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Yard By Yard

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“Grandpa, come quick, look at the news! Some guy name Jeremy Gamble killed seven people in Detroit today, and now he’s holding off police with a hostage he has in some guy’s house!” shouted Kyle, who was spending the night at his grandpa’s house when the news struck the television. “Jeremy Gamble you say? No kiddin’? Poor Jeremy, the innocent can never last.” replied Kyle’s grandpa. “Excuse me grandpa, but did you just say poor Jeremy?” “Yeah, as it turns out, I used to know Jeremy Gamble personally. He wasn’t such a bad man. Well ok, he was, but it wasn’t his fault he turned out so bad. Always knew this day would come. I just prayed it didn’t.” exclaimed the grandfather reluctantly. “You knew Jeremy Gamble!?” shouted Kyle. “Sounds like somebody is in the mood for a story tonight” said grandpa laughing. “But, I have to warn you, this story ain’t no Disney fairly tale, son. I expect your mature enough to handle it at thirteen, but I just thought I should tell you. Besides, somebody has got to tell you how unforgiving the world can be. ” Kyle, who was already captivated before the story even began, pulled up a chair alongside his grandfather, who sat down in his recliner, and so his grandpa started on his story.

Jeremy Gamble was a bad man. No, a terrible man, but what people don’t understand is that it wasn’t his fault. Far from his fault. He did what he had to do. I’m afraid I have gone too far already, my mistake. If I want to tell you the story the way it ought to be told, then I suppose I should start from the beginning. Let me start over.

It all began in a modest home in the broken town just outside of Detroit, called Flint Michigan, around the year 1990. Flint is a town just as soul depraved as Detroit, just smaller, and without the major media coverage. The recession destroyed Flint to a point where even a child could see that this place is hell on Earth. Most of the homes are abandoned, and in shambles. The denizens of Flint, once fine people, have taken to a criminal life under the fact that there are no jobs to be found. Gangs fought over nearly every lousy street corner to be found, killing each other over what was left of the town. Yes, even a child could see this place was hell, that is, unless the child was born there and never had an opportunity to see any place better. And a child like that did indeed exist. His name was Jeremy Gamble.

“But grandpa, how did you know Jeremy Gamble?” exclaimed Kyle, impatiently. “That’s a surprise, son. Your just going to have to wait till the end of the story. Now where was I? Oh, yes! I remember!”

Jeremy Gamble sat in the yard of his modest home, under the single oak tree that grew in front of his home. The rain seemed to fall from the gray skies everyday to Jeremy, just different types of rain. Today the rain was not heavy at all, just tiny sprinkles of rain that barely made the ground damp, and the November winds just strong enough to make Jeremy cold. A nice day was such an abstract idea to Jeremy. If it were sunny, it was too hot, and if it wasn’t too hot, it was cold, or worse cold and rainy, just like that day.

His family couldn’t afford a coat for him, so he sat in some ragged blue jeans and a white, long sleeved T-shirt. What kept him warm enough to stay outside was sharing some body heat and warm fur with his neighbors guard dog, a muscular German Sheppard named Fritz, in exchange of course for a spot of dry, mossy ground under the oak tree for Fritz to lye down on, a deal quite beneficial to both Jeremy and Fritz.

Jeremy and Fritz were best friends. Jeremy, who was very opinionated and intelligent for his age of eleven, would share all of his deepest thoughts and opinions with Fritz, and Fritz being very loving for a guard dog, would seem to listen, at least to Jeremy.

Jeremy continued to speak his mind to Fritz, and Fritz continued to listen. Jeremy made sure to pet Fritz on the head, and Fritz would wag his tail and stare at Jeremy with deep eyes that seemed to induce a feeling of sorrow, as dogs tend to do. “Fritz, I can honestly say that you’re the only one on Earth who understands me. Everybody else either doesn’t care, is to busy, or both, and they all just refuse to listen. I’ve never met anybody like you, Fritz. You listen no matter what. I wish you were my dog.” said Jeremy in sincerity like you wouldn’t believe, and gave the dog a hug. Then, a familiar noise interrupted their conversation.

The screen door on the front of Jeremy’s broken home swung open, and then with little hesitation, slammed back closed, and then out walked Jeremy’s father, who had a half empty bottle of whiskey in one hand, and an old, weathered revolver in the other. “God damn it, Jeremy!” he screamed, drunk as usual. “How many god damn times do I have to tell you, I don’t want to see that damn dog in my yard!” he took a swig of his whiskey, then continued, “well its too late now, damn it. You had your chance to keep that dog where he belongs, and you ruined it. You ruin everything, Jeremy. Family or not, you’re a loser. A worthless loser.” He then, in one swift motion, took a sip of whiskey and lifted his gun towards the dog, and, before Jeremy had time to react, his father fired two shots into Fritz.

