He Didn’t Listen
It was his wife’s warning that he shouldn’t leave the son alone on the lawn.
“You never know what kind of people lurk out there,” she said. He ignored her advice, however.
He watched as the sanitation worker pressed the yellow brick into his son’s pocket from his bedroom window. Upon scooping up the boy, he grinned before disappearing behind the fence.
Despite his best efforts, Dave could not get downstairs in time.
Having already dealt with a series of problems with his wife, he couldn’t bear to add more.
Besides, this was his baby – the reason he got up in the morning. His heart raced as he raced across the lawn in hopes of getting there in time. As he turned the corner, he was taken aback by what he saw.
They Had It All
His wife, Malaya, and Dave Palmer were thirty-two when they had their first baby.
The future was supposed to be brighter now. In addition to having great jobs, they had just moved into the house of their dreams.
They were having a difficult time maintaining their love life as time went on. Having a baby did not seem to make a difference. Within a short period of time, the two would reach a breaking point.
They Needed More Space
The incident occurred in Brookside Park, where Kansas City locals had just moved.
Their last neighborhood in Kansas was among the most secure in the state, making it a quiet home for them.
Even so, they couldn’t escape the feeling that their house was a little cramped. As they were expecting a son, they decided to upgrade to a bigger house. It would have been better if they had known what lay ahead.
The Spark Was Gone
A local tech company hired Dave as a software developer.
His work was mostly done from home, as opposed to Malaya’s, who commuted daily to town as a paralegal.
There should have been happiness between the couple. As a result of their achievements and their advantages, everyone insisted that they should be. In spite of this, the roaring fire that had inspired them to tie the knot was now nothing more than a flicker. There would be no turning back from this incident.
They Wanted A Big Family
It had always been a dream of Dave and Malaya’s to have a large family.
Being the only children in their families, they know what it is like to be alone.
In order to prevent that from happening to their baby, they committed themselves to have a lot of children. Their encounter with the sanitation worker would expose the true nature of the world.
Things Were Good
When Dave and Malaya got married, they started trying to have a baby.
In no time at all, Carey was born, and the parents were thrilled.
Working from home, Dave would enjoy spending time with his wife and child. The family’s happiness would soon be shattered by a dark cloud.
A Difficult Time
After Malaya’s maternity leave ended, trouble knocked on the door.
She discussed with Dave how she felt as though she was abandoning Carey and was caught between wanting to advance her career and raising her son.
Even though she returned to work, she hated to leave the house. Eventually, their problems would result from this bitterness.
There was a constant argument between Dave and Malaya over their careers every night.
The more financially successful Malaya considered quitting her job to raise Carey at home.
Nevertheless, Dave considered it a reckless move. Besides Malaya having worked so hard to achieve her position and being unable to throw away everything, there were numerous bills around the house that must be paid.
She Couldn’t Let It Go
Additionally, the two had moved into a house that was one of the biggest in the neighborhood.
Dave would have to burn through their life savings just to pay off the mortgage alone.
Malaya listened to Dave’s arguments, and she agreed to continue working. However, the wound had already festered. There wouldn’t be much time before the damage was irreversible.
Down The Line
The weeks turned into months, and Carey turned two.
The relationship between his parents had deteriorated much, with the little boy being the reason the two were still together.
Malaya still commuted to work daily, leaving all house duties to Dave, who usually called a cleaner and gardener to take care of everything. Then, he started noticing something that had never been there before.
The Garbage Bags
Typically, the cleaners would finish their job and take the trash bags to the front lawn. From there, Dave would take it down the driveway when he came in the afternoon.
That way it could be collected by the garbage truck.
But that month, there was no garbage for him to pick up in the evening, despite the cleaners leaving it out at noon. Dave couldn’t help but wonder what was happening. If he only knew what was going on behind his back.
A Few Changes
Speaking to one of his neighbors, Dave learned that a new garbage truck usually passed by every afternoon, collecting trash bags all over the neighborhood.
The dad was happy to hear this.
He even learned the sanitation worker’s name and was looking forward to meeting him. He had no clue what he was stepping into.
Making Work Easier
Dave shared his findings with Malaya.
Although there was no longer any fire between them, she still listened and gave her two cents on the matter.
“It makes your work even easier,” she said in an emotionless tone where she sat before a mirror, wiping off her makeup. “You like everything being easy, don’t you?” Dave was speechless.
Dave had never been one to consider divorce.
He believed in working through things and still loved his wife enough to work on their marriage.
