Maurits Chabot – Across the Divide
Christopher Carrier grew up in Miami.
David McAllister was his uncle’s carer.
Everglades National Park, Florida, United States
1974 and 1996
From an early age I knew: the Everglades National Park is a place of beauty and danger. Nobody can find you if something happens to you there. I grew up in Miami, a city in the American state Florida, an hour’s drive from this conservation area. My father drove me around the national park on several occasions. The alligators basking alongside the channels were clearly visible from the road. The animals fascinated me. Thanks to my father, I knew the dangers of the park. When he wanted to warn me about something he would put his hands on my shoulders and squat in front of me.
‘Christopher Carrier,’ my father would say while looking at me seriously, ‘your father has Wise Advice. Never underestimate the danger of the Everglades.’
He told me that alligators like lingering in the cover of tall grass by the waterside – they are at home in the park. He also taught me to be careful of the swamp.
‘One misstep and you’ll sink,’ he warned while squatting in front of me. But I was safe in my father’s presence.
The man who deceived me and drove in his campervan to the Everglades that December afternoon in 1974 ordered me to sit about ten metres from the path, on the ground between the tall sawgrass.
‘Here?’ I asked him to be sure.
I looked around. The ground we were standing on was soggy and surrounded by swamp.
‘Here,’ was the firm reply.
When I sat down, the sawgrass stalks extended even further above my head than they usually did. The plant can grow up to two metres tall. I knew to treat the fully grown blades with caution so as not to cut myself on their serrated edges. The tall stalks are more rigid than those of other species of grass. I sat on the smaller shoots. I could feel that they didn’t bend under me but broke instead.
The man stood behind me to the left, while I took in the surroundings. I saw pines and palm trees. There was a light breeze. The scent of pine-needles. Sunlight fell between the leaves; the trees seemed to sway backwards and forwards in the wind. The sun had started going down. I tried to calculate whether my father could reach the Everglades before it was dark. How long would the man behind me take to reach a telephone pole? How long was there before sunset? I stretched my head a little forward to get a better look at the sun. Suddenly there was a thunderous crack near my left ear. I slumped forward in the tall grass.
A Monday morning in late August 1996. The dining room was full of removal boxes. In shorts and a t-shirt, I was packing the last things. I had quit my job several weeks earlier; my wife had already flown with my two daughters from Florida to Texas to set up our new home. I was standing in the kitchen with crockery in my hands when the telephone rang. Hastily, I put down the plates.
‘Is this Christopher Carrier,’ a deep voice on the other side of the line asked.
‘It sure is,’ I confirmed.
‘This is Major Charles Scherer of the Coral Gables Police Department. You might not remember me, but I was one of the detectives who investigated your abduction.’
I no longer recognised his voice but knew at once who he was, even if it was more than two decades later.
‘I wanted you to know that we have a confession. The man responsible is called David McAllister. The man has admitted to abducting you. If you’re willing to accept his confession, we can close the case.’
My mind shot back to that day, to the van, the drive, the man who had deceived me, the spot in the sawgrass where I had been forced to sit. I was lost for words. Scherer seemed to sense this and started speaking. He told me everything about the past few weeks. He explained that Charles Skalaski, the chief of the Department of Investigation and now retired, had chanced upon David McAllister this summer in a care home in northern Miami. David had been the prime suspect. Skalaski visited him on the off-chance and urged him to confess the kidnapping.
‘At the time, we all knew David was the culprit, but we simply couldn’t prove it,’ Scherer said. ‘He had a motive because your dad had fired him a few weeks before your abduction. The description corresponded: he had a campervan and even the gun we were looking for. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get hold of any evidence in his campervan because he’d cleaned it before we visited him. And as we never recovered the bullet, we couldn’t link the shot to his gun.’
Scherer paused for a moment.
‘Chief Skalaski made sure David understood,’ he continued, ‘that the case was time-barred. He couldn’t be prosecuted anymore. He simply urged him to confess so he could have a clear conscience – and we could close the case.’
It took Skalaski another few visits to convince the old man that the retired detective was telling him the truth and not setting him up.