“How could anybody be so heartless, Grandpa? I don’t get it.” “Well Kyle, sometimes people live such hard lives, that the revert to hard solutions, like drinking, drugs, and violence. Your just lucky you don’t have as cruel parents as Jeremy did, you hear me son? You have no idea how lucky you are. Now back to the story.”

After the two gunshots, the only sound left was the silent pitter of the rain. Fritz lye motionless on the ground, then whined a terrible whine. A single tear ran down Fritz’s face, and then Fritz closed his eyes for good. Once again, Flint had shown that it takes back its weak.

A single tear then ran down Jeremy’s face, and he bent over and gave Fritz a final hug, and whispered his farewells to his lost best friend. His face the shot up towards his father faster than the bullet shot out of the gun. “I hate you, dad!” he shouted. His fathers face went angry fast, and with eyebrows crooked and pointed inwards, and a mouth that showed disgust, he screamed back “Your damn lucky I didn’t shoot you too, you ungrateful-” he was interrupted by another to come out the screen door, Jeremy’s mother.

She stumbled up next to Jeremy’s father, as she was also drunk. Mike, tell me you’ve gotten rid of that damn dog?” She asked Jeremy’s father in a pathetic, sluttish voice. “Yes, babe” he exclaimed back in an impatient voice. They both went back into the house, that humble house in ruins, as they all were in Flint.

Jeremy had had enough. He had been abused by his parents for as long as he could remember. His house was no longer a home for him, it was simply another, broken house in the broken town. He felt like leaving, and nothing was going to hold back his feelings anymore. He decided to run away, and never come back.

And so, he ran. Down the street, through the alleyways, and out alongside the main roads. He ran towards the highway, and followed it. He continued to follow the highway for about an hour, until a particularly caring individual decided to be selfless and pick him up off the street.

Suddenly, a beat up, hideous, old Chevy Impala, probably from the eighties, pulled up alongside of him. The windows of the car began to jerk down, and a dark face was staring at Jeremy. “Jesus, kid. What in God’s name are you running for” Jeremy took a step back in retreat. He hadn’t realized he had still been running, as Jeremy was an excellent runner. On top of that, the man in the car frightened Jeremy.
The man in the car frightened Jeremy indeed.

He was a buff looking black man, wearing camouflage pants, a white tank top, and dog tags around his neck. Jeremy knew he couldn’t lie, or the man might send him back. The last place he wanted to go was back. “Uh” said Jeremy in a pinch. He took a look up, and noticed a sign that said “Detroit, 50 Miles” with an arrow pointing forward. “I got on a wrong bus” exclaimed Jeremy, “I need to be back in Detroit”, he exclaimed. “It’s your lucky day, son.” said the man in the car with a smile. “I’m headed to ‘the D’ right now, why don’t you hop in the car?” continued the man in the car while leaning over and unlocking the door.

Jeremy hopped in and looked around as the car began to lurch forward in a sickening motion. The interior of the car was about as attractive as the exterior was. An old, stained set of fuzzy dice dangled from the mirror, which was crooked. The stereo had been stolen, leaving only the wires dangling out of the spot where it once was. The seats felt springy, and were stained. You get the idea, back to the story.

While driving, the man in the car struck up a conversation with Jeremy. “What’s your name, son?” he asked. “Jeremy Gamble” replied Jeremy. “Well Jeremy, my names Bill Stafford, but you can just call me Sarge, that’s what all my friends call me.” “Why do they call you that?” asked Jeremy. “Cause’ I was a Sergeant in the Marines back when I was a younger man. I’m a veteran.” “Really?” asked Jeremy. “What war did you fight in” he continued. “Vietnam” said Sarge hastily. “They ever teach you about that war in school, son? If they did, everything they told you is a lie. Pure lies, you hear me son? Pure lies. This world is full of lies, son. If there is one thing you ought to learn, learn to question everything, otherwise you‘ll end up spending your whole entire life believing nothing but pure lies.”

“I think Sarge was right, Grandpa. I think you have to question everything before you can believe it, even if somebody you trust told it to you.” interrupted Kyle. “You bet he was right, son. He was as right as can be. Never believe anything anybody tells you these days, Kyle. You have to form your own opinions, and figure out the truth for yourself. Otherwise, your going to live a life of lies, and that’s an open invitation for people to control you. It’s think for yourself, or have people think for you. It’s up to you. Now back to the story.” replied the grandfather, who was lost in his story at this point.

