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The streetlights have grown dim, to welcome the darkness of night once again, like any other repetitive cycle of the days. I sit and wait by the house I consider my property, though I live under the hospitality of Sir. Richard, whom, ever since I struggled to find shelter, and succeeded in finding the large roof by his house to shade me, has never once emerged from his residence, and has never once pulled back the blinds that keep him hidden from my view. A very secretive man, I often tell myself. I can only see a faint silhouette, the perfect excuse of his absence in my sight.
I am considered a greedy child. If I didn’t know any better, I’d let the whole world eat out of my hands the way some of the other poor boys do about here. Surely I am not that careless. I carry the knowledge I’ve learned through experience on my back. There are rules to being alive out here, rules to which I pledge loyalty. And Sir. Richardson, secretive indeed, but not so where he wouldn’t allow me the faint sliver of his silhouette, I too, donate my devotion.
I sit by the corner, once more, trying to outwit the pouring rain. The women, in their beautiful lace gowns, their delicate shining jewelry and accessories, their thousand-dollar rings, and their honey glazed hair, have all retreated with the men into their homes, safe from the bitter cold licking at my limbs. I smile, when I see through this crowded streets into their windows, as she sweet talks him, allowing him to steal glances at her beautiful face, but begging rather more of his relaxation, to which she probably takes advantage of.
I can see the bunches of other children, probably younger than I shoving one another, as they fight for shelter. But there is a tiny girl, watching them. She is far too small to tackle for what she needs. Normally the bitterness of the cold forces my bitterness unto others. I am much like the weather, if I do say so myself. But the child is shivering, watching, as the two boys beat one another to the ground. Such foolish aggravation over so little a sliver of shelter. I scoot forward underneath my own shelter, so that she can only see my eyes, and the whites flashing with the reflection of the moonlight, shining above us overhead. The child turns her small head to look at me pleadingly, as I motion for her presence. Before she can see me, I start off elsewhere. Sir. Richard can afford to see an adorable child rather than my pale and muddy face for a tad bit, can he not?
I seat myself in the rain a ways away, still within Sir. Richardson’s view, or rather, he still in mine. There is a man I spy from far atop the rooftops, which upon, now, I do sit. I watch as he starts for Sir. Richard’s house, and the little girl flees into the shadows, however still underneath the cover of the roof shelter. The rain is fogging my view, but I suppose I see the man’s figure. He knocks ever so quietly on Sir. Richard’s door before he carefully draws something from his pocket, just as, for the very first time, Sir. Richard’s face is revealed to me. The man hands him a letter, of which Sir. Richards reads, just before the man opposite him grabs something else from his pocket.
Murder, I did see that night, as I watched in horror, Sir. Richard’s face turn pale. Murder, my mind echoes, as I watched the man walk away from Sir. Richard’s door, stuffing both letter and pistol back into his pocket.
The next morning, I was tending to Sir. Richard, begging him to wake again. Before the authorities discovered his body, I scrambled back to the roof, watching eagerly, as they panicked. They cover the crime scene, and for hours, work. I have fallen asleep atop a damp rooftop when I hear them knocking on the door below me, the door whose roof I now sleep upon. I the peer down at the sight, as the man asks,
“Did you see what happened to a certain Christopher Richards last night?”
The woman shook her head, concerned, as she answered in a frightened tone,
“No officers,” she explained, “I thought I may have heard something, but I saw nothing,” she admitted. The man thanked her. Surely somebody other than me had seen the man. I was a thief, how could I possibly approach officers. They would not understand my actions, and I would probably be deemed almost as vicious as the murderer last night. However, whether or not I was right in my assumptions, I supposed the right thing to do was staring me in the face. I called out after the officer as the woman’s door closed, pleading,
“I saw him, sir,” I offered. The man turned to face me, startled. “I actually saw the whole thing,” I admitted.
“What did he look like, boy? Pray, do tell me every detail!” he beckoned. I leaned over the rooftop, having to speak my loudest so he would hear me,
“It was last night, say, about twelve. I can see all of London from here, and so I did see Sir. Richard’s house. In fact, I reside behind it,” I continued, “At that late hour, a man with red hair, a rather stout man, small, round, heavy, started for Sir. Richards door. He looked back to see if anyone was watching, so I recognized a beard and pale skin. I did not say anything, as I am not permitted to interrupt. But he handed Sir. Richards a letter, and when he was done, he took it back, and shot Mr. Richard with a pistol,” I told the officer. He seemed bewildered by this information, as he returned to spread the story on.
It was two months later when I finally got what I deserved. I am nineteen years old, you see, and so I suppose I deserve something. The officer gave me work at a local farmer’s place, and I was said to work for at least six months before I could buy a house for myself. It was the least they could do for me, they told me. Strangely enough, I politely turned down the offer, and ever since, have made myself content traveling from roof to roof, eyeing people through their windows. It is such a crowded town, and so dangerous, I think anyone can afford to have a guardian watching him or her, whether or not I protect them. At least I protect their stories, and their spouses, were they murdered like Sir. Richard. Well, rooftops, in my opinion, are better than a house. I’ve decided that justice is better than a whole load of money I could have stolen by now. I suppose money has no hold on me either. Those poor old murderous bast**ds never knew what hit them by the time they were done bloodying their hands.