26 Apr 2013
It rained last night, so there were puddles on the sidewalk. I didn’t expect Joy to be at her spot, but there she was. I asked, “How was the barbecue yesterday?”
“It was good, except for Shark. I told Chuck that Shark and Irene would bail and sure enough they did. We were waiting to eat, Chuck had to go to Shark’s place to buy some pot. He figured he could talk Shark into coming. When he came back he asked me, “What is it between you and Shark? He said to me, ‘I’ll sit at the same table with Joy, but I’m not going to feed her.’ I said, ‘It’s thirty years of fighting. Don’t sweat it. I wouldn’t eat any food that Shark’s greasy, fuckin’ fingers had touched anyway.
“I’m expecting Big Chester to come by. He’ll have his check by now. He want’s me to move back in with him. He know how much I hate the place I’m in now, but I don’t hate it that much.”
“He’s still seeing Raven isn’t he?”
“Whenever he thinks he can get a piece of ass. I’ve had it with her. The last time I had anything to do with her was at his place. I think I told you about it. I was cooking steaks. She came over and leaned her head almost into the frying pan. Her long fuckin’ hair was nearly touching our food. I was cool, I just went downstairs to talk to Mariah. What I wanted to do was take the steaks out and push her skinny face into the grease of the pan.
“Since then she’s come up to me and said, ‘I’m so sorry Joy.’ I just said, ‘Keep the fuck away from me, and don’t ever talk to me again.’ I can be a real bitch sometimes.”
I asked, “Apart from Shark and Irene not turning up, how was the rest of the party?’
“It was good until Chuck’s landlord came over. Chuck laid into him with, ‘When are you going to fix my fuckin’ window? It’s a hazard. A child could fall through there.’ I could see this was going bad so I stepped between them. I took Buddy into the hall. He asked, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘I’m Chuck’s sister and I may be looking for a place if the price is right.’ He said, You sure don’t look like Chuck.’ I said, ‘Yeah, well, same mother, different fathers. The only thing we share in common is sperm.’ He asked, ‘Where are you from and what do you do.’ I couldn’t decide what to say, but I said, ‘I’m from Montreal. I work in housing maintenance. I could fix that window for you, but as far as living here you’re charging way to much. Chuck’s paying $890. I know you’ve done some painting upstairs, but I wouldn’t take it for more than $700. It’s only one room.
“Chuck came storming out and said, ‘Look, you fuckin’ nigger. Get out of my place before I put you down right here. ‘ I said, ‘Hold on Chuck, I was negotiating a reduction in your rent.’ I knew that Buddy had a button on his phone that would have brought a dozen of his black brothers here in minutes. He got in his truck drove ten feet then slammed on his brakes. I thought we were in for it then, but he drove off.
“I picked up a butter knife and tightened the screws in the window so it doesn’t sag. Chuck said, ‘What about the next time it comes loose?’ I handed him the butter knife, saluted and left.”
I’m not much of a conversationalist, so when Joy was at a loss for words, which happens very rarely, I read poetry to her. She said, “I have glasses now, Can you leave those poems with me, I’d like to read them again.”
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