Urban Legend 3 - Code Adam
Code Adam is real and used in many retail stores today.
The urban legend concerns the attempted kidnapping of a child in a store by the perpetrator drugging the child, taking him/her to a bathroom, changing the clothing and dying/cutting the hair. Never happened.
Sylvia looked critically at the two outfits she was holding in her hands. They were both cute, but she could only afford one of them, even though the prices in the discount store were about as low as one could wish for. She turned to hold them up against her son, to see which looked best against his curly blond hair and cornflower blue eyes. At first, she thought she had stepped up to the wrong cart, then she looked into the basket. There were all the items she had selected so far. But no baby.
Looking frantically around, she tried to tell herself that the energetic almost two year old had simply slipped out of the seatbelt and toddled off underneath one of the garment racks. Since he had learned to walk, Johnnie had become a virtual escape artist.
"Johnnie? Where are you? Johnnie, come out to mommy. Johnnie?" Sylvias voice grew increasingly loud and hysterical as she failed to find the small boy. Soon there was a small group of other shoppers and sales clerks helping her look for the child. In her panic, Sylvia failed to notice that her diaper bag was also missing.
Blair almost ran into the broad back as Jim suddenly stopped right in front of him. "Hey! Use your brake lights or something," he growled good-naturedly. But his expression sobered as he stepped around Jim and got a look at his friend. Blair had seen Jim face down madmen and cold-blooded killers, but he only saw that particular look of dread, despair, and outright fear at one place: the entry doors to the discount department store.
"Oh, come on, man," he coaxed his friend. "It cant be that bad. You know what to do, just dial it down. Im beginning to think you have a phobia about shopping here. Wonder if they have a name for that? Fear of department stores. Martaphobia?"
By way of answer Jim just shot Blair a withering glance, which bounced off the younger man without impact. Taking a deep breath, as if facing a fate worse than death, Jim strode confidently through the doors. To be fair, Blair tried to imagine what Jim must be experiencing.
He noted the harsh light, bathing everything in its unforgiving glare. The screeching of off-track cart wheels competed with the crying of children and the mock-rock music pouring out of the speakers. Off to their right just inside the door was a snack stand; the odor of fresh popcorn was almost as overwhelming as the baby that was pushed past them with a diaper even Blair could smell. Blair winced in sympathy, darting a glance at Jim, who simply stared ahead with a stoic and longsuffering look on his face.
"Hey, man, you dont have to do this. I can run in and get what we need and you can wait in the truck," he offered.
"What, dont you think I can handle this?" Jim asked tightly. "Come on, we dont have all day." He pointed toward the back corner. "Camping supplies are back there."
"Okay," Blair answered. "But I gotta step in the little shoppers room. You go on and Ill meet you back there."
Blair walked away from Jim toward the restrooms that were in the front of the store, halfway between the large entry doors on either side. He heard a womans voice yelling for some kid and shook his head. This must be absolute torture for Jim.
He was brought up short by the yellow triangular sign in front of the mens room and the cleaning cart parked in front of the door. No, this just wasnt possible! He really had to go, could not possibly wait another moment. From inside the mens room, he heard the squeal of a small child, followed by an insistent no no NO. And then a mans voice, low and soothing; although Blair couldnt understand the words. Well, if that guy could go in there, with his kid, then Blair could, too. Besides, it was an emergency. Or it would be soon. And if the janitor didnt want a bigger mess to clean up in a few minutes, then hed just step aside and let Blair take of his business.
Pushing aside the cart slightly, Blair stepped inside the mens room. Just as he entered, the music stopped and a womans voice came over the loudspeaker system. "Code Adam, Code Adam, Code Adam," the voice intoned. Blair shivered. Someones child was missing, probably wandered off from Mom for the more exciting toy aisles.
The voice was still dying away as Blair turned the corner into the restroom proper. He was the only man at the urinal, but could hear someone else in one of the stalls. As he finished his business and washed his hands, he listened with wry amusement to the man talking to a small child. "Come on, now, do it for daddy, okay? Please, Johnnie, hold still."
A loud screech followed by an emphatic no indicated Johnnies disapproval of whatever daddy wanted, and daddy capitulated immediately. "Okay, okay, you dont have to. Come on, lets go home now."
