I remember taking refuge in my own body as the police van drove off. I started to shiver again. I kept my head down and was leaning forward a bit as to avoid contact with the side of the van. The handcuffs were bothering me and every touch was painful. I noticed there was some blood on me. On my trousers and shirt. Maybe I had a nosebleed from the rough contact with the concrete pillar or the floor during the arrest. I licked my upper lip, but I could not taste any blood.
Or, was I even arrested? Nothing was explained so far. And I did not dare ask. I was still scared out of my wits.
Six days earlier I ran out of the little money I had on me when I ran away from home. I had no food, no income, no where to go. What was I to do? I tried to beg for money, but I was looking posh, clean and healthy and people would laugh at me or yell at me or just ignore me altogether. That did not work. I did not get anything.
I would walk into parks and find public fountains to drink from. So I had some water. I picked up a left behind paper bag with some chips in it and ate those. But ultimately for four days in a row I did not get any solid food at all. My head hurt. My body hurt. I was feeling weak, I was dizzy and I got desperate.
I hung out at the train station a lot and I saw people flock around this fellow who’s name I caught when other people talked about him, David. He handed out a burger to some hungry chap. I noticed that too. But I wanted to know the price. There is no free ride anywhere. And I was suspicious. Being a seventeen year old girl I could make a hundred percent sure bet on what services I could be expected to trade for anything. Besides that, not only did I see David hand out a burger and some chips to people, he was a drugs dealer too. And I sure as hell did not want to get involved in any of that. I had to get my life in order and my high school to finish as a first priority. Drugs would interfere with that big time. They would interfere with anything big time.
So I studied David for a while from a safe distance to see how he moved, and then I decided he was not the way to go. I would have to find my own way around this place and around him. For better or for worse. I avoided contact with David and with his crew. Just went about my own business.
I looked. That was mainly my business. I was invisible to the normal civilian. That is one of the benefits of being a vagrant. You are invisible. It is the worst part too. But it can be a big benefit. You can sit and watch the world go by. And from where I sat, I silently observed.
I saw these two ladies. Nothing special about them, except one of them was practically advertising her purse. A proper meal in the make. I doubted. Felt immediate shame on the thought alone. Then I got up. Walked up behind the two ladies. Just stretched out my arm, my hand, my fingers… I expected that at any fraction of a second in any part of my movement someone would grab me by my neck and cry out “Thief! I’ve caught myself a thief! Police! I’ve got you this thieving bitch! Come and get her!” But it went very calmly and smoothly. All of a sudden I was holding this wallet in my two shaking and sweaty hands. I was in shock. Realised I had to get away quickly. Turned and walked, reminding myself “Do not run. Be calm. Do not run.” while I hid the wallet away in my trousers.
As I fled the station, I started to run. I cried. For hours I could not handle that wallet I stole. It was sitting there in my trousers and I could not do a thing with it. Then I gave in. I was so fucking hungry. I took out the wallet and opened it. There were pictures. A man, two girls and a boy. An elderly lady. A dog. A lot of little notes from shops and stuff. A voucher for a theatre. A tram subscription. I was too ashamed to look at the name that was printed on that tram subscription. I stole from her. She had to remain anonymous for now.
I found some coins and some bills too. All in all it was a decent sum of money in there and it would get me by for some time. I took the money out and brought the wallet back to the station. Dropped it down in plain sight so it would be found. Hoped for the contents, other than the money, to find its way back to the lady.
I also held on to the tram subscription. I wanted to be able to contact the lady later in life. Write her a letter of apology. Repay her the money I took. Once I got my life in order again. I so much intended for that to happen. Get it all back together and repair all the damages done.
The money, or what was left of it, and the tram subscription were in one of my socks as I was sitting there in that police van. If I was indeed arrested and now taken to a police station where I would be searched, the police would find that money together with that tram subscription. In which case I was caught for the pickpocket I was. Fuck me. I could feel that money and tram subscription just burning on my skin inside that stupid sock. I did not know how to lift up my head out of sheer shame at that time, sitting there in that van, my hands cuffed behind my back. Fuck me.