Continued from Vincent Vance.
It was two years after the worst year of his life, and the only time he was happy was during the government-required summer camp that lasted all of one month out of twelve. He had friends there, and he felt that at camp, people approved of him. He was often quiet and stayed to himself, but one older girl had broken through part of his barriers, and he often refused to leave her side.
He even left his own mother in the dust to be with the girl called Mellie, and at camp, he insisted that his name was not Vincent, but Vinnie– to match his best friend.
Coming home was terrible. The remains of his happy scrapes and bruises from four weeks among other children were covered in welts and filth in less than a week, and the boy quickly re-learned how to hide.
His mother was in no better condition, and as long as he was present in the family, the pair could not divorce.
Finally, on his seventh birthday, he decided to give himself a present, and he stole all of the food from the cupboards, a can opener, matches, and four spoons. He stole a pot to carry it in, and wrapped the whole thing in his blanket, all while his parents slept. Last, he grabbed something he couldn’t bear to part with, and had taken a horrible beating to keep from the trash– a half-trashed plush “spider” with only three legs on each side, a huge body, and tube-like eyes that made it look more like a retarded crab with a huge, silly smile.
He stared at it, and was about to toss it back onto the bed, when instead he shoved it into his bundled blanket sack. He yanked on several sets of clothes and his coat, then three pairs of socks and his shoes, and began to dart out before he realized he forgot something and backed up to grab his hidden piggy bank and a pair of scissors.
Finally satisfied, he hefted the heavy sack again and stumbled out of the house just as the sun began to bring color to the eastern sky. He struggled down the driveway, to where the white van with the agents set to watch him were, and climbed inside.
His sack fell to the van floor with a clatter, and he pulled the sharp scissors from his pocket and held them against his own neck, then pointed to the skinniest agent. “Get in the driver’s seat and start it up.” His voice shook as he took control of his own fate, and the danger to his own life took control of the government agents.
The thin man edged forward, into the seat. He took the key from another man and turned it, then set the vehicle into drive. “Now what, Vincent?”
“That’s not my name.” He took a deep breath, then climbed into the man’s lap. “You take care of speed and brakes. I’ll just make sure the turns are right. I’m moving.” He nervously giggled. He was running away. His father would be so angry!
Terror gripped him. Was it too late to run back and return everything, then hide in bed? His father exited the front door in his boxers, and the boy gripped the wheel. “Go!” he screamed, and the car took off, speed increasing rapidly as the child’s head was sent right into the driver’s neck.
“Oof!” both grunted, and the boy hurried to correct the car’s course.
Once it was in the lines, the rest of the drive went smoothly. They passed through the city, and through the nearby ghetto, and past it into the industrial district. The boy’s eyes darted about for an empty-looking anything.
“That one’s empty.” the driver murmured as he slowed, and the boy quickly pulled over.
“Are you sure, Agent Nicar?” Vinnie’s voice was uncertain as he looked back, and the man nodded.
“Once you move in, it’s all yours, and nobody can force you out.” Suddenly, his arms wrapped around the seven year old. “There’s just two conditions to you living on your own. You have to go to summer camp for all of the sessions, and if you can’t support yourself, you will be placed in the foster care system.”
A chill ran up the child’s spine. “Ok.”
Vinnie hurriedly dashed to the back and gathered his belongings, then darted into the old factory before anyone could stop him. Inside, there was rust everywhere, and it was fairly bare. He gripped his sack tightly as he looked around for a place to make his bed and strip out of his extra clothes.
It took only two hours for the boy to clean out an old office and convert the space under the fancy desk into his bed, while the drawers were left for storage. He laid down for a nap, and woke up to a cupcake on top of the wooden slab above his resting place.
The child ate slowly and savored every crumb before he looked around the requisitioned office.
He took a slow, deep breath. “This is my home. It’s all mine, and nobody can take it away from me, even if it is too big for me.” He hugged himself and tried not to panic and run home, just like any other time he ran away. Today, he had to do it right. He sat in the half-broken office chair and pulled out a can of baked beans and his can opener and began to fuss at opening the can with the clumsy, yet able, fingers of the child he no longer felt like.
Vincent was dead. Raped to death the night before his seventh birthday. Today was Vinnie’s first birthday, and as he spooned the cold beans into his mouth, he wondered what he would do about school, and how he would get to camp, and then how he was going to get more food on his own.
He slid down until he was half-laying in the chair as he forced down more beans, until only those he was too lazy to scrape from the sides were left, and then got up to explore his new home more thoroughly.