The stall door opened as the man tried to get himself, his little boy, and a rather large diaper bag out of the narrow area. When the man caught sight of Blair, he stopped, a look almost of fear crossing his face. The door closed on him, catching the diaper bag as he tried to sidestep through.
"Oh, here, let me help you," Blair said, starting forward.
"No, no, its okay, I got it," the man stammered. He pulled ineffectively at the bag; the strap caught on the door lock.
The loudspeaker came to life again, the words "Code Adam, Code Adam, Code Adam," sounding loud in the tiled room. The man with the child jerked. Blair, reaching out to unhook the strap, raised his eyes and got his first good look at the child. The little boy was cherubically cute, with his bright blue eyes and curly brown hair hair that was cut strangely short on one side and looked somehow uneven in color.
Brown eyes full of fear and desperation met dark blue ones clouding with understanding and apprehension. The bag came free, the strap broken, as the contents spilled onto the floor.
Blair stared stupidly at the cup leaking juice, the flat plastic container of wipes, the scissors, the pacifier, and the can of spray on hair color that fell from the bag. He looked up as the man set the child carefully down. Naturally, the boy headed for the bright, shiny scissors. Blair and the other man both reached for the dangerous item at the same time. The other mans fingers closed about the shears and he straightened, holding the sharp blades threateningly toward Blair.
"Hey, take it easy, man," Blair said, eyes glued to the shiny blades.
"Hes my son," the man replied, eyes desperate for understanding.
Both men turned to look at the toddler, who had plopped himself down in the middle of the bathroom floor and was happily chewing on the hard plastic top of the spray can. Blair stared at the bad haircut and the hair color, trying to reconcile what the man was saying with what the evidence told him.
"She wont let me see him," the man continued. "She took him away, moved back in with her mother. They wont even let me in the house. Its not right! Hes my son, too!" The man was practically shouting.
"Okay, okay," Blair soothed.
The little boy looked up at the man. "Dada, Dada!" He banged the can of hair color on the floor, screeched happily and then threw the can across the room where it clattered against the far wall. The erstwhile kidnapper flinched at the sound and turned to his son. The boy crawled across the floor to the fallen cup of juice, and heedless of the myriad of germs that must have swarmed onto it on the mens room floor, and began to sip noisily at the juice.
Blair watched the man, shifting nervously from foot to foot, scissors clutched in his sweating hand. The man kept looking from the child to Blair to the door, as if gauging his chances of grabbing the boy and getting out safely. Blair didnt want to believe that the man would hurt his own son, if he really was the childs father, but bitter experience with the police department had taught him that an increasing number of children were being murdered each year by their own parents.
Blair also measured the distances, trying to decide if he could get the toddler to safety before the man could hurt either one of them. He began to edge around the man while his eyes were on the boy. But the man caught his movement and thrust the scissors at him.
"No you dont," he warned. "Stay right where you are."
Deciding to take a chance, Blair darted toward the door. He had only taken a few steps when a body crashed into his back, crushing him into the cold, unyielding tile. Blair grunted as his head hit the wall, the air forced from his lungs in a rush.
Pushing back, Blair temporarily dislodged the man. He turned to face his assailant as the possible kidnapper came at him again. Blair struck out; hitting the man on the cheek, but the desperate man just shook off the blow and closed with Blair again.
The blow to Blairs stomach stunned him for a moment. Then his eyes widened in surprise and pain. Blairs mouth dropped open, but no sound emerged. He stared fearfully at the other man, and then looked down. The man followed his gaze, his brown eyes filling with horror as he saw his hand still clamped around the handle of the six inch scissors protruding from Blairs stomach.
The man flinched away, his movement pulling the blades free of Blairs body. With a wrenching groan, Blair slid down the wall to sit on the floor of the bathroom. Weakly he brought his hands up to clutch his abdomen, trying vainly to staunch the flow of blood that was staining his faded denim shirt.
"Holy shit!" Both men looked up at the teenage boy poised in the doorway of the bathroom. Black spiked hair competed with multiple facial piercings for attention. His gaze was riveted on the bloody implement in the mans hand. "You killed him!" Before the other man could move the boy had darted back out into the store. Blair could hear him yelling. "Hes in there! The kidnapper! Hes got the baby in there and he stabbed this other guy! Someone call the police!"
"Oh, my god! What have I done? I just wanted to see my boy." The man turned wildly around, finally stopping to stare at the little boy. With a shudder of revulsion, the man dropped the scissors into the trashcan.
