Rainbow Ranger Rescue
by Rick Beck
It's anywhere, halfway between here and there. Jack Frost is nipping at every nose that pokes itself outside. The days have grown short and then shorter. People are hustling and bustling, going about their business.
There are those who are just getting home from work and from school. There's to be Christmas shopping and then the family is going to pick out the Christmas tree at the lot next to the drug store.
"Father, look! It's just like the ornaments Mama had on her tree. Don't you remember? Let's buy a box. They're only $5.00 a piece. It'll be just like when I was a little girl," the mother said.
The purchases are made. The car is loaded with packages. The tree is tied to the top of the car. Mama, Papa, brother, and sister are exhausted, and hungry, very hungry. What a wonderful day it's been.
Now for a stop by the pizza parlor on the way home for an everything on it pizza and the fun that comes with it for a mere pittance, or maybe stop at the hamburger shop for a bag of burgers and those extra greasy fries to eat at home, and maybe their almost apple pie that's nothing like Mama ever baked.
Richie Vickers can only watch through the windows at the family eating the French fries faster than the girl can load them in the bag. Oh what he wouldn't give to be inside and feel the warmth and smell those French fries, but he'd been told to "Scram, kid," by the manager.
Richie's coat has holes in it. He lost his gloves... somewhere. His shoes were in sad shape. He could feel the rocks on the road, when he didn't watch his step.
He stomps his feet to get the feeling back in them, pulling himself out of the corner of the window where he peaked in at the happy family.
Richie is hungry. Richie is cold. Richie has nowhere to go. He needs a shower. What he wouldn't give for a nice hot bath. He remembered sitting in a hot tub of water and wished he could sit in one now.
The horn blew and the brakes squealed as he forgot to look before stepping into the street.
'Maybe I'd be better off if someone ran over me,' he thought.
Richie remembered being warm and snug in his bed. He remembered a time when he wasn't hungry.
Those memories made him smile. He'd once had a family. Those memories were all that warmed him now. He wasn't going to get a bath. There wasn't going to be any food, and he would only get colder as night set in and the swiftly moving people went home.
Richie imagined one of them would stop and look at him and see past the dirt and the smelly clothes. They'd see a nice boy who needs a meal, who needs to get warm for a few minutes. He didn't take up much room and he was very very quiet.
He knew he could go back to the home but he wouldn't go back. The bigger boys took his food, his blankets, and anything else they wanted off him.
Richie was small for his age. Richie was small. Richie was no match for the bigger boys at the group home. As miserable as he was now, he wouldn't go back there.
He needed to keep moving.
It was getting colder. If he sat down, stopped walking, he was sure he'd freeze on a night as cold as this one.
No he couldn't go back to the home. He'd rather be cold and hungry than to be scared all the time. The hunger did go away in time, for a few minutes anyway. The cold never did. December was a bad month to go on the road.
Why hadn't he slipped away in the summertime. He could have swam in a lake to get clean and wash his clothes there. He could eat wild blackberries and blueberries. Someone might have liked him and taken him in if it was summer and he didn't smell like he smelled.
He never was a very good planner.
Why wasn't he from Los Angeles or Hawaii.
'That would be the ticket. Hula girls and surfer boys and sweet balmy nights and pineapples hanging off the trees, and coconuts. Oh yeah, what I wouldn't give for a coconut with the milk in the middle. How would I get that sucker open. Poor planning is what it was. I should have taken the pineapple.'
Richie was sure he'd like pineapple.
He'd like Hawaii. It was warm in Hawaii.
It was getting later and colder. He stood by the door of a shop at the end of the last block in the small town. He felt the heat when someone went in or came out. It was a restaurant.
"Oh, man, smell that food," he said to himself.
He loved the smell of pizza. That was the ticket.
Richie shoved his hands in his pockets and he began to walk. He was warmer when he kept moving. He'd walked all day yesterday. He was still cold, and hungry, always the hunger biting his stomach.
What town was this? Didn't matter. They were all the same. There would be another town tomorrow and then one the day after that. He didn't remember names all that well.
He'd offer to help a lady put her groceries in the car. He'd help an old lady across a street in the next town. Maybe he could get enough for some of those French fries. That would be the ticket. He'd just smell them for a while before eating them.
The car slowed and the window came down as he walked past the last building in the tiny town. He didn't look but the car stayed beside him. There had been other cars; other men; other offers.
'Ignore him. Ignore him. You know what he wants and I ain't that hungry yet. He'd have the heat on. Maybe just get in for a minute to get warm. No, I won't do that. I'm not that cold.'
He didn't look at the driver or at the open window. He knew what the offer would be. He'd do it when it got really bad. When he was too hungry to resist, too cold to care, but he wasn't that hungry tonight. He wouldn't get into a car with a strange man.
