The day you met me, I was running down the street in the 5 o'clock afternoon. You see, I was running away from a man behind me screaming obscenities 'fuckyoudon'tcomebackunlessyouaredead,' and I was giggling like mad with the stolen pistol in my hand and hundred dollar bills tucked in my red left sock. I limped as I ran, because I twisted my ankle as I was making my escape.

The orange rainwater seeped between my toes and the mud blood cum ran down my face, but I kept pushing my legs because all I could think about was how I didn't want to be caught. When I looked back over my shoulders after two minutes of running, I had already lost the fat man behind.

You saw me then, as I turned at a corner. I lost my balance while trying to avoid running into you and fell in the grass. The pistol fell into the mud and I quickly stuffed it in my pants under my shirt before you could see it. You were too scared to pick me up, so I grabbed your shirt and pulled you to the ground as I tried to pull myself up. You apologized and asked me if I needed to sit down somewhere.

It was a beautiful day to be alive, I later reflected inside the cafe you left me in. You had rushed off because you said you had a meeting to attend. The waitress gave me a big bowl of corn chowder with a slab of organic wild grain bread. She gave me the same look you gave me, a look of scorn, disgust, and pity. Or maybe it was just confusion, because neither of you knew how to address this dirty young man who looked skinny enough to be a boy. I didn't leave time to breathe as I gulped down the soup, after which I belched loudly and fell asleep on the table. I dreamed of pink elephants and green apples. Or it might have been green elephants and pink apples.

It was half past seven the next day when I woke up. Neither my person nor my drool has been removed from the table. An ache on my abdomen informed me of a bruise caused by my hidden weapon. I shift uncomfortably. The waitress that had served me the day before was staring at me across the counter she was cleaning. She turned away when I caught her eyes and looked at the door because, as if on cue, you walked in. When you saw me, you furrowed your eyebrows. Words were exchanged between you two before you came over to sit across from me.

I wiped away the drool with the palm of my hand and crossed my ankles. The little bundle of money rested comfortingly on the back of my ankle.

"Hi," I said.

"Hi," You smiled. "I'm Robert. I own the cafe."

"Oh. Thanks for the food." The place smelled like fried butter and my stomach's grumbling like a bear.

"No problem. What's your name?" You asked as you signaled the waitress for something.

"Baby." I said.

"Baby." You echoed, but it sounded more like a question. "Like Davey, but Bavey?"

"No, my mom called me Baby so I'm Baby."

"That's a nice nickname." It wasn't my nickname, but I didn't want to seem ungrateful and correct you. To keep the uncomfortable silence from stretching too long, you added, "You can call me Rob."


"So where are you from, Baby?"

"Around here. Not too far."

"Can I call your parents or something? They must be worried that you aren't home."

"I don't have any parents."

"I'm sorry." You said instinctively. The door chimes and a red haired old woman goes up to the counter to buy a blueberry muffin. She leaves. "Who's taking care of you?"

"I am."

"You are awfully young to be on your own." You looked concerned.

"I'm not, I just look young."

"Really." You smile, and don't sound convinced. I nod.

"Thanks for letting me sleep here."

"My waitress didn't know what to do with you." You scratched the side of your neck. There's a patch of unshaved stubble. You must have been in a hurry that morning. "I wondered about you after I left. You looked distressed."

"Yeah, I was pretty tired, and I fell over in the grass. Sorry."

"I mean, are you sure nothing bad happened to you?" You looked at me suspiciously. "I only want to help."

"No, I'm fine. I didn't sleep or eat the day before, but now I'm fine. Thanks."

"Well, if you are looking for work or something, we need another waiter here. You have to prove to me that you are 18 though."

"Oh," I looked down, saw my own thighs, saw the red pleather seat that I'd only ever seen in old seventies movies. My jeans were black and gray with mud. I wish I'm 18. "I lost my ID."

"We can go get another driver's license issued for you."

"I don't drive."

You stared at me. "Well, we can get another state ID for you, I'm sure."


"Unless you aren't 18," you added. I said nothing, but looked out the window. You did the same. The waitress brought two cups of coffee. Well, one cup, since mine turns out to be hot chocolate. "Your parents—"

"They are all dead." I said quickly because tears want to well up. Not from the fictitious thought that they were, but from how strongly I wished that they were. You looked at me, at the cream, at the sugar cubes stacked neatly in a pyramid, but touched nothing.

"Do you have a guardian?" You voice became softer.

"No. There's no guardian and I'm too old for anyone to want to adopt me."

"Are you under foster care?"

"No, they couldn't place me in a home. Everywhere is full in the city."

"Are you staying at the orphanage now?"

"No, they won't-- don't miss me. They have too many younger ones to take care of anyway. They don't look for the runaways."

"How old are you?"

"Seventeen... sixteen." You didn't believe me so I had no choice. "Fifteen and three fourth, I'm almost sixteen!"

"What about school?"

"They don't teach us anything in school, really. Please give me a job, I promise you won't regret it and I won't bring you trouble. I promise."

"My sister's a guidance counselor, she's always complained about the lack of good foster homes. Look, I'll offer you a place if you agree to go through with the proper procedures for entering a foster home."

I froze. To have my identity revealed would be worse than sucking old men off for food and shelter.


"The department won't let you pick who you want to. They'll send you a kid who's more messed up than me."

"My sister works for the department. But I need documentation to prove your identity."

I quickly racked my brains for the name of orphanage kids around my age who worked for my dad. I hoped that they won't need a blood test to prove that I'm actually who I say I am. Name… name… Bobby. Bobby Liey, Fliae, Flay, Fiaw?

"Deal. My name's Bobby Fiey."