Of course, I had only so much time to find the money to keep this room that I had now made so very safe.
But before I got the job to get that money. Money that would allow me to keep MY dingy little basement room. (for a while anyway) Before I got that job, I had a few days to get to know MY new little gang of “punks”.
Of course, we didn’t hang out in my room. We just went there to eat. My new young friends took me to a few of their favorite places to hang out. Sometimes in open and fairly public places and sometimes in dark, private places. These places were mostly in small public parks, alleys and a few abandoned buildings near where they lived. There, we would mostly stand around and smoke. I’m a talkative guy and they weren’t talking so I probably talked about where I was from, but I don’t really remember any details about that now. I was curious about them and their lives. I wanted to know where they were from. They weren’t talking though.
They were just looking tough.
Wherever we were hanging out, I somehow kinda knew we weren’t too far from where they lived. None of my new young friends ever pointed out any of the houses. They never said anything about themselves. But I had this feeling and then, they just decided to let me in.
We were hanging out in some normal-looking park and suddenly someone said to follow and we all quickly went inside one of the houses. Once inside we went straight downstairs to the basement of this rather nice home and into a kind of make-shift living room. Like a den, with couches and a TV. It was separated from the rest of the basement with hanging white sheets. Once everyone settled in the den, everything and everyone changed.
The change in these kids was immediate and complete.
Suddenly, in that basement that afternoon, they all became just the bunch of kids that they truly were. Laughing and eating junk food from Mom’s fridge and watching anything they wanted on TV. They were horsing around and joking with each other. Like normal kids. As long as they were the only ones there, the reality of the street punk part of their lives, was on hold and they could be just the kids they were.
So here I was, nineteen-year-old good boy me. Hanging out in the basement of this nice middle-class home with this group of kids that had let me into their lives. Kids I’d just a few minutes ago, been seeing as street punks. These kids were of varied ages from the oldest at fourteen, to the youngest who couldn’t have been more than seven. They still weren’t talking about themselves but they were now showing me. They were showing me this important part of who they were and I just watched.
I should have kept doing that. I should never have said anything. Instead, I asked a question and ruined everything.
Apparently the parents of whoever’s house this was, were gone on vacation or something but the kid had an older brother who would be back from work eventually, so we could only be there for a few hours. I asked why we had to leave when the older brother got home. That was a mistake.
A look of sheer terror come over the kids face immediately. The others looked at me and said nothing, but I knew I shouldn’t have asked that. It was like I broke the spell or something. I’d ruined the magic that was creating this moment in time.
It was like these kids had their own little fantasy Omaha on a magic string. A string that someone had wrapped around their fingers and I had just made them see it for what it was. My question “why?” was part of a world the string had thus far been insulating them from. The string had them distracted for just these few hours but my question had broken it and so we all had to leave now. The spell was broken and now THEY had to go and do something else to get distracted again.
These distractions were part of the Omaha street survival skills they had learned from someone I had yet to meet. The someone who’d tied that magic string around their fingers. He was their leader and I would only meet him when my little group of new young friends had decided that it was time. My mistake had them questioning whether they wanted me to meet him but I couldn’t know that. All I knew was that we all had to leave the house NOW and they were going to go and do something and I was not invited.
So I had to go “home”. Back to my dingy little basement room with the scary, creepy neighbor and the dungeon-like door. The next day I would get the job I needed to keep MY room, so it would be a while before I would again hang out with my little group of friends. But by then, like the kids they really were, they had forgotten all about my little street punk faux pas.
That was because they had decided to introduce me to Allen, their leader.
But before I go into that story, I’ll need to tell the story about my new job. My new job working as a scab for the corporate predators and scammers of a big Omaha-based industrial roofing company. I’ll be telling this story of course when this will again have to be…
To be continued…