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Journey into Disaster
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Ernesto is Thomas Heger’s friend. The German was arrested in the Philippines and accused of bad things. Ernesto, one of the fathers of the boys involved, has a very difficult conversation with the head of the Youth Welfare Office (BSWD) in his city.
Ernesto Restito, he is Rica’s husband and Sam’s father, enters the BSWD in Sendong City at exactly eight o’clock in the morning. He has an appointment with his cousin, the head-off of the local BSWD Ronald Pagut, whom everyone just calls Ron. Ernesto would have liked to have Matthew, Lang’s husband and the father of the brothers Jan and Dan, with him, but unfortunately he is indispensable on a construction site. Ernesto has a bad feeling when he knocks on the door of the office. There is only one question on his mind: When are the children coming home?
“Thank you for coming so quickly, Ernesto,“ Ronald Pagut, the gaunt mid-fifties, opens the conversation while Ernesto sits down at his desk across from him.”
Since they are related, both men speak in clear tone: Ernesto says: “The Heger story is a stupid matter, Ron.”
“Oh, I agree, a stupid story. I heard you visited this German in Tugalm City?”
“We, all parents, Kagawad Jacub Castro and some other friends, went to Tugalm City immediately after being informed by phone calls and then seeing the story on the news. I tell you, Ron, we are really shocked! Heger arrested, our sons in the BSWD!”
“Yes, Ernesto, everyone would be. All parents would be shocked if they were drawn into such an unspeakable story.“ He leans forward and clears his throat. In a pressed voice he says: “Everyone in Tugalm City is wondering, and of course we are also wondering here in our city, how it can be that five of our children are half-naked and in the middle of the night from a hotel room in a strange city in front of a German need to be rescued?”
Ernesto swallows, because what he heard is like a slap into his face.
But his relative makes it much worse: “And the next question that remains unanswered is: How do the parents fit into the story?”
“Well, on previous trips, Heger is always back with the children on the same day,” stammers Ernesto. “I, I don’t know why they wanted to sleep in the hotel? Heger has explained because of the many construction sites which cause the longer traveling time. He didn’t want to return to Sendong City in the middle of the night. No Motorela into the village, power failure, lonely, dangerously bus terminal. Anybody knows that we should not be late at night on the streets of our city.
“Then they have to go back earlier! Now we have a mess. From Tugalm I have heard from the BSWD that a Nongovernmental Organization is already behind the case. Then the public, newspapers and television. Oh yeah, that damn TV report! That is also very strange!” Now Pagut sounds reproachful, and he wipes the sweat from his face: “Did you see the second report on the news, Ern?”
“No!” groans Ernesto. The conversation is extremely uncomfortable for him. He does not really know what his relative actually wants.
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