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The Eclectic Pen - Why I Did What I Did

By: Joey S. (Faero)  
Date Submitted: 1/15/2009
Genre: Literature & Fiction » Short Stories & Anthologies
Words: 1,649

  All I want is for you to listen. Not fake listening when you just tune a person out and pretend to hear what he says. Real listening, think about what I say. Try to see this from my viewpoint. Don’t just stereotype me as being a ‘young and rebellious teen’. Will you agree with me? I hope so. Because I know I’m right. I know it. Just let me tell you how I see things.

It all started when I was about nine. We had a small-ish apartment in Brooks down the street from the little grocery store. Life wasn’t great, but it was good. We were happy. Then the furniture factory my dad worked for moved overseas and fired everybody just like that, no notice or anything, the workers came in and found out they had no job.

My dad couldn’t find another job. The few factories that were left in New York were not hiring. Of course, he could have looked into a different profession, but he always just said that ‘no one would ever hire a life-long factory worker; they’d just say I have no skills’, not that he ever tried. We ended up moving to a bad part of town. Dirty, grime filled streets, gangs everywhere. The air was thick enough to cut and on some days it was dangerous just to go outside. There was a police station, but half the cops were corrupt and the other half just plain didn’t care. My dad got a bad job at the shipyard. Long hours of hard work for very little pay. Half of what little he got paid went straight to the Gang for ‘protection’. My mom, although she tried very hard, couldn’t find a job anywhere. Nobody was hiring. I had to go to a bad school where I got beat up every other day. Then, to top it all off, about three months after dad lost his job, mom was walking me home from school when we ended up in the middle of a gang war. I was fine but mom got shot and died later that day.

I was crushed, mom meant everything to me. My dad was never around and I had no friends at school so I had no one to talk to or play with or anything. I was left to fend for myself. I had to make my own meals and clean my own clothes. I rarely saw my dad except for sometimes early in the morning, late at night and at the occasional day off. Even then all we really did was exchange glances and argue. We quickly grew apart. That’s where Cindy came in. Beautiful brown hair and eyes and an elegant face. She was the same age as me. Her family had met with the same fate as ours. Only for her it was worse, her mother abandoned them a year ago and her father had an alcohol problem and was abusive. She had every reason to hate the world. Yet she was the only person nice to me in all of New York and I the same to her. Although we didn’t realize we loved each other yet we were the closest of friends. Every day we walked to and from school together. We even managed to outwit the bullies and usually got through the day without any beatings.

I even saved her life once. Me and her were walking home from school together when some members of the Gang noticed her, one grabbed her and I bit his arm so he let go and then I told Cindy to run away, she did. Those guys beat me to near death, but I didn’t regret it and I still don’t. My dad complained the whole time I was in the hospital that I shouldn’t have risked my life for her and that ‘I need to worry about myself first’ and that we couldn’t afford the medical bills I had caused us to receive. When I tried to say that mom always said we should help people he just huffed. After getting out of the hospital Cindy thanked me explicitly. She said she loved me and gave me a kiss on the cheek; it was in that moment that I realized I loved her too.

That pretty well sets the stage for the rest of my story. Me and Cindy grew closer and closer over the years while me and my dad grew further and further apart. I always knew my dad disliked Cindy, he made that very clear, constantly griping about her father and how ‘she’ll end up just like him’ and how she’ll ‘mess me up’, but the day when he forbid me to see her, that was too much. He said Cindy is ‘bad influence’ and if I hang around her I’ll go bad too. I just lost it. I started yelling at him that he never gave Cindy a chance and that she’s the only one who ever really cared about me after mom died, himself included. And you know what? I don’t regret saying those things, they’re true. And if my dad doesn’t like the truth that’s not my problem.

Of course my dad went berserk. He yelled and screamed, and I yelled and screamed back. He ordered me to go to my room. Go to to my room? I thought this was some kind of joke, I’m not seven. I’m sixteen and I’m too old to ‘go to my room’. Nevertheless when I reasonably tried to explain this to him he just ordered me into my room again. That was enough, I’d been putting up with him for years and enough was enough. I stormed out the door and into the moonless night. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I knew it wasn’t home. It was ten o’clock and the smelly night was as dark as I felt on the inside.

I realized that there was only one thing to do. I had to leave with the only person who ever loved me, Cindy. I had to leave and start a new life. Of course the only way to do this was to do something ‘wrong’ but life had been unfairly hard on me and Cindy. The world owed me and her bigtime. I leaned against a brick building and waited for some drunken idiot out this late to walk past me. Thankfully, due to the bar down the street that closes at ten o’clock, it didn’t take long. “Hey,” I said to get his attention, “Come here, I want to talk.” I grabbed his arm and pulled him toward me. “Gimme your money,” I said. “I ain’t givin’ you no money you *hiccup* you criminal” He drunkly stuttered. I hit the side of his face as hard as I could, hearing a soft crack as I did “I said give it to me.” Thankfully he was sober enough to see the wise thing to do. I got away with thirty-five dollars and his wedding ring. My next action was to steal a car. I walked down the street looking at cars until I found a blue ’98 Chevy with one of those stupid magnetic key holders in the tire well. I took out the key unlocked the car and got inside. The car smelt like shoes and had fast food wrappers everywhere. I started it and drove to Cindy’s house.

Upon arriving at Cindy’s house I jogged up the steps and walked in the front door without knocking; I was in a hurry and didn’t want to wake up Cindy’s dad. The sent of alcohol nearly overpowered me as I opened the door. It turned out I didn’t have to worry about waking Cindy’s dad; he was passed out in front of the still blaring TV. Beer bottles were scattered about. I walked past the passed out man a few yards to Cindy’s room. The door was closed and I heard crying. I tapped quietly on the door. “Cindy? It’s me.” The crying stopped. I heard shuffling feet and then the door opened. Cindy was clad in bloody clothes and had a black eye and a bloody lip. It looked like her dad was beating her again. Seeing this made me want to go beat him. “What are you doing here?” she asked. I dropped down to one knee and held out the ring I stole. “Cindy,” I said looking her in the eye, “I propose that me and you leave this terrible place and get married. We can start new lives in a new place. Together.” She seemed shocked for a moment; I was worried she’d say no. Really worried. Cindy meant everything to me and if she said no I’d have nothing to live for. “Of course.” She said taking the ring and putting it on, “I have nothing to live for here. Where are we going?” I paused, I hadn’t really thought about it yet. I’m not sure yet, let’s get out of here and then decide.

After leaving Cindy’s house I drove with her down the street past the tired and dark houses and onto the highway. “Where are we going?” Cindy asked. “I don’t know,” I said, “I’m just getting away from here. I’m open to any suggestions.” She paused for a moment “Las Vegas? They have those drive through chapels there.” I agreed with her and off we went.

So here I am, driving to Las Vegas to marry my fiancé. Thanks for listening to me. You know I’m right, don’t you? You understand I had no choice but to leave right? You know I had to do what I did right? You most likely don’t. Well you weren’t there, you weren’t living that life. You have no idea what it’s like. All I know is that I made the right move and will finally be happy again.

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Joey S. (Faero)

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Lori M. (lammyfrommiami) - 1/18/2009 5:36 PM ET
Interesting and well written short story. Thank u!
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