Wednesday, December 01, 2010
 POPPA PAUL- It’s the Saturday right after Thanksgiving; around 3 a.m. in the morning. Been up for a few hours, actually praying [believe it or not!] ‘Wow, brother- you must be spiritual?’ Please. A few years ago, while still working at the fire dept., I spent the last few years staying up most of the night, walking outside- praying. Some days I’d fall asleep around 9- get up at 11- to be honest it was killing me! I just couldn’t sleep- it took me a few years to train myself to sleep in till at least 3- maybe on a good day- 4 a.m. Then a week or so ago the clocks went back an hour- and yes- I’m waking up at one again. So here we are. As I was praying I was thinking of an old buddy, Poppa Paul- don’t remember if I ever wrote about ‘Pops’ before. Paul was around 70, one of the older ‘White’ bro’s- most of these older guys have past stories of being in prison- many for murder- they wind up coming to Texas and I meet them here on the streets- the homeless bunch. Paul supposedly killed someone years ago in Fla. Did his time and wound up here. I liked Pops [died a while back] I’d invite Pop’s and New York Tony [my buddy the crack addict] to go eat- Tony would go- Pops just wanted his beer. Yet Paul was a friend- I did help him run errands every so often. The older guys protect themselves by having a dangerous reputation- Pops stabbed ‘Cowboy’ [Texas Heroin addict] almost killed him; you don’t mess with Pops. I guess one day Pops was thinking he needed to explain himself- so me and Tony and Pop’s are hanging out, somehow Pop’s brings up the stabbing [he did almost kill Cowboy] Pop’s says ‘you know, one day I was whittling some wood [LOL] and Cowboy fell on my knife’ it was kinda funny- I did tell Pop’s ‘I don’t know Pop’s- sounds like a story to me’. Hey, I couldn’t let him think I was that gullible. Over the years at the fire house I had lots of my buddies come by and visit- after a while the guys at the station caught on- they would tell me ‘hey John- your convies [convicts] were here looking for you the other day’. As I’m reading thru the gospels right now- you see a strange thing- Jesus is interacting with the religious crowd- enters the temple- goes to the synagogue- these are the ‘meeting places’ where all the religious elites of the day gather- they have a tradition where they meet once a week- read from their bibles [the Torah] and live these regulated religious lives- that never seem to touch the hurting world around them. Now Jesus comes on the scene and he gathers this rag tag bunch of guys- starts preaching and living in the streets, and yes- the hookers and the outcasts- they can’t get enough of him! As a matter of fact this is the very thing that ‘irks the hell’ out of the religious crowd- they say ‘look- everyone is listening to him’! Jesus came to seek and to save the lost- the N.Y. Tonies- the Poppa Paul’s- sure there are real risks involved- Jesus said ‘greater love has no man than this- that he would lay down his life for his friends’ damn- find some friends.