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Unconditional love found on the cold streets

I’m continuing several stories on my husband George through this holiday season. These may be shocking words, but his story of being lost is a stark reminder that goodness can be found in the most unlikely of people and places.

Click, Clack! My eyes shot open blearily in my cold bed underneath the table. Purple high heels swung back and forth, hitting the edge of the table with a force.

“Hey papi, no quiere ir conmigo (Do you want to come with me)?” I heard a voice call out to a man walking by. The clicking continued until finally I crawled partially out from underneath the table, hit those purple shoes as hard as I could and in stern voice said, “Get off my table!”

I saw the purple shoes jump off so quickly that I thought she would fall. She peered under and looked at me carefully, dark eyes taking me in. “Baby, what are you doing under there? Come out and let me see you.”

I slowly slid off my blanket of newspapers and crawled out into view. “Pobrecito, why are you sleeping under there? Are you hungry?” she said as my stomach howled in protest.

“Come with me,” she said soothingly with no room for argument. She held my hand as we walked toward the corner of the street to a taco stand with a lone light hanging above it, the only stand open this late at night. There were a few men eating tacos and drinking beer, and they looked at us as we boldly walked up to order. “You want tacos? I’ll get you tacos. Give us a whole plate, please.”

The men looked at us, and low and slow catcalls issued from their tongues, greasy with the taste of tacos. “What are you doing with that kid?” they asked.

“Mind your own business,” she spat as she put her arm around me.

I shuddered at her touch because no one had touched me in weeks or had caressed my face with loving hands. I was slowly dying inside from loss of human contact. Tears sprang to my eyes as the tacos were handed over, and she led me to the sidewalk where we sat on the curb. I gobbled down the tacos and a soda that she had bought as well while tears formed in the corners of my eyes.

“Honey, why are you alone here at night?” she asked as I looked down at my plate and didn’t know what to say.

I was afraid to tell her, afraid she would turn me in. But as I looked at her face, blue eye shadow on her lids while black kohl eyeliner heavily outlined her almond-shaped eyes, I could see past the façade and saw that she might really care. Maybe she could help me. Trust didn’t come easily, and I was wary.

She smiled as she saw my confusion over what to say and said, “No worries, mijo, let’s go back to my place and you can stay with me for a few nights. Come on.”

We returned the plate and glass bottle to the vendor and continued down the street until we came to a narrow street lined with small doors. Behind each door was a room that held a bed, table and chair, and a small stove. She told me I could lay down here until she needed the room and then stepped out the door and went back to work. I fell deeply asleep, not having slept in a bed for what seemed like a long time, and was soon awakened by her coming into the room with a man. She smiled at me and told me to sit outside on the steps. I sleepily sat on the stoop with my head in my hands.

A half an hour later she popped her head out and told me to come back inside, but I was shy and looked at her with enough curiosity to make her laugh and grin. “It’s OK. This is my job,” she said, kind wrinkles extending from the corners of her black eye-liner-heavy eyes. “Let’s go to sleep. I’m done for the night.”

She laid down and motioned for me to come to bed. I laid down beside her, thoughts of what I had seen and heard on my mind, but then she put her arm around me. Soft snores came out of her mouth, and I snuggled in just a bit further, feeling the warmth of a human body beside me for the first time in days, weeks and months since I’d been lost. I didn’t know what a prostitute was. I just knew that she had shown me care. I thought of my mom and cried myself to sleep.

Published: December 22, 2016
New Article ID: 2016712229977