The Minstrel

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The minstrel, the media decided to call him. Because all he did was sing all day. All of the time. He never seemed to go away. As far as the townspeople were concerned, the minstrel was too good a name for a lowlife who prowled the streets like he was a rabid animal. He became a favorite topic, uniting people who previously had nothing to do with one another. They complained about him while they huddled together awaiting schoolchildren being bused home, while they drank coffee in plastic cups to and from the subway. Their complaints were all universal in tone: why couldn’t he speak English, why didn’t he stay where he belonged, why did the government let these people into the country to begin with. The story of how he harassed the shopkeeper with his antics was a favorite topic as well: the nerve of him trying to get a job, taking work away from Americans who deserved them. Couldn’t he leave them alone? They should call the police on this guy. They paid good taxes to live where they did. Who needed some hobo to come along and harass their community?

The minstrel, even if he knew what was being said about him, would not have been concerned. He had seen the evil of this world. To him, the bickering would rate as dangerous as a child’s music. Besides finding his daughter Raulita, his main concern was where to get some decent work. Restaurants had always worked well for him, as well as construction. They paid him cash for the day, which always worked well for him because he never had to say who he was or where he came from. The questions were always difficult for him, for he did not always know the answers to them. He could find where some who spoke his language were. In that place, few questions were asked. Even though they knew he was a citizen in this land of strangers by his accent alone while they were aliens to be castigated, he had always found acceptance among them They saw he was searching as they were. Someone would lead him to work there. In the end, God would lead him where he was supposed to go.

He leaned back against the wall in the alley. A folk song came to his senses, one that he’d sung as a young boy. His mother taught it to him. He taught it to his daughter. A song about love. A promise to always be there. A promise to care forever, for he always would.

Someone was looking at him. He could feel the eyes. The minstrel looked into the direction from where they came. He found them far above, in a building across the way from him. Though the person was far away, he could see a vision of a handsome blonde Caucasian man, his blue eyes soft with compassion despite the hardness they had seen. For a brief second, he found them, and was warmed by them. Some schoolchildren crossed his path, a girl looking like Raulita had on her first day at the Catholic school. When the children disappeared around the corner, he turned away to resume his journey. But he thought of the eyes of the young man. The minstrel wondered about their owner. He had a feeling that he would see that person again, and felt a deep peace at the thought. He could feel the spirit of God on his path, and knew he was closer to his destiny, that Raulita was in his reach.

Jonathan Pfeifer stood by the window of his office in Frawley Esq. Associates grateful for a lull in the busy day he had today, his blond looks that always made people ask if he was a surfer reflecting back at him. As a paralegal for Russell Frawley, Jonathan served many functions, and today, he’d been an answering service, screening unwanted calls for his boss: Frawley’s cronies Ray Spinella and John Compton called all morning over some police brutality issue, and a Mrs. Danforth threatened to sue Frawley for defamation for not getting her crack-selling kid off scot free. But miraculously all three had found other pastimes besides calling here and the phone finally rested. Even Frawley had stormed out about an hour ago, ruddy faced though still sober, driving past Jonathan like he was just part of the furniture. At least Frawley had the business sense to make sure he had the best furniture to ignore; nothing but the best leather, the latest computers and a real paralegal from a real law school like St. John’s to show people what great taste he had, Jonathan mused.

The stranger that had just come to town began singing began, a gift of ballads brought from a culture reviled. It had been happening on and off for the last few days, ever since the rumors circulated that a new hobo was stalking the streets. The audacity, they cried, to be homeless, for one, but to pollute their lily white world with this disgusting noise that wasn’t even in English? They had no sense of compassion; probably because they never had to. Life had been preset; a course set for the starts, without the likes of displaced people to mar the blueprint. To Jonathan, the singing was enchanting, taking Jonathan’s mind into a world where love ruled, like the song was intended only for him. Jonathan knew Spanish, unlike his neighbors, so to him the music was more than gibberish. He opened the window so he could hear the music better. The lyrics soothed him, assuring him that love ruled despite all the power evil seemed to wield, and to never give up hope on the promise of eternal love. God’s love was eternal, and would sacrifice all for his people, as a parent eternally loved a child who was willing to sacrifice everything. Though Jonathan had long ago stopped believing in that sort of God, he felt a sense of peace that lulled him into a state that he just wanted to bask in, like a tropical sun enveloped around him. He looked out the window to see if he could find the source of the voice, and thought he saw a figure in an alley looking in his direction. A gaggle of schoolkids in parochial uniforms walking by on the sidewalk obstructed his vision, and when they were gone, the figure was no longer there.

The melody remained with Jonathan throughout the afternoon. He felt cheered by it. He felt compelled to glance more frequently at the framed photograph of his daughter Raven, nestled on his desk. It was the one of her proudly marching off to her first day of school with her Power Rangers lunchbox and new sneakers He felt joy looking into her onyx eyes bright with excitement and the smile beaming across her heart-shaped face. He smiled with her, relishing the bond that would never break.

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