Alternate Universe "For the Larabees"
Fifth story in the Beginnings Collection
Five-year-old Vin Tanner huddled in the doorway of a shop, shivering, as he sought to stay dry from the sudden downpour of rain. He held the lapels of his torn and dirty coat together with his cold little hands, and scrunched his scrawny legs closer to his chest for added protection from the bitter weather.
Tears welled up in his cerulean blue eyes as he wished for about the hundredth time that day that his Ma was still alive and that she could hold him in her arms again. He couldnt even remember how many days it had been since she had died, and their landlord had thrown him out on the streets. He hadnt even gotten the chance to say goodbye to his Ma, or take anything of hers with him, except for his memories.
Vin just knew that it had been a long time since he was on the streets, stealing food from vendors when they werent watching, peddling for spare change from wealthy ladies who took pity on him. They all told him how sad it was that he was living on the streets at his age, but not one ever mentioned taking him home with them, and he had soon learned that their hearts werent as big as their words. Neither were their pocketbooks, but he guessed he couldnt expect them to hand over large sums of money to a nobody like him. What they did give him usually was enough to buy him something to eat for the day and he was grateful for that at least.
He just wished that the rain would stop, so that he wouldnt be so cold. As he huddled in the doorway, he heard a noise to his left and glanced quickly down the alleyway. As young as he was, he had learned to be wary of any and all noises, since they usually accompanied potential danger for him. Already he had learned firsthand what it was to be beaten up by some of the other, older boys who were also living on the streets, and to go without food after they had stolen whatever little money he had claimed in a days time.
Next to the other boys on the streets, Vin knew that he had to beware of the burly police officers that roamed the night, snatching up kids and throwing them in jail or in places equally bad: childrens homes. He kept his head craned around the corner of the doorway, peering through the dreary night to see who or what had made the noise that had heard, when he felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder. Another hand slid across his chest.
All right you little bugger, youre coming with me. A deep, masculine voice said.
Vin slowly raised his head up, far up, his little heart beginning to pound so hard in his chest he thought it was going to jump clear out of his skin. A grizzled face, nearly covered completely by the wide brim of a sodden hat, peered coldly down at him. A shiny badge peeked through from inside the strangers coat, identifying him as a policeman to the frightened fiver-year-old. Instinct kicked in then, and Vin began kicking and struggling against the man holding him.
Fighting wont do you any bit of good. The man said, jerking Vin off of the ground and tossing him over his shoulder.
The officer started out of the alleyway with his burden still fighting to free himself. When Vins foot connected with the officers chin, the officer through him onto the muddy ground. Vins breath left him as he hit the ground, and he wasnt able to defend himself when the officer yanked him up by the collar of his coat.
You do anything like that again and youre going to get more than tossed into the mud! the officer snarled into Vins face.
Despite the imminent danger that he was in, Vins blue eyes narrowed into a glare that hid the terror he felt. He did not speak or nod his head in acquiescence, but glared defiantly back at the large man. The officer tossed him over his shoulder once again, and continued out of the alleyway.
Vins anger gave way to fear as he began to wonder where the officer was going to take him. The officer walked several blocks before they reached a large brick building. Vin had a minute to ponder whether they were entering a jail or an orphanage, before the police officer took them both inside the building.
Vin was tossed down onto a wooden chair outside an office of some sort.
If you know whats good for you, youll stay there in that chair until I come out for you, or Im going to give you the licking of your life. The officer threatened before he disappeared into the office.
Vin sat in the chair as directed, terrified by what might happen to him if he moved. As he sat huddled in the chair, he saw two older boys appear at the far end of the corridor in which he sat. One was blonde, the other a brunette, and both carried knapsacks as they crept along the wall toward Vin.
As they came in reach of Vin, the blond haired boy in the lead, made eye contact with the frightened five-year-old. Green orbs locked with blue ones and held for a space of a couple of minutes. Vin sucked in his breath as if waiting to see what the older boy would do.
He didnt have long to wait. The blonde boy held out a hand towards Vin ignoring the incredulous look the dark haired boy shot him. Vin hesitated only a second before scampering down from the chair and over to the older boy. He slipped his small hand into the larger one and the three boys continued on down the hallway to the front door, and slipped out into the dark, wet night to their freedom.
6. Ezra's Story