Once Upon A Weekend 14
By the time Bill reached the front gate, he was wheezing. Ricky had too much of a headstart. Bill worried that he'd never catch him, and catch him, he had to do. Ricky running around loose acting like a 4-year-old would cause a media riot in the town where things like this just didn't happen.
Hurrying down the street, Bill pulled his cell phone from his pocket and punched in Sam's number. He was starting to think Sam would answer when Sam's voice snapped through.
"Sam," Bill said, gulping deep breaths. "I need help. Ricky ran away this morning. He climbed over the wall and headed down the alley. I'm going that way now, but I've lost sight of him."
"What do you mean, ran away?" Sam was confused and Bill heard it in his disembodied voice. "Isn't he any better?"
"Absolutely not," Bill said. "He's worse. He's acting even younger than he was. I made an appointment at the doctor, but that's later this morning. He got away from me before I even knew he was gone. You know how fast he can move. I'm winded now, and I'm not even at the end of the block."
"I'm coming," Sam said, and disconnected.
Bill reached the corner and stopped, panting, as he looked up and down the street. He didn't know which way to go until he heard the wailing of a child. He ran to his right to the end of the block, then right again to the next block. A young mother was kneeling next to her unhappy child, trying to comfort him. Bill came breathlessly to a halt and leaned his hands on his legs.
"What's---wrong?" he asked.
"He took my tricycle. He took my tricycle." The angry child stomped his feet and cried into his mother's pant leg.
She looked bewildered and embarrassed, and a little angry.
"I don't know what in the world has gotten into him," she said. "I have no idea what he's carrying on about."
Bill squatted next to the little boy.
"Who took your trike?" he asked gently. "Which way did he go?"
Pouting, the little boy glared at Bill and pointed the way that led to downtown, and a lot of traffic.
"That big boy," the boy complained. "He grabbed my tricycle and rode away."
Bill straightened quickly.
"I'm so sorry," he said to the mother. "I'm afraid it was my nephew. He's not---um---himself right now."
The woman looked as if she was still trying to decide what she should do.
"Drugs?" she asked.
"Oh, no," Bill said quickly. "He's just---not---right---uh..." He didn't know how to explain it and shrugged helplessly.
"Retarded?" she asked sympathetically, still struggling to calm her own child."
Bill hesitated, then nodded emphatically.
"Yes," he said. "Yes, that's it. Mind of a child, you know, in a man's body."
He felt guilty saying it, but it seemed to appease the woman.
"How sad for you," she said. "You'd better find him. He's headed right..."
"You're right," Bill said. "You're absolutely right. Thanks. I'll find him and I'll see the tricycle is returned."
Without waiting for her to reply, he hurried along in Ricky's wake. A few minutes later, a horn honked behind him as Sam slid to a stop and motioned for him to get in. As they sped away, Bill filled him in.
"He stole a what?" Sam asked, astounded.
"I'm telling you," Bill said, "he's not right in the head. I'm very worried about him."
Sam didn't answer as he slowed down for a crowd of people blocking the street at the base of a twenty story building. They were all looking up and pointing. A line of policemen were trying their best to hold the onlookers back from the entrance to the building. Sam stopped the car, then he and Bill ran to see what was going on.
As they reached the crowd they overheard several disturbing observations and questions.
"Oh my," someone said. "He's so high."
"What's he doing?" asked another bystander, shading his eyes as he looked up.
"Is this a publicity stunt?" a woman asked.
"Ooo," another woman said, hugging herself, "it makes me shiver seeing him up there. I mean, one misstep..."
Bill didn't wait to hear the finish of her statement. He grabbed Sam's sleeve and pointed. But Sam had already spotted the attraction. On the narrow ledge of the building's roof, Ricky sat, his legs dangling over the side as he waved to the people below. Sam drew in a sharp breath when a minute later, Ricky stood and did a little dance for them, causing gasps of horror and nervous giggles to run through his audience.
Bill shoved Sam toward the entrance.
"Get up there," he shouted. "See if you can sneak up on him and grab him before it's too late."
Sam was already sprinting for the door. He knew what Bill meant by "too late", but wasn't worried about Ricky too much in that sense. Ricky seemed to be part monkey, a climber practically from the day he took his first steps. For Sam, too late meant before the media and rescue squads arrived. If anyone else went after Ricky, he might fall, or worse, be carted away in a straight jacket.
Bill scanned the crowd, listening and finally hearing in the background the growing sounds of sirens as more police, rescue squads, the fire department, and probably an ambulance approached.
"Ricky," he hissed under his breath, "I swear I'll wear your butt out when I get you home."
Sam heard the sirens as well and put on a new burst of speed to the elevators, after hurriedly explaining to the policemen already there who he was and why he wanted by. He jabbed the button for the top floor and paced the car as the elevator rose. It stopped with a slight bump and he was out the doors before they were all the way open. He ran up a short flight of stairs to the roof door and carefully eased through.
The arriving police and rescuers waded into the crowd demanding to know what all the excitement was about. As they were apprised of the situation, someone pointed to the roof.