‘In the end, David burst into tears,’ Scherer said. ‘He confessed to abducting you.’
I was silent for a moment.
‘Are you prepared to accept his confession?’
Officer Scherer continued: ‘If you want, I can arrange for you to meet him in person and ask him any questions to close the case.’
When I put down the phone, memories crowded in. It was 20 December 1974, quarter past one in the afternoon. I was ten years old and had stepped out at the bus stop near my home. The last day of school before the Christmas holidays was over and, while walking past the villas on Aledo Avenue, I was thinking what I would do during the two weeks off. Further along the pavement, a man was walking towards me. He slipped his cigarette between two fingers, flashed a friendly smile and stopped when he neared me.
‘Is Hugh Carrier you dad?’ he asked.
‘Yes, sir.’ I nodded. ‘Do you know him?’
‘Absolutely. Hugh and your mum Noni are friends of mine.’
‘Funny that you call her Noni. Only family and good friends use that nickname.’
The man smiled, took a packet of Benson & Hedges out his inside pocket and lit another cigarette. I didn’t know what to say next, but the man spoke again.
‘Kid,’ he said, ‘I could use your help.’
He took a drag of his cigarette and inhaled deeply.
‘I’m organising a Christmas party for friends at work. Your dad’s one of them. The preparations are nearly done, I just need to choose a present for your dad. I have two or three options.’
He tapped my shoulder with his hand.
‘Could you help choose the present he’d like the most?’
I was reluctant to go with him. My parents expected me to come straight home from school. I wanted to go home, take off my school uniform and play with friends in the neighbourhood.
The man gazed intently at me.
‘Gee, did you know you look just like your dad?’
He smiled while exhaling smoke.
I thought of my father, his imposing appearance and wide-set jaw. Could I already look like him?
‘I’ve nearly finished the preparations,’ he continued, ‘but I think it’ll mean a lot to your dad if his son chooses his present. Will you help me?’
I didn’t recognise him, couldn’t remember having ever met him and neither could I place him in any group of my father’s friends. From work he said? The man was wearing cotton trousers and a short-sleeved shirt; my father wore a suit and tie to work every day. The smoking man called my mother by a nickname only my family knew. That meant he must be a good friend or acquaintance of my parents. I felt obliged to help him, it would be impolite to refuse to help one of my parents’ friends.
‘How long do you think it’ll take?’ I asked. ‘My mum will be worried if I don’t get home before it’s dark.’
‘It shouldn’t take long. You should be back within an hour.’
As we walked to the van, he lit another cigarette. He asked me which sports I did at school. I was about to answer him when I realised that I didn’t even know his name.
‘What’s your name, by the way?’
‘Just call me Chuck.’
He took a deep drag of his cigarette.
‘My name’s Chuck.’
In the parking place of the local youth centre near my home, a large camper van was parked across several parking spaces.
‘Here it is,’ he said as he got the keys out his pocket.
Chuck swung open the door of his camper van and ushered me into the front passenger’s seat. I had never sat so high above the road and saw the world through the huge windshield. We headed north, past all the familiar landmarks in this part of the city, past the Coast Guard Air Station with its helicopters, eventually leaving Miami behind. We continued driving northwards.
The further we drove, the emptier the roads became on this weekday afternoon. I no longer recognised the neighbourhoods we drove through. I started getting worried. We had been going for nearly an hour when Chuck pulled the camper van to the side of the road in a remote, almost uninhabited area.
I looked at him questioningly. ‘Why are we stopping?’
He was silent for a moment, took another cigarette out of his packet of Benson & Hedges, struck a match, brought the flame towards his mouth, lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply.
‘I think we missed a junction.’
The smoke curled out of his mouth and disappeared out the open window. Chuck reached over to the glovebox in front of me and handed me a map.
‘Can you look up State Road 824?’
Chuck said that he needed to get something from the cabin and squeezed between our seats into the back. I unfolded the map. State Road 824. Where was it? I was normally good at puzzles but soon got frustrated this time. The road Chuck wanted was nowhere to be found. He said that the junction we had missed was north of Miami. I traced the map with my finger again and again, but I couldn’t find State Road 824 anywhere. Either the road didn’t exist, or it wasn’t on this map. A thumping sound came from the cabin.
