Poppy was very worried. Her neighbor, Chloe had lost her elderly father, Barney. He’d been sitting in the park outside of their apartment building, and Chloe had left him for a moment to run inside. Barney had Alzheimer’s, and he’d never wandered off before. Chloe was understandably frantic.
Poppy ran East on Market Street, glancing into the store windows, but most of them were already closed or closing for the day. She wasn’t sure what they would do if they didn’t find Barney soon. They’d been running up and down looking for the old man for several minutes now. Chloe was crying when she joined her at the corner.
“What do we do?!” Chloe asked her, starting to lose control, “Where is he?!”
“I’m going to call for help,” Poppy told her, “It will be getting dark soon. I think we need help. What time does David get home?”
“He should be home now, I think,” Chloe sobbed, “How did this happen?”
“Now, come on, keep it together,” Poppy urged her. She gave her friend a quick hug. “We’ll find him. Look. There’s a payphone. I have some change. Come with me. We’ll call David, and we’ll call the Police.”
“No, not the Police!” Chloe wailed, “They’ll take me away for being a horrible daughter!”
“No, they won’t,” the jogging guy said, coming up to lend his support. “You couldn’t know this was going to happen. We’ll find him soon. He wasn’t moving all that fast. He can’t have gone far.”
Poppy picked up the payphone, and Chloe gave her the number to dial. David answered on the first ring.
“David, this is Poppy. I’m your neighbor.”
“What’s going on?” David asked, immediately sensing a problem. “Where is everyone?”
“We’re out on Market Street,” Poppy said, “Your father-in-law wandered away from the park.”
“Oh, my God,” David said, “Where’s Chloe?”
“I’m coming,” he said, hanging up the phone.
Poppy dialed the Police department next and quickly sketched out the situation.
“They’re sending someone right over,” she said, as she hung up. They were looking in the stores in the next block when David came running up.
“He’s gone!” Chloe cried, throwing herself into his arms. “I’m so sorry! I can’t believe this happened! It’s all my fault!”
“Shhhhh, shhhh,” he said, hugging and rocking her. “We’ll find him. Keep it together, babe. We’ll find him.”
They were still looking in vain when the Police car arrived.
“Okay, folks,” the Officer said, as he got out of the car. “What happened?”
“My father-in-law has Alzheimer’s,” David said, “He’s usually sits in the park on a bench. He was there today, and my wife took her eye off of him for a moment, and he walked off.”
“I’m sorry,” Chloe sniffled, “He usually never moves.”
“I saw him,” the jogger offered. “I’m a neighbor, and I was coming back from my run. I almost jogged into him back by that corner.” He pointed up the block. “He was looking up at the buildings. I asked if he was okay, and he walked away from me. I didn’t know he was sick.”
The Officer got a description of Barney and what he was wearing, and then he and his partner prepared to search.
Poppy took Chloe’s hand and lead her over to the bench nearest the patrol car. She sat down with Chloe and David to wait.
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