By Gary Grenier

“I’m sorry madam, like I told you, we can’t even take a report on a missing person unless they have been gone for twenty-four hours. I’m sure your husband will be home soon. If you care to call the hospitals, we have a phone list we can give you, but you should go home and practice the speech that will keep him on the straight and narrow. That’s it, put a smile on your face and think the good thoughts. If he hasn’t shown up or called by tomorrow, stop back and I will make a report. Take care now!

“OK, who’s next?” Hollered the Desk Sergeant.

“Excuse me Sergeant, the guy in the blue suit is here to see his client, Roger Hines. Is he still in booking or has he gone to lockup? “

“Too late, he’s in the wagon heading to County Central, he’ll have to contact Captain Weber; Who’s next.”

“Now, what do we have here; let me see that citation.

“All right, here’s what you have to do. This is a misdemeanor charge against a minor, so in the morning you will have to go up stairs to Probate. See the nice lady at the end of the hall and she can tell you if you can pay the fine now or if the young man will have to appear, OK? Oh yeah, speak up when you talk to Ms. Jackson, she’s a little hard of hearing.

“Next! What’s this little girl? Officer, yeah you, you with that little girl?”

“I brought her in Sarg. I was told to have somebody get in touch with Youth Services.” Reported the young beat cop.

“What have you got?” Quizzed the Sergeant.

“She’s the kid that was pulled out of that wrecked and burning taxi on Holmes Road. No name, apparently nobody with her, we don’t know where she was going or who she is. The ambulance crew says she doesn’t have a scratch.”

“Yellow Cab dispatch will have a pick-up address, what did the driver say?”

“No help there, that was a fatal on the cabby. Dispatch said the driver called in a flag down, Michigan Ave. and Huron, the driver radioed he was heading out to the village.”

“Take the desk for a while; let me talk to her. Call “Youth” and see if Kennedy is in, she has a way with the little kids. Keep your eye on the guy in the coveralls; he looks like he could bolt in a heartbeat.

“Good evening little lady, can I get you to come back here? How about you and I splitting a Coke? That’s a good girl.” The Sergeant said as he held open the door to the dispatch office.

“Let’s sit you down right here, away from that racket out there and I will go get that Coke. Would you like a straw or a paper cup? I’ll bring both.”

Desk Sergeant Witherspoon poured about an inch of Coke into the cup and carefully handed it to the poorly dressed little girl. She had long blonde hair, dark green eyes, and a cupid nose. She wore a sweater that was too big for her and a faded dress, but she appeared to be a healthy little girl. Her hands and one cheek were a little sooty, but that’s not too bad for surviving a flaming automobile crash, and being alone in the Washtenaw County Sheriff Sub-station at Willow Run.

“Now, we want to get you out of here and back with your family, but we don’t have a clue who you are or where you were going when that taxi had the wreck. Can you tell me your name?”

“Mary Beth.” Said the wide-eyed little girl.

“Well Mary Beth, we are making progress already, isn’t that great? Can you tell me your last name? Do you know where you live?”

“Sometimes I live with Aunt Nancy and sometimes with Dobbs”

“And where do Aunt Nancy and Mr. Dobbs live?” Asked the Sergeant.

Chuckling “not Mr. Dobbs, Dobbs.”

“OK, Dobbs. How old are you honey?”

Four fingers went up on her left hand.

“My goodness you’re a big girl for four years old. Do you have a telephone at your house? Do you ever talk to anybody on the telephone?”

Slowly Mary Beth shook her head, “I don’t know“.

“Do you have anybody at your house besides Aunt Nancy and Dobbs; do you have brothers or sisters?”

“Aunt Nancy works at the bomber plant, but she has been real sick. Dobbs shows up sometimes, can I have more pop?” Mary Beth held out her cup.

“I’m sorry princess, sure you can have more coke. Don’t let me spill any on your dress. Do you have lots of people living around your house or are you out in the country? Do you have a dog or a cat?”

A pause, then: “Pete went to heaven,” Whispered a somber Mary Beth.

“Mercy, was Pete your dog?”


“I had a bulldog when I was a little boy! Do you have lots of neighbors?”

“Some.” Said Mary Beth.

“Does Dobbs stay home with you every day or does he go to work?”

“Dobbs sings songs and he tells me stories, but mostly he makes me laugh”

“I see? Would you like something to eat, are you hungry? How about a hot dog or a nice hamburger?”

