Holding Eric part 19
Too My Fateful Readers sorry that I have not been able to post in the last few months as recouping in hospitals after illness due to the northern weather here, back on track again and I do want to thank all for the quick recovery well wishes received by so many the past few months. Thank You Again Will.
Here part 19 will follow the beginning of Part 18 in a small Revised Edition: by request from readers asking for more alternatives during the meeting in the park, curiously we looked more into it finding the emotional motivations were needed in responds to Eric experience hopefully it will satisfy our readers here.
Thank you all for the responses to each Part’s; reaching so many now on the internet as well.
Holding Eric part 19
While in St. Louis late in the day Eric keep near the buildings looking into windows sweating on and off, the rim of his hat soaked from the high muggy over cast with potential storm coming in temperatures the last time he spotted a sign was 72 degrees, finding the city was so busy all the signs above try to get you inside to spend your money and have a good time, Eric could only see it as in the movie he seen where James Stewart found the town that he was never been born, wasn’t there anymore changed into a spruced wild town of large street lights and gaming halls, avoiding the crowds walking more in a fast pace wondering if they made the movie here, looking at the Lights flashing signs above as he walked under them down the sidewalk able to find a small store going inside getting himself a soda and hot dog out of the rack, along with a bag of potato chips, finishing off the Hot dog following a few boys on skate boards towards a small park sitting down watching them skate.
Two of the boys past by and one came back, Eric looked up offering him some chips, holding his skate board reaching over taking the bag to him taking a hand full handing it back asking,. “So what brings you down here?”
“Just watching that’s all” trying not to look just watching the others skaters
“Looks like your lost or something” finishing off reaching while motion over for the bag again
“No just sitting” letting him have almost an empty bag
“Really you come here to find a raft and float down the river?” stuffing them in crunching
“What no!” turning looking up at him with a snickering back
“Right so why you here then’ you’re not from around here” raising his eye brows bending over more
“Just visiting” looking around the park area
“Sure you are’ look you’re a runaway aren’t you?” tossing the bag over while flipping his board
“NO!” Reaching for the bag before it fell to the sidewalk
“Ok’ if you say so” bouncing it a few times with his foot
“It’s getting dark I should go” Eric said getting up swigging on his soda holding the chips
“Sure Where?” Snapping he board down next to his foot
Eric turn around looking at him “Home”
“Home where’s home up north?” sucking his cheeks inward waiting looking sideways tapping his board off his foot upward holding it looking at Eric waiting for his reply, while he spin the wheels a few times
Surprised moving his head back over at him looking at the painting on the board, slowly tilting his head down to the ground “Texas ok that my home” moving the dirt back and forth with one foot.
“That’s better’ I’m John and what’s your name again Tom sawyer?”
“No it’s Eric’ I’m traveling west ok … by myself you happy now that you know?” wondering more if he should run from this kid asking him all kinds of question.
“Not around here at this hour you aren’t they’ll pick you up so fast your head will spin all the way back to where you came from, you better be coming with us, before they find you out here wondering the streets”
“You’ no’ I don’t think so’ I’ll be fine just need to find a truck stop” looking back towards town
“Not tonight you won’t it’s too far anyway so you better come with us” dropping the board tapping it a few times waiting watching what Eric response was going to be.
Eric turn trying to walk away looking around at anything possible saying “I have to get a ride tonight” mostly trying to avoid him following behind him
“Wrong again’ look you’re not going to make it the night around here so just come with us we have a house you can stay for the night ok” pulling in front of him stopping him with the others coming up behind just Eric stopping looking him over a few times carefree.
“What do you want from me?” Eric busted out with watching them.
“Eric right look just trying to help that’s all dude, you want to come fine if not good luck” dropping his skate board his two friends making little moves in circles waiting watching, looking down at Eric “Well you coming?”
“Ok just don’t try anything I only have two dollars on me” knowing ahead of time about kids in the streets always looking for cash, Eric already hid his under the soul inside of his shoe and some in his sock, keeping only a few dollars out, hesitant to leave feeling that strange beating in his chest, more racing with suspiciously more of a feeling and so confusion in accepting to go with him..
“Come on I’ll walk with you” Waving the other two back over.
