The sound of the door slamming, as Robbie had stormed out, reverberated in Hal's head. He sat gripping the picture of him and Bea, holding a smiling, six-week-old Robbie in their arms. It had been the happiest day of their lives, the day they had waited for since their marriage, seventeen years before.
After thirteen years of marriage, not able to have children of their own, the couple agreed to adopt. Four years later, the adoption agency had found the perfect match. And he was. He had Hal's curly, dark hair and inventive qualities, and Bea's sparkling blue eyes, and easy-going personality. In all of Robbie's sixteen years, there had seldom been a cross word exchanged between him and his mom and dad.
So what had happened? What had the flare-up been about, that night three weeks ago?
Hal dropped the photo onto the desk. He gripped the neck of the antique phone that had graced their home since his grandmother had given it to him as a wedding present, lifting the horn-like earpiece and clicking the holder frantically. Oh, why didn't that one important phone call happen? Hal tried his best to recall that night. As he was wont to do when stressed, he scribbled his thoughts down in poetry form:
Where are you, son? Where have you gone? Wherever can you be?
I wake at night and call for you. Please answer, is my plea.
Your mother cries, and so do I. Our hearts are filled with grief.
To have you tell us where you are would bring us such relief.
I still can see the great big smile that spread across my face
when first they placed you in my arms. How you, our home did grace!
Each day you brought the sunshine in. The gloom you did displace.
I well recall your giggles, son, when after you I'd chase.
You were an angel sent from God, to Mother and to me.
You were selected just for us. You filled our hearts with glee.
Your laughter brought our home such joy. You always seemed carefree.
So why then, lad, did you take off? Why did you choose to flee?
Where are you, son? Where have you gone? At least, why don't you phone?
Your dad's not angry you took off. I know you yearned to roam.
I know you had to 'find yourself', be out there on your own.
But son, this is your father's plea: Oh, won't you contact home?
We want to know that you are safe. We love you, our dear son.
We've tried to reach you, but have failed. Please, won't you telephone?
We'd right the wrong if we knew how, if we knew what we've done.
We wonder…was it our fault you ran away from home?
He stopped. Three weeks! Where could Robbie be? He'd not even taken his wallet with him. But he did have money. He'd received several money gifts for his birthday that day…Oh! Maybe that was it! He'd softly suggested that he let his mother bank the money for him. Hal had seen the sudden flush of anger on Robbie's face. He wasn't a little boy any more.
Hal had been reticent to call the police, thinking daily that Robbie would return. It had been just a teen-age flare-up.
Hal was jolted back from his thoughts with the ringing of the telephone:
"Oh Daddy, please forgive me. I've done you a great wrong.
I'm sorry, Dad, I'm here in jail. They said that I could phone.
One call, is all they said I had. One call. Oh, Dad, please come.
They said they would release me, if you would take me home."
Relief exploding inside Hal's head, he smiled. Despite his predicament, Robbie's weak attempt at poetry proved that his keen sense of humour had won over his fear.
"Well, he's not really in trouble," the police officer-friend from church explained. "I saw the lad at a phone booth, trying to fish a quarter out of the slot." He leaned to whisper into Hal's ear. "Said he wanted to phone home. I knew you were worried, so I picked him up. Thought I'd give him a bit of a scare by placing him in a cell for an hour or two." He winked, opening the cell door.
"Mom! Dad!" Bobby flew into the arms of his parents. "Next time I leave home it'll be with your blessing—and I promise: I'll telephone," he added.
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