Flood lights. The bane of my existence. A beacon pointing to the lone creature searching for one more fix, a bit of money. Sustenance. More and more homes were equipped with these devil bulbs, making it much more difficult to do what I set out to do.
I don't know when it happened, the switch. I liked my childhood, as tumultuous as it may have been. I knew people who had it worse at least. I had people around me, people who took care of me, I was never alone.
Never alone outside. Never alone at school. Never alone in my bedroom. Siblings and family member everywhere, all the time, taking my stuff, using my things, unrelenting....
Maybe this was my answer to the lack of solitude I had experienced. Prowling dark suburban streets in a hoodie I had found on the side of the road. The black converse had been a lucky swipe, I had no idea that teenage boy would have the same shoe size as me. Shoes that fit were a blessing.
I needed more luck in my life. Half of the time I broke into a place I couldn't figure out where they kept the decent stuff before I had to run. At first I had been real jumpy, checking out at the slightest sigh of an old house. Courage came with desperation. Once I had even waited for a hall light to come on before I booked out the back door. That had probably been too close. I got a watch and three cans of beans out of it.
My skin itched. Decent medicine cabinets were hard to find. People were taking CBD. Not even real weed. Vitamins didn't sell, don't they know that?
Maybe this was the one. This house had the goods. I'd find 5k cash and enough opiates to keep myself, and the others, numb for weeks.
No flood lights, back door protected from sight by some lovely trees, branches hanging in the perfect burglars curtain. I'd been watching the family for a week. Stable, 9-5 dad, Susie Homemaker wife, and one young boy who spends most of his time in his room yelling at adults playing video games. Typical.
There was always a knot in my gut when I approached a home. I could hear my mother scold me for stealing, feel the weight of my fathers hand when I was turned over to the higher power. It was always fine afterwards, mom would hug me, sometimes crying, dad would kind of just huff and disappear into the throng of family members. Just don't do it again she would plead.
I would always do it again.
I shook my head, sending the bad memories flying from the current situation. I had to focus. I knew these people had money but there was always someone home. Middle of the night was the only time I could do this. I didn't mind, the thrill of being caught was it's own drug.
The lock was easy enough to pick, thankfully. The back door opened into the kitchen, pitch black except for the green glow of the clock on the oven. The sickly light was helpful, I didn't have to use my weak flashlight. I crept through the downstairs, looking for the bathroom where I hoped I would find some form of prescription drug. A quick search confirmed my fear, that this was basically a guest bathroom. Lotion and toothpaste stocked the cabinet, neither helpful in my quest to be less sober.
There was a necklace laying on the coffee table. I had no idea of it's worth, but it looked expensive so into the backpack it goes along with $50 from the wallet on the dining table.
Back to the kitchen. Maybe I could at least score some booze. These two painfully middle-class, middle-aged people had to have some middle-shelf liquor. Maybe even something better. Oh god, what if they're winos?
I searched the cupboards as quietly as possible, snatching random foods that looked easy to eat on the go. Finally, the discovery of the night. A well stocked liquor cabinet with dust covering the bottle of tequila. I grinned, picking up the Patron and holding it up to green light to see how much was left.
Then the green turned white.
Someone flipped on the light.
I spun just in time to see Mr. Middle-Class swing the bat.
I threw an arm up in defense and the crack was louder than anything I had ever heard. It rang through my body like a church bell on Sunday morning, calling me to repent from my thievery.
I yelled, dropping the bottle with a glorious crash and turning towards the door. I can make it out the door. I can be safe. He hasn't even seen my face, the mask is still in place.
I didn't even hear the second crack, it faded into the sound of blood roaring in my ears. I was on the floor, vision turning red. I felt...nothing.
As the bat assaulted me over and over with a female scream echoing through the kitchen all I could think about was my family.
My dad, yelling unto his throat was raw, calling me all the different names in the book, asking why I was so ungrateful.
Crack. Again with the bat.
My dad had a stick, it would live in one corner of his room and when one of us kids did something to deserve it, out that stick would come.
Did I deserve this? Blood pooling around me, vision going black?
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