Porky Hunting

 

30 November 2017

From a block away I could see Ted’s upturned Christmas hat. As usual, he was sitting on the concrete with his back against the stone wall of the church. He was reading the newspaper. “Hi Dennis, I’ve got a bitch of a toothache. I went to the dentist yesterday for two fillings, so that part is taken care of. I told him about how much pain I’d been having because of the extractions. I’d phoned his office twice telling the receptionist how much they hurt. She didn’t suggest that I come in for an appointment. He asked me what I did for the pain. I said, ‘I just went down to the market and got hopped up on drugs.’ He was shocked, but then I said, ‘I was just joking. I used Advil.’ He said the cause of my pain was from dry sockets from the extractions. I’ll be having a root canal next Tuesday, then he’ll have me fitted for a partial plate.”

I asked, “Do you have a bed yet?”

“Yeah, I bought a futon. I don’t have a base for it yet so it sits on the floor. It’s a bit difficult for me to get up and down — old age. I hate it. I find I’m slower getting around. I have aches and pains. My memory is going. I’m getting a new pair of glasses. They’ll be ready next week. I didn’t get bifocals because I tend to trip over things.  I got the ones for distance viewing. I’ll still use the glasses I bought at the drugstore to read the newspaper.

“I knew it was going to happen — my roommate skipped out on me last night. He was supposed to pay me eighty bucks a week to stay at my place, but was always borrowing from me. He borrowed twenty bucks, went downtown and spent it all on beer. He came back and wanted to borrow money for food. I said, ‘Hey man, I gave you twenty bucks, you made a choice to spend it on beer instead of food. That’s not my problem.’ He was always asking, ‘Can I have a cigarette, can I have a beer, can I have something to eat, can I have some money.’ The guy is thirty-four years old. I’m not his dad. Last night I awoke at nine thirty. He was sitting in his sleeping bag in the middle of the floor. He said, ‘Ted, I need ten bucks. The beer store closes at ten and I’m all out. I’ve only got a half hour to get there. My check will be in my bank at midnight so I’ll pay you the hundred bucks I owe you.’ So, I was half asleep and said, ‘Okay, I’ll give you the money.’ At eleven o’clock he received a text from his mother in Montreal. He said she was in hospital. If she was well enough to text it couldn’t have been that serious, but he was fidgeting and crying. I went back to sleep. At three this morning I heard the door slam. He’d moved all of his stuff out and didn’t even leave the key. I’m stiffed for a hundred bucks. I told security what happened and to keep an eye on my place. This guy is not allowed access. I may have to have the lock changed. He could come in and steal my bicycle, my fishing gear and anything else I have.

“I didn’t realize before how much I value my privacy. This roommate hung around my place all the time. He’d go out and pan for a few hours, then he’ll come back to the apartment. He sleeps about eighteen hours a day. I’d like to hang out with myself for a change. I’m glad that he left. From now on it’s no roommates. The only people coming through my door will have tits and a pussy.

“Did you see the football game yesterday. I nearly put fifty bucks on Toronto to win against Calgary, they were such a long shot. I looked at the Pro-Line application. The print was so small and I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to, so I left. Wouldn’t you know it, Toronto won. That could have been a pile of cash in my pocket If I’d bet.

“I was reading in the newspaper that women are going to be losing their grip on men. They’re making these robotic dolls in China. Their skin is warm and soft. They have three holes that can do everything you’d want, if you know what I mean. No nagging, no spending your money, no rules. I could have had three women last night, but I’ve gotten to know them. I didn’t want the hassle. One stayed over the other night. She lives at the women’s shelter. She’s on heavy meds. Her conversation would jump over the place. As far as listening skills, she had none. Every so often I’d get half a sentence in, then she’d interrupt.

“I’m going to be fishing this weekend. I broke the end of my rod, so I have to buy a tip for it. They come in a plastic bag with assorted sizes. They’re easy to put on. Sometimes you have to sand your rod a bit, then slide the tip on with a bit of glue. I have a twenty-four shot disposable camera with about seventeen pictures taken so far. When I’ve finished I’ll bring you some photos of some of the big fish I’ve caught.

“After the first snowfall I’ll be snaring cottontail rabbits as long as I can keep clear of the game warden. I’ll check the snares at about four in the morning. Have you ever eaten rabbit? It’s really good. What I do is cut the legs and arms off, then split the carcass in two. I put the six pieces in a big pot with water, a teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons of baking soda. I leave it in the fridge overnight, then cook it slowly the next day. Throw a few vegetables in and it makes a great stew. The meat just about falls apart it’s so tender.

