?

Log in

No account? Create an account

The Past | The Previous

The Day I Found A Naked Child

The Day I Found A Naked Child - In the afternoons, I like to go for a walk, for I am now old and must keep active. The World Health Draconians say walk, so I walk. Actually, I enjoy it, since for the most part it gives me time to think, and I put on my Ipod, plug in the headphones, and I stroll through the streets, and out the back to a park, which has a large soccer oval and a creek snaking along beside. Which is what I was doing today: walking, listening to music, thinking, and, as I do so, I notice a pale, fleshy blur ahead of me, playing in the dirty water. I'm not wearing my glasses, but near as I can tell, that blur is playing by his/herself. There's no one else round. I keep looking from some kind of parental figure as I draw closer and it comes into focus and turn from a pale fleshy blur to a pale, completely naked child. Maybe five, maybe six, or maybe even seven years old. He--for he is a he--is slipping and sliding and playing in the brown, slimy water, which, as brown slimy water, isn't terribly healthy.

"Hey, kid," I say. "Hey?"

The kid continues playing in the water.

"Kid, you got any parents?"

No answer.

"A name?"

He looks up at me, grins, and says something that I can't make out. Not because he's far away, or soft, but just because I can't.

"Clothes, maybe?"

But he's back playing in the water, slipping and sliding and screeching and having a good, naked time.

Clearly, though, the kid is kinda fucked. He's either disabled, fucked up, or doesn't speak English, and there's no one round for me to palm him off onto to. So I pull out my mobile, dial 000, and ask for the Police, because who else do you call when there is a naked kid who is kinda fucked up? The kid doesn't seem to understand that standing still would be helpful, so he continues down the creek, jumping and diving, and I follow, talking to the emergency operator. ("He's Caucasian. Maybe seven or eight. I dunno--he could be disabled. I can't understand a word he says. It could be another language. Yeah, I can hang round till the cops arrive, if you want. I'd kinda feel bad just leaving him here.") Eventually, a guy who is jogging comes buy, and since I'm done with the emergency operator, and I want to share my social responsibility, I call out, "Yo, man, you know this kid?"

He stops. "He isn't yours?"

I wonder, briefly, how many parents are letting their kids play naked in a creek round my neighbourhood. "No."

Meanwhile, the kid has kept running long, and he's found a big pool of water to dance and splash around in. It's not real good water, but I'm thinking the last thing I should be doing is picking him up and pulling him out. Besides, whatever shit he's rolled round in, he's done it, and a little more isn't likely to hurt. The other guy, J, who has joined me in waiting for the cops (whose sirens we can hear tearing through the streets, way back where I was, originally, before the kid started running) agrees with me. As he points out, the kids doesn't seem afraid of anything, and he's not going anywhere now, so we just wait, until the cops arrive, of which four do. They see the kid in the water and then one of them takes off his gun belt, his notebook, and another says, "Damn, man, I gotta share a van with you." The other two laugh.

Lucky for Heroic Cop, the kid gets out of the water. When he catches him, the kid starts screaming. The Detail Cop next to me says, "We're not getting anything out of him. Better call an Ambulance to get him checked out," and he begins speaking into his little radio. A minute later he takes down my details (hence the name), and J's, which is how I learnt his name, and then we take off, leaving the naked little boy to the authorities and, no doubt, the child welfare people. As I make my way out of the park, however, I spot the cops up where I first found the kid, looking for any sign of clothes, or so Cop Three told me. An old couple is standing on their back porch, watching.

"Is this about that naked boy?" the old woman asks.

"Yeah." I pause. "You saw him?"

"He ran right past. Came from across the road."

"You didn't you do something?"

"I was just shocked. A naked little boy. What was I to do?"

"Well, I called the cops."

Silence.

"Anyhow, you have a nice new year."

And I put my headphones back on and continued on my way. It was Tom Waits, incidentally. Song 843.

Comments

( 18 Soaking Up Bandwidth — Soak Up Bandwidth )
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:38 am (UTC)
no. sadly, it's all very true.
girliejones
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:36 am (UTC)
well then
benpeek
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
not much to say, is there?
girliejones
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:43 am (UTC)
I'm left wondering if I would have gotten involved or just walked on by
benpeek
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:47 am (UTC)
could you seriously have left a naked little kid playing in a creek? it wasn't in any kind of populated area. any kind of shit could have happened to him, and he was clearly, as i said, fucked up, either by birth or by circumstance.
girliejones
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:51 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I would have ventured to speak to him and identify that he was fucked up, I think I might have assumed that someone around knew he was there.
benpeek
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:57 am (UTC)
i guess i just don't assume any more. it's a bad culture habit.
girliejones
Dec. 30th, 2006 11:01 am (UTC)
yeah and that's fair.
I dunno, I wasn't there so it's just an idle wonder
benpeek
Dec. 30th, 2006 11:08 am (UTC)
yeah, is no hassle. you make them choices as you see fit in the day.
crookfactory
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:41 am (UTC)
are we even living in the same city? round my neck of the woods, playing in the mud with clothing is considered a taboo.
benpeek
Dec. 30th, 2006 10:49 am (UTC)
we do things different out here in the west, mate

;)

actually, seriously, it's the first time i've ever seen it. them cops, though, they didn't seem shocked (though the emergency operator was like, 'what do you mean, naked?')
barthanderson
Dec. 30th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
First contact.
benpeek
Dec. 31st, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
well, it was certainly the first time i had to call the cops myself.
tanuja
Dec. 31st, 2006 11:04 am (UTC)
I originally thought this was one of your stories and it was very creepy. It's bloody scary that it's real and thank goodness you had the sense to call 000. As for the old couple, what were they thinking? Do they live in a neighbourhood where it's normal for young children to be playing naked in dirty water?

Anyway, Happy New Year Ben, I hope 2007 is good for you.
benpeek
Jan. 1st, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
well, it's certainly the first time i've seen a kid playing naked in that water, so it can't be common. usually i don't go in for calling the police--in fact, this is the first time i've ever had to personally call 000. but what could you do, huh?

anyhow, hope you had a nice new years too with the fam and all.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 31st, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad this worked out well. I think over here, in the UK, some people would be scared to be caught with a naked child and would just walk on - a reflection of our sadly suspicious society. But you didn't. That's good. Very.
claredudman
Dec. 31st, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
That last comment was mine. Good luck for 2007, Ben.
benpeek
Jan. 1st, 2007 01:37 am (UTC)
thanks, clare. i hope you had a good new years.

and yeah, with the kid, i suspect a lot of people didn't want to be seen with a naked kid. i didn't particularly want to be seen with the naked kid, myself, but what can you do?
( 18 Soaking Up Bandwidth — Soak Up Bandwidth )