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I remember from a long time ago, when I was poor and tired and hungry while begging for food on the side of the busy streets California, I met a man who seemed to take an interest in what I did.
My mother was dead, she was in the army and had been killed in action. I had no siblings, and no other family I knew about. I heard that Daddy had died about a week after I was born. But after the landlord kicked me out, and without a hint of sympathy, I knew that I would have to take care of myself. I chose a place called Corner Dreary, because someone spread a rumor that the dead cry there and listen to the wind blow. Creepy, that's what it is. I don't every believe them. Okay, a man did get shot there, but I don't remember if he died. The day he got shot I had to choose a different corner, and I got hit with football from some punk passing by.
So, I began to sing on the side of the road from noon till midnight, with a gun and a pocket-knife in my jeans. But, I had no guitar or anything, so I used garbage can lids.
I had to be resourceful, because of my condition. I grabbed an old shoebox from a dumpster and made it my money box, and I took a few old chopsticks and pencils and made them my drumming tools. But, I still had to write songs that people would listen too, and would stay to hear.
My mother had loved to listen to the radio, but I was too young to remember the lyrics to any of the songs the radio played. Dad didn't care much for music, but I knew that he cared about showing pride in his job. So, I had to show pride too, although I was a dirt poor city kid with no parents and no house but a back alley with enough concealment to stay away from cops. I would just put a smile on my face and belt out my voice for all who came to hear.
One morning, I was sitting on the sidewalk with my money box filled with about three dollars, a normal day for me. I would beat my lid drums and sing to my made up lullabies, but that man came by and sat down, and listened to my song.
"I do have a future. But nearly no past.
I have to fight till Heaven, I know, at last.
People stare at the poor girl, sitting on the doorstep, a few pennies in her pocket?"
What can they do for the girl?
No past, barely a future?
If past has a scrape time to make it a suture
But don't take pitty on me, Lord. Just wait and see."
My voice rang out through the alleys in an echo. The man still sat there, staring into my soul almost. He finally seemed to have something in-between his legs to introduce himself, after watching me for weeks, and he never even left a tip!
"You like to sing, little girl?"
"Yes sir, I do. Just like the song says, I do have a future, but barely a past."
I just smiled, feeling as though I were urging him to give me a tip. With three bucks I could buy either a bagel or a soda, but I couldn't decide.
"You have talent little girl, but do you have heart? What is your story?"
He brought out a pad and pen, scribbling notes down. I guessed he just wanted to take notes. I didn't know much about the guy anyway.
"My name is Cassidy Burnadette Bentley, and I'm thirteen years old. I was born, I think, on July 22, 1997. Both of my parents are dead and I'm technically homeless sir, if you ask me."
"But how? And why have you chosen to not find anyone else in your family to take care of you?"
"I didn't know of anyone else. I knew I had to live, so I began to sing. I still don't know why you come and watch, then go without leaving a tip! Sorry sir, but I do get hungry, and three bucks isn't enough for a Happy Meal."
He spoke with a slight accent, but his eyes were bright and seemed to sparkle with an intelligence and intrigue that made me feel like a small child was there, learning how people make candy.
"I see. Well Cassidy, do you like to write? Can you quote something, anything that you've written?"
"Why sir? Are you from the police office or something? Are you here to take me away?"
I was angry, very angry, but I kept it to a low growl. I didn't want to leave my roost, my spot on the sidewalk. I just couldn't. Mommy and Daddy would be upset that I've let someone else take care of me.
"Fine. I will sit and watch the clouds, Nancy, because I'm that kind of person you see. They take shape and form, almost like they're God's play toys. Oh sweet sky, take me away on your soft breeze."
He clapped, and I suddenly noticed that other people were around me, clapping too. I then sang, and everyone clapped along. Money poured into my bucket, nearly filling it to the brim with dollar bills and dimes, making me giddy to how much food the change can buy my hungry stomach and starved soul. I asked the man his name, and he said George Michaelson, and then he left, without another word.
Everyone else had vanished into a cool mist, and it was a scary sight really. It was cold, and, dare I say it, dreary all of a sudden. But my money box was still full. I began to make my way toward the gas station, until I saw what George had left behind. And it made my blood run cold.
I ran over to collect the paper and picture. The picture was of a girl, maybe meant to be me, but she was trying to look both ways at once. He had drawn "past" and "future" to the left and right of her face, and he had made a small circle on her forehead, "now" he called it. The paper simply said something, a single sentence. I began walking toward the station, hearing his voice in my ears. I had to keep going.
"Be strong my little Cassie. Love, Daddy."