Jeremy thought about that for a minute. It got him questioning not only the little about the Vietnam War he was taught in school, but also the whole school system in Flint itself. He thought back to his days in school. Jeremy himself was a good student, but most of his fellow classmates were not, but it wasn‘t really their fault. His school was under funded, and could not afford books or technology of any sort, and as a result, the school can’t hold the students attention for more than five minutes, because, after all, what kid wants to listen to an old, worn out, under paid and drastically under appreciated woman talk for six hours? No kid. Anyways, do to lack of attention and care, all the students failed the tests, and to keep the school from being closed, which of course was the will of the staff, who needed the paycheck to survive, they lowered the passing grades. Everything looked good, but as a result the intelligence of each passing class dwindled, and each generation had a lower and lower IQ, like a vicious cycle. Nothing ever changed for the better in Flint.

Anyways, back to the story. Jeremy was a smart man, and his thoughts, along with the thoughts he provoked in my mind always distract me. Alright, where was I now? Oh, yes, I remember now! Back to the story.

After a little more than a half an hour of conversation, that old rust bucket of a Chevy Impala finally passed the “Detroit City Limit” sign. The Motor City feel had hit both of them, especially young Jeremy Gamble, who had never been outside of Flint. Factories covered the skies with a think smog. The drone of American cars practically deafened them, as the motors sang a hymn about a great rise, then a great fall. A number of skyscrapers dominated the skyline, a few looking shiny and new, but most looked abandoned, yet beautiful, and they seemed to induce the strange feeling of melancholy. A lot of them were, in fact, abandoned.

“Why is Detroit so abandoned, Grandpa?” Exclaimed Kyle. “You see Kyle, despite how beautiful the city is, and despite how stunning and prosperous it once was from the auto industry money, people have a tendency to leave Detroit in search of fortune, and a better life. Damn money, moneys the rise and fall of everything, it takes back its own in the end. Money from the automotive industry built the city into what it was, and the lack of money tore down the city into what it is. Damn money, why does it got to destroy everything it builds?”

“I’m terrible sorry, Kyle. It appears I have gone off topic again.” “It’s fine” replied Kyle. “Alright then, back to the story. Where was I now? Oh, right! Back to the story!”

The Sarge turned towards Jeremy. “Where do you need to be at?”, he asked Jeremy. Jeremy had to think about this for a moment. Fortunately for him, Jeremy had to be one of the most observant kids ever. He remembered a story that was on the cover of a newspaper he found on the ground, the Flint Journal. As I said before, nothing ever changes for the better in Flint, and the story of their own personal decay would only depress people and wouldn‘t sell, so the Flint Journal often did reports of Detroit’s stories. Anyways, the headline on the newspaper said “Murder on Joy Road”. Jeremy, remembering the headline, told Sarge he needed to be on Joy Road to visit his aunt.

Sarge shrugged at Jeremy’s claim. Joy Road was one of the worst streets in the whole city, virtually nothing but never ending violence existed there. Maybe a liquor store or two, maybe, but other than that, nothing but broken, mostly abandoned homes on the verge of collapsing, and never ending violence, and Jeremy Gamble at the time was nothing more than a white eleven year old who had sort of a lost puppy look. They would eat him alive, surely, but they would anywhere in the city, and Sarge couldn’t just drop him off in a random spot of town where surely he would get lost and left to die on his own. He had no choice but to take him to Joy Street, probably the most unforgiving place on Earth.

After perhaps fifteen minutes of driving later, a sign passed the corner of their eyes. “Joy Road” boldly read the sign, as it ran parallel with the upcoming road. Serge dropped him off, and tried not to look at him as he left, realizing that the most likely place he’d see him next is the obituaries of the local paper, the Detroit Free Press.

Jeremy took a look down at the street. A gloomy figure ran across, dodging traffic in his path. A gunshot rang out in the distance. He could hear at least three police sirens, and as it was getting dark, he could see some red and blue flashes from a squad car somewhere to the right of him.

Suddenly, it hit him, everything, and all at once. It felt like he had spent a million hours traveling a million miles in search of change but to no avail. He recalled parts if him and Fritz’s conversation, and then in his mind two gunshots screamed out. He saw Fritz’s last tear, a tear of a life that’s dreams never came true. He heard Fritz’s last breath as the blood ran down the roots of the oak tree where they used to sit. He remembered his dad screaming at him, calling him a worthless loser. That was just a few hours ago, but it felt like so long ago. It was his past now, and this was his future. Upon realizing this, he dropped to his knees, and in desperation, fell asleep, right there on the side of Joy Road.

