THE COST TO LOOK AWAY – A SLICE OF LIFE

 This story is a bit more serious than my other stories.  But I read an article with child abuse statistics.  It showed how often different types of child abuse are ignored.  So I felt it was worth writing about.  This is still fiction, with a few facts thrown in.          

NEIGHBORS WALKED BY BOBBY CARBON and bowed their heads.  Bobby was the perfect eight-year-old gentlemen.  He laid still with no fuss in his little coffin.

Bobby’s neighbors were from Taylor Street in Bay City, Massachusetts.  It was one of the most desirable zip codes in the area.  That alone made it even more embarrassing for them to be there.  Most preferred not to attend Bobby’s funeral.  But they had failed him too many times to fail him again on his final day.

The neighbors heard Bobby’s cries for help.  Three or four times per week, Bobby dashed out the door of his family’s five thousand square foot colonial home.  Sometimes his shirt was torn.  There were times his nose was bleeding.  Every time, Dr. Kyle Carbon was chasing after Bobby.

He would catch Bobby down the road and drag him back home.  Bobby was always absent from school for the next three days.

The neighbors rarely talked about what was going on in Dr. Carbon’s home.  They whispered amongst themselves.  No one filed a complaint with the police.  That would have been unheard of.

After all, what would they say?  They never witnessed any physical abuse.  For all they knew, Bobby fell and hurt himself.

Child abuse did not happen on their street. Not in their neighborhood.  Their kids were not a part of the 700,000 children abused in the US each year.  Children on their street were not part of the 1% of all children abused and neglected each year.  Those child abuse statistics did not apply to them.

Doctors, lawyers, investors, business owners and other professionals lived on their street.  Homes went for four to six million dollars.  Child abuse did not fit their lifestyle.

Surely, whatever was going on with Dr. Crabon, Heidi, his wife, and their son Bobby could be resolved with no fanfare.  A little counseling was all they needed.

One night the fighting stopped in Dr. Carbon’s home.  Police cruisers appeared in his driveway.  Heidi sat on the family’s home’s steps and refused to talk.  Bobby was nowhere in sight.  No one heard his voice.  Then the front door opened.

Dr. Carbon walked out of his front door in a bloodied shirt.  His hands were handcuffed behind his back.  His head was down.  Two large police officers flanked him.    

As the neighbors sat through Bobby’s funeral, they secretly questioned themselves about why they did not intervene to save Bobby.  But that was just a ploy to lessen their guilt.  They knew why they did not intervene.  But they would not dare say it aloud.  It would sound too pathetic.  And it would cause them far more embarrassment than they could take.

Their reason for failing Bobby was selfishness.  Dr. Carbon had a stellar reputation from outward appearances.  He knew lots of prominent people.  One word from him to those in power and a person’s social death was imminent.

A few neighbors now wished they would have killed Dr. Carbon and his wife, Heidi.  Letting the abuse of Bobby go on for so long tore them to pieces inside.

All they could do now was silently apologize to eight-year-old Bobby.  And promise never to look away again.

If you know of a child being abused, please report it to your local authorities.  In the U.S., click on the following link for help:  childwelfare.gov/topics/responding/reporting/how/  or 1-800-422-4453.

I hope you found the story worth reading.  

If you did, pass it along to a friend and join me on my blog. 

Have a great year ahead.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

Stephen Wallace  


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