He can really put it back. Can’t he?”

Gene said, “I’ve drunk him under the table. He likes his Imperial sherry mixed with Jack Daniels. Do you know what that tastes like?… moose piss, that’s what it tastes like… moose piss.

I said, “I don’t think I’d like to get that close to a moose to find out.”

 



 
 
 
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Six Up!

 
ottawacops
 
27 June 2013

The park was nearly deserted; strange since the weather was perfect. Little Jake, Wolf and his dog Shaggy were the only ones there. I saw an empty plastic crate, so I pulled it over. Jake handed me his jacket to sit on.

“Thanks, Jake.”

“You’re welcome. Do you want to know why nobody’s here. Because our crew is a   bunch of assholes. That’s why. Do you know what I did yesterday when I got my check. First I paid all my bills, then I lent the rest of my money to friends. Do you see anybody here to pay me back?  No! I did it just to see what would happen. Now I know.

“I gave Jacques two hundred dollars. I saw him this morning and he gave me back fifty. He said he’d give me the rest back Monday. ‘Monday!’ I said, ‘how am I going to get through the weekend with only fifty bucks?’ ”

Wolf said, “Jake, he was doing you a favor, You know he’s good for the money.  You got two bottles, you got cards to get meals, you got your pot. What else do you need?

“I was panning at Weasel’s old spot. You wouldn’t believe how people were rushing around. One woman ran across a red light, nearly got hit by a car, just to get to a cubicle in some government building where she’s probably worked for twenty years. She risks her life just so she won’t be three minutes late? Maybe her boss is a real asshole. How would I know? It just seems so ridiculous, cars are edging through red lights and where’s it going to get them? To the next block so they can do it all over again.

“I worked for twenty years, but that was construction. We’d work one place for a couple of months, then we’d move somewhere else. There’d be no work in the winter, so it’d be pogey until late Spring. It wasn’t so bad. We sure didn’t rush like I saw this morning. Crazy!”

I asked Jake, “How did the cooking go at Bruce’s place?  When I talked to you yesterday you were discussing recipes.”

“Yeah, well, Inuk was over there. At around midnight Bruce and her were going at it, so I said, ‘I can see that you two want to be alone, so I’m outta here. He lives in the outskirts. I’ve been walking nearly twenty-four hours.”

I asked, “Did you walk straight here, or did you get lost?”

“Oh man, I got lost three times. I zig zagged all over the place, up one street, down another. I started out going the wrong way. I’d walked nearly out to the edge of town. Hell, I’d walked half way home to Deep River. I asked a bus driver how to get downtown. He said, ‘Fuck man, you’re going the wrong way. You’ve got a lot of walking to do.’ It was the last bus, so I couldn’t even get a ride.”

“So, after you got your directions straight you walked directly here?”

“I think so. No, I went to my place and had a cup of tea, then I walked down here.

“See my ear? Danny did that to me. I was at Shakes place. Danny seems to be taking over. He has everything tidy. He’s running Shakes’ life! Anyway, I was talking to Matches, Danny was going on about something, so I told him to fuck off. Next thing I know he’s punched me right in the ear. It’s still bleeding. I can take a punch to the jaw, but to the ear? That’s just wrong. Anyway, I told Bruce about it. He’s going to take care of Danny.”

Wolf said, “I’ve known Danny a long time. I’ve never heard about him acting like that.”

Jake said, “I even apologized, but you know the way I get. I can be a bit of an asshole sometimes.”

I said, “We know Jake, you’re an asshole right now.”

“Dennis, fuck off! I think that’s the first time I’ve told you to fuck off.”

“I’m sure it won’t be the last time, Jake. You mentioned Deep River. Do you plan to go home anytime soon?”

“My mother said I couldn’t come home until I got a haircut. Well, I got a haircut, so there’s no excuse there. The bus is only fifty-five bucks, but I think I’ll hitch hike, just because of the freedom. I’ll meet people. Maybe I’ll get dropped off at Arnprior and have to get another ride there. Who knows?

“I went to the food bank this morning and picked up a few things. Because I’ve got AIDS I get to go to the Living Room. I can go once every two weeks. They give me really good food there, bags of it. Problem is I can’t carry very much. When Shark goes there He brings a friend with a truck. They gave me a choice six eggs or a half pound of hamburger. I took the hamburger. They said if I wanted I could have a can of beef stew instead of the hamburger. What would you have taken? …The hamburger, of course. I love hamburgers.”

Wolf said, “It’ll be cold cuts for me. Tony came by this morning and gave me some bologna, sliced chicken and turkey, potatoes, broccoli and a red pepper. He’s really good to me — comes by once a week.

