Orphan Survival Stories Index |
THE WIRE CAGE
I closely watched everyone and everything that was happening around me. I constantly shifted my eyes from right to left and left to right, while looking into the eyes and faces of the adults who were discussing what they should do with me. I watched the large stacks of paperwork as they were being shuffled from desk to desk and from person to person.
My little 8-year-old heart jumped inside my chest every time that hollow sound came rushing down the dark hallways. A sound made, as one of the many large steel doors were being slammed shut. Almost in a comatose state, I sat motionless. I stared straight ahead, nervously fumbling with my fingers and silently watching as telephone after telephone rang. All these big mean ole looking people wearing suits and ties answered the calls.
I sat for hours and watched, as police officer after police officer walked past me. Not even one of them paid any attention to the fact that I was a living, breathing little boy. I was just a little bitty human being, living and trying to find himself a place on this mean old earth.
"Come with me," someone said rather sternly. I was then transferred from one chair to another, as more and more paper work was being completed.
"TAP, TAP, TAP," went the typewriters.
"RING, RING," went the telephones.
"Hello, may I help you?"
"That is correct.”
"The judge is not in at the moment."
"That is not my problem."
Those were the sounds of the hundreds of thousands of words being thrown around the office where I sat. The same as all the other times I ran away from the orphanage, I knew that it was just a matter of time before I would once again, be locked away. A firm, coarse hand on my shoulder and another in the middle of my back led me out of that scary office. My tiny little legs marched as fast as they could down the dimly lit hallway to the waiting elevator. Then I was taken upstairs to the juvenile hall and locked away in one of the many wire cages.
Oh, how wonderful it felt to finally be locked away all by myself in a dark, cold steel wire cage. To be finally alone, so I could curl up in a ball on the hard steel bed without anyone seeing me. To let my little body go limp, and feel all the pain, fear and fright come floating out of me from deep inside. A time for me to be alone, without anyone laughing or thinking I was a weak little boy, who could not stand on his own two feet.
"I see that you are back with us once again," said a gruff sounding voice standing in the shadows.
"Yes, sir," I replied as I looked up and saw the shadow of one of the juvenile counselors.
"It's sort of scary, isn't it?" he asked me.
"Kind of," I told him in a low voice.
He opened the door to the wire cage, walked over, sat down beside of me and placed his arm around my neck.
"Do you feel like you want to cry sometimes?"
"No, sir. Just kind of scared," I said.
"Sometimes it's good to cry," he said in a low whisper.
"Do you ever cry?" I asked.
"Sometimes," he replied.
"Why would someone cry when they’re not being spanked or something like that?" I asked with my eyes open very wide.
"Roger, don't you ever cry just because you feel hurt or feel bad inside?" he questioned with a puzzled look on his face.
"Why would someone cry, if they are not getting beat on? That don't make any sense," I said.
"Haven't you ever cried, because you don't have a mother and father?"
"No," I said.
"What about having to live in the orphanage? Isn't that sad?"
"I guess that is sort of sad. We have to work all the time," I replied.
"Don't you kids ever get to play at the orphanage?"
"Sure we do. When the matron’s not looking, we play cowboys and Indians with the broom and rake handle," I blurted out smiling from ear to ear.
He smiled, patted me on the back and got up from the steel bunk.
"Would you like to work here at the shelter?"
"Sure," I said. "I'm a good worker too. I can clean toilets and wash floors better than anybody washes. Nobody I know can wax floors better than me."
"Young man, would you like a hug?"
"I guess," I responded shrugging my shoulders.
The counselor stood in front of me and placed his arms around my shoulders. He squeezed very tight like. It felt kind of weird and funny. Then he let go of me, walked out the door of the cage and locked it with his key.
"Let me see what I can do about making you a worker in the office," he said with a smile.
He raised his hand and waved at me. Then he turned and walked away. I heard the outer steel door close and then lock, and I listened with my ear against the wire as his steps disappeared in the distance. I stood in the corner for the longest time thinking about the hug that the counselor gave me. I had only been hugged once before and that was by a man who came to the orphanage on Easter Morning to hide eggs for all the orphan children. He hugged me in the bathroom, and then made me take all my clothes off and he lied on top of me.
I curled up in a tight ball on the steel bunk and could feel water running out of my eyes. I knew that it was just a matter of time before the counselor would come back. He’d hug me again, make me take my clothes off and lie on top of me like the "Easter Egg Man" did. However, that never did happen, even though the counselor did hug me many, many times over the next couple of months. He was always very kind to me and he never hurt me.
I now look back as a grown man through the many relationships I have had with numerous women throughout the years. I wonder if I could possibly count all the times that I secretly wondered if I would have to take my clothes off, just because I allowed them to hug me.