It had been another cold night, but Tommy had been lucky in finding a way into a derelict building so at least he had been able to get under cover and there had been sufficient materials lying around to protect himself from the draught.
Emerging into the sunlight, it was still cold, and he was hungry.
Nothing for it but to beg on the streets and hope someone would drop a few coppers into his hand for a cup of tea and perhaps a bacon roll.
A silver car was parked on the corner at the end of the bridge. Tommy recognised it as it had been there every day for the past week, though he’d never seen the driver.
He had to pass it to get to the High Street, and on looking inside, noticed something on the front seat.
There had been a lot of break ins on Tommy’s patch.
BMWs, Audis and Mercs had their windows smashed to access whatever goodies had been left carelessly visible by the owners. No doubt they were all insured, and the stuff that had been pinched either pawned or passed on to a third party for disposal.
Tommy’s stomach growled. He was so hungry, and hadn’t eaten for two days now.
He went into the public loos, relieved himself and washed up as best he could.
He wet and flattened his hair, rubbed a finger across his teeth and had a drink out of the tap. It tasted musty, but at least it was something in his stomach.
He thought about what he’d seen in the car.
Obviously, it had fallen out of the driver’s pocket, but for Tommy it was a lifeline.
If it was still there when he went back, he’d try his luck.
Hunger and the cold got the better of him. No-one was feeling generous towards a teenager on the street, so he retraced his steps and sure enough, the car was still where he had last seen it.
He peered inside the window.
The twenty pound note was still on the driver’s seat, and a tenner he hadn’t noticed before lay on the floor.
Looking round for a rock or piece of wood to break the glass, he thought about bacon and eggs with all the trimmings washed down with a couple of mugs of tea, and having enough left over to feed him for a few days if he was careful.
He found a large stone and took aim, putting his full weight behind it as it came crashing down on the window. Pushing the broken pieces out of his way, he unlocked the door and leaned in.
‘You’re nicked!’ said a voice as a strong hand clapped him on the shoulder.
In dismay, Tommy looked up at the young policeman about to put him in handcuffs.
It had been a trap, one which Tommy had walked straight into.
But actually he didn’t mind, and started to smile.
‘It’s nothing to smile about Laddie,’ the officer said. ‘Criminal damage and theft are serious crimes you know. I’ve got to take you down to the station.’
Tommy’s smile just got wider.
At least he’d be warm and fed for the night.
I think there is a lot of this right now.
This is so sad, and distressingly true. I’ve heard the term ‘Three hots and a cot,’ and when reading your story can’t blame the poor person.
We’ve got a lot to fix in these broken systems of ours. It seems we’ve got so many questions and not a lot of clever folks supplying answers.