A thief breaks into a luxurious home, but while he is busy stealing the silver, he notices something strange — there are photos of him on the walls.
Even though he’d never let Crazy Johnny know, Dylan was scared. It was the first time he’d be breaking into a house on his own, even though he’d participated in a lot of other jobs back in Atlantic City before he came to Florida.
Like so many street kids and runaways, he’d started hitching south as soon as it got cold. It was his first winter on the streets, but the first harsh November snap told him he didn’t want to be there when the cold teeth of winter ground down. He needed to live, so he ran again, this time south to where it was warm.
So here he was hanging from a tree in the syrupy Miami night, and above him, just a jump away was the half-opened window that would let him into the big house, the house Crazy Johnny called ‘rich pickings.’
Dylan guessed he was lucky. He was slim and quick, and not stupid, and at only 13 he had plenty of years left before he stopped being useful to guys like Crazy Johnny.
There were worse options, Dylan knew. All Crazy Johnny wanted from him was loot. He’d take 70% of whatever the man who bought his merchandise gave him, but Dylan had a safe place to sleep and plenty of food to eat.
And at Crazy Johnny’s there were no freaks like his last foster father. Crazy Johnny looked after his kids and he didn’t hold with drink or drugs either. Dylan wanted to stay with Crazy Johnny, but he had to prove his worth. He had to come out of this house with a valuable stash to earn his place among Crazy Johnny’s kids.
Dylan swung for the window and hung on to the ledge. He hoisted himself over and dropped quietly into the room beyond the open window.
He crouched on the floor for a long moment and listened. There was no sound from the big house. It was empty, just like Crazy Johnny had promised. Dylan moved on silent feet through to the next room.
Even the darkest deed may end in good.
There was a big bed, and a pretty vanity covered in expensive perfumes, but what Dylan was looking for was on the bedside table — a pair of earrings that looked like real gold and diamonds. He slipped them into his pocket.
His mom had earings like these, he remembered, in the happy times before. He remembered his early childhood as a dizzy whirl of laughter, and his pretty glamorous mom in pretty clothes and sparkling jewels.
Then, when he was five, it had all come to an abrupt and shocking end. They had come to fetch him from his school and told him his mommy was dead in an accident. Mom had lots of friends, but no one could find his family.
So he was placed in a group home and then sent to his first foster home. His first foster family was nice, and they even talked about maybe adopting him, but then his foster mom had found out she was pregnant, and he was sent back to the group home.
After that, they’d sent him to the Wests. At first, Dylan thought they were pretty cool. Mr. West took him fishing and taught him to ride a bike, and Mrs. West baked the best cookies.
But then something changed, and Dylan knew what was going on. He’d heard stories from other kids at the group home, so before Mr. West made his move, Dylan packed his backpack and ran away.
So here he was tip-toeing down a staircase in a luxury water-front house in Miami, getting ready to steal some silver from some rich people. “This sure wasn’t what mom would have wanted for me,” Dylan thought bitterly. If mom had lived, maybe they’d be in a house like this.
Dylan looked around the huge sitting room with its giant fireplace — who needed a fireplace in Miami? — and his eye was caught by a photo on the wall.
It showed a smiling lovely woman with long, dark wind-blown hair, holding a toddler in her arms. The toddler was wearing a Giants hat and holding a dirty green dinosaur in his arms.
Dylan KNEW that dirty dinosaur, he knew that kid, and the pretty woman with dark hair. It was his favorite toy when he was a tiny baby, that woman was his mom, and HE was that kid!
The bag he was holding with the things he’d taken from upstairs fell to the ground with a loud clank. He noticed a second photo, also his mom, also him, just a little bit older. There were a dozen photos.
His childhood up until his fifth year was spread across these walls. “What is this?” he heard himself gasp. Then there was a soft sound from behind him and he spun around.
A tall elegant lady stood there staring at him, holding her purse. “Who are you?” he asked her. “What is this?”
“Well, young man,” the woman said calmly. “I’m the owner of this house, which is where we happen to be standing. Who are YOU, and what are you doing here?”
Dylan was still trying to deal with the photos on the walls. “This…These photos…Where did you get these photos?”
“They are mine. These are photos of my daughter and my grandson,” the woman said softly. “My daughter passed away, and my grandson…vanished.”
“That’s me!” Dylan gasped. “That’s my mom and that’s Holobolo and that’s me.”
“How did you know the dinosaur’s name?” the woman asked, stepping forward and grabbing Dylan’s arm, “How did you know?”
“It was MY dinosaur!” Dylan cried. “It was mine so of course I know its name!”
The woman was holding on to Dylan and staring into his face. “What’s your name? Tell me your name!”
“I’m Dylan,” Dylan said “Dylan Ryan Hardy!” And then the woman was hugging him and crying and kissing him and calling his name over and over again.
“Please,” Dylan said.” Please, who are you? What’s going on?”
“I’m your grandmother, baby,” the woman said. “I’ve been looking for you for years and years…I’m Nana…”
Dylan had broken into his own grandmother’s house. She had been living in the Middle East at the time of his mother’s death. By the time his grandmother had heard of her daughter’s death, Dylan had been deep in the system. No one knew where he was — and when he was finally located, they discovered he’d run away.
Now he was found and home to stay. There would be no more days or nights running from the darkness of the streets and its dangers. Dylan told his grandmother, who was a famous journalist, all about it and she started a foundation to help other children like him.
What can we learn from this story?
Never give up hope, because everything you need may just be around the corner. Dylan ended up finding his family by sheer coincidence — or maybe it was a miracle.
Even the darkest deed may end in good. Dylan broke into that house to steal but ended up finding his grandmother.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a rich man who pretends to be poor to teach his future in-laws a lesson.