“So, let me get this straight Grandpa. He just fell asleep right on the sidewalk? How can anybody do that?” said Kyle in a hasty interruption. “Well Kyle, Jeremy was under a lot of stress at the moment. He had nothing he could do but collapse. Now let’s get on with the story.”

That very night, Jeremy had a dream. He once saw a typical, upper middle class neighborhood on a magazine. To him, it looked wonderful. And that night, he was in the very same neighborhood in the magazine, enjoying a glass of water as he sat with Fritz on the immaculately kept grass, when all the sudden a man walked up with half empty bottle of whiskey, and revolver in the other hand. It was his father. “You’re nothing but a worthless loser” his father cried out as he took a swig of whiskey and lifted his gun. “You’re lucky I don’t shot you, too.” he continued, as he fired two shots into Fritz. After the sound of the bullets, it went black, and Jeremy busted awake and shot straight up off the ground.

“What a terrible nightmare, Grandpa.” “Yes, I agree Kyle. It shows how uneasy he was at the time. It gets worse though, here lets start the story back from when he woke up.”

Jeremy noticed something different, his feet felt freezing. He looked down towards his toes, and as it turns out his shoes and socks had been stolen that night. It’s never wise to fall asleep on the street.

“Grandpa, who would steal a pair of shoes?” “You’d be surprised at what people will steal when they get desperate enough, Kyle. Nobody helped the poor souls in Detroit, so they reverted to stealing what they needed.”

Cold, Jeremy began to look for a place where he could stay warm. After all it was November, and the wind was blowing hard that day. It must have been forty five degrees, and all young Jeremy Gamble had now was a long sleeved T-shirt, and a pair of torn up jeans, the same clothes he had been wearing yesterday.

Yesterday, he thought, but couldn’t believe. He had only been in Detroit since yesterday.

He looked around, and observed his environment carefully. He was going to have to know every nook in cranny of Joy Street if he were to survive here. Ahead of him was a run down grocery store, and next to that was an equally run down liquor store, both were completely falling apart and had bars on the windows. A little ways away was a house that clearly was abandoned, and abandoned homes were something Jeremy was very familiar with. One quarter of it was collapsed, and what wasn’t was all boarded up with plywood, windows, doors, and all, but Jeremy knew he could get in. He had to if he wanted to stay warm.

The first stride towards the house was menacing. He had no shows or socks, and the tarmac of the street felt as if it were ice, but he was determined to get inside that house. He took the pain step by step, and yard by yard.

The pain of walking was just about too much to take by the time he got to the front door of the house. His feet began to turn a deathly purple color. Just before it was too late, he stepped in.

He did not realize how fancy the house actually once was until he stepped inside. It must have been the old house of a man who became a millionaire through the once prosperous auto industry, because it was an old Victorian house, and inside was an example of beauty decaying as well. Antique furniture of the highest quality, knocked over and strewn across the hallway that you first entered into. A stunning carpet was torn apart and stained, covering the hardcover floors. The paint on the walls was peeling. I said it once, and I’ll say it again. Damn money, why does it got to destroy everything it builds?

Jeremy searched around the house, and found and office that got looted the people around Joy Road, and probably people from all over Detroit. He found a kitchen with no food, and the cabinets all swung wide open. He found a few bedrooms that looked as if they had been slept in. Lastly however, he found, in the back of the house, the stair case.

Jeremy began embarking up the stairs very carefully, in case they were unstable. He took it step by step, just like getting to the house, except slower, and more cautious. The stairs creaked louder then any creaky floor board you ever heard, and it sort of scared Jeremy, so he took precaution by pausing, and when he did, he swore he could hear footsteps. He continued up the staircase all the way to the top.

Jeremy took in his surroundings. It appeared to be some sort of study, or perhaps an office, of course in decay, withering away from the world like the rest of the home. Dust was everywhere, from ceiling to floor.

Upon looking at the ground, Jeremy noticed something strange. Some dust on the ground appeared to have been disturbed. He wondered how, and then it hit him. The dust on the ground had footprints in it, and they seemed fairly recent. Far too recent for comfort, in fact.

He gasped at the site of the footprints, and frantically looked around the room for another sign of another person. Suddenly, by chance, he got what he was searching for. A hand grabbed him on the shoulder from behind.

Young Jeremy Gamble jumped about a foot in the air out of fear, then quickly turned around to catch a view of the mysterious entity. “Oh, dear. Did I scare you, young man?” exclaimed the man. Jeremy dove back, fell, then continued to retreat by scrambling across the floor, breathing heavy all the while.

