Leslie was a pilgrim. She traveled thousands of miles to reach Mecca, which in her case was Brooklyn. She came from a humble home on the other side of the murky mountains, forests, and fields, clad in penitential garb, with tribal insignia printed on her skin. She came with her barest possessions: notebooks, the broken flea collar of Twinky, who’d run away too, and the guitar her Daddy gave her before he…also…drifted. Another victim of the family curse.
She made the pilgrimage for a blessing. For grace. She came to the sacred place to recite her homemade prayers and to find eternity within her heart. She believed, like every pilgrim before her, that her spiritual wandering could only end in the holy land.
Leslie also believed in her mother’s favorite adage – idle hands are the devil’s workshop. She kept her hands busy scrambling up and down the worn fretboard of her prayer-manufacturing machine.
She was on her way to an open mic when it happened. She was silently meditating on her newest prayer so that she could perform it with sufficient sincerity to appease the royal court in the County of Kings. She was weighing alternate phrasings with such devotion she didn’t look up when she stepped off the curb onto Metropolitan Ave.
She felt the universe shudder.
She heard salvation in the voice that yelled “Whoa!” She felt it in the firm grasp that lifted her away from the rush of traffic. In the soft brown eyes that looked into hers she saw redemption: the reward of faith.