Hero Survival

March 16, 2011
Some people may ask
How could anybody do this,
To a young innocent little girl? Or,
How did her mom not notice?
Well… I suppose I have you guessing
What I am talking about. I am about to tell
You the story of a four year old
girl named Naomi.

She was playing at the park,
With her mother, one
Hot august afternoon.
They always had so
Much fun playing together.
This particular Saturday,
Was the last day the
Sprinkler park would
Be running that summer.
Naomi and her mom
Loved going to the park on that Saturday.

There was this rule.
Nobody was to be in that
Section of the park without a child.
August 16th 1994, somebody
Broke that rule.
He was tall and lengthy.
He wore a pleasant and friendly
Smile upon his face.
He was a plump man, but still healthy.
He had brown hair and wore khaki shorts.
He wore a plaid shirt that buttoned up all the way.
He strutted around in his white tube socks with Velcro sandles.
He fit the description,
Of any ordinary father in the 90’s.
I suppose that is why nobody
questioned his presence at the park.

This man I am telling you about
Does not have any children
Of his own.
Nor was he babysitting.
He was there on a mission.
A mission to snatch a child away,
Without anybody noticing.

Naomi had just finished playing on the slide
That both shocked and burned her legs.
It was very hot. Naomi had sweat rolling down
Her thick rosy sunburned cheeks.
She skipped over to her mom
And asked her mom if she would join
Naomi playing in the sprinklers.
But her mom said no.
Naomi’s mom, Stacy,
Had just started talking to another mom
She had just met.
Naomi was sad her mom
Didn’t want to join her, but
She decided she would have more fun
With kids her own age.
She started off into the sprinklers.

She was having a grand ol’ time,
Laughing and shriking
As she ran through the water.
It was then that the man
Chose his victim.
He started strolling casually towards Naomi.
There were so many other people there.
They had asked Naomi if she was having fun,
Or saying hello as they passed. That is what
Naomi thought when this man stopped right in front of her.
He knelt down to meet her at eye level.
She was taught to be polite to people,
So she said hello to him.
He did not say hello to her.
Instead, he asked her if she was ready to leave.
She didn’t know what to do or think about his question.
He then asked if she wanted a juice box.
Being as young and naive as she,
And any other four year old is, she said yes.
He grabbed her hand, and they started
Towards the snack shack.
Or so she thought.
They took a left just before the concession stand.
Right towards the parking lot.
Naomi started to get a tummy ache.
She started to sweat even more, not even thinking
About the heat. She tried to pull her hand away from his.
He clutched harder.
It was then that she knew something was wrong.

Her thick chubby sunburned cheeks
Began to quiver, and
Her eyes began to well up with tears so much,
That her big bright brown eyes turned into
Big full smudged mud puddles.

She was so scared.
She wondered why this man was taking her.
Where was this man taking her?
Was she going to get to hear her mother’s voice again?
Was she ever going to feel her mother’s
Safe warm arms around her?

Her small tears rolling down
Her face, turned into a cry.
More tears spilled down her cheeks with greater force.
Her chest began to bare more weight.
Her breathing shallowed.
The soft whimpers of a child upset,
Grew into full blown crying
Of a scared hurt child.
The man told her
To shut her mouth.
She was so scared, her
Head started to hurt. Not
Like a headache though.
It felt as though
Her brain was swelling.
She started crying harder. She
Held her head with her one free hand;
Almost as an attempt to keep her
Skull from exploding.

People started to look at Naomi
And the man, Eric. Eric grabbed
Her shoulder with his free hand
And let go of her hand just long enough
To grab her arm. With an effortless
Yank, he pulled her up into his arms.
In both fear of Eric, and pain from
Him squeezing her sun burned arms,
She let out a blood curling shriek.
Even more faces turned to
See what was going on. Eric thought fast
And turned Naomi around so
She was facing him.
He put his left hand on her back,
And placed his forceful right
Hand on the back of her head.
He pushed her head down on
His right shoulder;
Just to appear to be comforting
His crying daughter.
His plan worked and everybody
Went back to what they were doing.