But his will was slowly depleting with each passing day. Her scathing remarks thrashed his heart, chipping away at the little hope he had left. Would calling it quits be the best way forward for him and Malaya?
Working On Their Marriage
Dave beat these negative thoughts out of his mind.
He would continue fighting, looking for a better way to handle his marital issues. He and Malaya were already seeing a professional for advice – a good start.
But down on the streets of their neighborhood, something else was happening that they weren’t aware of. The new garbageman, Tucker, was already making his rounds.
The Garbage Truck
Every afternoon, he’d appear, collect the filled trash bags on Dave’s doorstep and leave.
But Dave wasn’t the only person taking notice of the sanitation worker.
His son, the two-year-old Carey, loved the sound of the garbage truck and would race to the window. He would jump and wave, scream “Truck!” at the top of his voice.
Dave thought his fascination was with the garbage truck. Carey had always loved cars and had an impressive collection of vehicles in his toy basket.
But the boy’s attention transcended mere tires and engines.
Even though the truck fascinated the little boy, it was the new garbage man that truly had his focus. The boy admired him even more than the truck.
A Playful Situation
Carey eventually started waving at Tucker, the sanitation worker, who would always grin and wave back.
Dave thought this was a wholesome interaction, unaware of the sanitation worker’s intentions.
But the troubled father would learn the truth soon enough, and when he did, he’d be speechless. What was the new garbage man really up to?
Trucks And Legos
Among the things that Carey loved the most were trucks and Legos.
Dave and Malaya had made sure he never missed anything and would constantly buy him toys, especially as a way to mask their fights from their son.
They had no idea that their support of their son’s favorite toys would lead them down a path they could never return from.
Taking The First Step
When Dave noticed Carey loved both the garbage truck and Tucker, he made an effort to introduce them.
He’d ensure Carey was at his room’s window every Tuesday afternoon, so when Tucker came by, they’d wave to each other.
But Dave had no clue what he’d started. He was too wrapped up in his problems to see the little details of the interactions.
Dave was still trying to work on his relationship with Malaya.
He was making enough money to match hers by now, and wanted to revisit their conversation about her being a stay-at-home mom.
At the time, that was the most important thing in his mind. He thought it would help them work past their problems and rebuild their family.
Too Much Going On
Malaya had always wanted to spend more time with Carey, and this would be the perfect opportunity for her to do just that.
But before Dave talked to her about it, he wanted to share Carey’s newfound interest in garbage trucks and Tucker, the sanitation worker.
He thought that she would be interested in what their son had been up to, and it seemed like a good way to start the other conversation.
A Day In Their Life
Dave and Malaya usually disagreed on several things.
No matter how mundane, most of their conversations always seemed to end in a fight. But that wasn’t the case when it came to their son.
As soon as Carey’s name was mentioned, the atmosphere changed. Malaya seemed to be calmer, and she usually listened to what Dave had to say.
What Could Go Wrong?
The couple usually came to a sound understanding whenever Carey was involved and knew he was the only glue keeping them together.
So whenever anything good or bad happened to the two-year-old while Malaya was away, Dave would let her know immediately.
But this time, she wouldn’t be as understanding as she usually was when it came to their son.
Dave shared what Carey had been doing lately, thinking Malaya would be as impressed as she usually was whenever Carey learned a new skill or formed a new interest.
But he was incredibly wrong. Instead of supporting their son’s newfound interest, Malaya had a word of warning for her husband.
Was she right about what she said?
This time, the mom was apprehensive. She warned Dave not to let the boy out of his sight, no matter the reason. “You never know what kind of people are lurking out there,” she said.
But Dave wouldn’t heed her warning. He was sure everything would be fine. He had no reason to think otherwise.
But Malaya said what she said for a reason.
Keeping An Eye On Him
There had been reports of abductions nationwide, and Malaya was only looking out for their son. But Dave saw it as her overreacting.
From what he had seen, their neighborhood was even safer than the last.
And all the neighbors knew each other, so there was no way someone would attempt something like that. Or would they?
He Loved The Outdoors
Carey usually went outside to run around the lawn and pick up bugs. His mornings were solely dedicated to that activity.
Dave saw no reason to interfere, let alone change such an integral part of their son’s growth.
In his mind, the boy needed to experience those things, and he wasn’t going to let Malaya’s overreaction get in the way of his progress.
The Usual Situation
Usually, Dave would watch from his home office next to the living room as Carey ran around the front lawn.
The front doors were generally wide open, so he’d race back inside if anything went wrong.
Since he was always at hand, Dave wasn’t concerned at all. But this day would change everything. It would force him to understand the point his wife was trying to make.
