You have been awarded points.
Thank you for !
- Story Listed as: Fiction For Kids
- Theme: Science fiction stories
- Subject: Mystery
- Published: 01/07/2019
Robbin' In The HoodBorn 1947, M, from Oceanside, United States
Robbin’ In The Hood
The first time I stole anything using my powers, I was seven years old. It was my friend Benny’s Darth Vader doll. I say doll, because you couldn’t really call it an action figure. It was too big, and made of a soft, shiny, vinyl-like plastic. If you squeezed its left boot, it made the aqualung-like breathing sounds Darth Vader is so famous for.
Benny and I been hanging out in his bedroom when he showed me the doll, which was why I was probably thinking about his room when I decided I wanted to play with it myself. The next thing I knew, there was a whoosh, and I was lying on a shag rug instead of the hardwood floor of my room where I had been coloring only a moment before.
Staring wide-eyed at the floor where the coloring book had been then at the walls, I realized immediately I was in Benny’s bedroom and not my own. How could this be?
Standing up, I listened for sounds of anyone else inside the apartment. Nothing. I guess I was lucky, because it turned out neither Benny nor his parents were home at that moment. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t freaking out by what had just happened. Or maybe it was because of my age that I accepted it with no problem. But whatever the reason, instead of making a beeline for the door, I put the blue crayon I had been using to color with calmly in the pocket of my jeans then went over to Benny’s toy box and lifted the lid. Spotting his Darth Vader doll on top of the other toys, I snatched it up, and hugged it to my chest.
How was I going to get back to my room, which was two floors above this one, without anyone seeing me, or even worse, without my mother catching me?
I thought for a moment or two then suddenly the answer came to me in a flash … at least, I hoped it was the right answer.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I pictured my room with all my Star Wars and Spiderman posters and all my coloring stuff. The next instant, I heard a soft pop, and felt a slight pull to the side as if a giant vacuum had tried to suck me into its hose. When I opened my eyes, I found myself back in my room, standing next to my bed.
Smiling, I sat down on the floor and began playing with Darth Vader.
Ten minutes later, my mother came into the room to call me for supper.
The moment the door opened, I knew I was in trouble. She knew I didn’t own a Darth Vader doll. She also knew Benny did, because she had been the one running the church raffle when Benny’s father won the toy.
Her soft but sharp brown eyes got kind of squinty as she looked at me and asked in Spanish, “Where did you get that doll?”
What was I going to say? There was no way I was getting out of this one. I knew I was busted.
With a feeling of dread creeping up and over my shoulders like an army of ants, I kept my eyes glued to the floor and shrugged.
“Did Benito give you that toy to play with?” my mother asked.
Again, unable to think of a good excuse, I shook my head while continuing to stare at the floor.
“You took that from Benito, didn’t you?” I heard her say.
Without looking up, I nodded.
That’s when she announced to me in her remarkably calm but authoritative voice, “After supper, you’re coming with me to Benito’s apartment, and you’re going to give him back his doll.”
Although the idea of giving up the toy hurt, I knew I had no choice.
At least, she didn’t ask when and how I had gotten it.
That would come later.
The next time I stole something that way was a couple of months later on a Sunday evening, right after supper. I was in my room sketching, when I heard the sound of a TV commercial seep through my room’s poster-covered walls. The commercial was advertising the new dark chocolate candy bars that Marvel was selling through local comic book stores. I decided right then and there I wanted one.
Putting aside the colored pencil with which I had been drawing, I stood up. In the short while since I’d made my first journey to Benny’s bedroom, I’d been practicing, making other short hops from one part of our building to another. I’d gone from my room to the roof, to the basement then back to my room. It wasn’t easy. I had to really concentrate to form a clear image of the place I wanted to go to before I could hop there. This time, I formed a picture in my mind of the interior of a nearby comic bookstore I knew. With a tiny “whoosh!” I found myself standing in front of a rack of comics. Luckily for me, the store had closed early because it was Sunday.
