Introduction to The Call: Faithful Endeavors

Throughout our lives, we encounter people of most every character and type. In a few rare cases, we are especially fortunate to meet a child who is remarkably perceptive, possessing a unique and extraordinary sensitivity to his or her environment and living as a sympathetic feature of it, rather than as one who has little awareness of its progression or advancement. Such children provide an opportunity for all to delve into the nature of the human condition and bring insight into that which truly sustains us. In those even rarer circumstances when two equally perceptive children find one another and form a deep personal bond, the wisdom that flows from that relationship brings enlightenment to all who are willing to accept its legitimacy and faithfulness.

When we are young, we do the things that children do and more often than not give little heed to the significance of our actions: playing games with friends, attending school, riding bicycles, swimming, practicing sports, celebrating holidays, as well as many other events that typically define the childhood experience. As we age, these experiences subconsciously influence our actions and judgment, but seldom do they reach the level of conscious awareness. Once in a while, an old memory will present itself and give us reason to ponder it for a moment, but then something else distracts us, and the memory is again discarded until the psyche chooses to submit it once more for consideration.

Such has been one particular event from my childhood. This story is inspired by an actual twenty-second phone call I made in the summer of 1969, when I was nine years old.

Throughout my life, the memory of this call has resurfaced on occasion only to be disregarded within a minute or two. Not long ago, this happened again, except that the memory refused to fade. It displaced all other intents and motivations and demanded near-ceaseless attention. Thus, a deeply emotional story began to unfold. This one memory remained intact and unaltered as the story expanded around it, and would not be appeased until that story was completed. It became an obsession, an obligation with an unrelenting demand for respect. I found myself unable to affect the development of this story, as no amount of distraction, simple or complex, proved adequate against the emotional storm. The story contained within these pages is the outcome of that struggle.

As I began writing, I assumed the story would fit neatly within the pages of a single book. I did not yet realize that it was incomplete. Though I understood it implicitly, I also did not consider the fact that the message contained in every story is heavily influenced by the character who reveals it. As such, this first book poses many questions and hints at situations not explained within its pages, and so the answers must wait patiently to be revealed later.

Throughout the creation of this work, I maintained a desire to make it more than a simple catharsis or even just to reflect on an incredible circumstance. I actively sought to devote it to the benefit of anyone who may come across it or may be so influenced by its recounting. To that end, this effort became an exploration of what might have been, if the actions subsequent to that phone call had matched the stated intent.

This is a fictional tale, except for the childhood events described in the first chapter and a subtle reference in a later one. While the memories have faded over time, those events are true in their entirety; only the names have been changed. Many of the actual words spoken or implied have been lost to time, but the emotional phantoms remain. Of all that is spoken here, the words of that phone call are presented verbatim, since that conversation is one I shall never forget. The true nature of the response I received from the question I posed is depicted with complete authenticity. The story must be viewed within this context; otherwise, it may seem as merely an odd tale if not an outright absurdity.

The content of that phone call may be disturbing to many, but such is the nature of nine-year-olds. So many years removed, I question if it is far too late to atone for the words spoken, even if I knew to whom I had spoken them. Regardless, an imperative question remains: which of us in that call must express the most ardent contrition? Perhaps, all three.

2018 JMA Ziegler

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