Bernard is Back

13 October 2017

I saw Ted’s green upturned hat. When I approached he appeared to be asleep. I was about to walk past when I saw his eyes open. “Good morning Ted.”

“Good morning, Dennis, I drank four tall boys already this morning, so I’m a bit wasted. I’ve had a fever for the past two days. Yesterday I stayed in my sleeping bag. I pulled it over my head and that’s the way I spent the day. My face is frying. I must have some sort of infection, maybe in my teeth. I need an Advil or something.”

“Did you buy a new bed?”

“No, I used the money to exploit women. That’s the way I am.”

I said, “Maybe you should go to a walk-in clinic, or do you have your own doctor.”

“Doctors! What do they know.

“I read that in Australia they’ve had their worst ‘flu season in ten years — a hundred and seventy thousand cases so far this year. Two and a half times more than last year. They’ve already had seventy-two deaths from the ‘flu. From the flu! I’d go get a shot, but I can’t while I have this fever. Make sure you get yours.

“Have you seen Bernard? I told you he gave me a twenty towards the money he stole from me. I was really drunk last night, but I briefly awoke to see him going through my wallet. I just rolled over at the time, but I remember. He’s a slimy bastard. I told you that when Rhea pulled the fire alarm he said he had to leave because the police were coming. I think he’s a pedophile. I’ve never asked him about it. He’d lie anyway, but he did go to prison shortly after he was with Rhea. I wouldn’t put it past him.”

I asked, “Will you be here on the weekend?”

“No, I don’t do well on weekends. I don’t see any of my regulars. I’ll go fishing instead. I’m going to leave now. I’m going to the pharmacy to buy some Advil and a new pair of glasses so I can read the newspaper.”

“Did you lose your glasses?”

“Well, yes and no. I know exactly where they are — at my fishing place. I put them a few feet from where I usually sit, so I can reach them when I need them.”

 

 



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Mom has Dementia

11 October 2017

“Good morning Ted,” I said, “the weather is getting colder. There’s a frost warning for tonight. How late in the season are you allowed to fish?”

“Trout spawn in October and November so the season is closed for them, but for all other game fish I’ll be fishing right through the winter. I need to get some new equipment. For sinkers I’ve been using nuts and bolts and I broke my rod. I had it in my backpack and forgot to duck when coming through a door. I caught one fish my last time out. It was a good size for eating so I gave it to somebody I met by the river. I was so drunk I fell about a dozen times, in the water three times, I was soaked up to my chest. The rest of the times I fell on the rocks. One time I didn’t think I’d be able to get up. I was sure I had broken a bone, but everything was moveable. I decided then to go home before I killed myself. Look at the scratches on my shin. My knee was swollen the size of a grapefruit. I’m still having trouble bending it.

“I spent the last week with my mother. She’d like me to move in, but I can only take so much of her. She’s getting really bad, watches wrestling all day long. When we were watching together she asked me who won. I said, ‘Ma, you were watching. You should know who won.’ She said, ‘I must have turned away for a minute or fell asleep.’ Half the time she’s watching vintage wrestling from twenty years ago. Who does that? We had a power failure, she sat in front of the television for five hours waiting for the wrestling to come back on.

“My brother and sister want to put her in a home, but she’s against the idea. She has trouble getting up and down steps. When my dad was alive we had an elevator that went up the circular staircase. It cost about five thousand dollars. She sold it for twelve hundred. I can’t imagine what they cost now. On the main floor we have a bathroom and an extra room that was used as an office. I said to her, ‘Mom, I can move your bed, your dresser and all your bedroom furniture down here. You’ll have access to everything you need.’ She said, ‘No.’ Also, she can’t keep herself clean. There’s shit all over the floor. I can’t deal with that.”

I suggested, “You could hire a Personal Care Worker. They would help her wash, dress, go to the bathroom, even cook her meals.”

“No, she wouldn’t want that. She’s very independent and bossy.”

I asked, “Have you caught any more raccoons, lately?”

“No, I didn’t see any. Her neighbour told her to stop feeding the birds because it was attracting the coons. So she stopped feeding the birds. We have six big bags of bird seed in the garage, she’s been doing this for years. I don’t know if raccoons were eating the seeds, but they’re garbage eaters. You never know.”

“Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow, Ted.”

“I’ll probably be here.”

 



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I Know you, but I Forget Your Name…

 

2 October 2017

Standing at the bus stop, reading The Dain Curse by ‎Dashiell Hammett on my Kindle, a man approached me. I didn’t look up. He didn’t say anything. I lifted my head to see who it was, I recognized Little Jake. I gave him a hug and said, “Jake, I haven’t seen you for ages.”

He said, “I know you, but I forget your name.”

I said, “It’s Dennis. How are you. I’ve spoken to Bearded Bruce lately.”

“Yeah, he just threw me out. I’m walking around in a fog. I don’t know where I’m going.”

I said, “You’re looking good.”

“No, I’m not.”

I reached into my wallet looking for a five to hand him.”

“I don’t want your money. I don’t want anything.”

I said, “I was sorry to hear about Wolf passing. He was a great guy.”

“Yeah, it’s going to be my turn next. I’m not interested in money. I’m not interested in anything.” His blue eyes started to tear. He patted my shoulder then shuffled off down the sidewalk. I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to do. I just watched him drift away.

 



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