This morning I had breakfast at a diner with a man whose sister asked me to help him with his writing. That’s all I knew about the assignment, but I liked the gal so I went.
It turns out the man (I’ll call him Lorenzo) was a Christian, so before we got down to business I asked for his story. Lorenzo told me about a lackluster high school career of social promotions, followed by a server job working in a mob family’s pizza parlor, which was a front for drug dealing.
The management liked Lorenzo because he spoke Italian and because he worked hard and was honest and never ripped them off. They treated him well and took him to nice places and bought him nice things. To this day, Lorenzo said, if he ever called them (which he doesn’t) they would give him whatever he needed.
But Lorenzo was searching for the meaning of his life. And one day at work in 1980 he scrawled on a restaurant napkin, “Lord, show me who you are.” Just then, a man came in, walked up to him, and said, “You need to know the good news.” The emissary was alone, and Lorenzo thought he was a homosexual so he didn’t go with him.
The next week the mysterious pizza patron came in with a wife and two kids, so Lorenzo figured he was wrong about his previous assessment and agreed to go to their church. Later, from 1982 to 1984, he was out of work due to health problems and did little else but read the Bible all that time, which he described to me as a “honeymoon period.” Today Lorenzo has a secular job (no longer in an eatery where most of the business is done in the back room, and where “pizza” is code for “cocaine”).
The writing project? Lorenzo wants to place little pamphlets in those ubiquitous racks that hold real estate announcements and other local interest materials. He said the pamphlets need to be practical for showing people how to live, and need to be short enough to read in the bathroom.