Monday, October 27, 2008

Johnny was a man

Johnny was a man. A gargantuan black man who lived behind a convenient store in Padre (homeless). He'd done some time back in Alabama, and headed to the island for a chance to have it all washed away. He spent the days waiting tables at a place called Mango's. Mango's was on the verge of being a local hot-spot, but failed to acquire a liquor licence, which doesn't boad well for a spring break destination. Johnny's solution was to give the liquor away for free. . . A coworker offered him a place to stay. That coworker was my neighbor.

At night, we'd sit on the screen patio, which overlooked a beautiful sail-boat marina and drink red wine in the hot-humid air. We'd watch the sun go down over the empty sail-boats with backgrounds of pink clouds and orange glass water, which reflected the sunset.

Johnny would smoke a joint and tell me what to do if I ever went to prison (sit in a quiet...make them think I'm crazy). He didn't like authority, but he wasn't an angry man. He got excited when we bought him Christmas lights to decorate his room.

When my neighbors (who were married) had their religious parents come into town, Johnny took off. The weekend with the parents came and went, but Johnny was gone. 48 hours passed, but still...nothing.

On the third day, I saw Johnny strutting down Padre Blvd. (the main strip). I was cruisin in the LTD, with the windows down (tryin' to pick up chicks....but all I picked up was a coked out Johnny). He'd been doing cocaine all weekend, and this proved to be his undoing.

At night, we'd sit on the porch in our routine and drink our Cabernet. But Johnny stopped hanging out. He became a reclouse. My neighbors found crack in his sock draw and immediately packed his things.

The car was filled with Johnny's clothes and Christmas lights. When she got to the crack-house, Johnny wasn't there. He was on The Wave (a free public transporation vehicle with a drop right next to the house, by the marina, with the screen porch). But the locks were changed. So Jonny hopped the fence. The doors wouldn't open, so Johnny pulled out a window. He then sat on the front porch and waited for the Evictors to get home.

"I guess I'm kicked out eh?" he said.

She gave him a ride back to the crackhouse. We never heard from him again.
2 days after I said goodbye to the island for good, I received a phone call from my neighbors. The police (it could have been the FBI--but I can't say for sure) contacted the owners of the house. Johnny skipped out on his parole back in 'Bama. He was a convicted felon on the run. . .and he couldn't catch a break...but he loved Christmas lights.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The day of Oct. 23, 2008

In the course of the past year and a half, I've taught in the inner-city of the Bronx. Many stories will come from this experience (some as memories, some in real time). This is a "real time" story, as it just happened yesterday.

8:00am--Walked in. Broke up two fights in 5 minutes.

9:15am--walked by the principals office and there sits a boy whom I marked absent. . .I didn't say anything, I just changed his status on the attendance sheet.

9:16am--I turned the corner and a group of teachers are laughing and said the following: "Yo, yo!!!! Mista Noel......your student (the one I just saw in the office) SLAPPED THE SHIT out of an eight grada!" I walked away strangely proud of my 6th grade tough guy.

9:45--Waquira walks in...(she normally arrives about this time--in full splendor showing off clothes that are two sizes to small, and weaves that about two-million hairdos too old. She sits down and tells me to Fuck off.

10:00--The students are all engaged in the lesson. Waquira, "I gotta fart".....nobody pays attention. She farts. The students run away. I spend the next 10 minutes herding children back to their seats.

11:59--Students come back from lunch and tell me another fight broke out.

12:45--it's time for Gym, but I dont' let them go, because they've been shit-heads all week. Instead they sit quietly for 15 minutes. If one person says one word, the time starts over.

12:48--15 minutes starts again.

12:50--Oh, Andrea just told Ezekial the wants to start the 15 minutes again. (15 minutes starts again.

12:55--Waquira shouts out, "I gotta fart!" again...and farts again....

1:05--Waquira throws a book out the window and hits a car. The police come and escort her out. Waquira's mom calls me and asks me why Waquira's throwing books out the window...then she calls the principal and calls me a liar.

3:00--the day is over. Instead of sitting down to be called for line-up, students run around the room and play grab-ass.

Note: Waquira is supposedly transferring schools...again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

At Night we Prayed

When I was a younger man, I took off to the sea of Mexico, residing in a studio apartment on South Padre's sister town of Port Isabel, TX.

At night the breeze would blow salty air through the screen door as I laid in bed. I didn't have a couch, but I had a love seat. One night, a drifter walked past and knocked on my door. In such a small town, nobody's really a stranger, and I'd seen this guy around. He was about 25 and I, 20.

We had a mutual friend and BBQ'd together once. So it wasn't a total stranger.

When he asked me why I was letting him sleep on the floor, I told him that I too was homeless (just 3 weeks before). There was a connection through the Catholic church in a small community just 20 minutes away called, Los Fresnos TX.

When he heard this, he asked if it would be okay if he prayed. I said yes...though I didn't expect him to drop to his knees and pray out loud.

"God...Chris has been given so much. And Bless him in his way. And let him remember that, to those that much is given, much is demanded. I'm sorry for doing cocaine."