While a complete work of fiction, the reality of abuse is found throughout.
This is dedicated to those whom I have known who died on the streets. May theyknow peace, and never be forgotten. To my friends: Kyle, Paul, Jackson, Tommy, Eric, Tyson, Jordan, and the rest of the gang. Thank you for always being there for me. We may be too old to skinny dip anymore but I will never forget the periscopes!
Once again many thanks go to Tigerpaw, who has been a huge help throughit all, and has stuck by me through thick and thin. Hugs always.
I have to give my biggest thanks to my soul mate, the one who has stood by me for twenty plus years and has always been there for me. Without the real life Jason, I don't know if I would be here today. I love you my husband. You make the world go round for me.
Mom and Dad, you fall in with Jason. You gave me a home and a life, as well as the best education you could. I may not be the smartest of your kids, but I do my best. Love you always.
All rights reserved
© 2015-2017 The Estate of Jamie Mac
"What does not kill me only makes me stronger,"
Author's note: There is no sex in this story but there is love, if you find this offensive then please read something else. There are some scenes where the players may get very close but that is about it. There is nudity in this story, but as I wrote it I based it on the way most Europeans see it.
Eleven-year-old Jamie leaned against the wall of the alley he had called home for the last several months. The early morning proved to be wet and chilly as a light rain continued to fall. Jamie thought to himself, maybe he should start finding another town with less rain to live in, someplace much less wet than the streets he was living on now. It was time to wander and see what the day would bring. Packing his belongings, he gathered what little he had, loaded his pack on his shoulders, and headed off with no real destination in mind.
Jamie had run away from home for the third time now, after Social Services had returned him once again with a warning that he would wind up in juvenile detention the next time he was caught. The problem was Jamie knew how his father and mother operated, always bad-mouthing him and making it look like he was the problem and not them. Always it seemed that the system worked against him, he knew they would be of no help for his future. He knew his odds were slim that he would even survive so many kids wind up dead on the streets for one reason or another. For Jamie it was still better than being home.
Jamie was a good-looking boy, with blond hair and a smile that could charm the horns off the devil himself. The bad part was living on the streets and always being covered in grime from the city had hidden most of that devilish charm. Jamie wandered down out of the warehouse district, it was a much safer place to sleep than in the parks or near the many condos and apartment complexes. He had learned fast that if you did not want to be found to stay away from where people lived, ate, and worked. If you did this and kept your head down, you would go unnoticed.
That was life on the streets, either learn quick or get picked up and sent home – or to a foster home where things could be just as bad if not worse. Jamie had made a few friends while on the streets, so he learned as much as he could from those who stuck together in small groups. Little did he know that one of those friends was going to change his life forever.
As he walked in the rain his shoes squished from being soaked and Jamie thought to himself, 'I need to get out of this and someplace dry. Before I get sick and wind up back there.'
With this thought in mind he started to head for the subway station. Along the way he ran into one of his friends, Kyle, who had the same idea. Jamie thought, maybe between the two of them, they could work a couple of meals out of the passers-by and then grab something off the local food carts. Entering a restaurant was not a very good idea when you looked like someone had dragged you through the mud all day long.
The rain had picked up and the boys spoke only a couple words to each other. Conversation was never big between them. The usual 'hey' and 'I see you made it' was about it for the most part. Jamie was three years younger than Kyle and several inches shorter. While they walked along Jamie looked up at his friend and saw the street lights glistening off his wet strawberry blonde hair that was streaked with brown highlights.
With the help of Kyle, Jamie along with a few other boys had learned enough to help them survive on the streets. Thanks to his generous nature and the assistance of others Jamie had learned quickly how to make a go of it. Soon with all the help he had gotten from his friend Jamie became an expert at survival on the streets. He learnt quickly that if you spot a police car you ran and hid, and if they spotted you you walked looking like you had a destination in mind.
In the back of Jamie's mind though it seemed there was something more to Kyle than meets the eye. He was always looking for what was so unusual about Kyle. Jamie noted different things, but never said anything wondering if perhaps it was just hunger or a lack of sleep. It may have even been the fever he had been running since he escaped from his house again. Jamie had noticed that Kyle seemed to be able to sense trouble before it happened, even having a knack of avoiding it and getting clear of an area. With all this running through Jamie's head, Kyle suddenly looked at him with a look of 'we need to run fast!' on his face and they took off.
