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Rat in a Drain Ditch

A story by e

Chapter 2

"Well, aren't you the popular one this morning."

I looked up to see a man in a long white coat. He was wearing a tie underneath, and was holding a clipboard. That was all I could see.

"I'm Doctor Murphy."

"Hospital?" I was still having trouble talking. My eyes didn't want to focus either. I didn't seem to be able to think clearly. My brain felt like it was covered with a thick rug.

"Hollywood Presbyterian." The man leaned over me and shined a light into my eyes.

I blinked. He put his fingers over them and held them open while he flicked the light back and forth. Then he looked up my nose.

"Open your mouth and say 'Ahhh.'"

I did as he asked.

"Very good." He put the light away and sat in a chair beside the bed. "Darn near everyone in town wants to know who you are."

I just looked at him. I could think of why anyone would be interested in me.

"Yep, we've got the LAPD, Children's Services, the LA Times, Channel 5 News and Channel 11, a couple of radio stations, too."

"Why?" This was weird

"Its not every day a bag lady wheels a kid in here stuffed into a shopping cart. The kid battered and bleeding to death. The bag lady cursing and swearing at everybody. All she would tell us is your name is Rat and it wasn't yet time for you to burn. Then she just sort of disappeared."

I felt myself smile. Emma had gotten me to a doctor.

"But that's only half the reason. You'd lost so much blood that you should have been dead. Knife wound. Somehow it missed any vital organs. Damn lucky, I'd say. Multiple contusions over your torso and extremities, some several hours older than others. But what concerns me most, at this point is the tearing and bruising of your rectum and genitalia."

I closed my eyes and swallowed. Damn. Why'd they have to look there.

"We'll get back to that, later. First thing I need is a name."


He suppressed a chuckle. "Your real name, son."

I looked at him for a second. Trying to think. I didn't know it. I was sure I was high on something that was keeping me from thinking, but I hadn't heard my real name in so long, I wasn't sure I'd have remembered it anyway. "Rat."

The doctor just looked at me for a second and took a breath.

"Ok, what's you mother's name?"

"Emma." It never occurred to me that he was asking about my real mother.

"Last name?"

"Don't know."

"Look son, the police and everybody else are going to need this information. Now a little cooperation will go a long way."

"Don't know her name. Just Emma."

He gave me a disapproving look and crossed his legs.


"Regina Apartments."

"Ok, that's a start. What about the street and number?"

"I live under a bush, behind the building. Next to the garage. It's nice there."

"You're telling me that you're homeless, then."

"I guess so."

"You're mother, she lives there too?"

"Nope. Just comes by every morning. She brings me donuts."

"She's not really you're mother, is she?"

"Better than the real thing." My real mother would've been passed out or in the bedroom fucking some guy's brains out. She wouldn't have gotten me to the hospital.

When he finally got done with the questions about my injuries and my past, he started telling me a bit more about my injuries. He wanted to test me for HIV, too. He seemed kind of worried about my size and weight. He said I should be taller and heavier. Part of it could be hereditary, but no doubt some was due to malnutrition. I was 5' 1" and 72 pounds. He kept asking me if I was sure I was really 15. I was pretty sure. I spent two Christmas times on the street. I was thirteen for the first one.


I was in the seventh grade. It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving. My mom just married some guy named Bob. He didn't like me much. He always cussed at me and hit me a few times. Not too hard. Some of her other boyfriends did a lot worse things so I thought he was ok. After the wedding they told me they were going on a honeymoon. They packed up some clothes and stuff. My mom kissed me and asked me if I'd be ok for a few days. They'd be back by Thanksgiving. I said sure. There was some food in the fridge. I'd cooked for myself before.

That was the last I ever saw of either one of them. I stayed in the house until the food ran out and the electric company shut off the lights. Then it was too cold to stay anymore so I went to my friend Patrick's house. He hid me for a couple days, then we stole enough money from his mom to buy a bus ticket to Los Angeles.

I turned fourteen that spring, May fifth. There was another Christmas after that and another spring. I had to be fifteen by now, unless it wasn't May fifth yet.


The social worker and the police officer were just as frustrated with me as the doctor had been. They kept threatening to take me to juvenile hall or put me in a foster home if I wouldn't tell them who I was. They could hang me by my nuts for all I cared. If I told them, they'd just send me home. No way was I ever going back there. None of it mattered anyways. I couldn't remember.

