Yes BOSS - HOW
Tuesday August 27, 2019. Thirty plus hours onto hunger strike number - lost count - just a continuation of what now seems like a three year severe fast.
It has gotten to the point I crave being Portly and not Thin.
7.15 am. A tall kinda scruffy man (Sylvan) enters the Ottawa Mission landing strip - home to a crowd of starving homeless men beginning to congregate closer and closer towards the "dinning room door" in anticipation of its opening in 10 minutes time. Like animals to a trough.
In hoarse broken English - the unmistakable beauty of a Francophone accent like no other country on the planet - "any u wan work....uuu....uuu...work today...."
Non stop requests until the doors to the dining room open. The man accepts his fate and retreats as no one inquires nor alone accepts his offer.
As he leaves the Mission, PJ wakes up and warns me - NO! Don't do it. We're on hunger strike!
Ten minutes later leaving the facility I play a mind game.
"Okay PJ. Here's the deal. When we step outside if he is still there - then we work".
An hour later - Richmond Fire Station - shoveling concrete into two pails, carry them to the chute; empty contents; smash concrete; sweep floor, twist, stamp 6 foot steel wires and stack.....cut, twist, bag and discard insulation
4.30 pm as the BOSS drops the two of us back to the Mission - they found another guy to work - he requests the both of us to work again tomorrow.
6.50 am the next morning I'm waiting for the Van on my own - my partner from the previous day was a no show. Over the four days of work I had a different partner each day.
Wednesday August 28, 2019. 11 am. "Okay stop now. Wha u want eat. Sausage muffin? "No I'm good thank you" "When you eat" "What do you mean? "You no eat" "Well. Okay. I am on hunger strike but I did eat a little last night". "You have to eat to work. No eat . No work" 3pm that day I eat half of the Sausage McMuffin.
Thursday August 29, 2019 11.30 am.
"Oh no, oh no. Fucks sake. Arrr man. Arrr. Arrr. Help. Helllp, Helllllp!
bang, bang, bang, bang....smack, crush, wallop, wallop, bang bang bang.
"The English guy funny". "He Work". "Yeh like the Towers homme"
"Help. Hellllp. Fucking hell. Help. Hello"
As I lay on my back. Left leg, like a key in a lock is a perfect fit for the wider than normal gap between planks. And like a key. It twisted too easily.
"Yeah. Yeah. Fawlty" Chuckle, chuckle. "No he good" "Funny".
10 minutes later I get my knee dislodged and free. As I get to my feet.
I hear. "Where's Paul?" "Taking a break". Chuckle, chuckle.
When I see Sylvan. I try to explain.
"Arrr. So you want to quit?"
My eyes involuntary close, "No I'm good".
Friday August 30. 2019 2.00 pm on way back to the Mission - job completed.
As I lay asleep in the back of the Van I slowly regain consciousness,
"Yes BOSS (Hugey)"
Don't stay here anymore. You don't belong there. I feel like crying every time I drop you off. I have a shed you can stay in"
Sunday September 1, 2019 2 pm. After two more restless, sleepless nights in a room of 8 men I call Hugey.
"Hi. Its Paul. You still have that Shed?"
7.30 am September 2, 2019 waking up somewhere in Vanier. The shed turned out to be a single bare room in a rooming house with a single air mattress. While cool at night it was good to be alone as I slept more than 8 hours for the first time in a long time. Walking to Bank street internet cafe. Haven't eaten in 24 hours. Finally have a place to sleep and meditate through the pain of starvation in private.
I think of the very kind, older lady I met the night before. A lady from the Ojibwa reserve. She receives $600 a month and conducts a part-time business drawing and selling here pictures. When she left she looks at me raises her right hand and politely states HOW to which I reciprocate the gesture of approval, albeit a more tired response.