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I saw a homeless girl on the street and I wanted to know her story, so I wrote a story for her.
I was waiting for someone. It was raining. A thin mimosa of fog glided through the streets, and thunder growled in the sky. The air was heavy with the smell of sulfur and electricity, and the whole world seemed to be tapered as the steamy rain bleed the blue out of the sky, turning everything black. The streets were deserted. No one hobbled down the crocked jagged sidewalks, and barley any cars were seen gliding down tbe road. The only life outside was from the lamp lights that seemed to bob in the sentimentally darkness, shedding a little light on the washed streets.
I was shielded from the rain, tucked in the back of an ally, my hair wet, and slicked back. My clothes stuck to me like a second skin, and my gray hoodie’s sleeves hung over my hands, and the collar of my shirt was tattered and unraveling. I had fished my clothes out of trash bins and Salvation Army boxes that were stationed on street corners. These clothes didn’t produce any warmth; they were worn and aged from being washed, and loved, but a homeless girl would have to take what she could get.
Being homeless wasn’t luxurious; shifting though garbage cans looking for food, stealing for survival, and finding shelter every night, away from the cops wandering eyes. I couldn’t go back to the life I left when my parents died, my past was tucked away and I didn’t want to unfold it, and replay the pain, so I ran. I changed my name, jumped from town to town, and walked till my feet were nub, and hitchhiked when my ankles were sore.
I never thought of going back to school, or getting my GED because I was too busy trying not to starve to death. Back when I was freshman and sophomore at Magnolia Academy I was on the golden road to becoming valedictorian. My grades were craved and chiseled to perfection, and teachers adored my dedication. I dreamed of going to Harvard and running track, which was another talent of mine.
. Besides that, I was the poor girl that was a model for everyone to look up to. I was the one everyone wanted to be as smart as or as fast as, but after my parent’s death I was nobody. I was the girl branded as missing. I was a girl that had her face on the back of newspapers and milk jugs. I was the homeless girl that the police desperately wanted to get their ravenous hands on, so they could catch me for all the stealing I’ve done over the past two years, and so they could finally bring me home and get my side of the story of what happened the night my parents were killed. The night I ran like hell because of the future I might have as a child in the foster care system.
My future now of course was unstable as I wandered like a pariah though the dim uncertain city. But I have found someone to take care of me. Another homeless teen named Rod, who got kicked out of parent’s house and disowned for being gay. He was the one I was waiting for, and he was late.
Worry had started to consume me as I lay trapped in the lifted walls of the ally. What if Rod got caught? What if he decided to rat me out? What if he had gotten himself killed, or was in jail? The thought of leaving him crossing my mind for a second, but it was quickly dismissed when I saw a gangly figure enter though the mouth of the ally.
It was Rod, and he was jogging. His boots hit the ground hard, as he approached me, soaked to the bone. He had his hood pulled tightly over his head, concealing his face, and he had a backpack slung over his shoulders.
“Did you get it?” I asked as he skidded to a stop in front of me.
“Of course,” Rod muttered as he handed me his backpack. He tugged the hood from his face, and shook out his greasy black locks. He stared at me, his blue eyes dull and capped with lethargy. Purple bags dangled under his eyes and I could tell he must have been running for a long time.
“Did anyone follow you?” I asked.
“No,” he said, his voice tight and breathing heavy. “Just open the bag.”
I shot him a sour look and rolled my eyes as I unzipped the bag to revile wads crinkled green bills and the remains of some drugs.
“I’m selling the rest of that tonight to some guy downtown, and then we’ll have near three hundred dollar,” Rod explained.
“No way,” I murmured looking down in the bag, my eyes wide. “We’ll be eating well tonight.”
“What did you get?” Rod asked, his eyes flickering to my pants pocket.
“No much,” I shrugged, as I averted my gaze away from the backpack and onto Rod’s face. I then turned out my pockets and thumbed up a twenty and a couple quarters I found in the belly of the ally.
“Well it’s something,” Rod said, producing a thin, tight lipped smile.
I nodded as I handed the bag back to Rod. He slung the backpack over his shoulder and wiped his wet stubble filled cheeks. His glanced up at the sky to see and endless strip of gray. Black rolling clouds dotted the sky and the sky kept crying, drowning us in its tears
“These people you’re selling to, are they clean?” I asked, as I bit my lip. Knots of concern clenched my stomach as I thought of Rod wading into this unknown situation with a bunch of street thugs.
“No,” Rod replied bitterly. “But they have money we need. These gang leaders-
“Gang leader!” I exclaimed. “You’re selling to gang members?”
“As I said they have money Avalon. Good hard cash and if we want to buy that apartment we’ve dreamed of getting we have to sell this stuff,” Rod explained.
I was never 100% on board with selling drugs, yet Rod was elated when the idea crossed his mind one day when we were in a sullied soup kitchen a couple months ago. Our money had just about run out and we’d probably have to go back to staking out in front of fancy restaurants, hoping to get our greedy hands on some women’s purse. This is when Rod came up with a new alternative, selling drugs. He assumed that if he could get his ravenous hands on some drugs, then he could sell it to the thriving homeless community of Orlando, and we could get some more greenbacks for that apartment we’ve been praying to obtain for a year now. The thought of living in a permanent location that housed air conditioning and a bed for me to sink into at night, just made me giddy. Yet, apartments were expensive, and in the beginning Rod and I were lucky if we made more than ten dollars a day.
