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Josef Cannon

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Category: 

Parenting

Publisher:  Amazon Publishing Type: 
Pages: 

249

Copyright:  Jan 8, 2009
Non-Fiction

Chapter One of the Non-Fiction book dealing with my daughters 1998 Kidnapping from Los Angeles and subsequent recovery in Liverpool, England and return home in 2008.


 

 

 

 

                                                          CHAPTER ONE

                                                          THE PHONE CALL

 

The phone rang at 4:17 in the morning on October 13, 2003. It has always been my

experience that early morning calls bring bad news. I was lying on the floor when the ringing

awoke me. I'd fallen asleep a few hours before in front of my fireplace, opposite the wall where

Shelby's picture hung over the sofa. I often fell asleep there, comfortable with the thought that

she was watching over me.

 

Sorry to ring you so early, Nicola said when I picked up, but the paper has had a call I

thought you would want to know about. I never minded getting calls from Nicola, whatever time

of day. She was a freelance reporter in Ireland, working for the newspapers there. She had been

instrumental in getting articles about Shelby and me into those papers, stirring up a lot of public

sympathy for my cause, where before there had been only suspicion and apathy. She had single-handedly kept us in the news.

 

What call? I was immediately awake, knowing she would not have phoned at this hour

without just cause. A woman has rung the news editor saying she thinks she knows where

Shelby is, Nicola exclaimed! I was on my feet and walking out onto the balcony as I listened,

trying to keep calm and concentrate on what she was telling me, finding it hard to believe my

ears. This was the first time in six years anyone had come forward with any information on

Shelby's whereabouts. I was instinctively careful not to become optimistic, for fear it would

prove to be a false lead; disappointment becomes increasingly hard to bear with time.

 

I have spoken to her, Nicola was saying, and she sounds frazzled. Could it be a prank

call? I hesitantly asked. Possibly, but something about her voice made me think it was not,

Nicola insisted. I stared out at the still, dark, pre-dawn ocean waters and took some deep

breaths. What do I do?, I asked, as my mind started racing. You need to handle her with kid

gloves, she advised. You don't want to frighten her away.

 

I could hear the excitement in Nicola's voice and my own heart was pounding like it

wanted to escape from my chest. This could be the break we had been hoping and praying for so

long. It would be unbearable to frighten this woman away before we had even found out what

she knew.

 

What's her name, I asked. She won't say, Nicola shared disappointedly. That was even

worse. If we lost her now we would never be able to find her again. She insists on speaking to

you, Nicola went on and my hands began to sweat. I gave her your phone number and she says

she'll be calling you shortly. I then hung up as my nervous shaking fingers betrayed my

excitement. It would be early evening in Ireland, a good time for her to call. If it was indeed

from Ireland she was calling.

 

I sat staring at the phone; feeling like my willingness alone would make it come alive

with the call I had been waiting on for 6 years. Ring it did, right on cue. With immense selfcontrol,

I allowed it to ring twice before I picked up. Hello, Josef speaking. The woman at the

other end spoke quietly. It sounded like she had been crying. Hello, she said, I hope this isn't a

bad time. It certainly isn't, I assured her, desperate not to frighten her away. There was a moment

of awkward silence as I waited to see if she would speak first. Thank you for contacting the

newspaper, I said eventually. I'm so sorry. I didn't know. I really didn't know. She said, her voice

full of emotion.

 

I wondered if she was a member of Catherine's family who had been told one story and

had then found out another from a newspaper article about me. Maybe she didn't know whom to

believe. Are you related to Shelby's mother? I asked, as gently as possible. No, she responded.

What is your name? I coaxed. I can't tell you. I wish I'd never seen the article. This could put my

family in a very compromising position, she said, almost fearful. I did not fully understand

what she meant, but I kept quiet. Tell me about Shelby and yourself, she said.

 

Relieved to have a chance to talk about my favorite subject I told her everything from Shelby's

birth, to her baptism. I explained how I'd met Catherine and anything else I thought would help

her build a picture of how my family had been five years before. However, I was doing all the

talking. She still hadn't told me anything about where Shelby was now or how she was doing.

 

Could you be happy just knowing your daughter was okay and healthy? She asked, as

though she was praying I would say yes and relieve her of the decision she had to make. No, I

admitted firmly, I couldn't. This game of cat and mouse went on for about fifty minutes and

every time I asked her a specific question she would say, I can't answer that at this time. It

required every ounce of self-control I possessed not to lose my temper. If she hung up I might

never be able to get through to her again.

 

She continued to ramble on about how her family would have to move if she gave away

vital information about Shelby's whereabouts. I begged her to tell me something about Shelby. I

could hear she was close to tears as she replied, She's tall and slim and very pretty, and my own

eyes began to water up. Not knowing whether my child was alive or dead for years and then to

hear her described by someone who possibly knew her and had recently seen her was

overwhelming. Was like a bolt of energy shooting thru my entire body. You’re just finding out

after the longest 6 yrs of your life that your baby girl is alive and healthy!