“Six up, behind you.” Jake hid his open bottle of sherry between his legs. Two uniformed police officers rode up on bicycles. One asked, “What are you guys up to?”

I said, “We’re just chatting, enjoying the nice weather.”

One walked over to Wolf, “Is that can empty?”

Wolf said, “It could be. I could dump it.”

“Can I see some identification?”

“Yes, officer, you sure can.” Wolf handed him his health card.” The officer wrote a liquor violation ticket and handed it to him. He then picked up the open can and turned it over.

“What you got in that bottle, I assume it’s apple juice?” Wolf didn’t say anything.

The officer said to his partner. “You can write-up Jake for the bottle between his legs. How much is in there, Jake?”

He held up the bottle of sherry. “Fuck,” he said, “you’re not going to make me dump this whole bottle are you? Shit!”

Wolf said, “Jake, the officers are just doing their job, so be nice.”

The officer said “One swallow, Jake, then dump the rest.” Jake tipped the bottle and began to chugalug.

“So, it’s going to be that kind of swallow is it?”

Jake started coughing, then threw the bottle over the railing. “That was my last bottle and I’ve got no money!”

The officer said, “If you hadn’t thrown the bottle away, you could have cashed it in for twenty cents.”

Wolf said, “He’s right Jake.”

The officer said, “We see you’ve got another bottle in your bag. We’ll let you keep that. Just try to be a little more discreet, Jake. Have a good day.”

They left. Wolf said, “It could have been worse. I’ve still got beer in my bottle, you’ve got a bottle and some pot in your bag.”

Jake said, “I’m going down to get that bottle I threw. I bet there’s still some left in it.”

 



 
 
 
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Lullabye Town

26 June 2013
 

Cover of "Lullaby Town : An Elvis Cole No...
Cover of Lullaby Town : An Elvis Cole Novel

I sat next to Magdalene,  she seemed upset. “Hi Dennis, will you talk to me? Nobody else wants to talk to me. I’ll tell you the truth, I fight people, men, women, it doesn’t matter. I want to talk with my mother. I dream about her every night. I think she still loves me, but I’ve done bad things.”

“Your mother isn’t alive is she?”

“No, she died when I was five years old. She was a strong woman. I saw her fight three men one time.”

“What was the cause of her death?”

“Drinking. Her liver quit working. When I was in hospital, and they cut me open, they said my liver was falling away in pieces.” She pulled some grass and sprinkled it. “Just like that.”

“I’m sure your mother still loves you and is very proud of you. She’s looking down on you right now. There’s no such thing as good or bad. It’s a matter of choices and consequences. You may have made choices in your past that you now regret, but the  past is over, it’s gone;  nothing can be done about it.  It doesn’t define who you are now. It’s only what you do next that is important. You have lots of choices and I know you’ll make the best of them. You’ll do what’s best for you. Only you know what that is.” (When not panning for change, Magdalene has worked as a prostitute.)

“Do you think so? I was talking on the phone to my aunt. I told her about everything that’s happened to me. She asked me to come home. She said, ‘Give me one good reason why you can’t come home right now.’ I said, ‘Because I’m drunk.’ She said, ‘At least you’re honest.’ I only drink, I don’t do drugs and I’m not crazy.”

I asked, “Will you be able to go home soon?”

“On Friday I get my check. I’ll go home then. Do you have a phone so I can call my aunt? Mariah let me use hers, but just for a minute.”

“I’m sorry, Magdalene, I don’t have a phone.”

“That’s okay. Sometimes, I just want to go away someplace and be alone.”

“Being alone is okay. I enjoy being alone.”

“No, it’s not okay. Sometimes I want to kill myself. See these scars on my neck. Three times I tried to cut my throat.”

“I can understand you feeling that way. I’ve felt that way before, but think of all the people who love you, your friends, your family. They would miss you terribly.”

“My friends are all drunk.”

I had two books for Wolf.  One was Lullaby Town by Robert Crais.  The other was The Chamber by John Grisham.  “Thanks, Dennis, I’ve read a lot of John Grisham books, but I haven’t read this one. Robert Crais, I haven’t heard of him, but it looks good.”

Bearded Bruce was sitting on the other side of me. “Robert Crais is good. You’ll like that. When you’ve finished it I can give you some more by him. Nancy brought me a book today, Whirlwind. It’s the third in a series by James Clavell. I’ve read nearly all of his books. When I get on to an author I want to read everything they’ve written. I’ve read Shogun,  King Rat, Noble House, Tai-Pan. He’s great.”

“I’ve read those too.” I said, “great books.”

