For several days now Mrs. Doyle’s attention had been attracted by the boy next door. She noticed that at almost all hours of the day and night he was either skateboarding down the street or talking to other boys from the neighboring yards.
But what Mrs. Doyle wondered most was why, when all the boys were scattered to their homes, when their mothers called them, this boy remained in the deserted street. He pulled his hat over his eyes and kept rolling back and forth. All this seemed strange to the woman, and she decided that something had to be done.
She put on some warm clothes and headed to the local police station. At the police station she saw a sergeant and greeted him cordially, “Good morning, Officer!”
The policeman was very surprised by the enthusiastic tone with which Mrs. Doyle addressed him. Ordinarily, people did not come to the station with such a friendly disposition. Nevertheless, he smiled and greeted the woman, “How do you do, ma’am? What can I do for you?”
Mrs. Doyle shrugged. “I don’t even know how to explain it to you. We used to go to the police when something happened. I can’t say that anything goes wrong now, or anything has happened…”
After thinking for a while, the officer on duty called his colleague Officer Tony Murray over the phone. Officer Murray arrived and began listening intently to Mrs. Doyle.
“There’s really almost nothing to tell. I often see a boy near my house, his name is Jack Rollins. The boy is not bad, he goes to school every day. But in the evenings, when the other kids are scattered home for dinner, he stays alone in the street.”
“I think he doesn’t want to go home because he feels bad there. Either there’s nobody in the house, but he’s too young to live alone himself.”
Mrs. Doyle’s words made Officer Murray think. “You’re right, ma’am, it’s not normal,” he turned to Mrs. Doyle. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of the situation.”
The first thing the policeman did was go to the school which the boy attended.
There he found out that Jack Rollins was considered a straight-A student, he always turned in his homework on time.
Classmates talked about Jack as a cool guy who was fun to play with. However, according to the children, he never called anyone to visit him and never showed anyone his room. The school principal reported that Jack and his mother moved to town three months ago. They had previously lived in Alabama.
Jack’s mother was described as a nice, hardworking woman. She had no qualms about raising a 13-year-old. She handled her parenting duties very well on her own. After visiting the school, Officer Murray went to Jack’s house.
The policeman was met at the door by Jack himself. The boy tried to cover the doorway, so that the policeman wouldn’t see the surroundings of the house.
“Hello!” the policeman greeted the boy with a smile. “Officer Anthony Murray. Is your mother home?”
Jack eyed the police officer incredulously. “Mom’s not here right now,” he replied.
“Good!” the policeman pronounced. “May I come in?”
“Do you have a warrant?” asked Jack sternly.
“No, of course not,” replied the policeman.
“I’ve seen the show Law & Order, I watched it with my mother. And I know you have no right to enter without my consent unless you have an order.”
Officer Murray shook his head. “Boy, I’m not here to give you any trouble. Jack, I want to make sure you’re doing fine.”
“Everything’s fine!” almost shouted Jack. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s just that when kids don’t want to go home for lunch, it means they’re afraid of something. Or maybe they have something wrong,” Officer Murray replied in a calm voice. “So if something’s wrong, you can tell me about it.”
Jack’s face flooded with the color of embarrassment. “The thing is, I like to ride when there’s nobody outside. That’s all!”
Murray nodded understandingly. “I see. There are times when I feel like there’s nobody else but me on night patrol, and I’m the only one on the whole street. It’s fun.”
Jack’s face lit up with a smile. “Right on! And when my mom’s not home…”
“Your mom’s not here? She’s gone?” the officer clarified.
Jack lowered his head. “Yes. It’s been two weeks since Mom’s been home. She had to go to Alabama. The thing is, Grandma broke her leg and Grandpa suffers from Alzheimer’s…”, Jack replied and immediately straightened up. “But I’m fine!”
“I believe you, Jack. I know you’re a serious guy. Maybe you’ll let me come in?”, the policeman asked.
Jack agreed. Officer Murray entered the house and found that there was practically no furniture. There was no bed in Jack’s room; he slept on the floor on a mattress. “Mom had planned to make repairs, but Grandma suddenly got sick…,” pronounced Jack.
“It’s okay, Jack. I understand,” said the policeman. “I know your mother had to go away and leave you alone. I don’t want her to get in trouble. How about we do this: I’ll come over in the evenings and cook you dinner, and you’ll stay overnight at Mrs. Doyle’s?”
Jack wasn’t very happy about the idea, but he agreed nonetheless. For the next week Officer Murray came to Jack’s house, cooked him dinner, checked his homework, and saw to it that the boy made his way to Mrs. Doyle’s house to sleep in the room she provided.
One day Jack informed the policeman, “My mother is coming tomorrow! And she’s not going away again!”
“I’m aware of that,” Officer Murray said, smirking. “How would you like to help me arrange a surprise for her?”
“Surprise? What kind of surprise?”, Jack asked interestedly. Then the policeman led him outside, and pointed to a truck that was parked next to the house. In it were all sorts of presents, furniture for the house, a bed for Jack, and various things that the boy said his mother was bound to like.
When Jack’s mother returned from Alabama the next day, the house was already furnished and looking cozy. Mrs. Rollins was in mild shock. Jack hurried to introduce her to Officer Murray, who in turn gave all the details.
Since then, Jack and his mother have had new friends Mrs. Doyle and Officer Murray. Murray confessed that he found Mrs. Rollins very attractive, and he asked her out on a date. Who knows, maybe soon Jack won’t be the only man in his house.