“I used to host wild game dinners for the Knights of Columbus. I’d serve duck, moose, bear, even porcupine. A friend and I were driving along the highway when I saw a porcupine up a tree. Of course I was loaded. I told my friend to pull over, got the chainsaw out took the tree down and with my heavy gloves grabbed the porky. It even made the newspaper the day. ‘Tree cut down and left for no apparent reason.’ Of course they didn’t know about the porky. Another way we used to catch them was in hollow trees. We’d make a ball of barbed wire. I’d hold onto one strand, climb the tree and drop the ball through the highest opening. My friend would be waiting for them to come out and he’d hit them with a hammer. Those were good days. I miss them.

“You won’t see me here in the new year. I’m sorting myself out then getting a job.



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I going to put down that I’m a hooker…

14 November 2017

Work was over for the day. I was standing at the bus stop, my bus pass in one hand, my Kindle in the other. I was reading Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander series Book 2). I’ve been watching it on Netflix, but I’m understanding more by reading the book. I heard someone holler, “Hey, old man,” I looked up and it was Bearded Bruce. He said, ‘That was funny, I called ‘Hey, old man’ and immediately you looked up. I hope you know I didn’t mean any offence. So, are you back from your vacation?”

“No,” I said, “we’ll be leaving Sunday and will be gone to San Diego for a week.”

“Oh, I thought it was last week. So where were you last week? I stopped by to see you a couple of times. Where were you?”

“I was in my usual places,” I said. “Maybe I left work early a few times. That may be why you missed me.”

Bruce continued, “I wanted to let you know that everything is in order now. I saw my worker and he offered me and my girl a place in their housing program. Only one hundred and ninety-one people have been chosen. He told me that I could claim my earnings as tips because panhandling is illegal. Now, I have to figure out what job I’m earning these tips from.”

“Have you decided on an occupation?”

He replied, “I going to put down that I’m a hooker, or a stripper, working part time. They’ll accept that but not panhandling. I had to tell them about my situation. People tell me that ‘It’s a problem being an alcoholic,’ or ‘It’s
a problem being addicted to drugs,’ I say, ‘It’s not a problem for me. It’s you people who see it as a problem.’ The guy asked me, ‘Are you depressed,’ ‘Depressed?’ I said, ‘The only thing that depresses me is you guys cutting off my money.’ He asked, ‘How does that make you feel?’ I said, ‘It makes me want to blow people up, No, I was just kidding. My girl says that I’ve been cranky lately.’ I said to her, ‘If you don’t like it then get out.’ She went to stay with her cousin for a week. She’s back now. She told the guy some things about her past, but not everything. It’s looking good. We’ll know by next week if we’re approved. We’re feeling positive.”

“That sounds great, Bruce. I see my bus coming, so I’m going to have to leave. give my best to Loretta.”

She said to me, ‘So, you’re going to talk to Dennis, your bitching post.’ She didn’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that I wanted to tell you our good news. It feels better when I talk to you. You really listen.”

“Take care, Bruce,” I said. When I found a seat at the front of the bus — I always sit at the front in case the bus lurches and I fall down. Sitting across from me was Chris with his cane and a pack of beer, eight tall boys.

“Hi, Dennis, my backpack was stolen this afternoon. I was panning and walked across the street to the hotel to take a piss. When I returned, my backpack was gone. I was really upset. It had my bus pass, my bank card. In the summer when I used to wear shorts and a tee shirt I’d attach my keys to the backpack. Lucky for me I have lots of pockets now and had my keys with me. I would have been in deep shit if I came home without my keys. I guess I could have phoned my landlord. He could have come down and let me in, but he wouldn’t have been happy about it. I have an extra key in my apartment. My birth certificate and my health card were at home. I got a new bus pass. It won’t be valid until three thirty tomorrow afternoon. The guy didn’t even charge me a fee for the new card and he gave me two bus tickets so I could get home. I cancelled my bank card. They’ll send a replacement in the mail. I always request that they send me a card without a chip. If it’s got a chip and it gets stolen it would be too easy for someone to drain my account. I’ve only got a hundred bucks in there, but it’s the only money I have.

“I hope there’s someone in my building who can lend me a backpack. It’s too hard carrying beer otherwise. I feel naked without that weight on my back.

“Anyway, my stop is coming up. Take care, Dennis.”

