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  4. The Runaway Boy

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The Stone Throwers:
A Man-Hunt For Vietnam War Draft Evaders


The Runaway Boy







The Runaway Boy


Tap, tap, tap, tap - tap Ė tap. That was all I could hear that night, way back in 1983 as the rain outside splashed on the ledge of the window sill.
I was twelve years old, and I had never felt so alone at the time, even though I shared a dormitory room with three other boys, all of similar age to me. The room had no lamps on. It was so dark that I could barely see my hand in front of my face.

I had been sent to bed early that night, for throwing my food at one of the other kids; he had been bullying me all day; so he was asking for it I guess. I thought so at the time anyway.

I had been crying so much, after I had been slapped hard across the back of my bare legs. The slaps were so hard that I had bright red hand marks from the punishment for over an hour. My abuser had also twisted my arm, which stung like a Chinese burn given by a school yard bully.

This didnít stop me wanting to escape, which I had planned to do a few days prier to my incident with the food. Unfortunately for me however, things never went that simple for me in the orphanage, as some one, or something always got in the way.

This time it was the local farmerís dog that some times slept outside my bedroom landing; basically I fell over him as I tried to sneak down the hall in the dark, which woke the night staff up.

Needless to say, I couldnít sit down properly on a hard chair for days due to the good hiding I received from a member of staff that would put any well known dictator to shame.
I wanted to reach out to the world outside, beyond my bedroom window, beyond the green field where the farmer kept his chickens, and far, far out of reach of being beaten with belts, slippers and old bed posts.

Just to feel wanted and needed like normal kids. As I never knew what normal was, neither did any of the other kids I lived with. Most of whom had come from abusive homes, where their parents were either drug addicts or alcoholics.

One young kid I knew had no family what so ever. I think they were all killed in a terrible fire or something like that. I was never too sure of the full details. But he was a real loner, and was bullied even worse then me, so much in fact that on his ninth birthday, he was found hiding up a conker tree in the grounds of the home.



As for me, well I never had the guts to climb trees, or climb up onto the central roof, with a hope of threatening to throw myself off. All I knew was that I wanted to get out of that place. Part of me was crying out for escape but another part of me was frozen stiff with fear on the night I ran away.

This was actually the first attempt of the three times I tried to escape.
It took me a long time to gain the courage and sheer will power to run as far and as fast as my legs would carry me.
I remember looking at the window, and I noticed it was still raining, I just kept wishing it would stop, in fact I actually prayed to God for it to stop raining in time for me to climb out of the window. I never had a coat to wear, so I had put on all jumpers that I owned, which made me look ridiculous, but at least Iíd keep warm.


I knew that if I didnít try and get out, Iíd probably never do it, and Iíd have to spend another six years or more being abused and tormented until I ended up like the kid who was found in the tree.
I waited until I thought the other boys had fallen asleep, even though I knew that they werenít all asleep, and I might be grabbed by one of them at the last minute as I began climbing through the window.

I went under my bed to get the bag I had with some under wear and another pair of trousers in it. Even though I didnít know where I was going, and had even less idea what Iíd do when and if I ever got there. I just kept hearing this voice in my head which kept saying, ďGet out! Get out!Ē It was now or never, I thought.

It was then I felt a hand grab me by the leg really tight, as I felt it I had the sudden urge to shout out; but another hand went over my mouth; this is it, I thought Iím really going to get a beating now.
To my surprise though, it was not the hands of an adult, so I knew it had to be one of the boys, and then I heard his voice as he said ďIím coming with youĒ.

It was a boy a little older then me, but was another one of the homeís tormented, he was constantly been bullied by his weight issues, even though he was not what you would call over weight, it was more a case of the fact he was simply a big lad, it terms of him being scrawny like me.

He had his arm around me, so I could only move slightly. I knew that I had no choice, but to let him come with me. Otherwise, he would have made a lot of noise; enough to alert the staff that slept in rooms near by. It was now or neverÖ

Suddenly we heard a creaking sound coming from the corridor, the sound of heavy foot-steps echoed into the distance as some one walked from one room to another, probably checking on the dormitories; which meant that the person walking down the corridor would have caught us in the act.

We both rushed to our beds, trying desperately to force our shoes off under the covers. Just as I managed to kick of my right shoe, the bedroom door opened.
Usually the light switch would have been clicked on, but the only light came from the torch the member of staff carried, so they could catch kids out that were mucking about.

I tried to stop shaking under my sheet, as the torch beam scanned the room, it casted a shadow against the back wall.
I remember trying not to move, saying to myself, Ďkeep still keep stillí.

Suddenly the torch beam vanished, as the member of staff walked out of the room.
It was then I realised who it was; as the smell of rolling tobacco filled the air and made me feel sick to my stomach. I knew that the member of staff going room to room was Bernice Sparrow or ''Birdie''
as we all knew her.

She was what many people in society would call an evil twisted old bat; she liked to bully the younger kids, mostly me.
It seamed that I bore the brunt of most of her anger, if I had not done my chores or answered her back, whilst been told off. She hated that.

Once we knew she had gone away from the vicinity of the bedroom door, me and the other kid who Iíll call jay, headed for the window, hoping that this time no Ė one would interrupt our escape.

I slowly opened the sash window; it creaked and groaned like an old man getting up from a comfy chair on a cold day. The rain had stopped by this time, but it was still bitterly cold. I climbed out first as Jay kept watch, then he climbed out, as I watched out for lights being switched on in other bedrooms.

As water dripped on us from the gutter above our heads, we squatted down and headed for the bottom of the long drive way that lead up to the top.
This would be the road that to an as of yet unknown destination. One that we thought would get us as far away from that place as possible, so we could have a better life, and find a real family.

This was not the case, as we would both find out more then twelve hours later.
We didnít get very far, and we were eventually found by the police.
We were brought back with our heads hanging low; feeling very stupid and nervous, as we knew that once the police had given us their runaway boy lecture, we would get another talking to, then maybe a slipper across our backsides at the least.

I didnít try running away again, until two years laterÖ



Written By : The Void














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