Blair watched him through a haze of pain and disbelief, his breath coming in short pants as his body struggled to accept what had happened. A fierce bolt of agony speared through him and Blair cried out in pain, doubling over the wound in his belly.
"God, Im sorry, Im so sorry," the man said, taking a hesitant step toward Blair. Blair cringed against the wall, fearing another blow. "No, no, Im not going to hurt you. Just let me see, let me get a look at that."
The man knelt in front of Blair, who leaned back against the wall. There was no way he could fight off the man in his present condition. Gasping for breath, Blair studied the man who gently pulled his hands away from his stomach.
The man seemed to be in his late twenties, probably just about Blairs age. His face matched his body, lean and long, almost bony. A shock of limp brown hair fell over his forehead and down the back almost to the collar of his worn brown shirt. In fact, brown was the overall impression Blair got of the man as a whole; brown hair, brown eyes full of regret, brown shirt thin at the elbows and wrists, even his attitude seemed somehow brown and colorless.
The man stared at the blood staining Blairs shirt, and then with shaking hands began to unfasten the buttons. "I didnt mean to hurt you," he was muttering. "I forgot I had those scissors in my hand. I would never stab anybody, never. It was just an accident."
"Please," Blair gasped, "please get someone to call an ambulance. My friend is in the store, hes a cop "
"A cop? Theres a cop in here? Shit," the man swore. "Oh, sorry, Johnnie. Daddys sorry, he said a bad word." The man pulled up the darker blue t-shirt Blair wore under his denim shirt then sat back, staring at the ugly wound steadily seeping blood. Nervously he wiped his hand across his mouth, smearing some blood on his face.
The toddler banged the cup against the floor, laughing as bright red drops splashed out of the supposedly spill proof cap. The erstwhile kidnapper flinched at the sound and turned to his son. He scooted across the floor and picked the little boy up. "Dont worry, honey," he crooned, "Daddy will get you out of this, okay? Daddy loves you, sweetheart."
Blair watched the man hug and kiss his son, pulling the sides of his shirt back over his stomach. Unable to suppress another low moan, he watched as the man looked wildly about the small bathroom.
"Yeah, Daddy will take care of everything, Johnnie, just you wait and see." The man picked up the fallen cup of juice and handed it to the child. Johnnie, heedless of the danger he was in, sipped noisily at the cup.
Brown eyes darted around the room as the man stood up and nervously began to pace. Blair could hear sounds of a crowd outside the door, and knew that Jim must be out there, close by, trying to find some way to handle the situation. The man rubbed at his mouth again, a sign of his agitation. "A cop, huh? Here in the store? What to do, what to do."
His eyes fell on the trashcan holding the discarded scissors, and Blair shuddered when he reached in to get them out again. The man stared distastefully at the blood on the blades, then rinsed them in the sink. As he reached for a paper towel to dry them, he turned to look back at Blair, still huddled miserably on the floor.
The man seemed to make up his mind. He grabbed the lever for the paper towel dispenser and began to crank it almost madly. Snatching the long length in one hand, he stepped over to Blair, still holding the scissors in his other hand. "Okay, listen. Im sorry I hurt you, understand? I didnt mean to, it was an accident. But I cant let you go just yet. I have to get out of here with my son, see? But I dont want you to bleed to death or anything."
The man darted a look at the child who was once again banging the cup against the hard floor and laughing at the little droplets of juice that popped out of the sippy cups top. Carefully, the man tucked the scissors into his belt at his back. He reached over and pulled the diaper bag toward him.
"Here, you can lay down on this. Im going to put this towel on your stomach, try to stop the bleeding." The man knelt down beside Blair. "Im not a bad man, you see, but my wife shes crazy. She wont let me see Johnnie, and she moved back in with her mother. Huh," the man snorted, taking Blairs shoulders and turning him, easing him down so that his head lay on the soft bag. Blair tensed in pain, but the man continued talking. "And shes even crazier than Sylvia. A pair of nuts, I tell you, and theyve got my boy locked up in that house and wont let me in."
Blair kept as quiet as he could, holding his breath against the agony and sickness that threatened to overwhelm him. He felt hot and cold, nauseated and weak. As his head came to rest on the diaper bag, he let his eyes close for just a moment. When he opened them again, he gasped as the man was pulling his belt free from his jeans, jostling his body.
