Street Friends
Michael, Age 13, Easton, CT

The sharp turn almost had me running flat into the hard concrete of the dead end, but the newest Nikes kept me sprinting down the next tunnel, where I would hide. I had gotten lucky that the kicks had come out on shelves the day I made a big score. But that cruddy little sports store didn't have one measly security camera. I could have stolen practically the whole store with my eyes closed. This time I swiftly skidded around the metal pole and sprawled into the damp hideout.

Billy and Stevie were still cautiously hauling me in when the pudgy cop slowly rounded the corner. Even through our slit of a peephole, you could easily see that the cop was panting like a dog and was way out of shape. If he wasn't coughing and wheezing his guts out, he might have been smart and at least looked around and discovered the crevasse in the concrete and found our hideaway. But the important thing was that he wasn't, and he turned around and started walking back up and out of the tunnels. And we were safe.

"You lucky little son of a gun, if that officer wasn't sittin' on his butt all day, and eatin' all the food that we could be eatin', we would've been caught for sure!?" Billy quietly hissed, pointing out the obvious yet again.

"He was so chubby, he probably ate the whole box of donuts that you see cops eating in those cartoons in one huge bite", Stevie added. I shook off their comments, although I knew I had cut it way too close this time. They were still running their mouths off at me until I pulled out the bag of the day's stuff. They were shocked. The brand new shoes I snagged off the rack for them fit perfectly. Next, I took out the two whole loaves of bread. And saving the best for last, I pulled out a rare steal, one of our favorites if we could get 'em. Strawberries. A whole basket filled to the brim.

"No way Jonny!?" Stevie gasped.

"You kiddin??" Billy gushed.

"For real! I got 'em right off an old guys cart." I replied. I have to say, it might have been one of my best swipes since..well, to tell you that, first I have to get through this.

My name's Jonny, and I'm 11 and three quarters. Actually, as I'll get to, I've been hanging out in the alleys and streets a lot since I was little, so I figured I had to find a cooler name than Harold. Ya, that's it. I made people call me Jonny or else I'd tell them I had a gun in my pocket, which back then I was faking, but with the streets and trouble now, my zippered left pocket is always taken up with one I stole these days. I'm an orphan, along with Stevie and Billy. We ditched what we called the "orephanage", a couple years back when it wasn't enough to entertain us and didn't feed us enough. Sometimes we can get a helping of food in a day than we would get in a week there. Kids were getting sick and dying. We just had to dump it. Listening to this, you're probably wondering where this dreadful life can take place. I'll tell you where: the low life of the worst parts of New York City. Also, the times that the world is going through are horrible. They beat the Great Depression by a long shot and make the 2008-2010 days a decade back look like ants compared to a foot. Our town, Queens, has turned into a rich-people-eat-and-poor-people-don't zone, and it's not like if you're poor you can't still earn food, you have to get it on your own, and I'm not talking about buying.

So the past couples months have been routine for Billy, Stevie and I. First, we take turns stealing as much as we can get without getting caught. Then, we might either run down into the underground tunnels and into our hideout we found one day if a cop is on our tail, or, we go to hang out with our other friends and play and share our food and other items. Some kid we know named Mikie came back from an early morning breakfast stop with not just breakfast, but a beautiful, bright orange basketball! Now, we play all day long. Last, we sneak into the orphanage at night when we get tired and crawl into the cozy and warm beds. (In my opinion, that is the only good part about the orphanage.) Most of the time we get by okay and it can be pretty fun.

Up until that one day, our lives of stealing to survive were rolling along totally fine. However, disaster had to strike soon. It came the Saturday we had collected food to fill up all of our group we hung out with and a football. With our bellies full, we decided to play with our brand new football. Nobody we knew very well had played football enough to know the rules, so we just passed it until somebody dropped it, then we'd all just pile up fighting for the loose pigskin. Close to the end of our game, something terrible happened. The youngest and smallest boy(he's only six and a half) in our group of friends, Shaun, tripped and fell, landing hard on the rough dirt and grass. In addition, Shaun landed right on an extremely sharp piece of glass, and it cut him so bad that you could see the bone in his left leg!

"OOOUUCCHHHH!!!" Shaun yelled at the top of his lungs.

"Hurry!?NO! GO!?" We all panicked. We understood that we needed to do something quick.

"Com'on guys! We need to get him some medicine and bandages!" I screamed and took off running, knowing that Billy and Stevie were right behind me. We reached the store in time that probably matched Olympians.

"Sir! Sir! Sir!" My friends and I all rushed the clerk at the desk. However, the clerk wouldn't let us take any medical supplies without paying. I thought the situation over. This was for an important person to me, almost like a family member. Without this, he could die.

You know how in cartoons there is always an inspiring lesson in the end? Well, as of right then, this story has a slight chance of ending like one. Because at that moment, I grabbed the supplies and bolted out the door, not caring what was to occur next.

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