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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A to Z - 13. Rescue

No special warnings needed for this chapter.

Please feel free to discuss questions raised by the characters at the story thread. http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

 June 18

I felt the need to get out of Marshall quickly, but it’s not so easy to get away from people when you’re hungry.  You just don’t feel like moving very fast.  I stumbled my way out of Marshall as soon as the librarians kicked me out at closing time. It didn’t matter that it was still drizzling, and I didn’t really care which way I went, as long as it was out of town.

I didn’t make it very far before I just felt too depressed and tired and hungry to go further. I remember staying in the dugout of a ball field near the road.  It wasn’t too wet there, and with the rain, nobody was out.  I was cold and damp, but safe enough for one night’s rotten rest. I’m used to it by now. 

I passed the last few days in a hot, humid kind of blur, shambling along the road, looking out for chances to get some water, hoping for some way to get a bite to eat. I stole a handful of lettuce from someone's backyard garden – I would have taken more, but a dog started barking, and I took off.  You read survivor stories about people who eat nuts and berries, but that assumes they know what’s good to eat.  I didn’t trust myself to eat anything growing near the roads. So my stomach got emptier and emptier.  It hurt. I kept walking.

It rained one afternoon. Cars went by in the downpour, and one even slowed down, but didn’t stop.  Guess I look too scary. I got wet. I kept walking.

At night, there were fields and hedges to sleep in. I’m good at bedding down in the tall grass unseen from the road, though a lot of fields have been mowed already.  If they all get mowed, I’ll have a problem.

One morning, I woke up underneath a big old maple tree at the forest's edge some distance away from the road. I just lay there, staring up at the gnarled bark on the enormous trunk. And then the tree moved and blinked at me. I just about jumped out of my ratty clothes in alarm. Two golden eyes peered down at me from several branches up.

I stared back. Suddenly, some trick of the light or a slight shadow put things in definition. It was an owl. It had to have been. Beautiful, perfectly camouflaged up against the tree, it sat there on its branch watching me. Here in the middle of my hunger and misery, sat an enchantment. We observed each other. Somehow, I felt like a trespasser on its territory. The owl was a tiny thing, no bigger than a beer can. I thought owls were bigger.

When I finally had to scratch an itch, it flew off, deeper into the woods. I spent the rest of that day thinking about that bird.

On day three – or was it four? – out of Marshall, I had a huge piece of luck. Climbing a long hill as the road wound its way over another mountain, I found a fast-food bag tossed out on the side of the road. Miraculously, there was half a hamburger and part of an order of fries left inside. Despite my hunger, I carefully inspected the interior: no bugs, and it seemed clean. So call me overcautious. And I counted – there were eleven fries.

I sat right down there on the shoulder of the road and ate a picnic brunch. Or was it supper?  I really don’t remember. Though it was the first food for me in almost a week, my stomach still hurt. Later, I worried if I had eaten spoiled food. What if I got sick? Would it all come up in couple of hours? But I kept it down. I stumbled on.

I kept walking.

Another night, I slept in a scrubby uncut field about fifty feet from the road. It was a twisty and turny kind of byway, not a main road at all, and headed down a steep slope. I'd walked a lot of these. The road had blacktop and paint, but the pavement was cracked and potholed. I'd passed a sign with a warning: "ROUGH ROAD." Hell, why didn't they just fix it? 

Anyhow, I figured it would be smarter to get off the pavement at dusk rather than get hit by random traffic on a crappy road, so I stopped right there. Funny how chance finds you, isn’t it?

By now, I’m good at falling asleep no matter where I am, no matter what noise the road makes, no matter what the temperature is.  The only thing I have trouble shutting out is the rain. That night, I was having one of my frequent nightmares. Dad was getting ready to beat the shit out of me again in dreamland, when I woke with my heart in my throat to a tremendous bang in the direction of the road. I shook off the confusion in my brain. Something really bad had happened out on the street.  I stood up, and I could see an eerie red glow just little ways down the road from where I had slipped into the weeds.

