“Get the damn hell outta here. I cannot believe that you, my son, could steal from his own mother. How… Why…? Can’t you see what you’re
doing to this family? YOUR family. You’re ripping it apart. Get out. Get out get out GET OUT!!!”
“But… look… I’m gonna pay you back mom. I promise. I just needed it for…”
“I know exactly what you needed it for. I can’t trust a word that comes out of your mouth anymore. You’ve have looked me in the eye and lied
that many times now. Please… Just leave. I cannot take this anymore…”
Urgh… the sun. So bright. Wonder what time is it? Through bleary eyes I look out across the park. First night officially on the street. You run out
of friends pretty fast when you actually need them for something. Two weeks, five couches, one mattress and two floors… And now a little hole
beneath a bush. Funny… Think I used to play here as a kid. I think I even recognize some of the people in the distance. Gotta get outta here. Damn I
feel so stiff…
After arriving in the city it didn’t take me long figure things out. Food is everywhere if you lower your standards a little. Letting go of your
pride is another thing entirely. There are some things you can only get using cash though. Met a few others out there who feed their demons through
gentlemanly favors. Others who take it through force. I can’t do either.
Its’ almost funny actually. I can’t steal from people, but have absolutely no qualms about stealing from large companies. Guess I figure they’re
stealing from us in the first place so why not get a little back for me. New backpack, ultra-light sleeping bag, shoes… You basically need just two
things. The ability to blend into a crowd and a good intuition. The first is important. You’re not gonna get too far if you look like the hobo you
are. But it’s also fairly easy no matter how little you have. With every second kid sporting five days of growth, greasy hair and ‘retro’
clothing from charity shops I almost had to try not to look too good. The second has to be honed through months of living… existing… on the
bustling streets. You soon learn to sense a set of eyes when they rest on you, even if there’s a camera and videotape between them.
For some reason I always feel a little guilty when I steal a book. Not even sure why, but when I finish I put them through the ‘return’ slot of a
local library which makes me feel a little better.
It’s a dark night and though the moon is full it’s still low on the horizon. I sit and peer out at the city moving past my narrow street. A girl
now walks up the alley… toward me… by herself. She looks nearly as drunk as I am despite trying her best to contain herself. She’s only a few
feet away from me now. Her heel snaps.
She stoops down to take off her shoe and places her handbag on the ground. It actually seems to gleam. Too easy…just too easy. Her figure comes
sharply into focus silhouetted against the distant streetlamps. Very nice… I feel a stirring. It has
been a long time for me, even with Mrs.
Palmer... And it would just be oh so easy… She is a mess. Probably won’t even remember. But…no… I just sit there… watching… blending in
all too well with the rest of the garbage strewn about the street.
For a moment she stops and looks around. She stares in my direction but gives no indication that she sees me. And then she just up and walks away.
And she will never ever know…
When I can no longer see her I stand up and meander drunkenly to where she had stopped. There is her broken shoe… It is still warm.
I press it up to my face. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s simply just that it’s the closest thing to human contact I’ve had in a very long time.
It smells like feet...obviously… but there are also subtle scents of things I’d nearly forgotten. Femininity, comfort, normality, money... I
remember her face… it was pretty. She seemed like a nice girl.
And then I collapse backward as the magnitude of the deeds I suddenly realized I’d been considering hit home. Sobbing and wailing I swear and shout
and cry and punch some nearby bags of trash. Eventually the tears run dry and just lie there breathing heavily wiping the snot and tears from my face.
So I do have a conscience after all. God damn it. Never gonna get too far out here with one of those…
I slink further back into the shadows and pull out the near empty wine bladder I’d scrounged in some trash can behind a café up the road. At this
time in my life, oblivion is my emotion of choice.
Boredom… Once a constant companion of mine; here in the city it has become one of the many things relegated to the far recesses of my mind, along
with loneliness and hope. I used to sit in the same place for hours, just watching people walk by, finally moved only by hunger or dying light. Now I
avoided crowded places if at all possible. I operate now only on the whims of my intuition and let it guide me to places few eyes ever see.
I’ve always had a fascination with secret places. They speak to me in soft whispers barely audible above the din of the streets, invitingly
suggesting I explore them. A back door not quite closed properly, an air-conditioning vent or an old water conduit. Like Alice’s rabbit hole, they
lead me down into worlds long ago forgotten. Ghosts of activities past speak volumes through scrawlings on the wall and objects left behind.
Originally I explored the usual places – storm water drains, abandoned buildings and so on. But they are frequented much more than one would
suspect… and the kinds that one finds down there are usually those you wouldn’t want to meet in a place such as that. But I do like it
underground. There is a hidden history under the city streets. Many secrets are buried there. Once I spent 3 days without seeing the sun.
This particular day I feel drawn toward the city cathedral. Though not in any way Christian, I always felt welcome in old places of worship. Sometimes
I would even light a candle to the universe and pray. Also they usually have very minimal security.
