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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The fifth day of Christmas: unanswered questions


12/29
I’m getting the church ready for Sunday. By myself. Martin comes in to talk, we’re both still anxiously awaiting a decision. In the meantime, strange things are happening. There appear to be clothing or something on a window ledge, but not one with an open window. High up. A neighbor across the street complaining about clothing or garbage strewn on the scaffolding. As we look outside, large flake snow is falling.  We go up to the nurse’s room, now the storage room for Sandy relief, and the door appears to have been jimmied. Can’t tell if any Sandy relief items have gone missing. What is going on? (Damn, Teddy...sorry, this is going to go on for awhile....) 
Teddy’s candle continues to burn.
I finish the Sunday service. Go down to the Bangladeshi copy shop to get the bulletins copied.Another customer enters. The proprietor says, The man who was pushed in front of the 7 train, he was my friend....
The customer says, the Korean guy?
The proprietor shakes his head. 
No, another one, I say. Second one this month. Yesterday. (Sunando Sen http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/nyregion/woman-is-held-in-death-of-man-pushed-onto-subway-tracks-in-queens.html ) 
He was my friend. I started a second shop, up town. I am Muslim, he was Hindu from India. We talked religion. He was a good man...he was my friend....
I pay my bill, look at him and say, I’m very sorry for your loss. The proprietor nods. 
I finish preparing the church. Put the bulletins out. Take a look out the front door and see an arcing stream heading from the steps to the street. I yell what are you doing? Then turn to my right and see the Mexican man and I lose it, just lose it. 
QUE HACES?! QUE?! PRIMERO, NO ES PERMISO ESTAR EN LAS ESCALERAS DE LA IGLESIA DURIENTE EL DIA. SE LO CONOCE. MAS IMPORTANTE, NUNCA ES PERMISO A URINAR EN LAS ESCALERAS DE LA IGLESIA. NUNCA!
The Mexican man looks up at me.
QUE PIENSE?! ESTE ES UNA IGLESIA, LA CASA DE DIOS! QUE SE PIENSE?!!!
The man looks up, No mas, no mas, he says, like Duran in the second Leonard fight. 
SI MAS. SE NECESITA IRSE. IMMEDIAMENTE. BETE. AHORITA!
He looks up at me, shaken. Starts gathering his things. OK, me voy, ahorita....me voy....
And I feel shaken. Martin comes out to see what the commotion is. 
I just came off on a guy in perfect Spanish, I say. And tell him the story. 
Martin wants to know how churches deal with people on the steps. I tell him that some like SPSA have simply posted No trespassing signs. They decided to do that after someone started a fire on their steps. BJ has too. I’ve resisted. If you check out the Baptist church up the street, Holy Name on 96th, there are folks there every night. Besides, we try and create relationships. And have had successes. Saved lives. Look, Martin, I came off on the guy. Stress. Tension.The waiting. Teddy. The guy in the subway. (I tell him about Sunando Sen.) But I can’t have guys pissing on the church. 
Martin echoes my thoughts. Dammit, Teddy. Bob, what are we gonna do?
And I shake my head. Breathe. Exhale. This snow, too, has changed to rain. Washing the steps. 

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