Finding “A Lady What Has Kids With Her”

read the previous post about landon (below)

Landon took one more look out the window and then sank to his bottom, deflated. He was really, really hoping that Mom was out there now, even though he was really sad at her. He was always sad at her cuz she said stuff that she didn’t do all the time. Like today, how it was posta be fun and then it didn’t. It wasn’t being fun today at all.

He climbed down from the box by the window and looked around the tiny motel room. His mom wasn’t here and he wasn’t supposed to be alone. His heart was beeping big. Maybe he should go find somebody, a big person. What did Gramma always say? When you’re lost find a lady what has kids with her.

He creeped real quiet to the big door that goes outside and listened; it was really quiet. Slowly he turned the handle. It wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be, but the door was kinda heavy. He held on with both hands and pulled as hard as he could, shuffling his tiny feet backwards inch by inch and one by one. He slid in front of the door and onto the sidewalk. The concrete was warm on his toes, the last remnants of yesterday’s heat. It was big and dark outside and spooky quiet; then swoosh-CLICK, the door closed behind him and his heart beep got bigger. But the air smelled fresh and warm; he began to calm. He pressed his back to the door and stood for a moment, catching his breath. He could see the plastic playhouse in the light from the parking lot, and beside it, a big white truck with a giant bucket. And a dump truck! With a giant dirt mountain! I know what thems are for, oh boy!

Forgetting his plight for a moment, Landon pattered across the sidewalk toward the parking lot and the big trucks. His eyes were fixed on the dirt mountain as it beckoned him to play. At a sharp stab to his heel, he jumped back, hopping and then sinking quickly back to safety on the sidewalk . Owie, owie, owie. Tears stung his eyes as he pulled his foot to his lap and groaned. I know it’s blood, I know it’s blood, owie,owie, owie! His eyes moved from the mean gravel parking lot back to the motel building. There were lots of doors now, all the same with chipped blue paint and numbers way up high. His face was sweaty; he was getting hot and the bugs were buzzing him. He liked the crickets, but only in daytime when he could see ’em not just hear ’em. And it was really big dark out here.

The doors; which one was Mom in? Maybe Mom went home to Gramma. Or maybe she went home to Dad. It was hard to pick which home, there were lots of them and they always changed. That’s how come Gramma’s house is where I live. His foot was throbbing now and he knew it had blood but he was scared to look. Hopeless, he began to whimper as he rocked onto his knees and then gently stood, trying his best to be brave.

He hobbled to the closest door and knocked timidly. One, two, three, four. Same as his age. Turning his head, he waited, listening. It was quiet except for the humming box. And his beeping heart. With growing fear, Landon moved on to the next door. Tiny knuckles tapped the door; one, two, three, four. Again, nothing. His sobs consumed him as he ran to the next door. Clenching his fists, he pounded the door, screaming, “Gramma, help me! Gramma! Gramma! I’m SCARED! GRAMMA, PLEASE!

He nearly fell as the door opened to a pair of big hairy legs and plaid boxers. Landon caught his balance with a startled step back, then tilted his head up, his eyes following the boxers past a big bare belly to land on a big gray beard; he froze. Before he could inch away, the big gray beard shifted, revealing a very sleepy face with some very angry eyes. That’s not a lady what has kids with her.

Landon took another step back as the man came toward him, out the door and onto the sidewalk. He watched, paralyzed with fear. As the man quickly realized he’d been awakened by a frightened little boy, his eyes softened and concern took over his face. He bent to one knee, reaching out a tanned and calloused hand. His voice was raspy; in almost a whisper he said, “Hey, hey, hey little dude. It’s okay. You lost? Need some help?”

Landon hesitated and tugged at his pajama top, his shoulders slumping forward. He liked the way the man smelled, like cigarettes and the man soap his Grampa used. And his eyes were nice now; they were shiny bright blue with a twinkle that made it seem like he was laughing even when he wasn’t. But Landon wasn’t sure; his Gramma always said to find a lady. A lady what has kids. He looked from side to side but there was no one else around. He tried to peek past the man to see inside his room; maybe there’s a lady what has kids in there. Exhausted and tired, he burst into tears and slowly backed away.