Leaving my pack and jacket behind, I made my way in the dark down to the spot and found an older model car flipped upside down in the ditch.  The taillights still glowed, which was what I had seen.

I didn't think, I just moved.

I shimmied down into the ditch and got the driver’s side door open. The ceiling light glowed up at me from ground level, which was weird enough, but I wasn’t prepared for the wreckage of airbags and broken glass inside. There was a really strange smell, something really odd.  I couldn’t place it.

And blood.  It wasn’t clear if the driver was conscious but she sure was bleeding from somewhere. She didn’t move when I got the door open.

“Hey, are you OK?”

Dumb question, of course she wasn’t. Was she hurt besides the cut that was dripping blood? Where was that cut?

A sound.  Just a small “whuff” somewhere in the front. Suddenly smoke was curling back from the engine.  I moved on pure adrenaline now. No time to think about injuries. I reached back in, and tried to brace the woman as I undid the seatbelt.  She sagged down onto me as it gave way.  As I struggled to drag her out of the car, I heard something worse.

A baby cried.

Leaving the mother a few yards from the wreck, I turned back.  I could see the glow of fire between the front wheels. I climbed back in. There, in the back seat, a baby hung, hidden in its child seat.  The smoke was getting worse. I clambered through to the back and fought with the seat belt release.

I know I wanted to panic. I fought it, forcing myself to think in steps.

I held my breath, no coughing. Found the release button. Jammed it hard.  Caught the kid. Scrambled out again.

Another “whuff,” louder this time.

“Branlee?”

The mother’s voice now. She was awake, lying there, but awake, looking around from side to side.

I carried the baby as I hustle over to her.

“Ma’am, can you get up?”

She tried to focus on me in the strange light.

“Who you? Branlee?”

The voice was thick, full of fear, full of pain.

“Come on,” I said, not wanting to stay near that burning car a second longer. I tried to get her to her feet. She rose with frightful slowness.

I helped her limp across the road to the far side.

“Can you take your daughter?”

“Branlee? Baby?”

She reached out to grab her child and hugged her fiercely to herself. She was crying, murmuring to her baby girl.

I looked at them and my heart just ached. I was happy for them that they made it safe out of the car, but I was jealous, too. I can’t remember love like that. 

Suddenly, the fire seemed brighter. My brain shouted “Shit.” Stupid me, all I could think to say was  “Ma’am, get down, please,” and I felt like a damn fool saying it as I tried to get her to get close to the ground.

The car exploded a second later in a brilliant searing flash.

“Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…,” the woman wailed over and over as the baby screamed.

When I looked up again, I was speechless. I could see perfectly in the bright light of the burning sedan. The woman was lying face down, trying to cover her child. And I could see the bit of glass in the middle of her scalp that was making everything bleed so bad.

I knew I had to help.

My shirt came off, and I ripped it down the middle into a couple of pieces. It was mostly holes, anyhow, I told myself. I have two more in my pack. In the field. Assuming, I could find it again in the dark.

“Ma’am, it’s OK now…” and it really was.  The fire was subsiding, the worst danger past.

“Can you sit up?”

She didn't move.  She laid there, whimpering.

Gingerly, I tried to get her to turn over.  Surprisingly, she flipped over, and she stared up at me with wide, frightened eyes. 

“Here, you’re bleeding.  Let me help a little.”  Awkwardly, I tried to dab at the blood. The glass fragment fell free, and I pressed my t-shirt against the wound.  The blood soaked in alarmingly quickly.  When I tied it around her head to keep it on, she didn't protest.  She just watched me, as I moved around her. To distract her, I gave her the baby again, and she held it as she laid there on the side of the road.

On the edge of my vision, I saw headlights.  A car was coming.  People. Someone with a cell phone.  Cops. Time for me to vanish.  Quietly, while the woman whispered something to her daughter, I slipped away into the dark and vanished across the road into the field.

From the safety of the darkness, I watched as the oncoming car stopped. People leapt out to help. 

