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HUNGRY FOR DIAMONDS



I ran away from the orphanage once again, at the age of 12. This time, because the matron told one of the smaller boys she was going to "cut his wee-wee off" with scissors, if he wet his bed again.

Well, I got up one morning and went in to use the bathroom. I found Ronnie sitting in the corner of the shower sobbing his eyes out. No matter what I said, I could not get him to stop crying. I walked back to his bedroom, found that his sheets were lying on the floor and had been burned. I ran back to the large bathroom and asked him how his sheets got on fire.

He told me that he wet the bed. Then he went into one of the older boy's locker and took some matches. The older boys used them for smoking cigarette butts, which they stole out of one of the woman’s cars who worked at the office. He tried to dry his sheets using the matches, but the one sheet caught fire and he had to stick it in the toilet to get the fire out.

I knew that this 4-year-old kid was as good as dead when the matron found out what he did. I told him to go to his bedroom, and get his clothes and shoes on; we were going to go away and I would make sure that he was beaten, nor had his wee-wee cut off.

Within 15 minutes, we had scaled the oak tree outside my bedroom window and were heading down San Diego Road to who knows where. We managed to hitchhike several rides from different people. We finally made it to St. Augustine, Florida. I managed to steal some apples from a store so we could eat. I made sure that little Ronnie did not see me steal the apples, because I did not want him to grow up and become "a no-good thief" like me. That is what the orphanage always called me after I was caught fishing in a man's gold fishpond and for eating his pears off his fruit trees.

We walked around for several hours wondering where to go. All of a sudden, this strange man came walking up to us and asked if we wanted a job selling magazines. I told him I would sell his magazines, if my little Ronnie could stay with me. He said that was ok. He took us to a really big street with lots of nice homes and told us to go from door to door. Then we were to let the people fill out the papers. They would give us some money and we were to bring the money back to him at his car.

Most of the people got very mad at me for coming up to their house and knocking on their door. I did not like them yelling at me like that. So I told the man that I did not want to sell his magazines any more. He put the two of us in his car and took us for a hamburger, and told us that he would take us to a new place where the people would not be so mean.

After he dropped us off at the new street, I decided to try something different. I took a piece of paper and wrote a note telling the people that I was deaf and dumb. I would walk up to their house, knock on the front door and hand them the note. Then I would talk while biting down on my tongue making it sound like I was crazy, stupid or something. Talking like that made me sound just like I was crazy and no one got mad again. They just smiled at me when I talked and I handed them the paper for the magazines. I think people liked me better when I was stupid.

Within several hours, I collected almost $80 and the man started hugging me when we got back to his car. He asked me if we wanted to go to Miami with him. He said we could make lots of money in Miami and we could stay in a big hotel. So off we went in his big old fancy car, just the three of us.

We arrived in big Miami late that night and he got us a room at the Hawaiian Isles Motel. I will never forget the name of that fancy place. It had a swimming pool and he said it was where all the rich people stayed. However, I did not see any fancy people staying there, at all - just plain old looking people, like us.

We made Mike lots of money every day, but he would never give us any of it. All we ever had to eat was one hamburger at nighttime, when we gave him all the money. I did take some of the money one time to buy us a coke. Oh yeah and I did buy us some ice cream once from a man on a bicycle. That thing had a freezer on the front of it. Every day, we would really get hungry and could hardly wait to get back to the motel for our hamburger.

One day, we made lots of money, so I took my friend Ronnie into a drug store. We bought a sandwich and a whole bunch of candy bars. Boy, was that man mad when he found out what we did. He pushed me down on the ground and then he slapped little Ronnie across the face as hard as he could.

Late that same night when everyone was asleep, I woke Ronnie, we snuck out of that motel room and we ran away. We lived on the beach for two days without anything to eat, not even our one hamburger. Finally, I went to a restaurant and asked a man for some money. I decided to call the orphanage and tell them where we were, because we were so hungry. He gave me a dollar and I walked to the back room to use the telephone.

I dialed the "O" for the operator and asked her for the number of the orphanage in Jacksonville, Florida. However, she did not know what I was talking about and told me to hold on for a minute. While I was waiting for her to come back on the phone, I saw a big freezer right next to me. I reached over and opened one of the big white doors. Inside were hundreds of hamburger patties with paper between each one. I hung up the phone and grabbed about 10 of the hamburgers, and put them down the front of my pants, which did not feel real good, 'cause they were really cold. I walked out of the restaurant real fast and stiff-legged like, and we headed back down to the beach.

When we got to the beach, we started gathering firewood to build a fire to cook the raw hamburgers. We were hungry and our stomachs were hurting very badly. After we got a fire, we tried to hold the hamburgers over the heat, but it was just too hot and we could not do it. I decided to walk up to the back of the motel to see if I could find something to cook on, like a piece of old metal. However, I found nothing for us to use. As I looked around, I found a piece of glass, and decided to cut the window screen out of the motel window and use it as a cooking thing over the fire.

Well, the screen melted and the hamburgers fell into the fire. We grabbed as much of the uncooked meat as we possibly could. We ate what we could save, even though it had sand all over it. Since most of the meat was uncooked anyway, we just covered it up. Then we decided to make that phone call to the orphanage. Ronnie and I walked down the beach where we discussed going way out into the water. Maybe, we would drown or be pulled way out into the ocean where a big ship might pick us up. Maybe, it would take us to the other side of the world. But I was too afraid to do that, so we just kept on walking. We made our way to a great big hotel with lots of lights. We walked around to the front of the building where all these people were yelling and screaming at one another. Then everything got real still and quiet. We just stood there with lots of other people who were watching this pretty woman, with diamonds all over her. She wore a big fur-like coat when she came walking out of the hotel. Then she got into this great big, fancy car and it drove away. Everyone started talking and yelling again for some reason. I saw these men with cameras taking pictures of the car. I told Ronnie that this must be a movie about that big, fancy car and it would probably be on television one day.

I had never seen real diamonds before. That pretty woman had really big diamonds on her ears, neck and arm. I just stood there for a long time just staring at all those diamonds. I thought about how much food and clothes those diamonds could buy for me and the other kids at the orphanage. I turned around to grab Ronnie by the hand, but he was not there. I walked around for a long time looking for him, but I never did find him. In fact, I never ever saw him again, ever. Not even after they took me back to the orphanage.

Ronnie was sad and scared all the time when we lived at the orphanage. So I think he walked out into the deep ocean all by himself trying to find that great big ship we talked about. They probably took him to a far away place without any orphanages or mean old matrons, so he could finally be happy.



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