Officer Parker took a sip of coffee from the paper cup; he was sitting behind the desk, rereading case files for the umpteenth time.
“Pulled an all-nighter again? You better take a look in the mirror once in a while, buddy,” his partner, Officer Romero, said as he arrived.
“Tough case, man,” sighed Officer Parker, laying the file on his desk. “I’m not sure who’s lying. I went over her statements ten times – is it the maid? Was it the kids? Were they all in on it together?”
“Well, we still have some time for that. Do you want to grab a quick breakfast? I didn’t get to eat at home today.”
“You buying?” asked Officer Parker.
“Sure am,” smiled Officer Romero. “But the coffee’s on you!”.
So the two cops drove to a nearby old diner, bought a couple of sandwiches, coffee, and returned to the station to continue with the files.
They were working on a case involving the murder of a millionaire businessman and his wife. As they were discussing some details, something came to Officer Parker’s mind.
“I believe a similar case occurred in early 2000,” he said. “We closed the case because we only had circumstantial evidence. It was not admissible in court.”
“I remembered it too,” Officer Romero added, “so I asked Camilo to get the case files from the morgue.”
“By the way, let’s call the employee for questioning again. Reading her statement, I noticed she doesn’t have an alibi after 11 p. m. that night. She said she was sleeping, but who knows?”
“You’re right,” Officer Parker said. “Hey, Camilo, come here a minute! And bring what you found.”
Secretary Camilo brought them the files, and Officer Parker pulled out the case file on Cynthia, who had disappeared in 2001.
While searching for possible leads that day, Daniel also came across some missing children’s case files. He opened one to see if it contained information about Cynthia’s case and was surprised to find a picture of him as a child.
“My God, I must be hallucinating!” he said as he pulled his picture out of the “missing children’s” file.
“What’s going on?” asked Officer Romero.
“I wonder what my photo is doing here,” Officer Parker said. “Wait, there’s a report too?”. He suddenly became serious.
Officer Parker read his case file and buried his face in his hands.
“I can’t believe this! I was reported missing several years ago, Romero – can you believe this?”
“Missing?” he asked. “Who filed the report?”
Officer Parker closed his case file and stuffed it in his drawer.
“My mother,” he said. “She did. I’ll go over that later. Let’s finish with Cynthia’s case for now.”
“Wait, your mother…”.
“That’s right, she did. She never cared about me, and I ran away from home. Blah, blah, sad story… Strangely, she reported me missing”.
But that night, when Officer Parker was alone at the station, he pulled the file out of his drawer and read it again. He sighed in frustration when he saw his mother’s name there.
Sylvia was many things, but not a good mother. She had no maternal instincts. When Officer Parker was a child, his grandmother Dorothea used to take care of him. She was everything to him.
But when he turned 10, his grandmother passed away, and Sylvia was his only family. One night, his mother came home drunk with a stranger, and the now police officer decided he didn’t want to stay there anymore.
She had never cared for him, and all she did was bring new men home every time she was drunk. So he simply ran away. He begged on the streets, worked part-time in coffee shops and slept in parking lots, but he never came back.
Years later, when he fulfilled his dream of becoming a policeman and serving the people, he never considered going back to her. Not once. He had left his dark childhood behind.
“I don’t know why she would report me missing if I didn’t matter to her,” he sighed. “This is crazy!”
Although he didn’t want to do it, Officer Parker decided to look for his mother. To say the least, he hated her. But he needed answers.
Six months later…
Officer Parker took a break from work after solving the millionaire’s murder case to locate Sylvia, but he had no major breakthroughs.
“She must be dead,” he told Officer Romero. “It’s been years, and she wasn’t in very good health.”
“What about your informant?” asked Officer Romero. “He said he knew the motel where your mother worked.”
“He is the last ray of hope in this dark search. I wonder if this will lead to anything… Honestly, I’ll give up looking for her if this doesn’t yield any results.”
“Cheer up, friend. Let’s wait for a warning from him. What will you do if you find her?”.
“I don’t know,” Officer Parker said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have started this search.”
That night, Daniel couldn’t sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, Sylvia’s blurry face appeared in front of his eyes. He decided to get up and check his email to see if the informant had sent him any information.
Upon opening the message, the officer’s eyes grew wide. According to the informant, Sylvia was alive, but that wasn’t all. He had seven siblings that he had no idea about.
The man had sent him Sylvia’s address and Officer Parker left his home at that time to drive to the town where his mother lived.
Around 6:00 a.m., he knocked on Sylvia’s door and a frail woman opened it. She didn’t look very old, but she was thin and spoke in a very low tone.
“Sylvia?” asked Officer Parker, looking at her.
Sylvia’s hand went to her mouth. “Daniel?” she asked. She immediately opened her arms, inviting him into a hug, and began to cry.
Officer Parker wanted to return her hug, but didn’t.
“May I come in?” he asked, holding back tears.
“Oh, yes, yes!” exclaimed Sylvia, wiping away tears. “It’s your house. Come in, please.”
Officer Parker noticed that the house was spotless, unlike the days of his childhood. Then he noticed a wall covered with photos, and in several of them he could see Sylvia smiling with some boys.
“Looks like I have brothers,” he said as he sat down on the couch, “I work as a policeman now, and that’s how I found out I have a big family.”
Sylvia poured two cups of tea and carried them to the front table.
“That’s right,” she said. “I took them in. They’re not your biological siblings, but in a way they’re your siblings.”
“I’m sorry, Daniel. I was a bad mother,” she admitted. “I didn’t take care of you when I was supposed to, and that caused you to run away from home.”
“Why did you file a missing persons report? I want you to know that I have a good life and I don’t need anything from you. But I want some answers.”
“Maybe the best answer is that I felt guilty,” she said, moving her index finger along the rim of her cup. “After you left, I started missing you too much and wanted you back.”
“In desperation, I approached a church and volunteered for a while; I needed to do something different. There, I met seven children who needed a loving home and took them in.”
“They helped me through the pain of not having you around, but I kept looking for you until those officers declared your case closed.”
Officer Parker sighed.
“I didn’t think you could change,” he said. “After Dad passed away, well, I don’t know…this is all still hard for me to process.”
“Take your time,” she said. “I don’t know if you’ll ever be able to forgive me, but hopefully you will. I wasn’t the mother you needed at the time, but now we have a chance to heal our relationship. I really want that.”
And although it took Daniel some time, he was eventually able to forgive his mother. He met his seven siblings and at some point he felt he had found a family and to his surprise, he has been very happy ever since.