Forgetting about the possibility that someone might see me, I sauntered over to the front counter by the cash register and grabbed not one, but five of the candy bars then hopped back to my room. My one mistake was in trying to hide the extra four bars inside my underwear drawer.
Of course, my mother found them, but she didn’t say anything. That was the creepy part. All week long, I kept expecting her to “drop the other shoe on my head,” so to speak, but she never did. Instead, when mass was over the following Sunday, she and I stopped outside of St Michael’s to talk to Father Carmel.
The middle-aged priest greeted us with his usual politician-like smile.
“David,” he said in Spanish, “how are you doing?”
“Great,” I replied, also in Spanish, while totally unaware of what was about to happen.
“Bueno, bueno,” he said to me, still smiling then suddenly, his expression changed. “David,” he said, his eyes looking at me as if they were both tired and sad at the same time, “your mother tells me you may have stolen some candy bars.”
Holy, molely, I thought! She told him!
Fear nibbled at my stomach, and I began to feel a little queasy.
Glancing first at my mother then at Father Carmel, I saw that neither of them was smiling, but also neither of them looked particularly mad. They just seemed to be waiting to see if I would admit to my crime.
With my eyes focused on the concrete stairs behind where Father Carmel was standing, I nodded. What else could I do?
“You realize,” I heard Father Carmel’s gentle but firm voice say to me from above, “that stealing is a sin?”
Of course, I knew stealing was a sin. It was one of the Ten Commandments—part of the whole Catholic list of rules and regulations we were supposed to follow.
“So you know what might happen to you if you do it again?” he said.
I looked up at him and nodded. “God might punish me?”
“That’s right,” said Father Carmel, smiling again. “And to keep God from punishing you, what must you do now?”
I thought a moment. “Give back the candy bars?” I replied. I was hoping that was the right answer, even though I knew it was going to be impossible.
“That’s right,” said Father Carmel, nodding.
“But I can’t,” I told him.
He frowned. “Why not?”
“Because, I don’t have them anymore. They’re gone.”
I was sure my mother had thrown away the candy bars the moment she found them. Instead, I heard her say, “I have them.”
Surprised, I looked up at her. The expression on her face had not changed, but, even so, I had a feeling I knew what was coming next.
“When we get home,” she said in her usual calm but firm voice, “I will give you the candy bars, and you and I will go together to give them back to the person or persons you stole them from.”
Hanging my head in shame, I replied, “All right.”
Before we left the front of the church, Father Carmel gave me five Our Fathers and five Hail Mary’s to say for penance, even though I hadn’t received communion yet. That didn’t make any difference. Mom made sure I said them anyway—once before we went to the store, and again before I went to sleep that night.
Of course, being a kid of seven with a super power like teleportation (although, at the time, I didn’t know what to call it), the temptation to use it for personal gain was too great to pass up. That’s why a few weeks later I found myself stealing again, even if it meant I could receive a cosmic spanking. This time, I decided it was more for Benny’s sake than my own.
I was lying in bed in the dark one night thinking about what Benny had said earlier that day.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a real basketball instead of this thing,” he grumbled, his chubby fingers holding the ball we’d been using as if he wanted to throw it away.
Up till then, we’d been shooting hoops with a large rubber ball that was really a dodge ball, and not a regulation basketball.
“We need the real thing,” he said.
“We sure do,” I agreed, as the first thought about stealing one entered my head.
That night, I waited for mom to go to sleep, then slipped out of bed and put on my jeans and a sweatshirt with the hood up. Then standing next to my bed, I formed in my mind the clear image of the interior of the sports store that sat across from our elementary school.
When I got back with the ball, I immediately drew all over it with magic markers to make it look used.
Even though it was all marked up, Benny was ecstatic. “Where did you get it?” he asked, looking at the ball as if it was a bunch of dollar bills he was holding in his hands.
“I found it behind one of the washing machines in our basement,” I told him.
