If anyone were to ask his father, he would say that Jerry is a wonderful boy. At the same time, if anyone were to ask his mother, and she were sober enough to answer, she would say he was the worst thing that ever happened to her.
It is into this time I would like to introduce you to Jerry. A 9 year old boy, filled with curiosity, which would usually entitle him to a beating at his mother’s hand; and, yet, a bit of timidity, mirroring his father, who often suffered the same fate as Jerry. He had a few friends, but found his peace in the pages of books.
And it is within a book that we find Jerry’s nose this fair, and fateful, morning. Or rather, a book order form. Jerry’s school was having a book sale and Jerry scanned the pages, looking for a new adventure. A new escape. There. Bottom left. Treasure Island. That would be his book, his escape from his reality. And what a deal! $5.00 and it was a hard cover book.
But, where would he get $5?
Jerry rose from his bed, and moved to the door of his bedroom. He could hear his mother’s slurred words, lashing at his father’s face.
“Please, Dear. I have to go to work,” his father whimpered.
There was a sudden loud clap and a hiss of pain. Through the crack of his door, Jerry saw a thin stream of blood on his father’s face. She had turned her wedding ring around, again. No way Jerry would get the money for his book if he had to ask her.
Jerry collapsed back onto his bed. The discussion, as his father would call them, continued beyond his door, but Jerry could only focus on the book. Books were his only relief. His favourite thing in the world. How could he…?
He sat up straight, in perfect timing with the outside door closing. His father had escaped; he was off to work to make sure his mother had money to got her fix. Jerry tensed, fearing he was the next target. Minutes passed. Silence. Nothing happened; his door did not burst open. He rose, and cracked open his door cautiously.
The living room seemed lifeless, even the TV was silent. A glance down the hallway revealed that she wasn’t in the office or bedroom. Jerry crept forward.
He saw the beast. She lay clumsily upon the couch. Her breathing was even and low, the hint of a snore with her inhale. Jerry looked about the room. Sleeping mother. Half empty bottle of Beam. Mother’s toppled purse. And that is where his eyes stopped.
If anyone asked his father, he would say that Jerry was an honest boy. But in this moment, as Jerry pulled a crumpled five dollar bill from his mother’s purse, Jerry crossed a line he had never crossed before.
For the first time in his life, Jerry stole.