“Guys we have a new boy in town he’s Texas bound” smiling outward like he just made a new friend
The two holding their boards just nodding carefree just as the street lights came on’ looking at them “We got to go John if he wants to stay let him it’s getting late” pushing off heading down the sidewalk, John held his skate board “I’ll walk so you don’t get lost out here” Eric finished off his chips and soda sticking them in the waste can as they walked by it, down the street passing eight or more houses before seeing the boys in the driveway heading towards the rear, John and Eric followed going inside the back door. Just as they stepped inside a heavy pressure to Eric’s chest pushing him into the side wall, not even seeing it coming, Eric looked up gasping his air feeling like he was going to faint holding his chest eyes wide.
“Who is this kid and why you bring him here?”
John quickly jumped in “Eric he’s a runaway heading to Texas”
“Texas hum’ what’s in Texas kid?” Reaching over taking his ball cap, Eric started to reach for it the big boy pulled it away looking it over. “That a nice hat maybe I should keep it”
“No its mind give it back” Eric moving forward reach for it only to be held back again by the boy.
“No you just gave it to me” holding Eric’s shoulder tight pushing him back into the wall.
“It’s mine give it back” Eric said just getting his breath back in his voice drenched by fear, staying still while six or more other boys stood in the hallway watching what was happening.
“Let the boy go Rodney” John said forcefully ready to battle him
“Ok he’s you responsibility if he gets caught” tossing the hat at Eric landing on the floor next to him, Rodney turned walking back into another room
The others watching quickly went back to what they were doing leaving them in the hallway.
“You ok?” replied John through a gasp picking up his hat handing it to him
“Shit yes – I’m still alive who’s he’s the boss here?” gasping still watching everyone leaving
“Sort of he’s harmless really, come on you can meet the others”
Slowly walking by the room looking in at Rodney sitting muffled whispering to himself, watching Television setting on a long broken down couch with his feet on a coffee table holding a beer. Eric eyes glistened in the room holding back with everything he had from crying hurting all over again feeling the heat inside stopping.
“Over here!” John Shouted back, Eric slowly walked into the kitchen area, seeing John staring in the refrigerator door. Not even looking up to Eric, pulling out a box of Donuts holding them outward, Eric took the box looking inside at Glazed and sprinkles tops.
“I’ve seen so many kids come and go around here, most all forgot by now’ you to will be gone soon and I’ll be back the same as always riding my skate board till something good comes along, hey maybe your it this time you’re going somewhere and know where you’re going that’s a change”
“What me I don’t understand?” shifting one cheek upward looking at him
“Texas you’re going home’ so what it like out there tell me?” excited
“I don’t know I’ve never been there” raising his shoulders upward
“But you going? What the hell you don’t have a place to go to then?” frowned turning his head to looked right into Eric’s eyes waiting unsure taking the box pulling out a gooey donut.
“Yes when I get there I know someone”
“Well ok’ so you do know someone that’s a good sign you’re not going blind” holding the box open to Eric, reaching inside pulling out one gooey glazed sticking to his fingers taking a bite.
They stood at the counter leaning down on it glancing out the window at the alleyway.
“Have you ever gone back you know Home?” Eric asked licking his fingers off
“No that was three years ago when I left and came here looking for a fairy tale dream”
“God that’s sad why you stay here then?”
“I don’t know just do I guess” tossing the empty box in the little trash can licking his fingers also
That long nagging silence fell between them finishing off the rest of the donuts “Maybe we should check in and see what the other are doing give you a chance to meet them now without Rodney around” John suggested to Eric somewhat nervously controlling himself walking with John to the other room.
Entering the room looked like any other livingroom with everyone watching Television just waving hi as they walked in sitting down on the couch.
“We have cable, staying here during the early morning till around three then it’s safe to go outside and just do what we want’ mostly keeping to ourselves staying out of any trouble with the locals”
“So all of you just live here?”
“Yep it’s our home sort of”
“Who owns it?”
“Rodney’s folks did’ they moved to Florida leaving him the house”
“Maybe I should leave before he comes back after me”
“He won’t he’s just letting you know who’s in charge here”
“Ok so what now”
“You’ll spend the night here and tomorrow will see about getting you a ride to Texas how’s that”
“Sleep here looks a little full”
“You can crash on the couch I’ll get you a blanket” Eric just looked at the couch “Don’t worry I’ll be on the other one have a seat, that the boys they keep mostly to them self’s so don’t worry about them your be ok with me” Eric sat down checking what they were watching.
