A long time ago in a city far, far away, a young boy was walking on a desolate highway, kicking on a rusty tin. The night was dark and freezing around him. It had stopped snowing now, but the wind was still blowing in the few leaves that were left on the trees. He was cold. He wrapped his jacket even tighter to his body, and sat down on a tree stump that wasn’t too covered with snow. He sat there all alone for a long, long time, with a little tear in the corner of his eye. He started to look back on his life, all the mistakes he had done –and not at least his family.
The last words… “Now, sonny… you have to be a good boy and remember to brush your teeth…” A policeman was standing on the front porch, with his hat in his hands and whispered something to grandma. Grandma looked sadly at me with tears in her eyes. It was slippery, the breaks failed… More, I didn’t have to know. I ran up to my room, and stayed there for several days, refused to come out. I just cried and cried. A couple of weeks later grandma got ill. She suffered from lung cancer in a month, before she walked hand in hand with Jesus to Gods kingdom, Heaven…
After my grandmothers’ funeral, I was sent to the only living relative I had… And maybe the person I disliked the most in the whole world, my long gone aunt Edwina… No one had seen her for years, not since the fight between her and my mother, anyway. But the orphanage (that I was going to live in if they didn’t track Edwina down), managed to find her somehow, in Pennsylvania, a long way from where I lived now, California. At first I was very angry because I had to live there, but then suddenly I realised that I didn’t know my aunt at all, I had just heard so many bad things about her… So, I decided to give her a chance.
It was hard saying goodbye to the house, all my childhood memories and my hometown, where I grew up so all too soon… Now I was moving in to something new and different.
The police car rolled up in front of a big block of flats, it looked kind of spooky… All the windows were dark with long curtains, and the paint was peeling off the walls. The neighbourhood was filthy and poor, I saw some homeless people searching the trashcans for leftovers to eat. I shuddered, and begged (with my fingers crossed) that this wasn’t where aunt Edwina lived. But unfortunately it was. Of course, with my luck it had to be.
A nice policeman called Jed and I took the elevator, all the way to the tenth floor. Flat sixty-eight... Jed rang the doorbell… I was so excited, I couldn’t breathe. Who was this woman that was going to take care of me? Was she really that bad as everyone said she was? Well, I was soon going to find out…
The door opened slowly, and a woman in a pink robe put her head out. “What do you want?” she shouted to Jed. “Haven’t you guys got me into enough trouble already? Get out of here!!!” “Hawk, I’m here with the boy…” Jed replied. “Your sisters boy…” The woman’s angry face turned into a big smile. “Oh, why didn’t you say so officer, I’m his aunt Edwina. But get the boy inside at once so you can be on your way.” Jed turned around, smiled at me and went on into the elevator. Now I was alone, with a woman I hardly knew..
The apartment was very crummy, and not as tidy as it had been in our house… Edwina showed me to my room. It was next to hers, a little room with blue wallpaper. Nothing like my old room (that was big and full of things to play with), just a simple room with a couple of books in it. It was obvious that she didn’t have so much money, but I liked the room. I was grateful to have a room at all… It contained a little table with a drawer in it, a closet and a bed. I laid my bag on the bed and started to empty it. Put my clothes in the closet and my favourite book and my teddy bear in the drawer. Edwina stood in the hallway looking at me, carefully… Examined me up and down. Suddenly she said: “You’ve got your mother’s eyes.” And walked away…
The weeks went by… It was ok living there with her, I guess, though we never talked much… She was always so confined. But Edwina seemed like a sweet lady, and I couldn’t believe my mother to be so wrong about her… Before Edwina was going out one evening like she always did, she told me to iron her laundry, wash the dishes and vacuum the floor. But after doing the two first things I was so tired that I went to bed.
Edwina came home drunk in the middle of the night… I could hear her in the corridor crying out my name: “Kevin, Kevin! Come here at this instant!” I pretended to be asleep, maybe she’d go to bed too. Or maybe not… She opened the door and stared at me with two evil eyes. Marched over to the bed and grabbed my arm. “Ouch,” I yelled. Then it all got black…
The next morning I woke up in a damp, dark room, like a basement just smaller. A storeroom, maybe… I had blood in my forehead. She probably hit me with something. Now I understood why my mother and Edwina didn’t get along, Edwina probably had a drinking problem. I tried to get out of the open hatch, but I was too big to get through it. I cursed. There has to be someway out of here, I thought to my self. And there, a window! I kicked it open and crawled out on the ladder that was under it. I was not sure of what that had happened, but one thing I knew… I was not going back to Edwina.
I hitchhiked with the first truck that was going west, although it wasn’t going further than to Illinois. Now I was all alone in a new city, without any clothes (except what I was wearing, of course), shoes or food, or any money to buy it with… I didn’t know what I was going to do next, where I was going to sleep at night, or where I could find something to eat. I didn’t care, anymore… It was getting dark, so I laid myself down on a bench in a big park, and tried to sleep. I remembered the homeless people I had seen the first day that I lived with my aunt Edwina, there were even more of them here… And now I was one of them, too.
I woke up some time later. It was still dark and I was freezing. The month was early April, but the mornings were still pretty chilly… I got up from the bench and started walking along the muddy park path. A loud rumbling noise came from my stomach. I hadn’t eaten for two whole days. I felt just about ready to eat a horse! I was on my way out of the park, when I scented this wonderful aroma. Hotdogs! My favourite fast food. It was a hotdog stand on the other side of the park. I just had to have some…but I didn’t have any money!
