It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. This was a random prompt I worked on. Please excuse any spelling errors. I’m thinking about continuing this one for greater purpose.
I used to con people out of money, it was my job. That was what my customers described my business as. The truth was I was homeless.
And I remembered when I was younger and my Mother and I would see homeless people on the street. I’d ask her why we’d never give them any spare change or even five dollars and she’s say smugly with ‘better than you’ eyes propped up behind thin glasses:
“They’ll just buy beer or drugs with it, darling. Don’t you ever give any of your hard earned money to them.”
Honestly, I did use it to buy beer and drugs. It wasn’t my fault that I was hooked—maybe that’s questionable—but it didn’t matter how it started. What mattered was that I couldn’t stop. Heroine was my prized possession, my bride; and alcohol was the mistress that showed up on Saturday afternoons while Heroine was away. My blood ran through my veins and air filled up my lungs only because I knew the next hit was coming. I lived for the edge and for lying to strangers, telling them about my fake wife and kids back at home.
So how did a billionaire boy with a sister and brother, with happily married hardworking parents end up on the streets of New York homeless?
I guess I should start from the beginning.
“Jack, I’ll ask you one more time, was it you or Grant who hid Loreli’s barbie doll?”
It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood. I can still go back to that moment and jump right back into my skin and feel the complete uneasiness as I tried to avoid my Mom’s accusations by refusing to make eye contact. I knew Grant did it but I couldn’t just throw him under the bus. Grant and I were magnetic back then. I guess the whole twins thing may have played into why we were so close but I thought it was more than that.
I kept going back and forth in my head of whether or not I should tell her it was him. Finally I sided with my heart rather than my head. I didn’t think ahead to consequence, I just spoke.
“I did it,” I said sheepishly.
I didn’t have a second more of freedom before Mom grabbed my ear with unforgivingly sharp force and dragged me across the foyer. I recalled the way her heels clacked harshly upon the marble floor, as if she was punishing it too.
“Jackson Henry Spencer! You boys are so terrible to her, your father will hear about this, Jack. Your father will have your consequences.”
My body tensed up and that’s when I begged for mercy. Mom’s version of ‘grounding’ was usually no video games for two days or helping the cleaning lady when she came in. Dad’s was community service. I knew he’d take me to a soup kitchen or have me be Loreli’s servant for the week. Every time he dished out penalties he’d finish it with the same words. Whenever I heard them back then, I’d roll my eyes. But now, I can’t stop thinking back to them and realizing how right he was.
“Jack, being a good man isn’t about being strong or doing things because you can. It’s about having accountability for your actions and doing what is right even when that decision isn’t popular.”
I grew up in Detroit, Michigan on the far outskirts of the big city in a very well-off neighborhood. My Father was a well-known and profitable lawyer and my Mother was an ER Physician. We were the picture of a perfect family; The Spencers. We had season passes to Disney World which we exercised regularly and went to the best private schools money could buy.
Usually this is the part where people add in the big clincher; BUT! There was more to us than met the eye. Honestly there wasn’t. I loved my family and everything about my childhood. Although it was very untypical—Not too many children grow up in a mansion and wake up to a shiny brand new car on Christmas morning or up and go to California one weekend ‘just because’—but it felt average. I pulled my sister’s hair like everyone else did, my brother and I competed to be better than one another constantly, and I worked very hard in school to keep up with my peers.
When you grow up with ‘everything anyone could ever want’ it turns into nothing. Dad told us stories from when he was a kid and how he saved up for months to buy a bicycle so he could ride around with his friends. He said the saving was the best part because it made it all the sweeter to have a bike. My siblings and I never experienced that want. We never sat on pins and needles to wait for our birthdays or Christmas to get the next new gaming system or get a new movie that’d just come out on DVD. If we wanted something it was usually given to us within the same month. Dad was friends with some guy in the movie biz, so we’d get movies on DVD while they were still in theatres in most cases.
After a while material things lost their worth to me. I realized no matter how many things I got, it never changed my happiness. Sure, everything had its entertainment value, but it all sat on the same black line at the end of the day.
Until one fateful Thanksgiving morning.
I was fourteen years old and I hated Thanksgiving. We had to go to our grandparents’ tiny brick house where all the extended family would gather and I’d get my cheeks pinched for three hours. My cousins and I didn’t get along because they were all girls; Grant and I never really talked to them, now I wish I would’ve.
The morning of this dreaded day, Dad said he had a surprise for me. I knew it was something special because even Mom was asking him what the heck was going on. The saddest part was, I wasn’t near enough excited. I knew it would be something fantastically expensive and something none of my friends had, but it was nothing new.
Dad wheeled in the huge object, hiding beneath several large blankets, with precision and care. I could tell by its shape what it was already. And as I never expected, I was surprised.
He pulled off the satin blankets to reveal a grand piano, shiny, brilliant, and new. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in our house and I instantly felt it’s electricity and magnetic pull…I walked towards it.
“This is cruel,” Loreli commented nudging Mom with a worried look on her face. Mom too was eyeing Dad with questions and concerns.
I’ll always say my first love was Steinway & Sons, to this very day. The way it glowed in the light of the classic chandelier above it and how it seemed to have its own soul had me at first sight. The closer I got to it, the more anxious I became.
Dad placed a small bench near its keys for me to sit. I sat down and instantly felt my eyes watering as I gazed into the eyes of the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my whole life. I placed my hands on the keys and felt poetry running through every fingertip. I could hear it talking to me. I could feel the inspiration, the music—I could feel the potential filled to the brim. I’d never known such happiness.
“Go ahead Jack,” I heard Dad whisper, I was suddenly aware of how silent it was in the room, “Give it a whirl.”
I was nervous. I felt like I was sitting on a throne that didn’t belong to me. How dare I sit before a king and not know what to do. What if I messed up?
Nonetheless, I pressed my fingers and began to play. I closed my eyes and felt peace transferring from the piano and into my being. Music was magic.
The room was even more silent as I played and mouths were agape. After all, they’d never seen a boy with Boudon’s Disease play piano before.