One Thousand Miles

by zahra



i. Metropolis (Take 1)

He was going to have a family all his own. Finally.

That's what the social worker said, and at five Lucas didn't know what relief was, but he knew he felt something. Something nice, because the Harts were good people, and he liked their little girl, Amy. She liked playing in the mud just like him, and she didn't mind when he was loud with his trucks.

Lucas liked the big red fire truck with the white ladder, and he liked the Hart's dog, Rudy.

Most importantly, someone wanted to keep him, and Lucas was going to get to stay in the room with the yellow walls and the army men.

It would be nice, and then next year he would go to the big, brick school down the street and play with the other kids. They were big kids, and sometimes Lucas saw them walking by the window in the living room.

Lucas was excited. The Harts claimed they were excited too. The night before the paperwork was supposed to be finalized, the Harts had a huge party with balloons and a magician for Lucas. The magician did all sorts of card tricks, and Lucas was fascinated.

That night he dreamt of pulling cards out of his ears.

The following morning the adoption fell through.

The Harts were crushed; Lucas even more so.

*

ii. Coast City

Old man Dockens was blind, with a bum knee, and yet, the social services people had been placing kids with him for over forty years. It should have been a lawsuit waiting to happen, but no one ever complained. He kept a house on the beach with a wrap-around rickety porch, and a huge swing that was continually being repaired by kids that used to live with him.

Once upon a time Mr. Dockens was married to a Spanish woman named, Marie, and her picture was all over the house.

It gave Lucas the creeps.

He was eight when he was sent to live with Mr. Dockens in Coast City, and Lucas became one of six other kids already staying there. Two days after Lucas arrived, he got a roommate, a ten year-old boy named Ronnie whose mom had been a crackhead in Gotham.

Ronnie said this as though 'crackhead' was the name of a band, and he showed up with a ratty stuffed bear named Henry and the clothes on his back. Ronnie made noises when he slept, and on his first night he screamed the house down. Lucas had no idea what the fuck to do, and nearly peed himself until Mr. Dockens came clattering into the room a lot faster than any blind man should be able to move.

Mr. Dockens was always a lot faster than anyone gave him credit for.

He used to regularly whap Lucas across the knuckles with his cane when Lucas tried to lift butterscotch candy from the dish before dinner. Mr. Dockens used to say that Lucas breathed too loud, and that's how he always caught him out. Of course he would tell Lucas this in the middle of doing something else, like braiding Nina's hair or reading Shakespeare from the Braille complete works.

Mr. Dockens also bought Lucas his first deck of cards.

In the summer they sat on the porch of the house, and Lucas would play Solitaire while reciting Hamlet back to Mr. Dockens.

*

iii. Metropolis (Take 2)

On his twelfth birthday, Lucas met his father for the first time.

The man said his name was Mr. Gabriel, and he took Lucas out to dinner and gave him a whole series of comic books.

Lucas had never been into Warrior Angel.

He never asked his father why he didn't come to see him before. He had always assumed his parents were dead. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.

It didn't change right away.

*

iv. Metropolis (Take 3)

The Scotts didn't want to adopt Lucas; they just wanted the check that came along with having another body in their apartment.

They already had two other boys.

By thirteen, Lucas was skipping school on a regular basis, but he still managed to pull in spectacular grades. Not that the Scotts were impressed. Lucas' teachers didn't know how he did it, and not a few thought he might have cheated. It didn't matter much to Lucas as long as they didn't mess with his ability to play basketball.

He was the youngest member of the junior varsity team at his middle school. Point guard at that.

Lucas used to practice religiously in the mornings before school, and in the afternoon, after practice, on the court down the block from the apartment complex.

Anything not to be in the house with Mrs. Scott.

She used to sit in the living room all day long, chain-smoking and flicking her press-on nails at anyone who dared to pass between her and her QVC programming.

She left long scratches on Lucas's arm the one time he tried to watch cartoons on Saturday morning.

*

v. Gotham

At fourteen, Lucas started running his first profitable card scam right outside the apartment building where he lived. The Garrens were never home anyway, and when they were, they were too busy fighting with each other to pay attention to what he did.

Not that Lucas really cared.

As long as their domestic unhappiness didn't interrupt his schedule, they could abuse each other as much as they liked.

In addition to the card scam, Lucas regularly played craps down by the docks and went clubbing in Dice Alley. His particular haunt of choice was an Irish pub called The Fox and Grapes, and it was there that he met Mickey Allen.

Mickey was only three years older than Lucas, but between his buzz-cut red hair and the piercing in his ear, he might have been twice as old for all Lucas knew. Mickey introduced him to Sammy, and Sammy turned him on to the backroom card games that ran twice weekly in the kitchen. They were just for fun, but Lucas knew an in where he saw one.

Two days before his fifteenth birthday, Lucas got drunk for the first time. With Mickey. Some things occurred that Lucas may or may not remember, but he woke up the following morning with a tattoo on his right arm. And as he puttered around Mickey's squalid little basement flat, he opened up the Gotham newspaper and found out that Mr. Gabriel was also known as Lionel Luthor.

*

vi. Metropolis (Take 4)

Lucas crashed at Ronnie's place the summer before his sixteenth birthday.

They spent their days sitting on the sofa, eating Corn Pops out the box, and scamming free porn from the cable box next door.

At night they hit the bars and the card games. It was more than enough to make a living, and yet one night Lucas rolled a drunken frat boy for his leather coat. The jacket reminded Lucas of some 50's star that one of his foster mom's had had a crush on, and it was on that same night that Lucas met Ella, a friend of Ronnie's.

She was the first girl Lucas ever really liked.

In the end, however, he just happened to like Ronnie more.

*

vii. Edge City

Lucas graduated from Edge City High School six weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday with a 3.75 grade point average.

It took his foster family, the Richmonds, by surprise. Not Lucas though. His only problem was that he had never been promoted to first string on the varsity basketball team, but the coach said he was too undependable. Coach had said that he never knew if Lucas was going to come to school, let alone to practice.

Plus, it didn't help that Lucas had been suspended for running a craps game in the boys bathroom.

In the end though, it didn't really matter.

Once Lucas had that cheap piece of paper, he made a plan to get out of Dodge. Except that Lucas met Dirk two days after graduation when Lucas was downtown looking at new treads for his motorcycle, another perk of the good life in Gotham.

Dirk was a bit too domestic for Lucas' tastes, but he had a big apartment, and he knew where all the card games took place. Plus, he made his interest rather obvious, so Lucas left the Richmonds and moved in.

It was only temporary though. When he got enough money together, Lucas planned on visiting his father and perhaps settling down.

-finis-



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