Category: social assistance

Episode 40 of Street Dreams Novel/Jukebox

Episode 40
Ricky had been living with his stepdad and Whisper for about three weeks now. During this time, the three of them had been getting along well. Harold was overjoyed that Ricky was now living with him. Harold had never felt comfortable living by himself, but now he had both his son and Whisper around to mitigate his loneliness.
Last week Whisper had a You Tube app open on Harold’s Amazon fire stick. She went to the YouTube search engine and typed in Guns N Roses. She found her favourite Guns N Roses song, Sweet Child of Mine and started to play the track. Harold was sitting in his prized, white Lazy Boy chair. He was reading the novel, Cujo by Stephen King. Ricky was sitting on the couch across from his dad. He, too was reading his own paperback copy of the same book about the rabid St. Bernard. A cute little puppy was sitting contentedly on the floor at Ricky’s feet. Ricky had named the dog Buster and about a week ago asked his dad if he could keep the puppy. Buster had been sitting on the back steps of Harold’s house. The little pug was trembling in the cold and was whimpering with anxiety. Ricky had just returned from Pals, the corner convenience store when he saw Buster. In spite of the fact that Ricky had problems with his behavior, he had not lost part of his childhood innocence. Deep down, he was still a sweet kid who loved animals and little children. When Harold and Clarissa were still together, they took in an old stray tomcat that they named Beater. Ricky had loved the big old tomcat who was now staying with his mother, Clarissa. Unfortunately, Ricky had a very strained relationship with his mother and rarely visited her so he didn’t get to see Beater too much now.
Buster, like most puppies, was very lovable and had already grown very attached to Ricky. The dog liked Harold too, but appeared to have established a stronger bond with Ricky. This was likely because Ricky would take him for walks on a daily basis and would also play fetch in the backyard with Buster. Buster was a very cuddly and affectionate puppy would often come to sit in Ricky’s lap and beg to be cuddled. Ricky would often think the dog’s life was much easier and happier than the existence of their human owners. When Ricky petted and stroked Buster he would kind of be in effect be enveloped by a beautiful trancelike state where parents didn’t get divorced and no one had to go to jail.
Ricky turned towards Whisper and asked, “Do you want to play a game?”
“What game?” Whisper asked.
“It’s a game I just invented. I think I’m going to call it Jukebox.
“Howdo you play it?” Whisper asked.
“I’m making up the rules as we go along. You actually gave me the idea for the game, Whisper,” Ricky answered.
“Gee. Could I play too? Do you think I’m too old for this game, Harold asked with a grin on his face.”
“No, of course you can play, Dad. Actually the rules are very simple. One player uses the search engine on YouTube to find either the name of a song or the name of a band. Meanwhile the two other players go to the kitchen and listen to the song that has been selected. The first player to yell out both the name of the song and the name of the artist who performed it wins and is awarded either one or two points. You score one point for the name of the song and one point for the name of the performer. If the player is right on both counts they are awarded two points If you only get one of the answers right the player gets one point. Time is up at the end of the song and no points are scored,” Ricky explained.
“Hey, Ricky, this game sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Harold, I thought I saw a whiteboard in your office downstairs. Can I bring it up to the living room? We could use it to keep score.”
Harold sat up in his lazy boy chair. “Do you mean the whiteboard I used to use when I was active in Amway. I would take the whiteboard with me when we were showing the plan to prospects. Yeah, I believe there is still a pack of erasable coloured markers in my old desk to the left of the whiteboard. If I remember correctly, there is also a whiteboard eraser and cleaning spray in that old desk too. Why don’t you both you guys go downstairs and bring the game equipment up to the living room. In the meantime, I’m going to put a bag of popcorn in the microwave.We’re going to have ourselves a little party this evening,” Harold said.
When Ricky and Whisper brought the whiteboard and the supplies upstairs and got themselves comfortably seated once again, Harold asked another question.
“Can I add a new rule to the Jukebox game?”
“What’s the new rule?” Whisper asked. The sweet aroma of popping kernels was now drifting into the living room.
It’s more like an amendment or a rider placed on the original rules. Here it is. The song that is selected can only be chosen if it falls between the decades of 1950 up to the decade of 2000. You guys probably know a lot of the old songs, but I stopped listening to contemporary music when the Seattle grunge pop era ended sometime during the nineties,” Harold explained
“I think that Whisper and I can agree to that stipulation,” Ricky answered.” She and I discussed our tastes in music one day last week when you were out running errands. The funny thing is that neither of us likes the current music scene either and we both like old-time rock ‘n’ roll music from the 50’s, 60s,70s. 80s and the 90s. We even like several of the same bands such as Led Zeppelin. the Beatles, Motorhead and Bob Dylan. The list goes on and on.”
“Thank you guys. It sounds like we may have a very interesting and competitive game of Jukebox starting shortly. The microwave popcorn should be ready in under a minute,” Harold said.
Both Ricky and Whisper hadn’t seen Harold look so happy in a long time They gave each other the knowing nod.motorhead band picture 2

Episode 32 of Street Dreams

Episode 32 the House from Hell

Constables Bill Noble and Melissa Parks slowly made their way through the house. If Melissa thought that the front yard was disgusting, she would need to add an extra plus sign to the interior of the house. One wall was decorated with expletives added via different coloured Sharpie pens. Near the centre of the wall was an old tattered poster of the late Jim Morrison of the Doors. The dirty carpet on the floor was further ravished by black and brown marks where cigarette butts had been ground into the carpet.