“Look kid if you get hungry just help yourself to the fig ok” one of them said getting up heading out with other boys. John came back in handing Eric a folded light blanket sitting near the end.
(Special Acknowledgement to Denice and Mark G. For their support in asking for more.)
Having an uncomfortable threatening feeling sleeping on more springs than couch, Eric was unable to get much sleep tossing and turning sitting upward a few times in the frightening darken room with one scary presence that Rodney would show up again, Eric beginning to panic leaning on the edge spotting the flickering lights from the television in the other room. Looking over seeing John fast asleep resting on his arm. Eric curiosity walked down the hallway standing at the doorway looking in, not seeing Rodney only two of the boys still up watching TV, it was the same two he had seen earlier at the park when one of them looked over telling him to come in setting down his Gameboy while trying to watch the movie.
Joining them sharing Popcorn and corn chips with Carl and Travis after they introduce themselves while watching some documentary about UFO’S, during a commercial Carl headed out to the kitchen pointing at us if we wanted a soda, realizing how salty the Popcorn was after they added more salt and cheese flavoring to the package, Carl return just as the movie started backup handing them out, Carl had to wake Travis a few times he fell asleep on the edge trying to stay awake his eyes barley open. Once the movie was over Carl smiled down at Travis only raising his eye brows a few times to his calling him before waking sitting up ward asking what happen it’s not over is it?” Carl help him up grinning at Eric heading to the doorway saying to turn off the TV when he was ready and he could crash here for the rather than go in with John.
Stretching out in the darken room pulling the light blanket down over him curling up falling asleep without worry, only to be awoken by John leaning over shaking him a few times while sitting on the coffee table watching him. Slowly Eric sat upward rubbing the morning edges from his eyes, seeing John unfolded a paper sheet that looked familiar, checking his back pocket finding it was his flyer he was looking at. “So you’re this missing eleven year old from Rhode Island?” Holding the flyer upward.
Eric nodded yes checking around John seeing they were the only two in the room, John folded it back up handing him back his Flyer smirking, Eric taking the flyer shuffling it back in his rear pocket checking the window seeing the sun shining, not hearing any other sounds asking “Where’s the others?”
“All ready out for the morning, just like were going to be soon” standing up with his hand outward.
“Huh? We going’ somewhere? You know now there are looking for me”
“Yep’ and you’re getting you out of dodge’ besides’ no one really looks at them things anymore”
“But I found it in the truck stop here”
“Look’ don’t worry about it, get cleaned up some then will go to see a friend”
John was like taking him under his wing like an older Brother would, hurried washing his face in the bathroom looking to the mirror as the water ran down off his chin, reflected back looking into his pale blue eyes now very tired not with that sparkle he once had before, combing his hair back making sure the sink wasn’t dirty before meeting John in the kitchen, John pouring coffee while talking on the phone, Eric pulled the chair out sitting down waiting not saying anything; John taking one cup at a time placing it on the table just pointing to the sugar bowl, Eric reaching over keeping quiet mixing in three spoons while he talked.
“Your ride is going to Oklahoma in about one hour’ you want milk?” looking at the cup before sitting down Eric shook his head no slowly sipping the hot coffee asking “How far’s that from Texas?”
“Close but it’s the best I can do in such a short time”
“So who’s taking me?” sipping on the hot cup trying not to burn his lip
“A Friend ok’ I’ll be going along to Oklahoma also”
“Why are you even helping me?”
“Well don’t thank me’ you’re my ride out of here now” He laughed softly with his small smile
“Thought you were set pretty good here?”
“Wrong’ it’s time I moved on like you” Gulping his coffee till it was empty “we’ve got about twenty minutes’ walk form here so finish your coffee while I’ll find you a jacket” Setting his cup in the sink walking out of the room, Eric hurried setting his cup in the sink next to Johns, reaching up turning the facet stopping the dripping with John returning handing him a light green jacket.
John had a small backpack checking around the house while Eric waited for him at the door holding his backpack, “Let’s get going before we miss our ride” John placing his pack on not even locking the door behind them, hurry out the back and down the street before stopping at the curb, setting down his backpack near the edge, his toes to its end leaning outward looking down the street, mostly feeling the morning sun with a slight breeze from every other car that sped up the street, John rose upward looking shaking his head checking at his watch each time, he was getting uptight waiting as we could smell the scent of fresh Pizza cooking nearby only making both of us hungry.