 

When was the last time you saw my daughter? I asked calmly, as my insides were

churning. About ten minutes before I called you, she said and I felt the final dregs of my

composure drain away. I did not know whether to sit or stand, laugh or cry. I was numb. I have

to go, she said, I'll call you back.

 

This isn't a prank is it? I pleaded, not sure how I would be able to cope if it was. No, I

promise it isn't a prank. I'm just trying to do what is in my family's best interests. If telling you

where Shelby is will cause them any problems, then I won't be able to do it. Please respect my

feelings, she pleaded with me.

 

I had no choice but to agree, but I felt so frustrated I wanted to scream. I'll call you back

in two hours, she promised, and then I was alone in the apartment. My good friend, April, was

down in San Diego visiting her parents. I wanted to hear her soothing voice, but it didn't seem

reasonable to ring her before sunrise with a lead that might turn out to go nowhere. I didn't want

to get anyone else's hopes up because I knew how hard it was going to be if this all came to

nothing.

 

Unable to stay in the apartment for a moment longer, I went down to the ocean shore and

walked as the sun came up, trying to make sense of the jumbled thoughts that were racing

through my head. I wanted to go over and over the description she had given me of Shelby. I

needed to form a clear picture in my head of what my Munchkin might look like now. It was so

hard to banish the memories of her that I'd been treasuring for so long and replace them with a

new, imagined picture, based on such meager details from someone else’s description.

 

I'd walked that route so many times with Shelby on my shoulders and Catherine holding

my hand, that every step brought back memories. Every time I looked at my watch, the hands

seemed scarcely to have moved.

 

Two hours were going to take forever to pass. I forward my home phone to my cell for couldn’t

take the chance of missing that call incase she called sooner.

 

After an hour and a half, I was back in the middle of my living room floor, the phone

inches away, staring at the clock as if waiting for the ball to drop on New Year's Eve. I began a

countdown in my head; "ten, nine, eight, seven, six," and then the phone rang. I snatched it up

before the first ring had finished.

 

Hello? Mr. Cannon, it's me. Is this a bad time? She asked hesitantly. You have

information about my missing daughter, there is NEVER a bad time, I assured her. She explained

how she'd come upon the article about me which had alerted her to Shelby's real identity.

 

We were on a family holiday in Scotland that weekend. We were supposed to go the week

before but I was ill and we had to postpone it….she shared with me. I kept encouraging her to

talk, even though the details of her family life were the last things I wanted to hear about at that

moment. All I wanted was a name and an address where my Munchkin was, but I knew if I

wasn’t patient with her, I ran the risk of getting nothing.

 

We were at the airport, she started, and I was flicking through a newspaper I found on

the seat beside me, when I noticed a picture of Pierce Brosnan. It caught my eye because he's my

favorite movie star. Then I noticed the picture of your daughter at the bottom of the story and I

knew immediately it was the same girl I've seen almost every day for the last three years in my

son‘s class at the school he attended. I became quite ill on the way home and hardly spoke to my

children or my husband.

 

I continued to listen intently, jotting down notes just in case she gave a hint as to which

city she lived in, but she was being very careful with her words.

 

Though I understood how shocked she must have been by the discovery that a child she knew

was actually the victim of abduction, I really wasn’t concerned at that moment about her "inner

struggle", but I couldn't let my impatience show in my voice.

 

What do you want me to do? she asked when she'd finished her story. You want me to

contact the authorities, don't you? She asked, almost accursedly. Yes I do, I stated flatly. Silence

fell between us again as I tried to figure out the best way to maneuver through this verbal chess

match.

 

Is it possible for me to sleep on this? she asked quietly. Of course, I replied, as

encouragingly as I could, although I did not know how I would be able to bear another wait.

Thanks again for contacting me. I hope you find it in your heart to do the right thing, I said,

trying to motivate her, without insulting her. The right thing is always subjective, she said and

hung up. I felt a terrible emptiness inside.

 

When members of my family rang during the day to see how I was doing, I tried not to

mention the conversation or the news of a possible lead. I did not want to have to handle all their

emotions as I walked the tightrope of give and take with this woman. I needed to keep my head

as clear as possible.

 

I couldn't sleep and I couldn't eat. All I could do was pace back and forth like an

expectant father outside the delivery room. The hours dragged by and I watched tapes of Shelby

that I had put away years before because they were too painful. It felt like I was being

continually punched in the stomach every time she smiled at the camera. By the time night

arrived, I was surrounded by boxes of photographs, videotapes and toys that had belonged to

Shelby. Reminiscing seemed to energize me, as I waited for the next phone call that might

actually bring me closer to my Munchkin.

 

 

I tried not to think about the woman who held the key to ending the misery I had been suffering

for the last six years, but could not make up her mind whether to give me the precious gift.

 

My instincts told me it wasn't a hoax, that there just might be a light at the end of the

tunnel, which was not an on-coming train. However, the light could so easily be snuffed out

before I had anything tangible to go on.

 

When my friend April stopped by, she had to step over the mountains of Shelby material

she knew immediately something was not right. I had to share the emotions and thoughts with

someone, so we went out for a walk. When I explained what had happened she became thrilled

and angry at the same time. She thought the mystery woman was being cruel by refusing to give

me any information.

