Lord, you know I am not at my best today. I do not know what you have in store for me. You know the troubles
I am having with my son. I know you will never forsake me. But I’ve been praying for a long time and I haven’t
seen a change in my life. I fear for my son, Lord. I don’t want him taken from me. I trust in you. I believe in you.
I give my life over to you again and again, Lord. Yet, I am getting impatient. I come to you once again, asking you to intervene.
You know what I need. I need Ricky to come to know you, Lord, as I know you, My Savior Christ Jesus. That is the only thing
that will save him.
Rus stayed on his knees even after his prayer was finished. He did not open his eyes but, instead, stayed
with his hands clasped allowing peace to wash over him, to consume him.
There was a slight noise behind him that snapped Rus out of his quiet meditation. When he turned it was to
find Ricky standing against the door frame looking puzzled and irritated. It was the chains dangling from the sides of his
son’s black jeans that had brought him awake again.
His son said nothing, which was customary for him, that early in the morning. Ricky was not a morning person
at heart. He liked staying up late at night, listening to loud rock music and beating on his desk like it was a set of drums.
It annoyed Rus to no end. But he tolerated it only because he knew that his son was home and he was safe
from all the things that tempted him in the wrong way. The drugs, the alcohol, even the numerous weapons.
Rus didn’t know what to think about the latest knife that had been confiscated from his son. It
had only been two weeks earlier that the first one had been taken away. Rus had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
He knew his son was on a collision course with death. It was almost as if his son really wanted to die.
It was like Ricky was standing on the edge of a cliff looking down, with one foot ready to slip off. It was
not a good feeling. Rus loved his son. There was no doubt about it. But understanding him was something totally foreign to
him. Knowing how to help him was something entirely different as well.
He could only continue to pray, as he had the last year, and hope that soon God would answer his prayers.
Rus walked into the office early that morning with Ricky on his heels. As usual Callie was already at her
desk working away. But today something was different. She had her back away from him and she was facing her computer screen.
Her back was poised straight, her fingers flying across the keyboard. Next to her desk, seated in a ragged old chair, was
a young girl.
She couldn’t have been more than fourteen or fifteen. But Rus was no good at guessing one’s age.
The girl would have been pretty, Rus thought, but her face was painted with heavy make up, and her eyes, a lovely shade of
amber, were caked with dark eyeliner. Her lips, at one time, had held a bright red lipstick. However, Rus noted, that most
of it had smeared across her face.
He took a while to just look at the girl. To assess her from head to toe. Her clothing, was not appropriate
for someone her age. Her skirt was too short and her shirt too revealing. Rus immediately turned to his son who was gawking
at the young girl.
He had to think fast and sent his son on an errand to get him away from the girl. Ricky protested and argued
with his father, until Rus finally demanded him to go down the street and fetch donuts for the two of them.
Rus noticed that the girl seemed to be distressed. Upon closer inspection, he realized that her clothes were
disheveled and that, in her eyes, he saw tears. Tears of shame.
He said nothing as he resumed his seat at his desk. He felt sorry for the girl.
Rus listened to Callie as she talked to the girl. Her voice was always calm, her demeanor one of quiet deliberation.
Her movements were slow and thoughtful. Her words were chosen carefully. It was clear to Rus that Callie had a world of experience
dealing with young adults.
Quietly he watched her work, not disturbing her, but allowing her to do her job. She was proficient in everything
she did. Her paperwork was flawless, her methods were impressive. She took time to console the young girl. She handed her
tissues and even held her hand all the while oblivious to Rus’s perusal of her.
It wasn’t long before a man and woman rushed over to Callie’s desk. The woman was in her late
thirties, the man in his early forties. They were dressed well, as if they had both come from work. The woman seemed a bit
frayed around the edges. Her hands were shaking as she took her daughter’s face between then and pressed her against
her chest to comfort the young girl.
It was then that the girl broke down into heavy sobs. Her make up smeared down her cheeks and onto her mother’s
blouse. She clung to her mother tightly as if she’d never let her go.
Callie gave the trio a few minutes before she came to her feet, extending a hand toward the father, who stood
behind and watched the display of emotions.
"I’m Callie Martin," she introduced. "I’m the social worker, here at the police station. Your
daughter was lucky, Mrs. Hartman. It could have been a lot worse." Callie eyed to two adults who were now looking at each
other. They were worried, but a relieved expression crossed over both of their faces.
"I would like to take you into a back office and speak with you privately, if I can," Callie asked, pointing
in the direction off to the right.
As she strode away, Rus could not take his eyes off of her. She was beautiful, he decided. Her hair lay gently
against her back and it shone brilliantly with golden color. She was dressed in a navy blue pant suit with a tailored jacket.
It looked rather expensive and inappropriate for the police station. But, nonetheless, she looked classy and elegant.
By the time Callie returned to her desk, so had his son. He was suddenly in a foul mood. He snapped at his
son to get him coffee and everyone turned in his direction to peer at him in consternation. Ricky told him to go get his own
coffee then disappeared down a hallway toward where the men’s bathroom lay.
