A Guy Pulled a Knife on Me

 

 

7 December 2017

When I approached Ted he was reading the newspaper. I said, Hi, Ted, what’s happening in the world?”

“Oh, not much. I got a box here for you to sit on. I’ve got a bitch of a toothache. I went to the dentist yesterday to have a root canal. He said ‘I’ve already done five root canals, I don’t want to do any more. I’ll finish your fillings instead.’ I thought that was odd, but he’s the dentist. He even repaired my worn down teeth. It feels strange, but chewing is a lot easier and I don’t have those gaps where food used to get stuck.

“I fucked up my drinking. I’d gone twenty-nine days sober then got blasted, so I’ve started again; I’m on day six now. It was all that stress of getting rid of my last roommate. He stayed seventeen days, ate my food, drank my beer, borrowed money then skipped out on the rent. I’ve had it with roommates. Don wants to move in, but I said no way. He asked if he could just come over for a beer and I told him three times on the way to my place, ‘I’ll let you stay for a couple of hours then you go.’ He didn’t have any bus fare so we walked. It was embarrassing, he’d go from one side of the sidewalk to the other looking down for things that people may have dropped. I asked him, ‘Why don’t you get a worker like I have. They’ll show you places, fill in your forms, help you get furniture.’ He didn’t want that. He’s barred from all the shelters for fighting.”

I said, “That’s the kind of roommate you want to stay away from.”

“Yeah, I’ve thought of getting a woman. They’ll still eat my food, drink my beer and borrow money, but at least there’ll be benefits.

“Did I tell you that aa guy pulled a knife on me. It was on the same corner where another guy got stabbed. This guy is a booster; he steals stuff. I wanted some fishing equipment. I’d written a list and this guy said he’d get it for me. I saw him the next day, he was with his girlfriend, he didn’t have my stuff. He said, ‘I got a twenty dollar serloin tip steak. I’ll sell it to you for ten dollars.’ Now, the normal break for stolen goods is one third, but the guy said he needed diapers for his baby. ‘Well, I said, since you need diapers I’ll give you the ten. I’m waiting to go fishing so I want the other stuff by tomorrow.’ He agreed. The next day I saw him he said, ‘I don’t have your fishing gear, but I got some gift cards, one for a hundred and one for one twenty.’ I was pissed off, I said, ‘I wasn’t born yesterday, there could be any amount on those cards or none at all. Keep them and get me my stuff or I’ll get someone who can.’ That was when he pulled out his knife. It wasn’t opened. I pulled out my can of mace and said, ‘Go ahead, try to stab me and I’ll blind you.’ He settled down after that.”

I asked, “Where do you buy mace?”

He said, “At any hunting supply store. It isn’t the kind the cops use. What I have is coyote and dog spray. You can also get bear spray. That would be stronger.” He showed me the can. It had a safety switch and the plunger was designed so that there was no danger of spraying yourself in the face.

“I’ve caught a lot of fish, they’ve really been biting. First thing when I wake up in the morning I think of fishing. My freezer is full. I think I’m over my limit, but I’ll have to check the regulations. This weekend I’m going to invite a bunch of my friends over for a fish fry.”



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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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People, Places and Things to Avoid.

15 November 2017

I’d been looking for Ted’s upturned cap. From a block away I could tell if he was panning or not. 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 was just reading that Justin Trudeau was slammed by the Philippine leader for asking about human rights. Trump congratulated Duarte, they’re best friends now.”

“How are you feeling, Ted.”

“Today I’m sore. I went to the dentist yesterday and he pulled four teeth. I’ve got two others with cavities. On the twenty-eighth I go again to have those filled, then I’ll have a partial plate made. I might as well since the government is paying for it. I thought the dentist was going to recommend that I have all my teeth pulled. I haven’t had them checked for about fifteen years, but no, he said I could keep most of them. One was really hard to pull. He worked on it for about half an hour. He clamped it with some kind of rod and would tap it with a hammer then wiggle it back and forth. He stopped for a while and I said to him, ‘If pulling that one tooth is so difficult why don’t you tie a piece of string around it with the other end secured around a door knob. Then you’d just have to give the door a good yank and the tooth would be out.’ He laughed at that.

“I’ve picked out some furniture: a dresser, kitchen table, some bedding. It will be delivered on Friday.”

“Will you be getting a bed?”

“No, I haven’t been able to find one. A new one would cost three hundred. There’s no way I could afford that. I was at Canadian Tire and was looking at an inflatable bed for eighty-nine dollars. What do you think of that?”

“I’ve had bad luck with air mattresses. They always get punctured and I end up on the floor.”

“I don’t think I told you, but I haven’t had a beer for thirty days now. At first I got really sick. It was like the ‘flu. I’d have sweats one minute then I’d be shivering my ass off. My kidneys shut down. I didn’t pee for three days. After four days I went to the doctor. I told him my problems. He said I was suffering from alcohol withdrawal. He said I could have died. I didn’t know that. He said I should have cut down to three beer a day for the first week, then two a day the next week, and one a day for the following week. Then it would be okay to quit altogether. I’ve had diabetes for the past ten years, so cutting out the beer will be good for that as well. I bought three bags of milk the other day, put two in the freezer. I was reading the ingredients. There is a lot of sugar in milk. I didn’t know that, but one cup of milk has a teaspoon and a half of sugar.

“I’ve stopped panning in front of the hotel. I’ve left that place for Richard. He’d always be offering me a beer or a slug of whiskey. In AA they emphasize people, places and things. I should stay away from Richard, stay out of places that serve drinks and avoid things that remind me of alcohol. I used to belong to AA but I haven’t attended a meeting for ten years. My worker wants me to start attending again. Ninety meetings in ninety days. I used to go for an hour each day at noon. I’m also trying to cut down on smoking. I now smoke six or eight a day. My worker said I should take it slow, baby steps at first. I guess he’s right.

“I do feel better now that I’m not drinking. I’ve been here too many times. It’s a cycle: panhandling, booze, drugs, homeless… I have to get off that wheel. Starting January I’m going to be looking for a job.”



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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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