Jeremy now realized that this man was no threat to him, and took one deep breath, and a short exhale. He then observed the man standing before him.

“Grandpa, I thought you said the house was abandoned.” “Well Kyle, Detroit has many homeless people. If you don’t provide a homeless man with shelter, he will find his own wherever he can, and steal everything they need. Do you understand me, son?” “I believe I do, Grandpa.” “Good, and now you know why it’s important for a society to give back to it’s unfortunate people. The more a society has to give back, the more it should give back, and you need to do your part to make it happen. Now back to where I left off.”

The man was a white man, looked middle aged, probably about forty years old, and was covered in dirt, debris, and dust. He wore a battered trench coat, tattered jeans, and brown work boats that had obviously seen better days. He held a lit cigarette in his left hand, and hung his right hand down by his said in a casual, yet prepared to do anything on a moments notice sort of fashion. He was, quite plainly, homeless.

Jeremy regained his regular, calm and ready composition. “Who are you” he stuttered and looked up into his eyes, which gleamed with sorrow and regret. “The names Don” he said, then took a drag from his cigarette. “Don Stowe. Who are you, my dear child.” “I’m Jeremy Gamble.” exclaimed Jeremy as he pushed himself back on to his feet, and stood up proud.

“Well Jeremy Gamble, I think I have something of yours.” said Don, and he laughed and opened up a drawer in the desk that stood in the middle of the room, and pulled out a pair of shoes, and a couple of socks. “I would keep these and sell em’, but we homeless got to stick together, Jeremy. Nobody’s going to help us Jeremy. These people won’t help us, this city won’t help us, this state won’t help us, this government won’t help us, nobody will. We got to help ourselves and stick together, otherwise were both doomed.”

“How can you tell I’m homeless?” asked Jeremy. “It’s in your eyes.” replied Don. “You can tell a lot about a man from his eyes. Same goes for his clothes.” continued Don.

“Anyways, what do you say kid? You ought to stick with me. Together we can survive.” exclaimed Don. “Your right. We can survive together.” answered Jeremy. “Excellent, call this your new home, Jeremy. And call us family, and family sticks together.”

Jeremy thought about that for a minute. If it were true, that family sticks together, Jeremy and his real family weren’t family at all. Him and Don were more of a family than he and his mom and dad ever were, and him and Don had only known each other for a matter of a minutes.

The empty feeling in Jeremy’s head had now been filled from Don’s kindness, and had now shifted to his stomach. His stomach growled, he hadn’t ate since the day before he ran away. “Sounds like your hungry” said Don. “As am I” he continued, “put on your shoes, were going to get something to eat tonight. Nothing can stand in the way or our hunger, but we must wait until nightfall.”

Jeremy and Don spent their time telling the stories of how they became homeless. As it turns out, Don was once a well educated man, who had taken out a huge student loan to go to college to major in business. Then, when he finally got out of college, the economy crashed. Nobody could take out any loans to start a new business, and he was left with a colossal student loan and no way to draw in any income.

“That’s terrible, Grandpa. How does such a horrible thing happen to a person?” “What you have to understand Kyle, is that this world is ruled by those born silver spoon in hand. Don was born in a poor family, so he had no money to start his business. If he were born in a rich family, he could have built his business and survived the economic recession. Terrible yes, but that’s just how it is.”

Dusk had fallen beautifully on Detroit by the time they had left their home. The sky lit a dark orange, and the light continued to dim.

They were on their way to a local dollar store, with plans to steal any food they could sneak out to eat that night. They walked a brisk pace towards the store, the sun setting equally as quick.

When the store was finally in view, Don, who was used to breaking the law without even thinking about it. Jeremy Gamble, on the other hand, took a deep gulp, and cowered behind Don Stowe. He knew he had to go through with shoplifting though, otherwise they would surely go hungry that night, and eventually starve to death. The thing that haunted Jeremy the most about that was that nobody would go looking for them. He doubted that his parents cared he was gone, and it only took him a day in the city to see that America doesn’t care about it’s less fortunate. They could wither away for all this country cared. Their time was now. Now or never.

“Grandpa, why doesn’t America care for it’s less fortunate?” “Well Kyle, I have asked that question myself before, as have a lot of other people. I think it’s because most people only care about themselves, and if they gave five dollars to help the poor eat a meal, that would be five dollars they no longer have, and that doesn’t sit well with the rich and greedy. Now, where was I again?” “Don and Jeremy were going to shop lift.” “Oh, yes! That’s right. On with the story!”

