HIS American LIFE: Left to wander in the City of Angels; Ch. 2

Chapter Two; Left Behind…Again!

Narrated in the first person:

Both my Father and Mother worked late hours.
My mother would normally get home around
5:00 PM in the afternoon; my father would start
in the evening and get home around 8:00 AM
each morning, usually my mother and I would
leave the apartment at the same time; however,
she went south and I went north. It may sound
terrible that my parents did not take me to school
in the morning or accompanied me, but there was
no other way. They both had to work to put food
on our table and a roof above my head.
I understood that at a young age, and never have
or will question their actions. I became a young
man and a young age. After the first incident,
I thought for sure it would never happen again…so
I thought.

I remember this morning my mother had said,
“Apurale mijo, te tienes que ir ya, tu sabes que el
bus que te lleva a la escuela se va a las 8 en punto,
si no te apuras te va a dejar.” Little did my mother
know that the bus had left me behind recently? Like
a week ago. On this particular morning my mother
and I left together as always; she gave me a kiss
right before we parted our ways. “Con cuidado mijo,
no lleges tarde.” So I began my 30 minute walk to
the school were the bus picked me and other kids up
and took us to our Elementary school, which was a
45 minute drive (to this day I do not know and have
never bothered to ask my parents, why I did not go
to a school nearby or closer to home). As I continue
on my the distraction was everywhere that day, in
particular the alley I use to take as a shortcut, which
today was not a shortcut at all. Kicking and throwing
rocks was my agenda every morning through the alley;
seeing homeless people sleeping by the trash bins was
a common sight that I had grown use to; however, the
sight that I saw on this particular morning was not
pleasant at all. At the time, I had no idea what drugs
were, I remember walking half-way through the alley
when I noticed a bum passed out by a trash bin, as I
walked closer I notice his eyes were not closed but open,
and all I can see was the white of his eyes; a cold shiver
ran down my spine as I glance at his arms, I noticed that
from his left arm there was a red line from this elbow area
to the tip of his fingers, that is where I notice the red line
was dripping on to the concrete. From where the red line
began there was a grey object stuck in his arm, I had no
idea what that was then…as I got older I realize the grey
object was a syringe and the red line was blood secreting
from his arm, until this day I feel what saw was a dead
bum overdose on heroin. I recall running the rest of the
alley to the next block, that’s the block that led to the bus
stop in front of another school.

To my surprise as I am making my turn up the street to the
bus stop, all I recall seeing was the black cloud of smoke
from behind the bus as it sped away. I ran and yelled as
hard as I could, but it was not enough, so I stood there in
front of the bus stop and started to cry, with tears running
down my cheeks I walked back the way I came, this time I
was more scared than the last time, this time felt like I was
going to get punish for missing the bus; come to think of it
I was more scared for the punishment I would receive from
my parents than being alone again in the streets of L.A.
After I cried for about 20 minutes, I realized I had nowhere
to go, and I had eight to walk and discover more of the city
of angels. The first time I was left behind my journey began
to the east, and I remembered the bullies that chase me
were in that direction, so naturally this time I headed west;
with my superman backpack, I took steps towards the
greatest day of my childhood life. I saw a house burning and
stopped to witness people running out of the house, then
the fire truck showed up and firefighter ran inside with long
white water hoses, I stood across the street behind a car, so
I wouldn't be seen or ask , what was I doing there! The
house was ablaze and I felt the heat on my face, the sight to
me back then was cool! Time passed and the fire was
extinguished, the show was over, and my stomach began to
growl…I knew lunch was near, hungry and no money, I stole
again, this time from a ‘paletero’ an ice-cream man, which I
befriended by acting lost and asking him for a ‘paleta de
vanilla’ a vanilla popsicle. The ‘paletero’ reached in and gave
me the ‘paleta’ as soon as I got it, I ran like deer, jumping
potholes and sidewalks, all I heard was the ‘paletero’ yelling,
“Pinche mocoso, pinche ladron.” I knew I wasn’t going to see
him again, and I didn’t. I maintained the rest of the day with
only a vanilla Popsicle for lunch.

I continued my walk to downtown L.A. towards MacArthur Park
again, on my way I saw a helicopter with a house hanging from
it with cables, the sight was familiar, then I remembered the
time I fell from a second story building at another apartment my
parents and I used to live at; after my fall, I was rushed to the
hospital, in my dazed in and out of consciousness I remember
seeing the same site outside the window of my Tia Elvira’s
Volkswagen Van, “you know the long ones with all the windows
around.” This day was hotter than most, it was summer anyways,
so yeah, the heat was intensive, so I felt. I was thirsty, so I
walked into a liquor store, and stole a water bottle; the clerk had
them in a small cooler by the door, no one saw, I think! I
remembered the bum who I had met the last time I was left behind,
so when I got to MacArthur Park, I went looking for the bum and I
found in the same place I had seen him the last time. He was
feeding birds and cursing them at the same time; as I approached
him, he recognized me and said, “Hey, man, where have you been?”
As if I was a frequent friend who stops by daily. “I been okay, going
to school,” I replied. “The bus left me again,” I added. The bum
offered crackers; I took one only and sat next to him. I remember
onlookers staring at me then at the bum and probably wondering,
“What on earth was a child doing sitting next to a bum?” I didn’t care,
neither did the bum. After what seemed a long time to me back then,
I decided to go home, I knew the directions and I excuse myself and
said, “Well Mr. I will be going now, talk to you later.” He asked me,
“Have you ever made a wish on the fountain rit’ ovur der’,” just like
that it sounded like. “No, I haven’t,” I answered. So before I carried
on, the bum and I walk to the middle of the park and stand in front
of a big fountain that was located there, and he handed me a nickel.
“You see, you hold the nickel in your hand, which ever you like and
make a wish as you’re throwing the nickel in the fountain.”
He instructed. I saw all the coins in the water and thought, “Boy,
that is a lot of money in the water, but I did what the bum said and
made a wish as I threw the nickel in the fountain. My wish was never
to get left behind again, and I never did. That’s because my parents
and I moved to Rosemead, Ca two months later, were the chapters
of my life continued…

I got home around the same time as the last time, stood at the
bottom of the building, looked up and yelled, “, “Apaaaaaa, Apaaaaaa,
soy Yoooooo,” my dad looks out the window and repeats what he
said everyday when I got home, ““Mijo, ya llegastes,” throws down
the keys, I opened the big entry door and entered; I was home again,…
safely again!!

Author's Notes/Comments: 

HIS American LIFE is my STORY...

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