by Michael Cooper


He spent the whole afternoon sitting there on the old wicker chair, smoking donated cigarettes and watching Brookside traffic pass by. I watched him greet people as they walked by and wave at little children. He seemed warm-hearted, if a little scattered and hard to understand. It was an hour or so before I worked up the courage to finally approach him and offer to trade a juice (he doesn’t drink coffee) for his picture and his story.

His name is Roger. He is 58 years young, claims a Spanish heritage, and calls Cuba home. I’m pretty sure all of these things are true. His accent is thick and smokey, though his words fly out of his mouth so fast one might think they were watching a VHS in fast-forward mode. From what I could understand though, Roger is a nice guy who, though obviously homeless, spends much of his time pedaling up and down the Midtown streets, choosing to steer clear of the rest of the homeless population downtown. Though he was on Brookside today, he pointed out, he normally spent his days on Cherry St. where his friends would feed him and let him hang out near their businesses.

A week or two later, I ran into Roger just outside my studio in downtown Tulsa. It turned out he did venture out there, and while I wanted to wave and say hi, I couldn’t. He was busy harassing an old couple for bus fair. Such is life.

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