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It was a bright, sunny day in August, I remember… Susie had just awakened to find that we were in Grandma and Grandpa Mayhew’s small white house. She immediately started searching for her suitcase, which held her old treasure box of knickknacks she had found in our attic back home. I stood in the doorway, half hidden from view, as Susie rummaged through her suitcase. After a while, we both heard Grandma’s loud, gruff voice coming from downstairs. “Josh, Susie, get down here for vittles; or your Grandpa here will take care of it for you.” We scrambled downstairs, each hoping to be the first one to reach the table. After a breakfast of warm rye bread, homemade oatmeal, and a cold glass of milk to wash it all down, Susie and I ran outside to plan how we would spend the day.
Since Grandpa had already left in his green truck for work (he was an auto mechanic at the Exxon gas station), the yard was clear, so Susie and I could play in it. Suddenly, three shadows darted across the yard and hurried toward the large shed behind the house. It contained old power tools, a cracked, old plastic pool, and several rusty bikes. We exchanged surprised glances and then quietly followed the forms. As soon as we entered the shed, three men suddenly grabbed Susie and me. We both struggled for a while; then, as we realized that we were no match for the strong men, both of us stopped resisting them and let ourselves be led away. The men told us to stay close to them and act casual.
The next thing I knew, we were in an old, abandoned shack, and my sister and I were being tied to the leg of a cot. A short, thin man that I took to be about seventy entered the room and spoke to the leader in a thick New York accent. “So, dem kids are worth, oh, say, mebbe a couple hundred bucks, right? – Just like yous said? Come on, gimme some slack…after all, you boys ain’t give’a me a home, yet, huh?” He had light brown eyes, covered by glasses, which gradually slipped down his crooked nose. As he spoke, he was constantly pausing to run his (minus one finger) left hand through his thick, dirty-blonde hair.
“Yeah, whatever,” the leader replied.
Their conversation dwindled, and Susie and I were left to our thoughts, while the men started a card game. What would happen to Susie and me in the morning? Would we ever see Grandma and Grandpa again? Grandma would know not to call us until dinner. Had they noticed yet that we were gone? After a while the men got tired of their card game and drifted off to sleep. The night passed slowly as the men slept, and Susie and I watched.
When I awoke in the morning, Susie was the only one awake besides me. A few minutes later, the three men who had captured us stretched, yawned, and went outside. Right before they left, though, they yelled, “Hey, Frank, we’ll be back later. Keep an eye on those brats for us.”
Eventually, after he cleaned up the card game, he looked us over and said cautiously, “My name’s Frank. What’s yours?”
Susie warily replied, “I am Susie, and this here is Josh. If you let us go, you’ll be rid of us.”
He thought a little, then hesitated before replying, “I’ll try to figure out something…’don’t get paid much anyhow.” He then turned his back to us, took out a pencil and started scribbling on the wood floor. It wasn’t long before we heard the men approaching. Frank motioned for us to follow him, and he hurried out the back door. Susie and I rushed after him just as the men entered the room. They shouted to each other as they chased us through the fields. Just as they were beginning to gain on us, a strong, able-bodied man approached our three pursuers.
He shouted, “HALT!! You’re on private property! If you don’t stop, I’ll shoot!”
The trio immediately skidded to a stop as they held up their hands. We began to lose sight of them as we reached the outskirts of the neighborhood. We darted into the 7-11 on the corner for a few minutes, to catch our breath, but our thoughts were focused on getting home to Grandma and Grandpa. After resting a bit, we took off toward the Mayhew house.
As the house came into view, Susie and I hurried inside. Frank lagged behind and came in the house cautiously when we motioned for him to follow us. We were relieved to see Grandma and Grandpa sitting in the living room. When we walked in, Grandma was holding a phone to her ear, but when she saw us, she dropped it and ran up to us. Grandma stepped out of her normal, reserved self, ran up, and threw her arms around us with a vise-like grip. I nervously shook her off, but Susie returned the embrace and I noticed that her eyes were getting watery.
We explained what happened, and they related their end of the story to us. Grandma explained that she had just been on the phone with the missing person’s desk of the sheriff’s office. After a while she noticed Frank, and I introduced them to each other. Frank pleaded, “Please, may I stay with you nice folks? After all, I did help save da kids, didn’t I?”
At that moment, a Sheriff’s deputy showed up, following up on Grandma’s phone call. “I am very relieved that the children are unharmed, but I’ll need to take this man in for questioning,” he said in a gruff voice. Frank seemed to have seen this coming, for when the deputy stepped forward to escort him to his car; he refused his outstretched arm and ambled off toward the car by himself. He looked so helpless that I felt compelled to help him. I interrupted their procession towards the sheriff car by saying, “Sir, I know I’m just a kid, and it might not be my place to say, but I must speak on Frank’s behalf…. you see, my sister and I were kidnapped by three men, and in the midst of our trouble, Frank decided to help us escape. And I don’t think that a hero like that should get in trouble just for being a hero. What do you think, Grandma?”
Grandma replied, “ I think that it’s not my opinion that matters. This man is just doing his job, and he knows the best solution to this problem…don’t you, sir?” The deputy seemed relieved that he was finally able to present his solution to the dilemma. He answered, “As a matter of fact, I do, Mrs. Mayhew. I suggest we just go with the original plan; that Mr. Frank here would kindly come with me to the police station. At a later date, he has the choice to testify as a witness against the other men involved in the kidnapping so that he can then be released. Does that sound okay to everyone?”. We all nodded immediately, glad that an end to the current problem what in sight. The deputy also suggested that Frank start searching for a place to live, so that once he was freed, he could have somewhere to go to. The excitement dwindled as the day drew to a close, the deputy and Frank bid us a good night, and we were told to go upstairs and get ready for bed. My sister and I headed toward the stairs and I knew our confrontation with the stranger had ended for the day; but I suspected this would not be our last encounter. For at the Mayhew farm, you never know what will happen.