Nineteen Years Ago — September 1997
The guy was tall, he had the body of a supermodel and he wore a three piece suit that probably cost as much as a good car, perfectly fitted to his stature. He just screamed money.
My stomach grumbled. I hadn’t eaten since the day before yesterday.
Rich guy was my meal ticket.
He stepped out of the business center with a bald man in an equally expensive suit and a gorilla on his toes. The two suits talked about things and I went their way.
If I succeeded, I’d be set for a while…
It was just a matter of bumping into him and in one smooth movement his wallet was gone. At first I’d gotten caught a lot but getting people to pity you and let you go was easy. I hated playing the girl card, it made me sick but it had kept me going for months. Beside, with the time I’d gotten good at it.
I ran toward them and crashed into the guy, the two of us falling down. My hand found his wallet and I pocketed it before anyone could notice.
“I’m so sorry!” I said, making my best to look panicked.
“Are you alright, girl?” He asked, getting up and offering me a hand. When he called me Girl, I felt my heart sink. It always hurt. I hated it.
“Yes… It’s just ex, he’s crazy and he was threatening me and I…”
“Woah calm down…” He said.
“Sorry, I got to go. He can’t find me…”
I walked away at a face pace and once I was out of earshot I breathed out a sigh of relief. I patted my pocket and found the wallet secure.
I was about to go home when he called me out.
“Excuse me Miss.” I turned around and saw him hurry toward me.
So I ran, diving into the first alley I found.
I turned around and saw him chasing after me. Rather than let his bodyguard handle it, the man himself ran after me, ditching the muscle who was meant to keep him safe.
Thankfully I knew the area well; what places were dead ends, where there were easy spots to disappear to, obstacles that I could easily use to ditch pursuers.
The man was persistent; chasing me for what felt like an eternity, jumping fences and sliding under openings in other. My only saving grace was his suit; it wasn’t meant for running. I finally ditched him after jumping a fence where he got caught, the lead gave me enough space to slip away.
I made it home safely but drenched in sweat. Not that it mattered, I was already dirty as hell, only washing whenever I could in public restroom by using the sinks for the past few months.
In my case “Home” was an old abandoned warehouse which had fallen into legal limbo. Although it had been chained, I’d broken the previous lock and replaced it with my own, making sure nobody was none the wiser.
The place was huge but I only used a small corner, having made a small shack to keep my stuff, beside it was easier to stay warm.
There wasn’t a whole lot; an old dirty mattress, a few milk crates making an improvised shelf and a foot locker. All stuff I’d found in the trash. I saw down on the mattress and checked my new acquisition.
I’d definitely picked the right person; the guy was loaded; a few hundreds in cash, two black ultra elite credit cards and some membership cards to really exclusive places. Of course I couldn’t use the credit cards, they’d be reported stolen within a few hours if they hadn’t already been and they’d get tracked.
But eight hundred and thirty six bucks could keep me going for a long time.
So I decided to reward myself. I reversed my jacket, going from the blue side to the orange one and removed my cap before going out, that way if anyone was looking out for me they wouldn’t notice me immediately.
A few blocks down from my crash space was a KFC. I went there and used Rich man’s, John Coleman his ID said, money to get a whole bucket with all the things for myself. I hadn’t eaten a decent meal in forever and it was much welcome, even if the employee looked at me weirdly.
Food in hand, I went home, thinking of all the things I could get; a fresh new sleeping bag, food for a few days. Maybe I could even buy a game for my handheld; I’d already played everything I had to death.
As I walked back, I found Grump. He was this friendly street dog I sometimes ran into. He was some sort of mutt; part German Shepard according to his pattern and part something else; he didn’t have the head of a Shepard and long shaggy fur. For some reason he always looked like he was pouting, hence the name I’d given him.
“Hey boy.” I said, coming next to him.
He was visibly excited to see me, he came closer and smelled my food.
“You hungry boy?”
He let out an excited bark and I assumed that meant yes.
“Come on.” I said, whistling for him to follow me.
The two of us arrived home and I let us in, sitting back down on my mattress. I opened the bucket and Grump waited patiently for his share. I wasn’t sure if he’d been trained or if he was smart enough to know I’d give him some.
I gave him the first piece and he jumped on it immediately. I wasn’t the only one who’d gone hungry.
The two of us stuffed our faces; chicken, potatoes, coleslaw, macaroni salad. There was enough for a family of four but the two of us devoured all of it.
Our meal finished I took the time to give Grump some affection, rubbing his dirty matted fur. Sure he was filthy but so was I.
Feeling tired from the day, I lied down in my sleeping bag and went to sleep, Grump lying down at my feet.
It was almost a normal thing.
I woke up sometimes later, a groaning sound filled the warehouse and made me jump awake. I waited for a moment, ears waiting for another suspect sound.
And it came; something hitting the ground nearby.
In a panic I got up and snuck out of the corner I was hidden in, looking for intruders. Through what little light entered the warehouse, I scanned the grounds, not finding anything…
At least until I noticed the shadowy silhouette on the ground.
I looked up and saw its source: The Raven staring me down from the top of the structure, crouching on top of an old walkway. Although he was cloaked in a dark costume, he stood just at the right spot where the light from the hole in the roof illuminated him. He wanted me to see him.
I was about to go for my bat when a boomerang hit right next to it.
I recoiled in fear.
I looked back at the Raven. I couldn’t tell a damn thing about his expression, but I just knew in my gut that he was enjoying this
So I ran. I was almost at the door when a rope entangled itself around my feet. I fell and my chin hit the cement floor.
I tried to remove the thing but only a moment later the Raven stood over me, one of his bladed boomerangs in hand.
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I’m going to get my wallet back. You can stay there or I can cuff you.”
“Are all of these your doing?” He asked, holding the cardboard box that held my my trophy pile.
I stayed silent. It was better not to say anything, lest he got an idea. He found his wallet and checked the content.
“I only spent a twenty…” I told him.
“Oh, I don’t care about the money. I came for this.” He said before showing me a big bronze coin. “Family heirloom.”
I couldn’t stop myself from speaking.
“You terrorized me for a stupid coin?”
“This stupid coin as you call it is important to me.”
There was a pause as he retrieved the rest of his stuff; the cards and everything.
“So what now?”
“I should definitely call child protective services. This is no way for you to be living.”
“And what, have them put me in jail? Don’t call it a youth center, it’s a jail.”
“Don’t you have parents to go back to?”
“They don’t want me… Or at least they don’t want me the way I am… They jsut want their little girl…” I said, almost spitting that last word.
Fuck… Why was I telling him that?
“I see… I’m sorry to hear that.”
“So what now?”
“Well, you could stay on living here, go to a center, which you don’t want to… Or I can think of something for you to do. I know you’d be good at it, you’ve got talent, kid.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?” I asked, more sarcastically than anything.
That’s when he told me. It took a few seconds for it to sink in.
“You want me to be a… a… a fucking Raven?”
“No swearing please.” He answered strictly. “And you’re not a Raven.”
“What am I then?” I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.
“You’re a bloody magpie.” He said with a grin.
He seemed to find himself really funny.
“What do you say?” He asked.