Hello once again to the end of the second week of this journey. It’s almost half way there, actually, and man has it been good. I think I’ll keep this pace for a bit, leave it to exploring more of Lorna’s character before heading back into other territory, or at least that’s’ what I have in mind. I really do enjoy writing Lorna’s character, she’s been such a fun character to play around with, and I’ve been really stretching the boundary about who the main character of this story really is, but rest assured, Ryan is still going strong. His norm hasn’t ended, it’s just not been shown. This story really is a combination of Lorna’s experience and Ryan’s. Word count: 27,030. Here you go, chapter 14 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
“Bang.” Lorna turned towards the familiar yet nostalgic voice of the young man who stood before her. He was quite tall, taller than Lorna. He had dark blonde hair that was slicked back, and wore sunglasses despite the fact that the sky was grayed. His build was slim, and it was made more apparent with the loose casual clothing that he had on. Lorna knew the person who stood in front of her, which made it less strange for her to see that he had two fingers pointed out at her like a gun.
“Glad to see you’re doing well, Shooter.”
“Glad to see you still up and at it. How many you have now?” The man named Shooter spoke in a very casual tone. His words rolled off with great ease, and it was evident that speaking was very natural to him. Lorna also managed to catch onto the subtle smugness that came with his words, although, she knew he had no real harm.
“Nine. Well….. Eight.”
“Nine, or eight? You’re as mysterious as always, aren’t you.”
“We’ve got a weird case, that’s for sure. But what about you? You left because you had something to purse.”
“I left because I wanted to leave.”
“Because they were still after you. And you needed to fly?”
“Even despite that. I just….. Needed to go. Couldn’t stay with you any longer. It’d be bad, people would talk, you know.” Shooter played off the serious topic with a poorly tasted joke, which to Lorna, was exactly that.
“People wouldn’t talk. They would yell,” Lorna answered back with a devilish tone.
“Do you know what they would yell?” Shooter said, trying to play the attack back at her.
“They would yell slander. A dirty old man’s got his hands on a young beautiful girl. That’s a real crime.” Lorna showed great conceit, and knew exactly what she wanted to say.
“Except the former’s a lie.” Shooter was indeed no old man, Lorna thought.
“So the latter’s true?” Lorna had known that Shooter would fall for it.
“Can’t argue with that.”
“So you stayed for little old me. But because I was too glaring and too shining for you, you had to leave? You had to pursue gems that were less bright, and less prominent as one such as myself?” Lorna was simply rambling on, but she had fun. That was all that mattered, and it showed as Shooter simply folded, “You caught me. Whatever will I do?” Shooter said with sarcasm as he pulled his arms out in the air. It was mindless fun and mindless harm, but Lorna knew exactly why Shooter had left the orphanage. It was a topic that despite Shooter’s attitude, would still make him sour. Lorna didn’t want to poke fun at him for his own problems, but wanted both of them to laugh along and poke fun at the world.
“So anything interesting happen? Explore the world? Meet girls? Get shot?” The truth was that Lorna was happy to see Shooter again. Back when Lorna was still rallying up her gang of misfits, Shooter was among the first. Despite this, Shooter still doesn’t know much of Lorna, and that was because Lorna was still in a very contained space. She still acted very bubbly, and very playful, but never really hammered down her serious attitude. It was only Ryan that she really did that. An oddity, she thought. An oddity brings about more oddities. That’s the nature of an apparition.
“What was that last one?”
“Explore the world?” Lorna feigned ignorance to her desire of knowing whether Shooter had been shot in his journey.
“Yes. No. No. No.” Shooter answered seemingly to have heard every point of Lorna’s question.
“Tell me about it.”
“You wouldn’t believe it.”
“I found another one.” Shooter made sure that he had thoroughly emphasized the word ‘one’. It took Lorna a brief moment to decipher Shooters meaning, but she had completely understood his statement. Shooter gave himself a prideful smile, but Lorna remained indifferent.
“Where was it?”
“Two towns away from here. Milling. It’s well hidden. Well supplied. And well on its way of being shut down.”
“How did you find it?”
“A stroke of bad luck.”
“Bad luck?” Shooter took off his sunglasses, and peered off into the grayed sky. The clouds moved methodological, and if Lorna was hungry, it was sure to make her fall asleep, she thought.
“Some things aren’t meant to be. You know this.”
“Right. Right.” Shooter handed his sunglasses to Lorna, who accepted them with caution. Shooter then reached over to the back of his pants and produced a small note. Lorna could tell that it was written in relative time, and that it was well kept by Shooter. Shooter opened the note, and handed it to Lorna.
“Melbourne. Hansway. Northern.” Lorna read the note out loud, and knew exactly what Shooter had written on it. She handed him his sunglasses and the note, while lowering her tone.
“Orphanages that have been shut down?”
“Yeah. Milling’s the next one on the list. I’ll give it a few more weeks, but I don’t think it has much time left.”
“You’re monitoring it?”
“I’m a satellite. I shadow these places because I want to. I get to know the people. I write down notes about the children there. And once it’s time, I leave.”
“But you only leave, if it’s convenient for you?”
“If you put it that way. Then I’m the worst kind of person there is.” Shooter’s tone didn’t falter, but Lorna knew that even he had trouble speaking about the topic. Lorna was fairly underground in the realm of criminal institutions, but she did understand more than the average person. From Lorna’s gathering with Amanda, she knew that underground orphanages in other towns have been popping up, and many of them have been getting shut down by officials. The amount of labor being put into the force has increased, and many old veterans are being reassigned to deal with this arising issue. What Shooter had just shown Lorna, wasn’t just a hit list of orphanages, it was his list of past homes. Shooter was very much a wanderer, as he was a journalist. Lorna understood that what Shooter was doing, wasn’t just couch-hoping, but he was tracking down history.