“Dennis,” said Wolf, “Did I tell you about my adventure this morning. Of course I didn’t you just got here. The tire on Shaggy’s cart went flat. You can see why it went flat, there is no tread on the tire. Anyway, I was talking to Abigail, and she suggested that I go to Foster’s Sports, on Somerset and Bank, and ask for Darsh. Those are two funny names, aren’t they; Abigail and Darsh? She said to mention her name to Darsh and he would charge it to her account. That’s a nice gesture isn’t it? It took me about half an hour to walk there and I asked, ‘Is there a Darsh who works here?’ The owner said, ‘There is, but it’s his day off today. Can someone else help you?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ I had to get the tire fixed. Shaggy can’t walk all the way home by herself since she was hit by the car. I asked, ‘How much?’ He said, ‘Seven dollars for the tire, eight dollars for the labor.’ What do you think of that? Anyway, I didn’t mind paying fifteen or eighteen dollars — whatever it was. I had a twenty. Shaggy is all I got. I don’t mind spending money on her.  So, until next time, the tire’s as good as new. That was my adventure for today.”

Bruce asked, “What do you think of this weather?”

“It’s great,” I said, “nice and warm, no rain in sight.”

“It’s no good for panning. I do better when it’s thirty below. The best I can do now is twenty or thirty bucks and that’s doing three shifts, about eleven hours a day. In winter I can make that much in three hours.

“I got a recipe book from the liquor store. They have great recipes for marinades, sauces.”

Little Jake said, “It’s amazing what you can do with mayonnaise,  even in a microwave or a toaster oven.”

Bruce asked, “Can you spare two bus tickets? Jake  is coming home with me tonight. We’re going to do some cooking.”

“Sure Bruce, no problem. Do you do any barbecuing?”

“Yes, I barbecue, but I’m not allowed to have one at my apartment. My landlord just died.”

“Does that mean that nobody can prevent you from having a barbecue?”

“I don’t know who will be taking over. He was a great guy. He’s the reason I was able to get such a nice place. He knows I’m a bum that panhandles for a living, but he took a chance on me. I really appreciated that. One time he gave me a huge television set. It was twelve years old, but it worked fine. All I had to do was carry one end and we brought it to my place.

“I don’t know what he died of. He was only forty-seven years old. Maybe it was the drinking, I don’t know. Maybe he took his own life.”

“Did he have a wife, kids, any other family?”

“No, he lived all by himself.”

I had to go back to work. I stopped for a moment to talk to Mariah. “How is Joy doing? Is she okay?”

“Yeah, she’s okay. She was here earlier, but left because of this one,” pointing down at Magdalene. Also she wanted to see Big Jake.”

I said, “I hope everything works out. You take care of her, Mariah.”

“Oh, I will. I’ll keep checking on her.”

On my way down the sidewalk I saw Warren who I haven’t seen for about a year. “Hi Warren, how are you? Do you remember me? We’ve spoken a few times where the benches used to be. It was about a year ago.”

“Sorry man, I don’t remember. What’s your name?”

“Dennis.”

“Take care, Warren. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Take care, man.”

 



 
 
 
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Rape and Murder

 
onbox
 
25 June 2013

A storm was on its way. Dark clouds were moving in. The air was heavy with humidity. The sun had disappeared from sight. I sat between Matches and Magdalene who said, “Everybody thinks that Matches is my father, but he’s not my father. My father is in prison for fifteen years, for rape and murder.”

“I don’t like that,” said Shakes, “rape and murder?”

I asked, “Has your father ever assaulted you?”

“No, my grandfather stopped him. I was raised by my grandparents.  It happened when I was five years old. My father was drunk. He came into my bedroom and had his hand on my thigh. My grandfather came in and threw him down the stairs before he could do anything. It was a shock to me,  a trauma.

“My grandfather has always protected me. He wants me to call him every week, but I don’t have any more time on my calling card.

“Do you know why I was born?   One time my mom came home, opened the door and my father was fucking another woman.  My mother jumped on her and punched her, then beat my father. Then she got a knife from the kitchen and she cut him from his right side up to his neck. He was just sitting there holding himself together.” She was going to kick him out, but he said, ‘I want to have a child with you. If you do that for me I won’t report you to the cops. ‘ So she let him stay. Nine months later I was born.  She died giving birth to me. That is a reason why I’m here.  That’s why I fight with men so much.

“I just got out of jail for beating up my husband. I was in there two weeks. I didn’t eat anything. I felt too sick. I just drank water and they kept feeding me pills.

“This morning I beat up three men. Alphonse just ran away. I just kept punching and punching them. See my knuckles, and the blood on my hands and shirt. When I catch Alphonse, I’m going to beat him for running away.

