When pastor Masters turned his back a full blown panic swept through the crowd. Several people started crying, a few of the guys started yelling at each other and some of the more street wise kids set off at a run towards the more habitable buildings. I just stared blankly at the space where The paster had been, not quite putting together what had just happened.
I had been looking forward to Saviour City. This place was supposed to be everything I was dreaming of, you know, sunshine and honey… and now I was stranded in the middle of a ruin, with people I didn’t know and supposed to just “figure it out”.
The commotion around me was getting louder so I deciding that this might not be the best place for me. I started to wander off in no particular direction, hoping that I might find some shelter there.
I had just made it out of sight of the group, when I sank to the ground, next to the remains of a huge truck.
The whole thing was washing over me; the helplessness, the hopelessness and the overwhelming sense that I had been better off with my mom. At least there I had been sure that I would have a roof over my head and something that resembled food every day.
Here I was expected to work with god knows what, in a place that one could barely call a city with nowhere to sleep.
I was holding my head in my hands, taking in deep gulps of air and trying my best not to cry. My mind was a whirl of images and emotions, all competing for attention.
“hey” the voice was faint and it took me a while to react.
“hey, Mortimer” I lifted my head, looking around for someone. The only thing I could see around me was broken bits of building. I was sure that I was loosing my mind, I turned my head back down, when I heard it again “hey Mortimer, back here.”
I looked over my shoulder and there was Desmond, looking a bit worse of wear, standing on the other side of the truck.
“where did you come from” I asked, a quiver still in my voice.
“I was on the bus with you” he said, looking me dead in the face.
“no you weren’t” I countered. I hated liers, also I had been looking out for him on the bus, and he definitely was not there.
Desmond looked at me for a while, sizing me up it seemed, then relented “OK, I wasn’t on the bus”
“then what were you doing in church” I asked, confused.
“looking for you” Desmond said, matter of factly.
“for me” I asked tentatively.
“Yeah, I needed a best friend, and you are it” he said.
“Umm, OK…” I said, feeling kind of weirded out.
We stayed like that for a while, not saying anything. I was about to get up and walk away from this weirdo, when Desmond, probably sensing the mood, said “I can help you, you know”
“How?” I asked incredulous.
“I have lived here a lot longer than you have, I know things. Like what gang you need to avoid and where to sit in the mess hall or when and where you’re supposed to go to work” Desmond listed.
I hadn’t thought of this. With all that had happened, it had never occurred to me that I would have to figure out how to live in Savior… with the gangs and all.
“Also, I have a house you could stay at” He added, almost as an afterthought.
I had been looking down at the ground while he talked, but at this my head snapped back. I didn’t like this guy, but it was between this and sleeping in the street.
I got to my feet slowly.
“just for tonight” I said, hoping beyond hope that this kid wasn’t as creepy as he seemed.
Desmond smiled wryly at me. He stepped around the busted truck and stuck his hand out towards me.
“Or however long you want to stay” he added still smiling.
We shook hands