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Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Runaway Dilemma

Yesterday, I had another strange event. Being stuck without a license and without wheels, a person gets pretty bored sitting around the house, so to ease up this boredom I go on long walks. I was on one of these walks yesterday, trampling through the woods that separate my neighborhood from the mall property, which is by the way, the scene for many a showdown with the notorious rentacops. I was thinking to myself all the excitement that I used to squeeze out of this little stretch of land, and singing to myself as I walked, and thinking about the book Don Quixote, which I just picked up and how once upon time when walking through forests, when I was younger, though still not very long ago, I used to imagine similiar stretches of woods as vast forests and the path before me as a quest and myself as some knight-errant on this very quest. Maybe I was wishing that my days could be so summed up as such a quest of adventures for the good of the world, and how reality just plainly and very much is just a big let down. Perhaps these thoughts were not actually in mind as what next happened which was a turning point in that whole day and maybe someone's life, but the feel of the thought may have still been there; I was probably only singing to myself and thinking it's good to walk in the sun, but deep down wishing for something to occur like this questing ideal, when over to my right I spotted a young girl. She hit the ground as though she didn't want to be seen. Being very confused at why a young lady was out here in the woods, I asked the very natural question, "What are you doing?" at which she said that she was hiding. When I asked her who she was hiding from she said that it was a long story. I said, "I've got time."
I crouched down beside the young lady to hear her story, thinking that I might be able to live out an ideal of helping some defensiveless person in need, and if not that then to have at least an interesting story to tell. Then she began her spill. She was dark-haired and dark-featured, 15 years of age, and her family were originally from Pakistan. They had moved to the town of Daleville, AL. According to her, her parents were extreme Muslims, they never let her out of the house and never let her do anything unless it was with their own extreme brand of restriction that is so peculiar to Muslim sects. Both her mother and father beat her if one thing was not to their liking. Therefore, she ran away, only an hour ago, when she told her folks she was going to take out the trash, she walked out the door and into the taxi that she had called and ended up in Dothan, at the mall, and in these woods where I met her. She was waiting on a friend to come pick her up. We sat there talking when I noticed on the other side of the woods lights flashing. They were the security lights that I knew so well, from all the times I'd spent years ago running from them, in the little game I used to play with them. I kept saying to her that we should probably try to get inside the mall, that being out here looks suspicious and we will certainly be seen sooner or later. She seemed scared at this remark and seemed very hesitant about the mall. I assured her that no one would recognized her. That was until I saw those lights across the way, and I knew that the rentacops were looking in those woods for something. I really felt like I should help in some way and you must understand that the story about her harsh parents made me want to aid her in getting away. We sat there frozen, that is until we saw the security truck again and this time a police car with it. There was no time for thinking anymore. If we waited any longer we'd be found out. So, I told her to follow me and try to keep up, that we were going to cross through the woods and come out on the other side. She nodded her assent. And I took off bounding through the forest, knowing these woods since my youth, and stopping ever so often so that she could catch up. As we ran, I began to suspect her story more and more. I mean, here I was with a runaway girl in a forest, if we're caught this isn't going to look pretty. How could I tell that she was telling me truth, she could have drugs on her, she could've stole something out of the mall and the security could've chased her out and are now looking for her. Fearing that if the police are really looking for her they probably have the opposite trailhead on the other side of the woods covered. So, I ran straight through the thickness of the forest and ended up near somebody's backyard. Then I told her the truth, that I had no way of knowing if she was telling me truth, whether she was just running away for some stupid reason, or even if she had drugs on her. She assured me that she was telling me the truth. But she did mention to me that if the police found her don't tell them that she has ran away. Seeing that she wasn't against lying there, made me realize that she probably wasn't against lying to me. So I had a major dilemma before me. In what way was the best way to help. I then asked her about her friend that was picking her up. She said that he had to drive down from Tennessee to pick her up and take her back up to live with his family. This was beginning to sound all too strange for me. She just needed a place to stay for those couple of hours until he (her supposed boyfriend) got there. I began leading her to my house, but then I thought that this would be a stupid move, so I said I knew of a perfect place that she could hang out until her boyfriend arrived and that was the grocery market on the other side of the neighborhood. It sure beats this girl crouching in some woods beside the mall. So, as we were going, I began to grill her, telling her about all the dangers in running away being as young she was, and that trusting people, like she was trusting me, was not a good idea. I asked about this supposed boyfriend of hers, could he be trusted? Was he not just manipulating her into leaving her family to move in with him? Then I told her about some good people I knew who worked in the police department and that would try to help her if she wished. But she said that she's tried that before, that it just gets her in more trouble with her folks. As we were walking she borrowed my cell phone to call her boyfriend to notify him that there's been a change in the pickup location. She was telling him about how she ran into me and the guy, of course, got worried and told her to make sure I'm not some kind of maniac. Well, the girl told me everything that he was saying, so I retorted that how did I know that he wasn't a maniac. She repeated this remark to him, and he got furious and mentioned to her that he was hoping that he was bigger than me when he got down there. Then the couple went on talking and then from talking into heavy arguing, which I could see that going with this guy was not going to be a smart move for her. I told her that I wanted to speak to her boyfriend, which she refused because she kept saying that he was so mad at me. Which I didn't understand. I finally talked to the guy, and he accused me of trying to act like she was my girlfriend in the way I was being so protective of her. I could tell that this boyfriend seemed jealous, but that the pickup spot was changed and we approached the grocery store. I offered to buy her something to eat. She refused and I said good luck as I walked away.
Then the dilemma unfolded before my eyes. What to do in such a situation? I began to pray for her and ask God what was I to do? Call the police or let things go? I was walking when I saw some good neighbors of mine, the Wares, and told Mrs. Ware and this other lady the entire situation and what should be done. They advised me to interfere with this somehow, that if her parents were treating her so badly then she should just file a report. I called a trusted police officer that I knew and asked him the question off the record, and he said that she had the option of filing a report if she wanted. So, I ended up leaking information to the police to find this girl, whom I, at first, helped escaped. I gave this policeman her description and he said that they would find her at the grocery store. I hope I made the right decision and she will not be placed inside the house again, if her parents are who she says they are. The last I heard, none of the cops found her at that grocery store. She obviously suspected that I would tell someone about her so she must have fled. I hope and pray everything turns out okay.


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