NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Monday April 12th 2021

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RETURNING – Chapter 8: Sweet & Sour

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

As our little family walked towards Lake and Bloomington, two other forces started to move. On 17th, the evening crew began to disperse towards the corners that their regular customers knew well. And from a small house deep in the swale near 24th, an elderly woman wrapped a colorful shawl around her neck and stepped out into the night wind.

Angel and Luz had met at the San Miguel Bakery six years before, when it was still located in the old People’s Bakery spot near Bloomington. The People’s Bakery had made the Guinness Book of World Records for making the World’s Largest Dog Biscuit, and Luz’ Uncle Jaime was running the bakery the day they met.

St. Michael the Archangel of pan dulce and tres leches had moved two blocks east to a larger place, and on this cold night, the aroma given off caught little Angelito’s nose.

“Mami, papi,” he said. “Tengo hambre. Can I have a concha, please?”

Luz and Angel had not planned on stopping at the bakery, but they realized that none of them had eaten dinner. As they walked through the doors into the warmth and scent of fresh bread, a skinny man in a hoodie brushed past them, bumping Angel with his arm.

“Excuse me,” Angel said.

“Whatever,” the man said.

His face was hidden by his large hoodie. Angel watched him walk across the street to the empty lot on the corner. There’s something off about that guy, he thought. His voice sounded more like a dog barking than a human.

Little Angelito changed his mind three times before he settled on a large roll with red sprinkles. Luz grabbed one of the cakes with nuts, and Angel settled on a plain roll. He didn’t feel like eating anything sweet.

When they left the bakery, the man in the hoodie was back on the corner, talking in low tones with a man wearing a black and purple letter jacket with not letter. Together, they blocked the way for them to cross Lake Street.

“Excuse us,” Luz said. “We just want to cross.”“So go ahead and cross,” the man in the letter jacket said. “Nobody’s stopping you.”Neither man moved out of the way, so Angel said:

“C’mon man, my little boy just got new shoes. We don’t want him to step in all that slush and dirt. Just move over a bit.”

Both men moved toward Angel until they were less than a foot from his face. Angel knew he had seen the man in the letter jacket out selling before. He didn’t recognize the other man, whose face was still mostly hidden by his hoodie pulled tight.

But Luz did recognize him. It was his eyes, and the little scar just above his lip. It was him. It was them. It was the same man and the same evil force that had haunted her and Angel six years ago; it was the same face that had violated here many years before that. She had heard that he was sent to prison for a long spell; but there he was, blocking the way of the two men she loved.

She picked up Angelito in her arms and grabbed Angel’s arm.

“C’mon, mi amor,” she said. “We’ll just go this way.”

The man in the letter jacket laughed and said, “Yeah, mi amor, better do what the woman says.” The man in the hoodie just snorted, a sound that shook Angel.

They started walking down Lake Street fast. Angel fought the desire to turn and look at the two men. He wanted to make sure he could identify them, but he knew that looking at them right now was not a smart thing to do.

Meanwhile, the older woman had reached 27th and Bloomington. She stopped in front of the Mercy Center to catch her breath. Why am I doing this? she thought. Just then, the siren started up at the fire station kitty corner across the street. The harsh noise startled her, and she realized that she needed to keep walking south. Her life was needed there.

To be continued..

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