I started this a few days ago, and got so carried away in the details that I had to make it a multi part series. This is a follow-up to The Boy and the Balloons. But the story isn’t finished. You’ll see why at the end. I also fixed the allocutions hoping to make it clearer when people are actually speaking vs when the boy is thinking to himself. I apologize for any confusion.
The boy slipped easily into his new life. The man and the woman who found him alone in the park just became his newfound parents.
It was as odd and as simple as that.
They lived out of their car. And they changed city on a regular basis, almost daily even. The boy just adapted to living on the road with this peculiar couple.
He never did find out what happened to his parents. The minute he sat between the man and the woman in the old station wagon, they headed straight for the highway in the opposite direction of the boy’s home.
“Are we really going home?” the boy asked. “Of course,” the woman replied, again, and again each time he asked. The boy never dared asked what needed to be asked such as where is home exactly, or what is home? He simply found comfort in knowing he was always on his way home.
Sleep came to him whenever he needed it most. Bedtime was just no longer limited to something specific such as when the street lights came on, or after the evening news. Bedtime was whenever sleep hit him. And it happened at the weirdest of times. The boy accepted he no longer needed to ask if it was ok to sleep. Sometimes he slept in a park, under a shady tree. Sometimes his head fell on the woman’s shoulder as they drove down long dusty roads with the sun shining in his eyes. Sometimes he didn’t know the difference between being asleep and being awake.
The man and the woman were nice enough people. At least they were nice to him, and that’s what mattered. He never discussed his parents out of fear of hurting their feelings. But he never stopped thinking about them either, and never stopped wondering what their last undelivered surprise was meant to be. He really never stopped looking for them.
In each new city he visited, he found dogs would run to him, and jump on his legs with their two front paws as if to greet him. The boy took to looking in each dogs’ eyes seeking something familiar. Trying to understand why that dog would run to greet him that way.
The boy decided each dog was maybe, just ever so slightly maybe the dog his parents wanted to give him. And in their eyes he looked for answers.
The boy could stare in their eyes for longer than it took him to count to one thousand. The man and the woman left him all alone, in a new park, in a new city, almost every day. He found he loved this time alone, and could sit and stare into a strange dog’s eyes forever. What nobody ever knew, was that this staring contest was his search for his parents in every new dog that ran up to him. Secretly he hoped to find his mom’s eyes in every dog’s gaze he stared into.
From quietly looking into each dog, he discovered things and secrets about them. When owners would run up to the boy, almost apologetically, the boy would look up to them and tell them mysteries about their dog. “Do you know he doesn’t like dry dog food? ” he would ask some. Or, “he really prefers it when you let him sleep outside rather than forcing him in the garage each night,” he would explain to others.
He never did find his parents, but like any treasure hunt, you usually never find what you’re actually seeking. And what he found was that he had indeed a knack for understanding dogs in ways science could never explain.
As the boy and the man and the woman travelled from town to town, the boy earned his keep by caring for dogs. “Hey kid, I’ll buy you lunch if you watch my dog for an hour,” a man told him before walking into a dirty looking place filled with smoke and laughter. “Can you walk my dog around the block while I make a deposit?” asked an older woman with a long scarf wrapped around her shoulders scrunching a rumpled up five dollar bill into his hand.
And so the boy with the balloons became the boy with the dogs.
I think there will be a part 3 to this story.
This is pretty much as far as I took it, sitting on the beach, by the fire, with a bunch of strangers drinking beer and laughing.
And now I want to do the same basic story but told from the parents, and possibly the man and the woman’s points of view. I’m debating on what happened to the parents. Did they crash on their way to get the infamous surprise? Did the man and the woman spy on them and caused the crash to happen so they could kidnap the little boy? Or did the parents simply walk away from their child abandoning him alone in the park, and the couple happened to walk by him in the dark.
Who is this couple, and what are they up to?