“Man they start early’ It’s not even lunch time” Eric said lifting his head smelling the aroma
“Finely our ride’ just let me do the talking” Jerking up his backpack waving as the car came up
Eric stood still next to John asking “John’ you sure you want to leave?”
“Time to move on’ just like you” he announced, with his freedom of being more liberated throughout his voice.
Slowly cream colored two door small car pulled over to the curb, Eric bent down looking in the inside seeing young Boy not much older than John reaching over opening the door, John leaning inward saying something to him before raising back out holding the door open lifting the seat forward tossing his backpack in the rear seat while waving to Eric to get in before he got in closing the door. Driving off the with his long dark hair weaving on the head rest of the seat every time he would look back at Eric looking up at him in the mirror, before having to change lanes. Offering John an open pack of Kool cigarettes, John took one then offer it to Eric just refusing watching them blowing smoke at the front window before cracking the windows.
“So you’re the kid going to Texas”
“This is the boy I told you about alright he’s a lost soul going home now”
“Were going to Muskogee, you can get a ride from there without any problem”
“Muskogee is far from Texas?” Eric Asking leaning forward in the seat, nervous and unsure of his new ride even if John was there it was something about the young boy that bother him sitting back glancing toward John looking back at him dangling his cigarette before turning back around.
“Real close maybe you can call home and they can pick you up?” Toneckia said looking back at him hugging the side near the window trying to get more fresh air from the front lifting his head after finding out the windows in the back didn’t open more just for show.
“Toneckia case you’re wondering” keeping with the traffic the young boy spoken back to Eric
“What? I did catch the name?” Eric asked leaning forward looking at him
“My Name Toneckia just so you know and yes I’m Indian” he smiled at the rearview mirror
“Stopping for Breakfast soon?” John asking Toneckia cracking his window down more, checking behind them before tossing his bud out, watching it spark on the roadway
“Country Pride off 44 will stop just past Springfield’ I could eat a horse you’re buying”
“You taking the toll road?” John asking looking sideways at Toneckia blankly
“Better than the old route takes too long and will be less noticed”
Eric sat back looking out the side window upward at the street sign getting on the Will Rogers Turnpike Route 44, Toneckia telling John it was about seven hours of driving and almost four hundred miles, with his hand open towards John for the gas money, Quickly leaning back against the door reaching in his pocket John handed him a wad of bill’s rolled in a rubber band, keeping it low in the seat handing it to him, Toneckia smiled placing the roll in his pocket. Eric made like he didn’t see him thru the split seats making like he was looking out the back window relief flooded itself throughout looking back to John never even asking if he was chipping in.
It didn’t seem to take that long before they were pulling off the highway pay a toll as they exited even if they were getting right back on after stopping, Toneckia locked Johns backpack in the trunk before they headed inside to the restaurant area, passing the Travel store only looking as they walked, Toneckia told John to get a booth not some chairs heading towards the bathrooms, Eric following John while looking around the drivers section as they walked, John checked out a booth near a window to look out , it was the only one with the shade still halfway up. Sitting seemed strange on this side of the area as Eric still looked over hoping to see Jacob even if it was a long shot he had to look, being more to Family travelers.
John pulled two menus down gliding a menu over telling Eric “Get what you want” Eric turning it to the back section for breakfast specials, only pointing to eggs and bacon with hash-browns setting the menu with the Johns, Toneckia return scooting in next to Eric “No hat’s at the table” flipping his hat off to the seat, Eric grabbing for it before it landed on the floor, setting it under his leg glancing over to John looking the other way waving to the waitress walking by another table only saying “Be right with you”
Toneckia sat playing the small tringle game losing a few times before the waitress came over, Toneckia looked up at her while sliding the game over to Eric, “Scrambled with ham-steak, home fries with Grits on the side” still able to see the waitress as he quickly point at Eric, “Eggs easy over with hash-browns and bacon and could I get a Regular coffee?” Eric Said almost daydreaming looking at her shinny brown wavy hair hanging on her shoulders writing it down smiling as she wrote it at Eric.
