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A Step into Freedom
A Step into Freedom
It was a Friday morning in the fall, Vincent’s favorite season, for it was fairly predictable. Predictable was far from Vincent’s everyday life. Vincent’s alarm clock went off and he got out of bed, not bothering to turn off the alarm, went over to the sink, walking through new spider webs from the night, and washed his face in the one and only type of water: cold. He didn’t bother to wash his hair, for it had become long black dreadlocks. He put on his beat-up, torn jeans, and his only shirt, luckily black; the dirt did not show up as much. He put on his only shoes. They were Converse, and he tried his hardest to keep them clean. He then put on his backpack and walked up the basement stairs hoping not to wake his father David, who in Vincent’s eyes was just a useless drunk. He opened the door to the kitchen. The coast was clear. His father was not in sight. He held a lighter to a piece of bread until it was dark and walked toward the door to the outside.
Vincent then smelled alcohol. He just wanted to have one day when he could escape from his pathetic excuse of a father. David was sitting in his chair by the door, waiting for him.
“Where you going, boy?” asked David before drinking another half a bottle of Budweiser.
“School, dad,” Vincent replied in a calming tone, trying not to upset his unstable father.
“School? School is for low lives,” said David, slurring his words beyond recognition.
“Well then, you would make a perfect candidate,” retorted Vincent walking out the door, leaving his father to plan a way to punish him when he got home. Vincent did not pay attention to his father’s words. It was just a daily routine.
Vincent walked down the street with caution, looking into alleys and watching for certain cars, for Vincent had quite a few enemies. As he was walking anxiously he spotted a huge red jacket; there was no mistaking it. Theo was walking to school as well.
“Oh, hey Vincent, what’s up, bro?” Theo said running up to him. Theo didn’t really give Vincent the street credit that he was looking for. He was always acting goofy. He was big, too. He weighed 285 pounds and was six feet tall. As Theo was running, with his untied shoes, he tripped and fell right on his face. Vincent pitied Theo when he fell, because it made his almost non-existent self-esteem plummet further.
Vincent saw a kid laughing up the street. He ran over to Theo to make sure he was okay. Theo, embarrassed, got up. A kid from their school who was laughing at Theo’s fall walked up to them. He was a kid living on the other end of the streets. There were two crews, the North and the South sides. Vincent and Theo were from the North side and the kid was from the South side. They had daily disagreements. The kid came up and pushed Theo back over. Vincent turned towards the kid. The kid gave him a look that said, “I am better than you and you know it.” Vincent gave the kid a direct jab to the face. He fell over with no expression and as he was falling, Vincent swept his legs out from under him and the kid’s head hit the concrete with a loud smack. He was out cold. He was completely motionless, lying on the ground without any sign of life. A smile came to Vincent’s face; he felt as though he had actually accomplished something.
Vincent liked to fight. He started fighting when he was 11. It let him release his anger. The kid’s crew saw all of this and started beating Theo. Theo was on the ground defenseless. One of the kids took out a gun. Vincent took out his switch blade, in attempt to get the kids to stop beating Theo, and ran. The entire crew ran after him towards the bridge. Theo lifted his head and let out a painful whisper, “Vincent, no…”
Vincent had made it to the bridge. On the sidewalk he stopped running. The kid with the gun had him at point blank. Vincent grabbed the gun. It fired its only three shots into the sidewalk. Vincent broke the kid’s wrist. The gun fell to the ground. Vincent picked up the unloaded gun and hit him across the head knocking him out. He dropped the gun and the remaining three kids came after him. Vincent knocked out the first one, then the second with a simple jab. When Vincent’s fist hit them he could feel their bones giving way beneath his knuckles. He liked it. The third one hit him in the chest so hard that Vincent found himself leaning on the rail looking down at the water 70 feet below. The taste of blood came to Vincent’s mouth. The kid hit him again, flipping him off the bridge. Vincent’s feet hooked the other kid’s underarms, taking him off the bridge with him.
“Look at what the streets have done to me. This is it. I am going to die. See you in hell Ma.” Vincent and the kid fell 70 feet to the water. Then there was nothing but darkness. Vincent woke up looking up at the underside of the bridge. He stood up. He stood up on water. He walked along the surface, making ripples. It felt so normal to him, like concrete. He looked down at the water and saw the kid. The kid was dead. Vincent, scared of himself, walked toward the bank. There were other people on the bank, completely speechless. So was Vincent. Vincent walked past the people. They were talking about him. “What is he?” “God?” “How…” Vincent walked home more confused than ever. His father was no help.
“Thought you was at school,” David said as Vincent entered through the vandalized doorway to the sorry excuse for a living room.
“Not now, dad,” Vincent said, going down the basement stairs. Vincent’s father threw an empty bottle at him, just in time for Vincent to close the door. The bottle shattered onto the floor. When Vincent was in his room he looked at himself in the mirror for a very long time, adjusting his eyes so he looked different.
Vincent thought, “This is bull. I know I was not dreaming. I killed someone. I can’t keep living like this. Why? Why can I walk… on water? It doesn’t make sense.”
Vincent’s thoughts were criss-crossing all over the place.
“I have to get out of here,” said Vincent. He reached under his torn open mattress and pulled out a roll of one dollar bills that he had stolen from a kid at school. He ran up the stairs ready to do anything in his power to get out. Vincent ran out the door. His dad followed screaming.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” screamed David, throwing a bottle at Vincent. Vincent caught it in his hand and smashed it on the ground.
“You are not my father, damn it! You never will be! I hate you. I am my own man now,” Vincent screamed with all sincerity. David was astonished, and quietly went back inside.
Vincent walked down his street looking at all of his graffiti, his past accomplishments. He left them all behind. Theo was behind him. Theo ran up to him with his arm in a sling, swinging back and forth awkwardly.
“Dude how did you… I thought you were dead for sure. How did you survive that fall?” asked Theo looking at Vincent with his giant black eye.
“I have to go, Theo. I can’t stay here,” said Vincent.
“What do you mean? After that fight no crew in LA will mess with us,” Theo said with excitement.
“Don’t you get it Theo? I can’t stay here. I will die out here. I am leaving. Don’t follow me,” said Vincent walking away. Vincent bought a bus ticket to the coast. During the bus ride, he realized that this was the furthest away from home that he had ever been. His bus finally came to a stop and he got off. He walked along the sand looking at the shells, and loving the feeling of the sand. The way it gave way beneath him gave him a new feeling of something new. He stopped and looked at the water for a very long time. At least, long enough so that people were looking at him. He glanced at them, then at the water. He took a step. He had both feet on the water. There were whispers and glares. Vincent kept walking. He did not know where he was going and he did not care. He was free.
Hackettstown, New Jersey
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