"Dont worry, buddy, youll be okay. Im going to take care of you until I get out of here. Now, lift up just a bit." Blair groaned as the man shoved his arm under Blairs back, lifting him some from the floor. Snaking the belt underneath Blairs body, the man left it lying flat on the floor for the moment. Blair had clenched his eyes shut against the sudden stab of pain moving him had caused, but could hear the man folding up the length of paper towel.
"Here," the man pressed the folded up paper to Blairs stomach. A choked sob broke from Blairs throat. "Sorry, sorry, almost done," the man panted. He drew the belt up around Blairs body and cinched it tight, causing Blair to groan again.
The babble of voices from outside the restroom grew in volume as the inevitable crowd gathered. Blair could hear two distinct voices vying for supremacy.
"Get back! I need all of you to get back away from this area!" Hearing Jims voice helped ground Blair. Knowing his friend was taking control outside allowed him to focus on his own situation. He concentrated on his breathing, trying to bring his pain and shock under control.
Another voice intruded, screeching in panic. "Johnnie! Johnnie! Thats my baby in there! You have to let me in! JOHNNIE!"
"Mama!" Johnnie chortled. The toddler climbed to his feet and started for the door.
"No, buddy, cant go just yet." The man scooped the child up into his arms. "Youre going to stay with Daddy for a while, okay?"
"Mama! Mama!" Johnnie screamed. The toddler squirmed in his fathers arms. "Want Mama!" The little boy was crying, twisting and struggling.
"Stop it! Stop crying!" The man yelled, shaking the little boy.
Johnnie responded by screaming louder, as only a toddler can do. Outside, the woman, presumably Johnnies mother, was also screaming hysterically.
"Shut up, Sylvia!" the man yelled, stepping close to the entrance of the restroom.
There was a moment of silence from outside. Then, "Brian? Is that you, Brian? You asshole! You bastard, you give me my baby back right now!"
"Lady, if you dont shut up and get back I will arrest you right now. Do you hear me?" Jims voice was loud and clear.
Johnnie had quit screaming and was whimpering quietly on his fathers arms.
The initial burning pain was fading into a more bearable, deep seated ache. Blair felt heavy and tired, but he could think again.
"Brian? Is that your name?" he asked.
The man stared at him for a moment as if he had forgotten about the man he had stabbed. "Yeah, yeah. Thats me. Brian the asshole." He paced back and forth, patting his son on the back.
"Youre his father, you have rights," Blair said.
"Yeah, but Id have to get a lawyer. Since I got laid off, I dont have any money. We lost the house thats when she moved back in with her mother. But they wouldnt let me come - ," Brians voice broke. "They wont let me see him," he finished, hugging his son.
"I never knew my father, not at all," Blair said quietly. "Do you want to take that away from your son? I mean, how do you think this is all going to end?"
"I just wanted to see my boy," Brian pleaded. "Thats all I wanted, just to see him for a while."
Faintly, from outside, they could hear the sounds of sirens approaching the store. Brian and Blair were quiet while they listened to the noises just outside the restroom. Once again, Sylvias voice could be heard demanded to be let in to get her baby.
"Brian?" Jims voice called. "Brian, can I talk to you?"
"You stay out there!" Brian yelled back.
"Brian, I just need to know if theres anyone else in there with you. Anyone hurt?" Jim called.
Brian stared at Blair and licked his lips nervously. "Look, it was an accident, okay? I didnt mean to hurt no one!"
"Brain, tell me what happened. I need to know how badly the other man is injured. Can I come in?" Jim asked.
"No, no! No one else comes in here, okay?" Brian paced, his agitation growing.
"Chief? Blair, can you hear me?" Jim asked.
"Yeah, man. Im still here," Blair answered, knowing Jim would hear him even though his voice was weak.
" Chief? What the hell is that? You, like, the chief of police or something?" Brian asked, growing more alarmed.
"No, its just a nickname," Blair explained. "Im not even a cop. But thats my friend out there, and I know hell help you if you just let me and Johnnie go."
"No way, man. Hes my kid and Im keeping him," Brian stated adamantly.
"Brian, think about it. You kidnapped him and you stabbed me. You really think theyll just let you walk out of here?" Blair asked. He was feeling weak and cold, knowing those were not good signs. He tried to shift so that he could see Brian better, but the bolt of agony that shot though his stomach caused him to gasp in pain.
