It is the wee small hours of the morning- a mulled wine sunrise with a splash of citrus is drawing the rippling water of the river. Sugared pines sprinkle last night’s hail onto the banks as wolves, drunk from their most recent kill, stumble to their den for sleep. The days have been hot and muggy, but last night a storm rolled cool, wet breezes across the parched grasses and hills. It was not a good night for the boys to run away.
But youth knows no reason when emotions hold sway over decisions and actions. Slaves to anger and hubris, the two pounced at the spontaneous thought of leaving; they ran from the place they had called a home for the past two weeks. Gone before the sky darkened and the storm appeared, they left in nothing but shorts and T-shirt, cotton knee socks and tennis shoes.
The town below the orphanage was in full blown revelry last night. The annual celebration of its historic origins soon developed into the usual drunken street dancing ritual. The live band stirred the gyrating crowd, but as the music traveled into the pine skirted hills that surrounded the revelers, all that remained were the drums.
“Do you even know where we are?” This from Handel, or what appeared to be Handel. It was difficult to make out the shivering, damp ball of lanky boy curled up at the base of a tree.
“Can you not hear the drums? We’re not far from town, duh.”
“I think they cut your hair too close to whatever was left of your brain, B.” Handel took his time unfolding himself, stretching different limbs and scratching what parts of his brown skin that weren’t already covered in scrapes, welts, or bug bites. “I can’t believe I followed you out here.”
The boys heads both sported the characteristic crew cut – the traditional intake haircuts – done quickly with a number one guard on electric trimmers. Both of their scalps were visible through the stubble, but Brad’s scalp was clearly sunburnt, as was the rest of his exposed body parts. Brad preferred to be called “B” having struggled with the name’s stereotype in the multiple juvenile detentions and foster homes he’d traversed in his young life. Handel, of Kalispel tribal heritage, had never seen a foster home. He had also never seen a sober parent, a brother that wasn’t in prison or an ex-con, or a school that hadn’t given up on him.
“What was that?” B interrupted Handel’s waking dance of unfurling. The fear in his voice brought an involuntary crouch from Handel.