Based on a true story
Why do teens runaway from home? The most common reason that teens run away is family problems.
He gave time travel a whirl inside one of the moving boxes left behind by his mom. Using a flashlight, he crawled into a packing box and designed the controls of his escape pod.
First, he drew a screen with a black crayon. Below the screen, he inserted sewing spindles for control knobs. With a butter knife jabbed through the box, he made a good sturdy throttle. Raising the knife upwards shot him across the Milky Way in a blink of an eye.
In a lowered position he slowed down enough to observe life on other worlds. The last component missing was a steering wheel. He extracted the part from a broken riding lawnmower. He mounted it into the cardboard wall below the screen. His control panel looked like the dashboard of his dad’s 1966 Thunderbird car.
A simple blast of a Cracker Jack whistle announced his departure.
When the fighting between his parents resembled All-Star Wrestling. He checked out.
He became fascinated with railroad tracks. He would walk the rails, balance himself on one rail, or place a penny on a rail to watch a train flatten it to twice its size.
He studied the graffiti on the passing train cars. Names in strange languages in colorful red, white and blue designs like Zapata Lives! Who were the people who wrote their names? The rails seemed to go on forever. There was great delight in the feeling of looking down the tracks — the throat of eternity.
Nowhere was far enough.
Peddling down the road on his sky blue Schwinn Country Roamer bicycle. Complete with its muscle handlebars and fabulous silver-ribbed stingray fastback seat.
He made an igloo out of the snow. He sat within his shiny icy dome and dreamed of polar bears snorting, whales surfacing, and the call of a snowy owl. Next, he built a year-round retreat in the rafters of our garage. From that vantage point, he could spy on my dad. He remembered seeing him leave and return at all odd times of the night.
He went underground during the spring. Digging an end of the world pod and furnishing it with a sleeping bag. And supplies; Snickers bars and soda pop. He added a canteen, Boy Scout compass, and a bow; whereby he shot arrows at the sun.
Mom started to pack the house for the big move and he planned to run away. For the bus ticket, he swapped bottle-refund pennies. He sold Kool-Aid and mowed lawns.
A friend of his moved to St. Louis and offered a home. He thought his parents would adopt him. It was sort of against the rules of the adventure to ask too many questions.
Travelers on the bus talked in their strange accents, “Where you headed, son?” He answered with a hearty “St. Louis!”
In a bus or on a river raft — no matter — it was his movement toward freedom, and his freedom was where he saw fit.
When he arrived with his raggedy bag of clothes, the story was spinning.
“He’s a friend from school and we’re doing a sleepover.” His friend Tom explained to his frowning parents.
Tom’s parents caught on when the sleepover lasted a week. They asked where he lived.
He found himself in the back seat of a police car.
Fingerprinted, photographed, and before a judge. They connected him to a rash of crimes he didn’t commit. The judge found his 13-year old life guilty. His syndicate was so vast they dubbed him the “kingpin.”
“Let the trial of nobody’s son begin,” the Judge hit his gavel on a woodblock.
His parents stood next to him at first and left.
“The State versus YOU,” the judge read from a paper. “Do you understand the charges brought before you?”
“How do you wish to plead?” The judge asked.
There was whispering back and forth between the probation officer and the judge. He overheard the word, “Boy’s Town” and a shockwave shot up my spine.
For his crimes, he received several years on probation.
The court assigned Probation officer Mr. Booty. He was a tall, ancient man, who wore skinny black ties, and pin-striped suits. He looked down at him through his wire-rimmed bifocals.
Mr. Booty questioned him about his whereabouts between 3 and 4 p.m. on a particular Thursday.
“I was riding my bike around the neighborhood.”
He held a pen to his lips. “Are there any witnesses?”
“Mrs. Johnson was watering her flowers, and she saw me.”
Whether he followed up with Mrs. Johnson, he did not know — but thanks to her gardening, he had a tight alibi.
It was time to climb out the window.