‘So, where are you going to have the Christmas party?’ I asked.
‘Oh, you’ll see. Really. I want it to be a surprise for you too.’
How impractical to have a party so far away, I thought as Chuck rummaged through the drawers in the cabin. Suddenly I felt a short, swift stab in my shoulder. Then another. I turned around and saw Chuck standing behind me. He was clutching an ice pick. With his free hand he seized me by the shirt.
‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ I screamed.
Before I worked out what was going on, he had dragged me from the front seat, next to the window, into the cabin. He threw me to the ground and stabbed me again, this time in the chest.
It didn’t really hurt; it felt like a doctor’s injection. More than anything else, I was scared by Chuck’s expression. His eyes were wide open, he was smiling, and his jaw was clenched. It was as though the friendly man who had approached me earlier that day on Aledo Avenue had put on a mask – or taken one off. I had never seen eyes like that. Then he raised the ice pick and stuck me again in the chest.
I tried to wrestle free of his grip, but I was no match for the strength of an adult man. I squeezed my eyes shut, not wanting to see his expression and the ice pick anymore. Let it end quickly, I thought. But as suddenly as Chuck had attacked me, he stopped.
Without saying anything, he rose. He stared into the distance and squinted, the expression of a man with a riddle to solve. I felt my stab wounds with my hand. They didn’t really hurt and there was hardly any blood on my shirt. Why had he attacked me? Was he so angry that I hadn’t been able to find State Road 824?
Chuck returned to the driver’s seat without a word.
‘Why are you doing this?’ I asked.
‘Your dad cost me a lot of money,’ he snarled, gazing straight ahead. The man who had just attacked me put the key in the ignition. I kept silent. I didn’t want to cry. He eyed me through the rear-view mirror.
‘You can stay in the cabin while I’m driving, but you need to stay seated. I’m driving you to a safe place, where your dad can pick you up.’ He hit the pedal.
My father had cost him money? That had nothing to do with a party. Was there even a party? I wanted to get away, far from Chuck. I wanted to go home. But as a ten-year-old, I didn’t stand a chance against him physically. On top of which: we were driving at 70 kilometres an hour. If I listened to Chuck, he would drop me somewhere for my father to pick me up. I wanted to believe him, as strange as his story sounded. I will get home this evening, I thought while sitting in the cabin touching my chest and shoulder. Stifled by fear and confusion, I sat in silence.
A little while later we passed a tollbooth and took the Interstate 75 towards the west coast of Florida. He kept mumbled things about my father, oblivious to me in the back.
‘After all these years…’
‘He didn’t have a clue…’
‘I deserved better…’
‘Did all I could…’
He spoke about all sorts of things, and I didn’t understand any of it.
We drove for at least another hour before pulling off the highway and going down an old secondary road. Turning off the vehicle, Chuck said this was the place. We were somewhere in the northern part of the Everglades. It was late in the afternoon, but the sun was still shining. I hoped my father wasn’t far away. Chuck told me to walk in front of him, towards a few trees just beyond the first shoots of sawgrass. After we had taken a few steps in the swamp and the grass was getting taller and taller, Chuck ordered me to stop. He looked around.
‘I want to go home,’ I whispered.
He didn’t respond.
‘Walk to that tree there,’ he said curtly.
He stayed right behind me as we walked through the sawgrass towards the place he had indicated. Suddenly, he grabbed me by the shoulder.
I looked around hesitantly.
The ground was soggy. I could stand on it, but it didn’t feel firm.
‘Here,’ he said resolutely.
He paused for a moment.
‘This is where your dad will pick you up,’ he assured me.
Looking at the sawgrass, I was surprised how tall it was. Could my father find me here? Chuck would first have to call him, and then my father would have to drive all the way here, to this exact location. Even if he managed to do so, he would have to see me sitting among the tall grass. It seemed inconceivable to me.