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used, abused and stolen from me …

7 November 2017

Ted had an upturned fur hat on the sidewalk. He’d retired his green plastic St. Patrick’s Day top hat. “Good morning, Dennis, I’ve been really sick this past week. I really thought I was going to die. I had one foot in the grave the other on a banana peel. I’d been on a drunk for three days and I was having trouble peeing. I’d go to the bathroom and only a few drops would dribble out. My back was really sore. Finally, I went to the hospital. They told me that I was dehydrated. Not enough fluid in the body can lead to kidney failure. That’s what I had. Anyway, since October 20th I’ve been drink free. I still have a bottle of vodka in my freezer. I’m going to return to A.A. meetings. They’re going to tell me to get rid of the vodka. One of their principles is to disassociate yourself with people, places, and things that you identify with drinking.

“I still don’t have my bed. There was a worker who came by to evaluate where I was living. He made a list of the things I needed: a bed, dresser, curtains, plates. He said to contact one of their stores within a month. The request would only be valid for thirty days. They have free delivery. I phoned the store to make an appointment, they said they had a five month waiting list. So, that was a waste of time.

“Eight thirty Sunday morning I heard a banging on my door. By the time I got up and looked out in the hall the guy was banging on someone else’s door. He was taping a flyer from management saying that they’d be doing inspections. I said to the guy, ‘What’s the idea of banging on people’s doors at eight thirty, Sunday morning. People are trying to sleep.’ I said, ‘You can just as easily slide the flyer under the door.’ So, that’s what he started doing. When they do the inspection they’ll see the cockroach problem, maybe then they’ll decide to spray. It’s because of the hot water heating. There are pipes leading from the furnace to every apartment. I’m really clean. I don’t cook. I don’t leave food out. I scrub the floors. When I moved the fridge to clean underneath I saw about a hundred cockroaches. I sprayed them with pesticide, waited until they were dead then swept them up. When I moved the stove, same situation. I keep my knives and forks in a sealed plastic container in the fridge. That’s the only place I’m sure they’ll stay clean. They’re better than bed bugs, but roaches carry a lot of diseases.

I said, “The last time we spoke you mentioned that you were seeing a woman. How’s that going?”

“I don’t see her anymore. She stole my weed pipe, sleeping pills from my medicine cabinet and she borrowed forty bucks. I know where she is. I could see her at the Mission any time, but she says she doesn’t have the money. What am I going to do? I wouldn’t hit a woman. I could get a woman to hit her, but I still wouldn’t get my stuff back. The people who stay at the Mission are all the same. I’ll just add her to the long list of people who have used me, abused me and stolen from me.



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Ted’s Mother

27 October 2017

I saw Ted’s green upturned hat, then saw his boots sticking out from behind a column of the church. When he came into view I said, “Good morning, Ted how was it staying with your mother?”

“It was okay, I got her in to see the doctor. He fixed her up with a puffer and a pump to get the fluid out of her lungs. She’s still as cranky as ever. Did I tell you she smokes from five to eight packs of cigarettes a day. I’ve been trying to get her to cut down to three. It’s hard for her since I smoke too. I should give it up.”

“Did you catch any racoons?”

“No, I didn’t see any around. I’ve got a trap set. I’ll leave it there until the snow falls, then I’ll be able to see if there are any tracks.”

“How long does it take to go to your mother’s place.”

“About forty-five minutes. I take a bus to the outskirts of town then take a taxi from there.

“Today my worker is going to take me to the Salvation Army warehouse to pick out my furniture. They have free delivery. It’ll be good to have a real bed for a change. I get sore sleeping on the floor.

“I was panning in front of the hotel last night and this East Indian guy stopped and gave me a bag of food from a restaurant. It was delicious. I love Indian food. This morning a guy dropped me a twenty. I went to the pizza place and ordered a breakfast sandwich with egg and sausage, home fries and a coffee. I’m still full.

“I met a woman the other day. She’s slept at my place for the last three nights. She’s really nice, tidied my apartment, cooked a nice meal and did the dishes afterwards. It felt homey. I’ve missed that. She’s not like most of the women I’ve been involved with lately.”

“She sounds like a keeper.” I said.

“Maybe, we’ll see how it works out.”

“You didn’t give her a set of keys, did you?”

“No, I’ve learned my lesson there. Richard stayed over one night. I had to kick his ass to wake him in the morning. He said, ‘Just let me sleep a little while longer. Can you leave me a key?’ I said, ‘No way! I’m going to work and you should as well. Don’t bother coming back because I won’t let you in.’