I actually did make the TV news. Watched myself on three channels that night. They were showing a picture of me and asking if anyone knew any information. It ticked me off just a little that they were making fun of Emma, though. I thought she deserved better.

The social worker was a nice man once he decided it was useless to try and get me to tell him my name. I was too embarrassed to tell him I couldn't remember it. I just kept pretending like I was refusing. It bothered me, though. I didn't even know who I was anymore. I don't suppose it mattered. Whoever I was supposed to be died a long time ago. Rat was all that was left.

Anyhow, his name was Mr. Johnson. He brought me a card signed by all the other social workers at his office. It came attached to a big teddy bear. I never had one of those before. It was all soft and fuzzy. Good to hold onto.

Mr. Johnson told me I would be going to live with some guy named Father Jim. He used to be a priest but now he ran a home for 'disadvantaged' boys. Yeah, I laughed too. 'Disadvantaged,' sounded like I grew up in the ghetto or something.

Then Mr. Johnson introduced Detective Kellner. She was from the LAPD. She wanted to know all about everything. I told her about the guys in the van. At least as much as I could remember. I didn't care if I squealed on them. It was their fault I was here. They not only ripped me off for twenty bucks, they dumped me on Diablo territory. That damn near got me killed. They deserved to go to jail.


"Scooter!" I was sitting in bed watching TV when my only friend walked into the room with a great big smile on his face.

"S'up rat?"

"How'd you know I was here?"

"TV dude, you're famous." He sat in the chair next to the bed.

"Oh yeah, Rat boy and bag lady." I rolled my eyes.

"Almost as good as Batman and Robin." He chuckled.

"Yeah, but they got a cool car, all we got is a beat up shopping cart." I sighed.

"And you sleep under a bush instead of in a Bat Cave." We both laughed.

"Here, gotcha a present." He pulled a can of Coke out of his pocket and offered it to me.

"You better open it first. I'm pretty much one-handed." My left arm was more or less useless. It hurt way too much to move it.

Scooter popped the top and handed me the can. I took a good long swig and handed it back his way.

"Oh no, dude, that's your's." He waved his hand in front of the can.

"It's ok, dude, you gotta help me. I can't really drink very much."

"Ok, if you insist." He took the can and gulped down nearly all the remaining contents. I smiled. I knew he wanted some, he was just trying to be polite.

"So you got any weed?"

Scooter nearly choked on the Coke. He put his hand to his mouth to hold it in. It all he could do to keep from spitting it all over me.

"Here?" He glanced quickly around the room. There were two other beds, but they were both empty. "Dude, you tryin' to get us arrested?"

"Help me out of bed. We can go to the stairwell. I'll even blow you if you want."

Scooter closed his eyes and looked down at the floor. "Man, I wish you wouldn't do that."

"What? Blow you?"

"Nah, dude, you always make it seem like I'm one of your johns. Like I'm payin' for it or somethin'."

My smile disappeared and I looked away from him. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. "I'm sorry. I didn't want it to sound cheap. Sex is all I got to give back. It's all anybody ever wants from me. I give it to them, they give me what I need. You're the only one I never really wanted anything back from. I'd do it with you for nothing. I'd do it just 'cause I want to."

"Then stop offering it up in exchange for stuff. If you want something, just ask. You know I'd give you anything I got, no strings attached." Scoot's eyes were nearly as teary as mine.

"Well then I'll blow you even if we don't get high." We both burst into laughter.

"Nobody's blowin' anybody on my shift. And you sure as hell ain't gettin' high." This nurse was bigger than the two of us put together. The frown on her face, the hands on her hips, and the fire in her eye told me she was meaner than the both of us as well.

Scooter wasn't called Scooter for nothing. He was by her and out the door before she finished speaking.


Father Jim seemed really nice. He took me to a house that was right here in Hollywood. Not too far from where Scooter lives. At 15, I would end up being the youngest of the seven boys who live there. The others were all 16 or 17. He had eight beds altogether, so he still had room for one more. It was a big house, two stories, with four bedrooms so I would have to share a room. Hey, any place with a room was better than what I'd been living in. The garage out back had been converted into offices. There were counselors who kept an eye on us, and a whole lot of rules to follow. I'm not too sure I'll ever be able to learn them all. The worst was that I'd have to ask permission for everything and that I couldn't eat when I was hungry, just at meal or snack times.

Father Jim said I'd get to go out and buy some new clothes, too. But I had to wait for a staff member to take me and that wouldn't be until tomorrow. The hospital gave me one set of clothes because otherwise I'd have had to go home naked. They cut my clothes off when I was brought in.