He believed me with no problem, but mom was a little more skeptical. That’s why I told her it was Benny’s. “He’s letting me play with it for a while.”
She looked at me for a long moment, then continued with her laundry. But I couldn’t help but feel she knew I had lied to her, just like other times when I brought home small toys or comic books, and told her that I had found them, or that Benny had leant them to me. She would look at me kind of squinty-eyed and I was sure she knew I was lying.
Then came the day she saw the baseball glove I had stolen. This time, she came straight out and accused me.
“You stole this, didn’t you?” she said grabbing my arm and squeezing it with her tiny but strong fingers. Her grip was so tight, it was like being squeezed by a wrench.
She didn’t appear her usual calm self. I was shocked to see her whole face pinched with anger. “Tell me!” she ordered.
At that moment, I was afraid of my mother. This was not normal for her, that’s why I kept staring at her small, oval face, while her fingers continued to squeeze my arm.
“Ouch!” I squealed, trying to pull free.
“Tell me the truth,” she said again.
Although her fingers didn’t release my arm, her grip did relax a little.
Finally, I knew I had no choice, so I nodded and said yes.
She released me and stepped back. “You’re just like the rest of them,” she said in Spanish, sounding really disappointed.
I knew what she meant by the rest of them—people in our neighborhood who had gotten into trouble with the police. There were a lot of them. We lived in a poor section of the city. Many families had one or more members who had been in trouble for one reason or another—including Benny’s father.
“I’m not like them,” I tried to tell her.
“Yes, you are,” she said, looking at me even more sadly than before.
That’s when I decided to show her my power.
Looking back now, I realize it was crazy, but I was seven at the time. I wasn’t thinking like a grownup. I thought she’d be happy with my ability. Instead, I scared her silly and that’s when the truth came out about my origins.
“You understand what it means to be adopted?” she asked once she had calmed down.
We were in the living room. She was sitting on the couch, having practically collapsed onto it after she saw me disappear then reappear again. I had hopped into my bedroom to drop off the baseball glove then returned to the living room, holding up one of my colored pencils for her to see.
Instead of being excited, her eyes got as big as baseballs and she began making signs of the cross, while mumbling in Spanish a prayer against evil I’d heard other women from our neighborhood chant.
That’s when I began to feel frightened and I pleaded, “Mom, don’t be scared, please!”
Something must have clicked in her head, because her eyes suddenly went soft again and she said to me, “I’m not scared.”
And that’s when she explained about my being adopted.
“But you said dad left before I was born.”
“I know what I said,” she replied, sounding almost like my teacher in school trying to explain something to me, “but this is the truth. I took you in and you are my son—and that’s all you need to worry about.”
Not really, I thought. I had all kinds of questions, for instance, “Does that mean I’m not really Hispanic?” I asked, suddenly feeling as if someone had ripped off one of my arms or legs and tossed it away.
“You might not have been born Hispanic,” she said, “but the moment you came into my life, you became Hispanic—at least in my eyes.”
I couldn’t believe it. I’d always been kind of light-skinned and fair-haired, but I just thought it was normal. But now she was telling me I wasn’t really Hispanic! So if I wasn’t born Hispanic, then what the heck was I?
Suddenly, I heard her say, “We found you outside of St. Michael’s church.”
I looked at her. “Who’s we?”
“Father Carmel and I.”
My eyes got big. “He knows I’m adopted?”
Mom nodded. “Not only does he know, he helped me through the whole process.”
Suddenly, I felt as if I were in an elevator going up and down. But it wasn’t just my stomach that was moving, my whole body felt weird. Then the thought hit me. “You said I was found outside of St. Michael’s.” She nodded. “Does that mean someone just left me there?”
“We found you in a wicker basket.”
“You mean, like Moses?” I said.
She smiled. “Yes, just like Moses.”
I didn’t know whether that made me feel better or not. Because either way you put it, I had been dumped—left on the steps of St. Michael’s like some unwanted toy.
