I had been shopping for about two weeks now. I had stopped going to daddy Presley in the mornings; and he never asked why. I stayed and got my shopping assignments and smoked until I left to go shopping. Mr. Leonard had given me instructions on ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ if I get caught.
It was actually a WARNING! “If my name come outcho mowf, I’mma kill you, yo Momma, yo sister and yo little brother, you hear me” he barked! I shook my head ‘yes’ quickly.
But, it was not as easy as Mr. Leonard had said it would be. My heart would be pounding as I walked into the stores with my shopping list. I was supposed to go in like I was the person whose name was on the card; look around like I was shopping and pick up items from my shopping list.
If they asked for my ID, he told me to say “I must have left it in my other purse. Mr. Leonard and Miss Lucinda loved me for it and smoked with me every night when I returned from shopping.
“I need you to go shopping at Sears and Roebuck today” Mr. Leonard said, as he stood over me that morning. I sat up and reached for a cigarette. He passed me a joint. After I finished smoking I went straight for the window, “You ain’t got time for that shit this morning” he said. “Go get ready”.
I took a shower and got dressed. I caught the bus to Sears. I stood outside and smoked a cigarette first; I was extra nervous today, I really did not like shopping! I finished the cigarette and entered the store and started on the list.
I gathered everything, put it in my shopping cart and approached the counter to pay. “How are you paying for this today” the clerk asked? “With a credit card” I answered. She looked at me with a strange look; “Okay” she said as I pulled the credit card out and passed it to her.
“ID” she requested, as she looked at the credit card. I fumbled around in my purse, “I must have left it in my other purse” I said nervously. How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking, she said. I panicked, “25” I stated, I almost messed up and said 16.
“Okay, just one moment please” she said, as she turned and walked to the back center counter, with the card in her hand. She picked up the phone and turned to look at me while she talked.
My ears were pounding; I could not hear anything except the voice telling me… RUN! TURN AROUND AND RUN! But I couldn’t move; I just stood there as she talked on the phone. I watched her mouth the name and information from the card into the phone. RUN! Is screaming in my head!
She just listened… she’s staring at me… no, she’s waiting! LET’S GO! The voice says, but I stand there and watch her; I turned my head in the silence, I saw two policemen charging for me!
“Umph!” I hear myself grunt, as they push my stomach into the counter; while pulling my arms behind me. I looked up at the clerk, who is smirking at me; but I had never felt so relieved as I did at that moment, “Please save me” I thought as I exhaled and rested my head on the counter, as they placed my hands in cuffs.
I felt all eyes on me as they escorted me through the store and out into the squad car outside. They held the back of my head as I slid into the back seat of the car. I stared out the window the whole ride to the police station.
Once there, they took all of my information; and since I was only 16 years old they took me to juvenile court. They booked me and placed me in a holding room. Later an officer came in and asked me a lot of questions. “Where do you live” the officer asked? “Nowhere” I answered. “I don’t have any place to stay”. “Where are your parents” he asked? “At home I guess” was my answer. He asked for and took Momma’s name, address and phone number.
“Did you run away from home” he asked. I started to cry and answered “Yes”. “Where did you get the credit card” he asked. “I found it on Sycene Road” I answered. I knew better than to give him Mr. Leonard’s name or he would have Momma and the rest of my family killed!
I didn’t even know his last name, now that I was thinking about it. I was relieved when the policeman stopped asking me questions; he never asked me why I ran away, he just patted my hand and left out the room.
My nerves were shot! It had been hours and I was crying and I wanted a primo! And to top it all off, some big girl took my lunch in our cell! I paced back and forth thinking about how my life got to this point! I slide down the wall to the floor and cried out to God! “Please Lord save me, take this away”!
I went before the judge; who required I go to a drug rehabilitation program, get counseling and be released to the custody of my parents. My heart raced as they took me back to my cell to begin processing.
Several hours later I heard my name called; I raised my hand. “Follow me” the guard said as he opened the cell to let me out; I followed him down the hallway and into the waiting area, Momma and Corn were standing there; waiting…