The hospital also ordered me to be on bed rest for a few days, too. That meant I wouldn't be allowed to go on outings to the beach or anywhere else until the doctor said so. And I wasn't due to see him again for a week. Not as bad as being in the hospital, I guess. But it still felt like jail.

Apparently bed rest meant I could lie on the couch and watch TV, but I wasn't allowed to play any video games. Father Jim said it was a privilege I would have to earn. I didn't really know how to play video games anyway. Scooter had some and tried to teach me, but I was pretty awful at it. I never had any when I lived with my mother. In fact, when I lived with her I barely had any toys at all. At least I had my teddy bear now. It made me feel good to hold onto him. I didn't care if it was a little kid's toy.

So that's where I was when the others got home, lying on the couch, holding my bear, and watching TV.

"He looks like a little baby." The boy was talking to one of the others. He looked like a cholo, black hair, olive skin, black pants, white t-shirt.

"You suck your thumb, too, little boy?" He was looking at me now.

I just looked up at him.

"I guess he doesn't talk yet."

"No, man, he da queer boy. I bet he got a dick stuck in his mouth." A tall Black boy appeared behind the cholo. "Ain't that right, White boy, you takes it up yo ass."

"All right, that's enough you guys." It was a young man, mid-twenties I guessed, not bad looking. Probably a staff member. "That's no way to welcome a new resident."

"Yeah, but he gots a teddy bear."

"An' he be a ho."

"What he BE, is a survivor. I'd love to see you live for two years on the streets, no friends, no family to support you." It was Father Jim. "He did what he had to. You don't have to live like that anymore, do you, son?"

"Um, no sir." I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn't know what to think of the other boys. They looked kind of big and mean. I wasn't too sure I was gonna like it here.

It got even scarier after Father Jim left. My roommate was gonna be one of the Black kids, Jerome. That wouldn't have been so bad, but he kept telling me how the bigger one, Tyrone, was gonna come into the room at night and how I better keep my mouth shut. I was too afraid to go to sleep. I just lay in my bed and held onto my bear and tried not to let him hear me crying.

It was really late when Tyrone and Juan, finally came into the room. They yanked the covers off me and grabbed my bear. Juan held his hand over my mouth to keep me quiet while Tyrone took a knife and cut the bear open, ripping out all the stuffing. He threw it all over the room and told me that if I made a sound or if I told, he do me like the bear. I just let them do what they wanted. They made Jerome do it too. They said that way he'd be just as guilty as they were so he couldn't tell, either.

I tried to pretend like I was just turning another trick, like I was trading sex for a place to sleep and some food. But it didn't work. I hated what they were doing to me. Turning tricks was my choice. I had no choice in this. They left me on the floor and said they would be back for more tomorrow night, maybe even with some of the others.

When Bob, the staff guy, came into the room to wake us up in the morning, he got really pissed. Jerome told him that I got mad because the others had teased me about having a teddy bear and that I had ripped up the bear. He wouldn't believe me when I tried to say it wasn't me.

He told me I was confined to my room for the day. He said I'd have to wait another day to go clothes shopping and that I would have to pick up every little piece of stuffing. He gave me a plastic garbage bag to put it in. It took about two hours, but I finally got it cleaned up to his satisfaction. He told me to take it out to the trash can. I put on my shoes and grabbed the bag. When I got out back, I took a look around, hopped over the wall, and never looked back.


I held the bag with my bear tight against my chest and cried all the way to Scooter's place. He helped me put the stuffing back in and we tried to sew it up. We didn't do a very good job and the bear didn't look anything like it used to, but I didn't care. It was just as good to hold.

My side was hurting really bad. It had been ever since I climbed over the wall, now it was to the point that I couldn't breath or move my arm anymore. Scoot took a look at the bandage and there was blood coming through. When he peeled it off we could see that three stitches had torn loose. It was bleeding pretty good.

"Damn. I saw on TV once that applying pressure and ice might work."

"They teach you that on TV?"

"Yeah, sometimes the stuff they do is total bullshit, so I don't know."

"I never watched TV much, so I don't know either. But we might as well try before I bleed to death."

"OK, I'll be right back." Scooter got up and headed for the kitchen. I could hear him getting ice from the freezer. Then he cam back with a wet towel and a plastic bag with some ice. "Here, roll on this side. Ok, now I'll put the towel on, then hold the ice."

