Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Fictional Short Story Written by Angeline M Duran Santiago


For days, the feeling in my heart pushed me to follow it and just go and sit there, inside the Dunkin Donut shop on Broadway Avenue's corner and wait. Oh, and it had to be on a Thursday. My dream kept showing up with a receipt that always fell on a Thursday.

Well, today would be the day, or maybe not. Here I sat once more, the third week in a row, just sitting here for a while and then making the move to buy, you got it, a cup of coffee. Decaf with cream and one sugar. Funny thing was, I'd finish it, although I sipped its warmth slowly, because I was in expectation of something, you know, but nothing happened. So, once more, my third week, just waiting and nothing out of this world had happened. 

I grabbed the empty cup and napkins to throw them in the garbage. To my left, a handsome, Hispanic young man, no more than thirty years old had somehow silently made his way to sit besides me. He had been silent. His skin pushed against his bones as they showed more than his flesh and the scars on his arms and legs told the story of multiple times dosing himself, perhaps with heroine. The dark circles under his eyes let me know he was tired, hungry, lonely and maybe even one of the many who walked the streets at night seeking to do what had to be done to make enough money for the next fix, the next dose of dark medicine.

"Mami, comprame un cafe." His deep, almost lifeless eyes peered right into mine and asked me for a cup of coffee. As if on cue, I smiled and said, "Of course, how would you like it?" "You know, mami, regular, cream, and lots of sugar." He smiled and I smiled as something in my heart said, "This is what you have been waiting for on Thursdays. Sit and listen much but be slow to speak." I went to the front to order a coffee for Roberto and prayed that the Lord would guide her and have his way. Roberto. You're right. He hasn't said his name yet. But, I need you to meet him before we keep going.
Roberto didn't want me to tell you where he's from. As you can tell by the way he spoke to me he's Hispanic. I'm not going to signal him out and tell you he's from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic or Spain. All I can tell you is this, he said, "It's not where we come from that matters, but where we end up in life and how we finish it in the end." Ironic to hear him say this when one look at him and I didn't need a PHD to predict his destiny. Yet, here we were, Roberto and I, sitting here. 

I could have walked away, but I knew I had to sit down. That was my destiny. I had been sent here to listen, and listen I would.
Roberto had been brought to Brooklyn, New York at a very young age. His accent was still pretty strong and his dark sun tanned skin made him look like someone that could have been a model. He spoke like someone that had been educated and was filled with so much information.
"Mami, I wasn't always like this, you know. Dirty and all messed up." I can't write the words he used when he spoke to me for he cursed at least once in every sentence, but many times he stopped and said, "Sorry for that. I am just so used to talking like that."

Roberto grew up in a happy family that loved to dance and party. They had pushed him to go to college and he had begun his first year with great hopes. His cousins were older and loved to party like crazy, taking Roberto, an amazing dancer, with them to all the best clubs in the city. 
"I would take her and we would dance all night. Mira muchachita! When that merengue started, oh yeah, I was the king of the dance floor. And poor girl if the DJ mixed it up with salsa or bachata or lo que sea. Mami, I made the music dance around me like I owned it, all night!"
Roberto was lost in a far away place as he relived his moments on the dance floor. Perhaps moments not too long ago. Again, he didn't look more than thirty years old. Yet here he was, lost, forgotten by his family and unwanted. 
"My friends from uptown, they said we were going to a friend's house for some drinks, and man, it was crazy there. People were doing stuff I wasn't used to seeing, except you know, mami, we do that stuff in private, right?"

"But, anyway, then they started taking out the smokes, then the dope and by the end of the night, I didn't know where the hell I was or what I had done. Man, I tell you, they tell me I was locked up in that apartment for four days. You know what that's like? Blown out of my mind and not even know I was gone."

I wanted to ask questions but I remembered the words to listen. "Mami, what about something to eat. Mira, linda, I have two dollars, help me to get a sandwich."
"Ok, here," I gave him three more, "You go get it and I'll stay here waiting for you to come back. I want to here the rest of your story."

This was the beginning of many weeks, spent on Broadway's corner, Roberto and I, as he poured out his heart, his sadness and his moments of glory. I wanted to share God's love with him, but I knew he needed more than an invitation to church. Roberto really needed God to touch and change his heart. He was broken, hurting, and in need of God's love. "How Lord, how do I reach out to someone I can't help the way I wish I could? He's on the street and look at him. Tonight his eyes were all bruised from a beating. Sure, he said it was some guys that didn't want to pay him, but we had spent enough nights here in this table that I now knew he had turned to prostituting himself in order to meet his needs. God, help me! I feel inadequate! Make a way. Please."
Three months had now passed and my get away time with Roberto had not stopped. 

Tonight I had promised to introduce my family. So, it was off for donuts and coffee with my new friend. He didn't speak much except tell me I had a beautiful family. My husband got the hint and they took off for a walk, leaving us alone for the next half hour. 

"Look mami, I know about family. Mine hates me. When they saw how I messed up, they said I belong to el diablo now and to get the hell out of their house. It's true, my grandfather is into all the brujeria crap and my mother she's always praying to the saints. I know about God. What? You think I don't?"

Funny, I hadn't imagined he'd say any of these things. But, here we were and God was opening the door to share about Him.

"God don't want me, mami. He wants you and your family. Look at me! Basura! You gonna tell me God is going to look at me? Do you know what I do to get money to buy my fix? God doesn't love me! He doesn't even stop them from coming after me. Mami, I like talking to you but I know you want to tell me I need God. Sweetie, what I need is a funeral home to give them my information because hell is waiting for me. With HIV positive all over this beautiful body, baby, not even God is going to think twice about letting me in to His heaven."

If you know me, you know I smiled and laughed a bit. He had a way of talking with his accent that made me laugh.
"Roberto, let me tell you something. When God looks at you and me, he sees two things. He sees the amazing and perfect person He carefully created and then He sees the mess, the sin and all the craziness in our lives that separates us from Him. And you know what? Not one moment does He decide to stop loving us, or reaching out to us."

"Maybe with you, sweetie, but not with me. You don't know what I've done and where I've been. I've been to bed with the devil, mami, and I've doped myself to fly away for days, only to come down and sit with the demons themselves as they laugh at me and ask me to dance, "Dance for me, Roberto, Dance!" They say, until I hurt all over and can't any more."

"God is greater than those demons that haunt you and push you to hurt yourself." I shared. "God is greater than Satan himself. But, you are the only one that can use your mouth to say it and tell him to leave you alone. You alone can return to being the wonderful child God created you to be or you can continue to be the person sin and Satan have helped you become."

I saw my family walk by and knew it was time to go away. I reached inside my bag and pulled out an old bible I always carried. Inside I placed my family photo with my phone number on the back. "I'm not here to preach to you, Roberto, I just hope you will read it when you can because deep down I think you know God is calling out to you. He loves you and so do I." My heart ached for him so much. Before walking away I prayed in my heart for Roberto. "Next week, amigo."
"Dios te bendiga mija. Til next week."

Click here to Go to Part Two

Click here to Go to Part Three

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