Later, the cops and fire trucks and medics arrived, so I retreated farther into the field, away from the light.  I watched them douse the fire and clean up the road. The woman was taken away, with her baby, too, I think.  The cleanup took forever, and I was too keyed up to try to sleep.  I decided to wait until morning to find my bag.

I looked up at the hazy stars and wondered, thinking.  Would my mom have reached out for me if it had been me rescued from the burning car? I tried to imagine what it might be like – to be loved that fiercely, that much.  Why didn’t she ever come back to rescue me from Dad? She must have known what he was like. Was I not worth the trouble of coming back? I guess she thought I deserved being left behind. Like Dad always said, I cause problems and screw things up.  Better I got left behind, then.

But, another thought stole up on me as the early dawn brightened the sky. Maybe it was both mom and I who needed a rescuer. And if that was true, what did it mean? And who would that rescuer have been?  Oh, well. Too late now, anyways.

With the dawn, I was able to spot my stuff, put on one of my two remaining t-shirts, stuff my jacket and flannel shirt down into the pack, and make my way onto the road and down the mountain.

At the bottom of the mountain, the road ended at an intersection with a larger, better traveled highway. That seemed to be the pattern.  I had no idea which way to turn. If I’d had a coin, I would have flipped it. Instead, I just chose to go left – kind of south, I thought – and figured I would make it up by going right sometime later.

Many, many thanks to Craftingmom for her determined editing and priceless suggestions.

Reviews of all sorts and descriptions are most welcome. Please add yours.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

That was very dramatic! As a mom, I got all teary eyed from reading about mom and baby. I still hope Stefan can find some place to stay for a while, but he won't trust anyone.

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On 10/22/2015 03:50 AM, Puppilull said:

That was very dramatic! As a mom, I got all teary eyed from reading about mom and baby. I still hope Stefan can find some place to stay for a while, but he won't trust anyone.

What's amazing is that Eric's instinct was to help - to do something, even though he could have done nothing. Fear could have kept him motionless. But he couldn't hang around for the rescue squad to find him. No, I think Eric/Stefan will need a dose of something good before he will trust anyone again. That, or he will have to be forced into it.

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Maybe there will be a search for the good Samaritan. Well, we can always hope. Eric needs help. Now.
A great chapter Parker! Once again Eric shows initiative and ability, as he has before. If he can get out of this trap he's in, I believe he could easily make his way in the world. But, of course, right now his world is narrow and one-dimensional.
It's a good story. A great adventure!

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Great chapter. I guess even if they'd seen his bag, he'd have left without it rather than reveal himself to police and such. That was a sweet story though. it shows he hasn't been destroyed by all the bad and he still cares enough to be a good person. He hasn't become jaded. I wonder if it healed him any to help someone, maybe it will make him believe someone might want to help him later? I wonder what the mom will remember of the person who saved her and branlee? Esp. when they saved the life of her child. I am glad he considered that mom may have needed saving too, though he didn't think as far as his father maybe killing her.
I only question the fact that he hasn't eaten in a week. According to these survivor shows, you'd be unable to function let alone walk after a week of not eating. And a lot shorter a time period if you can't get water, though with all the rain, he may have a way to collect that. I assumed the eyes on the tree were going to be a hallucination from lack of eating/drinking.
I hope a good turn comes soon. I find the fact that he is thinking things out in his journal to be fascinating and look forward to what other things he works through in that manner. I always thought keeping a diary was kinda like therapy in a way. Sometimes reading what you write makes you see it a different way or you work something out as you talk about it.

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On 10/22/2015 03:04 PM, Cannd said:

Great chapter. I guess even if they'd seen his bag, he'd have left without it rather than reveal himself to police and such. That was a sweet story though. it shows he hasn't been destroyed by all the bad and he still cares enough to be a good person. He hasn't become jaded. I wonder if it healed him any to help someone, maybe it will make him believe someone might want to help him later? I wonder what the mom will remember of the person who saved her and branlee? Esp. when they saved the life of her child. I am glad he considered that mom may have needed saving too, though he didn't think as far as his father maybe killing her.

