Another Writing Winner
Where Do I Belong?
by John Peabody
It was a cold, dark night. The rain was icy as it hit his
cheek. Lying on top of the garbage truck covered in plastic and lashed to the
frame, he shivered. Only his cheek was exposed to the elements. The rest of the
plastic was covered with mud and filth. The truck made its way slowly around
the prison as it did its rounds. At the guard shack they just waved it through,
not wanting to get soaked in the downpour. He was free, outside the walls! He
couldn’t keep the smile off of his face as the truck moved farther and farther
Miles away from the prison he felt the truck stop; he got
up, unbuckling himself from the frame. Suddenly, the truck turned right and he
lost his balance. His left foot was still fastened to the top of the truck as
he fell over the side. The plastic fell away, and he was getting soaked as he
hung upside down as the truck lumbered on.
“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” he thought as he was
banging against the truck. The last strap snapped and he went plummeting to the
street. He splashed into a large mud filled pot hole, skinning his knees and
hands. He picked his face up out of the dirty water, and he thought “Why me?”
as he got up slowly. His knees and hands hurt and he was wet and freezing as he
limped off the road.
“Clothes,” he thought. “I have to get out of these grays and
get real clothes.” He stayed off the road in the bushes and trees. He saw a
mini-market through the trees and ran towards it. He fell over a tree branch
and into a thicket of thorns.
“Aaah!” he yelled. He pulled himself up and out as the
thorns tore through his pants and shirt. He felt immediate pain in his left
thumb, and looked at it. In the dull light he could see that it was broken.
“Great,” he thought.
Continuing through the trees, itching and scratching,
thinking “Don’t let it be poison ivy” mumbling “No, no, no” he approached a
blue Honda Civic and tried the door handle. It was open. Excitement shot
through him. “Finally,” he thought, “some luck.” He opened the door and sat
down, leaning over to look into the glove compartment; empty. “Damn,” he
thought, hoping for some cash.
Turning around to check the back seat and looking into a
smiling little face he stifled a scream. “Christ! Someone left their kid in the
damn car. I do not believe this!” his mind yelled. Scrambling like crazy and
throwing himself out the door, cracking his forehead on the frame he tumbled
onto the pavement. Sitting there just staring in unbelief as the door shut, and
hearing the baby laughing saying “Da da,” he slowly got up.
Limping off around the back of the mini-mart he decided to
check the dumpster for anything of value. He pushed a box up against it and
climbed up. Looking inside it was hard to see so he climbed up a little onto
the edge. Forgetting about his broken thumb and grabbing on, which hurt like
hell, he lost his balance, and fell drowning in the dumpster.
“OW!” he said. Moving around, feeling cuts on his legs from
broken glass in the dumpster. “Aaah, what next?” he thought to himself slowly
and painfully climbing out of the dumpster.
Torn and bleeding he headed up the alley behind the mini mart.
The rain slowed, and then stopped. “Finally!” he thought to himself. He stopped
at the first yard he came to, looking up and down the alley to see if anyone
was around; it was clear as far as he could see. He grabbed the gate to open
it, and was knocked backwards, falling and slamming his head on the ground.
“Ooof,” he said. “Electric fence! Jesus, who has an electric
fence?” he thought, holding his head, laying there for a minute looking up at
the stars peeking through the clouds. “What the hell was I thinking?” he
wondered. “I am in so much pain. I wish I was in my bunk,” he thought. He got
up slowly, rubbing his head. He limped down the end of the alley, looked around
and stepped into the street. He found the sidewalk and started down through the
Seeing a garage door held open with a bucket and thinking he
could slip under it easily, he checked to see if it was clear, and started
wiggling under the door. “I can do this, no problem. I can fit under this door
simple. God’s a good God.” Halfway in, he got stuck and panicked, flailing
around, he kicked the bucket out and the door fell down on his foot. “Mmmmmmm!”
he yelled, trying to muffle his scream. He pulled and pulled. Finally he tugged
his foot free, but his sock and shoe stayed outside. “Why me?” he though as he
stood up in the dark garage with one bare foot.
He slowly felt his way around as his eyes adjusted. He found
the door to the outside, and slowly opened it and looked out, listening
intently; nothing in the yard, no noise. The back porch light made it easy to
see. He saw the back gate. No electric wiring this time, thank God. He shuffled
to the gate as he heard the chain unraveling. As he limp-ran to the gate he saw
the dog on the chain coming around the corner of the house. It jumped at him,
and caught the back of his shirt in its teeth. The chain tightened and the dog
stopped. He pulled away with a last surge, and his shirt tore completely off of
him. He got up and ran to the gate.
He was still trying to catch his breath as he walked down
the back alley and saw the dog chewing on his shirt. “I can’t take anymore of
this,” he thought. He was in so much pain he could hardly think, not to
mention, move. A car pulled into the alley from one of the side streets and
parked there. He stopped and stared and started laughing. The car was faced
away from him, its trunk towards him. He giggled as he slowly shuffle-limped to
The car’s occupants were unaware of his presence behind
them. He reached the car and started banging on the trunk. Both front doors
flew open, and he was caught in the beam of two flashlights. The light revealed
a pathetic, sad, soaked, muddy, bloody, cut, bruised man wearing only a pair of
gray, mud stained, bloody pants that said “inmate” up one side, and one shoe.
He was smiling and holding his arms in front of him with clenched fists. He
continued to smile as he said softly, “Please?” and the two police officers
were more than happy to cuff him and put him in the back of their car to take
him back where he belonged.