Somehow in her 35 years of life, Penelope had never been in a police station before, let alone been given a ride in a cop car. She was disappointed that the officer had not activated his sirens or lights. He wasn’t even speeding. Could he not sense the urgency? This was an emergency. Her baby was missing! Penelope was grateful to the officer; however, as he did not make her sit in the back like a criminal. Penelope was a straight laced goody two shoes, and she wasn’t about to have her reputation thrown into the rumor mill. As she exited the passenger side of the vehicle her body turned into lead.
One foot in front of the other, she told herself.
The officer guided her to the door. She was lucky, she supposed, that she had never required police assistance before. Penelope had always been hard on herself and this time wasn’t any different. Why hadn’t she been more careful! If she had, none of this would have happened. What would her husband think? If anything happened to Sammy, he would never forgive her and neither would she forgive herself.
Once inside, the officer and Penelope walked past the reception window and through a security door. They made their way down a flight of stairs and into a small office. The officer gestured to the empty chair next to a big metallic desk. Penelope took a seat. The chair was hard underneath her, but she deserved to be uncomfortable after what she did.
“Let’s start from the beginning.” The officer said. “How did this happen?”
“Shouldn’t you be out there looking for him? It’s already been three hours. I’ve seen crime shows. If you don’t find him soon, he’ll be lost forever. I should be out there searching!” Penelope sobbed.
“Ma’am, we have our investigators out looking already, but they need more information.” The officer patted her arm. “We’re doing everything we can. Now, please tell me what happened.”
“Tony! We need to call him!”
“We tried ma’am. He didn’t answer, but we’ll keep trying.” The officer said.
“Let’s focus on getting more information for the officers, okay?”
Penelope didn’t want to relive the moment, but she would do anything to get Sammy back. “Here’s what happened.” She began.
Penelope opened her eyes and groaned. Her alarm clock was buzzing. Next to her, her husband stirred, but he made no attempt to rise.
“I’ll put a pot of coffee on. What do you want for breakfast?” She asked, but Tony had fallen back to sleep.
Penelope got out of bed and showered and made her way to the kitchen. The smell of the bacon and eggs sizzling wafted through the air summoning Tony.
“You’re just in time.” She said as she dished him up a plate. “Where’s Sammy?”
“Umm…he’s outside babe, remember?” Tony replied.
“Oh that’s right, silly me. He’s flying his flag again, isn’t he?” She said.
“Shouldn’t he come get some breakfast? He must be hungry with all that playing he does.”
“He’s okay for right now, honey.”
She nodded. “I’m going to go check on him.”
Penelope walked out the door and spotted Sammy at the end of the driveway. “Sammy get back here. You’re too close to the road.”
Sammy didn’t move.
“Sammy!” She yelled.
Again, he didn’t move.
“I’m going to tell your father.” She stormed back into the house.
“What’s wrong?” Tony asked.
“Sammy won’t listen to me. He’s too close to the road.”
“I have to leave for work anyway, so I’ll talk to him.” Tony kissed Penelope, grabbed his keys, and headed out the door.”
“And then I lost track of time. I was sitting eating breakfast, and I don’t know what happened.” Penelope sighed. “The next thing I knew, it was time for me to go to work. When I went out, Sammy wasn’t as close to the road, but the cars were going so fast. I was afraid he’d get hit by a car. I was about to get him when all of a sudden… some guy…he…he… jumped out of his vehicle and grabbed Sammy.”
Penelope laid her head in her arms on the officer’s desk. Tears streamed from her eyes and her chest heaved. “I’m such a terrible mother!”
“No, no, this wasn’t your fault.” The officer tried to console Penelope. “Do you have a picture of Sammy?”
“No, not here I don’t. I forgot to grab one.”
“Okay. We’ll get one later. What was Sammy wearing?”
Penelope picked up her head. “A red baseball cap.”
“Okay, good. What about his shirt? What color was it?”
“Green. He’s such a vibrant boy. He likes to be bright! Oh, and he had a flag!”
“Great. How tall is Sammy?” The officer questioned.
“He’s four feet and four inches.”
“How much does he weigh?”
“I…I don’t know…He’s light for his size, but oh forgive me my brain doesn’t want to work. You should ask Tony. He’ll know. Penelope said.
The officer was confused. He knew how much his kids weighed, give or take a few pounds. Isn’t that something every parent knew? Having your child kidnapped could do weird things to people. Maybe he shouldn’t judge her so harshly. After all, he wasn’t in her shoes.
To not make her feel bad, he switched to the description of the car.
“It was a red-ish, burgundy color.” She answered.
“It was an SUV of some sort, and I think it was a Ford. She continued.
“Did you get a license plate number?” The officer asked.
“Not all of it, no.” She hung her head.
“Just give me what you remember.” The officer prodded.
“It was...AJ…K… Yes, that’s it! I don’t remember the numbers though.”
“That’s okay, that’s a good start.” Do you remember what the kidnapper looked like?”
“I think it was a female, but I don’t remember anything else. I think she was white and wearing jeans.” Penelope responded.
Just then, the officer’s phone rang. He excused himself and went in the hallway to answer the call. Penelope strained to listen, but the officer’s voice was muffled.
“Mmhm. Really? Are you sure? Okay. Yes, thank you. Bye.” The officer ended his call and went back to the office.
“What’s going on?” Did they find him? Please, tell me they found him.” Penelope said.
The officer’s phone rang again. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “Hang on.” He went back into the hall.
When he returned, he informed Penelope that Tony had finally responded, and that he was on his way to the station.
“Oh, Tony. He’s going to be so upset. Earlier, the phone call, did they find my boy? I need to know they found him.”
The officers had found Sammy. They spotted a burgundy Ford Escape with the letters of the license plate matching the description that Penelope had given. The vehicle had been driving north on the highway when the officers pulled it over. The officers had surrounded the vehicle and told the female driver to exit the vehicle. They immediately opened all the doors of the SUV, but they did not find a boy.
“What?” Penelope asked the officer. “No, Sammy is real.”
“I’m afraid he’s not Penelope.” Tony responded as he walked into the office.
“Tony, I don’t understand.” “He’s real Tony. He’s real.”
Tony then stepped aside and revealed a plastic neon green slowdown Sammy sign in the shape of a boy. It was complete with a red flag and baseball cap, and the word slow was written on its base.
“I’m very sorry, officer. I had no idea that this would happen. Ever since we lost our boy, Penelope has personified “Sammy” here, and I just played along because I was too sad and tired not to.
“Given that this was all a misunderstanding, I will not arrest Penelope for false charges, but please make sure she talks to somebody. The officer responded.
With that, Tony thanked the officer and took his wife home promising that he would get her help.