A kid goes through life changing events
I awoke to a beautiful morning. The sky was clear and the temperature was just right. I dressed in my usual garb of blue jeans and t-shirt. I headed down the steps and into the kitchen. I grabbed a bowl out of the cabinet and went for the cereal. Sitting in the living room watching cartoons, I savored the sugary taste of the corn puffs. Swallowing the milk down, I threw the bowl toward the sink. As usual, it hit the side, swirled around the rim, and went in "Score" I yelled out and scared mom. "Billy, make sure you take a jacket"
"No problem mom. I am going to Jason's"
"Why do you always go down there? You know I don't like you being there"
"Come on!" I said, "He is just a friend and I like going there. Besides, we are just hanging out. You know boy stuff". Mom just gave me a look and went back to cleaning.
It was such a nice day. I could see the mountains and wished I could go up there and stay forever. I always went through the woods. I knew them and it was the short cut to Jason's house. Up to the fence line and through the hole. We didn't have cows anymore, so it was no use to fix it. I stopped by the tree fort I built and picked up a few things that I always carried with me. Some of these things mom will never see. There were things I had to keep secret. Most of it dealt with the homes I broke into.
Jason was a new kid in the neighborhood and we made friends instantly. I always liked the way he talked about martial arts. We had nicknames for each other. Mine was Damien and his was Nighthawk. We never called each other those names unless we were doing something mischievous. It just so happened that day, those names was being used. "Man, we scored big this time. I can't believe what we got."
We had been watching this house for a week and found out it was a weekend house. We moved through the woods and came to the porch. The porch had torn screen around it with a shabby door. Wood panels hid the bottom half of the porch, so hiding would be easy. Slowly reaching up, I tried the door. The door opened like the wind blew on it. "We're in" I said with a devilish grin on my face. We crawled over to the main door.
"What do you think? Should we break the window?"
"No man. Try the knob. You never know."
The doorknob was rusted, but still turned like new. The door creaked open and hit the wall behind it. Looking at each other, we gave high fives and went in. "We need to find a different place to hide this stuff." Jason said as he picked up the duffle. "I know of a good spot. There is this barn close by. We can hide it there."
After being caught by my parents, I returned most of the stuff to the house. That was the end of my friendship with Jason. I talked with Jason in school, but we were forbidden to hang out after. I would say that didn't stop the urge to continue doing the things I liked to do. I went solo for a while and had a few good hits, but I wanted more.
I knew these two guys in my English class. Mike and Steve were good friends and I hung out with them occasionally. One day at school, I had a gold piece that I acquired, and Mike took notice. "Where did you find that?" Mike asked
"I found this one day while walking through the woods. Nice piece isn't it?"
"You know... I know of a place where we can find some more of this"
"Where is that?"
Mike looked at Steve and me with excitement in his eyes. I knew he was scamming up something.
"First we need to see how each other works. We need to do something that will test our abilities."
"Oh yeah, what is that? Break into the school?"
"That is a very good idea. We will do that this weekend." Mike sat back in the chair and pondered the thought. He seemed to be cooking up this plan from the getgo and just needed one more person to include. I had this appalling feeling in my stomach. The urge to just go and puke had overcome me. But I was a kid, looking for adventure and fun, so I shrugged it off.
Living close to the school, we made our way down the road and across the road. The woods were thick and that protected us from view. Dressed in black, we made our way across the football field. The embankment was steep, but it was the best way to remain undetected. As we made our way up the slope, that feeling came over me again. I knew I was out of my element. The woods and summer homes were my "cup of tea", but I needed this.
Sitting at the jungle gym, we watched the school for an hour, an hour that felt like a hundred years. Mike looked around and made his way to the foyer. We all met up and looked inside.
"I can't believe this. The door is open!"
"What do you mean?" I asked
"I mean the freaking door is open! Look!" Mike said as he opened the door.
Waiting for the alarms to go off, we didn't hear anything. Slowly one by one we slid in. We moved along the hallway and slowly came to the office door. "Pull out the powder and check for beams."
Steve pulled the baby powder out and emitted some dust to illuminate the infrared beams. No beams, good to go, I thought. We explored the school and made our way to the library. The door was locked.
"How are we going to get in?"
"I know." I took a few steps back and drop kicked the window.
The window shattered and pieces flew like missiles across the room. Reaching through the door, being careful not to cut my arm, I turned the lock and opened the door. Immediately mike went to an outside window and opened it.
"What was that for?" Steve asked
"This is for the cops. They will think we came through the window."