At first I refused to sell the stuff Rod was acquiring from this his on-and-off homeless boyfriend, but it was giving us money we could survive on, and I couldn’t argue with that. The money from the drugs was becoming Rod and me’s life preserver. It was keeping us afloat in the harsh storm that came with the acerbic factor of being a homeless beggar.
“Just be careful, okay? I mean really careful,” I finally gushed, as I placed my hands on Rod’s bony shoulders.
“I will be okay, Avalon. If anyone comes at me, I’ll be ready,” Rod said coolly as he lifted up his jacket to revile a patch of purl white flesh and a gun wedged between the waistband of his jeans and his checkered boxers. The gun was a small pistol, with a black thick barrel that resembled a lone black eye with no pupil.
I cringed when I saw the gun, and took a step back from the instrument of death. Goosebumps crawled up my arms, and a shiver vibrated though my body. Not because of the razor-sharp sodden air, but because of my fear of guns; the cheaters of death. A gun, much similar to Rod’s ripped everything away from me. A gun unraveled me like a dilapidated sweater, and left my parents to be two lifeless bodies, coated in their own scarlet blood.
“You’re not really going to use that are you?” I asked uneasy.
“Not unless I have to,” Rod admitted.
I didn’t say anything. Silence circled the two of us like a flock of buzzards. The only sound that could be heard was the rain’s somber singing and the growl of thunder the rippled though the sky, menacingly.
“Avalon, I know you don’t like guns, but it’s just a precaution. I’ve never had to use it before.”
“Thank God!” I cried out though gritted teeth. “We’re already wanted for stealing. I’d rather not be wanted for murder!”
“The guys I deal are easy. They get in and out. They are sly and quick, never wanting any problems.”
“But what if someone wants a problem? What if they want to steal our money?” I asked, fury burning in my voice like an uncontrolled bon fire. “Rod what if-
“Stop with what if’s!” Rod exploded. “If we started living off ‘what ifs’ then we’d be nowhere. We’d be stuck in a cage of unruly fear. We wouldn’t be able to steal because of the risk. We never think about the risk Avalon and we just jump and run. We run like hell.”
Rod let out a huge breath and turned his back on me. His stormy blue eyes stared at the road that lay beyond the protective arms of the ally; the real world, cast in the gale of ferocity.
“You right I’m sorry,” I said, extinguishing my anger. “This dealing stuff just puts me on edge and I want you to be safe. And guns, they just make me so…so…God I don’t even know!”
“I understand,” Rod said, still not looking at me. “Guns took away your parents. Guns and your parents made you homeless. My parents made me homeless too, remember? I’m the gay devil’s spawn.”
Rod whirled around, his eyes two hot blue knives. He tried to smile at me, encase me in some warmth, but his smile came out to look more like an astringent grimace.
“I’ve got to go Ava, drugs to deliver,” he then said, using my nickname, as he glanced down at the watch fastened on his wrist and muttered,
“Be careful,” I whispered as I flung myself into his arms. I wrapped my hands around the nap of his neck and pressed my face into the wet skin of his jacket.
“I’m always careful,” Rod shot backs, as he gave me a tight squeeze. “Us homeless kids, we have to stick together.”
He turned fleeing my embrace. I watched as he gave me one last longing look before he took a couple steps towards the end of the ally. He didn’t get very far though because we watched as a cop car slid in front of the ally’s opening, blocking out path. The car’s lights were on, and a flashback struck me down like lighting. My mind flung me back to the night my parents died, and how cop cars lined our shabby neighborhood, their lights blazing, red and blue, like flames in the grate of a fire.
I gulped, a lump forming in my throat as my eyes ran over the car that had sheriff written on the sides. The siren from the cop care snapped Rod and I out of our traces. I watched as Rod backed up, stumbling over his feet as he approached me. He turned to me, fear written plainly in his blue eyes as his hands shook by his sides. We were trapped, and both of us knew it as two cops removed themselves from the car’s dry interior.
They were both male, both probably outliving their twenties. They were opposites though when it came to appearance. One had ebony skin and was a round, while the other had a milky complexion and was a stick. Their faces were flat and implacable as they watched the two of us.
“Hey kids, come here,” the thin officer beckoned, his hand resting on his belt, where a gun sat, black and bold, ready to be fired. “We know who you are, and we want to talk.”
They both inched closer, their steps even and together. They were talking but, it was quite and inaudible. Their hands still on their guns, like the cop that barged into my house on the worst day of my life.
“What do we do?” I asked Rod, frantically, fear gnawing at my insides. “We can’t go with them. We’d be in handcuffs and be carted to a police station faster than you can say Juvie.”
“Don’t you think I realize that Ava,” Rod hissed
That’s when I realized that we needed an out, and we needed one now. Our time was slipping away, too fast for our liking, but the facts were still hard and cold cut. We were ensnared, by the ally, and pretty much in a concrete cage.