I walk up the steps and enter. Stepping inside the darkness blinds me momentarily and I wait for my eyes to adjust. For a second all can I perceive is
the dimming of traffic sound and the sudden scent of antiques and old incense. There are some people about. Half are tourists, some are praying and
one or two are just sit in the pews contemplating their thoughts.
I light a candle and sit down. Jesus stares back at me. I bow my head and become lost in my musings.
Later… a door. And it’s been left ajar. This door is always locked. I quickly glance over my shoulder and slip in. Stone steps. I twist my head
around as I try to peer up the spiral above. Hearing voices I disappear around the first bend. They pass but… while I’m here… Eventually I find
myself in a mezzanine level and carefully peer down. There are still some people and the priest is chatting to one of them. I step back out of sight.
There are a few storage rooms, one or two offices and some other rooms with chairs and desks. I creep into one of the storerooms and there’s crap
everywhere… Perfect. Should be relatively easy to hide in here yet still remain comfortable until the sun goes down. I light one of the candles
I’d gathered from the rack downstairs, let a few drops of wax fall and stand it there upright.
I much prefer candles to electric lights. These church candles had lent me their light in many an unusual place. In my mind it’s almost as if I have
a tiny sliver of God giving me his light in the dark harshness of my existence. At any rate it’s a lot easier to quickly extinguish the flame if I
hear someone approach than dash out toward the light switch. Once the Father actually saw me pocketing a bundle of them. Didn’t sense those eyes. He
smiled at me… a kind yet sad sort of a smile. I turned away and walked out the door…
For now though I lie back waiting for nightfall and watch the candlelight dance across the walls. I can get comfortable just about anywhere these
days, a very useful skill.
Hidden places, darkened skies.
Do you remember her dark brown eyes…?
For anything man may devise
Can be destroyed through simple lies…
I don’t know why, but whenever I look out of a high up window down onto the darkened streets below I feel like he loneliest guy in the world. But at
the same time my soul almost seems to expand outwards to encompass the whole Earth and it’s as if I could be anybody and everybody. It makes me very
introspective and sometimes quite emotional. Tonight was no exception…
Come nightfall I rouse myself from the storeroom. I silently case the upper floors and peek over the mezzanine rails to the cathedral floor below just
to ensure I really am alone. Satisfied, I begin to exploring the rooms. Normally I’d hopefully find something small, slightly valuable that
wouldn’t be missed that I could hopefully get a good price for; but not in this place. Something had happened to me that day the father caught me
stealing those candles, and the only thing I will take from here now are the candles. I spy another stairwell that leads further up the bell tower,
and eventually into a small room adjacent to the steeple bells themselves.
A single chair sits next to an open window, slightly illuminated by the warm glow of the street lamps far below. Sitting down I lean against the sill
and look across the brightly lit urban sprawl laid out across the darkened Earth like some vast quilt. The traffic sounds and sirens reach high up
into the night sky and a warm breeze lifts the hair up from around my face. Far in the distance I see the low hills which surround the town where I
grew up… and something deep inside my being begins to stir. Memories, many long forgotten, others scarcely a few days old flood my mind. My mom…
that girl… my old friends… For the first time since that night in the alley I feel something…emotions. And again it is almost all I can bare.
Tears are now streaming my face… tears of an innocence lost, tears of empathy for those whom I’ve hurt, and tears for happy times past which will
never be again.
And yet the world below continues to turn...
Eventually the predawn glow shows itself on the horizon. Through the sounds of a dreaming city begin to stir I can actually hear birds singing in the
still morning air. Something inside of me has changed across night, something which had shaken my psyche to its very core. I feel spent and
desperately need sleep. Again my mind flashes back to the time I got caught stealing the candles. Again I see the sorrow in the Fathers eyes, though
this time I notice a compassion I hadn’t seen before. At any rate it’s time to leave. Church people are always early…
“Mom it’s me”
“Oh my God baby are you alright? I’ve been so worried. You haven’t called me in months. I didn’t know… I thought maybe you might be…”
“Mom I want to come home. I’m... I’m doing better… Mom did you hear me”
“I heard you baby”
“Mom… please don’t cry… Mom…”
“I’m okay. It’s just that…”
“Mom, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for everything. I never meant to hurt you. It’s just… I don’t know… I’m different now, I’ve changed.
I’ve seen a lot. But I want to come home. I can’t live like this anymore. I’m so tired”.
“Please, you’re not lying to me again are you? I can’t go through that all again. Are you still taking…?”
“Mom I’m better… I promise”
“If that is the truth, then when will I see you?”
“I think I’ve got enough money to get home. Hopefully by tomorrow at the latest.”
Oh baby, you don’t know how relieved I am to hear your voice… You know that I love you, that I’ve always loved you.”
“Yeah thanks mom. I love you to…”
4 months after that call I finally come home...
edit on 27/11/2012 by 1littlewolf because: (no reason given)