"I got it!" shouted a tall, dark haired boy of ten ran as fast as his legs could carry him, nearly riding the wind. He had almost reached the chain link fence, and looked to the sky at his goal, squinting through the sun to see a dirty, well used baseball, flying towards him at high speed. His cap fell off from the rush of the wind, and he stopped himself at the fence, holding out a glove. Satisfied with the low, dusty smack the ball made upon hitting the leather, he let out a whoop and cheered.
"I got it! I got it!" His team mates cheered with him from a distance, and the visitor team threw down their gloves, kicking at the infield, disappointed.
The boy let out another whoop, then stopped and slowly lowered his hands, growing serious. Just beyond the fence, a familiar car pulled up and parked. A man came out, trying to smile but actually quite serious. He leaned against the fence with his arms, watching the boy.
"Hey, nice catch."
"Heh. Thanks." The boy smiled again, a little more weakly, and played catch with himself with it.
"We need you to come home." The boy stopped, sobered by the man's tone.
"Why? What's wrong?"
The man sighed, laying a hand on the boy's shoulder.
"She's here again, Luigi."
The boy froze, a look of pain and sadness crossing his face.
Luigi walked into the living room, trying to slow his steps, but also very curious as to why Miss Bishop had come to see him. Upon seeing her, seated in a chair, he put on a smile and showed her the baseball.
"Look what I got! I just opened my glove and in it fell! Shhwooh!" he added sound effects to his cocky attitude, hoping his voice wouldn't crack. Then he saw the rest of his family, sitting as well, looking somber.
"Why's everyone sad?" he asked, already knowing why.
Miss Bishop smiled and stood up. She was a pretty woman, in her late forties, her black skin flawless, as if she had been a model in her past years. "Luigi, I'm sorry, but you have to leave."
"Leave?" he asked. Again? "Why?"
"We've found someone…..he-"
"But I don't want to go!" he said, more loudly this time. "I like the Harris's!"
"I know, dear. But things happen."
"I don't want to go now."
"Luigi, honey. You need to pack," said Mrs. Harris gently.
"I'm not going to pack," he growled, folding his arms. "I'm staying right here."
"Luigi," began Miss Bishop carefully. "We found someone….that looks a lot like you. And a lot like the one we've been looking for."
Luigi faltered. "S-so? People look like people everyday. That doesn't mean-"
"Luigi, he saw the pictures. He knows you." Another pause. "He even cried." Luigi still stood with his arms folded, but his look had softened. "S-s-so?….So what?" he said hoarsely.
"We're almost certain it's your brother."
A cross look covered the boy's face, then it was quickly replaced with confusion. Then shock. So naturally, everyone gasped when Luigi passed out on the floor.
Luigi threw his game ball into his mitt, looking out the smudgy taxi window. He listened to Miss Bishop as she told him all the details of what exactly was going on. He tried to pretend he wasn't listening, but it wasn't hard. He hardly heard any of the words she said.
"He's got dark hair like you. A little tall……course, you may out-grow him as years go on," she tried to laugh.
Finally Luigi spoke. "Where is he?" His voice was barely above a whisper.
"He's got a place n New York City. Brooklyn, actually."
Luigi stared out the window, feeling dejected. New York was a long way from Illinois, he figured, although he had never taken much time to studying maps. He looked down at his bag, at a small pink ribbon tied to the handle. The little Harris girls were so upset when he left-
He ground his teeth, trying to stop his tears, slamming the baseball even harder into his glove. Curiosity got the better of him, however, and he sniffed, clearing his throat.
"What…….what does he do?"
Miss Bishop hesitated. "He's an apprentice."
Home maintenance? he thought. Like, what kind of maintenance? But he didn't want to upset Miss Bishop or himself, so he changed the subject.
"Does he……..is he with…."
"No dear. He isn't married. Lives alone."
Luigi nodded. "And…..what's his name?"
"You said it twice."
"I know. That's his full name. His last name's Mario too."
Luigi frowned, thinking that was strange for someone to have the same name both ways round. Yet he felt a little comforted by the fact that he and his new brother both had Italian names. Miss Bishop had followed Luigi ever since he was found in his lost stroller, and had insisted on him keeping his real name, thinking it could be a link to his past. And it is, Luigi thought.
Still staring out the window, he bit his lip and prepared to ask his next question.
"Why didn't he want me?"
"Oh, honey," she began. "He did want you. He's been looking for you your whole life."
Luigi was startled by this piece of information, and with good reason, too. Miss Bishop continued.
"It's true. He had lost you at the park one day, his heart was broken, and he was too young to be---well, I'll let him tell you."
