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Chapter 17: Scene 64: Vonda


ThinkLink: Did you ever wake up in an unfamiliar place and not know where you were? Can you think of some times when you had a hard time deciding what you should do?


The girls wander off and I sit down on the red brick steps. The sun's higher now, and it warms the back of my jean jacket. Traffic's slowed down some and it's almost quiet. I lean back against my sacks. I feel my eyes get heavy.

       Nick runs across the kitchen and tackles me around the knees and pushes me over. Lori grabs me around the neck and helps him drag me down. Mom is cooking. She keeps at me to do my homework and tells me to get washed up for dinner. Red comes in and tells one of his corny jokes and I moan. Pete yammers to me about not doing my chores the perfect way, meaning his way. I start to get mad.

       I wake up with a jerk. I look around quick to see where I am and what's happening.

       "You're OK," Vonda says. "Just sleeping is all. I been hanging around the corner, watching to see nobody hassled you."

       "Thanks." I look for the kitten in her baggy jacket, but there's no bulge there. "Found a home for the cat?"

       "Yeah, some man getting off a bus took it. Hope he takes good care of it."

       My stomach growls out loud. "I got two muffins my boss gave me. Want one?" I pull the wrinkled white sack out of my bag of clothes.

       "Sure. I didn't have nothing this morning. There's a church over on Tremaine Street that gives out sandwiches at noon, and there's a place for street kids called Greenhouse over on Oak. A different church puts out dinner there for us every night. You got some place to eat tonight?"

       "Yeah, I get dinner where I work before my shift starts, but I'll remember. And thanks for watching. I'd better go up to Pat's place and see if he's there."

       "I get it. But remember to come around. We're kinda family down here, you know. And take care of yourself. You know what they say: it's a meat market out there."

       "You, too." I watch her as she walks away, thinking about girls being out on the street.

       I walk back down Liberty to Emory and turn right. I follow the street alongside Lucky's . Another counterman is there when I peer through the window. I walk on toward the park, looking at numbers on houses: 2391 ... 2355.... I see what I'm looking for: 2321. It's an old, beat-up two-story place set up on a bank that's a couple of feet above the sidewalk. The house was bright blue years ago, but the paint's all faded and peeling now. The front yard isn't much either, just a patch of worn-out lawn and a couple of straggly bushes. The porch across the front of the house tilts off to one side.

       I lose my nerve and walk on down the cracked sidewalk past the house. I feel dumb barging in, asking for a place to stay. Then I turn back and walk up the steps. I gotta go somewhere. Might as well be here.

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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