I looked at mom. “Didn’t my other mother want me?” I asked her in Spanish.
Her eyes got all soft again and she replied in Spanish, “I’m sure your mother and father loved you very much.”
“Then why did they leave me there?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’m sure they had a good reason.”
She shrugged again.
I thought what reason could they have for giving me away?
After a moment, I asked her, “Do you think they’ll ever want me back?”
In my mind, I was going back and forth between being afraid they might never want to take me back, and fearing they would, and I’d have to leave my mother.
She looked at me and frowned. “I don’t know,” she said then suddenly stood up. “But now that I’ve told you about your adoption, we have to go see Father Carmel right away.”
My stomach dropped. “Why?”
“Because he has something to give you and I’ve got to show him what you can do.”
The idea of showing my power to Father Carmel scared me. I didn’t know why for sure, except I knew he was going to be angry with me once mom told him about the baseball glove.
What happened next though was not exactly what I had expected.
“David, you must never allow anyone to know what you can do, or see you do it!”
That was Father Carmel speaking. He seemed really determined about this. It was after mom had suggested I demonstrate my ability to him by retrieving a candle from the altar.
Putting aside the baseball glove, which she had insisted I bring with us, I hopped from where we were in the back of the empty chapel to the front. Then after grabbing a candle off the altar, I scoped out a spot in the aisle next to the last row of wooden pews and returned then handed the candle to Father Carmel.
His eyes had gotten as big as mom’s, and that’s when he insisted I never show anyone what I could do.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because,” he said, looking at me very serious like, “if anyone sees you do it, they’ll want you to do it for them, too.”
It didn’t dawn on me right away what he was talking about, which was why I smiled and replied innocently, “What’s so bad about that?”
Father Carmel frowned. “Do you want them to turn you into a thief?” His voice had risen, and I could see the anger in his eyes. I felt my cheeks turning red and I looked down while shaking my head. Of course, it was already too late; I was a thief.
That’s when mom said to him, “Stealing is one of the reasons we’re here.”
Uh, oh, I thought, here it comes! And then she told him about the baseball glove, and about the other things she suspected I had been stealing. Father Carmel looked at me as if I had robbed Heaven itself. But before he could say anything, mom spoke up.
“You don’t have to scold him,” she said, looking at me as if I was a little puppy that had just done a no-no on the rug. “He already knows how sinful he’s been, but that’s not the only reason we’re here. I told him about being adopted and that you have something to give him.”
Father Carmel turned to mom. “You mean the bracelet?” he said.
Mom nodded. “Yes, the bracelet.”
The bracelet was the first real connection I had to my origins. It was also the first thing that got me into trouble. Well, maybe not the first, but it did cause me some problems.
It looked like it was made of the same type of metal as mom’s stainless steel pots and pans she used for cooking. The bracelet’s main part was a flat oval with a triangle etched into its surface, and the number 23 etched into the center of the triangle.
My eyes got big when I saw it. Father Carmel had taken the bracelet out of a narrow, blue, felt-covered jewelry box that he kept in his office. Later, I would wonder why he’d been keeping it in his office at the church instead of mom’s office, especially since she had been the church secretary for years.
“Can I touch it?” I asked him. I was looking at the bracelet like it was some kind of expensive toy.
“Sure,” said Father Carmel. He handed it to me.
I stared at the bracelet’s solid-looking links and oval, while turning it over and over and examining it as if I could find all the answers to my questions etched into its surface.
“Go ahead,” said Father Carmel, “put it on.”
“Will it fit?” I asked him.
“It should,” he replied, “it’s been growing along with you.”
At the moment, I was too busy being fascinated by the bracelet to realize what he had said.
Slipping it on my left arm, I immediately felt a strong buzzing sensation in my wrist.
“Whoa!” I said, yanking off the bracelet and dropping it onto his desk as if it had just bitten me or something.
Father Carmel frowned. “What’s the matter?” he asked.
