Chapter – 1
The ruffling sound of swans, the chirping of birds and gurgling of the water fountain is a maestro’s euphony for those who are sitting on benches to discern the tranquility in Lake Eola park, Downtown Orlando. Everybody is enjoying the oasis of serenity and hustling for the delicacies at LEE’s Lakeside Restaurant. Evening joggers who are relaxing and having a coffee time conversations in unison over the tables suddenly diverted their attention to the siren from the cops vehicles.
Beads of sweat splashing from soft blonde hair, sharp-witted blue eyes thoroughly scrutinizing the escape routes in the busy brick-lined streets with departing Park Center employees. Ray Charles, it is, running for his life while the sauerkraut and steamed poppy seeds are smirking at him from the hot dog sandwich in his hand and the dollars fluttering in his right hand by the gushing wind of his sprint. Its a lucky day for Charles, he hopped on to a bike which is parked outside with keys left on the bike. In precipitation, Hot-dog slipped off the hand, bidding adieu to it, Charles clamped the helmet and fled from there. In full throttle, Charles reached the highway to Greenville, as the rain poured down in the twilight.
It’s been three days that Charles had tasted anything other than water. He kept waiting outside LEE’s restaurant to eat left outs but none to his luck. He couldn’t resist his hunger to the delicious smell of Hot-dogs any more and decided to purloin an Hot-dog. He entered the restaurant and grabbed an Hot-dog and few bucks from the counter and scurried from there till Mr. Wang Chow shouted out for help. All his efforts became nugatory even at the cost of becoming the wanted face to cops.
The bike gained momentum as he hit the highway, so does the rain. He is feeling hungry and got nothing to eat. Hey cried out loud, shouted, yelled with last of energy left with him. He does this often ever since his mother’s demise to vent out his anger over God to make him an orphan. Deborah died in a road accident when Charles was six years old. Charles had to face several skirmishes for his survival as a ragamuffin to find refuge in the shanty town with tail-wagger companions.
Charles used to get a share of meal from the stray dogs near trash barrels. They always welcomed Charles to have his share. Days turned to years, as Charles was busy playing with mongrels and searching for his meal. Charles turned 10 years old and is a part of a group of urchins who are bothersome to the neighborhood. Charles along with Dickens used to steal food and money. Now his life revolves around the thought, where the next meal is coming from?. They were never worried about the next meal neither a crash pad to rest. They disperse in the morning and meet in the evening at CSX Taft Rail Yard to share the filched. After the apportion, they sit to get doped by morphine. This has become the wonted routine. There were times when cops found the hideout and chased them. But these pernicious swindlers are at their best in evasion and finding a new hideout.
Charles turned Seventeen years old with a well-built physique and a very attractive face. All these years Charles worked at many places but not for long as he used to get caught of mischief. whenever he gets caught, he was punished, tortured and sometimes used to get molested. Charles and other kids along with him who live under the shadows of the hoks were the stress relief items to the street gangs and drug dealers. They pick up Charles and other kids and used to beat them up, torture, forced to take drugs and sexually abuse till their fun ends. Charles used to vanish from his friends once in a while and none of them knows where he goes neither he shared with anyone. In the fight for survival, all his childhood memories got faded and Charles doesn’t even remember Deborah’s face. This is another crick to his crucifying pain which he takes out on when he vanishes. Charles vents out all his pain and misery of being an orphan by crying out loud at God till his eyes desiccate of tears and his heart get strained of pain. “If you feel like crying now, does it matter? Something that was ended during its best time, doesn’t start over again! This is the Ill-fate” he told to himself. There used to be a soft part in his heart which was sentient and admonish him for his crusades. He might have got this from his mother, Deborah. His mother is a very sensible and a kind lady. He always wanted to feel the love and caress of a mother.
Charles was stripped from his job at a convenience store as he got caught while stealing cheques from the counter. Charles is a familiar face around the Church street and nobody is willing to offer him a job because of his reputation as a juvenile delinquent. Everything that he has done throughout is running in his mind while he is getting drenched on the bike like he is on a confession parade. Charles got drenched and his vision got blurred with the pouring rain over him. To enumerate, the visor of the helmet is protecting his tears that are fiercely rolling down from his blue eyes from getting blended with the rain as the tears are in a bout with the rain. It took more than one hour for Charles to cut the chase by the cops. All along the way he was crying and arguing with God for his despaired fate and for taking away his mother from him by making him an orphan.
The rain started to turn into an electric storm with thunders, lightning and gale. It’s like God is responding to Charles and his arguments. The fight between Charles and God became a pitched battle and Charles, a Seventeen-year-old boy in despair couldn’t resist God and nature’s fury. Charles isn’t able to control the speeding bike against the wild cross wind which is pushing him away along with the bike.
To be continued…..