Brian ignored Blairs distress and stepped closer to the entrance. "Either I come out with my kid or no one comes out of here alive!" he threatened.
"Take it easy, Brian. No ones going to get hurt any more here, okay? Just dont do anything stupid. We can work something out." Jims voice sounded calm, but Blair knew what kind of stress he was under.
"Dont play me, man! Dont even try to play me!" Brian screamed.
"Brian, I know you dont want to hurt Johnnie with those scissors," Blair said, fighting against the darkness that was creeping up on him, hoping desperately that Jim was getting his hint. "You love him too much to hurt him. Thats why you did all this, right? Think about it, what do you want? Letters to prison or letters left on your grave? Do you want him to always think about the father he never knew, or the one he might get to know some day? If you give him a chance."
Blair had to stop, hold his breath against the resurgence of pain. "Give him a chance, man. Please, just give him a chance," he breathed, finally slipping into unconsciousness.
The man in brown sank down against the wall, sobbing as he held his son close, watching the man he had stabbed close his eyes, his head falling limply to one side. Finally, he set Johnnie down and kissed the boy on the top of his head. "Go on, son. Go to Mama."
Johnnie stuck three fingers into his mouth and stared at his father. Brian turned the boy and gave him a gentle shove toward the opening. "Hes coming out," Brian yelled, his throat tight. "Johnnies coming out." Tears streaked down his face as Johnnie toddled out of his sight.
A moment later the scissors clattered on the floor, in full view of the officers waiting outside. Brian didnt even look up as an officer in full SWAT gear rounded the privacy wall of the restroom entrance and point a dull black gun at his head.
Johnnie had been restored to his screeching mother, who had been led away to give her statement. Brian had been taken away in handcuffs. EMS had not even tried to pry Jim away from Blair as they loaded him up in the ambulance.
Simon and Rafe showed up just after Blair had been taken to surgery. They found Jim pacing in the surgical waiting room.
"How is he?" Simon asked, short and to the point.
"Doc said they wouldnt know for sure until they got in there. Probably punctured his stomach or maybe the small intestine. He lost a lot of blood, but they say the guy didnt hit an artery or anything, or hed be dead by now." Jims jaw and fists clenched.
"But hes going to be alright, isnt he?" Rafe asked.
"If they get the bleeding stopped. If he doesnt develop peritonitis." Jim stopped, squeezing his eyes shut.
Simon put a comforting hand on Jims arm. "Hes young and strong. Hell be fine."
Jim smiled weakly at the captain. "If you say so, sir," he agreed.
A couple of hours later the surgeon came out to meet them. "He did just great," she said, with a tired smile. "The stomach and small intestine were perforated, but we got the bleeding stopped. We cleaned him up inside as much as possible, but hell be on some heavy duty antibiotics for the next couple of weeks. Well keep him here for a few days until hes able to eat and eliminate normally. Give us an hour or so and we should have a room available for him."
The three men sighed in relief as the surgeon left. The elevator doors opened and Henri and Joel stepped out. Looking at the men already in the waiting room, Henri broke into a big grin.
"Hairboys going to be alright," he said.
Joel looked from Simon to Jim, worry still visible in his eyes. "Is that right? Hes going to be okay?"
"Yeah," Jim grinned. "Hes going to be just fine."
"I have to what?" Blair screeched.
The nurse just looked at him. "You heard me. You dont go home until you do, and I have to see it."
"Aw, man. Jim?" Blair pleaded.
"Dont look at me," Jim said, refusing to be drawn into the argument.
"Believe me," the nurse sniffed. "I dont like this any more than you do. But until you have a bowel movement and Ive verified it, youre stuck here. And if you dont, within the next twenty-four hours "
"Oh, dont say it," Blair moaned.
"Vell," she said in a very bad German accent, "ve haff vays of makink you go!"
Jim couldnt help himself. He snickered, then snorted, then outright guffawed.
"Jim!" Blair wailed.
Several hours later, a very embarrassed patient paged the nurse back to his room. "Can I go home now?" he demanded petulantly when she emerged from the bathroom.
"Sure," the woman assured him. "Just after I get you your sticker, you good boy!"
Okay, Im sorry; I just couldnt resist this ending! My mother had several abdominal surgeries during her life, and this was always the final test before she could go home! She hated it, by the way.