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Monday, March 28, 2011

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Part 2 Leaving Home

The cop’s proceed to drive out of Guilderland and get on the highway in the direction of Albany.  “Are you ok?” one of the officers asks me. There is a mesh grate that separates the front seat from the back; I just stare out the window into the night.
The squad car continues down the highway and as they put on their blinker, I see that we are entering the downtown Albany area. The ramp from the highway takes you to an exit right near the Albany bus station, unfortunately, it looks like a war zone.  Empty storefronts, shady hotels and burnt out cars pepper the scene. Nobody lives or ventures this far downtown unless you are destitute, looking for a prostitute or you’re looking to buy drugs.  I have no idea where we are going.  I can see a church out of the back window that looks like it should be somewhere in Paris, it rivals Notre Dame, except that it looks like no one has been there in years and its splendor has seen better days.  The church stands abandoned, most of its windows smashed out.  We pass several working girls that wave at the cop car as it passes.
Row after row of abandoned buildings line the block.  I am scared but trying not to show it.  We finally arrive and pull up to a building that is as far downtown as you can get. There are no other buildings around it and it stands about three stories high. One of the cop’s walks around to the side of the squad, opens it and motions to the building with one out stretched hand. “Welcome to your new home,” he says. The second cop is standing on the front steps, he explains to me that this is a runaway shelter named Equinox, it’s for troubled youths.
The first cop reaches out and rings the bell. I stand there and start to shake, expecting the worst. A light goes on above the front door and there seems to be a flurry activity directly inside this door. I can see someone now standing at the front door on the other side of the window. The knob turns and the door gets yanked inwards. Standing directly in front of me is a chubby little man who stands at about 4 feet 3inches tall. I would put his weight at about 200 hundred pounds. His hair is flaming orange and shoots out in all directions on his head, it looks as if we just woke him up. He smiles showing a mouth full of dead teeth. He is wearing a black Hells Angels t-shirt and has a chain attached from his front pocket that crosses his leg and attaches to his wallet in the back. “Hellooooooooooooooooo,”he says rolling his eyes and puffing out his cheeks. He looks at me and the cops and exclaims “Jinkies, it’s the cops, what can I do you for officers?” I can tell that he is trying to put me at ease.
One of the cops takes his hand and pushes me forward. “Laroy, this is a new ward of the state.” Laroy tips and imaginary hat and bows deep. “Ellooooo, young master, you’re going to like it here, and you get an extra cup of gruel just for the asking.” He laughs to himself and shakes his head. He motions us to come in and the cops flank me, one in front and one in the back. I am sure that they are used to people trying to break and run.
They lead me into an office right off the main entry way. Laroy pulls out a chair, reaches in his back pocket pulling out a bandana that he uses to dust off the imaginary dirt on the chair; he laughs again and motions me to sit. Laroy takes the chair directly across from me. On the wall behind him is newspaper picture of Nancy and Ronald Reagan, someone has taken a black pen giving Ronald an Adolf Hitler hairdo and mustache. Laroy follows my eyes to the poster. “I don’t know who did it,” he says and then mouths the words “the furher,” to me. Laroy quickly stands up, walks over to a desk and grabs a large ledger book. “Oops, almost forgot,” he says. He returns to his chair and pushes the book across the desk to the cops. One of the cops looks at the time on his watch and signs the book. The cops start to leave and one of them turns back to me and says “If you need us you call,” and with that, they are gone.
“They’re gone break out the booze,” Laroy says and literally slaps his thigh. I try not to laugh but am starting to feel safe for one of the first times in my life.
Laroy starts to give me the rules and history of Equinox.
To be continued………….

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writting "A Day in the Life". It can not be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent.

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