"Oh shit," one officer said, shouting orders into his radio.
Bill ran over to him.
"Officer," he said, tapping the man sharply on the shoulder. "It's not a suicide."
The police officer turned to face him.
"Who are you?" he demanded. "What do you know about this?"
Taking a deep breath, Bill explained everything in detail, leaving out, of course, the real reason why his nephew was acting so peculiar.
"My older nephew, Sam," he said, "is already on his way up to get him. Please, it will..."
"Hey!" someone yelled. "He's got him."
Sam saw Ricky immediately as he exited onto the roof. Ricky was having the time of his life doing handstands and somersaults, balancing precariously on one foot on the narrow rim of the foot high wall running the perimeter of the rooftop. He giggled and laughed, completely unaware of the dangerous winds whipping his clothes and hair around him and threatening to blow him off the building.
Sam crept up behind him, taking great care not to startle him, then lunged and caught him by the back of his overalls. He yanked and they both went over backwards, Sam landing on the hard tar roof with Ricky on top of him squirming and squealing. Sam had him firmly around the waist and wasn't about to let go no matter how hard he kicked and struggled. Sam finally managed to get his feet under him and stood, pulling Ricky up with him.
"Stop," he ordered. "Stop it right now."
Ricky was squirming worse than ever and throwing ineffectual punches at his older brother. Sam clenched his teeth and his words came out in a growl as he ducked the flying fists.
"Ricky, behave yourself,"he shouted. "Behave or I'll beat you up."
"Lemme go!" Ricky yelled, trying to pry Sam's hands from around his middle. "I wanna go."
"No!" Sam said. "You're coming with me right now. You're in big trouble, mister."
Ricky kicked and dragged his heels as Sam hauled him to the door. Finally, fed up with battling to hold on to him, he grabbed Ricky in a Fireman's hold and carried him downstairs to the elevator. To his dismay, the police, two Paramedics, Bill, and several news crew members and cameramen were waiting. The cameras went off, nearly blinding Sam as the reporters threw a barrage of questions at him.
"Was this a publicity stunt?"
"Who was behind it?"
"What's the name of the kid?"
"Do you have a permit to be on the building?" This from one of the policemen.
Sam looked imploring to his uncle, but Bill had no idea what to say or do either. In the meantime, Ricky wanted down and said so in no uncertain terms. When Sam ignored his pleas and threats, he grabbed a handful of hair and pulled hard.
"Ow!" Sam yelped, dropping is brother who rolled down his back and miraculously landed in a squat, then somersaulted through Sam's legs and came up ready to sprint to freedom. The Paramedics and police had other ideas. One of the officers caught Ricky in a flying tackle. They tumbled to the floor as Sam ran up to disentangle them before someone slapped a pair of handcuffs on Ricky.
There was pandemonium for several minutes until Sam, regaining control over Ricky, pinned him against the wall with his own body, effectively blocking Ricky's escape and the media getting to him.
"Look, everybody," Sam pleaded, holding up his hands while suffering painful pinches from Ricky behind him. "Please, just leave. Ricky's a little---uh---excited right now. He's not been----feeling---well, lately, and it's caused him to be--have---erratically!"
He'd jumped when Ricky pinched him especially hard and it caused his voice to crack. He slapped Ricky's hands to make him stop and pressed him harder against the wall.
"I can't breathe!" Ricky protested.
"Shut up!" Sam said, hoping Ricky might settle down if he had no air.
He turned to the police for support.
"Will you please do something---anything," he pleaded. "to get us out of here?"
"Sorry," the Officer said. "We're taking him in."
"No," Sam objected. "He's not drunk and he's not on drugs. He's just not well."
"Then he goes to the hospital," the Officer said.
Sam glanced at Bill who looked as unhappy as he felt. Knowing there was little other choice, Sam grabbed Ricky's wrist in an iron grip and pulled him out from behind him. He made him look into his face.
"Listen, little brother," Sam said, "these nice Policemen are going to let us take you to see a doctor. So, don't be scared and don't be a nuisance, okay?"
"Can I make the siren go?" Ricky asked in the child's voice that made Sam cringe as he glanced uneasily at the reporters.
"No," Sam said. "Just be a good boy and let us take you to see the doctor. Uncle Bill will be with you in the ambulance, and I'll be right behind in the car."
"Can I have a lollipop?" Ricky asked one of the Paramedics.
The Paramedic, professional to the core and seeming to have an understanding as to what was going on, smiled gently and patted Ricky on the head.
"We'll see what we can do," he said. "Let's get you on the stretcher and strapped in so you won't fall off when we go around a curve."
Gleefully, Ricky hopped onto the stretcher and lay down. It was great fun to him as the Paramedics belted him on and put a blanket over him. Bill stayed glued to his side and climbed into the ambulance with him.
"I'll be right there," Sam told his uncle. "Watch over him."
He was worried sick and he could tell Bill was as well. He watched until the ambulance doors were closed and it sped away, before walking slowly in exhaustion to his car. The whole affair was getting crazier by the minute, and more dangerous.