They raced quickly to the nearest subway entrance and ran down the stairs. It seemed Kyle's quick thinking had paid off once again as the first flash of lightning streaked across the dark leadened sky. It was followed with a peal of loud thunder less than a second behind it and the sound of rain now pounding the pavement in a torrent.
They had both made it safely to the dim underground platform when the storm began in earnest. Sitting on a bench near the stairs, Kyle looked at Jamie and the rumble in their stomachs said it all.
"That was close," said Jamie while trying to catch his breath.
"I know, way too close. We made it just in time," Kyle replied as he tried to catch his breath as well.
Kyle heard another rumble even though they were deep down in the subway. Then looking about he realized that it was Jamie's stomach protesting once again about not having been fed in what was likely days. Kyle realized that he had to help Jamie out no matter what it took. He had kept watch as they ran for the station and he could see that the younger boy was struggling to keep up. It was as if Jamie was spending the last of his remaining energy on the run and was now close to collapse.
Kyle had become very close to the younger boy, whom he knew looked up to him like a big brother. Kyle was determined that he was going to make sure today would be the very first of many great days to come in his friend's life, and it was going to start with a decent meal.
"Hungry this morning?" asked Kyle with a smile, knowing all too well what the answer would be.
"I've not had a bite in four days. I really need to make some cash today. No matter what I have to do," Jamie replied dreading the thoughts of the other ways he might be forced into for getting food.
Kyle nodding, knowing it was getting close to the time to let his friend in on something he had been holding back, said, "Yeah I hear ya bud. Let's hope people are feeling generous this morning cause I would rather avoid that route myself."
The boys began looking for the hopeful few who might drop them some change. It was still very early and most of the city was just beginning to wake up. So they wandered the platform looking for the best place to position themselves. They staked out a partially out-of-the-way spot, but yet close to the activity to be able to ask for money. The thunder continued to rumble down into the station from overhead. As the lightning periodically lit up the entrance to the platform it looked like it was going to be an all-day event. The sounds of passers-by soon began to increase and it would not be long before the early morning business rush would be on.
Not drawing attention to oneself is easy after a time. Doing that as well as asking for change, can be the real challenge. Luckily on a rainy day like this most people would be carrying umbrellas and wearing rain gear. So a couple of wet kids waiting in a subway station would go unnoticed for the most part. Once the crowds started to press in the boys moved a bit further apart from each other and continued to work their trade. Being close together can have its advantages, sometimes people will see you as brothers and give a little more. Most of the time however they figure you are just some rich kids who ditched school to make a few dollars to add air time to their smartphone.
Panhandling was easy in that it required little effort, but it never was a good pay day. Often one only gleaned a dollar or two, sometimes even less. Today seemed to be the boy's lucky day however, as they worked in the dimly lit platform the people seemed to be a bit more generous perhaps on account of it being a rainy day. Maybe the fact that neither of them looked like typical bored rich kids who often tried to weasel in on their turf had helped. The rich kids never came out when the weather was bad, preferring instead to stay at home. It had turned out to be a very lucrative morning on the platform.
Kyle walked back to Jamie with a half-grin on his face, looking like he had pulled off a very big coup. Jamie could see it on his face as Kyle continued to walk towards him.
"Jamie, today is our lucky day," said Kyle as he unrolled a twenty-dollar bill.
Jamie's eyes lit up even in the dim light of the platform. The ice blue of those eyes stood out and a sly smile crossed his face as he took note of the large bill in Kyle's hands.
"Woah dude, where'd ya get that?" asked a shocked Jamie looking like they had just won the lottery.
"Some old guy feeling guilty about losing a son in the war," replied Kyle.
"Cool, looks like we got a couple days of eats, I managed five and some change," Jamie said happily knowing that they could now get a couple good meals, perhaps even a bit more if they were very careful.
Both boys knew that a war was raging, that people were dying in faraway lands. For a long time now wars had only been about the valuable life blood that made the world's machinery run. The true reasons for the battles long forgotten and distorted by lies into something barely recognizable. All being done in order to fuel the endless appetite of those that controlled the war machine. Although the boys did not know the full details of world affairs they knew enough that war was war and that people were dying needlessly.