Although she resisted, Naomi’s
Face and Eric’s shoulder began to move towards
Each other. Eric, preoccupied, didn’t think
About the possibility of what Naomi
Might be thinking.
She had been crying, and like any other
Four year old, she could hardly breath.
Her mouth was open slightly, trying
To catch a breath. As her face, came closer
To his shoulder, she knew
She had very little time to act.
Just as her face connected with Eric’s shoulder,
She latched her teeth into
That muscle connecting his shoulder and neck.
Eric, did as most people would do,
And didn’t realize what
He did… He dropped Naomi.
He quickly came to realize he had
Let go of her. She was already running.
Obviously there was no way she could
Outrun a grown man. Eric grabbed her arm
And pulled her back… making her body
Fling backwards.
She hit, kicked, and pulled.
Realizing she wasn’t going to get away,
She started screaming for help.
She pleaded for him to let her go.
A woman that was standing in the parking
Lot, walked over to Naomi and Eric.
She asked him if he was doing okay, and he
Just said it was past her nap time.
He scooped Naomi up in a gentle, fatherly,
Fashion, and told her that
She needed to get home and put
Some lotion on her sun burn, and take a nap
So that she didn’t get sick.
Eric also told her she was being
A very bad girl by
Throwing a temper tantrum.

It took them fifteen minutes to
Do the—typically—five minute walk
To the parking lot. He
Weaved through probably a dozen
Cars, before they finally reached Scott’s.
It was a silver ford van. It was
A complete goober mobile—like most fathers of the 90’s—
It had all tinted windows, two sliding
Back doors and a hatch back, trying to make it look
Somewhat cooler.
He had a little pink baby shoe,
Hanging from the rear view mirror. There
Was also a “soccer dad” sticker on the
Back bumper that Naomi noticed as he put her
Down and walked her around to the other side. Of course
Naomi couldn’t read what the sticker said, at the time, but she
Recognized the picture on it. Plus her dad had the same one
On his car. Seeing that picture made her want to
Get home that much more.
They got to the passenger side of the van,
And he slid the back door open.
She then, knew for sure he was taking her.
Eric picked up Naomi like a parent would with their
Own child and placed her in the, pink, car seat
That he already had in the van.
He lowered the straps of no escape down, over her
Chest, and locked them into place.
He leaned over her, and popped open the blue igloo cooler that was right next to her. As he was rummaging through
The cooler, Naomi noticed some things about him.
He smelled of cedar shavings, the barley juice her daddy wouldn’t share.
And one more thing, a strange and new smell… alfalfa.
She also noticed he was missing a tooth on the left side of his mouth.
Her train of thought was interrupted about that
Time, when he pulled out a Kool-Aid Jammers for her
And a Coke for him to drink. He handed Naomi the clear plastic container
With the delicious blue contents that made her parched
Throat beg for her to open it.
The blue flavor was her favorite, but her mom would
Never buy her those kinds of drinks
Because they had too much sugar in them.
It was impossible for her to remember the fact that
Her future was uncertain.
He then slid the door shut with a slight slam.
He walked around the can, unlocked the door
And climbed in behind the wheel. With
One turn of the wrist, the van roared to life. The lively clank
Of the van revived her dead worries…they were even stronger
Now. A tear rolled down her cheek, as he pulled
Backward out of the parking space. As the
Van started moving toward the parking lot exit,
She started crying harder and harder.
She asked him why he was taking her.
He told her he wanted a cute little girl of his own.
Naomi asked where they were going.
Eric told her they were going to her new home.
She sobbed from the moment he answered the last question,
To the time she fell asleep; which was about an hour.
They left the park at approximately four o clock in the evening;
And it was still light out. When they got to where they were
Going, and she woke up, it was very dark. She had no idea
What time it was or where they were. All she knew
Was she wanted a bubble bath at home, and lay down in her nice warm bed with her fuzzy blankey and listen to a bed time story.
As he pulled down the bumpy road, she realized she needed to pee.
She tried to speak, but her throat was dry. She popped open her untouched Kool-Aid, and took a sip…just enough to wet her pallet.
She tried to speak again, and succeeded that time.
She asked them how long until they were there.
Where ever “there” was.
As he stopped the van, he told her they were almost there.
She was very confused and tired, so she didn’t ask any more
Questions. He killed the rattling engine, and got out of the van.
He walked around to her side, and slid open the door.
Naomi tried to unclip her car seat but learned it was child proof.
He reached in, and unhooked it. She pulled the straps up sleepily,
As he helped. He grabbed her under the arm pits and pulled her up out
Of the car seat, and set her on the ground. Well he didn’t know but Naomi’s
Fear of the dark was much greater than her fear of him.
He was reaching in for a bag of recently purchased clothes, and
Naomi wrapped her arms around Eric’s leg and buried her face into his thigh. He was completely stunned and
Taken by surprise. He grabbed the bag of clothes, and slammed
The van door shut. She asked what they were doing there,
And he said they were almost to her new home.
