Walking to catch the bus, you see a young boy look both ways before entering an alley. When you follow him into the alley, he has disappeared. Instead, there is a neatly folded note lying on the pavement. What does it say and how do you react?
* * *
There was something familiar about the kid. He looked a bit like my nephew Jake, about 8 years old, wearing a jean jacket and matching pants and carrying a backpack with a reflective-tape “X” on it. He looked both ways; when he spotted me looking he burst into tears and ran into the alley beside my apartment building.
I ran over and looked for him but he was nowhere to be seen; the only trace of his presence was a neatly-folded sheet of off-white paper. When I unfolded the note it read:
I know this is going to sound stupid, but I’m your son. They say I’m an autistic savant or something like that because I don’t talk. But ever since you died I’ve really wanted to see you. So I built a machine from the junk behind the building and it brought me here.
I peeked in my room from the fire escape last night. There’s a girl in my bed. I hope her name’s Christy. I like that name. I always wanted to be called Christy, but I’m a boy. I also saw you and the pretty lady in the living room. I guess you never married Mum here. You look happy.
I bet you’re the best dad ever here. I have to go and find someone who can be my dad now. Have the doctor look at the back of your neck. There’s a blood vessel there that’s all puffy and stretchy and might break. Maybe the doctor can fix it and Christy won’t have to find a new dad.
I was about to throw the note away, but put it in my pocket instead. And I booked an appointment with my doctor to talk about my recent headaches. It was probably nothing, but I wouldn’t want to leave my daughter Allison (her middle name is Christine) without a dad.