for details see part 1
Daylight came and Scott found a spot just outside the small coach
station. Baseball cap upturned before he sat huddled against the
wall. On the one hand he wanted to attract some small change, maybe
enough for some coffee and a sandwich or something, on the other hand
if he attracted too much attention the cops would come. Begging was
definitely discouraged here forcefully. Come lunchtime he had
actually begun to feel like the day was worth getting up for. Enough
loose change had bounced into his cap that he may actually be able to
get by for a couple of days if he kept to himself and out of sight.
He still hadn't been able to bring himself to ask people for change,
preferring to just sit there and let them make their own choice. He
liked to kid himself that he still had a little pride left, a little
worth maybe. The blast of movement in front of him caught him off
guard. He had been drifting off to sleep he realised even as he
grasped the fact that someone had grabbed his cap and made a break
for it. Cursing he shot to his feet, dizzy from the sudden movement
and took off after the sounds before his brain caught up with how
stupid that really was. The crash of the littler bin thrown down in
his path was no warning at all. He tried to jump it, but it tangled
his feet up anyway. He crashed to the concrete, his breath driven
from him at the impact, scraping chin and arms in the process.
Swearing in frustration he sat up and kicked out at where he imagined
the trash to be. "Shit!" He felt hot tears behind his tightly closed
lids as frustration overwhelmed him. He heard the sound of running
feet and hands reaching for him. Survival instinct kicked in and he
threw himself backwards on the ground, shrugging off the hands that
"easy, lad" and older mans voice cautioned, "you took a bad fall
there. I just want to be sure you're okay."
The voice sounded sincere enough but fear overrode any need for
comfort however badly Scott wanted to believe he was still capable of
attracting someone's care.
"I'm fine", he muttered pushing himself unsteadily to his feet.
"Sure you are, I just wanted to make sure." When Scott didn't answer
the guy continued. "I've seen you around the last couple of days
well, you know. That kid got all your money didn't he?"
Scott abruptly turned away and reached out to brush the wall to get
his bearings. He stumbled on some loose trash before he steadied
himself and moved back toward the coach station.
"wait!. You're blind aren't you?" the guy sounded a little startled.
Scott canted his head toward the man's voice but didn't
stop. "Nah..", he muttered, "I wear dark glasses and trip over litter
bins for fun."
He heard the guy chuckle and then hurry to catch up to him. "Sorry, I
didn't mean that to come across as stupid as it sounded. I really
just wanted to help. I know from what I've seen of this place that
they're not too tolerant of people living on their precious streets
Scott snorted. "What gave you that idea." Despite his better
judgement he was actually enjoying having any kind of normal
conversation that didn't involve someone pushing him away verbally or
The guy paused suddenly . "There's a cop on the corner", he said
suddenly. "He looks like he's taking an interest in you."
Scott stopped sharply, his stomach churning. The last time he'd
been `moved on' they hadn't been at all gentle. It'd been like one of
those old movies where the bad guy was told in no uncertain terms
to "get out of town before sun up".
"Do you have somewhere to go tonight, now that your money is gone?"
"What?" Scott must have looked startled and suspicious all at once.
"Look I'm not from around here either. I help run a shelter in LA
where we help kids on the streets to get jobs, get a little self
respect back, or just give `em a bed for the night. No strings , no
demands. I'm on my way back there tomorrow. You're welcome to join
me. No pressure your choice."
The guy must have sensed Scott's hesitation, his mistrust. "I
understand you have no reason to trust me" he added gently, "so why
don't we start small. My car is right behind us, I'll give you a lift
a couple of blocks down away from the cop and you can do what you
want from there OK?"
Scott weighed the risks swiftly. The cop was a certainty, this guy an
unknown. "Two blocks," he said shortly.
"Okay, put your hand on my arm and I'll guide you to the car. You're
in control here that way. You can walk away at any time."
Scott felt the car come to a halt a few minutes after pulling out
from the kerb. "Like I said, two blocks. We're right outside that
Starbucks by the library. You know the spot?" . Scott nodded. They
sat in silence for several minutes. Scott felt pleasantly numb. The
car was warm, the radio on in the background burbling on about some
used car sale. Despite his misgivings and the danger he knew a
stranger might represent he was unwilling to give up the contact. He
was tired beyond belief of running. A corner of his mind still
screamed at the unfairness he had faced over the last few weeks in
particular. He'd lost his parents when he was young. When he'd been
fostered he'd still felt a sense of separation. Like he was only
accepted while he did well at school, made them proud of him, made
himself useful or valuable to them in some way. The horror at the
high school had left him fully and absolutely alone. How much worse
could this guy make it. Scott wasn't sure he actually cared.
"My name's Mike" the guy offered at last. His voice sounded a little
weird after the silence of the last few minutes. "The offer still
stands if you want. LA I mean."
Scott shrugged. "What's in it for you?"
"We are all gods children. For every kid I get back on the right
track, the better I feel about having spent my time here wisely."
Scott turned his head as if to regard him, his eyebrows raised
incredulously. "Yeah, okay. I know that must sound pretty `uncool' to
you right now, but I'm not some kind of religious nut or anything.
And I am on the level with you. Look, you can either meet me a my
motel tomorrow if you want and catch a ride south or you can take
advantage of me and get a hot meal, shower and sleep in a real bed
for a change." He glanced over at Scott. "I'll take the couch, just
in case you were worried."
Scott rubbed the bridge of his nose. The sunglasses he had swiped off
a trucker a few weeks back didn't fit real well and the weird
headaches he had been getting since his eyes had gone postal right
there in his head made it very difficult to think straight when he
was so tired. "No strings!" he stated firmly.
"You have my word." Scott's misgivings would have patted themselves
on the back if only they had been able to bear witness to the
smile `Mike' flashed Scott's way. If only.