Police Brutality

 

 

16 April 2013

It was raining this morning, so I wasn’t expecting to see Joy, but there she was in her usual place. I said, “I’m surprised to see you here. I thought you’d stay at home because of the rain.”

“I was up early and didn’t have anything else to do, so I came here. It rained three times and it stopped three times. Who knows what the rest of the day will be like.

“Boy, I’m really glad you came, I’m near to busting with having to go to the bathroom. Can you watch my stuff?”

“Sure, you go ahead.”

When Joy returned I asked, “So, did you talk to your workers? Is there any news about getting you furniture?”

“Yeah, that’s set up for 1:00. The only thing I haven’t done is the dishes. I’ll do them before they arrive.

“I saw the guys yesterday. Jake threw Shakes out of his apartment. Shakes has lived outside all his life, he doesn’t know how to act inside. Jake doesn’t have furniture, just an air conditioner, still in its box, but just the same he likes his place kept tidy. Shakes was flicking his cigarette ashes everywhere, grinding his butts out on the hardwood floor. It’s not his fault. It’s just the way he’s lived all these years.

“Chester came with Raven, but as soon as she saw that Jacques had money she went with him. Chester wasn’t too happy about that. Before they left Jacques said, ‘Maybe, me, I get to play with a little pussy this afternoon.’ I’m just glad that I’m single and celibate, no cooties for me. Some of the women these guys go out with — they’re not pretty — most you’d have to double bag, and I mean Hefty bags.

“Can you mail a letter for me? It’s to my youngest son, he lives with his older brother. I’m trying to get some communication going between us. The others I haven’t heard from in a while. One’s up in the Northwest Territories, working in a gold mine. He was raised by my sister and sent her a huge nugget. She had it appraised at $20,000.00. I said, ‘Hold on to that, he’s going to need that for college.’

“I saw Andre yesterday, while he was still sober I said to him, ‘You know there is never going to be anything between us. You’re like a brother to me. Do you understand that?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I guess so.'”

“So, do you think he got the message this time.”

“I hope so.”

At noon it was still misty, as I passed a bus shelter I saw Tom and Shakes. “Hey, it’s been a long time, man!” said Tom.

“Yes it has. Shakes do you have your hydro turned on yet?”

“Yes I do. That Friday that it went off, I phoned my worker and said, ‘I want my fuckin’ hydro turned on. It’s a long weekend coming up. How would you like your fuckin’ hydro off for that long. I’m going to be out this afternoon, but when I get home for supper the fuckin’ hydro had better be on.’

“You told her, Shakes!”

“Yeah, I sure did, ha ha ha.”

“So, Tom, have you been panning near the mall?”

“No, did you hear what happened to me there a couple of years ago? I wanted a Happy Meal from McDonalds, but I was a bit drunk and I knew they wouldn’t serve me. I didn’t have any money, but I had just been to the pharmacy and had my prescription for Percocet renewed. I asked a guy going into McDonalds if he used Percocet. He said, ‘Yeah!’ I asked, ‘For three percs would you buy me a Happy Meal?’ He said, ‘Sure!’ What he did was go straight to this big security guard and told him I stole some Percs from him.

“The security guard came out and tried to put his hands in my pockets. I wouldn’t let him and pushed him away. Another security guard came along and grabbed my arm. The other one kicked my leg from behind and broke it. It was sticking way out to the side. They put me in cuffs and phoned the police. I managed to squirm my way, with the broken leg, to a pay phone. With the handcuffs behind my back I was still able to pull myself up, knock the receiver off the hook and dial 911. I said to the operator, “This is Thomas Pelletier, I’ve been beaten by security guards and they broke my leg. I need an ambulance. The operator said they had already received a call and an ambulance was on its way.

“By that time the police had arrived. They wouldn’t listen to anything I said. One put his knee on my head, breaking my glasses. The other one took the pills out of my pocket and handed them to someone.

I said, “I have a prescription for those pills, just ask at the pharmacy. They didn’t even check. The cop said to me, ‘You’re nothing but a homeless, drunken indian. If you don’t shut up we’re going to take you out of town and bury you.’

“I yelled to people in front of the mall, ‘My name is Thomas Pelletier. The police have just told me they are going to kill me, take me out of town and bury me.’

“The ambulance came and took me to the hospital. They set my leg, put it in a cast and a brace. I was supposed to go for physiotherapy, but I’m an alcoholic. There’s no way I could sit in a room for three hours without a drink. Besides, it was on the other side of the city. I didn’t even have money for bus tickets. I hadn’t been panning, so I had no money coming in.