I only question the fact that he hasn't eaten in a week. According to these survivor shows, you'd be unable to function let alone walk after a week of not eating. And a lot shorter a time period if you can't get water, though with all the rain, he may have a way to collect that. I assumed the eyes on the tree were going to be a hallucination from lack of eating/drinking.

I hope a good turn comes soon. I find the fact that he is thinking things out in his journal to be fascinating and look forward to what other things he works through in that manner. I always thought keeping a diary was kinda like therapy in a way. Sometimes reading what you write makes you see it a different way or you work something out as you talk about it.

Eric is really a good kid, with good instincts. He's been away from the hell his father put him through for almost three weeks, now, and maybe it's beginning to show. Hard to realize that the life he leads now is better than that. Eric's musing about his mom finally helps us see the dawning of a new perspective - one that might begin to balance what he's always been told about himself. But that could take a long time to develop.

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On 10/22/2015 05:31 AM, skinnydragon said:

Maybe there will be a search for the good Samaritan. Well, we can always hope. Eric needs help. Now.

A great chapter Parker! Once again Eric shows initiative and ability, as he has before. If he can get out of this trap he's in, I believe he could easily make his way in the world. But, of course, right now his world is narrow and one-dimensional.

It's a good story. A great adventure!

Right now, poor Eric's world narrows right down to the need for food. wild strawberries are past, and he never learned how to look for other things less familiar. Some people keep gardens, but Eric learned they also keep dogs. In some ways, Eric is fortunate that he does not see or know about the search for the good Samaritan that must have ensued. It would have made him twice as watchful, twice as untrusting.

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Stefan has a heart of pure gold. He gives so much to people and gets nothing in return. I'm really hoping he finds some good at some point. He's a hero who deserves nothing but the best.

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On 10/26/2015 03:01 AM, Valkyrie said:

Stefan has a heart of pure gold. He gives so much to people and gets nothing in return. I'm really hoping he finds some good at some point. He's a hero who deserves nothing but the best.

Stefan / Eric reacted purely and simply...and then hid before he got into trouble again. This is his bête noir, and until he can trust someone, it's likely to continue. Experiences will matter in this. Eric's journey is a few weeks old, and we can count him lucky (even if doesn't) that he hasn't starved, or hasn't been caught out by a suspicious landowner or householder.

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He is such a nice person, all the ugly didn't destroy that. There must be something somewhere pretty soon.

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On 10/30/2015 05:46 PM, aditus said:

He is such a nice person, all the ugly didn't destroy that. There must be something somewhere pretty soon.

I had to show that. Eric did what we all hope we would do - and he really is a great person underneath all the mistrust and hurt. It will t ale something very special to bring that out.

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Stephan is a good guy stuck in an awful place. Just to say, street kids aren't bad, I wasn't bad, though I was arrested a few times, but deep inside me was the good kid my mum raised. But circumstances and desperation can fuck you over and make you do things you never normally would.
But Stephan did the right thing here. Such a good guy.
Thanks Parker,
tim

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On 11/01/2015 09:03 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Stephan is a good guy stuck in an awful place. Just to say, street kids aren't bad, I wasn't bad, though I was arrested a few times, but deep inside me was the good kid my mum raised. But circumstances and desperation can fuck you over and make you do things you never normally would.

But Stephan did the right thing here. Such a good guy.

Thanks Parker,

tim

I tried to imagine what a street would be like for a kid outside the big cities. Rural poverty and rural tragedies often go unnoticed until there's big news that makes the National at 10. Rural runaways can be like that, too. Eric has slipped under the radar, but we see what he's really made of this time.

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When will the stars align for Stefan. he is so selfless. In his weakened and hungry state he still finds the strength to give every ounce of what he really doesn't have, to save someone else. He deserves good things soon Parker, please!

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On 11/02/2015 08:19 AM, Defiance19 said:

When will the stars align for Stefan. he is so selfless. In his weakened and hungry state he still finds the strength to give every ounce of what he really doesn't have, to save someone else. He deserves good things soon Parker, please!