I sat next to the stand for a few minutes and studied the hotdog seller, and I noticed that he always gave people their hotdogs before he took their money… That gave me an idea… I felt rotten just thinking the thought, but my hunger for food was devastating.
I went over to the stand and told the man I was going to have three hotdogs. And just when he put them in my hands, I started to run while I ate as fast as I could. The hotdog seller yelled: “Stop the thief, stop him!” He ran after me a couple of yards, before he stopped and held his hand to his hart. When I looked behind me I could see the hotdog seller lying on the ground. I stopped running… The man’s face was turning blue and he had trouble breathing, I couldn’t do anything, but to run back and see what was the matter.
“Mister, mister. Are you ok?” I asked nervously. No reply… He wasn’t moving. A crowd started to build up around us. I was standing over the poor guy, trying to check his pulse. Suddenly, he reached out and held my hand in a clutch. The crowd gasped. “Ha, ha. Now I’ve got you! Never underestimate a hotdog seller, boy.” the man triumphed, “I’ve been selling hotdogs for several years, now. And I know every trick in the book. They don’t call me Bad John for nothing!” He smiled. “I’m afraid you’re going to the police station, sonny.” The people around started walking back, a little shocked by this event. A boy my age looked pitying at me. “Tough luck” he whispered.
The next thing I knew, the hotdog seller had dragged me all the way to the nearest police station. There were a lot of people running around, there. Mostly policemen. They looked very busy. Bad John told an officer about my crime, but he didn’t even blink. He just yawned: “Ok, put him over there on that bench, with the others. We’ll deal with him later.” Then he cuffed me, and walked away… Bad John looked satisfied, very satisfied, when he put me on the bench. Then he walked away, too.
This was my second time at a police station, but this time I had committed a crime. I had no idea what was going to happen with me. “What are you in for?” a dark male voice behind me wondered. I turned around and saw a guy about 20-30 years old. He had black hair and big, bushy eyebrows. “Theft,” I replied. “Oh, cool. Me to. By the way, I’m Morty.” “Kevin, here.” “So, what did you steal? Televisions, stereos, silverware?” “No, no. Nothing like that.” I said shocked. “I stole some hotdogs..” “Ok, just small theft.” Morty said a little disappointed. “You’ll be out of here in no time, kid. They’ll just call you’re parents to pick you up. I hope they’ll go easy on you.” I looked down and stumbled: “They’re dead!” Then I turned around again. The conversation was over.
The clock on the wall turned ten. I had been sitting there for almost two hours. Just waiting… I was tired, dirty and still pretty hungry. An officer named Thompson woke me up 20 minutes later. “What’s your name, boy?” he said. “Uh, Kevin.” I replied drowsy. “Well, Kevin. Why are you here?” he asked curiously. I told the policeman everything from the beginning. About my parents’ death, my wicked aunt and that I was so hungry I stole some hotdogs and that was why I was arrested. When I was finished with my story, the officer had a sad expression on his face. He told me to stay put, and went into his office.
Another quarter past before the policeman came out again. He told me that he had filed an arrest on aunt Edwina for child-abuse, and that I would be sent to an orphanage in Wisconsin, because I didn’t have any other relatives. I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the news he gave me, but relieved that I didn’t have to stay with Edwina. Officer Weldon drove me to the Wisconsin orphanage in a black Mercedes. It was one of those classy kinds, with a TV and a bar. Weldon allowed me to turn on the TV, so that I wouldn’t get bored. Though the journey wasn’t very far.
When we got there (after an hour or so), we were welcomed by two ladies with grey hair. Weldon went to talk with one of the ladies while the other one showed me around at the orphanage. Or the children’s home as she called it. “It’s a nicer name,” she said. The building was huge and white, both inside and outside. It was very sterile. We walked trough at least a dozen corridors with doors on each side. And everywhere I looked I could see curious children eyes staring at me. “And here’s where you’re going to sleep, young man.” She said merrily. It was an enormous hall, full of beds. At least I don’t have to feel lonely, I thought to my self. After the tour she guided me back outside to officer Weldon, which was discussing some details with the same lady. Weldon petted me on my shoulder and wished me good luck. I smiled.
The next five months I lived at the Wisconsin children’s home. I really liked it there. I had made many friends, and the sisters were always so good to me. Though, they got pretty angry if I didn’t do my homework. Twice a week a young couple would come and adopt one of my friends, but there always came more orphans. I had given up hope for someone to adopt me already the third week. Who would adopt a thirteen-year-old boy, anyway? That would never happen. Or so I thought…
Six weeks later a sweet middle-aged couple from Minnesota named Dawson, came to adopt a teenaged boy. They didn’t want a baby or a little boy as everybody else, because they figured they were too old to start with that. I sat in the corridor reading, when the couple suddenly approached me. “What is your name?” the man asked. I didn’t answer. Why bother? They wouldn’t adopt me anyway… Sister Mary Clarence answered for me. “His name is Kevin.” she said. The couple looked interested. “How old is he?” asked the lady. I stopped reading for a minute and told her my age. Mr. and Mrs Dawson looked at on another, and agreed. “How would you like to have us as your parents?” Mr. Dawson wondered. I couldn’t believe what I heard. “W-w-what did y-you say mi-mister?” I stumbled. “Come live with you, have you guys as my parents? I’d be thrilled!”