My Child Is Missing Again
The Second Abduction
by John Edward Gill
I made a second list of Estelle's friends. She'd stayed briefly with a woman in Rocky Point and I called her up one afternoon, pretending to know where my daughter was, but failing to have the exact street address. I said I wanted to send cards and toys to her .
"She's in Iceland," the woman said. "I don't have an address."
"Yes. On a farm. It must be nice there in summer."
My lawyer didn't know about courts in Reykjavik, and I didn't want to go through them anyway. So how could I get Margie off an island? The Icelandic Consulate in New York City sent maps and tourist brochures and I applied for passports for both myself and Margie, sending in my custody papers.
But I still needed an address.
Wendy's house was the only place which might have it. She must have written to Estelle and received letters back. Luckily, Wendy was on vacation that week. And luckily she'd emptied out her desk before leaving. There were letters in her garbage from Estelle and even copies of letters Wendy had written.
Margie was in Holar, way north of Reykjavik.
It would be a long trip, nine hours flying at night from JFK airport. And I still didn't know how to take Margie and leave Iceland if Estelle caused a fuss.
I went to the minister who had married us, a personal friend of Wendy's. If anyone could convince my ex-in-laws to send my daughter home, if would be Reverend Martin. I told him Margie had to begin first grade soon and that she was unhappy there. None of the other children spoke English. He said he'd talk to Wendy when she came home.
And he called three days later. They would return Margie if I gave up custody, which I refused. I knew Estelle didn't like caring for our daughter and gambled she would send her home eventually.
As long as she didn't leave her with a family, like with Fargo years ago, I felt secure.
Almost. There still might be English-speaking people who might care for her.
Then I got heavy with the Reverend. "Estelle's committed a crime," I said. "Only a misdemeanor, and police haven't done anything. Not even taken a statement from me. But there could be legal action, either criminal or civil. You're aiding and abetting...."
"I have immunity. Pastor-parishioner privilege."
"You're still hiding a criminal, Reverend. And think of my little girl. Abduction is child abuse."
He looked at me, then turned toward his window. There was a playground outside for his church's pre-school. Children played on swings. "I'll talk to Wendy again."
"Thank you, Sir."
Our third meeting was the best. "They're going to send Margie home, John, if you pay for an escort to fly with her and have a notarized statement allowing Wendy to see her."
"No problem, Reverend."
Margie came home in early September, the day before school started.
But it was nervous picking her up. Wendy called the morning of Margies flight, saying Estelle wanted money.
A thousand dollars. John.
I've paid almost that much for two tickets.
Estelle won't send her back without that money.
I'll see what I can do, I said, knowing I wouldn't send a dime, but wanting to keep Wendy off-guard.
Let's go to the airport early, John. We can eat at a diningroom there.
I didn't know what to say. After nearly three months of stalling and lying, she acted as if nothing happened.
All right, I told her, playing dumb. I'll call this afternoon.
Make sure we leave in enough time, John. The plane gets in about eight o'clock. And there's traffic.
I hung up, scared. Did Wendy and Estelle have surprises? Temporary custody to Wendy? Legal papers dragging me into Court for hearings on visitation? Would there be lawyers hired by Wendy waiting in the terminal?
During the day I stayed away from home, went to the College, checked course outlines, drove along nearby beaches, jogged four miles in Augusts heat that afternoon, didn't answer the phone. At five-thirty I left for the airport, armed with custody papers, passport, Margie's birth certificate, even my DD-214, honorable release from active duty in the Marine Corps. This last document might help with police, I thought. Although just how, I didn't know.
Thre was no problem with traffic, but JFKs a difficult airport, sprawling and complicated to navigate. It was seven-thirty when I got to the Icelandic counter. The plane was on time, they said. But at eight oclock I saw Wendy walk in with a friend.
Oh, John, she said. We were worried.
You'll be able to see her. And I looked around to see if anyone else was with her. Private investigators? Process servers? Anyone who looked like a lawyer? I was by myself. There was no one I could turn to.
And then Icelandic's personnel said the plane had landed, but there were two other international flights just before it. It might be another half hour before Margie's flight unloaded.
Which gave me more time to become scared. I stayed away from Wendy, but kept watching to see if anyone joined her and her friend.
Then people awaiting that Icelandic flight moved toward one of the deboarding gates. Passengers had to walk from the gate along a wall with ropes seperating it from the waiting area. I looked at adults with carry-on luggage . Where was Margie? The travel agency through which I'd purchased tickets had told me that Margie was on the flight. But I didn't see her.
I was a daddy-in-waiting for the second time, l thought. A father-to-be. Only this time I knew the child was healthy, I guessed. But what about her emotions? All that time away from home land with no little friends who spoke English.
Then there was a patch of orange hair among the passengers. I ran from the back of the waiting area to the passenger line. There was more orange hair and a little girl wearing a blue woolen shawl. Frantic, trying to control myself, I ran to the line, knocking over a chrome-plated ashtray. Suddenly I had trouble seeing. Everything looked cloudy, and I followed Margie to an opening in the ropes, but people all of a sudden looked fuzzy. I blinked and blinked, trying to clear my vision.
A flight attendent in a red jacket came up to me and I picked up Margie.
Her passport's in this little wicker suitcase, he said.
Thank you. I told him, still trying to focus. With one arm under Margie, I rubbed my eyes. My face was wet, I learned. Water flowed from both eyes down my cheeks, dripping from my chin. With my free hand, I took out a handkechief and wiped my eyes and face, still blinking and fighting to control myself.
Some former Marine officer I was, I told myself.
Finally, I could see and took Margie to Wendy.
Grandma loves you, I told my daughter.
Wendy smiled as if the whole summer didn't happen.
I put both arms under my daughter and hugged her as we walked toward the car.
I love you, Margie, and hope you had a nice trip.
Can you put me down? My shoes are going to fall off.
Then we drove home.
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