Rus did as his son instructed him, putting in too much sugar and overflowing his cup with cream. He grumbled
under his breath as he wiped up his mess, then retreated back to his desk in agitation.
By this time Callie was alone. She said nothing as she filed away the paperwork to her first case and stored
it in a small compartment inside her desk drawer.
"Do you want to tell me why you snapped at your son like you did?"
Callie knew it was a dangerous question, but one she could not resist.
"No, I don’t," Rus responded. "It’s none of your business."
Callie shifted away from him fidgeting with her computer. "You’re right," she said softly. "But if
you’re having a bad day, that’s no reason to snap at your son."
Rus saw a slight tremble in her hands and he felt sorry for her. "You don’t have to worry, I’m
not going to snap at you to," he responded calmly.
"Some how I find that a bit hard to believe."
When Callie glanced up at him, her eyes were glowing from the light above her. It seemed almost ethereal.
Her skin was smooth and luxuriant. Her lips . . . He halted his thoughts right there. Callie could see him tense up, his muscles
becoming tight around his neck and shoulder area.
"Is there something wrong?" Callie asked at last.
She was giving him that look again. The one that he hated. His hands began to sweat and his heart began to
thump in his chest. He knew nothing about this woman. He didn’t even like her. In fact, he despised her, if he really
wanted to know the truth. His insides began to churn with a mixture of animosity and anticipation. He grasped a pencil between
his fingers until it snapped in half.
Ricky was starring at him from the corner of his desk. It was almost the same puzzled look he had given him
that morning. Callie was staring at him as well, observing the broken pencil in his hand.
Angrily Rus tossed it in the garbage can, hauling himself out of his chair then storming away. He was always
Ricky shrugged his shoulders in confusion, trying not to figure his father out. Instead, he moved over to
Callie’s desk where he sat down beside her, where the young girl had been sitting before.
"Is she going to be all right," Ricky asked with a subdued voice.
Callie didn’t speak at first, but took a moment to admire Rus’s son. He looked much better than
he had the day before even though he still wore the same clothes. Some of his rage had left him. He seemed more relaxed. A
little less aggressive. She wondered to the reason why he had made such a change overnight, even if it was just a minor one.
"I believe she will be," Callie replied, her voice soft and responsive. "She’s lucky that things weren’t
a lot worse." She paused for a moment. She wasn’t sure how much she should say. But she wanted Ricky to open up to her,
to trust her. She sensed that he liked her, that he was, at least, a little willing to be her friend. She wanted to be his
confidant. She was certain, however, that Rus would not like that one bit.
At last she spoke again. "The problem with young teens such as that girl, always seem to think they know
exactly what they want. But when they get it, it isn’t at all what they expected."
"Do you think she’ll be back in here?" Ricky questioned. Callie could see a light of hope in his eyes.
He liked the young girl.
"I hope not," Callie answered in response. "I hope that she has learned a lesson from all of this."
"Why do you think she did what she did?"
Ricky was full of questions. She admired the young boy. He seemed truly concerned about the girl. And maybe
some of his questions related to his own situation but wasn’t yet ready to admit to it.
"I can’t answer that." Callie had to be honest. She had not had enough time with the girl to question
her motives. "I don’t know what her home life is like to be able to make a professional assessment. She may not even
know herself," Callie said at last.
Callie waited for some response from Ricky, but she didn’t get anything from him except a dream-like
expression. He was quiet and retrospective. She left him to his own demise.
Rus watched the interactions between his son and Callie from across the room. His son had said more to her
in that short time than he had to his father in over a year. He noted that Ricky seemed a different boy when he was in Callie’s
presence. This seemed to further rile Rus.
Already the woman was taken over his son. He had wanted so badly to go back to his desk and interrupt their
foray. But instead, common sense told him to stand back. So he had. That didn’t mean he liked it any.
No, he didn’t like it one bit. But what could he do about it? Rus was afraid, deathly afraid, to know
the answer to that. He was aware of the fact that his son needed a female in his life. Someone to take the place of his missing
mother. But why did it have to be Callie Martin of all people?
Besides Rus was in no hurry to get hooked up with some other woman anyway. Women were no good. They could
not be trusted. He was certain of that. He had learned that lesson the hard way.
Jean was a few years younger than he was. They had met when they were in college. She had seemed well put
together. Her dreams and plans had all been laid out with precise measurements. She had talked with stars in her eyes, as
if she knew exactly what she had wanted in life. Rus had looked into her eyes and believed in her. He had fallen in love with
her almost instantly, from the first moment they met.
It had seemed natural that they would marry right after graduation.
He had just never anticipated the fact that she would one day fall out of love with him, with her life, and
her son. That she would just one day, walk away from everything, the hopes, the dreams . . .
Rus felt an ache of sorrow deep in his chest. He was lonely and miserable. But he could live with that. He
could not live with another broken heart.