Category: homelessness

Episodes 5-7 of Street Dreams, a Novel by Ken David Stewart

Episode 5:

Harold watched after the Ford 150 drove away. He stood and stared at the young woman and started to think what he was going to do about her. Harold didn’t even consider calling the police. Instead he opened the front door of his house and called loudly to the girl in distress.

“Come here young lady. You need to get out of the cold or you’ll freeze to death!”

The young female looked towards Harold with a confused and frightened look. She wiped the snowflakes off her hoodie and walked awkwardly towards the door that Harold was holding open for her.

“Thank you so much Mister. You may have saved my life. May I come in your house?

“Step into the living room and make yourself at home,” Harold replied.

“Thanks. Hey, I should introduce myself. My name is Whisper,” the strange young woman said as she found a place to sit on Harold’s yellow and orange patterned sofa. Whisper admired the brass antique lamp to the left of the sofa. The full décor of Harold Peyton’s living room had the ambiance that could only come from a man who appreciated fine art.

“Could I interest you in a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee or perhaps a mug of hot chocolate?” Harold asked. “By the way, Whisper is a beautiful name. Who gave you that name?”

“My grandma came up with it if I remember correctly,” Whisper replied.
While standing in the hall, Harold now had a good opportunity to observe Whisper. Her hair was blonde highlighted by orange streaks. It presently looked wet and tangled. There were still some snowflakes in her hair. Whisper’s make up was smudged and smeared from her tears. Whisper had a gold rod piercing through her nose. She wore orange lipstick and had a pentagram tattoo on her left forearm. She was not very attractive and was slightly overweight giving her somewhat of a pudgy look. Harold thought that Whisper resembled a naughty, terribly neglected little elf.

Episode 6:

“I would love to have a hot chocolate, sir. What’s your name?” Whisper asked.

“My word, where did all my manners go? With all the excitement going on, I failed to recall that I haven’t told you my name. It’s Harold, Harold Peyton.”

“Could I ask a big favour of you. Mr. Peyton?” Whisper asked sheepishly.

“Oh, you don’t have to call me Mr. Peyton. I’d like it very much if you just called me ‘Harold’. What would you like me to do as a favour to you?”

“I would like to take a shower and get myself cleaned up,” Whisper asked as her face reddened with embarrassment. “But I would like to drink my hot chocolate first, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course, you can my dear,” Harold answered. Harold wondered why he had called Whisper ‘my dear’. After all he didn’t even know this girl yet.

“Did you bring a clean change of clothes to put on after you wash up?”

“Yes, I have some clean clothes in my duffle bag,” Whisper replied.

“I just asked in case you didn’t have a fresh change of clothes with you. I still have all my daughter’s clothes in a closet in her bedroom. You appear to be about the same size as she was and her clothes would probably fit you.” Harold’s countenance suddenly looked very pained.

“You said ‘was’ Harold. What happened to your daughter?”

“Today is the first anniversary of Erica’s passing. While getting a ride home from a party her friend’s car was involved in a head on collision. The driver of the other car was inebriated. Erica’s friend suffered severe injuries but survived. Unfortunately, my daughter did not survive the accident. As soon as he finished saying this, Harold Peyton sobbed, and his body began to shake uncontrollably.

Episode 7:

“Sit down in your Lazy Boy, Harold. I’ll make myself a hot chocolate. Would you like something to drink too?” Whisper asked.

“Yes, I would like a cup of coffee if you don’t mind making a pot,” Harold replied starting to regain his composure.

“No problem. I see that you’ve got the good stuff, Tim Hortons. It should be ready in a few minutes.”

After setting up and turning on the percolator Whisper returned to the living room.

“I’m very sorry to hear about you losing your daughter. It must be very painful for you.”

Yes, it is, but I should be an old hand at grieving by now. My wife Clarissa divorced me five years ago,” Harold said, causing another tear to trickle down his cheek.

“That’s terrible, man. Two major losses in five years! No one should have to suffer that much.”

“I agree, but it happened to me. It is what it is,” Harold said taking out a handkerchief to wipe away his tears.

