Papi's Secret

#1 Papi’s Secret

In the summer of 2015, my friend, Emma, lost her stepfather. A year later I would lose my mother. We bonded over the unusual circumstances surrounding our parents’ deaths. Emma wanted to tell the story of the last year before her stepfather’s death. She wishes to remain anonymous because she still lives in Washington Heights, New York City where some of the people live. Emma has given me the privilege to tell her story. All I’ve written is based on what Emma has told me…

Leonardo H. aka “Big Lenny” was rumored to be big in more ways than one. Women and men gravitated toward him because he was an attractive and intelligent man. He had slick black hair, pointy nose and dimples whenever he showed his big white teeth. And yet at the same time that initial presence died in a room with other people. While his height and size caught people’s attention, in a group with others, his personality didn’t keep it.

Big Lenny came up in 1980s New York City. Some people call it the “crack era,” but  Big Lenny like a lot drug-dealers from that era called it, “La Gloria.” Hustlers in Washington Heights, New York City, know the story about Big Lenny speeding down the West Side away from Mayor Giuliani’s police officers in 1995 and crashing another driver.  Luckily for Big Lenny, they didn’t find any drugs on him and the other driver was under the influence even though he didn’t cause the accident. This reduced Big Lenny’s sentence.

While out in the streets Big Lenny’s reputation didn’t impress women, it was what they said about his size. If the rumors about Big Lenny were true, the reason why women never stayed was with him was not because he wasn’t enough, but because he was too much, leaving them to limp away, sore and hollow.

It was, Elena, his first ride or die chick that saw pass the lack of personality and endured Big Lenny, long enough to give him a son, Charlie, when she was 18.

Even though this story is really about Emma, the back story is important because she would eventually meet Charlie. And this meeting would change her life and she claims would lead to her father’s death.

This story isn’t about Big Lenny, Elana or Charlie, it is important we know them in order to understand Emma and her relationship with her stepfather.

Flaco Ali 3


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