Beyond the Western
In the mind of Bradley West, he thought he was hot shit. The truth was, he was a ten year old punk. A street kid on a path to Juvenal detention and beyond. His parents didn’t keep a close eye on him. They had unleashed him at the ripe old age of nine. They apparently had other things to do and they didn’t include a kid. On most weekends Bradley roamed the city where he lived.
He spent most of his time hanging around the downtown area where he could shoplift from several department stores he considered easy marks. He was good at stealing candy and soda, but every so often he would grab a piece of merchandise and sell it to an older kid for some change. He used the money to buy a cheap burger or a taco.
Brad was all about getting his hands on some money. He didn’t care how. To him it was a matter of survival.
One day as he was hanging out at his favorite department store looking for something to steal, an old lady approached him. “Excuse me young man. Are you here with your mother?” she asked.
“Hell no” Brad stubbornly replied.
She politely smiled. “I could use some help,” she continued. Pointing to a couple of large shopping bags on the floor. “I have to take these bags home and I’m too old to carry them by myself. You seem like a nice young boy, would you be willing to help me?”
“No,” he replied. He started to leave when the old lady upped the ante.
“I’ll give you two dollars?”
That caught Brad’s attention. “Two dollars, Really? All I have to do is help you get these bags to your house?”
“That’s right young man. I do have to take the bus for a couple of blocks, but only because I can’t walk that far. I’ll pay your fare.”
Even at ten, Brad had been on his own long enough to have a few was street smarts about him. Something about taking the bus with the old lady didn’t seem right. Plus, something about her looked a little funny to him. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he knew something wasn’t quite right. “I don’t think I want to do that,” he replied.
“I know I’m asking a lot,” she replied. “How about if I give you three dollars? One now and two more when we get to my house.”
Three dollars was awful tempting. It was more than Brad could turn down, so against his better judgment he agreed.
The bus ride was further than the couple of blocks the old lady had said. It was more like a couple of miles. They got off the bus in a bad part of town and started to walk. When they finally got to the house she invited Brad in so she could give him his two dollars.
Brad was reluctant. The house was run down and didn’t look inviting. His gut was telling him no, but he had gone this far and he wanted the money, so once again, against his better judgment, he went in.
Once inside, the old lady closed and locked the door. She pulled off her wig revealing the fact that “she” was really a man. Brad panicked and tried to run but the man grabbed him by the arm. “Not as smart as you think, are you boy?”
Brad began to scream, but the man muffled him, then slapped him on the side of the head. “Shut up you little runt. Shut up before I…”
Suddenly, the front door burst open. Several police officers stormed into the house and wrestled the man to the floor. Seems Brad wasn’t the first kid to fall for this mans ploy. The house had been under surveillance.
“Are you OK, son?” Asked one of the officers.
Brad was shaking. He tried to answer through a veil of tears, but couldn’t get the words out.
“Let’s call your parents. Today’s your lucky day.”
Brad agreed. It was a lucky day. It was a day that changed him forever.
Once the police realized his situation he was taken into state custody and put into a foster home. He grew up in a loving home. As an adult, Bradley West works at getting young kids off the street.
© Copyright 2020 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.