No, he could go a while longer. The hunger wasn't that bad yet.
"Hey, kid," the gruff voice said after two minutes of pacing him.
There were no other cars. There was nowhere to run.
Richie looked so he didn't need to hear that sour voice.
"Want to make some money, kid?"
The man leaned on his arm to look over at the merchandise.
Richie shoved his hands deeper in his pockets and looked away. He didn't want to make any money, not tonight. Men who stopped to offer you money weren't looking to help you. They wanted to help themselves to the only thing of value a kid on the street had, but not tonight.
When you did that, you sold yourself and you sold your soul. He knew that. He'd only do it when he couldn't stand the hunger any longer, and he wasn't that hungry any more.
Richie knew the ways of the world before he left for parts unknown. He'd been on his own before. He knew it wasn't going to be easy before he decided to run. He wished it wasn't so cold was all. He wished he had a little food is all. He wished... he wished. If only wishes came true.
"Who are you?" Richie asked as the bright light shined upon him and an elf size boy, smaller than he was, popped in and out of the bright light.
The light was warm. He stopped not wanting to walk out of the first heat he'd felt for a while. A warm light? How did that work? He hadn't been warm since..., since he didn't remember when. He could fall asleep in that light. It was a wonderful light.
Where'd that elf go? He couldn't find him when he looked into the light.
"Where'd you go, little guy. Did I dream you?"
"Where you going?" a colorfully dressed lad no older than him asked.
He was just there. He wasn't and then he was.
"Don't know! Just going is all," Richie said. "Why is that light so warm?"
"Aren't you cold? We can make it colder if you want. I thought you looked cold, you see. We want you to be whatever way you want to be. Cold? Or stick with warm?" the dodgy lad asked.
"Warm! Warm! I like that. Oh, it's warm," Richie said, holding his hands like he was warming them over a fire. "Would you stand still. You're making me dizzy."
"Thought so. Warm is the best, don't you think? I hate being cold. Don't you?"
"What are you dressed for? You look.... You look like...."
"Me? I'm dressed for you. I like bright lights and bright colors too. Don't you?"
"You a fairy? You look like a fairy," Richie said, wondering where the loudly dressed boy was from.
"We prefer pixies, but yes, we're from the land of enchantment. You could refer to us as fairies."
"Where you say you're from?"
"We're from the land of enchantment. You know, where the flowers are candy, the clouds are marshmallow, and no one is ever hungry or cold, and we never get old."
"Right!" Richie said. "You're nuts. There is no such place. Who dresses like that? Do you have a keeper?"
"You hungry, Richie?" the colorful boy asked.
"How do you know my name? I never told you my name."
"I'm a fairy, remember? It's what fairies do. We know who everyone is, Richie. We know when someone needs us. We came for you, Richie."
"Who are you really?" Richie asked, shaking his head and thinking he must be dreaming or freezing like the little match girl did. She was dreaming about being warm when she froze.
"Thought you'd never ask," the colorful lad said. "Let's hit it, boys. Come on. Come on."
He was quickly joined by three other boys who were all dressed in colorful costumes like the first elf wore. They were all Richie's age and none was bigger than he was.
They took time to form a line, putting there arms over each other's shoulders. Kicking their legs above their heads, one leg at a time of course, they began to sing.
"We are the Rainbow Rescue Rangers. We're here to rescue you."
"We are the Rainbow Rescue Rangers, here to see you get your do."
"We sing, we dance, we prance for you, because we're the Rainbow Rescue Rangers. We've come to warm your heart. We've come to feed you too, because we're the Rainbow Rescue Rangers, and we've come for you," and they all pointed at Richie.
Richie reasoned, 'They got to be real. Who could dream this up?"
"We are the Rainbow Rescue Rangers," the four lads sang. "We've come to take you where no one is too cold or too hot, days never end, and the fun never stops."
"Oh, we're the Rainbow Rescue Rangers and we've come to take you home. We are the Rainbow Rescue Rangers of the enchantment zone, and we want to take you home with us. We want to take you home. We don't have a Cadillac car, so we brought the Rainbow bus," they sang, pointing at the wildly painted bus.
"Who are you really?" asked a giggling Richie.
He hadn't had much to giggle about lately.
Each of the boys pointed at another, speaking all at once, "He's, she's, we're the Rainbow Rescue Rangers and we're here because you wished it was true. We're the Rainbow Rescue Rangers and we're here to rescue you," and the colorfully clad lads pointed at Richie, and this time he believed it was really real.
There are homeless kids in every city and town in America and 40% of all homeless children are LGBTQ kids; our kids. Similar figures exist in all nations in the allegedly civilised 'western world'.
Let's rescue each other this year.
Feed someone over the holidays and all year long. Let's feed each other. We have much to be thankful for.
Not everyone is as lucky as we are.
Peace & Love,
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