Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Street life had been hard and I had to fend off many such assaults. Setting up home in this quiet alley, next to the self-talking man and a sad Golden Retriever had been heavenly compared to events past. My room was tattered, leaky, musty, but it was home and it was mine. No more houses that many called a safe place.
My three new friends left, leaving behind a set of brand new clothes, blanket and toiletries. A week later, the daughter returned alone, dressed in jeans and t-shirt. She wanted to take me to her home for dinner, to thank me for helping her. Her home was warm with a soft sofa and cozy kitchen. The running water in the bathroom was heavenly and when I asked if I could take a shower, she smiled and nodded. I let the warm shower run through my hair, my bare back down through my toes over the foamy, slippery lather that smelled of spring and flowers.
Fresh and clean I sat at the dining table across from my host, taking in the aroma of a hearty meal. After a delicious fill, we sat and watched some TV and she told me about growing up with an ill father who taught her many things. I felt like talking about my parents and shared some of my childhood memories. We talked and talked and pretty soon it was too late to go back to my home. She invited me to stay in her spare room. The bed was soft, warm, dry and smelled of fresh rain.
I slept all the way till lunch time and the nice girl didn’t mind. We ate and went to some stores where she bought me more new clothes. I didn’t want any, but she forced me to try them on. Next she took me to her friend’s home where we had tea and talked some more. The friends were nice and reminded me of my parents. They asked if I wanted to stay the night and even showed me their spare room with its colorful walls and large bed with hundreds of pillows. I said okay, but only for one night. Soon it was seven nights, then 30 until finally I lost count. They asked a kind old lady to come home every morning who helped me with books. I read stories, learned my numbers and lots of new things. Soon my new room was surrounded by so many books and I read them all, sometimes even more than once.
My new home had a lot of things new to me. My bed was big where my new puppy, a golden retriever and I slept. The walls were surrounded by bookshelves filled with so many books which took me to so many places. I even had a closet with so many new clothes that were clean and sweet smelling. Most of all, in my new home, I had a new mom and dad and they were very nice to me and loved me very much.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A week after the new girl’s exit from our neighborhood, the Golden Retriever returned. Her skeletal figure limped towards her old home, now empty. I brought bread and water and nursed her back to health. She followed me everywhere as I roamed the streets, walked on the beach, loitered about on walkways. She sat with me on the pier watching the sun set and the birds fly home. She warmed my feet on cold nights and cuddled with me on stormy days. From the time I can remember, I finally had somebody my own, another soul who cared for me.
To be continued....
Neighborhood life carried on with comings and goings and minor incidents over some troublemaking new folks. Some nights I woke to the sound of sirens and a large group from the new settlement hauled away in the back of a van. One morning I woke to a police car parked in front of my home, its siren turned off. The Golden Retriever barked and ran out to greet the visitors. Bleary-eyed I stepped out and recognized the girl, the daughter of my former neighbor. She was in uniform, her hair neatly tied back into a bun and a wide smile on her face. Behind her stood a tall, clean shaven man with dark brown hair and familiar blue eyes. He stepped forward and hugged the dog before moving towards me. I took a step back, uncertain who he was. His warm smile stopped me in my tracks as I recognized him. My old neighbor! My eyes shifted from him to the girl in uniform, back to him. The girl stepped forward and explained.
Her father had disappeared from home several years ago when he went off his Schizophrenia medication. Their family dog had followed him and kept him company until the night of the incident, when a few guys kidnapped him. These men had recognized her father from his previous employment as the chief research scientist on the verge of a breakthrough in a biological experiment. Her father had abandoned the project when he learned of the company’s intentions of using his experiments to develop biological weapons. He decided to disappear. Without his medicines, his mental state took a turn and he ended up on the streets. Going undercover was the safest way for his daughter to find him and thanks to me she tracked down the blue car. The kidnappers were arrested on various charges including hit and run resulting in murder of the poor, old bag lady.
I was happy to see that my neighbor was safe, yet sad to see my new companion leave. The daughter offered to take me with them too, to a new home, a safe place. My head shook profusely. That’s what the nice lady at the hospital had told me four years ago, when my parents had died. I lived in that house they called safe, for four months. There were other foster children there, some even younger than my nine years. Each child walked about the house unsmiling, their eyes vacant, their hope diminished as they went about the chores assigned to them. I kept to myself and quietly cried to sleep every night. One night as my sniffles had run their course, I heard footsteps behind my cot. Pretending to sleep, I froze my body in its place. A hand reached out to stroke my hair. I thought of my mom, coming to tuck me in with her goodnight kiss. The hand stroked my arm travelling down to my hips and before it could go any further down, I turned by body around and landed a kick up his groin. As he cowered in pain, I ran out of the room, out the door and clear out of town.
To be continued....