I sat down anyway. A shaft of sunlight caught my attention; the branches and leaves around me swayed in a westerly breeze. Suddenly there was a deafening blast – and then nothing.
The next moment I recall was waking from a deep sleep. My head felt heavy, like it was full of water. I wasn’t sure at first where I was. Tall grass surrounded me. As I stared at the stalks, the memories gradually came back, like a curtain slowly being raised, revealing more and more of the exhibit. I was supposed to choose a present. A camper van. A man called Chuck. Little by little the memories returned. It felt to me like it had been an hour since this man had thrown me onto the floor of the camper van and stabbed me in the shoulder and chest. I thought it strange that it was still light, and the sun even seemed to be shining more brightly than I had remembered.
There were wounds on my left arm, but I didn’t know what had caused them. They didn’t hurt. I didn’t see any trace of Chuck or his camper van when I sat up and looked around. He had probably called my father, as promised. But my father definitely would drive past this place if I stayed here in the tall grass, far from the old road. Slowly, I stood up. Further along, I saw a path of trampled sawgrass leading to the secondary road. It was some ten metres to the place where the camper van had been.
I felt my leg and doubted I would manage the distance. And even if I did manage to reach the path, I wasn’t yet home and dry. I would still have to get out of the park and call my father. Gingerly, I took a few steps. If I extended my leg too far forward, a throbbing pain would run from my calf up to my head. After a few metres past the first sharp blades, I was already exhausted. Eight more metres to the path.
Every step seemed to be cushioned by the broken sawgrass and soggy ground. Another six metres. More feeling returned my legs. Three more. Another little bit. Then hard ground. At last, I was standing on the road. I looked around; there was no traffic in either direction. There was nothing and no one, just nature. To my left was a large rock, which I sat down on. It was growing dark.
I must have been sitting for an hour when I was startled by headlights further down the gravel road. A vehicle was heading towards me. A white pickup. It was getting close. The driver saw me and slowed down. Then he was just a few metres from me. The man stopped his car right in front of me and rolled down the window.
‘Are you alright son?’ he asked, leaning his arms on the car door.
‘I’m waiting for my father,’ I said. My voice sounded dry.
‘Are you here all on your own?’
I saw his eyes bulge. He examined me from the side of my head to my shoulders and my shirt.
‘Get in,’ he said. ‘I’ll find you something to eat and get you home.’
The man drove me in his white pickup down the Turner River Road and out the national park, gave me something to eat and drove me straight to the nearest police station. It was 26 December 1974. I had lain in the sawgrass for six days, less than two-hundred metres from Alligator Alley and with a gunshot wound to my head.
‘If you want, I can arrange for you to meet him in person and ask him any questions to close the case.’
Scherer’s words resounded in my mind as I put down the telephone. Strangely enough, it gave me a sense of relief, as though I had heard good news. I even felt an urge to visit the perpetrator and ask him questions. I wanted to know why he had kidnapped me, what he had been thinking during the drive in the camper van, how he had felt when I lay unconscious in the grass, and what he had wanted to achieve. And I wanted to hear from him how his life had been in the past twenty years, whether he had felt guilty. Yet, I also wondered whether it was wise to meet my kidnapper. But the fact that I was the bigger and stronger man by then eased my mind. McAllister was no longer a threat to me.
The first time I spoke to friends about my kidnapping was one afternoon after school when a good friend had gathered a few pals and asked me to tell them in detail about that day. He was a clever boy who knew that I would deal better with the abduction if I was given the space to talk about it and received support from friends. A day later he assembled another group of friends and again I had the opportunity to tell all. The friends stimulated me to keep talking about it. The more I did, the more I realised that I wasn’t so much a traumatised child but someone who had been blessed by many miracles. I started speaking to larger groups. Schools, churches and universities invited me to tell the impact that day had had on me and how I had come to terms with it.
People often came up to me afterwards.
‘What would you do if you came across your kidnapper again?’ they would ask.
It wasn’t realistic. Without a doubt, someone responsible for what my kidnapper had done would have fled the city, the state and possibly even the country. We would never meet again. So, I simply said that I would forgive him.