“But I’ve told you enough for now about my problems. What happened to you out on the street. Who was that guy that pushed you out of his truck?”

“That would be Tony. He’s a real piece of work, man. He pushed me out of his truck after I told him that I wouldn’t have sex with him. Tony just figured that I owed it to him. He called it ‘taking it out in trade’. He said it was only fair because he let me sleep on his couch for a few nights.”

“Why did he drop you off in front of my house?” Harold asked.

“For no particular reason. Tony and I had been having a wicked fight for about fifteen minutes before he drove the truck down your street. Tony told me that I was giving him a migraine headache when he pushed me out on the road. We were just driving around in circles. I really don’t have any place to go anyway,” Whisper explained. ken-2018

Episode 26 Herby Schultz by Ken David Stewart

Episode 26 Herby Schult

Herby Schultz lived in a bachelor’s apartment in the Fort Rouge area of Winnipeg. For the last two years, Herby had been in and out of homeless shelters in the Main Street area of Winnipeg. As he sipped from his first cup of no-name brand coffee, Herby started to reflect on his life. At thirty-three years of age his life could be seen as a long strange trip, a lyric from a Grateful Dead song called Truckin. Herby had never known what a stable home life was like. He has been adopted by his foster parents when he was very young. Herby lived with them for four years until his foster parents split up. From there, it was on to a series of residential group homes that took in young people.

Herby performed poorly at school because he had ADHD. At that time his teachers did not know about this disorder and just saw him as a student who couldn’t sit still, was easily distracted and was rarely able to complete any of his assignments. Herby quit attending school when he was sixteen. He was a high school dropout.

After he left school Herby needed to find employment. There would be the odd factory job that he could hold down for one or two months, but there were always problems. Although he tried hard, Herby had difficulty with the tasks required on his job and his coworkers often felt uncomfortable working with him. They complained to their supervisor about the issues they were having with Herby. It wouldn’t be long before the supervisor had to inform Herby that he was being terminated. Some employers were gentle when they had to inform the employee that he would have to be let go, others not so much. Herby always experienced job termination as an extremely painful and humiliating event in his life.

The main issue that Herby’s former coworkers mentioned was that Herby would often look like he was in a trance when a co-worker approached him. Some workers stated that when Herby would be at his work station he would be heard talking to himself. It wasn’t any wonder that his coworkers thought he was strange and that some were even afraid of him.

One night when Herby was overheard yelling and screaming in his apartment. His next-door neighbour called 911. When the police and paramedics arrived, they found that Herbie was experiencing a psychotic break. He did not respond when a police constable knocked on the door of his apartment. As Herby had not locked his door, the police officer just needed to turn the doorknob to gain entry.

When Herby finally acknowledged the presence of visitors in his room, he ran to his kitchen drawer and grabbed a large cooking knife with a black candle. As soon as Herbie lifted the knife to shoulder level height, a young constable sprayed Herby in the eyes with mace. As Herby was temporarily blinded, two police constables forced Herby to drop the knife and then put the handcuffs on. Herbie was placed in an ambulance and was transported to the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. The police and the paramedics have encountered this type of incident many times before and knew that the young man that they had just arrested was either in a psychosis caused by ingesting illegal street drugs or had experienced a psychotic break as a symptom of his schizophrenia.

 

When they arrived at the ER, and intern treated Herby with an injection of Haldol and strapped him into a hospital bed. Herby spent two days in the hospital. A psychiatrist diagnosed his patient as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He was sent home with a note providing him with the address and phone number of a psychiatrist and was advised to get in touch with the doctor as soon as possible. He was also given a prescription for Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication.

When Herby arrived at his apartment, the building supervisor called him into his office. “You caused quite a disturbance last week, Mr. Schultz. The police and paramedics were called you were driven away in an ambulance,” the supervisor a balding man in his fifties,” said.

“I’m very sorry sir. I have a grand mal epileptic seizure,” Herby lied.

“Are you presently seeing a doctor about your condition?” the apartment supervisor asked.

“Yes,” Herby replied shuffling around in his seat. My grand mal seizures occur very infrequently. The last time I had a seizure was about three years ago.