“Watch where you step,” Constable Bill warned as he turned to look at Melissa.

“Believe me, I am. I’d hate to guess how many used hypodermics are on the floor right now. Some of their chambers are half filled with blood,” Melissa said.

Bill walked over to an old wooden coffee table which people taken the liberty of carving their names to go along with some obscene expressions and drawings.

“The occupants must be of the artistic persuasion,” Bill cracked.

Melissa laughed, “they just might be. Take a look near the end of the corner of the coffee table. There are oversized books with prints of the paintings of Salvador Dali and Picasso.

“Yeah, look at the multi-coloured paint splattered on the opposite wall. There must’ve been a Jackson Pollock wannabe at the party,” Bill commented.

“I didn’t know that you knew about art,” Melissa said

“Oh, there are still many things that you don’t know about me,” Bill replied

“Hey Bill I found something. Bloody footprints leading all the way to the kitchen,” Melissa said.

As the two police officers arrived in the kitchen, their senses were once again assaulted.

“Holy crow! These people live like pigs. I take that back. I’m insulting all the poor farm animals of the world,” Bill said.

The porcelain container in the kitchen was quite the sight. Several boxes of partially eaten pizza as well as a variety of different flavors of potato chips in cracked plastic bowls. The counter was also littered with half empty hard liquor bottles. The most popular drinks beside Budweiser beer, were Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Southern Comfort. Both Melissa and Bill were wearing their protective medical gloves in order to prevent fingerprint contamination. Bill reached for a large bottle of Jack Daniels and was startled by the sight of an ugly cockroach darting in the other direction.

Melissa’s witnessed the cockroach and had to stifle the urge to vomit for a second time this evening. The officers noticed that the splatters of blood went past the kitchen and into the nearest hallway. To their surprise, they found a wall that was not covered by graffiti and posters of dead rock stars.

“Look Melissa, bloodstains on the wall,” Bill said.

Dried blood splatter was visible about six feet up the wall. Streams of blood had run from the site’s top right to the bottom of the great carpet. The blood streaks ran down both the left and the right side leaving an impression on the wall that resembled a body. There was plenty of blood on the carpet, but there wasn’t a body to go with it.

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Episode 30 of Street Dreams, the Fight, by Ken David Stewart

Episode 30 of Street Dreams, the Fight by Ken David Stewart

As Tony and Whisper started walking away from the young male and female on the couch, they could hear the young woman screaming at the man, “Hey, get your dirty hands off of me, dude. I came here to have some fun and not to get picked up by a stinking pig like you!”

The disheveled young man gave the girl a vicious slap across her face. “Don’t you ever talk to me like that, bitch. I thought you said you wanted some fun. Well, I was about to show you a good time, but you screwed it up. Get away from me, you ugly skank.”

The scraggly young teenage girl got off the couch in an awkward manner. She walked right up to Tony and Whisper with a bit of a stagger as she tried to get her balance.

“Hey, you guys, I’m Pixie. What are your names?”

“I’m Tony and this is Whisper,” Tony answered.

“Look, I know you guys don’t know me, but can I ask you a big favour?” Pixie asked.

“That all depends on what the favour is,” Tony replied.

“Here’s the deal. I hate this party and I want to get away from all these scummy guys trying to hit on me. “Do you have a car, Tony?” Pixie asked.

“I have a truck,” Tony answered.

“Great. Is there any chance that you can give me a ride home? I have some cash on me and half a bag of weed for you guys in exchange for the ride.” Pixie said.

“Yeah, we can do that,” Tony said. “Where do you live?”

“In an apartment block in Fort Rouge,” Pixie answered, “I live with my boyfriend, Ricky.”

With a bit of a struggle the lecherous young man on the couch got to his feet and put himself straight in Tony’s face. “What you think you’re doing, man? That little whore is mine for this evening.” He slurred his words as he tried to convey this message.

Tony didn’t waste a word on the creep who was confronting him. Tony Barrows grabbed the slimy dude by his shirt collar and pushed him into the nearest wall. Tony used so much force that the plaster on the wall started to crack. Tony proceeded to slam the young man’s head against the wall at least five times. He didn’t stop until he started to see blood splatter all over the wall and saliva starting to drool from his victim’s mouth. Tony watched as this dude’s eyeballs rolled back in his head and his body slumped to the floor. After the guy hit the floor, he appeared to be unconscious and a large pool of blood was now flowing beneath his head.

“Nobody talks to me like that,” Tony said. He didn’t appear to have any emotion in his voice.

Whisper could see people at the party calling 911 on their cell phones. Whisper grabbed Tony’s arm and said, “Let’s get out of here now before the cops arrive. We’ll take Pixie with us.” All three made a quick dash for Tony’s Ford 150.

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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