My face turned red again. “I don’t know,” I said, looking at the bracelet while my heart beat inside my chest as if I’d just been on some scary ride. “It buzzed me,” I told him
“What do you mean, it buzzed you?”
“I felt a buzzing in my arm.”
Father Carmel looked at mom, then the both of them looked at the bracelet.
Then after a moment, Father Carmel said, “Go ahead, try it on again.”
I didn’t want to. The buzzing had really scared me. I shook my head.
“Go ahead,” urged Father Carmel gently. “I’m sure it won’t harm you. After all, it’s yours. You were wearing it when we found you.”
Not sure I believed him about it not harming me, I picked up the bracelet with my thumb and forefinger then began to slip my left hand slowly through its ring of links. As it moved past my fingers, I felt the buzzing begin, but only for a second, then it stopped. When nothing else happened, I pushed it further onto my wrist. It felt perfect; not too tight or too loose.
“It must have been awfully big,” I said to Father Carmel, admiring how it looked on my arm, “if I was wearing this when I was a baby.”
“Not really,” he said.
I looked at him. “Why not?”
“That’s one of the great mysteries surrounding your appearance. When your mother and I found you, you must have been but a couple of weeks old. The bracelet was just a tiny thing back then—no wider than your arm. But over the years, it has grown just as you have grown.”
Even at seven years old, I knew that stuff made out of metal didn’t become bigger like people or animals. But instead of being freaked out by the fact that my bracelet had grown along with me, for some reason, it seemed to make me feel kind of special—like maybe my bracelet and I were connected in some way by magic?
“David,” said my mother, interrupting my wonderful thoughts, “no one must ever learn about your bracelet. That’s why I want you to leave it here with Father Carmel.”
Anger rose in me. “That’s not fair!” I said to her, “It’s mine! Why can’t I keep it?”
“Because,” replied Father Carmel gently, “if anyone sees that bracelet, they might ask you about it. And even though you know you’re not supposed to tell them, you might accidentally say something about your adoption, or about what you can do.”
I felt tears form in my eyes. “Please can I keep it?” I begged. “I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
“No,” said Father Carmel shaking his head. “I’ll keep it safe for you right here in my office, the same way I’ve been doing since we found you.”
I kept thinking, there’s got to be a way for me to keep it, but I couldn’t come up with anything, so after a while, I slipped it off my wrist and handed it back to Father Carmel.
Sadly, I watched him put the bracelet back into its blue, felt case then put the case back into the closet where he kept his priest’s robes. After that, he turned to me and said, “Now, about this baseball glove of yours.”
First, he made me give him the glove. Then he said to me, “I’ll bring it back for you.”
That was a relief. At least I wouldn’t have to go with mom and face the people who owned the store, and tell them I had stolen their glove. But then he made me promise never to steal again. “Remember, what you’re promising me,” he said, “means you’re saying the same thing to God.”
An image formed in my mind of me standing in front of God, who was this giant person with a beard and eyes that were staring at me as if I had just done something really, really bad.
I shivered all over.
After making me promise, Father Carmel told mom to make sure I said ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys for penance, as well as suggested that maybe I should also say the Rosary along with her.
“Aw, mom!” I complained. “I don’t have to say all that, do I?” If I did, it would mean I’d have to repeat several Apostle’s Creed, along with a number of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, not to mention the Glory Be, and the Fatima Prayer.
“Yes, you do,” she replied, as she cupped me gently on the back of my head. “It will give you something to think about the next time you’re tempted to steal.”
And it did. I stopped thinking about stealing for a while, and instead, started thinking about my bracelet. I had several questions about it, like where did it come from? Who had given it to me? And why did it grow like a person grows?
Even though I had only seen the bracelet once, the image of its silver oval with the triangle and number 23 etched into its surface stayed on my mind like a tattoo. No matter where I went, or what I was doing, the image of my bracelet followed me around like a lost puppy. I couldn’t get rid of it even when I tried.
