Pride Over Prejudice
By Reiko Anne Nguyen
Publish Date: February 13, 2011
Chapter 2: Phillips the Hobo
August 22, 1962
To be completely honest, I did it all out of impulse. Running away from home, I far as anyone was concerned, I had left home to starve and die—which is exactly what I'd told my dad before storming out of his office on Monday night.
"I think it's best if you stay in San Fernando," he had said after hanging up with one of his foreign investments. "I know all your friends are entering Cathedral Preparatory—"
"And you said I was going too."
"—but you've neglected too much of your studies for baseball. The school won't let you enter unless you meet their requirements, son."
I threw my hands up in disbelief before kicking the ottoman stool—you know, for extra effect. "Well then pay them! Isn't that how you got Annette into Immaculate Heart?"
My dad paused to rub the temples of his head. "I did not pay Immaculate Heart to process your step-sister's resume. I was simply donating funds to the school."
Seriously! I'm his son! Shouldn't I have some priority over my step-sister? Doesn't he understand the humiliation of returning to middle-class community? I hope he realizes these facts soon, cause there is no way in hell I'm going to public school with a bunch of mutts. I need to be with my own people, and if running away to live a life of ruins can get my dad to see that, then so be it.
I just wish it were easier to do than to say.
Two days had passed since I left Dinah Hills, and already I could feel myself slipping away. Every minute of every hour seemed to be reminding me that I was hungry, and that I was cold, and that I was tired. I'd been so weak, and although I hate the feeling of weakness, knowing that this was all being done by choice made me feel powerful. And stupid. But mainly powerful, and that's all that really mattered anyway.
Dad will come around, I tried to remind myself for the millionth time that day. I needed to keep myself from running home like a baby and begging for forgiveness. I needed to remind myself that this was just temporary, and that my efforts wouldn't go to waste.
Seriously. I went through hell within the last two days. My efforts better be worth something.
Earlier this morning, I had enough cash to last me a month. At the moment, I had nothing, and it was all because of that damned street gang who beat me six to one. I broke my hand trying to land a fist on one of them, but my knuckles ended up meeting concrete, and by the time they were done with me, I had a bloody nose, multiple bruises, and no cash to spare.
Some Christian helped me up an hour later and stuffed a five in my pocket, and by noon, I had been robbed again by a bunch of old hobos. Didn't they see that I was one of them? Idiots.
So now, I was hungry, I was cold, I was probably bleeding internally, and I was drinking beer from a half-finished bottle someone left at the bistro.
But that's okay, because tomorrow's a new day! I laughed at the stupidity of it all. If I wanted to survive another day, I had to take extreme measures. I needed to do something drastic.
With that in mind and a new objective in place, I slowly pulled myself up and wobbled out of the alley, intent on finding a store on Main Street to rob. Apparently today, that's what hobos do. I scanned the empty street and tried looking for a shop to strip, considering Porter's Bakery for a minute…
…and then she came along.
I hid in the shadows of the alley as I watched Gracie Reynolds walk under a lamplight. She then stopped to look at something on display, before stuffing her hands in her pocket to pull out money. Bingo.
Holding my now empty beer bottle, I smashed the base and gripped it like a knife. Was I crazy for being so self-assured? Definitely. I was desperate. Real desperate. And desperate people do crazy things when they're close to piss drunk.
Just walk straight, Scott, I told myself as dizziness suddenly took over. I was so weak, but even so, I knew I could take on a puny stick like Gracie Reynolds.
She pocketed her money again and began walking away from the lamplight, disappearing into the darkness. I made sure to follow her silently, working my body extra hard to get rid of that limp.
Poor Gracie. Poor, unsuspecting Gracie. Bwahaha!
Gracie walked past another lamplight before disappearing into the darkness again. With a burst of energy, I forced myself to run towards her, and before I could even register the magnitude of danger I was putting us in, I had already wrapped an arm around her and was pressing her body against mine.
"Don't move!" I yelled before pressing the shards of my bottle against her cheek.
Hoooly shit. I'm actually mugging someone.
"Give me all your cash or I swear to God I'll slice and dice you for brunch." I must've been close to wasted, cause there was no way in hell I would've said that sober.
Obediently, Gracie slipped her hand into her pocket. She did it slowly, breathing hard and fast as I deepened the pressure on her cheek.
"Please, don't hurt me," she whimpered. But her voice echoed past my ears. I found myself slumping over her shoulder as weakness began settling in again. I felt woozy, and all I could seem to focus on was bile that threatened to erupt from my throat.
Suddenly, the bottle fell from my limp hands shattered onto the ground, startling me back to attention. By then, however, it was too late. Gracie had snapped my pinky finger during my state of unawareness before elbowing me in the gut!
"Ah, damn it!" I cried in pain as I crumbled onto the ground and watched as Gracie ran away screaming. It was all I could do to just lie there in the dark and wait to pass out. And hope—hope that I'd wake up back home in the comfort of my own bedroom.
...Preferably with my father apologizing. What? Too much to ask for?
Oh my God! I thought over and over as I ran down Main Street crying. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would ever be put in that kind of situation. I dared to turn and look at my attacker, expecting him to be on my tail. But he was nowhere to be seen.
You'd think that after watching so many scary movies, I'd know not to stop running. It shouldn't matter if you think you've outran them. They always pop out when you let your guard down.
But I did. I stopped sprinting and turned to look for the boy who tried to CUT MY THROAT! Stupid.
At first, I saw nothing but the spots of lamplights trailing down the sidewalk. It was eerily desolate tonight, and I felt fearful again as a groan echoed from down the street.
Reason advised me to keep running. Logic pointed out that Chief McClennan's deputy officers were stationed merely two blocks away. But my curiosity got the best of me, and I found myself slinking towards the pitiful whimpers of my assailant.
I knew it was stupid of me to be so secure. I should have been vulnerable. But at the sight of this poor mugger boy, I suddenly felt…fearless. Maybe even sympathetic, and maybe a little vexed.
I watched as he lied on his side, nursing his broken finger, and I knew right away that he was crying, despite the cap that masked his eyes. Breathing seemed like a struggle for this poor soul, who barely moved as I laid a hand on his shoulder.
Yes, I got near enough to touch him. And if that wasn't enough, I reached for his hand…and held it.
Feeling angry with myself for what I was about to do, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the money I had worked so hard to earn. At least I have a job. Then, with slight reluctance, I placed it in the boy's hand before standing up and walking away.
"Get a job," I scolded out loud before running to the safety of my home.
I better go to heaven for this.
Disclaimer: "The Sandlot" was written and directed by David M. Evans. I do not own anything related to the movie other than this fan written fiction and the original characters I have created through my own imagination. I assure you that this piece of work does not make any profits, nor will it be published in the future. Copyright infringement is not intended.