Saturday, February 24, 2018
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RedemptionBookNewThe Redemption of Mr. Ben - Inspiration

I remember listening to my father describe an uncle he dearly loved.  There was pain in his voice and agony on his face as he recalled a superbly intelligent and charismatic individual that succumbed to alcohol.   The uncle became an indigent, a street person, a bum.  No one in the family had been in contact with him for over twenty years.  “Last I heard is that someone saw him in California,” he said as he shook his head.  “Probably dead by now.”

When I encountered various street people during the years I worked in downtown Detroit, I always remembered the story about my great uncle.  Was the old lady who wore the holy cards pinned all over her coat and hat ever a little girl that skipped to school?  Was the old bum that was engaged in a heated self-conversation ever a father?  Did the raggedly dressed young man that screamed at the passersby have the same dreams I had in high school?  Who were these people and what the hell happened to them?

It was with these thoughts in mind that I created the character of Mr. Ben.  What started as a short story grew into The Redemption of Mr. Ben.  Perhaps it was the idea that if I put a human face on Mr. Ben and the other street people, someone would offer a kind word or some assistance to my great uncle or someone like him.


Interview with Bob Henige from the Warren Public Library




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