One call from Officer Scherer brought turned the question into a possibility. While immediately sensing that I must go, I first wanted to call my wife. I couldn’t say what impact a meeting could have. It only took her one second to affirm: you must go.
Two days later, on a Wednesday afternoon, I headed for the care home where McAllister lived. The institution was an hour’s drive north of my home. My kidnapper had stayed nearby all these years.
Danny drove me there. I couldn’t have wished for a better companion. He had been my teacher and had become a good friend. The biggest challenge in Danny’s life was forgiving the man who had brought him into the world, his father, for trying to murder his younger sister.
On our way to the home, Danny asked me what was going through my mind. I knew it was going to be a strange encounter. McAllister was unaware I was coming, and I didn’t know how I would feel when I saw him. A storm was raging in my head: expressions, moments and memories from that afternoon swept through my thoughts. Was this a good idea? Would I feel intimidated? Or angry? I had no idea what to say or expect. Then I no longer wanted to see McAllister – the man who had left me for dead, who had stabbed me and shot me in the head. I wanted to be far away from him.
Danny gave me a sideways glance. ‘We’ll do just fine,’ he said. That is how he put it: we, not you. And he drove on.
From the gravel parking lot, I could see the home. It was a drab building. Paint was peeling from the outside walls like old, scaly skin. The garden was unkempt. It looked to me like a home where people without money or family ended up. No child would want their parents to spend their final days here. Danny and I walked to the simple reception desk, where a member of staff took us to McAllister’s room.
I slowly followed her. She accompanied us to a corridor, walked down to the end and pointed left towards a door. It was a long, narrow room. On the righthand side, three hospital beds stood in a row. A curtain hanging from rails on the ceiling separated the beds. On the lefthand side of the room, there were three cabinets with drawers and a single basin with a mirror.
McAllister was lying in the nearest bed. The seventy-year-old man looked exhausted and emaciated. A heap of bones covered in skin. His eyes were open but looked confused – they had an empty, vacant look. I remembered Scherer saying that an eye disease had left McAllister blind for many years. I moved to the cramped space between his bed and the door. Danny walked around to the other side of the bed.
‘Good afternoon, Mr McAllister,’ I started. ‘You might not remember me, I’m Chris Carrier. I was told you confessed to something.’
He murmured something and then sat up. He seemed to be trying to work out where my voice was coming from.
‘I haven’t confessed to anything,’ he whispered.
More murmuring. It was as though his voice needed to get going and communication was extremely exhausting.
‘You’ve been told fairy tales,’ he then added.
The denial felt like a blow. I didn’t know what to say, all my words left me in an instant. How fanciful to imagine that twenty years later ‘Chuck’ would confess to everything at the drop of a hat. Danny looked at me and leant over the bed towards the old man.
‘May I ask you a few questions, sir?’ he asked after introducing himself.
McAllister nodded. After which Danny posed unambiguous questions, which could be answered with a simple yes or no.
‘Do you know Hugh Carrier and his family?’
‘Do you also know Mr Carrier’s son Chris?’
‘Did you ever go anywhere with him, just the two of you?’
‘Where did you go?’
‘Did you bring him home when you’d finished… or did you leave him behind?’
McAllister groaned loudly.
‘I left him behind.’
‘Have you ever wished you could say sorry to the boy?’
He started shedding tears and pressed his head deep in the pillow. He emitted a whistling sigh like air being released from a tyre.
‘Yes,’ he whispered.
‘That little boy is the man now standing on the other side of your bed. The person you just spoke to,’ Danny said.
He gently nudged David McAllister in the side.
The man rolled onto his side, groped about, looking for my hands, and then whispered: ‘I’m so sorry.’
I believed him. Yes, I honestly believed him. My previous fears seemed to melt away. My hesitation as to how and where to start this conversation had suddenly gone. I felt the urge to tell this man everything. McAllister was a mere shadow of the man he once was. He looked fragile, was blind and weighed just thirty-five kilogrammes. He couldn’t read or watch television. Judging by his room, his only worldly goods were a few clothes and a small clock. There were no children’s drawings on the wall or cards from friends or family. He lived there without anything to look forward to. It didn’t look like he had the energy to get out of bed by himself. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of compassion, pity for the man who was nearing the end of his life in such a lonely, almost humiliating state.