Jeremy and Don entered the convenient store casually. Don was rehearsed, and Jeremy managed to keep his cool when the promise of food entered his head, even though he was a good, law abiding citizen at heart. They directed themselves towards the back of the store, where the cashier couldn’t see them. The cashier was preoccupied with a magazine anyways. It was all too easy.

Don was just about to shove a box of crackers under his trench coat when Jeremy noticed a security camera in the corner of the room. “Don!” he yelled and pointed to the camera. He stopped what he was doing and instructed Jeremy to cover his face. Jeremy obeyed, and Don did the same. He then proceeded with what he was doing, and began to walk out of the store.

The two succeeded in escaping the store without causing any sort of alarm, but their luck was about to end. Just as they got out of the store, another Detroit story was in the works. On both sides of the road, there was a group of people, probably about fifteen people on each side, and both groups were staring at each other menacingly. They were wearing different colored bandanas around their arms, faces, and legs. It was too dark to tell what colors they were, but one was lighter than the other, so they must have been different colored. Some of them had knives. A couple of them had baseball bats. A few of them were even holding pistols. Then in hit Jeremy. A gang fight was about to happen. It was nothing he hadn’t seen before, gang fights were a regular occurrence in Flint. It’s just that this was by far the biggest one he had ever seen before. This was more a war than a fight.

A gunshot rang out, and a guy from one side screamed a the most chilling scream you’d ever hear, and just like that, both sides charged at each other. The battle had ensued, and became even more violent by the second. One man got nailed in the head with a baseball bat so hard he dropped to his knees and began to cough up blood. Another guy got his throat slit from an enemy with a knife who came from the back, and whenever a man with a gun was left alone long enough to get a shot off, he took the shot. A little piece of hell had manifested itself on Detroit, a city that once burgeoned from the auto industry, and was now more obviously decaying just as fast as it boomed into exclusive club that is prosperity.

“Grandpa, why do gangsters fight with each other?” “Hard to say Kyle, but I think the main reason is money. Like we discussed before, money ruins everything in the end, you here me son? Nothing can‘t be ruined from money! Now, let‘s see here. Oh! Right! Back to the story.”

The war on the streets waged on for only about ten minutes maximum, but to the awestruck Don and Jeremy, it seemed like hours passed by. About ten people had been killed, five on each side by what they could see. Then, the fighting was interrupted by painfully loud sirens, and a pair of blue and red flashing lights, that seemed to come from all around. The police had surrounded the area.

“Freeze! Everybody, hands up, now!” shouted a police officer with a megaphone somewhere in the distance. The gangsters that were still standing scrambled in every direction as soon as they realized what was going on. A few of them were immediately captured by the police. Some managed to get away, and others carried out their chase clear into the distance, never for Jeremy or Don to know the outcome.

Suddenly, out of the darkness, a police office ran up to Don and Jeremy. “Put your hands in the air” shouted the officer. Don then shoved Jeremy down to the ground and took off faster than a jack rabbit. Jeremy hit the ground in shock. His biggest question was why? After Don had consider them family and all, he sacrificed him to get away. It wasn’t right thought Jeremy. They should have either survived together, or went down together. The police officer grabbed Jeremy with an iron lock, and handcuffed him. The police officer continued by dragging him to his squad car and threw him into the back seat. They then drove off into the night.

“Come on, let me go! I am not a gangster!” shouted Jeremy as he struggled with his handcuffs. “I don’t care if you did or didn’t. I’m getting you out of this neighborhood, it’s dangerous for a kid like you.” replied the policeman. Jeremy calmed down now. “I’m Jeremy Gamble” he said in a quiet, calm tone. “Well Jeremy Gamble, my name is Officer Andrew Larson. I’m going to take you down to the station and have your parents pick you up.” Jeremy shuttered at those words. “I don’t have any parents” replied Jeremy. “Is that so.” exclaimed Larson. “Well, I can’t just leave a poor boy out on the streets. You can stay with me. Consider me your parent.” added Larson.

Jeremy now took a good look at Officer Larson. The first thing he noticed was this gleam in his eye he really couldn’t explain. The next thing he noticed was that he must have been about six feet tall, was white, and had a and had a fairly muscular physique that sort of reminded him of Sarge.

Sarge, he had almost forgotten about Sarge. Sergeant Bill Stafford! Jeremy wondered where he was now. It was only about two days since he climbed into that old Chevy Impala of his and left Flint for Detroit, but it felt like an eternity had passed.

