Lost is Found
It was 6:15pm and Eileen had prepared dinner. Reports continued to come in, but Andy was still missing.
"Dinners on the table. Come and sit down everyone. You too constable." The boys came out of their room and joined everyone at the table.
"Where's Andy, mummy?" Darrell asked.
"The police are doing their best to find him. Eat up and then off to bed." Eileen was not in the mood to indulge her sons.
The rest of dinner was eaten in relative silence. Once the table was cleared and the boys put to bed, the adults collected in the drawing room. Bob put on the radio for the 7pm news.
"In news just to hand. A young boy has been found dead in the region of Walton-on-Thames station. We will keep you up to date as more details come to hand …."
"Oh my god, no!" Eileen burst into tears.
"That cannot be. Constable, we haven't been informed. What's going on?" Bob was trying to control his emotions.
"I'm sorry Mr Staples. I'll ring the station straight away." Jennings headed for the phone in the kitchen. Bob was trying to console his wife.
Jennings returned to the room. "Mr and Mrs Staples. It's not your son. It's another boy. Some reporter broke the news before an official statement was issued."
"But what about our son? Any news?" Bob was clearly frustrated.
"The station said, Detective Franks would call back shortly. I'm sorry for the mix-up."
Andy was sitting on the main counter at the Uxbridge police station. He was sharing some hot chips with a young policewoman, Constable Wiltshire.
Senior Constable Manning was speaking on the phone at a nearby desk.
"Are you sure. Australian. Yes. We picked him up about 5pm. We will send a car and meet in Cranford, east of Heathrow. Thanks." He hung up and walked to the counter.
"Looks like we have found your parents, young lad." Manning helped himself to a chip. "How would you like to go for a ride in a police car?"
"Yes, please." Andy smiled with his mouth full.
"Constable Harper." The Senior Constable called out.
"Yes, sir." Harper came out from one of the partitions wiping his lips.
"A Detective Morrison, from Weybridge was just on the phone. He has some anxious parents looking for young Andy here. Take a patrol car, Constable Wiltshire and the lad. You are to meet a car, coming up from Weybridge, in Cranford. Use the radio to coordinate the transfer." Manning turned to Andy.
"Nice to have had your company young man, but it's time to go home." The Senior Constable walked off to attend to normal duties.
"Come on then." Constable Wiltshire helped Andy jump down from the counter. Harper grabbed a set of keys from a hook near the counter and signalled for them to follow him.
Bob and Eileen were back in the kitchen when the phone rang. Jennings was quick to grab the receiver.
"Constable Jennings. Yes, sir. When. We'll be out front." He replaced the handpiece.
The couple had their eyes glued to Jennings. "They've found him. He is alive and well in Uxbridge."
"Where? That's nearly twenty miles away. Are you sure?" Bob couldn't believe it.
"They're not sure yet how he got there, but a police car is on its way to pick us up."
"Where are we going?" Bob asked.
"We are to rendezvous with a car coming from Uxbridge. That's all I know." Jennings added. "Sorry, but only one of you can come. Limited space in the car."
"You go." Eileen walked over and embraced her husband. "Don't be cross with him."
"Okay." Bob and the constable headed for the front door.
It was after 8:30pm before a patrol car picked up Bob and Constable Jennings. Detective Franks was sitting in the front passenger seat with a constable behind the wheel.
"Good evening Mr Staples. You'll be reunited with your son soon." Franks commented as Bob climbed in behind the driver.
"Are you sure it's Andy?" Bob was not convinced.
"There are not to many lost Australian boys in this part of England. He matches your description."
"How did he get to Uxbridge. That's nearly twenty miles away isn't it?"
Detective Franks outlined all the details that the police had patched together during the search and subsequent discussions with police at Uxbridge.
"A rather resourceful lad, your son, Mr Staples." Franks observed.
The radio crackled, and Constable Harper identified his car number. Detective Franks picked up the handpiece and confirmed a meeting place. Their car pulled over near the intersection with Bath Road and the Great South-West Road and waited.
Harper's patrol car was nearing the intersection of High Street and Bath Road just north of Heathrow when the radio crackled again. "In pursuit of stolen car." Just then a car flashed along Bath Road in front of them. Harper immediately put the siren on and called out. "Hang on."
Constable Wiltshire immediately cautioned from the back seat next to Andy. "What are you doing? We've got a passenger on board. Leave it."
Harper realised his mistake, slowed down at the intersection and turned the siren off. Another patrol car flashed past siren blaring.
"See. They are already on to it." Observed Wiltshire.
"Wow!" Andy was excited as he watched out the window.
Harper turned the corner and headed for the rendezvous.
It was after 9:30pm and finally, Andy was reunited with his dad. The police had exchanged their precious cargo and now Bob and Andy were on their way home. Andy was sitting snugly in between Bob and Constable Jennings.
"You hitchhiked a ride?" Bob was trying not to sound cross.
"I didn't mean to. He was a nice man." Andy was waiting to be told off.
Detective Franks half turned in his seat, looked at Andy and asked. "What happened at the train station?"
Andy avoided looking at the detective. "I don't remember." He whispered.
"We are not worried about you not paying. Did you see a man?" Franks pushed a little harder.
"No. I mean, I don't remember." Andy squirmed in his seat.
"Please, detective. He's had a big day. Can't this wait." Bob just wanted to protect his son.
Andy was smothered in hugs and kisses when they finally got home. They all sat around in the kitchen, asking questions while Andy had a big glass of milk and some biscuits.
"Okay, it's time for bed, young man." Bob decided that was enough. Eileen picked up her youngest and gave him another long hug. She and Bob then led Andy off to bed.
"We'll let ourselves out. Good night." Franks led the way through the house.
Two nights later, Eileen was woken from her sleep to screams coming from the boy's room. She grabbed her dressing gown and raced into their room. Andy was tossing around in his bed with Cameron trying to calm him.
"What's the matter?" Eileen took over from Cameron. "Shush, shush. It's alright mummies here."
Andy calmed down and look wide-eyed at his mother.
"Were you dreaming?" She asked. He nodded his head.
"Do you want to tell me about it?" Eileen was now stroking his forehead.
"A, a, man was dragging me off the railway station into the bushes." Andy was nearly in tears.
"Shush, shush. No. You're here safe in bed. It's just a nasty dream." Eileen's mind immediately flashed back, to the radio announcement two nights ago, and what could have been.
The End – please leave a review. Cheers