Before he could run, he was snatched into the crook of an arm, like a tiny car attaching to a crane. Kicking and screaming, Landon began to fight for his life.

Meet “Landon”

He was startled awake by the silence. Spider-Man was over; he always fell asleep before the end. In the creepy sliver of light peeking through the curtains, he knew things didn’t look like they should. And it smelled funny, like when his Grandma left his Paw Patrol tee-shirt in the washing machine too long. His bed made a big squeaky noise when he sat up and he knew that he wasn’t in his bedroom. Panic and fear took over and then his thoughts. Scary thoughts that had no place in the head of a four year old. But they stayed there. Like Nick , the mean kid next door who never seemed to know when to go home.

The bed next to him was empty, the covers bunched into a ball on the floor. His Mom was there before, watching Spider-Man with him. But really she was just playing on her phone. His eyes scanned the room, landing in the corner where the light creeped from under the bathroom door. Untangling from the covers, his little feet hit the floor just as a slamming door outside shook the room. Then voices, loud and laughing, passed by the window, making shadows on the wall as they stumbled into the night. He ran to the window and climbed onto the metal humming box; his Mom said it would make the room cool. Peeking through the curtain, he saw the voices, still loud and laughing, getting into a car. His tummy felt wavy and then calmed a little as he realized his Mom wasn’t one of them. He ran to the bathroom door, peered through the crack. His mom spent a lot of time in the bathroom; he probably should have looked there first. He knew better than to bug her by knocking, but if he could just see that she was in there, then maybe he wouldn’t feel so much like crying. His tummy did the twirly thing again; he could see his clothes were still on the floor and now so were the sweatpants his mom was wearing earlier. Gently, he pushed the door open, knowing he’d be scolded for disturbing her. But he was wrong.

He hated crying and being a sissy, but sometimes being brave was extra hard, especially in a weird place like this. The room at the motel was old and tiny. And now he knew that his mom was nowhere in it.

She was more like his sister, really. Landon was born when she was 21 and still trying to find her way in the world. As a child, she struggled to feel okay, never really measuring up to what other people felt was normal. At 18, her vulnerability didn’t go unnoticed by Landon’s father. She was captivated by his rough good looks and bad-boy attitude. He treated her like an adult, introduced her to adult things. Nothing else mattered when they were together, not even Landon. Living with her parents made it easy for her to come and go; to put off parenting until she was ready. She knew that Landon didn’t really mind; but then again, he had never known anything different.

He climbed back onto the box by the window and pulled the curtains open. There was no one out there now, just the eery yellow lights that tried to brighten the parking lot. The road out front was dark; he couldn’t even see the plastic play house that excited him when the man dropped them off at the motel. 45 minutes was a long car ride, and his legs felt like they needed to run. But his mom was in a hurry and promised he could play there tomorrow. Now he didn’t even want to. He just wanted to go home. He wanted his Grandma. And his cat.

Thoughts of his Grandma made the wavy feeling move from his tummy to his chest and into his throat. Grandma never got angry when he went looking for her at home. Most of the time he didn’t even have to. When he couldn’t sleep, he could call her name and she’d appear almost before her name left his lips. She would curl up in his bed sometimes and stroke his hair, singing quietly in her sweet, soft voice until he drifted off to sleep. Even her smell- like cookie dough and coffee- was comforting. Grandma made him feel safe. The wave left his throat and turned into a noise he didn’t recognize, scaring him even more before he realized it was his. He was crying now, giant heavy sobs that made his tiny body shake. He didn’t care if he was a sissy; he knew this was bad. Even at four, he knew that he had never been all alone, and certainly not in a creepy, smelly place like this.

He took a few deep breaths and wiped his nose on the sleeve of his pajamas. He had to find his Grandma.

Because he was certain that she’d never be able to find him.