She had no idea who Eric was, where they were, or what was going to happen next. She was very frightened but accepted the situation.
She grabbed his free hand, and kept mumbling about her mommy and her home. Eric heard her sadness, but didn’t reply.
They started down the bumpy rocky dirt road. They walked for what seemed like hours. She was crying, but quietly so Eric didn’t notice.
Her feet ached, just as her heart did. She was just about to declare
Her hunger, when she saw a little shack with smoke rolling out of the chimney. He looked down and verified her assumption, by telling her this was her new home. She wiped her eyes groggily, and smiled at the thought of a warm fire, and a nice warm bed. She tugged at his hand, and looked up at him with a look, that with out words, asked him to carry her.
That cute little girls look, melted his heart. He picked her up,
And started towards the little shack. They walked for about five minutes before they reached the door. He set Naomi down, and opened up the door.
He put his left hand on her back, letting her walk in first, as he held open the door with his other hand. She walked in, and soon realized all hope of finding a bed for her was lost. That musky smell of alfalfa, on Eric was, at that moment understood. They were going to be living in an old barn,
With alfalfa on the ground. He walked in right behind her, and asked if she knew how to change, or if she would need help.
Her answer was short and witty. She snapped back to him that she knew how to change, she just didn’t have anything to change into. He sat the plastic bag of new clothes on the ground, and told her he had bought her some new pajamas, and they were in there somewhere. She went over to the bag, grabbed her nighty, and asked him where she could change. She then went to the third stall down on the left and changed. She came back and asked where she would be sleeping. Eric turned to his left and pointed at a blanket that was on the ground. It was close enough to the fire to stay warm, but far enough away to still be safe. She laid down, and was surprised to find out just how comfortable it would be to sleep on a bunch of alfalfa. She was comfortable but her face was getting too warm facing the fire so she turned away.
She opened her eyes to see what furry thing just touched her face. Eric had bought her a teddy bear. She took it into a full hug, and cuddled
With it the rest of the night. She woke up the next morning
To the sound of the news on the television she hadn’t noticed the night before. She was laying curled up on the floor still, just listening to the news, and watching the inside of her eye lids…until she heard it.
It was that loud beeping noise…you know the one.
It’s that noise you hear and you know something is wrong.
She sat up, and asked him what was going on.
Eric was sweating, and kept looking out the window.
He didn’t answer her…He just told her to shut up.
She asked him again. This time he answered her with an angry question.
“Kid didn’t you hear what I said!”
Naomi bursted into tears, and gently nodded her head.
He apologized and told her to just lie back down and go to sleep.
She laid down, but did not go back to sleep. She discretely watched the news. It was then that she saw what he was worried about.
Naomi’s anxiousness returned.
It was an amber alert…for Naomi. She figured that out,
Because the news caster was in the park talking about her missing.
The thought passed her mind again, that she will never hear her mom tell her she loves her. That fear was chased away very quick when her mom got on the television. Her mom was talking into the camera.
She asked the person that took Naomi to return her, and to turn themselves in.
And then she told Naomi that she loved her, and missed her.
She promised Naomi that she will be safe in her arms very soon.
Eric told her that her mom was wrong, and she was not going to see her mom again. He told Naomi that she was going to die before that would ever happen. She got very scared, and started to cry.
He told her that if she laid back down, and went to sleep, she would get a surprise. She just laid down, and pretended to sleep.
About an hour later, she heard a familiar noise.
It was the whining of sirens coming down the bumpy dirt road.
Eric looked out the window, and knew there was no way he could escape with Naomi in tow. He told her to stay down, and keep her eyes shut.
He reached down, and grabbed the half burning stick out of the fire,
And lit the alfalfa floor. The whole room went up in flames.
Naomi opened her eyes to see what was happening, and saw the danger.
She looked frantically around for Eric, but saw him no where in sight.
A slow steady strand of tears flowed down her cheek.
She was so shocked at what was happening. she didn’t know what to do.
She looked out the back window, and saw Eric fleeing the scene.
She knew she was on her own to get out of there.
She looked out of the front window, and saw the police closing in on the shack. She got right below the window, and realized she was much too short to be seen. She saw to box that was on the other side of the room.
It was a long shot but she decided to try and move it.
She was so pumped up with adrenaline, that she miraculously moved the box under the window. She leaped up on top of it and screamed for help.
She beat on the window. The cops did not see her.
She thought she was going to die.
In one last attempt, she screamed as loud as she could, and hit the window repeatedly. The cops were staring at the fire for a few moments, before that one cop happened to look at the window.