“Do you feel obliged to keep history, because I found you?” Lorna was very direct with her question, and looked straight into Shooter’s darkened eyes.
“It’s better than what I was doing before, I tell you that. This way, I can make sure that I remember all of them. You know. These people aren’t lonely for the sake of it, but…..” Shooter paused, and thought about his words. It was clear that he was at odds with his past, but Shooter had determination, Lorna thought. He could see what he wanted to do, and do it. He was the type of person to channel tunnel vision, and plow through everything in his way, Lorna concluded.
“But, these people are lonely, because they are afraid of not being remembered. These children, these students, and these workers, are all just small. They don’t think that their names, and what they do, are important.”
“So you help them out. You give them a sense of belonging. You write. Write?” Lorna finished, much to Shooter’s approval, as it was completely true.
“I make sure that they know that their lives mattered. I remember every since name, and I remember every since day. I write about it in hopes of showing them, and in hopes of showing other people, so that their stories will never be forgotten.”
“You’ve changed, Shooter. You’ve changed.”
“I have changed. I’ll admit that. I’ve changed, and it’s pathetic.” Shooter spoke with a bitter aftertaste
“I do this, because I need to, Lorna. I’ve done things that I regret.”
“Haven’t we all, Shooter?” Lorna knew it all too well, the things that she has done, and the things that she hasn’t done, has all came to haunt her in the present. Lorna wants to do whatever she can to amend those mistakes, but she knows that it isn’t that simple. Her starting of the orphanage is her atonement, and even then, she knows it’s all for naught. The orphanage has become her life, and her life is fundamentally broken. Lorna knows that Shooter has done things that he would rather not remember. And much like Lorna, she would rather not see him do these things because of those past trifles. Lorna does what she does now because that’s what she enjoys. It’s become her norm. She doesn’t want it to become a sinful reprieve. That’s far from the point, Lorna concluded.
“We have, Lorna. We’ve all done things we regret–”
“So don’t let this be one of them,” Lorna quickly added. Lorna’s tone was serious, and she didn’t look away from Shooter for even a second. Shooter could barely stand the cold stare of Lorna, but stood his ground, trying to read and trying to understand Lorna’s point.
“Don’t let it eat at you, Shooter. You’re doing this, because you want to.” Lorna waited for Shooter before continuing.
“You’re helping these people find their own happiness. You’re helping these people have hope even after their home is shut down. You’re doing this, because you’re you, Shooter. Not because of anything else.” Shooter didn’t respond, but Lorna could tell that he wanted to cry. He wanted to cry, and he wanted to scream out. But all he did, was put on his sunglasses, and turn away from Lorna. Lorna smiled at his notion, and patted him on the back.
“These children, wherever they may be after this, will be happy. They won’t be forgotten. It’s because of you Shooter. Have pride. And keep shooting. Keep shooting.” Shooter laughed at Lorna’s horrible play-on-words, but it seemed to have lightened his mood.
“You named me Shooter just so you could say that to me, didn’t you.” Shooter said with his recovered casual tone.
“Don’t count on it. I named you that because I named you that. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
“You never did tell us how you named us.”
“I haven’t?” Lorna mockingly replied.
“No, you haven’t. Sleight, Wolf, Tinder. We’ve all been wondering. Even after we’ve left, it’s still on our minds.”
“Hah! Still on your minds? That’s good. Good.”
“It is. It means that you still recognize me. It means that you still recognize the times we’ve spent together.”
“I don’t think we’ll ever forget about the times we spent together, and about the lives you gave us. We’ll always be in your debt, Lorna.” Lorna smiled, and her tone and expression changed back to her usual playful bantering. She smiled brightly, and her breathing accelerated with energy.
“It’s been good, Shooter. It’s been really good, seeing you, and seeing you doing well. You’ve become a decent human being,” Lorna jokingly said the last part of her sentence.
“Well, I’ll make sure I continue to be a decent human being. And if I see the others, I’ll be sure to tell them you’re doing well too.”
“Yeah. For sure, if they’re around, tell them to visit. It’ll be nice. And maybe they can even meet the new kids. ”
“Maybe I should visit,” Shooter suavely suggested.
“But you have places to go, and people to see, don’t you.” Shooter smiled at her statement.
“What I wanted to hear was your pleading for me to come visit,” Lorna smiled back.
“But I’ll take it. I’ll catch you later.” Shooter turned and began walking towards the bridge. Lorna didn’t need to see his face, to know what kind of expression and to know how he was feeling. Lorna gave off one last remark before he had made too much distance, “Stay safe. Stay safe.” Shooter waved back in response, and gave off his own words of grace, “Make sure you’re not on my list.” As Shooter left Lorna’s field of view, she smiled. She smiled, and ran. She ran back towards the orphanage, with her golden hair flowing reverently behind her. She ran, and ran, and didn’t stop until she made it. Lorna was feeling extremely elated, and didn’t want that feeling to end. She wanted to see the rest of the children, she wanted to spend time with them. She wanted to make memories, and she wanted them to grow up knowing that their lives mattered. She wanted to use the limited time she had to make it all worthwhile. Lorna was relieved. But most of all, she was happy. The happiest she’s been in a while.