The call came at eleven in the evening. “Your son is acting weird. I mean really weird. You better get here fast.”
Somehow I wasn’t surprised. My phone call with Sam, just days earlier, was peculiar. His vocabulary was a word salad of illogical connections, no more than a stream of nonsense, and this was from someone with a solid command of the English language. I told myself I was imagining it. Maybe he wasn’t sleeping right. Maybe he was stressed out. But I suspected it had to be more.
Sam had dropped out of college and left home five months earlier. He said he wanted to see the world and didn’t know when he’d be back. “Maybe never!”
Overnight, my husband, Roy, and I became those other people; the ones you read about hit by unspeakable tragedies. We tried begging, pleading, reasoning with him. “You’ll get hurt. Attacked. Die even.” I also said you may wind up in a mental hospital. Ha! Why would I say that? I guess I remembered something from my own youth.
After he left, I cried daily, running the water so no one would hear my screams. This couldn’t be happening to my family. My perfect family. Only it was.
Hitchhiking the whole way, he wound up in Atlanta, a nineteen-year old neo-hippie, since hippies had long ago morphed into yuppies then middle-aged parents like Roy and me.
When I learned he found a place to stay, at first I was relieved. He even found a job. Then the phone calls began …