Seeking solace and a blessed place to say her prayers, Streetgirl flew her sign yesterday, straddling the curb and strolling up and down the island. Those same paths that her panning peer, so-tagged The Veteran, had ambled thousands of times. It was chilly, but they’d been out in far worse weather and enjoyed it too; a freedom of sorts. If it was Joe he would be wearing a toque, thin shirt under a jacket year-round day and night, and sandals without socks; even though someone had given him a pair of boots two months before his passing. Thrilled to tell the tale, how he’d been snoozing in the sun behind the gas station when a guy came by and offered to take him to Canadian Tire to buy a winter coat and footwear. One of so many kind gestures afforded him by strangers. That night they dumped his dirty smelly old one down the garbage shoot in our building as a ceremonial gesture and he donned the gift until the day he died.
His feet were hard-worn, painful to step upon, but he bore suffering lightly. Just ask the foot doctor at Lawrence Square who tendered to the damage not long ago and made Joseph feel so much better if only for a short while. Ask the ladies at the nail salon on the corner who refused, with justification, to give him a pedicure even though he had the money to pay. Streetgirl laments lambasting him for leaving a trail of blood on the floor the night he laid upon our couch for the last time.
On the trek home she thought of how her friend would always bus it, throwing in a few nickles and dimes and riding the rest of the fee for free. Streetgirl preferred to walk. If not, paid full fare when riding the TTC, “that is what people give us money for,” she would tell him and he made enough of it to do so too! Sitting on the curb out front of a duplex and obviously left for someone like her who would appreciate it was an over-sized hand- bag, quilting threadbare and color-faded. Inside a black sweater, spring coat, small scented pillow, and a pair of slippers. She wished she could show it to Joe who never failed to marvel at such stories responding with a repetition of some of his many.
A week has gone and Streetgirl has grieved, seven days and nights according to his Jewish tradition, now the mourning must come to closure. Tomorrow she shall shower and get ready for her sixtieth. Nice if he was here, she’s a boring old buzz kill without him, so will be rolling alone. The old boys in The Jungle are in shock and will “miss you bro” (one of a kind). Princess sheds her tears, “envisioning your beautiful blue eyes” and still grateful for the birthday cake he bought her five years ago when it seemed that no-one else cared. Frankie, the new guy on the spot, speaks of you fondly and wishes he had known you longer. Tip of the ice berg. With a heart of gold and rugged charm, you were well-liked my friend, but no-one knew you as I did and I’ll never forget who you were and whence you came. Hope your lovely beard has grown back. When the time is right will sit by your grave and
drop you a big blast. Scratch that! May you never again feed the Devil with your bare hands. God Bless and Rest in Peace Joseph.