Some of you might remember Joey from a few blogs ago. He’s the one who brought the yard troll to show off to his friends. At that time, I mentioned Joey was known to bend the rules of the law. The law was like putty in his hands. Now we meet Joey again, many years later.
“Hello Pete. Glad you could make it. I thought it would be a good idea for us to have a chat together. I’m Joey, by the way.”
“It’s Peter, not Pete.” The young man said, with what he hoped was a tough edge to his voice.
“No prob Peter.”
Peter glanced around the office noting the cheap metal desk, Goodwill chair and threadbare carpet. What a shit hole. Wonder what this jerk wants.
The teenager looked at Joey. He saw a man with a lined face, longish brown hair—when Joey sat down he noticed the hair starting to thin at the top—and tired eyes that still managed to twinkle with a secret joke.
He better not be laughing at me.
Joey’s thin frame gave the impression of strength rather than of a skinny weakling.
Peter had been a resident of the home for about a month. Joey had been watching him and decided they should talk. The young man reminded Joey of what he was like in his own misspent youth.
“So what do you think of the program here?”
“It’s OK. (mumbled) What do you think?
“Well I’ve seen you around and you don’t seem to be making many friends. Why do you think that is?”
Peter let his eyes wander around the room while tapping his finger against his jean clad leg, saying nothing.
Joey sighed. Another tough nut to crack — here we go again.
“I see you’re on parole for attempted B&E. I also see that your school work is not bad especially your art class. You like art eh?”
“Yeah. I guess.”
Joey could tell that Peter’s drawings were better than average and had a feeling the boy loved art.
“I found this art book in the library here–you might like to take a look.”
Peter looked at the book. His eyes glittered for a moment and quickly shut down again. It was too late. Joey had noted the boy’s interest before the young man had tried to hide it.
“It must have been rough living in your parent’s home with both of them addicts eh? Your mum liked the booze and your dad the pills.”
Peter’s head jerked up and he balled his hands into fists as if getting ready to fight.
“What do you know about it?”
“You may see me just as some old guy working for a living but my parents were similar to yours.”
Peter kept stealing glances at the art book on the desk. Joey moved it closer to the edge where the kid was seated on one of the “Goodwill” chairs.
No reaction, so Joey carried on. “Yeah my parents were both addicts; he on booze she crack, actually. It wasn’t much fun. Other kids had parents who took them places, had dinner on the table and took an interest in what their children did. My parents didn’t do any of those things. The same with yours I expect.”
“In those days I was like anger on steroids. Yet life seemed to go as slowly as grains through an hourglass.”
Peter perked his head up. He started to listen.
Joey continued, watching the kid’s reactions from under his eye lids.
“I was lucky though. I knew a bunch of kids and we hung out every Saturday morning. It was really weird ’cause it’s like we had nothing in common. But we did. It wasn’t til later that I realised how important they were, and still are actually.
“I had another group of friends too. They were into petty theft, drinking, smoking pot. They let me hang out with them. Even underage we went to the bars around town. They were exciting and they seemed important and I was flattered that they thought well enough of me to let me hang with them. Usually I felt as insignificant as dust bunny poop.
He noted a half smile on Peter’s face. He was definitely listening now.
“Well one night they dared me to pick a lock on this lady’s house. I was so stupid they gave me a guitar pick to use. I was as dumb as the door knob on that house. We were caught. My ‘friends’ ran away and I was the only one left when the officers showed up. I was as clueless as a lost sock.
“I thought for sure I was going to jail. And it didn’t bother me, ya know? It would mean I’d get away from my ‘parents’. I’d get three squares a day and I knew I could handle myself “
“The cops somehow found out that I hung around this old deli on Saturday mornings. Yeah that’s where that group I told you about met. And somehow the cops found Nate, the owner. Nate came to my hearing and spoke up for me saying how I wasn’t a bad kid.”
“So the police, instead of throwing me in the clink, put me into a halfway house, something like this one.”
The young man’s eyes were riveted on Joey.
“And in that place I met a counselor who was doing the job I do now. His name was Ryan. He’s retired the last couple of years, but we still keep in touch.”
“We had a talk similar to what you and I are doing. ‘cept my interest isn’t art, it’s writing. He hooked me up with this writing group he knew about. We got together in the local church basement. The house I was living in gave me permission to go to the group as long as I was back by curfew. I always was. That group opened a whole new world to me.”
“There are different kinds of people in the world. With me there was the group at Nate’s deli, the guys who let me take the blame for the attempted B&E and this writer group. The trick is to find the right group for you.”
“Well, I’m glad we had this visit. It’s about dinner time and you don’t want to miss it–You can take the book if you want.”
The young offender’s hands closed around the book as he slipped it off the desk.
Peter walked out of Joey’s office carefully closing the door behind him, and went back to his room deep in thought–with the art book tightly clutched close to his chest.
Blogophilia 21.4 Topic: “Misspent Youth”
(Hard, 2pts): incorporate a pair of ‘similies’ (in other words USE two similies rather than the literal sense of ‘a pair of similies’)
(Easy, 1pt): use a guitar pick