"No, dear. It's something he just needs to do. You understand, don't you?"
Understand? Understand what? Why he lost me? Why she won't tell me what I want to know? Why she won't give me answers? This isn't fair. It was as if Miss Bishop could read his thoughts. "I know things don't always seem fair, honey. But this will turn out for the better, I just know it."
Yeah, just like you knew it would work out with the Harris's, and the Jemson's, and all the other families I've lived with. Too many to count….too many memories to think about…..
He swallowed as they pulled up to the bus station. Miss Bishop squeezed his hand as they got out. As angry as he was at her right now, he really did appreciate her. She had done so much for him….
"Don't be scared, now. Call me when you get there, I want to make sure you're all right. New York is a dangerous place."
The taxi pulled over, and the window rolled down. The driver was chuckling good-naturedly.
"This ain't a free ride, kid. No need to hitch hike."
Luigi put his thumb down, turning red. "I…I know. I've got money."
The driver motioned hurriedly with his hand. "Come on! We got lotsa traffic, here."
Luigi threw his suitcase in the backseat and sat next to it.
"So," the driver began. "What's a little guy like you doing in this big city?" They were stopped at a red light.
Luigi didn't like being called little; even though he was young, he was tall for his age.
"I'm here…to……..meet someone."
"Oh? Who's that?"
Luigi could only shrug. "I…I don't know."
The driver seemed shocked. "You don't know?"
He nodded. It was the truth after all. Miss Bishop didn't tell him a lot, or at least what he wanted to know.
The driver shook his head. "Well, if I have to drop you off in a bad part of the city, I won't. Where're you off to, anyway?"
"Brooklyn," he said.
"It had better be the good part, kid." Luigi appreciated the driver's concern. Yet he hardly paid attention to the conversation, except when asked for directions.
They had just reached the last street, and the driver looked at the meter. "Almost there kid. Got your money?"
Luigi swallowed, fearing the man would take it all. "Uh huh."
The driver told him the price, and he paid it, glad that he wouldn't have to when they pulled up. But suddenly, Luigi felt very afraid. He wanted to get out of the car now, or a little ways off, and peek in the house to make sure it was ok. But if it wasn't, where else would he go? Miss Bishop was back in Illinois, and so were the Harris's. The taxi wouldn't wait for him, he knew had more customers to shoffer. They made the final turn onto the street his brother lived on…….his brother. Luigi let out his breath, not realizing he had been holding it. The man pulled up to the house wordlessly, as if he knew everything.
The boy didn't get out of the car, but started to panic as a man walked out of the small flat crammed between two larger buildings. He looks just like…..just like me. Luigi couldn't stop the tears leaking out from his eyes. The man just stood and waited. Luigi could hardly bring himself to step out of the car, or even touch the door handle. But, swallowing hard and wiping his face, he did get out, holding his backpack in front of him. The two people just looked at each other.
Finally, Mario walked to him slowly, as if his presence would scare Luigi. Luigi was scared, but only because he looked so….familiar. Just like in my dreams, he thought.
Mario stopped in front of him and managed a small smile. He seemed to be in shock.
The boy just nodded, starting to cry again, and the backpack droppedl from his loose hands. It rolled a little ways on the sidewalk, then stopped behind his feet. His tears fell unchecked. He didn't care for them anymore.
"Uh-huh," he answered, voice wavering. Mario knelt in front of him and hugged him tightly, crying a little himself. Luigi embraced him back, too overcome to speak.
"I'm sorry," Mario finally whispered, his voice muffled, his face buried in Luigi's dark hair. "I'm so sorry. For losing you….I was young, our mama and dad died, I was all you had left…..I was worried sick this whole time….I was too young for it, not responsible--"
Luigi was startled at Mario's honesty and straightfowardness.......and devotion and love. But he managed to answer him. " 's ok," he choked, voice squeaking a little.
Mario grinned at that, smiling gratefully through his tears. Then he held him closer.
"Never again. Never again will I let you go."
...And as they pulled into the drive / a man was waiting there outside / he wiped the worry from his eyes / smiled and took his hand....and he said / "I'm the man who looks like you / who cried because I never knew / about the boy in pictures that they showed me / Forever in my younger days / I knew I made a few mistakes / but I swear I would have been there had I known it / Never again will you ever be alone / Son welcome to your home in Oklahoma."
~Billy Gilman, Oklahoma
**Author's Note: *sigh*....that song makes me cry. Well, not anymore. Obviously, they are nowhere near Oklahoma......but it's part of the song. Kapeesh? Sorry the title is not very good. Alrighty then. Do your duty to your fellow writers.....review. *bats eyes* ^_^ **