“Well, Mr. Schultz, you’ve been a good tenant over the last two years. You pay your rent on time and this is the only incident that occurred while you’ve been staying here. Furthermore, I can sympathize with your medical condition as I have a brother-in-law who has epilepsy. Are you feeling better now?” asked the kindly supervisor.

“Yes, I am sir. I’m very sorry for any trouble I may have caused you,” Herby said.

“I’ll tell you what Herby. Normally, I would be forced to evict a resident after an incident like you had last week, but I’ll tell you what. You strike me as a well behaved, polite, young man so I’m going to allow you to stay here,” the supervisor said.

“Thank you for showing me such compassion sir. I greatly appreciate it.” Herby Schultz sighed with relief, as he took the next flight of stairs back to his a[audio

 

 

 

Street Dreams eps. 12 to 14 by Ken David Stewart

Episode 12:

“No wonder you’re scared. I can drive you to the Employment and Assistance office any time you are ready to go,” Harold offered.

“That’s awesome Harold. I’m ready to go right now if that’s possible,” Whisper said.

“Let’s get going then.”

Harold owned a burgundy colored 2006 Ford Taurus. He had a lot of problems with his car a few months after he bought it. The most expensive repair bill occurred when the transmission on the Ford Taurus crapped out. The total bill for having a rebuilt transmission came to close to three thousand dollars.

Fortunately, Harold’s stepson, Richard had a friend who was a licenced auto technician who did auto repairs in his spare time when he wasn’t working for Seabrook Auto Clinic. Richard’s friend was able to charge his customers very reasonable rates as he did his part time work under the table so that he didn’t have to pay taxes.

Whisper needed to go to the closest EIA office as she needed to inform social assistance that she now had a permanent residence. She also needed to fill out the rent information so that welfare would pay her monthly rent directly to Harold.

It was a chilly twenty-one degrees Celsius as Harold and Whisper walked to his car. Whisper shivered from the cold because someone had stolen her winter coat.

“After you take care of business at the social assistance agency I’m going to take you to Hangers to buy you a new parka,” Harold said.

“You don’t need to do that Harold. I don’t want you to spend your own money on me,” Whisper said, still shivering from the cold.

“Don’t worry. I can afford it and you can rest assured that there are no strings attached,” Harold responded.

Episode 13:

When Harold and Whisper arrived at the EIA building Harold opened the front door of the entrance. Both Harold and Whisper were almost overwhelmed by the strong odour of poverty and homelessness. Whisper waited in line for the welfare intake worker for about twenty minutes before the worker typed in Whisper’s personal information. After this task was completed the worker asked Whisper to find a seat in the crowded, foul smelling waiting area.

Harold and Whisper found two empty folding chairs. Harold was seated next to an elderly man who reeked of body odour and was having an animated discussion with himself. “Probably schizophrenia,” Harold thought. He had a cousin who suffered from schizophrenia and Harold was very cognizant of the manifestations of this devastating illness. Auditory and visual hallucinations were common symptoms of this chronic and persistent mental illness. To Whisper’s left was a wall with four pay phones. A dishevelled and agitated young man who appeared to be in his early twenties was growing increasingly frustrated as he was trying to call a phone number that he had misread. He started to loudly utter obscenities until a burly security guard intervened and asked the man if he required assistance with dialing the phone number.

There were at least twenty people in the reception area. They were all people that our society would not or could not accommodate. Most successful and prosperous people would never encounter them and would only know about them on an intellectual level, probably by hearing about the poor and needy people by way of the media.

Only the truly marginalized would end up in a welfare office. Nobody could really understand this mass of unfortunates except the unfortunates themselves. Some of the most dedicated social agency workers would do some research and attempt to educate themselves about the plight of their clients. However, very few of them had personal experience with poverty, chronic disability and illness, addiction issues and homelessness.

People with some or all, of there issues helped create a billion- dollar industry. The irony was that the most marginalized persons in society were responsible for creating and maintaining full time profitable employment for a substantial number of professional workers. Those in administrative positions made the big money. The front- line workers didn’t make a living wage unless they had a strong union. The needy people in the province were responsible for generating significant employment but the tax payer picked up the bill.20191006_171327