Secrets Kept, Lies Told
Secrets Kept, Lies Told
Alexa ran around the
corner and jumped up on a crate, then on top of a dumpster. She hauled
her small frame over the fence and stood up on the other side as the man
chasing her reached the fence.
"You damn whore!
Get back over here!" He hollered.
Alexa smiled, tossing
her long brown curly hair over her shoulder. "Sorry, Lenny, you'll
have to find another source of entertainment for your guests tonight."
She turned and ran out of the alley, turning onto another street of Orlando.
She finally came to rest at another of her hiding places, behind a church.
Lenny and his pals never thought in a million years that Alexa would go
there. But then again, they didn't even call her Alexa, they called
her everything but Alexa. Old girlfriend's name's, whore, slut, ho,
anything in the dictionary except for Alexa. It didn't bother her,
especially since she never let them get their way. If they wanted
her, she always told them that they'd have to call her by her full name,
a name even she didn't know. All she knew was that her first name
was Alexandra, but everyone called her Alexa. She didn't care that
she was a homeless girl, just that she survived. And on the streets
of Orlando, that was pretty hard to do.
you are, girl, come inside and get something to eat."
Alexa looked up and
saw Sherry looking down at her. Alexa stood up, brushing off her
shorts. "Hey, Sherry, how's the food tonight?" She asked the
Sherry smiled and led
Alexa to the back door. "Same as every night. Were you running
from Lenny again? Or Richard?"
"Damn pimps are fast,
let's just put it that way," Alexa said as she followed the woman inside.
Sherry was a woman who ran the 'Help the Homeless' program in Orlando,
a former homeless person herself. She was especially close with Alexa,
she'd found her when she was about four, wandering around the streets of
Orlando. She took care of Alexa, as well as she could on the meager
money she had from her horrible job, and then let Alexa take care of herself
when she wanted to. She knew it was a way of life for Alexa to constantly
be running from people, and didn't stop her. The only problem was,
she didn't know exactly why Alexa ran from everywhere she went. Alexa
didn't have the heart to tell Sherry that she stole from people.
She had to survive
and pick pocketing was still the best way to get money besides prostituting
yourself. Alexa refused to prostitute and often pick pocketed at
least three or four people a day.
"Come on, Alexa, Rudy
will give us free food in the back," a perky voice said. Alexa turned
and saw Lolly standing in front of her. No one knew Lolly's real
name, they just called her Lolly because she liked lolli-pops. Alexa snuck
away from Sherry and snuck into the back with Lolly. The two received
extra rolls and a piece of fruit from the cook, then walked back out and
got on line with everyone else. Alexa took her tray from the woman
behind the counter gratefully and started eating it right then and there.
'Running makes a girl hungry,' she thought, 'very hungry.' She finished
her food before she got to her seat and threw away the tray. She
waved goodbye to Lolly and hurried out the door, starting a banana.
She tossed the peel in a garbage can and heard some screaming. It
wasn't ohmigod-someone's-trying-to-kill-me kind of screaming, but excited
screaming. She crept down the corner and spotted a big crowd in front
of the record store.
'Ooh, lots of people,
lots of people with money. It must be an appearance of some sort,'
Alexa thought. She shrugged off the thought. 'Don't matter,
its money in my pocket instead of theirs.' She snuck over and started
through the crowd, searching for someone who looked like they had a lot
"Sheesh, the crowds
get bigger and bigger everytime," AJ said, looking out the window.
Denise nodded, sighing
to herself. She wasn't as excited to be back in Orlando as the boys,
for some reason.
"What's wrong, Ma?"
AJ asked, sitting in a chair in front of his mother. Denise looked up and
looked at her son. He was a spitting image of his father, with the
hair to match. She smiled and ruffled his hair. "Nothing, hon,
go wave hi, I can't hear anyone," she said jokingly.
AJ laughed and got
up. Denise didn't have to watch him, she knew he had gotten to the
window as the screaming got louder. She looked at her watch, it was
July 14, 1999, 6:35 p.m. In exactly one day, eleven hours, and twenty
minutes, her baby Alexa would turn eighteen. She never had found
out what happened to Alexa, she was kidnapped when she was four days old
and was never seen again. The police found nothing, her ex-husband
knew nothing, and Alex, or AJ as he was now called, never knew about it.
