Thursday, September 8, 2011

NEWLY PENNED**********MISSING**********






September 8, 2011



My mother’s voice bounced off all the walls along with the panic in her tone.

I’m a baby, little more than newborn actually. Surprised I understand the drama about to play out around me?

Me too! Are babies supposed to have such a great understanding of the words spoken within their hearing?

Somehow I doubt it, or adults would not speak some of the ridiculous words they burble around us.

I’m a total of seven and a half months old…almost eight…which means its July. The sun outside is breathtakingly bright, the thermometer’s red line is way up near numbers I think I don’t want to contemplate, and now the word “MISSING” is being screeched with such nerve scraping intensity, who among us, even a little thing like me, can sleep?

Stretching my ears, I catch words here and there. “Missing” “Checked” “Looked” “Everywhere” “Hiding” “Police” “Hurry”

Loud wailing…my mother’s? A litany of cursing…my father’s? What’s he doing home? Mom won’t like that. Dad’s I have learned are not to be around during the work day and on non-work days they are to be outside raking leaves, or trimming the lawn, painstakingly, with something called tweezers.

I am the third child in our household, although I doubt my eldest brother Rob at the ripe age of nine considers himself a child, but Mom and Dad do, so Rob’s a child, like it or not.

Missing…it’s my only a tad bit older than me brother, Dan, four going on forty miles an hour, who’s missing.

Mom yelled for Rob, fully expecting Dan’s adventure to be something he instigated…and with justification. How long ago was it Dan had trudged after Rob up the water tower ladder just beyond the edge of the property, for an unscheduled swim? Lordy my ears are still burning from the dressing down Rob got over that…and not just from Dad. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mom’s voice sound so enraged and I sure hope she never uses that voice on me. Mother’s are supposed to sound all coo-ey and nice, not like they want to kill you while you sleep.

Okay, that probably is a little unfair. I’m sure Mom didn’t really want to kill Rob, but did sound awfully mad at him for letting Dan follow him up the tower to take a dunk inside. I can understand Mom’s temper. It’s humiliating when the police see your offspring committing what they call vandalism. The poor cop had to dunk into the tower to drag them out kicking and screaming about the unfairness of it all. My brothers can be drama queens.

Looking like drowned puppies being collar-tugged from the squad car, the police officer arrived on our front porch, eager to hand them over for their dressing down, and let me tell you, it was quite a dressing down! Leaping up and down here in my contained pen of play I saw the hang dogged expression on my brothers’ faces and the grim set of our mother’s mouth. But, compared to the yelling unleashed when Dad got home, Mom’s chastisement sounded calm, cool, and rational.

Did I mention my Dad really knows how to yell?

The last thing my parents would want after the water tower adventure, short of death on the spot, is calling the cops in, but Dan despite turning the house inside out, and every one of the out buildings every which way, remained terrifyingly missing.

Once again I am observing the unfolding drama from my pen of play. I would have loved joining the action, but bars of wood prevented me from sliding my butt to freedom. Still I pulled myself up on my chubby legs, propped my chin on the pen’s rim and watched the entertainment around me unfold.

Mr. Policeman, not the same one from only a few weeks before, stood like a blue sentinel taking copious notes in his leather bound pad.

Had they checked the attic and the basement? Kids, the very young officer explained like sneaking around those dark, forbidden areas.

From my vantage point I could see the cop’s tell-tale ring finger…NAKED ring finger. To my mature eye, he didn’t look much older than Rob, so how many kids did he have?

I pondered this for a minute and decided his parental-type observations probably came from listening to the older cops pontificating wisely in the station house’s locker room between shifts.

The bowl cut beneath his cop-hat made me think his mother still cut his hair. How young can you be and become a cop? Probably older than Rob, who played cop quite convincingly at times, but judging by this guy, whose voice still cracks, not terribly.

Mom screeched yes over and over again, so loudly, my poor little ears were starting to throb. It’s really not fair to make your kids ears bleed, but I suppose if I were the one missing, I’d want Mom’s voice to vibrate out to the rest of the state too.

I tried to think if I wanted Dan to be found. As brothers go, he seemed to be okay most of the time. When my parents had visitors with children, I got to talk to other babies. Some of them ducked whenever their siblings got close. At least Dan didn’t purposely pinch me the way Bonnie Mae’s brother did.

The Fire Company, all volunteers, arrived, and the house’s seams began stretching and groaning. Had the garage attic been searched?

“YES!” Mom roared.

Hanging onto the rim of my pen of play, my ears winced. I wished I had a wad of cotton to stuff in them, or ear plugs. My Mom wears ear plugs at night. I’m not sure whether she’s trying to keep out Dad’s loud snores or mute her own.

When they get to snoring in tandem the chimney begins belching harmony and the water heater thumps out a peculiar bit of percussion. That’s also when the mice living in the walls run. I’ve decided it is our family’s bizarre aria.

I can’t imagine anyone brave enough to turn it into a Broadway play, although sound waves can be used as weapons. Maybe the government should record our aria and ship it over to Korea and put an end to that war.

Along with the fire company the poor cop from the water tower debacle arrived. The first question out of his mouth made Mom lose it completely. Had the tower been checked?

Naturally it had, but poor cop’s superior commanded him to check it out just in case.

A look of such misery spread like a wild fire over the poor cop’s face, I felt sorry for him. He’d never volunteer suggestions again.

The volunteer fire people spread out along with the cops going door-to-door. The neighbors had not seen Dan, but being the responsible adults and dear neighbors they all are, joined the hunt. Soon you could not find an inch of ground not covered by someone searching for the missing child.

Little legs like mine grow weary very quickly, no matter how exciting the world around us might be. Staying awake took all my little-girl energy.

Aunt Betty arrived, a woman almost as a big as our house. She grabbed my Mom, led her to the sofa, forced her down, got out a wee dram of whiskey and forced it down my mother’s throat.

With Aunt Betty now in charge, I knew everything was going to focus on her and Mom wee-dramming it on the sofa.

Plunking down on my well padded bottom, I looked across the room to the couch. As big as Aunt Betty’s legs were, I still had a clear view. Eyes wide, my ears hopping, I began yelling.

No body understands baby-speak. All I could do was continue screaming like I’m sitting in a diaper filled with tacks until anyone came to check out my load.

Adults can be dense, or else they think sitting in a load is not much of an emergency when another child is missing.

I got yelled out. Ordered to shush, but no way was I shushing.

After much pitching at the top of my baby’s howl, Mom finally inched her way over towards me. When she reached in, I scooted back and pointed.

“Stay still,” mom commanded, trying once more to grab me.

I pointed wildly and let my screech level increase.

Mom ignored me once more and reached, lifting me from my pen of play. Realizing Mom meant to cart me upstairs and change my non-poopey pants, I began squirming and yelping one of the few words I knew she would understand. “Down.”

Of course with so many people about the last thing Mom wanted to do involved letting me crawl amongst them…but I had a mission and one I meant to keep.

Normally I am not a tornado on knees, but I poured on the baby-steam flitted across the room caterwauling for all I was worth under the coffee table, where it had been pressed tight against the overstuffed chair.

One swift poke to his nose was all it took.

Dan’s indignant howl made all other sounds stop.

Mom bent down, her face filled with fear one moment changed to relief, and then red-faced embarrassment.

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Dan crawled from his secluded haven, looked around at all the people hovering around, smiled toothily and said…


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