14 August 2017
“Hi Dennis,” said Ted, “My vodka is finished. I tried a few bottles It’s really potent, but it didn’t kill me and I didn’t go blind.”
I said, “You can regulate the alcohol content, can’t you?”
“Yeah, I did. I added more yeast.”
“If you wanted it less potent you could add distilled water, couldn’t you.”
“Yeah, but why would I want to do that?”
“It does seem to be counter productive.”
“That’s a good way of putting it. I only had eight bottles, so I’ll hang around the liquor store and wait for customers who are returning empties. I don’t mind paying them the regular refund price.
“I came down today because my worker has arranged for me to get a new set of keys. I had a woman stay over about a month ago. She ran out of cigarettes and dope. I gave her forty bucks. My keys were on the kitchen table. She took them on her way out; she never came back. I don’t mind about the forty dollars, but I’m lost without my keys. I told my worker that I lost them, so she talked my landlord into giving me a special deal. If she’d said they’d been stolen it would have cost two hundred dollars. There’s the electronic outdoor key, the mailbox key and the swipe pass for my apartment, plus they’d have to replace all the locks. By telling him they were lost he’s charging me fifty for the keys and twenty-five for the swipe pass. When I get that taken care of at noon I can go get my bed. I can’t do that until I get the keys.
“I’ve been having fun with Julia. I met her a couple of weeks ago. She wanders around topless and has a lot of piercings. She has piercings everywhere. She has piercings in places I didn’t know you could get piercings. She said to me, ‘Ted, you should get a piercing through your cock.’ I said, ‘There’s no way I’m going to do that.’ Can you imagine?”
“There’s no way I’d get that done either. I hurt myself enough by accident. I don’t want to pay to have someone hurt me.”
“Anyway, that first night I talked to her — I’d seen her around before but we’d never been introduced — she he sat down next to where I was panhandling. I said to her, ‘I don’t mind you sitting here, but you’re going to have to put your top on. It makes me uncomfortable and I’m sure my regulars would feel the same way. We had some wine then she asked me if I had a place. I said, ‘Yeah, I have a place.’ We went there, smoked a few joints and she started taking her clothes off. She just doesn’t like being dressed. When she took off her shoes there was a terrible smell. I’m not just talking about foot odor, this was rotten. Two of her toes were bandaged. I’ve taken first aid courses so I took the bandages off and it was a mess. She was supposed to go back to the hospital two days before to have her bandages changed, but didn’t bother. I had her soak her foot in an epsom salt bath. The water was filthy. I had gauze so I rebandaged them and applied antibacterial cream, but I’m not a doctor. He told her that if she didn’t take care of them they’d have to be amputated. I saw one of the outreach workers today and asked if he knew Julia with all the piercings. He said he knew her. I said, ‘For christ’s sake, get her to a hospital to have her toes looked after.’
“Another thing, she was drug sick and so shaky that she couldn’t use a needle. I was on that stuff, but not for the past ten years. I figured if she kept trying on her own she’d miss a vein and create an embolism. You can die from that. So, I shot her up, quite a few times. She lay down and I covered her up. She slept about five hours, woke up, we talked then she slept for another six hours.
“Before she left this morning she said, “We should do something regular.” I said, ‘I got some movie passes. Do you want to go to a movie on Friday?’ So that’s what we’ll be doing.’
“I was really pissed off with Roger this weekend. We were going fishing then we figured on hanging around to see the fireworks across the river. Quebec doesn’t want people from this side of the river to see the fireworks for free, so they put up a steel fence where the rivers join, that’s where we usually fish. We walked across the bridge to the island. It’s controlled by First Nations people. A guy stopped us and asked why we were on their property. I said, ‘We’d like to watch the fireworks and do a little fishing while we wait.’ ‘Certainly,’ he said, ‘you’re Canadians, you’re welcome here.’ So, we continued down a trail to the point where we had a good view and a place to fish. Roger set up about fifteen feet behind me. I caught some nice pickerel, watched the fireworks for about an hour and a half, then went back for Roger. His backpack was there, but there was no sign of him. Everybody else had left the island. I was worried. We’d both had a lot to drink. There were slippery rocks. I thought he may have fallen in the river. I spent about an hour looking for him. That’s just the way I am. I’ve been trained you never leave someone behind, but I’d searched everywhere so I went back to our regular panning spot near the hotel. There was Roger, sitting like there was nothing unusual. I said, To him, ‘You stupid fuck, where’d you go?’ He said, ‘I got bored and decided to leave.’ I asked, ‘Did you not think of letting me know. I found your backpack and thought you may have fallen in the river.’ He said, ‘I never thought of that. I’m sorry.’ I said, ‘Stay away from me. Don’t talk to me. Don’t come around me.’ THe next night I was panning near the hotel and he came by. I held up my hand and said, ‘No, stay away. I don’t want anything to do with you.’ He left, but I’m sure he’ll be around tonight.”
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