Now with the unexpected gift of twenty, plus the five dollars and change that they had collected this morning, they could grab a ride to City Centre Station. Once there then they would head to the main floor of the large structure and hit the food carts as well as the food court. If very lucky they might even have enough to hit one of the small restaurants that were set up on the main floor of the station. Getting enough food to settle the rumblings in their stomachs was first and foremost in the front of their minds.
They waited on the platform for the next train to arrive and within a few moments one had pulled up and they were onboard sitting at the back riding to the centre of the city. It would be a long ride since it was the morning commute. People would be getting on and off the train at every stop. The boys sat back, now drier than when they first entered the station some time ago, and relaxed as the sound of the train's wheels on the tracks and noise of the people ran through the car.
As Jamie stretched out a bit and yawned he thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye sitting next to Kyle. It looked like something from a faerie tale, a distinct image yet fleeting. He tried to focus on it but only managed to catch a glimpse of a golden shimmer as the apparition faded. Jamie shrugged it off as an illusion, probably from the lack of food. As he drifted off into a light doze, never fully sleeping, he listening to the din of the train and people around him and felt like he was dreaming.
What seemed like an hour actually only took twenty minutes and then they arrived at the City Centre platform. As the train started its screeching halt in the station Kyle nudged Jamie out of the light doze that he was in.
"We've arrived Jamie, time to wake up. I can already smell the food," said Kyle although it was far from true since the food carts, coffee shops, and small diners were on the main floor of the City Centre Station not down with the trains.
"Yeah, let's go find some breakfast. I'm so hungry I could eat an elephant," replied Jamie, making his eyes bug out and rubbing his belly at the same time.
Kyle laughed at the sight, "You crack me up Jamie! Even on a nasty day like today you can manage to make me smile."
Still feeling rather fuzzy from the light nap and the strange image he thought he had seen, Jamie shook his head to clear his thoughts. He gazed more closely at his friend, and swore he could almost see something about Kyle's person. Jamie felt certain he could almost see a faint glow around Kyle's head and neck, that same golden shimmer he had seen earlier while on the train. At that moment Jamie's stomach growled once again with hunger and his mind turned back to food making him dismiss the thoughts he was having as just hunger pangs.
Finally getting off the train the boys walked up the stairs to the main floor of the City Centre Station. The station was beginning to become packed with commuters heading in all directions. The boys worked their way through the brightly lit concourse, as the rain ran like rivers down the glass dome overhead. They aimed straight through the throngs of people and headed directly for the food court on the other side. The scents and aromas coming from the area put a spring and a sense of urgency in their step, as if the food would all be gone before they got there.
Arriving at the food court and cart vendors, they walked around looking at prices determining the best value for their money. They knew twenty-five dollars would not go far and they hoped that it might last for more than one meal. Suddenly the answer presented itself, they spotted a new shop that had a buffet. Both boys instantly looked at each other and their smiles said it all: Jackpot! Since the rain had washed them fairly clean and they were mostly dried out they figured it would be easy to get loaded up and perhaps even stuff some food for later. After all coat pocket pancakes, and warm pants pocket sausages were always a much better deal than the alternative.
Finding a buffet meant the boys would not have to resort to other means for getting food for a while. It would eliminate a few days of almost certain pain and agony from having to earn it the hard way. Those were pretty much the only choices open to kids on the streets. Get lucky panhandling, pray you might find a decent person for other things, or rarest of all a person who would give you some food without demanding the usual payment in return. Sometimes kids would get lucky, other times they would never be seen again – such was the life they lived.
After loading their plates with as much food as they could, they found a corner booth out of the way of the crowds of people. Breakfast was served and it only had cost them ten dollars, which meant there would be more later. As they sat eating with great relish, Jamie could not help but notice some odd things happening at the table. One of the plates next to him that he knew he had piled high with bacon was now empty. Jamie began to question himself again, but he still shrugged it off as being a consequence of the hunger that had plagued him for several days. Nonetheless it was odd as it just seemed everything had suddenly vanished from the plate.