A fire escape lay attached to the one building but that meant hanging on for our dear life as our hands heaved us up to the roof. Then what would we do ten stories up? Fall to our death? Run down flights of stairs into the police’s metal handcuffs? No.
My eyes then flew to a door. It was attached to the one building. It was metal, but its hinges were rusted and coated with dust. One kick to the door and it would cave and fall, providing us with an escape.
I used to be a track star a couple years, and I had never lost a race. If it was one thing I could do was outrun people and I knew I could out run a couple of aged police officers if I was giving a track to run on. The only impending problem was we were fruitless when it came to the knowledge of what was behind that door, but it was a risk and a gamble, but we didn’t have time to think it though. The cop’s steps towards us were going thinner and in a minute we’d be arrested.
“I have an idea,” I whispered “Don’t look but there is a door behind us. We kick it down and run like hell, agreed?”
Rod didn’t say anything for a second. I could tell his brain was shifting though idea after idea as his mouth was agape in a frozen astound stare. When he turned to me though, I could see that light bulb burst above his head, showering his features with light and a plan.
“You run through that door, I’m going to distract them for a second and then run out though the mouth of the ally.”
“What no! You’re coming with me. You said it yourself a minute ago, we stick together! I’m not leaving you!”
“We can’t outrun two cops. You can, but I can’t. I’m slow you’ve said it yourself a while back. Plus, I promised you when I found you a couple years ago that I’d take care of you, and protect you. This is me protecting you. “
Then, in terror I watched as Rod reached for the gun in the waist band of his dog-eared jeans, and pointed it at the cops. The cops erupted with shouts as their guns popped out of their holster, aimed at our heads.
“This is your distraction!” I hollered as two guns stared me down malevolently. I heard two bullets click into place and the cop’s distant warning of, ‘put the gun down or we shoot!’
They then started counted down from twenty, and I felt like I was back at one of my track meets before the gun rang out and we departed from the starting line; our feet propelling us forward to the ticking of the stopwatch.
“This is where you leave me Avalon!” Rod shouted as he stripped the backpack from his shoulders and tossed it to me.
I caught it right when Rod screamed, “Run! You know where to meet me!”
At that moment Rod raised the gun in the air and fired into the damp hoary atmosphere. That when I took off down the rocky concrete. I heard more gun shots, but I kept running until I reached the door, and smoked it right off of its hinges.
As the door fell I quickly turned back to see Rod still firing his gun towards the cops. Bullets whizzed around their heads in slow motion, and they both were ducking, and screaming into their walkie-talkies for backup. They were too preoccupied in Rod’s macabre distraction to see me melt away from the scene and into the obscure building.
Leaving Rod impelled the strangest reaction in my heart; it broke it and healed it all in a single beat because I was leaving my best friend to fight the law and throw himself at the ‘bad guys,’ yet, Rod unmatchable bravery to save the girl he pretty much fathered gave me the strength to run.
Once I entered the abandon bar, which lay beyond the door I knocked down, I jumped over tables and ran over shards broken glass and trash. The whole place was bathed in the aroma of rotten food, but I barely smelled it because before I knew it I was out the bar’s door.
Once on the streets I found myself dashing down the lonesome sidewalk. My worn Nikes splashing though puddles every step I took. Rain hammed down on my blonde hair and water clung desperately to my eyelashes, but I kept tugging forward. I felt like my sternum was logged in my throat as I ran, and Rod’s backpack kept slapping my back violently, but, again, I just kept tugging forward, my sights set on Rod’s and my meeting place; Rainbow Park, the place Rod actually found me two years ago huddled under this rocket ship slide, crying and eating a moldy sandwich that I found in a nearby trash car. Ever since that day Rod took me under his wing, and told me his tear-jerking-parent-loathing-story. We became best friends instantly, and that red and white rocket ship slide, equip with thrusters and fake fire became our everlasting meeting spot.
And even though I was alone on the dark streets of Orlando, I didn’t stop running, even when I heard, “Girl. Stop. Police!” Even though I almost got hit by a car and knocked a woman in a trench-coat off her feet, I didn’t stop running, and even though I had already run over a mile and exhausted was eating apart my muscles, I didn’t stop running until I reached Rainbow Park.
Rainbow Park was deserted and dripping wet when I arrived at the child’s play palace. The huge wooden structure towered over me like Orlando’s skyscrapers, and I didn’t hesitate though to make my way over to the rock ship slide and tuck myself right under it. I curled my legs up to my chest, and caught my breath. I rested my chin on my knees and fought the urge to close my eyes and sleep. Fatigue pumped though my veins, and my taste buds begged for water, but I denied myself of both. I had to wait for Rod, and I did, I waited for hours, curled up like a cat praying and silently crying. Rod never showed up though. I waited all night. I waited till the rain petered out, and the sun broke up across in sky in swords of red, and purple, but Rod still didn’t come. And that’s when I had to admit it to myself that he had been caught or killed, and that I was alone just like I was two years ago under this same slide.