“No Thank you. Dobbs will take care of me.”

An Officer stuck his head through the door, “Sara Kennedy from Youth Services is on the 2nd telephone.”

“Good Evening, Sergeant Witherspoon here”

“Hello William, this is Sara Kennedy and I’m out at the taxi accident scene, this is nasty. I didn’t know you guys brought the child to the station until I talked to Captain Weber; I’ll be there in a half-hour. How bad is the kid?”

“I’m glad you’re coming in. Everything here is fine. Maybe some mild shock, but things are very laid back, no trauma.” Replied the Sergeant.

“Really? I guess the taxi was totally engulfed in flames, just a shell left. The poor driver is unrecognizable. A couple of local girls saw the rescue; I’ll give you all the details when I pick her up. Do I need to stop and pick up some clothes for her?”

“I didn’t hear anything about a rescue, but no, her clothes are old, but fine.”

“See you shortly, Thanks.” Said Sara Kennedy, then the line went dead.

“Let me pour you the last of the Coke and we can go back to our friendly chat. Where were we, Oh yes, you said Dobbs would take care of you, tell me more about Dobbs.”

“Dobbs flies the planes, he has medals and ribbons.”

“Where is Aunt Nancy now?” quizzed the Sergeant.

“She is trying to get better.”

“OK Honey, there is a nice lady coming to see you. She makes sure that little boys and girls have a nice place to stay and plenty of food and warm clothes; her name is Sara, Sara Kennedy. She will help try to find your Aunt Nancy and Dobbs. Doesn’t that sound good?

“Are you warm enough, would you like a blanket, do you want to lay down?

No, OK then, I have to get back to work, but just give me a shout if you need anything.”

Ten minutes later, Sergeant Witherspoon looked up from the desk and saw Sara Kennedy coming in. “Hello Sara, you made good time.”

“Hello William, how’s our little lady? I can’t believe she isn’t hurt; you should see that cab. According to a couple girls coming back from a party, the child was out cold in the back seat until the mystery man pulled her out. The guy comes out of nowhere, grabs the red hot door handle and drags the child out into the ditch.” Sara reported as she removed her jacket.

“Did we get his name?”

Sara checked her notes. “This R. Thompson and G. Graham say they were the first on the scene, they saw the cab leave the road and hit the power pole, and they could only see the driver at first. The cab burst into flames when it bounced off the pole and they stayed back thinking the gas tank could blow any second. Then this guy just shows up out of nowhere, pulls the girl out, goes back in the cab for the driver, and never comes out.”

“So we have a dead Hero?” Asked the Sergeant.

“There’s only one body in the burned out cab, the driver.” Replied Sara.

“Sara, How old are the girls that gave you that tale?”

“They’re about 10, but I deal with kids all the time, they’re not lying, I’d bet my life!” Said Sara. “I got their stories separately and they are too shook up to be making up yarns, I believe them. They put a sweater over the little girl and were there when the child woke up, they said she appeared to be OK, but they figured she had to be burned.

Officer Miller was next on scene, there were only the two girls hovered over the little kid and the victim still behind the wheel. The Township Fire Department got the fire out. The tank never blew, but they figured a broken gas line under the hood is what sustained the raging inferno. The Yellow Cab Company says a Charles Davis was driving the taxi, disabled veteran just back stateside from Guam. A single man with no kids, he lived alone on Richmond Court.”

“Great!” Announced Sarg. “Wait until I have to explain a missing hero to Captain Weber. Oh well, lets get you back in dispatch and you can have a go at the little gal, Mary Beth. She sure doesn’t seem very excited, considering she survived a flaming wreck.”

“Hey Sarg, we have a Nancy Anderson on the telephone, it sounds like she is looking for your little gal in back.” Shouted one of the clerks.

“Sara, do you want to talk to her?” Asked Sarg. “I’ve only learned the child’s name, Mary Beth, and that this Nancy may be the child’s aunt. You know what is going to happen next as far as shelter and being able to release her.”

“Sure, I can speak with the lady, can you get on the extension?

“Mrs. Anderson, this is Sara Kennedy from Youth Services and on the other line is Sergeant Witherspoon, with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, are you looking for a little girl?”

“It’s Miss Anderson, and yes, my niece was supposed to arrive this evening from her Grandmothers in Ann Arbor. When I got home, nobody was there and I am half scared to death. I’ve been in and out of the hospital with kidney disease, and I was rushed up to Beyer Hospital late this afternoon. I got back home as soon as I could and no Mary Beth!”

