07.05.14 (Day 136)
By Victor Frank (For Gina)
This is day 136 of my journey; one frought with danger and intrigue. But I’m still here, just.
I may have to move on soon, such is the nature of this situation which I’ve placed myself in. For now though, I thought I’d leave you a note to let you know that I’m okay and leave it in the place which only I know about and you will too, come the time. My journals are in that same place. If I don’t make it back to you, I will do my best to make sure you find my writing. Read it all son and learn.
I’ve sent you letters and packages but I fear that those I refer to as “Them” and “They” have intercepted them as I’ve heard nothing back. This letter isn’t dated as the date is of no consequence as I write. No-one knows where this might all end, least of all me. What has happened to me could happen to anyone, almost regardless of age, hence no dates. Hopefully this writing will stand the test of time.
They say that time waits for no man. Time is one of the few things which I have plenty of and I shall wait for you. Time is also the great healer they say but no amount of time can mend a broken heart.
Unfortunately, those on the outside – those who don’t know and who will never understand (They) – don’t seem to want us to talk, let alone meet. For now it’s too dangerous anyway, so let’s assume that They are just looking out for your best interests and protecting you. One day you’ll be able to make up your own mind, when you find all of this. Perhaps They fear what you might discover. But I want you to know, preferably face-to-face. One day. For now, I’ll leave this here in case I don’t make it and one day you’ll get it, even if I’m gone.
I’m in a place we affectionately call Grievers’ Estate. It used to be the offices of a funeral directors. There are five of us who live here and many others who come and go, mainly kids. I’m referred to as El Capitan; the chief. I found the place after all. The other four who live here are my lieutenants and the kids form part of the larger family known as The Pink Hearts. We’re a gang of sorts but more than anything, we’re family.
I’m twice the age of the next one down; my Number One; my right-hand man; The Dog. I’m almost three times the age of some of the kids who visit but I’m a kid too. As Bazz Lurhman (SP?) said in his Sunscreen song, “…Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know, still don’t kow what they want to do with their lives…” Remember I used to read you Peter Pan? The boy who never grew up. I guess I’m Peter at heart. You’ll grow up though and you’ll understand all of this. For now you’re of a certain age: an age which I once was before all of this happened. Don’t follow the path I took. It’s beset with danger. Learn from my mistakes and don’t make the same ones. If you do, learn from them.
I almost wish I hadn’t brought you into this world. It can be a cruel place. It has been to me over the llast few months. But it can be kind too. Sometimes you have to make the most of what you have: often a bad thing. Life is what you make it. People won’t believe in you; believe in yourself. Look up, not down. These are some of the many nuggets of wisdom I dispense to my other family here; my other kids.
Remember when I said, “Let’s run!” on the way home from school one day? And you said, “Why Dadda?”
“Because one day we won’t be able to.”
I’m running now.
This may be the last you hear from me but I’ll keep on running, back to you, if I can. Resourceful and resilient: that’s me. I’ll try to find a way to you. You may not recognise me, as I’ve changed, for the better in many ways, certainly spiritually.
Life where I am now is transitory. Sometimes I think it’s purgatory. I won’t be here for long but while I am, I’m doing all that I can to be remembered. You’ll see.
In many respects, this life is better than the one I left behind. I’ve got a partner; she’s dying. She wants to be with someone when she receives her calling and for some reason she’s chosen me. She and the kids who we’re adoptive parents to are what keep me here. I’m in a self-created positive rut but we do good work and we’ll be remembered for that.
Our adoptive kids come to us for help and advice. We have an uneasy working relationship with the police. They know we’re here and they like to know who’s here as then they know that most of local wanted are in one place. I’ve been on the wrong side of the law a few times over the course of this journey but as it stands, both sides have some sort of mutual understanding. We also work with churches, helping the youngsters, the homeless and those even less fortunate than us. And there are many. There are those who envy the place I found and who might be want to take it over but the family reputation preceeds us and we’re left alone. I work in church kitchens as well, cooking for and feeding the same people who come to us.
We don’t have much in this humble temporary home of ours but we have each other and a lot of love.
My illness is getting better. I’ve rebuilt bridges with some of those I burned my bridges with before. A few of the people on the other side have seen me; seen me working. Fewer still have even expressed pride in me. One day I hope you’ll be proud too.
It’s been a struggle and there are many hills, hurdles, hoops and walls ahead. But I’m avoiding the sand I’ve so often buried my head in in the past.
Money is tight but we all contribute what we can financially, with food, favours and practical help. We have a few little enterprising sidelines running too.
I’ve found religion: Esoteric Christianity. As a demonstration of how inclusive we are here, we include among our number a Pagan, several atheists and agostics and a Satanist. We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind, whether it be on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation. We’re sort of Anarchy, peace and freedom; a movement or belief I used to follow back in my Punk days. My musical roots are back in Kingston, Jamaica, where the whole reggae and beat scene was spawned. From that was born Ska, the Skinheads, Rastas and Punks: all inclusive. I still wear the safety pin in my ear as a nod towards Punk (proper Punk). Music is so much more: it’s almost a religion in itself.
I’m telling you all of this as I want you to know as much about me as possible, in case we don’t get to speak man-to-man when you’re a man.
The Pink Hearts follow the same belief system, despite our disperate religions otherwise. We all wear a pink heart badge on our sleeves. The pink heart badges were from an old cancer charity campaign. We found them and we donate money to cancer charities every time we initiate a new member into the gang: Breast Cancer Care, as a few of us have lost friends and relatives to breast cancer; The Teenage Cancer Trust, as many of our family are teenagers themselves; McMillan, as my partner will require their care when she goes.
The family come to me for medical advice as well; minor treatment too sometimes. We do piercings too. The den of iniquity label is perpetuated by word of all of this on the street. The drums of the jungle beat loud.
The Pink Hearts extend far and wide, way beyond the core family. A local chapter of The Hell’s Angels wear our hearts. They have much in common with us: they raise funds for charity; they are misunderstood, ill-perceived and persecuted, like us. We also work at night, like ghosts: a brief vision, hardly discernible in the dark, then gone.
A ghost from the past visited recently: one of my many ex-girlfriends. Your second sister was born on Tuesday. Again, the date is unimportant for now but I’ll place Jane’s birth certificate in the somewhere-only-we-know. Her death certificate bearing the same date will also be there.
As I finish this letter, today is day 146 of being on the road. Ten days to write this much as I’m always having to move around and stay one step ahead. I’ll write again when I can.
You won’t have to grieve as I’ll be back, in this life or the next. I promise to find you.