Joseph lived with his mother, father and his little brother Mickey. Mickey was a pest. Joseph was ten years old and Mickey was five. Every day in the summer when Joseph went out to play his mother told him he had to take Mickey. Not only did Joseph not want Mickey to tag along, but his friends didn’t want Mickey either. And Joseph especially hated it that Mickey dragged along his stuffed purple dragon that was missing two eyes.
“Do you want me to call your father?”
“Gee mom. Why do I always have to take him?
His mom didn’t answer. Mickey came running out, dragging his purple dragon with him. He was always very happy to tag along after Joseph.
Today Joseph was playing with four of his friends on the block, Pete, Billy, Howard and Marty. Billy said, “Again we have to play with Mickey?” “And why is he dragging that eyeless purple monstrosity with him. Joseph just made a face. Mickey stood up for his dragon, “His eyes aren’t missing. They’re closed. He’s tired.”
Billy said to Joseph, “I have an idea. Let’s play hide and seek. They played for a while and then it was Mickey’s turn. Billy whispered to all the boys, “Let’s go visit Johnny around the block. When Mickey is counting, we’ll just disappear.”
Mickey started counting, “One, two you better hide quickly ‘cause I’m going to find you. Two, three, four, I am going to find all of you no matter how good you hide. Five, six, I’m coming soon. Then real quick, Mickey screamed “Eight, nine ten.”
He uncovered his eyes, turned around and didn’t see anyone. When they had played last week he saw part of Pete’s shirt from his hiding place behind a tree, and heard noises in the bushes where Marty hid. Today, everything was totally quiet—as though he were all alone.
Mickey looked under the porch in the front of the house. Then he looked under the deck in the back of the house. He opened the shed door, even though he was afraid there would be spiders in the shed. He stuck his head in the bushes. Still he found no one.
Mickey decided to look in the neighbor’s yard. When he didn’t see them there he continued going to other neighbors.
In the meanwhile, Joseph and his friends were playing ball a block away. They didn’t give even a thought about Mickey. They played for about two hours and then they all decided they were hungry and should go home. When Joseph got home, his mother asked, “Where is Mickey?”
“Isn’t he home?”
“Are you sure? Of course, I’m sure. He was supposed to be with you.”
“Gee mom, my friends were sick of him and when he was counting to ten for hide and seek, we ran off. I was sure he would just come back in the house.”
Joseph’s mother screamed, “That means he’s been missing for hours. I am going to run to that corner and yell for Mickey. I want you to run towards the other corner and yell for him.”
Joseph and his mom ran up and down the block yelling Mickey’s name. The only sound they heard in answer was each other yelling Mickey’s name. Then his mom ran in the house and called Joseph’s father.
Joseph’s father worked very close to home.
”Ellen, what is happening? You sound panicked.”
When she told him, he answered, “I am going home right away. In the meanwhile, call the police.
Joseph’s father got home just as the police drove into the driveway. Joseph watched as two huge men came out of the car. He had to hold his head way back to look up to their faces. One was a white guy and he wore a name tag on his shirt that read “Ryan O’Donnell.” The other was a very, dark man with a moustache. The name on his pocket read “Keith Brown.”
Officer O’Donnell asked, “Who was the last person to see Mickey?”
Joseph suddenly felt terrible. Mickey was missing and it was his fault. He thought about last night when it was thundering and lightening and Mickey was scared. He had run into Joseph’s bed and said, “Joey, please hug me.” Suddenly Mickey didn’t seem like a pest. He was his cute little brother that he loved.
“What does Mickey look like? What was he wearing?” Joseph had a picture in his mind of his brother. Today he was wearing a red and white striped shirt. The front was tucked in and the back was hanging out.
Joseph’s mom ran to get a picture of Mickey. In the picture he was smiling his crooked grin, and he had one tooth missing on the top and one on the bottom, not directly over each other. His red hair stood up straight and his green eyes looked right at Joseph.
Officer Brown said, “I want you to stay here so we can call you as soon as we hear something and in case he comes home by himself. We are going to call out his description on our car radio so that all of the policemen in the area will be looking for him.
Joseph’s dad had his arm around his mom, Ellen, who was crying in big loud sobs. Then his mom went to sit on the couch and his dad started pacing back and forth. He was speaking softly, asking God for help. “Please, please, return our little Mickey safe and sound.”
Joseph edged out the back door. The policemen had told his mom and dad to stay home, but not him. He was going to see if he could find Mickey.
First he went into their own back yard, and looked in all the places that Mickey hid when they played hide and seek. They he went to the neighbor on the right. He looked under their porch and in their shed. Then he went to the neighbor on the left and looked under their deck and in their pool house. Then he went two doors down on the right. He looked under their porch and then in their shed. They had a lot of lawn chairs and chaise lounges in their shed. Most of them were folded up, but one wasn’t. Mickey was sleeping on the one that wasn’t folded up, curled up and sucking his thumb. His other arm held his worn out eyeless dragon.
Joseph went over to him and shook his shoulder gently. He suddenly felt his heart open wide and felt Mickey walk right inside. “Wake up Mickey. Everyone is looking for you. Why are you in here?”
“I got tired of looking for you, Joey, and, besides, my dragon was tired so we decided to lie down for a minute. Where were you?”
“Don’t worry about that now, Mickey, Let’s go home.”
Mickey rubbed his eyes and stretched his arms and then stood up. “I’m hungry. It must be time for lunch.”
Joseph took Mickey’s hand and together they hurried home.