The three of us moved up the lawn to where Jacques, Gaston Chili, Little Frank and Loretta were sitting. Joy had brought her box to sit on.

I asked Loretta, “How is your recovery coming along?”

“It’s been five months now, but today is hard. I was helping my boyfriend with roofing, we had an argument and were shouting at each other. I just had to get away. He gave me ten dollars, I bought some cigarettes and two cans of pop, but I really wanted something stronger. I still do. I’m an inch away from taking a drink.

Jacques overheard part of the conversation, he asked, “Do you want a drink? I have some here… You don’t drink any more? I didn’t know… Five months? I should quit drinking.”

Loretta continued, “I finished my fifty hours of community service today. I have to go to court in two months. The prosecutor wants me to get jail time. My lawyer said that if I do extra community service it will look good when I go to court. Actually, I have fifty hours to do from two years ago. We figured that if I work one day a week, by the time of my court date, I will have it completed. If I don’t go to jail, I hope to go to secretarial school. Thanks for talking to me. I feel better now.

Joy said to Gaston, “You look hot in those long pants. You should have worn shorts today.”

“I’m going to work later. If I was to wear shorts to where I work, I’d be raped.”

Loretta reached in her bag and pulled out a bandanna that she gave to Joy. “Cool, this is great. I’ll wear it tomorrow. People must be getting tired of me wearing this same old one all the time.”

Chili said, “I know the store where they sell those. It’s on Rideau. Often they have racks of stuff out on the sidewalk.”

Joy said, “I know that place. I’ve snagged a skirt from there.”

Chili continued, ‘If you wear baggy pants like these you can get a bunch of stuff. I’m going to get two yellow scarves and one red one. I’ll sew them together like a flag. Brazil is my favorite soccer team. It’ll be like the Brazilian flag.”

 



 
 
 
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Sleeping in the Cold

 

 
18 April 2017

“Good morning, Ted.”

“Hey, Dennis, it’s my birthday today, I turn the big 6 0.”

“Do you have any plans to celebrate.”

“My mom wants me to phone her. I may visit her. I was supposed to see my worker last week but I didn’t show. It’s the 24th today; I have to be out of my apartment by the end of the weekend. I’ll wait for her today, she should come by. She’s a real porker, big and round. I call her M&M, you know like the candy? I imagine her with two little arms and legs sticking out. I’m being mean. I’ve got to stop that.”

I said, “It’s a good idea to be nice to the people who can help you. How was your weekend?”

“I don’t know, a drunken mystery. I can’t remember what happened. Do you remember the guy I told you about, sleeping in front of the mall. I’d given him a sleeping bag, he lost it. Outreach gave him another one, he lost it. I saw him last night sleeping on the sidewalk in just his clothes. He was shivering. I figured he’d die if I didn’t do something, so I draped him with my parka. He didn’t even wake up. He won’t last long, he can get hypothermia even if the temperature doesn’t go below freezing.

“I did something stupid last week. I found a rope and made a hangman’s noose. It took a while to figure out how to do it, the loops then winding it around eight times. I put it around my neck and wore it under my coat. I didn’t have it hanging out or anything, but a woman asked me about the rope and I showed her. ‘She said give that to me. Don’t be so stupid.’ So I gave it to her. I guess suicide is a sin isn’t it? It may even be one of the commandments… I’m not sure.

“I got to quit drinking. I tell myself that I can, but I don’t do anything. I talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. I also have to get back on my meds. My worker is going to help me with that. I did go to church yesterday.”

I asked, “Did you go with Marcia?”

“That drunken whore? No, I went with a woman who attends university. She’s a nice girl. She invited me to church, but was surprised that I actually showed up. It was nice, singing songs, that sort of thing. It got me thinking.

“At the end of term she’s leaving for Paris. She’ll be staying with a Parisienne family; they’ll provide her meals. She has to pay for her flight and other expenses. She hopes to find work teaching English.

“Paris isn’t the safest place in the world right now with the bombings, shootings, other terrorist attacks. I hope she’ll be okay.

 



 
 
 
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Chester on a Butt Run

 

Panhandler
Panhandler (Photo credit: jon.guillen)

 
25 June 2013

As I approached Joy, she smiled and said, “Another day in the neighborhood. It’s going to be a hot one… Oh no, here comes Chester.”

“Hi Chester, have you finished your run?”

He held up a long cigarette butt, and said, “No, I’m just starting.” He wandered off in search of the next ashtray.