“And how about you?” she asked John “Coffee… eggs easy over …Bacon and toast”
“Juice or tomato? it comes with it” all of them agreed on Juice, watching her slowly heading down the aisles to drop of the order.
“John’ No poster’s here” Toneckia said leaning over towards him, before sitting backup checking around the room stopping at one table tapping on the table getting Johns attention to look over at a table, Eric also had to look over the booth back seeing what they both seemed interesting, not sure what they were looking at Eric did see a table with a young girl looking over at them mostly making eyes at Toneckia, last thing they needed at this point was to start something with a family the father looked more like a pro football player sitting next to his young son.
“She’s fine looking young thing there” Toneckia said smiling at her flashing her eye lashes back
“Little young don’t you think?” John slyly remarked back tapping the table
“Na’ she’s sure a fine looking thing” looking back at the table before looking back at her again
“Better look at her daddy before you start anything Chief!” John said pushing his thumbs upward on the table at him, as he looked seeing him staring right at him.
“Man where’s the Coffee anyways’ she go make it or what?” Toneckia making like he wasn’t looking at her, only around at another tables then looking towards the kitchen area.
“Chill she’s right behind you”
“Coffees and Juice’s coming right up”
Returning with our coffee and juice placing them on the table, snapping the lid chrome creamer after checking inside, Eric quickly jumping back in the seat cringed with the sound.
“Egg’s coming right up you want ketchup?” checking around the table for the dispenser packets
John nodded yes reaching for the sugar packets, leaving the small blue box in the center of the table, Eric quickly took four packets only after inhaling how strong it was, shaking them inside eyes wide hoping the cream might ease the smell, John impatiently waving his finger to Eric pouring just enough not to over fill it watching inside circle slowly before sliding the creamer over.
Toneckia was first to finish taking the check telling them to take their time he needed to check on a few things, John didn’t seem to concerned mixing his Ketchup in what was left on his plate before asking for more coffee, Toneckia came back with a big grin sitting down, it was spontaneity John and Eric turn looking to see the young girl and her family had left.
“You ready to hit the road’ I’ve got good news for you two also”
“What kind of news?” John asking getting out slowly
“Got a trucker who’s going to Texas!” Saying smiling down at Eric
“Really a ride to Texas” Eric Excided scooting out following right behind them outside
All three walk along the trucks Toneckia was talking to John that he just happen to run into the guy inside hearing he was heading to Texas, when he was done talking to the other guy Toneckia ask if he could give Eric a ride home only telling him he miss some bus after it stopped last night, falling asleep in a chair only to wake up and find out he missed his bus, wanting to get home as soon as he could or maybe find his bus along the way, the driver ate it up so it was a good sign from the spirts, John just made a sly look back walking till they stopped at the Truck Toneckia pointed at.
John wasn’t too happy about it leaving Eric now it was more than a gut feeling that something about this wasn’t right, stopping Eric turning him away from the truck with both hands on his shoulders asking Eric that if for any reason he wasn’t comfortable with this truck driver, he needed to know before hand and it was ok they would find another way to get him home. Eric just nodded yes looking up at the driver’s door seeing him looking down.
Toneckia stood smiling at the driver pointing at Eric, slowly opening the door stepping down backwards turning looking right at Eric standing with his head raised trying not to stare at him.
“Going home to Texas? Miss your bus did ya?”
“Yes Sir” Eric replied in a low voice
“Well better get in it’s a long trip”
“Thank You sir” Eric turning right to John waiting “It’s ok I’ll be fine”
John grabbed at Eric’s hand “You take care’ maybe I’ll come visit you soon” knowing Eric a short time yet something about him change inside more his way of life now also starting a new life in a new town
“Logan Texas I’ll be there waiting” Eric held his hand out saying goodbye to Toneckia as well before getting in the passenger side watching them from the window standing back
Toneckia stood next to John saying it was best this way now they didn’t have to worry about someone finding him with them, it was the right thing that had to be done better than just dropping him off later, John noticing his hesitance and felt maybe he should stop Eric before it was too late, just that little looking back at him when the lights came on lighting up the area, his small face looking so pale and wanting to stay with them sending the shivers up Johns back side, stepping back as he started pulling outward John wanting to stopped him calling Eric back to them as it continued outward stepping back only waving to them as it past.