The sudden shock, excitement, and worry hit his face.
The police man that saw her showed the others.
They started working quickly.
They had fire extinguishers, but they knew they were no match for the treacherous flames.
The other men called for back up, and for the fire trucks and medics.
The first cop that saw her knew—as did the other men—that there would be no way of them to make it in time.
So…he took matters into his own brave hands.
The brave man, Officer Mathew, ran towards the fire.
The other men had no time to reach, and stop him.
Officer Mathew, threw open the door, and ran in.
He had no protective clothing on or oxygen in a tank on his back.
Instead, he had on a bullet proof vest, made of metal.
He didn’t think of the pain he would endure going into that fire unprepared, or that he would be risking his own life.
The only thing he thought of was that little blonde girl needed help.
He ran in, and scooped up the little girls weakening body, and she collapsed into his arms. He knew he didn’t have enough oxygen to make it back out, but he was going to try. He started running back out the door.
He was just to the door frame when one of his lungs collapsed.
The hot metal of his vest, carrying a little girl, running, and the burns he had was just too much for his body to take.
With his last stride, he threw the girl out of the burning shack.
Two of the three officers left, came and picked Naomi up in a hurry because they didn’t know how soon,
The shack would cave in, or if there were any explosives.
The last officer left ran to grab Officer Mathew.
He grabbed one of his singed hands and pulled him out… almost all the way. The shack caved in, and barely missed the cop that was pulling Officer Mathew out of the fire. Once the rubble settled,
Officer Mathew’s limp burnt body was pulled away from the shack.
They just got Naomi and Mathew’s bodies over to the police cars,
When the medics and fire trucks came wheeling down the road.
The fire truck went straight down the road straight to work putting the blaze out. The medics went over to assess the two limp bodies.
They checked the pulses; both victims were alive…barely.
Naomi’s heart rate was dropping fast, and 99% of her body was burned.
Officer Mathew was 95% burned.
The medics knew they were racing against time to save both lives.
They cut loose the rest of Naomi’s existing clothes that were singed to her skin. They gently covered her wounds with a medicated cream,
And wrapped her body with ace bandages.
They laid her fragile body on her gurney and started her on her on fluids, and a monitor. They then turned their attention to Officer Mathew’s stats.
They opened the pocket that held the metal sheet, and pulled it out with tongs. They metal was steaming from the heat and body fluid combining.
They set his singed body on a gurney and set him in the ambulalnce. They locked his gurney into place. They had just shut the door,
When the second ambulance come wheeling down.
They loaded Naomi’s gurney in just as Officer Mathew’s.
The ambulances raced to the hospital. Mathew’s was the first to arrive.
They were just pulling in, as his vitals started to drop.
They strapped an oxygen mask, and started it up.
His stats continued to drop, until his heart finally gave way due to lack of oxygen. They instantly pulled his mask back off if his face,
And started CPR. The medic, climbed on top of Officer Mathew’s gurney, and stradled his body, and continued to do CPR as they wheeled him into the E.R. They continued CPR for ten minutes,
Until they decided he would probably not make it.
They did one more compression, just to finish up that set; and his heart started again. They pulled his oxygen mask back on, and started to address his burns. The medic gave the doctors his vitals, and other information, and left. The doctor started to cut his clothing loose from his crisp skin. There were three other nurses helping the doctor with removing his singed clothing. He was shouting orders at them, to be more careful, and work faster. They had just finished removing the final stitch of clothing when Naomi was wheeled in. The doctor took one glance at the little girls lifeless body, and said she had no chance. The doctor ordered the charge nurse to admit her, and give her medication to kill the pain until she died.
The officer that pulled Mathew out of the shack, and rode in the ambulance to the hospital with her, did not like what the doctor just said.
He got in the doctors face, and told him that she had survived so much already, and Officer Mathew would want to see the little girl that he risked his own life for, when they woke up.
The doctor listened to the cop yell at him for a while, and for once took the order and started to work on Naomi. He started by unwrapping the bandages, to take a look. He knew Naomi was better off dead.
She would have to endure a lifetime of hurt, both emotionally, and physically. He put his own thoughts and opinions aside and started up and Ivey with fluids to hydrate her body, and medication to subside some of the pain. He ordered the C.N.A to give her lifeless body a sponge bath,
To get the cream removed from all her burns.
They got all the cream off he burns, but her wounds were now bleeding.
The doctor came in as soon as the doctor paged him.
He couldn’t believe a four year old hadn’t died yet.
He put a thicker cream on her burns,
And ordered the nurse to give her a slightly higher
Dose of pain medication. He left the room,
And turned his attention to Mathew.
