Prompt: "He's just the cutest little boy. Makes it that much sadder, doesn't it?"
"He's the cutest little boy. Makes it that much sadder, doesn't it?" Looking down at the picture in the local paper, the Sunset Times, Joanne sighed. Looking up from the picture was a beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed smiling three year old boy, caught in the midst of waving at the camera. Barry Serlem was a smiley, cheerful, lovable child, who had been kidnapped and held for ransom. The hostage situation had lasted for three hours before the kidnapper, who had been an old family friend that had fallen on hard times, capitulated. However, when the police brought Barry back to his relieved parents, Barry could utter a sound. The trauma had been so terrifying that Barry had lost all power of speech.
It was now six years later, Barry was nine years old, and still could not speak. His parent had tried everything. They were wealthy people (as evidenced by the fact that the incident occurred in the first place.) They took Barry to every kind of doctor and specialist imaginable, but nothing helped. They took him to therapists, but Barry just shrunk away. Now they had come to Joanne as a last resort.
Joanne was not your average therapist. She was not your average anything. She stood at six foot four, with dark skin, her eyes were dark hazel, but seemed to turn different colors in the light. Her face put one in mind of a Hindu Goddess, and she was just as unreadable as any statue. However, she had a reputation for doing the impossible, so she was the Serlem’s last hope for Barry.
Looking back up at the parents, she tried to give them a hopeful smile. She had just sat through an hour’s retelling of all they had done to try to help Barry. “Well, first I think I will need to see him for myself, and then I will make a decision on how to best go about this. Call me tomorrow and we’ll schedule an appointment, all right?” She got up from her chair, signaling that the meeting was now over. Mr. and Mrs. Serlem hastily rose from their chairs as well. Leaning across the table, Mr. Serlem shook Joanne’s hand, and quietly murmured, “Thank you so much. It’s just…these past few years have been so hard for us.” He had tears in eyes, as he tried to bravely smile at her. Joanne took his hands in hers and gently said, “I know, and I will do my best to help you and your son.”
The Serlems left the office, feeling somehow like a burden had been lifted from their shoulders. If anyone could help, it would be Joanne. Meanwhile, Joanne sat back in her chair in her office and said out loud, “Well, what did you think of the Serlem’s predicament Joel?” She spun her chair around to face what had looked minutes before like a solid wall. Now the ‘wall’ was gone, and in it’s place was a small room. More like a closet. Inside the room sat a small bald man on a cushioned seat on the floor. He put one in mind of one of those wise old men that were often portrayed on tops of mountains.
Joel, for that was the man’s name, as misleading as it might be, sighed and ran his hand across his bald dome. “It is a problem, no mistake about that Jo. A very knotty problem indeed.” Joanne snorted, got out of her chair and began to pace the room. “I can see it’s a problem, the question is what are we going to do about it? The boy can’t, or won’t talk, and this has been going on for years! It’s obvious that something happened other than what we were told.” Joanne’s eyes narrowed.
“Now Jo,” Joel admonished, “it’s entirely possible that not the parents or even the police know what truly happened in those three hours! Let’s not go rushing in and jumping to conclusions!” Joanne groaned, but gave a little nod. Joel was right, as usual. “You know, we should just sleep on this, and wait until we actually see the boy before coming to any conclusions.” Joel said, yawning to give emphasis to the ‘sleep’ part. “You’re a hundred thousand percent right, as per usual Joel.” Joanne gave a big yawn herself and went to shut out the light. “I’ll see if I can come up with anything in my dreams. Have a good night Joel.” “G’night.” A sleepy murmur came from behind the wall, which had sprung back up. Joanne locked up, and headed home.