“I’m not going to stay here too long. I’ve got a bitch of a headache. I’ll buy some Advil on my way home.”

 



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Sidewalk Conference

 

26 October 2017

Lost in thought, listening to music on my ipod, I heard, “Dennis! Mate!” It wasn’t anybody I work with since they were coming from the wrong direction. Without my glasses I could barely make out the figures of a big man walking beside a small man. As they approached I recognized Bearded Bruce and Little Jake. I hadn’t seen either of them for about a month.

I reached out to shake Bruce’s hand, but he said, “I don’t want to shake your hand, come here give me a hug, brother. Don’t hug Jake, he’s contagious. Jake and I were just saying, ‘We haven’t seen Dennis for a while. We should go visit him. Have you got a minute to sit and talk?

“Sure, I said, “I’d like to catch up on news from the street.”

Bruce continued, “I’ve got cardboard for you to sit on so you don’t get your pants dirty.” We sat and Bruce put his empty paper coffee cup out for donations.

“How have you been? I asked.

Jake spoke first, “Not so good. I have a blood infection. I’m taking medication for it.

“The last time I saw you was on the bus, wasn’t it?”

“No, I was waiting for the bus and you came up to me. You weren’t feeling too well. You said, ‘I’m walking around in a fog. I don’t know where I’m going.’ ”

“Yeah, I remember that.”

I asked, “Have you seen anybody around that I would know. Does the gang still meet at the park?”

Bruce answered, “No, since Wolf died, Jacques doesn’t come around. Everybody else is dead. That sounds harsh but it’s true. Wolf mentioned to me he missed the conversations that he had with you. He didn’t like most people. I see Little Chester near the mall. He’s still annoying. It drives me crazy to be around him. The two gay guys have Wolf’s dog Shaggy. You remember them. They used to bring Wolf a half dozen eggs and a loaf of bread. They showed me a picture of Shaggy. She looks like she’s doing well.”

I asked Jake, “Do you have your furniture yet?”

“Yeah, it took two years, but I’m set now. Have you been to your cabin lately? Duck season is opening soon. Do you hunt?”

“No, I don’t hunt, but I get scared during duck season. I saw a couple of guys armed with shotguns in a boat. It looked like they were shooting at me.”

“Do you hunt?”

“No, my brother does. Since my mom died he’s living in her house. He bought my share. I don’t go there any more.”

Bruce said, “Jake and I were heading to my spot near the restaurants and bars. Here doesn’t seem to be working for us. Maybe you’re too well dressed.”

I replied, “Ted says I’m good luck for him. He always gets a few drops when I’m sitting with him.”

Bruce said, “Luck is luck. I’m superstitions. I always have my lucky penny, and bear token in my cup.”

Several colleagues from work walked past. One smiled, one frowned and the others ignored me. Bruce yelled at them, “He’s just visiting. It’s just me and Jake that are panning.”

It’s been seven years that I’ve known Bruce and Jake. I always look forward to seeing and talking with them. When I first met them they were both living in a cardboard box near the dumpsters in back of Starbuck. Now they are both housed and their alcoholism seems to be under control. Bruce limits his drinking to two beers a day. He got up and reached out his hand to help me to my feet.

I said, “I’ve got something for you.” I reached into my wallet and saw that I had two twenties. I handed one to Jake and the other to Bruce.

Bruce said, “Are you sure you can afford this? I always ask that of people. We saw Jenny last night. She had been drinking and was laughing. She reached into her pocket and pulled out some bills. She handed me a fifty. I don’t want you to think that I’d take advantage of somebody who was under the influence. I asked her, ‘Are you sure you can afford this?’ She replied, ‘Yes.’ I saw that she also had a twenty and a ten in her hand. I asked, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to give me the ten?’ ‘No, I’m sure.’ she said. So, I’m asking you again,  Are you sure you can afford this?”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve given money to any street people. They simply haven’t been around. I thought about what other things I would use that money for. Nothing of any consequence came to mind, however with it Bruce and Jake would be able to go to Bruce’s place for supper. They would have made their price for the night.  Their alternative would have been to sit on the cold sidewalk for six hours until the bars closed and the streets emptied. It gave me great pleasure to be able to have a positive effect on their lives. I consider them my closest friends and looking at Jake I didn’t know if I would see him again. I said to both of them, “I’m sure I can afford this.” We hugged and went our separate ways.

 



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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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