"Ow! Don't push so hard, that hurts."

"The show said you had to have firm pressure." He hadn't let up. I thought he was going to cave in my ribcage.

"How long you gotta do this?" His treatment hurt worse than when I climbed the fence.

"Don't know, dude, maybe fifteen or twenty minutes."

"Oh fuck, this better work. 'Cause I sure don't want to go through this pain for nothing."

Scoot knew his stuff. He let up after about twenty minutes and when he removed the towel, the bleeding had almost stopped. He got up and went back to the kitchen, this time returning with a bottle of whiskey.

"Oh, fuck yeah, I can use some of that. Pour me a glass."

"It's not to drink, dude, it's to clean the wound." He knelt beside me and opened the bottle.

"Oh shit, you're NOT pouring that stuff on there. It'll burn like hell!"

"Relax dude, they do it in cowboy movies all the time when they don't have the right medicine."

"Dude, I may not get to see much, but in cowboy movies they DRINK the whiskey first so they don't fuckin' feel it."

"OK, dude, then take a swig, but make sure there's enough left." He handed me the bottle. It was almost half full.

I put the bottle to my lips and took a sip. I shivered as it went down. I always had to start with a small sip first to get used to it. Then it wouldn't be such a shock to the system. I gulped down about three big swallows before Scoot yanked the bottle out of my hand.

"Damn dude, don't drink it all."

I could barely hear him as I shut my eyes really tight and clamped my jaw, shaking my head and the rest of my body as I tried to force the stuff down my throat while keeping it from coming back up. It burned like hell. I cringed and took a deep breath, still trying not to puke.

"Gimme that back, I need some more." I knew I needed to get really ripped. I was well on my way. My head felt hot and I was just a little bit dizzy. "I won't drink it all, dude, I promise." I don't know why, but I rarely ever used the word dude unless I was around Scoot.

He reluctantly handed the bottle back and I took a couple more gulps. Things got a little burry after that.


I woke up on the floor between Scoot's bed and the wall. I was naked except for the sheet that was covering me.

"Mornin' dude." Scoot was playfully nudging my shoulder with his foot.

"Fuck, will you stop that, man." I tried to turn away, but when I did, his big toe went into my mouth. "Damn!"

Scoot fell back on his bed, laughing.

"It's not funny, dude, your dirty, smelly feet in my goddamn mouth." I could be bitchy in the morning.

"Check out your side, dude."

I looked down. There was white thread replacing the black stitches that had been torn loose. "Damn!"

"I make a pretty wicked surgeon, eh?"

"When did you…" He interrupted before I could finish.

"Yesterday while you were so drunk you couldn't feel it, don't you remember?"

I just shook my head.

"Good, then you won't remember that I sewed your piss hole shut either."

"WHAT???" I thought my heart was gonna jump right out of my chest. My right hand went straight for my dick. "Oh you mother fucker!"

The house shook as Scoot hit the floor, he'd fallen off the other side of the bed he was laughing so hard. "Gotcha!"

"You're fuckin' dead meat, man. As soon as I can fuckin' move. Goddammit!" The fucker had gotten me good, but at least it was only a joke. I threw my bear at him. He couldn't stop laughing.

Scoot hid me out for a couple of days before his mom figured out I was there. She threatened to call Children's Services until I told her what happened at Father Jim's. Then she agreed to let me stay until the stitches were ready to come out.


Scoot's mom didn't like the idea of harboring a runaway, but she seemed to like me well enough that I knew I could milk the situation for a few extra days. But I really wanted to go find Emma and thank her for saving my life. I walked all up and down the alleys and streets where she usually hung out, but I couldn't find her. I asked some of the bums and winos. Nobody seemed to have seen her for several days. I spent three days looking.

Scoot's mom was a nurse at the hospital. She said a woman fitting Emma's description had been admitted to the ER a few days ago. She had died.She offered to take me to the Coroner's office to identify the body. They keep the remains of unidentified homeless people stored away for several years unless a relative claims the body. They keep pictures, too. So people looking for missing persons can identify them.

I cried a lot when I found Emma. She died from a brain tumor. She'd had it for years. It's what made her curse and swear all the time. Probably could have had it removed, if it had been diagnosed years ago.

I lied and told them I was her son. They said that I could claim the remains for $600. That was the cost of having her cremated. Otherwise it would cost more. They might as well have told me it was a million. To me $600 was pretty much the same thing.

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