“I wore that leg brace for a year and a half. In the end it did help me. People are more likely to give money to a guy in a brace than one without.

“Ever since then I’ve been afraid for my life. I’m supposed to be part of a native group protesting the wind turbines scheduled to be installed on Thunder Mountain. They want to put them on sacred land. If the police see me, I’m afraid that one of them will push me in front of a car.

“I was talking to the Anishinaabe Clan Mothers at Maniwaki and in Cornwall. I explained to them that this protest could end up like the one at Oka. The young people wouldn’t remember, but I was there. Some of them wouldn’t feel comfortable carrying guns, but there would be guns behind them, protecting them.

“It was our Chief that signed over the land to the wind turbine company. I said to him, ‘It won’t be you standing in the front lines blocking the equipment. It’ll be me.’ I’ve served over fifteen years in correctional institutions and mental institutions. I don’t mind going to jail. In fact I would be proud to give my life to protect our sacred ground. It’s all we have.’ ”

“I have to go now, Tom. If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”

Shakes asked, “Dennis could you spare some bus tickets and a Tim Horton’s card?”

“Sure Shakes.”

“Thanks Dennis, we’ll see you soon.”

 



 
 
 
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Snuffleupagus

 

 

15 April 2013

This morning was cold. Joy was wearing two hoodies, a jacket and a heavy sweater over top. Her legs were wrapped in a blanket.

“Hi Sweetie, I’m glad you’re here. I have to have a major piss and I can’t go into the pizza place. Will you watch my stuff and do your magic?”

I sat on her crate and guarded her cap with the change in it (the jingle). I smiled and tried to look needy, but nobody was buying it. I noticed the averted eyes. Some of my friends passed without saying hello.

Joy returned, I said, “I didn’t have any luck.”

“Mondays are always bad. I didn’t want to come out today, but I missed Friday and Thursday because of the weather, so I figured I better get out.”

“How did Tuesday go?” I asked,” Do you have your furniture?”

“No, and I’m really pissed off that they cancelled again. I phoned my workers at about 1:00 Tuesday, as I was crossing the bridge. I heard one of them in the background say, ‘If that’s Joy, tell her we’ll have to reschedule.’ She couldn’t even tell me herself. I said, ‘I’ve been waiting five fuckin’ months, this is insane! All my other friends have been taken to the warehouse to get furniture. Why is it that I have to wait so long!’ I don’t know what that woman has against me. If I gave her a shot in the head, they’d phone the police. I guess that wouldn’t be a good move.”

“The table and couch that Andre promised me — he gave them to somebody else.

“I’m not like some of these other people. I have no family to turn to. Mind you, I’d have plenty of places to crash if I lost my apartment.”

I asked, “How was your weekend?”

“It was cool. I went over to Andre’s. Snuffleupagus was there, that’s what I call Hippo. He was whining the whole time. ‘I don’t have any money in my bank account.’ I told him that his GST (Goods and Services Tax) refund would be coming soon. His income tax refund would take a little longer. He’ll just have to wait like all of us. You can’t hurry the government; but he wants it now!

“Weasel is pissed with me because he invited me over and I haven’t been there yet. He had Little Jake over and split his eyebrow? I told Jake that when he mixes sherry and beer, like he does with his Jakenator, he flips out and becomes a real asshole. That’s what happened, so Weasel smacked him up side the head, chased him out the door and across the parking lot.

“Weasel said to me, ‘You know I’d never hit you, Joy!’ I said, ‘Why not? It’s not like I’ve never been hit before. Is it because I’m a woman? Well, I don’t punch like a woman, so don’t worry on that score.

“I passed out on the couch, Weasel was asleep in a chair and Andre slept on the floor. Andre’s sister was over. I like her. She’s moving into a beautiful place. It’s great if you can afford it. He’d been telling her that he want’s to get together with me, but that’s not going to happen. She’d look over at me with those questioning eyes, Why don’t you like my brother?

“It’s not that I don’t like him, I feel about him like he is my brother. Nothing’s going to happen between us. I’ve been telling him that for two years now. Even when he and Weasel walked me home he had this pouty face and said, ‘Can I at least have a hug?’ When I did hug him he tried to kiss me on the mouth, but I turned my head and he got my cheek.” I said to him, ‘That’s the reason there’ll never be anything between us. The more you try to get closer, the more I’m going to push away.’ Then he said, ‘So, you want me to just leave you alone?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ Maybe he’ll eventually catch on.

“I’m still short $4.00. You don’t have $4.00 do you?”

