Tuesday, October 18
The sun was just rising over the warren of dilapidated buildings and narrow alleys that Fresno’s homeless call—for lack of a better term—home, as Rochelle and Elizabeth approached Poverello House. “What if I leave you and the bags of underwear at the front door and go park the car around back?” suggested Rochelle. “You can drop off the men’s stuff and then we can go together with the ladies’ bag over to Holy Cross, and afterwards pick up Mary and Al and head down to the Hall of Records.”
“Sounds like a plan,” answered Elizabeth. “I’ll meet you back here in a few minutes.”
Rochelle pulled the car into the back lot of Poverello and walked quickly back toward the front of the building. Her compassion for her homeless neighbors did not blind her to the fact that sometimes their inner demons made them angry and violent—often without much apparent reason. Her thoughts were interrupted by shouts from an adjacent alley.
“Sparky! Oh my God!”
“Mike, you’ve got a phone! Call 911.”
“Man, I didn’t get a chance to charge it last night. It’s as dead as Sparky is.”
Rochelle broke into a jog. “I’ve got a phone,” she called. “What happened?” The group drew back, and she saw what looked like a pile of ragged clothes thrown down on the pavement—with a bullet through its head.