Henry’s Story

He grew up in Detroit. He was tall and thin yet strong. He had a fu manchu since he could grow facial hair. Above all, Henry was about family. He had 3 daughters that he adored and he would do anything for them, including go to prison.

It happened one evening when he was with his eldest daughter in the park. They had just finished cleaning up her 8th birthday barbecue. They laughed between silly faces and inside jokes.  The jokes stopped when a group of about 6 men eerily walked past. One stopped and smiled while the rest walked on. Henry didn’t wait for him to speak. He stepped in front of his daughter and greeted the tall man who stood in front of him.

‘I think you owe me some money, Henry.’ Henry’s daughter looked at her father, confused by what the strong man was saying. She still saw her dad as the most perfect human in the world. He held her when she fell off her bike scrapping her knee and when she got a bad grade she knew she could count on him to buy her ice cream and make everything feel better. She knew her dad was a good guy and yet she knew he was in trouble.

Henry knew he was in trouble too. He looked at that precious little girl peeking around his back only to see concern and fear in her eyes. He also saw the man posturing in front of him looking down at his baby with a just too friendly grin. Now Henry was smart but he lost his temper easily and refused to let anyone get close to hurting his family. He screamed at his daughter to run as he took out his switch blade.

Maybe it was his rage or maybe just selective memory, but Henry claims he doesn’t remember what happened after that. His daughter on the other hand remembers every moment.

She remembers her dad screaming at her to leave but that she was too frozen to move a muscle. She saw the strong man look at her and it made her body feel like one big Detroit icicle about to fall off the roof and shatter. Then she looked at her dad but instead of shattering, she melted. He no longer looked like the father she grew up knowing. He was flawed. He had secrets and a life that didn’t include her. She was still too young to know exactly what was happening, but she saw her dad for the first time as weak. She should have been afraid but she was too caught up in the shock of her imperfect father. She watched him get punched in the stomach and the knife flew out of his hand. He fell to the ground as his attacker picked up the knife. The strong man walked towards her, knife in hand. Snapping back to reality, she ran around the man, back to her father.

Before the man even had time to turn around, BANG. He fell to the ground and blood swept the scene. Henry picked up his daughter and ran. That was the last time she saw Henry.

Henry spent years in prison thinking of his family and the mistakes he made. He vowed to get clean and get back to his family. When he got out of prison he was an old man with the belief in Our Good Lord and a criminal record.

As a criminal, he couldn’t find a steady job and therefore couldn’t find anyone who would rent to him. He spent time on the streets, looking for work, food and somewhere to lay his head. The one thing he did not spend time looking for, was drugs. Though he fought daily with the opportunities to get high, he fought on.

Henry now lives in a nursing home with his cat, Bonito, and his girlfriend of 10 years. He spends his days with his family (including his daughter) and others in the nursing home. He will often have friends over for fish bakes, and football games. Henry is always there to listen to those who have struggled with drug addiction and homelessness.

 

 

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