Felix Najera, 49, found himself in a bad predicament. He was a homeless alcoholic man who routinely begged for cigarettes and slept in a cardboard box in front of an East Harlem church. The parish fed Najera, who associated the front of the church with home. On October 5th, Israel Torres, 29, set the cardboard box where Najera slept on fire. With 40 percent of his body burned Najera struggled with his injuries. On October 9th, Najera lost his fight to live. Torres is charged with assault and attempted murder. His charges have not been upgraded to murder since Najera’s death.
Mr. Telephone Man
Saturday night BD, the Minnie and I hit the theater to see the Dzul Dance Company in a beautiful performance that was a combination of Alvin Ailey meets Cirque du Soleil. The story was a tale of love, infidelity, death and a return to love. The Minnie and I sat glued to the actors and our second row center seats offered a reach-out-and-touch view. He and I whispered that we were going to leap on to the stage and take over the performance, but were asked by BD to pipe it down…but hey, we’re actors and we won’t allow the establishment to keep us down. Afterward, we joked and laughed through the streets before grabbing a late-night bite. When we returned to the car we strapped the Minnie into the backseat and he quickly fell asleep as we drove home. BD held my hand and he mouthed, “I love you,” when I looked in the rearview mirror and announced, “The baby’s asleep.” As they were getting out of the car, the Minnie gave me a tight hug and I performed my, “PLEASE DON’T GO…YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME!!” while hugging him tightly. He laughed uncontrollably and looked back after BD closed the car door. I winked and he winked back. Yesterday, as I was preparing to have BD for lunch… I mean, over for lunch…my telephone rang. Seeing BD’s number on the caller ID, I simply answered and said, “Yeah Pa, are you on your way?” I heard a giggle and then a familiar voice said, “Hey, are you going to come over?” Thinking BD was with him, I dramatically asked, “Who is this?” He laughed again and coyly asked, “Who do you think it is?” I said, “A smart kid who refused to take the stage last night.” He jumped right into character and yelled, “I told you, I’m not performing and I quit!” I sighed and said, “Well then I’m suing you for all your PS2 games for breaking our contract.” He laughed and said, “I’ll see you in court.” Our little charade over, he went right back to his initial question, “Are you going to come over and hang out?” I said, “I don’t know. We’re going to need to ask Daddy.” “He’s going to want me to go to bed early for school tomorrow so you have to talk to him,” he interjected. “Where is daddy?” I asked. He quickly said, “He’s at the store buying groceries.” I smiled and said, “Well, when he comes back tell him to call me and I’ll talk to him.” He said, “Great. Hope to see you.” As I hung up the phone I realized that the Minnie had found my number on his own and actually called me to invite me over. It gave me such a warm feeling. I filled the tub and took a hot bath, waiting for BD to arrive. As he came in and we sat on my bed – uh…talking – I mentioned the Minnie’s call. He was about to apologize and I said, “No, it was so cute….” He said, “I was so surprised that he looked for your number and called you. I didn’t spank him because he was so excited to talk to you.” I realized that my friendship with the Minnie is growing. I really enjoy him and it makes my relationship with BD a full family experience; one that I’ve never experienced before. We made love for a couple of hours and laid staring at each other in the dim light. BD ran his finger over my lips and said, “Thank you for making us so happy.” I hugged him and simply said, “Well, I feel like the big winner here. I get a baby without the stretch marks.” We hugged tight and drifted into a soft afternoon haze.
Studies have shown that many Americans – even those that seem wealthy – are just one paycheck from homelessness. How do you honestly view the homeless men and women you pass everyday? Do you believe they are homeless because they choose to be?
Keep passin’ the open windows…
Monday, October 15, 2007
Morning Edition - 10/15/07