“No,” I said, “I only use plastic — to get the Air Miles.”

“It’s okay, I see my Dutch guy coming. This could be good.”

A tall, well dressed man said, “Hello.” and dropped two quarters.

“Thanks, honey.” said Joy. To me she said, “That’s not good.”

I said, “I’ll leave you to work your charm.”

 



 
 
 
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St. Patrick’s Day

 

 

16 March 2017

The temperature has been hovering around the freezing mark, but the sun has been melting the ice on the sidewalks making the walking less treacherous. “Good morning, Ted, it should be a good day for you especially when the sun starts shining on you.”

“Yeah, last night was really bad. I came this close (indicating a space of about an inch) to getting into it with these two big guys. I’m six foot and I was looking way up into their faces, but it all worked out the end. Lately I’ve been talking to this native woman, Fay. She’s about 40, nice looking. Anyway, I was going into McDonald’s as a friend of mine was coming out. He had a massive black eye. I asked him, ‘Have you been in a fight?’ He said, ‘Yeah, a woman punched me in the face.’ I laughed and said, ‘A woman punched you?’ ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘the one you were talking to last night.’ I saw my woman friend at the bus stop talking to these two big native guys. I walked up and started talking to her. One of them says to me, ‘Are you some kind of a fuckin’ weirdo?’ I stood right up to him and said, ‘Do I look to you like I’m some kind of a fuckin’ weirdo?’ He backed off because he could see I was ready to get it on with him. I talked to Fay for a few minutes. I said to her, So, you punched my friend in the eye.’ She said, ‘Yeah, I punched him. He was being an asshole.’ Everything was cool. I wandered away, but kept an eye on them. Soon after she starts yelling at these guys and stomps off. I breathed a sigh of relief because now she was walking alone.”

I said, “So you had a chance to talk to her.”

“Yeah, you could say that — 10 bucks. It’s the way I am.”

I changed the conversation. “Happy St. Patrick’s day.”

“Is that what today is? There are a lot of bars on this street aren’t there?”

“Yeah, Irish bars, Scottish bars, any kind you want.”

“I think I’ll be panning in front of an Irish bar. They’ll all be full tonight; the jails too.”

 



 
 
 
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Eviction

 

 

16 March 2017

“Good morning, Ted, how’s it going with this bad weather we’ve been having?”

“Not so good. Yesterday with the blowing snow nobody wanted to stop. I was up near the hotel all day and made about $30.00? Today’s a bit better, I collected enough to get one of those big breakfasts on a bun. The sun is out, the weather will be warmer.”

“How about housing. Do you have that sorted?”

“Well, I don’t know. They gave the 17 residents 120 days notice. That will take us ’till May 16. I talked to a legal advisor. She said the company is required to pay is first and last month’s rent, but in some cases they’ve been able to squirm around that. She said, ‘Don’t’ give them your key until the check is in your hand. Don’t listen to any of their excuses. Make sure your rent is paid in full so in court they won’t have a leg to stand on. Give them one of my cards so they know that you have representation.’ I’m not exactly sure what they’re planning to do with the building; they may gut it, they may demolish it. If they have tools in there they won’t want a lot of disgruntled tenants with keys to the side door.”

I said, “By May 16th the weather will be warm, no matter what happens.”

“Yeah, my worker is supposed to find me an apartment, but I don’t mind sleeping outside. I’ve done that before. We’ll see what happens.”

“Take care Ted. I may see you tomorrow.”

 



 
 
 
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I can quit drinking…

 

 

13 February 2017

When I first saw Ted he was engrossed, reading a newspaper. “Good morning, Ted. When I was talking to you last you mentioned that your worker was going to arrange for you to see a doctor. Did that come about?”

“Actually I was offered an appointment, but I declined. I know I should go. I’m even having trouble walking. Sometimes my right leg will just stop. I’ll yell at it and say, ‘Get moving you fucker!’, but nothing happens. People probably think I’m crazy. I’ve got no control over it. Eventually the nerves kick in and I can will it to move forward. I think that’s a symptom of kidney problems. I’m also peeing dark, another kidney symptom. I’ve been on dialysis before. I don’t want to go through that again. The doctor is going to tell me to stop drinking and I can. I just don’t want to do it right now. Then there’s my bipolar medication. I’m a mess without that.

A man stopped by and said, “Ted, where’s your hat. You should be wearing it. You haven’t lost it have you?”

