Story In Two Chapters
Lost and Found – chapter one
You can find the full story in Archives next week
by Robert O’Meara
Jude Morrow, who had just turned eighteen, hobbled out of the Emergency doors of St. Mary’s hospital. His left foot was in a cast. With a pair of crutches, he was following Officer Johnson towards a waiting police car. The officer reminded him that he was still in custody.
A week earlier, on his birthday, he got beer from his uncle and cigarettes from his aunt. He could now vote and be sent to war. He could now be tried in adult court, which is where he now stood in front of a judge, who placed Jude on probation with six months of community service.
One week after his sentence, Jude sat across from his probation officer for the first time. It was not a friendly meeting. Sandra Kirk, a court officer for the last twenty years, was all business. After filling out a flow of forms, Jude was instructed on the three Cs of probation – conditions, counseling, and community service. He was warned that from now on his life would be scrutinized under a microscope. Towards the end of the meeting, Sandra Kirk became slightly personal.
“By the way, Mr. Morrow, what happened to your foot?”
“I broke it running away from a security guard.”
“Why were you running?”
“I had just swiped a box of Oxy pills from the pharmacy.”
“I get headaches.”
“How about something safer, like Advil?
“Not that kind of headache.”
“We’ll be watching you, Mr. Morrow.”
Jude’s first placement was at The Well, a Christian Café serving coffee, cakes and counseling. He cleaned tables, washed dishes and mopped floors. Occasionally he prepared coffee and served guests. The patrons were mostly homeless men and women who came to The Well for a few hours of comfort and companionship.
As the shop was about to close for the day, two young guys came in and sat at a table near the coffee stand. Jude looked up from his mopping duties and nodded – friends of his, well, former friends, Jack and Tommy. They were involved in the Oxy heist but didn’t get caught. They called Jude over to their table and asked him if he was free tonight for an event. Jude knew all about ‘events’ – they were always troublesome ones. Jack spoke first. Tommy was silent.
“Hi Jude, I see you’re working a nanny job.”
“It’s my probation placement, Jack.”
“Sorry to hear.”
“Yeah, you look like you’re real sorry. You’re just lucky you got away.”
“The benefits of track and field, Jude.”
“You should leave. We’re about to close up.”
“Ok, good buddy, we’ll expect to see you at the Beehive tonight.”
“Don’t count on it. I’m not allowed to go to clubs.”
“Geez. Jude, since when have you followed rules.”
“Since I got caught. I’m turning over a new leaf.”
Jack and Tommy sauntered out of the shop. Jack shot a mocking smile.
For the next month, Jude’s life was a revolving door of community placements – sorting donated clothes at the Clothes Line; raking autumn leaves at The Legion; shelving items at the Food Bank; serving food at the Soup Kitchen.
The Soup Kitchen was different for two reasons: he felt he was helping people directly and he met Joni, his age, attractive, nice smile. As she was ladling soup for the patrons, Jude noticed a series of cut scars along her arm. He continued serving quietly, silently. After a few moments, he asked her if he could join her during their lunch break. She looked up at him and nodded, silently.
They ate without a word. Joni started the conversation.
“You saw my scars.”
Jude took a bite from his sandwich and nodded.
“I used to hide them. Now I wear them as a badge of honor.”
“Badge of honor?”
“Yeah, for surviving what I call my personal Great Depression. On black dog days when I felt my head would explode and didn’t think I would make it through the day, I just got a razor and cut my arm, localized the pain, then cleaned and bandaged the wound.”
“Sorry to hear. Are you still cutting yourself?”
“No. I found a better way – yoga, counseling and Prozac – spirit, mind and body!”
Joni takes a sip from her drink.
“What about you. I heard you’re on probation?”
No answer. Joni tilted her head. “Come on, Jude.”
“Stealing Oxy pills.”
“No, for my migraines.”
“Why didn’t you ask your doctor for a prescription?”
“Doctors today are hesitant to prescribe Oxycodone, except for extreme pain control cases.”
“So what are you doing for your migraines?”
“Bearing them for now.”
“Maybe you should try cutting. They don’t arrest you for that!”
Jude laughed for the first time in months. Joni was all right. He was glad he met her.
A week later Jude and Joni were having coffee at the Northern Espresso Café, on their first official date – bantering over their respective mental states.
“Jude, how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”
“Please, no light bulb jokes!”
“Only one. But only if the light bulb wants to change.”
“Okay, how about you coming up with something better?”
“Sure. I told my psychiatrist I’m having suicidal thoughts. He said I have to start paying him in advance!”
“Not bad. How about this one? A man went to his psychiatrist and said: “Every time I drink my coffee, I get a stabbing pain in my eye. The psychiatrist replied: “Well, have you tried taking the spoon out?”
They continued laughing, jesting, sipping on their coffees. Jude reached over and took Joni’s hand. Joni placed her hand on his.
Jude got up and said he had to use the bathroom. As he stepped forward, he began wobbling, put both hands to his head and collapsed suddenly onto the floor.
Joni jumped up, leaned over him, saw he wasn’t conscious and called 911.
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This is a very believable story. Young people in crisis who help each other. Nice dialogue. Well done Robert…Bren S.