He was coated in a highly medication ointment, and admitted to the Critical Care unit. They were going to put Naomi on the pediatric floor,
But they realized they had no experience with this sort of injury.
Most children would have already died with the severity of her burns.
They decided it would be best if she was put on the C.C.U as well.
She was not only put on the same floor as Mathew, but she was put in the same room as well.
Officer Mathew had been there just two hours, along with Naomi, and he had already accumulated a room full of people.
Naomi hadn’t had one person come in,
Not even her own mom.
Officer Williams was the first to notice, because he was the one that saved Officer Mathew, and hadn’t left Naomi’s side for a moment.
He made a quick phone call to the Chief of police, got Stacy’s number,
And told her that Naomi was found, and she was on the C.C.U floor.
Stacy was so excited she ran out the door, got in her car,
And drove to the hospital—home phone still in hand.
She parked in the first parking spot she found, and ran into the hospital.
She asked which floor it was on, and sprinted up the stairs.
She said Naomi’s full name to the lady at the desk, and the woman said first door to the left. Stacy ran straight into the room,
not even acknowledging the twenty people also in there.
She was completely winded, and tears were flying off her face.
She didn’t wipe her eyes or her face. She walked right over to Naomi’s bed,
And watched her little angel lay there in the safety of the hospital.
She stood there, as still as a statue, not moving an inch,
Or looking away from Naomi, for an hour before Officer Williams took a chair over to her, and helped her set down.
A half hour later, she looked up, and acknowledged the other people—only when Williams asked her if she wanted anything. She said she was fine, and introduced herself. He shook her hand, introduced himself,
The other two officers that helped, and Officer Mathew.
She didn’t understand why he would introduce her to an unconscious man, until he started to tell her the story.
He wasn’t half way through when she broke down crying.
He paused for a moment, not knowing if she wanted him to continue.
She asked him to continue, and she kept glancing up at Naomi and Mathew,
To see if there was sign of change. There was none.
About a month went by, and they were both still unconscious.
The morning of September 20th 1994,
Naomi started to grunt under her breath.
The nurse was just hooking up Mathew’s feeding tube when she heard it.
She went over to see if she was correct and actually heard Naomi.
Naomi had just opened her eyes. The nurse quickly turned out all the lights except for the one by Mathew’s bed, and drew back the curtains.
The nurse pushed on the call light, and waited with her for the doctor to come in. The doctor walked in ten minutes later, to the nurse asking Naomi what her name was. Naomi answered. This time,
Naomi’s mom was called immediately. Luckily Stacy was already on her way for her daily visit. Just as Stacy walked in, her daughter croaked out a hello from her dry harsh throat.
Stacy’s heart melted instantly. She ran to her daughter’s side, and had to
Control herself to not wrap Naomi up in a big hug.
She kept telling Naomi how much she loved her.
The next day, Naomi started to remember who the man was in the bed next to hers, and wanted to tell him thank you.
Her mom recommended that she should draw him pictures to make him feel better. She drew at least one picture everyday.
On October 24th, 1994, the day before Mathew’s 30th birthday,
Naomi’s hero woke up.
Stacy was down in the cafeteria getting ice-cream for Naomi, when it happened. Naomi was dozing in and out of sleep when she heard a cough.
She looked around and nobody was there.
The heard the cough again. She said hello, but
Nobody answered. She said his name. A croaky voice replied that it was him, and asked who she was. She told him her name was Naomi.
She could hear the excitement in his voice.
They asked how each other was feeling, and talked a little bit about that,
Before she set the call light off.
The nurse came in to see what Naomi needed, and Naomi just pointed at the adjoining curtains. The nurse looked, and saw what Naomi knew.
She pulled the curtain back, so Naomi could see her hero’s face.
They started talking like old friends, and
he told her how much he liked her art work.
Her mom walked in, and was so happy and shocked to, not only,
See him awake, but also talking to Naomi.
They both stayed in the hospital until November 30th, when Officer Mathew was released, because she didn’t want him to be alone.
Truth be told, he didn’t want to be alone either.
They both got put in wheel chairs, and set next to each other.
They took one final picture in the hospital together,
Then they were wheeled down to the parking lot.
They both got in their separate vehicals, to go to
Their separate houses.
But they stayed in each others hearts, and lives forever.

Hello, My Name is Naomi.
I am now sixteen years old.
Some people say I am lucky that I survived everything I did.
To me, I am lucky…but only because Officer Mathew came into my life.
I was kidnapped when I was four, but
I was found the next day because he found a van on a back road.
I was burned severely because Eric lit the shack on fire.
I survived that because Eric was brave and risked his own life for a stranger.
We helped each other through our stay in the hospital and doctors appointments.
He is my hero, and I will never be able express to him how much he means to me.

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