After three large plates of food each, Kyle and Jamie sat back in the booth both very satisfied. Their bellies were now full and they were completely relaxed, which is something that they never really experienced much. Since life on the streets is so different you never really get a chance to just sit back and enjoy a meal without being run off.
"That ... was ... awesome! Best meal I think I've had in months," Jamie stated, his rare but charming smile making an appearance since the remark was so heartfelt.
"The food is really good here and plenty of it. Did you manage to pack some away?" asked Kyle with a wry grin and a wink.
"Yeah I did, and something odd as well. Maybe it's just I was super hungry. I thought, well it seemed like food was vanishing faster than I was eating it," replied Jamie still very puzzled.
A bit surprised by this and caught somewhat off guard Kyle coughed to cover the moment and then said, "sounds like super hunger to me. I sometimes feel the same way."
Since the restaurant was getting busy the boys figured they had better get busy as well – buffet after all, meant all you can eat. So this was their chance and they were making sure to fill their pockets and more. Unbeknownst to them however, they were being watched on the sly. Kyle went back to the table with another plateful, when suddenly the manager approached.
"Hey now, what's this all about?" he shouted at them as they sat there.
Jamie fearing the big man cowered back in the booth, while Kyle stared at the big man in his grease-covered clothing. The man was waving a dirty spatula threateningly at the two boys sitting in the booth in front of him while continuing his verbal assault.
"We're just enjoying a meal sir and not doing anything wrong," Kyle responded while starting to smile at the man in a non-defensive way.
As Jamie sat frozen listening to the exchange he saw something out of the corner of his eye. He turned and looked closely and was certain as he looked at the table that the same golden shimmer he had seen before was starting to appear. This time however it was beginning to take a definite form. In only moments suddenly on the table in front of him was what appeared to be the outline of a lizard of some sort. Jamie's mind rebelled against this; positive that it was not possible. The lizard had a golden glow about it and it seemed to be taking on additional form. A long tail emerged from it, and what appeared to be feathers grew from the tip of the tail which was now in front of him. The neck elongated as Jamie watched and the head now appeared to have feathers as well. The lizard continued to evolve and take shape, with wings forming as well as four legs.
To Jamie's utter amazement the creature on the table had taken on the shape of a dragon – a small one but a dragon nonetheless. The restaurant manager seemed to be oblivious to what was happening while still continuing his rant at the boys in front of him. In spite of the increasing volume of the complaints Kyle continued to smile, almost as if he knew there was no danger. All Jamie could do was stare in wonder, his mouth hung open but no words formed. Finally, completely questioning his sanity Jamie looked once again at the creature on the table and said to himself, 'Did that dragon just wink at me?'
As the confrontation escalated the man who was now shouting obscenities, was calling both boys every name in the book including some words they had never heard before. The dragon sat and watched the exchange with what appeared as a frown on his face. Jamie was watching the dragon more now then he was the manager, he was already fascinated by the golden dragon who now sat before him.
"You little whelps are not eating! You're thieves and you are stealing food from my cash paying customers" the man exclaimed in a loud tone that now had half the restaurant looking over at the corner booth containing the boys.
"No sir, we are enjoying a meal we paid for," was Kyle's reply, his smile now spread fully across his face. The young boy's white teeth were shining as his deep green eyes sparkled in the bright lights of the buffet. Kyle also held the receipt in his hands showing they had indeed paid for their meal.
The manager was now frustrated to the boiling point. His initial thoughts of course had already determined his eventual course of action. He reached out with both hands for Kyle and Jamie to grab them and drag them out of the restaurant. Jamie now staring at the dragon that had winked at him only a moment ago saw a sudden change. In an instant the dragon went from appearing happy or at least content to total anger as if it seemed to be expecting this exact moment.
Just as it appeared there was no escape as the owner's hands reached out to grab both Jamie and Kyle he suddenly screamed in pain as his hands burst into bright golden flames. As the man batted his hands on his apron trying to put the fire out Kyle looked on as the fire seemed to continue to spread. The manager was now hollering and rolling on the floor, trying to beat out the fire that felt like it was consuming his entire body. Jamie stared in amazement his jaw nearly on the ground. With a gentle hand Kyle suddenly grabbed him and half-dragged him from the booth.
Kyle leaned into Jamie's ear and in a loud whisper said, "Let's go before this gets real ugly."
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