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Aug '09

A Boy Named Brian

I have friends who own a beach house in Port Aransas and it stays booked from Spring Break through Labor Day Weekend. Occasionally there will be an opening and we try to take advantage of this time, which happened this past week. I threw together mine and Remy’s beach bags and we headed to the island around 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. There was a wait at the ferry line, but I never mind. At this point, I am on island time. We finally make the ferry and as I am cruising slowly down Cotter Street, I notice a young boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, running in the same direction I am driving, but on the opposite side of the street. And then he darts in front of a suburban and as they slam on their brakes to avoid hitting him I see his face for a moment. In that instant, I realize he is not running for fun, but his face is filled with terror and tears are streaking down his sweaty, red face. Now he is running down the center turn lane and I am slowing down watching this scene unfold. He, again, jumps in front of an oncoming car. They barely miss hitting him as he runs across traffic in front of me. I pull over looking for my cell phone. I realize I am holding ferry traffic on Cotter, but they can all see this drama unfolding as well.

As I move my car to the edge of the road, I am dialing 911. People in the cars behind me are stopping to ask if I am calling the police – “Yes”, I answer. As the 911 dispatcher is answering, I see an elderly woman hurrying down the street towards the boy and she is trying to get him to come with her. I tell the dispatcher what I am seeing and explain that I am witnessing a young boy trying desperately to do himself harm. My heart is pounding. All it is going to take is one person in a vehicle driving towards the ferry not paying attention and this child is going to purposefully hurt himself. I am determined to prevent this.

As the dispatcher assures me he will report the call, the older woman has the boy cornered in a driveway and an older man is quickly walking in their direction. I leave my car running (Remy is with me) and cross the street. The young boy makes a break for it and the older man grabs him. As I get near the three of them, the young boy sees me and begins screaming at the top of his lungs, “someone help me, someone help me”. As he is struggling against the mans grasp, they fall to the ground and the man lands on top of him. As he rises, he places his knee in the boys back and pulls his arms behind him. I can tell it hurts and I also see he is in a sticker patch. When I finally get to them, I tell the young boy to please stop struggling, to sit down, I have called the police, they are on their way. If he will just sit down, calm down, take some deep breathes. When I have his full attention, I tell him I will not leave him. I will stay until the police arrive. The man and woman are not explaining to me why they are doing this and I am not asking. I am focused on the boy. The man is telling the boy he is not going to let go. I am so calm I am beginning to wonder what kind of Goddess is channeling through me.

I am looking up and down the street to flag down the responding officer and I see a contractor from one of the condos who has come to investigate and he kindly agrees to move my car from the other side of the road to a driveway. I explain I have given my word to this young boy that I am staying until the police arrive and if I get in my car he may fill like I am abandoning him.

I finally see a Constable car. He pulls into the Dairy Queen, gets out of his car, and goes in. I am not sure who is going to respond to the call or if anyone will.

A woman (the mother?) and young girl show up. The woman is pissed and telling the boy how embarrassed she is that he is doing this. She is his mother. The older woman tells Brian’s mother I have called the police. She glares at me. She tells me they are leaving. She asks me if I am going to stop them. I tell her what I told Brian. I am not leaving him until the police come. Period. She tells the older woman I cannot stop them. The mother is talking to Brian again, saying, “we’ve been having a good time, right. Why would you do this? What is wrong with you?” She is not mothering him. She is berating him. She is standing in front of him three feet away. The older man is still holding him on the ground. I look towards the Dairy Queen and the Constable is getting in his car. As he approaches Cotter, I realize he has not seen us, he is turning away from us. I wave my hand in the air and he sees me. This is almost over. A total of 15 minutes has passed. It is very hot and I feel like everything is in slow motion. The Constable pulls up in front of us. I step to the side. He asks Brian if he is okay, but before he can answer, his mother starts talking. I step further away. I want to hear what Brian has to say, but realize no one, including the Constable, is going to let him speak. The Constable seems satisfied that everything is okay. He does not seek me out as an eyewitness. He does not ask for any type of identification. He gets back in his car and drives off. While he is talking to the Mother, the older woman has walked back to the restaurant to get their vehicle. She pulls up next to me. She walks around her suburban to where I am standing. She is very upset and begins telling me Brian has been like this since he was a baby. They have had to put special locks on doors, she is crying. I hug her. Then I see Brian and he is walking towards me, saying, “I’m sorry.” I open my arms and he comes close to me. He lets me hug him and I quietly tell him how much he scared me. I tell him life is hard, but never so hard that we have to harm ourselves. He tells me again he is sorry and he thanks me for caring for him. As he pulls away from my embrace, I place my cupped palm on his chubby, tear-stained, right cheek, make sure he is listening and making eye contact, and then I ask him to “please do great things with your life. I can see you are special and I do care. Know that, Brian. I care.” And then he is gone and I drive to Casa Azul and mix a pitcher of Mango Margaritas. 

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