"Good thinking. They would never believe the door was open."
We finished our work and left the way we came in. Our only treasure was a phone. Not a big score, but we knew we accomplished something big.
I wished I listened to my gut instincts when mom and dad picked me up from school.
"Where are we going?" I asked
"We are going down to speak with a lawyer." Mom said.
"You need to explain where this phone came from. We need to find out what is going to happen to you."
"What do you mean? I didn't do anything! I can't believe you are doing this to me! I hate the both of you!"
The lawyer was no help. He told mom and dad that I was going to be sent away.
My friends got off easy. I, on the other hand, was to be placed in the care of the state. My total sentence would be given after I was reviewed at a temporary juvenile correction facility.
So there I was, sitting in this car, traveling through the country. Again, it was a nice day. The sky was blue and the day was just extraordinary, but when you are in a car with handcuffs on, the day is ruined. I left the mountains and the forest for flat lands and rolling hills. The grass was green and what trees were around had plenty of foliage. In a sense, I felt that this could change things. I should be able to start over and travel down a different path. The strange feeling that gurgled in my stomach was gone, but it was replaced with something different. That feeling was confirmed as fear when I caught sight of my destination. RDC was on the outskirts of a Richmond. Surrounded by the last remnants of forest and high wire with razor wire on top, RDC was the last place I wanted to be. RDC was short for Regional Detention Center. People like me in the region came here and were then transferred out to their final resting spots. Gang members, thieves, and anything else you can think have come here first.
I was told that I would be placed in a high security building due to over-population. I was escorted by this burly of a man. One wrong move and I knew my lights would be out. As I entered the door, he looked at me and told me to enjoy my stay. Another man with a gentler look on his face escorted me into a room.
"When I take the cuffs off, I need you to strip down." The man said.
I removed my clothes and was asked to stand in different stances so he could make sure I was not carrying any contraband. My mind racing with all the horror stories of prison kicked in and I could feel myself shaking.
"What's wrong man?"
"I am just a little nervous being here." I said.
The man just laughed. "Do the crime, do the time!"
"Don't worry man; no-one will mess with you. This is something we have to do. Here you have to wear these clothes while you are here." He handed me some jeans and a t-shirt.
"When you are ready, I will take you out here and let you meet everyone. Supper will be ready in an hour."
I was escorted to the day room and sat in a corner. A couple of the guys looked at me, but paid no attention. Supper arrived and we ate. The only utensils we were given were plastic spoons, so much for cutting your steaks. I was there for two weeks and I got to know some of the guys. One of them was from my area and we hit it off pretty good. About a week before I left, he went to his final meeting and was sent to a place close to home. I went the next day to my meeting and sat before some doctors and correctional people. After a dozen or so questions, they looked at my record. I had a clean record with some minor stuff, but nothing big.
I could not believe the luck I had. I was being sent to the same place my friend went. I was pretty much going back home. One night, back at RDC, I had a sit down with myself. I told myself that if things changed for the good here, then I would start changing my life around. I was done doing the terrible things and I would focus on always making my life better. I pondered that thought when I left RDC destined for my new home.
We traveled all day back into the mountains. The glow that I felt could be seen and I was not going to try to hide it. I was still unsure of my future, but I knew forces where in the works.
We arrived at the Learning Center and I was surprised with what I saw. Yes, we were still in the mountains and there was no fence surrounding the place. Buildings were spread all over the place, baseball field, and houses made up the entire complex. I was taken in and processed into the institution.
The next day, I met with my life counselor. She was a young woman, probably in her late twenties, with short hair and a look on her face that said, "I am going to help you". She went over all the information about the place, told me about how I would finish school.
"School!" I said.
"Yep! You are going to finish school while you are here. We go to school here for eight hours a day and you will also learn a trade. We want you to succeed and you will stay until you do."
I was so happy because, I was ripped right out of school.
"Now I am going to take you to you personal counselor, so he can get you started."
Mark was my personal counselor and probably the best person in the world for me.
He always talked to me, as I was his friend and son. I look back at the times I spent there and remember some of the conversations we had. I told him about the things I did and what I wanted to do to change. I was always encouraged to strive for excellence and make sure that I reached the goals I set. Yes, that time on my life was a life change, and I am so glad that the forces made this happen. Sometimes the scary times are the ones that change people and this one did. I have reached my goals and I have gone beyond that. I have a family now and I always talk with my son about what I did and how I changed. I encourage him to go for the goals he sets and to make sure that only one person can change your life. That is him.