03 December, 2007


This weekend was the coldest of the year. I see Modesto and wonder how he fared in the cold. "I have no blanket, someone stole it" he says.

Once in my apt., I drop off my packages in the kitchen and quickly grab a heavy grey blanket. "Here you go, amigo, keep it safe".

"Don't worry, I keep it here" he says as he puts it in a bucket with his other belongings.

One of our friends is moving away. I want Modesto to give him a mesage. "Modesto, dice a nosotros amigo, hmmmm, I'm not sure exactly what I want to say".

"Not good-bye," he says. "Good-bye no good." He turns his head up and points to the sky. "You say goodbye, it means you die".

"Ok. Then, tell him I say hello".

Pink or Green

Monday evening. I've got a cold I'm trying to fight off. I feel pretty lousy. I'm almost home when I see Modesto standing in the alley, leaning on his broom smoking a cigarette. "Que tal, amigo?"


"I'm not feeling so well today," I tell him.

"So Modesto, is R. gone, all moved out?"

He's been helping R. move. "No, not finished, he's back tomorrow."

"Modesto, how did you do the other night, it was so cold?"

"I sleep in doorway, round the corner. Now, I don't have blanket."

"You don't have a blanket? I'll see if I have an extra blanket."

"How about a jacket?"

"A jacket, too. My clothes dirty".

He spreads open his arms revealing a vest, blackened with soot.

"OK. I may have a jacket. It's a nice warm jacket. It's big and fleece."

"This jacket was Mark's". Mark died. I can't yet write about the details. Come to think of it, I think it was Mark who introduced me to Modesto and to several of the homeless characters in our neighborhood. It feels like I've always known Modesto. I wish I could remember the details of our meeting.

I go into my apt., drop my packages in the kitchen and quickly find a blanket. I don't know if this is exactly an "extra" blanket, but he needs it more than I do. It's a very heavy blanket. My brother sent it to me. Feels like it weighs about 15 pounds.

"Modesto, here's a blanket. Take good care of it".

"No problem, I put it here, no one take it." He puts it into a bucket he keeps with him.

"Modesto, the jacket is no good. It's red. Red is bad, it's a gang color.
I don't know if it's the color of "Los Surenos" or "Los Nurenos", but you can't wear it."

"No" he agrees. "Those gangs, pink and green bad too".

"All together, those colors bad. Only for gang."

"Pink, green, red, no good."

"So," I ask, "I shouldn't wear pink?"

"No, it's ok. Pink's ok for you".

I know a bit about gang colors, but I've never heard anything about pink or green.

Hot Treats

Modesto calls me as I walk down 11th straight. I'm on my way to get a salad at the pizza place. "Hey, I've got a sandwich, hot, you take half."

"Where'd you get that, Modesto?"

"Around corner, sandwich place, they just made it for me."

"What kind of sandwich is it?"

He shrugs his shoulders. "Take it, it's hot, very good."

I take half of the hot sandwich and open it. It's some kind of burger. I walk around the corner to the sandwich shop and show them the sandwich. "Modesto just gave this to me, is it turkey or beef?"


I don't eat beef.

Feeling Normal

Dear Readers, I've fallen behind for many a reason. I talk with Modesto just about every day now. I see him more than any of my other friends; including those that live here in SoMa.