Frantic Call





Frantic Call


In 1964,  Faith Seagal was preparing lunch for herself while her husband played golf. It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon when she dried her hands and answered the phone call that would forever alter her. The small voice on the other in the line said simply, “I am lost and I can't find my mommy.”

“Where are you now? asked Faith. 

“In a basement,” replied the little girl in a quavering voice. 

“Your basement?” Faith asked, becoming slightly alarmed. 

“No, the man brought me. I want my mom.”

“Where is the man now?” asked Faith as she sank to the floor, her shaking hands twisting the phone cord.

“Upstairs.”

“Do you know this man?” Faith held her breath.

“No.”  was the dreaded answer. 

“What is your name?”

“Susie.”

“How old are you?”

“Six.”

“Susie, hang up the phone and call the operator that's the 0 on the dial, Dear.  Can you see it?”

“Yes.”

“Tell her to call the police. And don’t hang up the phone on the operator”

“OK,” said the girl. “Uh, oh. I can’t. The man just walked into the room.”

 There was a click, then a dial tone. This sound would remain the most haunting sound Faith would hear for the rest of her life. She quickly dialed the operator, explained, asked that the operator call the police. “Send the police now!”  she screamed into the receiver.

Two officers were in her living room as she tearfully was reporting the conversation when Mr. Seagal walked in. He listened to her report, then went over and put his arms around her. She really fell apart then. And so began her litany of  I-should-haves. I should've asked her this. I should've said that.

The police questioned her at length and then departed. The next week was a walking nightmare for Faith. The call could not be traced by the phone company.  Faith called the police station daily for updates. So far, only one little girl was reported missing, but not a Susie. She began to check obituaries each day. No Susie was ever found, although the other little girl was found safe.


Over the ensuing months and years, things gradually got back to a sense of normalcy for Faith, but every once in a while she would be doing something routine and then that heart-stopping feeling of hopeless fear would creep back up her spine, clouding her thinking, and she would have to sit down and breathe deeply until she could recover.

Faith never forgot that phone call. Ever. Even in the deepest throes of dementia, at her advanced age of 92, when most other things were forgotten, including her own name, she remembered Susie's.

Meanwhile, back in 1964, eight-year-old Patsy Cavanaugh and her eight-year-old friends were giddily laughing as they scanned the phonebook for the phone number of their next prank victim.

Linda Imbler is the author of the published poetry collections “Big Questions, Little Sleep,”  “Lost and Found,” and “The Sea’s Secret Song.”  She is a Kansas-based Pushcart Prize Nominee.   Her work has been published in numerous national and international journals.  Linda’s creative process and a listing of publications can be found at lindaspoetryblog.blogspot.com.
 

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