So we were lost, and wandering through this part of town. It was unfamiliar to us, and as the sunlight faded away, we began to wonder if we were going to make it home in time. I was fifteen and Kerrigan was twelve, and it had been a long walk and a short day.
We’d stopped at the comic store first, and when they hadn’t had what we were looking for, we left and looked for someplace that did. We headed down Drexler and across Peavey, south to Texas and sprinted across Highway 17. During the day it was beautiful and there wasn’t a thing on our minds. Our thoughts were winding in and out of unexplored caverns, unknown even to us. We didn’t speak much, only to warn each other of oncoming traffic and to point out a place where we might find what we wanted. By the time we found another comic shop, it was closed and we couldn’t remember what we were looking for anyway.
We dropped by a McDonald’s just as the sky took a pink cast, and when we were finished we headed out and looked for Drexler, but Drexler was miles away. I dug through my pockets for a quarter but when we found a pay phone, we were 10 cents short. We look in the coin return, halfheartedly beat on the coin box, dialed the operator to beg for clemency. When we tired of it all, we picked up our worn book bags and carried on, heading north until we found 17 again and walking more slowly across it, drifting between the stopped cars in the midday traffic like wraiths at a birthday party. A kid passed us on a bike and we asked him for directions but he just ignored us and started laughing just before he got out of sight.
Finally it was dark, and the silhouettes of the buildings looked like boxy robots, computing where we were headed, even though we weren’t sure. When we got really desparate, we stopped at an apartment building called Hampton Acres. We walked into Building A and knocked on the front door. A huge man in a dirty wife-beater, his face splattered with patchy hair, answered the door, and I asked timidly if we could use his phone. He grunted and I thought he was about to close the door, but then he swung it open and left it that way until we had placed the call. We thanked him and he just turned back to his television. “Shut the door when you go” and we did.
And so we stood there in the dark doorway, waiting for Mom to arrive and pick us up, and when she did we ran to the car like a dying man to a hospital, and we were saved.