On that fateful day, Dave had only headed upstairs for a mere second. He needed a few documents for one of his clients and had run to fetch them.
Carey was playing outside, but Dave wasn’t concerned. He would only be away for a few seconds.
Nothing could possibly go wrong in that time. Could it? That’s when he heard it.
A Guttural Sound
He was busy inside his file cabinet when the roar of the garbage truck rang outside.
At first, he thought it was one of his neighbors who drove a supercharged sports car.
But this sound was more distinct and guttural. It was the sound a massive object with a huge motor would make. And Dave should’ve known better than to listen to his frazzled mind.
At the back of his mind, Dave knew it was the garbage truck. But it didn’t make sense because the day was only tilting toward noon, and the truck usually came in the afternoon.
But that wasn’t all. With his mind being all over the place, Dave forgot a crucial detail about the day.
And it was something he’d never be able to forget again.
Tuesdays Vs. Thursdays
The truck’s visits were on Tuesdays. Today was Thursday, which Dave would have known if he had checked the date.
But he was so engrossed in finding his files that he didn’t stop to think that something might be wrong.
It was only when his son stopped making noise that he realized he had made a mistake.
Carey laughed outside for a few seconds, and Dave knew it was because he was excited about seeing his favorite garbage man.
Or at least that’s what he thought it was.
But suddenly, there was nothing but utter silence. Dave froze for a moment before sprinting to his bedroom window. What on earth was going on down there?
He Sees It
Dave’s sight landed on the man that had gotten out of the truck.
He was dressed in the usual garbage man clothes, but something seemed to be out of place.
The man was wiggling a yellow Lego brick before Carey’s eyes. And it wasn’t Tucker, the man who usually picked up Dave’s trash bags. This was someone he had never seen before.
The bright toy enthralled the little boy, who was fascinated with those kinds of things. He reached for it, and the man quickly scooped him into his arms.
Dave couldn’t believe what he saw. In that instant, he forgot about everything.
His client, the paperwork, his struggles with his wife, they were all gone. All he could think about was getting to his son.
With everything Dave and Malaya were going through, Dave couldn’t let anything happen to their son. Carey was the key to fixing their marriage, and both of them knew it.
But he was also Dave’s world. The little boy was the only happiness the miserable father had left.
He couldn’t lose the one thing that meant the world to him.
Where Are They?
The dad sped out of the house, running faster than his feet could carry him, and within a matter of seconds, he was on the lawn.
The garbage truck’s distinct growl was pretty close. If he hurried up, he could get to it before it disappeared.
Dave sped around the corner, and he almost fell over when he saw what he saw.
The Gloves Don’t Fit
Just outside of his property, there were a couple of sanitation workers. One of them had Carey in his arms.
They both had their hands covered in gloves, with Carey’s barely fitting. But he still helped the man push a massive garbage bin toward the truck.
The man was explaining things to Carey, who was laughing hysterically.
What Did He Miss?
Dave paused, taking in this one-in-a-million interaction. From the corner of his eyes, Tucker approached with another garbage bin.
The frantic father let out a sigh of relief. He was still confused about the whole situation.
But once he saw Tucker, he knew his son was safe. Even though he didn’t know the man, he could see that he would never harm a child.
Carey And Tucker
Tucker high-fived Carey, who fought the other man’s hold to go to him.
They talked for a minute, with Carey’s words bordering on gibberish instead of actual sense.
The little boy’s enthusiasm was apparent, and at that moment, his father couldn’t have been happier. His son finally got to spend time with his hero, and he was clearly enjoying it.
The other garbage collector introduced himself as Elvis. He was Tucker’s right-hand man. Every garbage truck needed two workers, and he was the second.
He knew Carey as well as Tucker did, and the two of them wanted to surprise their favorite toddler.
Dave, who was still astonished by the encounter, spent some time getting to know him and Tucker.
A Precious Memory
Dave couldn’t stop thanking the men for their kindness.
He was still looking for a moment to introduce Carey to his favorite new friend. But the two garbage men had taken things to the next level.
They had even gone as far as to let him “help,” and they had shown the little boy the love he had been missing out on lately. Even though Dave wanted to do the same, he couldn’t because of work.
One More Thing
But the two men weren’t done just yet. That yellow Lego was only one piece of the set they had bought him to show him how much they appreciated his friendship.
And the Legos were a representation of something much bigger. Elvis and Tucker had asked their boss if they could take Carey and his father on a ride along so the little boy could have the full experience.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.