Amber Alert sirens were going off within an hour of the abduction. His name was Leo. The gravelly voice of the radioman described him as an eight year old ginger, last seen wearing a blue t-shirt with beige cargo shorts and yellow sneakers. He’d been taken from his bus stop, in front of house number 1800, on Annaland Drive.
The woman who took him was described as tall, blonde haired, a purple rain-coat and red boots. They say she took him by the hand, and directed him towards her car. Witnesses remember Leo saying to a puzzled bus driver, “Don’t worry, I know her” as he followed happily.
No one knew the real story though. Once upon a time a little boy was asked by the teacher where his reappearing bruises came from. His only response was that they weren’t from the class bully. He was sent each day to the school nurse to have them looked at. The older woman in the office finally asked him upfront, “Leo? What happens at home when you get in trouble?”
“My mom gets angry…”, he’d said
“What does she do when she gets angry?” she asked as calmly as she could.
“…she gets the baseball bat”, he said in a small voice.
“Does she hit you with it?” she asked, tears welling up in her eyes.
But there was no need for Leo to respond, as she already knew the answer looking into his tiny face and seeing his courage unravel in a wave of tears. He fell into her arms and refused to leave them for an hour. He had no idea what love was but the nurse made sure that every visit after was filled with as much as she could muster.
After looking into his parents background, nurse Marie found exactly what she had expected. His mom was a heroin addict with a record of abuse. She’d been charged with impaired driving more times than Marie thought possible and had been in and out of rehab since she was 16. His father had been killed in a hit and run before Leo was born.
“Leo?” she asked him one afternoon, “I’ve called a man to come by your house later tonight. He is going to try to help you. Will your mother be home?”
“Is he like a fairy godmother?” he asked with a look of surprise.
She chuckled before saying, “I suppose so.”
His mother was drunk when the social worker showed up. She screamed at the man until he left. He called the police once she locked the front door and refused to let him back in. Leo had been in his room, trying to be quiet. When the police showed up ten minutes later, Leo’s mother was arrested and Leo left the house with a dozen new bruises on his arms and legs.
An aunt from out of town was called to come in and watch the boy. She told Leo his mother was “away”. It wasn’t even a week later though that nurse Marie heard the horrific news. Leo’s teacher came into the office and whispered in her ear, “Leo’s mother made bail. She’s going home tonight”. Marie didn’t waste another second, grabbing her raincoat and storming out of the office, mumbling simply, “I’m going home. I need to rest.”
She drove listening to the sirens come through her radio. She pulled into her driveway, feeling anxious but relieved to see the familiar walls of her home. She opened the car door grabbed her purse and hopped out, keys in hand. Then she reached out to open the back door where a small boy sat with big eyes and a smile.
“Are we home yet nurse Marie?”
“Yes Leo, we are”