He couldn't remember anything about Alexa or his mother suddenly getting
a round belly. Every year, however, Denise got sad during July, wondering
about her daughter. Her son never made any connection when it happened,
no one did. Denise forced a smile on her face as her son's friends
walked in the room, ready to start their autograph signing. AJ sat
at the end of the table, hamming it up for the camera's as people came
in. Denise's son was a natural at his profession. His profession
as a performer of a group called the Backstreet Boys.
'There,' Alexa thought.
That made three wallets in the last half-hour. She shoved that one
in her pocket, then walked to the side, behind a building corner.
She looked through the wallet, finding about forty-five dollars and a few
credit cards. 'Ooh, an Old Navy card, new clothes!' Alexa thought
excitedly. She shoved everything in her pockets, tossing the wallet
in the garbage can, and then walked back into the crowd. She wanted
to hit one more, and then she would head away from here. 'Spending
too much time in one place could be dangerous,' she thought. 'People
will start to remember my face, and that wouldn't be good.' Alexa
weaved in and out of the crowd, looking for another wealthy-looking person.
She found herself in the record store, on a line to see people. She
spotted the people sitting at the table, but didn't pay much attention
to them. She waited until a security guard had turned away, then
darted forward, heading for the bathrooms. She walked in and, instantly
seeing herself, wondered why no one had really noticed her.
She looked rather dingy, dirt covering
her arms and legs. She washed up quickly, then worked her fingers
through her curls. It never worked the way she wanted it to, but
hey, it was better than nothing. She stepped out of the bathroom
quietly and looked around behind the banner. It was the rest of the
music store, the area closed off for the time being. She snuck back
there, wondering if there were any interesting people to be had.
"Yes, sir, I understand.
Ok, great, we'll see you in a few months. Ok, bye," Denise said,
hanging up her phone. She crossed a name off her list and looked
next to her at one of her son's group's managers. "Well, Jeff, San
Francisco is on the list, once again."
"Great job, Denise,
you always seem to have the touch for getting people to say yes," Jeff
Denise grinned back
and looked back down at her list. She did enjoy her job, as long
as she didn't think about Alexa. She turned her phone back on, dialing
'Sheesh, you'd think
she were super woman or something,' Alexa thought, looking at the woman
from behind. The woman, who's name appeared to be Denise, had just
convinced people to allow those guys to perform wherever it was she just
called. Alexa was amazed, she was a sweet talking woman who got
what she wanted. Alexa liked people
'It's a shame, though,
she's about to lose her wallet,' Alexa thought as she took a thick wallet
out of the purse on the floor. She ducked around a corner and opened
the wallet, then realized it wasn't the woman's. It was some guy's,
but it was loaded. Alexa pulled the fifties and twenties out, stuffing
them in her pocket. She shifted through the cards, looking for something
she could use. There wasn't anything, so she just left them.
She looked at the driver's license, Alexander J. McLean.
'Hmm, he's from Orlando,
like the rest of the world,' Alexa thought. She closed the wallet
and returned it to the woman's purse, then turned to sneak out the back
way. She reached the back door and pushed it open quietly, stepping
out. She closed the door behind her softly, then turned and ran.
"Hey, Ma, do you have
my wallet?" AJ asked as he walked over to Denise.
Denise nodded and reached
behind her, picking up her purse. She pulled her son's wallet out
and handed it to him. AJ opened it and a confused look crossed his
face. "What's wrong, honey?" Denise asked.
"My money is gone!"
AJ exclaimed, showing his mother the empty wallet.
"So is a lot of other
people's. A pickpocket must've came through here, we've had about
three people report missing wallets and money. We found two wallets
in an alley, a third in a garbage can. Whoever it was must've gotten
in here and taken your money," Officer O'Malley said, walking over.
"Damn," AJ said, closing
his wallet. "And I had a lot in there, I went to the bank this morning
to get some because we're going out tonight."
"I'm sorry, sweetie," she said.
"Yeah, sorry, AJ, wish
I could help you. We've had a rash of this lately, it comes around
every year about this time. Its like someone is trying to buy themselves
a new home or something," Officer O'Malley said,
patting AJ on his shoulder. He walked
away, helping the rest of security clear out the building.
"Every year around
this time," Denise repeated aloud. She shrugged off the thought of
Alexa, despite having the strangest feeling that maybe, just maybe, her
baby was alive and trying to survive.