 

It's like she's saying, "I've got some good news and some bad news; the good news is I

know where Shelby is, the bad news is I'm not going to tell you." I could see April was right, but

I could not afford to let my mind go in the direction of anger in case I made a mistake and

frightened the woman away.

 

The phone rang like clockwork again, and this time the woman's voice sounded clearer

and less choked with emotion. I won't be talking for long, she said, but I just wanted to ring like I

promised. I am still not sure what to do. I want to talk to my priest to help me clear things up in

my mind. Can I have another day to think things over and talk to my husband?

 

Now I was beginning to feel angry and my voice rose. Why are you playing with me like

this? As a mother yourself, you should understand the pain I’m going through, I shot at her! .I'm

not trying to hurt you, she insisted, I'm so confused. Please give me until later this evening and

I'll have an answer for you. I'm talking to my priest in a few hours., she implored

 

This seemed like total madness. I felt like I was being held emotional hostage, but what

could I do? I have respected your privacy, I said, forcing my voice to remain calm. I haven't

called the authorities. I've waited patiently, I said, almost whispering at this point. I truly

appreciate that, she said, I will have an answer for you later, I promise.

 

Once I had hung up, I rang Nicola in Ireland. She was as outraged as I at the delay. We

wondered what we would do if she chose not to disclose where Shelby was. All we had was the

knowledge she was visiting Scotland when she spotted the article. No clue on where she had come

from other then an accent. That could have come from many areas in that region and would not

be enough to track her down.

 

At nightfall, the mystery woman rang again. I've spoken to my priest and he told me to

follow what was in my heart. She began to cry and I feared the worst. April was listening in on

the other phone, wearing an expression of total shock as the woman went on. This has been the

most difficult two days of my life. I want to do the right thing but I have to think about the wellbeing

of my own family. I wish I had never seen that article, she cried. .

 

My eyes swelled with tears because I could see clearly now where we were heading. I

was racking my brain for something to say which might change her mind at the last moment, but

nothing would come to me. You would feel differently if it were your children in this situation, I

reminded her and she cried even harder. Why are you doing this to me? That is not fair, she

choked. Fairness was no longer my principal concern. I sensed she felt guilty and I was going to

have to twist the knife as deeply into that wound as I could. I had no other choice. April was

shaking her head in despair as she saw me go on the attack.

 

Every day you see my daughter, I accused, I want you to look her in the eyes and know

you have information about her father, but you choose to keep us apart. If anything happens to

your children, I hope you are not relying on someone like you to help. She gasped as if I had

punched her. That was a mean thing to say!, she said thru tears.

 

Before she could say anything else, I hung up the phone, snapping the only connection

I had with Shelby. I did not want to speak to anyone else, so I left the house and walked down by

the boats, sitting on the edge of the pier for hours. April sat down behind me, wrapping herself

around me as a blanket, placing her head on my back, and silently rocked me for the entire

evening, as I glared out over the ocean.

 

At around four thirty in the morning I heard the phone ring and realized April had

brought the handset with her from the apartment. She brought it over to me. It's Nicola, she said.

I've just got off the phone with the husband of the mystery woman. He claims they've "taken care

of everything", Nicola says, almost breathless with excitement. When I asked what that meant he

just said, "everything's been taken care of, so please don't call us any more”, Nicola shared.

 

It was as if I had been brought back from the brink of madness. April and I ran into the

house and sat on the living room floor going over repeatedly what these words might possibly

have meant. It was too early to call the U.S. State Department but the moment we thought they

were open, we phoned. Shelby Cannon has been picked up and placed into protective custody,

they confirmed. I did not know what to do. It was finally over, or so I thought…….

 

 

Don't Worry, Daddy's Coming (c). 2008 Josef Cannon. No part of this document may be used without the express permission of Josef Cannon

 

 





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Reader Reviews for "Don't Worry, Daddys Coming! - Chapter 1"

Reviewed by Wendy Knight 9/10/2008
This narrative is brilliant! As a single parent and always having that fear of losing my child, I felt every emotion as it was explained. I truly felt the heartache and anger. It brought tears to my eyes at times because it was so descriptive that I felt like I was witnessing the entire event. Very intriguing and brilliant!
Reviewed by Ken Connelly 8/8/2008
Josef,

Although you allowed me to read the rough draft for your book, the words placed here say so much more. Josef reaches deep in to that tormented place; a place that only a parent wish never to go. One can only feel a father's heart break, grief and rage over the loss of their own child.

I have never been able to ask my Mother what it was like for her during my own abduction. The nights spent looking at the moon, wondering, was she looking at the moon too; is she there somewhere? Can she feel my saddness? Again, it is an honor to know you and have the pleasure to hear your insight into my own book. I wsh the best my friend.

Kindest Regards,

Ken Connelly
Reviewed by Ruth Wood 7/11/2008
This is one of the most moving things I have ever read in my life. It comes straight from the heart, and tells the narrative so clearly I felt as if I was actually there seeing through his eyes. I would dearly love to know the outcome.



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