Jeremy was ready to collapse right there in the back seat of that police car, from exhaustion and from hunger, and he would have, if it weren’t for the fact the car had suddenly stopped just as he was falling asleep. He looked out the window and found that the car was in a driveway of a small suburban house, probably on the outskirts of Detroit. Officer Larson got out of the car, opened the back door of the vehicle, and finally took the handcuffs off of Jeremy. He led Jeremy inside the house.

“Welcome home, Jeremy” delightfully exclaimed Officer Larson, who poured him a bowl of cereal as a quick meal for Jeremy, and he ate it without hesitation. “Thank you!” spouted out Jeremy when he finished off the bowl. “You’re quite welcome, now you look tired, how about some sleep?” exclaimed Officer Larson as he escorted Jeremy to a guest bedroom. “You can sleep here” he said. “Goodnight” he added as he left the room.

“Is that supposed to be the ending, Grandpa? I don’t get how he could go from living with a police officer to killing seven people and holding a man hostage just today.” “Well Kyle, the story isn’t finished, but we will have to zoom ahead quite some time to fully understand it. For eleven years, Jeremy lived happily with Officer Andrew Larson, but something was strange about Larson. He never mad an attempt to find Jeremy’s real parents, and he always taught him police things, and of course he always had a corrupt gleam in his eye.” replied Kyle’s grandfather. “Now, to finish the story, we have to zoom ahead eleven years, making Jeremy twenty two years old.” said the grandfather, and Kyle waited in anticipation.

The year now is 2001, and as I said, Jeremy is twenty two years old. That day was the day Jeremy was supposed to join the local police force, an achievement that Officer Larson, who was now Police Captain Larson, had pushed him to do ever since he rescued him off the streets. It was almost a dream come true for Jeremy, who finally had a chance to make some of his own money, and carry out his own life despite all he had been through as a child. Money, he thought. What about the money? He decided to ask.

“Mr. Larson, before I fully sign up with the police force, I just had a quick question. How much money does a starting officer make?” asked Jeremy. “What do you mean money?” replied Larson. “I own you, Jeremy! I rescued you! Your going to work for free!” he added.

Jeremy suddenly remembered everything, as if his whole life flashed before him, and he came to the realization that everybody he ever knew had used him. His parents used him to torture him, Don used him to escape the police, and now Larson had raised him for free labor. The only person who hadn’t used him was Sarge, and who knew where he was. He got angry. Very, very angry. In a snap, he pulled his pistol out of uniform belt and fired a single shot into Larson’s heart. Without a sound, he collapsed to the ground.

In shock of what he did, he knew he had to be smart about this if he wanted to stay out of prison. So, he picked up the phone, dialed 911, and reported a suicide. For reporting the suicide, which the police were gullible enough to believe from the way Jeremy had staged it, Jeremy was given a thousand dollar bonus to his check. That’s when he realized he could turn his anger into something that had doomed his life from the start yet he wanted so desperately, money.

For about a year and half, he had continued killing people and staging suicides for money. Some of the smarter citizens and police began to wonder if the recent string of suicides were related, but the thing was that the economy was getting worse, and suicide was becoming common enough to believe Jeremy’s scandal.

Eventually, Jeremy Gamble had evolved his horrid murder crimes into a twisted organization similar to the mafia. He hired people to help spread his dirty work all across the country, and not only did he kill for money, but his company also made money by the drug and weapon trade, counterfeiting, and burglary. He had become the most powerful criminal in the world.

By now, as expected, he was rich, filthy rich collecting extraordinary amounts of money through organized crime. A curious thing happened that year as well. While walking down the street, he came across a man drinking liquor and living in a box, and he swore he could remember him. Upon closer inspection, it was none other than the Vietnam Veteran, Bill Stafford, or as he went by, Sarge. The good side of Jeremy showed that day, and he wrote Sarge a check for fifty thousand dollars. That was enough for Sarge, who was then homeless, to get back on his feet.

He asked Sarge to join the business, as sort of a man who handled the money Jeremy got from killing, and even though it was a truly evil business fueled by hate of a childhood lost to Flint and Detroit, the money talked just as money does, and Sarge accepted. He became wealthy as well, but after about a year, he had enough money to retire, and so he quit.

“How do you tie into this all, Grandpa? How do you even know this story?” exclaimed Kyle. “Well Kyle, that part is easy. What is my name?” “Bill Stafford” replied Kyle. He still hadn’t gotten it. “What does your uncle Rick call me?” said the grandfather. “Sarge” replied Kyle, and he gasped as it finally fell into place. “Your Sarge from the story?” “Yes Kyle, and I regret working for Jeremy, but he was a good man at heart, and if it weren’t for him I would still be living in a box.” answered the grandfather. “Now, let’s take a look at what’s happening on the TV.” he added.

