When Kareem Granton ran away from his East New York home recently, he spent five days in the wilds of New York City before he was found by a Good Samaritan. Kareem spent nights sleeping on the subway and days, mostly, at Chuck E. Cheese’s. “It was a very big world,” he said of his adventure. “I didn’t think I would probably make it.” He did. (And doctors who checked him out after his return say he’s safe and sound.) Here’s how Kareem describes his journey.
As told to Katie Van Syckle
*This article appeared in the March 24, 2014 issue of New York Magazine
1 of 6
The 2 train goes from Flatbush to Atlantic to Wakefield; that’s the only three stops I know. I was about to get off, but there were strange people in the train station. A guy was on the floor, right next to the tracks. Another guy was selling stuff he stole from stores in his coat. I saw a guy with two werewolf dogs. He looked like a person that wouldn’t have a house—but all fancy. He must have had money, before he was out of his house, and was like, I’m going to buy fancy clothes instead. One dog doo-dooed on the train. He was like, just out. Number two. On the train.
2 of 6
I woke up to a bunch of music playing. This guy had a big stereo, and he was the only one on the car except me. Heavy-metal music. It was mostly screaming. He was a white person—no racism—and he had like a Mohawk. It was like a bluish, greenish, tiger-striped pattern. I got up to open the door and he just bounced and was like, “Nah, dude, you got to stay and rock with me.” And I’m like, What? I was just having a peaceful sleep. It’s seven in the morning, and I’m trying to go to the next car.
3 of 6
At Chuck E. Cheese’s, there were free refills. I ate from salad-bar plates people left behind. To be safe I rinsed them off with soap and water from the bathroom. Kids dropped tokens and I’d pick them up. I banged on the side of out-of-order machines and told the tokens to come out. It was like I had my own ticket machine. I won the jackpot. I won the spinning wheel and I won a hundred tickets. I bought candy with the tickets. Laffy Taffy. A big old handful. So if I needed a little snack, I would just eat one or two of them. After a while my stomach started to hurt.
4 of 6
I saw a food cart, but there was nobody there. It was shish kebabs and hot dogs and sausages sitting stacked, and I was like, I don’t want to steal it, but I’m hungry, so I just took a shish kebab, and I walked across the street. And after that I was eating it, but I was like, Wait, this is raw. And then I was like, Ugh, I can’t eat this. I was coming back to see if the other one was cooked, but when I got there, I saw somebody standing there with a cigarette. He was like, “Hey! I work here. I’m going to call the cops!”
5 of 6
An old lady put a piece of paper, and a dollar in the paper, and put it in my pocket. I didn’t see her, I was asleep, but I felt like I was in a dream—like I was just walking, and she was walking with me, and then she walked me to the next train and put me in a seat. When I woke up I was on the train going to the Bronx and back. The paper said, “There’s Hope.”
6 of 6
Some guy stopped his car in traffic, and people started fighting him. I was like, It’s getting real! It’s awesome, seeing people punch each other in the face. Somebody saw me watching the fight, and he said, “You have to go home.” So I went into the McDonald’s there. When I asked for a cheeseburger, the lady said, “Was you found?” I guess she recognized me. So I’m like, “Uh, yeah?” And she’s like, “This is free because you’re found.” I’m like, “Cool, I just got McDonald’s for free.” Then later, after I really was found, the cop brought me to McDonald’s again.