A distraught teenager, Jennifer L. Semple, stormed into the police station, alleging that Harley D. Semple, her grandfather, has been attempting to restrain her against her will.
For her own safety, the girl was moved to a locked interrogation room.
Opal Casey, police matron, interviewed the grandfather and filled out “Mental Illness, Inebriety or Epilepsy,” an informant’s report.
Jennifer needs help, I’m afraid. I don’t know what to do.
You could commit her to Cherokee for observation.
Seems rather drastic, but what choice do I have? She’s so angry, and the drugs...she scares me.
(Sighing as she scribbles in his name on the information form.) These kids today... (Shakes her head.) Don’t know what’s good for them, what with all these strange drugs and immoral ways. What is the world coming to, anyway?
(Scratching his forehead.) I don’t know, but if she gets wind of this, she’ll despise me...
You’re doing the right thing.
I don’t know if I can do this. (Pauses.) Who’ll pay the hospital bill, anyway?
(Taps her pen.) I’m afraid you’ll be financially responsible, Mr. Semple.
(Wringing his hands.) I don’t know. We can’t afford hospital bills; my wife and I are on Social Security and barely making it now. This would kill us financially.
(Takes in a deep breath and sighs.) I can’t tell you what to do here. It’s your decision.
(Scratches his chin.) Can’t you sign as informant?
(She sets down her pen and steeples her hands.) I don’t know the girl. I see she needs help, but, to what extent, I can’t say for sure. It’s really your word against hers.
(Burying his face in his hands.) Oh, God, I’d rather die than betray her. (Raises his head. Pauses, as if he’s formulating a thought.) It’s not the money, really. If I thought committing Jennifer would help, I’d do it in a blink and worry about the money later. But she doesn’t trust me as it is; this would kill anything between us.
(Silence. She sighs and picks up her pen again. She taps it against the paper a few times. Then she scratches out “Harley Semple,” and scribbles in her own name.) This is between us, Mr. Semple.
(Brushes his hair back with his hand. Softly–) Thank you. (Buries his face in his hands and visibly shivers.)
With one scratch of Mrs. Casey’s pen, Woodbury County and Iowa assumed financial and legal custody of the girl.
Excerpt copyright 2008, Jennifer Semple Siegel.
Text may not be reposted or republished without permission.