Finally, I stopped trying. Instead, I let it take over. I saw myself wearing the bracelet everywhere. I even dreamed about it. Eventually, I decided it was wrong to leave it just sitting in Father Carmel’s office like an old piece of candy. I should have it with me. After all, it was mine, wasn’t it? So why couldn’t I just take it back? It wasn’t like I’d be stealing from anyone. At least that’s what I thought.
Unfortunately, mom didn’t see it that way.
“OK, hand it over,” she said after coming into my room.
I put down the No. 2 pencil I’d been scteching with and looked at her. “Hand what over?” I asked, trying to seem all innocent-like.
“You know what I’m talking about—your bracelet.” I continued to look at her while still trying not to appear guilty.
“Father Carmel told me it was gone from his closet. There’s only one way that could have happened. You must have taken the bracelet out of his office.” She folded her arms in front of her chest and stared at me with accusing eyes. “What did we tell you about stealing?”
“I didn’t steal it!” I protested. “It’s mine.”
“That doesn’t make any difference,” she said, “it’s still stealing.”
I could have tried to argue with her, but before I could think of what else to say, she came over to where I was sitting leaning against my bed, and snatched my sketchpad right out of my hands.
She looked down and saw what I had drawn—the bracelet on my wrist. That’s when she said to me, “Because you took something you weren’t supposed to, even after we warned you, I’m grounding you for two weeks. No TV and no drawing.”
The no drawing part hurt me even more than the no TV. I’d been spending a lot of time trying to draw pictures the way they did in comic books. I thought I was getting really good at it, but now, she was taking that away from me.
“If I can’t watch TV or draw,” I said, “what can I do?”
“You can read your bible more for one thing,” she said. My stomach did a nosedive. “You can also read the books I bring home for you from the library.” Again I felt my insides drop.
We had been through this before. Mom knew I liked reading comic books a lot better than the story books she picked out for me at the library, which was why her bringing me books to read was going to be a real pain.
“What about Benny?” I asked. “Can I still play with him?” I was hoping she’d say yes. He had even more comics than I did.
“Not until the two weeks are up,” she replied.
“Darn it!” I moaned, thinking it was going to be a long two weeks. But not as long and boring as I first thought, because both of us had forgotten, for the moment, that the following Sunday, I was supposed to receive my First Holy Communion. My mother was going to have a party for me afterwards. Some of the people from our neighborhood had been invited, including Father Carmel and Benny.
I got really excited the Saturday before, because mom had agreed to let me wear my bracelet under my white shirt. I could barely sleep that night just thinking about it. I was still thinking about my bracelet, even as the twenty of us receiving communion for the first time walked in two rows down the aisle to the front of the church to receive the wafer (or the body of Christ) on our tongues.
As I approached one of the rows of pews in the middle of the church, I felt a strong, familiar buzzing begin in my wrist. Without thinking about it, I grabbed my shirt where the bracelet was underneath and began rubbing my arm. At the same time, I noticed a girl wearing a blue blazer, and sitting at the end of one of the rows, also rubbing her wrist.
My eyes got really big. Did that mean she had a bracelet, too?
All kinds of thoughts went through my mind as I continued to shuffle with the others toward the front of the church. By the time we had all lined up in a row in front of the altar, the buzzing in my wrist had stopped. I had quit rubbing it by then, too, but I continued looking over my shoulder trying to see if I could spot the girl.
I must have been doing it a long time, because suddenly, I felt a nudge against my left arm. When I turned around, I saw it was the boy standing next to me. He was giving me a “what are you doing look?” Feeling embarrassed, I turned forward again, but the image of that girl rubbing her wrist stayed with me.
After mass, I tried to spot her again, but couldn’t. She wasn’t anywhere around. Disappointed, I walked with mom the three blocks back to our apartment then let the excitement of my First Holy Communion party put her out of my mind for a while
MORE TO FOLLOW