“Did I miss anything in the park yesterday?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t stay long it was just too hot. Bearded Bruce was there. He complained the whole time about the heat. I said, ‘Hey dude, if you’d lose a few pounds it wouldn’t bother you so much. Just push yourself away from the dinner table’… He doesn’t listen…

“Even I’ve gained a few pounds. Now, I’m between one twenty-five and one thirty.”

I said, “I remember last winter, after you got out of hospital you were a hundred and five.”

“Yeah, I’m comfortable staying at my present weight. Debbie and Little Jake seem to be living together now. He wasn’t out yesterday. Maybe he’ll stay home and she’ll do the boosting.”

“She was showing off the haircut that Jake gave her.”

“Yeah, that was a laugh. I didn’t say anything, but the best thing she could do now is shave her whole head. There’s no way I’d let any of those guys near me with a pair of scissors.”

“I guess they were both stoned at the time.”

“It shows.” Joy took a scrap of bread and threw it to a sparrow that had landed just a few feet from her. He contentedly nibbled. “He’s my little friend. I spit at the pigeons who come near. I feed this little guy and a squirrel that comes by every so often. Sometimes he’ll climb right up on my shoulder and scratch to let me know he’s hungry. People  love it, but it kind of freaks me out. I’m never quite sure whether or not he’s going to bite me.

“Yesterday, I just wanted to go home and lie in my bathtub. That’s the only place I could stay cool. I guess I’ll have to invest in one of those little fans. The apartment wasn’t too hot early on but with the sun shining on the windows it got hotter throughout the day.

“This morning I put black garbage bags over all the windows to try to keep the heat out. I hope it makes a difference. At least today there’s more of a breeze.

“Shakes missed his delivery of Ensure yesterday. His workers arrange it because he doesn’t eat properly. If he had his way he’d just drink. He asked me to phone and ask when they would be coming by. They said, ‘We’ll be there in a few minutes,’ so, there’s no way he could have made it home. He’ll have to reschedule.

“Chester went to the Welfare office yesterday, because his hydro had been turned off. He told them that he’d lost all the food in his refrigerator — which was a lie — but they cut him a check for a hundred and thirty-seven dollars. That should keep him going until his pension checks come in. He shouldn’t have any trouble paying his rent, hydro and food. Even when I was there I was always buying groceries and helping with bills. He just spends too much on women. They hang around him on check day; when his money runs out they leave.”

 



 
 
 
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Humans

 
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24 June 2013

I wasn’t expecting to see Joy this morning,  she’s told me previously, ‘I don’t do Mondays,’ but there she was. I said, “I wasn’t expecting you to be here.”

“I should have stayed home, for all the good it’s done me.”

“How was your weekend.”

“It was quiet. I didn’t go out.”

“Did you see anybody?”

“No, on Saturday I bought a foot-long sub from Subway. I ate half and put the rest in the fridge. I wasn’t feeling well after that. When I ate the other half on Sunday, I really got sick, puking, the shits, everything. I’m still not feeling too well this morning, but I’ve just had the dry heaves. I must be getting over whatever it was I had.”

I said, “You must be enjoying your new furniture, especially your sofa.”

“Yeah, the sofa sure beats sitting on the one chair I had. I spent all weekend there.”

“What else did you say you got?”

“A couple of end tables, a shelf that goes on one of the tables I had already, some nice sheets, bedding, towels, oven mitts, that kind of stuff. Oh, and a thing for the kitchen that holds salt and pepper.

“See that guy in the shorts, stopping people by Tim Horton’s. He was standing right in front of me a while a go telling people that I’m a fake, that I’m not really homeless. I’ve never told anybody I was homeless.  I don’t say anything.  All my regulars know I’m not homeless;  I’m doing this so I don’t starve. I think he’s pissed off because nobody’s giving him any money.

“I got something on my chin that’s really bugging me. See these spots. Mariah has the same thing. My feet are really dry and cracking as well.”

I said, “It could be some form of eczema. You should check with your doctor. Do you have your health papers?”

“No, not yet. They gave me some creme in the hospital. I had the same thing then, but it’s so greasy, I hate to use it.

“See that parking control guy. He’s given out more tickets than anybody else who comes along here.”

I said, “I bet this car here gets a ticket. It’s stupid blocking a lane at this time of the morning.”

“Yeah, I told him, I said, ‘If you park there you’re going to get a ticket.’  He said, ‘No, I won’t. I’ll just be a few minutes.’ I said, “You’re going to get a ticket,  see that sign there.”

I said, “Some people think they’re too important to obey signs.”

“Yeah, that was this guy alright.” The traffic control officer arrived and wrote a ticket for the car we’d been talking about. “That’s going to be eighty bucks.”

People walked by, some waved at Joy. She smiled. “Humans,” she said, “go figure.”

 



 
 
 
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