Eric / Stefan did for baby Branlee and her mother what we all hope we might do if the circumstances were ours. Lucky for us we're not in Eric's shoes. There is so much more journey to cover, though.

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It's great that the one person that needs a hero in his life, becomes the hero and saves two lives. Very well done!!

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On 12/08/2015 11:06 AM, WolfM said:

It's great that the one person that needs a hero in his life, becomes the hero and saves two lives. Very well done!!

Sometimes it hard to help oneself from doing something heroic, even when you're condition to mistrust and stay on the sidelines. But Eric has no intention of letting this episode flush him out into the open. Thanks for reading this far, and especially for your comments.

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Eric finally stops to consider that his mother might have needed saving too. He was too overwhelmed by his own pain and suffering to ever consider this possibility before. He is maturing emotionally.

 

On Wednesday, 70 San Francisco media outlets (including the local Fox and ABC stations and the SF newspapers, but not the CBS and NBC stations or the other major Bay Area newspaper) are commemorating The SF Homeless Project. The various media outlets will publish/broadcast reports on the various issues and possible solutions to homelessness. It's hoped that intensified attention will lead to additional progress and get more people invested in solving the problem.

 

The US Federal government considers even people who are couch-surfing or living in their cars to be homeless. And even though Eric would probably resist the designation (I know I did!), he clearly fits the definition. Services might not be available in the areas Eric has been traveling, but he is definitely not connected to any source of information that would link him with whatever might be out there. (In the SF Bay Area, call 211 for information on social services of all kinds.)

Edited by droughtquake
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On 06/28/2016 10:31 AM, droughtquake said:

Eric finally stops to consider that his mother might have needed saving too. He was too overwhelmed by his own pain and suffering to ever consider this possibility before. He is maturing emotionally.

 

On Wednesday, 70 San Francisco media outlets (including the local Fox and ABC stations and the SF newspapers, but not the CBS and NBC stations or the other major Bay Area newspaper) are commemorating The SF Homeless Project. The various media outlets will publish/broadcast reports on the various issues and possible solutions to homelessness. It's hoped that intensified attention will lead to additional progress and get more people invested in solving the problem.

 

The US Federal government considers even people who are couch-surfing or living in their cars to be homeless. And even though Eric would probably resist the designation (I know I did!), he clearly fits the definition. Services might not be available in the areas Eric has been traveling, but he definitely not connected to any source of information that would link him with whatever might be out there. (In the SF Bay Area, call 211 for information on social services of all kinds.)

Sadly, Eric simply slipped past and through the nets that exist even where he traveled. He was not terribly remarkable, really. Just another scruffy teen, but one who kept moving on, never staying anywhere long enough to be noticeable or a nuisance.

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I think it's a matter of survival for Eric/Stefan, that's why he keeps moving instead of stopping anywhere for any real amount of time. I'm glad that he came along when he did and was able to save both mother and baby daughter. Even though he's not able to trust anyone, he did the honorable thing by getting the woman and her baby out of the car before it blew up, he used his torn up t-shirt to bandage the wound on the ladies head. As soon as he saw the approaching car he headed back to the weeds where he was when the accident happened, I hate to think about what would have happened if he hadn't been there when he was. He watched as the police, fire department and paramedics did their things dealing with the burning car and the woman and her baby. I think that Stefan really needs some good luck right about now. 

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When you have read the whole story, it's interesting to come back to this chapter, and not only because I know the answer to his wondering about his mother. Since I mostly start my re-reading at a later point (cause I can't stand all the hurt in the beginning), I haven't encountered this chapter more than once or twice. But it stands out for his automatic actin of helping out and the (wise?) decision to retreat into hiding when other people arrive. 

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Stephan is a good person at heart, that shone through when he rescued the mum and baby. But his instinct at the moment is to stay hidden from other people.

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3 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Stephan is a good person at heart, that shone through when he rescued the mum and baby. But his instinct at the moment is to stay hidden from other people.

He is indeed a really good person. However good he may be, his first instinct is to stay under cover and out of sight as much as possible. Under no circumstances would he want to be handed over to go back to Uncle Ray, or to jail.

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