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Chapter 19: Scene 68: Why don't you go home?


ThinkLink: Have you ever known an adult in a position of authority (teacher, police officer, principal, etc.) who was friendly and respectful toward you?

       "How's it going?" Vonda says, squatting down next to where I'm slumped on the brick steps at the high end of the Square.

       "Seems like I've been hanging out here forever."

       "You? You still got new kid written all over. You been here a month? Even that?"

       "Two weeks. Third weekend washing dishes all night. I can hardly stay awake."

       Tess, today's security guard at the Square, walks past. The kids call her Tess Truehart. She's pretty mellow. Doesn't hassle us much. She gives us a nod and a half-wave of her hand. That first day at the Square I ducked behind a pillar every time a guard walked by. Or dodged back behind some guy or other when a cop car cruised Liberty Street. Vonda keeps telling me Cops are too busy to chase down kids hanging out. I believe her, I guess, but I still feel like there's somebody always a step behind me, ready to haul me in.

       I look up along the sidewalk and see a woman dragging a little boy along by his arm. He's howling , trying to get loose of her and she yells, "You're just like your father."

       Vonda sits down on the step beside me and stretches her arms over her head. "You sure don't talk much." She gives me a soft punch on the shoulder. "Walk me down to the other end and we'll see what's happening. I need to see some guys anyway. I got to tell them I'm getting off the street. Maybe for good."

       "You going back home to live?"

       "You serious? Last time I had some place to go was two years ago. I come in after school and there's a note on the kitchen table. 'So long. Rent's paid for the rest of the month. Call your dad.' My mom's gone off to California with some guy she picked up." Vonda makes a growling sound. "So I roll my stuff up in a blanket and come down here. Been around here ever since. Got the freedom blood in me now."

       "Why didn't you call your dad?"

       She growls louder, real low in her throat. "And have him prowling after me again? No thanks."

       "Sorry." Sorry I asked and sorry about her dad.

       She shrugs. "Long as we're being so straight, why don't you go home?"

       "Want to, but my PO's going to send me back to Fire Oak the minute he finds out where I am."

       "You could call your family, at least. Tell them you're OK."

       I look over at the phone booth, like I do every day, trying to make myself call. "What time is it?"

       She looks over her shoulder at a clock on a jewelry store across the street. "Right at four. Think they'd be home?"

       "Yeah. Probably."

       "Then do it."

       I get a rush just thinking about talking to Mom, even if I'm still sore, her getting married and leaving the ranch without telling me. "Wait for me here?"

       "For a minute. Now do it."

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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