“Are you the girl’s legal guardian? Asked Sara. “We have a little girl named Mary Beth at the station who was involved in an automobile accident, but she appears to be fine. I have to release the girl to her parents if possible.”

“Oh Thank God, can I pick her up?” Said a relieved Ms. Anderson “I don’t know if I am her legal guardian, but I am all she’s got. Her mom, my sister, has been institutionalized for over two months now, ever since she learned that her Marine Pilot husband was missing in action over Germany. She tried to end it all with sleeping pills and has been comatose since that incident.”

“Are you in good enough shape to pick Mary Beth up, I could bring her to your place, inspect it, have you sign a few papers and be on my way.

“Why was the girl staying in Ann Arbor?”

“She was at her Dads mothers house, just while I was trying to recuperate and then I take a turn for the worse. She is a wonderful woman, but she is in her late sixties, has bad eyes, and is in poor health also. If you could bring her out, that would be great, 212 Ohio Street.”

“Thank You Ms. Anderson, we will see you shortly.”

“I’ll get a car around; you go back and see Mary Beth.” Said Sarg.

“William, I drove my own car, the DeSoto, come on back with me, she knows you. Maybe you could go with me to deliver the girl?”

Sergeant Witherspoon opened the door to dispatch and said “Hello Mary Beth, how are…”

Sergeant Witherspoon stopped talking and looked quickly to Sara. Mary Beth’s face was streaked with tears, she was heaving with sobs and she was almost in hysterics. Sara sat down and hugged Mary Beth, stroking her hair and asking what was wrong. Sara glanced at the Sarg. and he looked mystified, “Sara, she was fine when I left her back here, not more than 10 minutes ago, she was so calm, I have no idea what has happened.”

Sara used Sarg’s handkerchief to wipe Mary Beth’s face and after a few minutes the little girl quit crying.

“I am Sara Kennedy and I have some good news for you. We just talked to your Aunt Nancy and we are going to take you back to her house. Let’s clean you up and we will take you home.”

Sara drove and Mary Beth sat on Sarg’s lap. “I felt so bad when I saw you crying Honey, I thought we had a good time talking and I figured you were fine back there. Are you burned or hurt? How can we help you?”

Mary Beth just stared out the windshield, somber and silent.

Sara asked if anybody bothered her. Had she hurt herself?

“It was Dobbs,” sobbed Mary Beth. “I was almost asleep when Dobbs showed up again, this time telling me that he would always love me, but he had been hanging around long enough, he had done his work here, and he would be leaving me now.” Mary Beth broke into sobs again, Sarg held her close.

Sarg looked at Sara, shaking his head, letting her know that this was not right. They wrapped Mary Beth in the too big sweater and carried her up to the porch of 212 Ohio St. and before they could knock, Aunt Nancy had opened the door and rushed them inside. Tears of joy were running down Ms. Anderson’s face. Introductions were made while Nancy hugged and kissed little Mary Beth. You could tell that Miss Anderson was ill, but she looked so happy and Sara could see that Mary Beth would be well taken care of here.

While Nancy was washing Mary Beth and getting her some milk, Sara informed her that as a legal guardian, the County may cover some of Nancy’s medical expenses. They had many things to go over, but Sara said she felt sure that Nancy was a fit guardian for the child.

Nancy excused herself while she carried Mary Beth to her bedroom and extra kisses and hugs came from everyone. You could hear the ‘good nights’ or prayers coming from the child’s room.

Nancy thanked Sara and Sergeant Witherspoon and offered coffee or tea? Sara told Nancy that she was there for Mary Beth’s best interests and she would do everything she could to help them.

Nancy informed them that they had done plenty, taking care of, and delivering Mary Beth, but Nancy did have concerns about the child’s state of mind. “There are times that Mary Beth actually thinks she sees and talks to her dad, and like I mentioned, the Marine Corp has listed him as missing in action for over two months. We don’t want her to forget her Dad, but she needs to keep things in perspective.

At times, I really worry about the child’s mental health. I know Mary Beth must be tired and probably still affected by the fire and accident, but just moments ago, Mary Beth said Dobbs had visited her twice tonight, once to talk with her at the police station and once yanking her out of the burning taxi cab. That pretty well tells me that she has some serious…”

(C)opyright 2007 Gary Grenier All Rights Reserved

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