Kyle’s grandpa, Sergeant Bill Stafford, averted his attention back to the broadcast of Jeremy’s revenge. It was still a standoff. Bill then knew what he had to do. “Kyle, get in the car. Were going to Detroit.”

The two drove a short drive into Detroit, and it wasn’t long before they find an area sealed off by police tape. An officer approached them. “What are you doing here, this is dangerous. Now go back home, we have it under control!” shouted the police officer who began to walk away. “Wait!” shouted Bill, who had Kyle close to him. “What now?” yelled the police officer. “I can fix this mess.” said Bill. “Look, we have it under control.” replied the police officer. “Just give me fifteen minutes to talk to him. Obviously your talk isn’t getting far. I knew Jeremy. He trusts me.” replied Bill as he broke his attention to get a glimpse of the hostage negotiator. “Alright, fine. Fifteen minutes.” said the officer as he lifted the police tape and let them proceed.

“Alright listen up, we have a new negotiator on the scene. Get the man the megaphone!” shouted the officer, and another police officer came up and handed Bill a megaphone. Bill pushed down the trigger on the megaphone, and began to talk.

“Jeremy! Jeremy I know you hear me! It’s me, Bill. I was the one who brought you here a long time ago, remember? And we used to work together back in the good old days!” he shouted, and then paused. “Jeremy, listen to me. You made a mistake, it wasn’t your fault. You had a hard life, the lust for money got the best of you, it can happen to the best of us. There is a peaceful way to end this. I promise, you will be forgiven! Come on out Jeremy!” he continued, the waited for a minute, caught up in the sirens and police lights. Then, a miracle happened.

“Bill! Is that really you Bill?” said Jeremy, shouting from a window. “Yes, yes it is Jeremy!” he answered. “Please Jeremy, let this go. We can end this peacefully. You can start over, and live out the rest of your life in peace. I can even convince the police to put you on probation, and you can come and stay with me. What do you say, Jeremy?” continued Bill, as Kyle clung to his grandpa in fear.

Then, it happened. The door swung open, and Jeremy came out with his hands up and unarmed. A scared but relieved hostage came running out the door perfectly unharmed. The police cheered and shook each others hands, while one ran up and handcuffed Jeremy. “Wait!” yelled Bill as he ran up to the police officer and Jeremy. “It’s over now. Let him stay with me, and you can come and check on him any time you want to. He won’t be getting into any more trouble. It’s over.”

Several Years Later

And so ends the story of Jeremy, a man who was nearly destroyed by the corrupting powers of money and society. He lives with me, Sergeant Bill Stafford, known as Sarge to Jeremy, now, and sometimes my Grandson Kyle, who is in college studying to be a lawyer now, but he still enjoys visiting me when he can. I guess you might be interested to know that the police who let us in the police lines that night was, by random chance, Don’s grandson, the man who had let Jeremy into the abandoned house back in his youth. As for Officer Larson, Jeremy’s first victim, well his would have been adopted grandson is best friends with Kyle at the University they study at. It’s funny how life works out that way. I guess that’s the end of the story, but a few last lessons. Don’t ever let money get the best of you, or you might end up like Jeremy. Also, be kind to the unfortunate, or the world might just get more people like Jeremy then it needs. If you live a good life, don’t ever take it for granted, or again, you might just end up in Jeremy’s shoes, and that means walking through all his pain mile by mile, and yard by yard.



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

AspiringWriter said...
Aug. 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm:

This is a very nice story. :) I enjoyed reading it! There were a few grammatical errors, but nothing too major. There is a perfect balance between dialogue and descriptions.

Great work! :)

 
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Garnet77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 12, 2011 at 6:33 am:
I love the message you have going throughout the whole story. A few grammar mistakes, but those are easily fixable. I actually think you could even extend this story (even if it was long), maybe even make it a novella. The part when Kyle and his grandfather went to see Jeremy was a bit rushed, which would be my only complaint. I loved reading this. And I completely agree about the money thing. Great work! I'd love to see more of your stuff! :)
 
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L.B.C.. said...
Aug. 12, 2011 at 12:59 am:
Thanks, i'll take that into consideration next time I write.
 
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CarrieAnn13This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm:
Okay, this story has a great premise.  But the stiff dialogue is rather annoying; dialogue should also have its own line.  You have a few grammar mistakes like 'your' instead of 'you're.'  Other than that, not bad! :)
 
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