He remembered it like yesterday, he was just a small boy tugging on his mother’s coat. She looks down and says, “Son not now. I am busy.” He felt more cold and alone than he ever He He remembered it like yesterday, he was just a small had. It was Hanukkah. He was tired. His mother was just getting off of her job at the local hospital. She was a nurse. He was standing in front of his house, watching his father put his clothes in the car, as his mother was crying and begging him not to go.
Sometimes he wished that he could be anything but a Jew. The chosen people is what his mother told him they were. But, he had never felt chosen. He felt chosen to be neglected by his mother, lectured at by his Aunt, and left by his father who ran off to marry another woman.
The three of them had escaped the holocaust, only to come to America to be treated like dogs. Everyone thought the Archie Bunker show was so wonderful. Perhaps it was, as long as you were not a Jew. But, as Craig sat homeless again underneath the underpass, he thought one thing was for sure the show was a good representation of what others thought of Jews, at the time he was growing up.
Sure all that hippie love was wonderful for most, but let those precious daughters marry a Jew and see what happens. Just the offer had gotten his past wifes father so angry, he had offered to pay her three times the amount of the engagement ring he had bought her, if she would just not marry the Jew. Of course, the catholic’Hes thought she could hail Mary her way out of most things, but, obviously marrying a Jew was not one of them.
It was cold tonight, just as it had been all those years ago. The night he had stood in the driveway watching his father pull away as his mother begged him not to go. Ironically, that night was the seasons first snow too. They had survived the holocaust to come to America and get divorced. What a show-stopper for the good Jew category that had been.
The rain was dripping down on him, but it was turning to snow. Demons always love the first snow. Damn, the demon was back, “Go away, I tell you.” He sat there worrying about his daughter as the demon stared him down. Then he looked the demon straight in the eye and said, ”No, you may not have her. I have hidden my daughter. I am just waiting for the Indian Princess to come. We are going to cruise over to Israel. We are going to a place where the Jews are loved.”
There was a man sitting about ten feet away from him. He was not very happy with the noise. All of sudden Craig heard, hey shut up you stupid Jew.” Craig mumbled, ”Ok. ” The last time he had said anything to the man, the man had punched him so hard, he still had a bruise from it. The snow was really coming down now. Craig could feel his feet and legs growing numb. Craig knew he was not well. Sure being homeless was grand for all the normal people. But, the shelters had rules. You know like no possessed people allowed.
Of course, no one believed a single word he said. But, the demons, they followed him everywhere. Then he thought to himself out loud, “Mayhap, I will just lay down here and rest for a moment. Then tomorrow, I will call my daughter and tell her how much I have always loved her.” The other man yelled at him for, the last time, before he laid down to rest for awhile.
Rodney had seen the man talking to thin air here before, but, he had never seen him, so quiet for this long. Last night, he had been talking the same old crazy talk. He had been talking about demons and princesses. You would think that he was a child or something.
He walked over and kicked him a small bit. He did not move. Rodney had seen dead men before. This man was dead. There was no life in him anymore. Perhaps that was for the best, he was so sick. But, he had listened enough to hear him talk about a daughter. He started off walking to the police station.
Rodney walked into the front door of the police station. He told the desk clerk. The clerk called dispatch, she said, ”Yeah, seems we have another dead homeless man. It’s just that time of year.”
When the ambulance driver arrived on the scene, he could tell the man was dead. He called it in, ”Yes, the man is dead. Looks like he is a Jew. He has the star of David on his neck. We’ll take him down to the morgue. Hopefully someone will know who he is.”
Rodney watched the ambulance drive away. Shivers went up his back. He would like to imagine he did not know what had spooked him, so much but the truth was he could just as well be the next body bag that went to the morgue. Damn, but Rodney was so hooked crack and alcohol he would down scope to keep from going trough withdrawal. He would most likely sell his soul and any of his children’s when the witching hour came simultaneously with the cold ass wet first snow.
Society wanted the legitimate ones that could work. The whole ones. When it came to those people that had true problems there was no place for them to go. Their families would not take them because they feared them. The police station would only take them if they stole something. And this is the cause of many a petty theft during the winter months. Rodney, realized his number, even if he was only twenty-three years old was coming soon and he did not know what was stronger the pull of the demons or life itself? There was the rub.
The hardest part of it all and the easiest way to know when they’ve got your number up as when you can look a demon in the eye, then take their ill meant gifts rather than to take the other hand that will help you to a normal life. Before Rodney lay down for just a little while he promised himself, then he thought to himself, “Mayhap someday those normal people will figure out that church singing just scares the crap out of some of us.” As he was drifting off to sleep, he was having a nightmare of some dogooder attempting to get him inside of some church down of the avenue, right beside his favorite dive, where they handed out free bibles. He shivered once more, closed his eyes, and knew in his heart that he was as ready as ever to meet his maker. Perhaps his maker would be smarter than some of these doctors, teachers, and psychologists he would have had to deal with in this life if he lived.
Dedicated to Craig Hickle and all the other homeless that die of exposure to the cold. Craig Hickle died last year on his daughter’s birthday, on the first snow. It had been the first and longest day of the winter. You might have been a Paranoid –Schizophrenic homeless Dad, but, you will always be remembered.