“No, I haven’t lost it. It’s in my bag. I’ll put it on later.” To me he said, “Have you seen that guy around? He finds a place on some corner somewhere and knits. He’s always knitting: socks, scarves mitts. They’re really warm.

“Yesterday was good. I collected $70.00, then spent $50.00 on booze. I was really drunk. I could barely walk I’m paying for it now. I’ve got a beast of a headache. The bright sun isn’t helping either.

“Last night I was panning in front of a Mexican restaurant. Everybody was handing me boxes of half eaten burritos. I was so stuffed I could barely get up. When you’re on the street you don’t turn down anything. If it’s something I don’t need, I know that I’ll run into someone who does. I put two boxes in my backpack. One I opened last night when I got home. The other I had for breakfast.

“I’ve been reading a book by this guy, I don’t remember his name. I just have to keep turning pages. Even when I’m with my friends I’ll be over in a corner reading.

“The weekend should be great. There will be lots of visitors downtown for the end of Winterlude. They’ll be in a good mood, the weather will be mild. I may stay here or go up to the mall.”

“I’ve been talking to some of my friends. They said it issn’t good to have conversations with people while you’re panning. People who otherwise might make a drop, will pass right by.”

“Well Ted, I’ll let you get back to work.”

 



 
 
 
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Refugees

 

 

6 February 2017

“Good morning, Ted.”

“Hey, Dennis, I guess you heard about Trumps fights with the courts. He must be pissed. I don’t know why they don’t just let him do his job and see what happens. I can see where he’s coming from. He was born rich, everything he ever wanted was provided for him. They had servants. In business he was always the boss, so if anybody did anything he didn’t like he’d fire them. He’s not used to taking orders. I know, he’s a womanizer. Hell, I’ve been that myself a few times. As far as the refugees are concerned, I don’t want them coming here taking our jobs.”

“Ted, you don’t have a job. Nobody will be taking anything away from you.”

“Well, I know that, but they’ll be covered under our health care. We’ll be paying for their housing.”

“Isn’t that the situation that you’re in now? Have you had a chance to see a doctor about your medication?”

“The woman that you saw me with the other day, the chubby one, is my worker. She’s going to get everything sorted out. I should see a doctor soon because I’ve been having a pain in my lung. I think it may be pneumonia. Do you know anything about that?”

I said, “I’ve had pneumonia. You’ll need antibiotics. It’s very serious.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that you can die from it.

“I guess Trudeau will be meeting with Trump next week. I wonder how that will go. His father was tough, but Justin may be too polite. He is a boxer, I hope he doesn’t take any shit from Trump. The US is our biggest trading partner. Anything Trump does affects Canada.”

“I hope it goes well, otherwise he may build a wall and have us pay for it.”

 



 
 
 
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Getting Emotional

 

 
2 February 2017

“Good morning, Ted, I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“Hi, Dennis, I haven’t been so good lately. I’ve been sick. I phoned my mother. I got all emotional and had to hang up on her. When I got myself together I phoned back and got shit for hanging up. I’ve got to see a doctor about my medication. I told you that she has a big house. She wanted me to visit her. I said, ‘Mom, I don’t have $50.00 to take a taxi. There are no busses that go there.’ She paid for the cab when it arrived. I was pissed off at my brother, he arranged to have a plow clear her driveway, but the lazy ass didn’t clear the sidewalk or the steps. I said, ‘Mom, if the snow isn’t cleared and there’s no light on, thieves will think that the house is vacant and will rob you.’ She complained about the cost of electricity, but agreed to leave a light turned on. There’s no problem with mail piling up because they have a community mailbox.”

I said, “Your mom is in her 80’s isn’t she?”

“She’s 83, but looks about 60. She’s had lifts, nips and tucks. I can see the scars around her ears. I’m worried though, because she doesn’t have the same vitality she had before.

“She owns several apartment buildings. I told her about my eviction notice, so she’s going to have an apartment cleared for me. I don’t know how I feel about that. She has to give the present tenants 90 days notice, but since the apartment is going to a family member there won’t be any legal problems.

“I got a TV. I went to a pawn shop and bought a 19 inch flat screen for $39.00. The one I really wanted was a 36 inch for $130.00, but it didn’t have a remote. What good is that? I don’t want to be getting up every few minutes to change the channel.”

“I agree, if you’re watching television you want to relax.”

Ted reached into his backpack and pulled out a gift box with Italian Panettone printed on it. He said, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this. Do I cook it?”

“No, it’s already cooked. I’m sure you’ll like it.”

“I’m not so sure. Do you want it?”

“Sure, I’ll take it.”



 
 
 
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