First Phone Call:

    “Let me speak to Mary.”

    “I’m sorry, wrong number.” I replied.

    The phone rings again. An agitated voice speaks.“Let me speak to Mary. I know she is there.” "There is no Mary here. You must have the wrong number,” I say.

    A third time.

    “I know you are holding her in the basement. Let her speak to me.”

    “For the third time I am telling you, THERE IS NO MARY HERE!”

    It was a Saturday night one winter and we were sitting around the living room reading and talking when about an hour after the phone calls, there was a knock on the door. Parked in front of my house were five patrol cars, two SUVs and an ambulance. I counted about 12 cops plus two detectives. One of them spoke.

    “We have had a report that you have kidnapped a woman and are holding her, tied up, in the basement.”

    Great Neck, where I live, is a small town and not does not have much crime. Until that moment, I didn’t even know the town possessed five police cars, let alone had 12 cops. But there they were, bathed in flashing blue light.

    “Can we come in?” This was more of a command than a suggestion. “I guess so.” I said with more than an ounce of trepidation. And all 14 of them entered.

    I presumed that this was to do with the phone calls and started to explain when, “Can we look around?” said the top cop. “Sure.” I replied and some of the cops went upstairs and the rest, following me, descended to the basement.

    To my great relief, Mary was nowhere to be found and we all ascended back up to the living room.

    They explained that they had received a phone call from the Freeport police about 20 miles away. A person called them claiming that his girlfriend had been kidnapped and was being held against her will. She had managed to get a message to him – with my phone number. Thus, the calls etc. Apologies accepted, this phalanx of cops left when my son, seeing all the commotion, walked in.

    “Good evening officer O’Brian. Good evening officer Brown. Good evening officer Pulaski…”

    In a chorus they replied, “Hello Ilan, how are you…?”

    “How on earth do you all know each other?” I asked, startled. “Well,” answered O’Brian, “officers in the precinct have picked up your son and his friends repeatedly for skateboarding at the train station.”

    Second Phone Call:

    “I would never let my kids stay home alone on New Year’s Eve.”

    We had been invited to a friend’s house to celebrate the arrival of yet another New Year.

    It was a jolly evening with lots of lively discussion when one of my fellow guests mentioned how untrustworthy her teenage kids were and that she would never leave them unattended. “On the contrary, “I interjected. “My 15-year-old daughter Tess is having a few friends up and I trust her implicitly.”

    At 11 pm, my phone rang.


    “Yes officer, of course officer, thank you, officer.”

    Admitting the obvious, “That was the police,” I said.

    The precinct answered a neighbor’s complaint about a large loud party. There had been more than a hundred kids at the house (not all invited, so my daughter said). As the squad cars rolled up, sirens blaring, people were darting through doors, down windows, out from behind fences, through shrubs into the night. All was quiet now; the cops just wanted me to know.

    The smirks on the faces around the table said it all.


    Header image courtesy of Altmann.

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