My kidnapper McAllister no longer existed. The sick, old man in the bed was David. A bundle of bones that passed for a human being.
I wanted to be sure that this old man, who had held me under gunpoint twenty-two years ago, understood that I had forgiven him. I wanted him to know that his wrongdoing hadn’t ruined my life and hadn’t restricted me. I told him that I had graduated, married a lovely woman and had a wonderful family. I can hear myself saying it. A wonderful family.
‘I want you to know,’ I said to him, ‘that I’m healthy and happy. There’s no ill feeling between us.’
‘I’ll come back tomorrow to continue our conversation. Rest up.’
‘Ok, I’ll rest up,’ he whispered. ‘Finally.’
His answer made me suspect that David had been tormented for years by memories and remorse every night when he closed his eyes. Nobody should have to end their lives like that. Death had clearly been waiting some time for him.
The visit had lasted almost an hour. On the way back, Danny and I discussed how the past twenty-two years must have been for David. He always must have feared that the police or my father would get him. If I had been him, I would always have been afraid that family or friends would have come after me.
I told Danny that it made me think of the two or three times that David’s neighbours had called my father. They had seen him drunk; he had been crying and kept repeating my name. He constantly must have looked over his shoulder and been on the run. And it was written all over him. David was like a living corpse.
Over the ensuing days and weeks, I visited him often. We talked, read the Bible together and prayed. Gradually, he told me about his childhood and the subsequent years. As I gained insight into his life, I began to understand why he had made such mistakes. Each visit I better understood his concerns, guilt and everything troubling him.
David spoke little about the kidnapping. Or about his subsequent life. He had been married twice and had two children with whom he had lost contact long before. His childhood was blighted, he explained, by his father’s absence – he had died shortly before his birth. His mother had been forced to work long hours to support David financially. Fatherless and with an absent mother, David became a young man who found his way in the world by stealing and doing many shady deals. He ended up with a criminal record and was well known to the police. The more David told me, the more I saw him as a man who had made mistakes out of desperation.
Somehow or another, he had managed to get a job through a nursing agency as the carer of my grandfather’s brother. My elderly great-uncle had been disabled by a stroke. David worked about five years for him. He became an alcoholic. His taste for drink caused him to show up to work late, drunk or not at all.
My father, a lawyer and my great-uncle’s custodian, dismissed David in the summer of 1974. David became embittered about his dismissal. He did odd jobs in Miami harbour. Most of his evenings were spent at local bars or seedy clubs. David squandered his time. He was furious and desperate – and became set on revenge. Six months after my father had laid him off, David kidnapped me and took me in his camper van to the Everglades National Park, where he tried to kill me.
David said that he had regretted his deeds for the rest of his life. From the moment he abducted me in his camper van, he added, he had had the sense that there was no way back. Having tried to take the life of an innocent child, he had spent the last twenty-two years trying to drown his recollections with drink.
I told David about my life and my path to forgiveness. The stab wounds had been too superficial to be life threatening. True, the bullet in my head had left a cavity and had pulverised my left eye. My injury prevented me from doing contact sports. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a damaged boy. There were moments between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five that I wondered how I could ever look good. I wasn’t sure I would find a job, and I was worried about making friends and finding love.
I told David that I was afraid and anxious in the first years after the kidnapping. When the floor creaked at night, wind blew through the windows or the shutters clattered, I would wake with a start, grab my blanket and race down the corridor to my parents’ bedroom. Then I would crawl into their bed, invariably on my father’s side, and sleep as close as possible to him. The nearer I was to my father, the better he could watch over me. From the age of ten to thirteen, I scarcely slept in my own bedroom. I was afraid Chuck would come and finish off his work.
My father’s protective embrace, police protection and my elder brother’s presence helped me regain my sense of safety and self-confidence. I ensured David that the wounds he had inflicted upon me hadn’t changed my life as drastically as he might have imagined. The love and encouragement I received from family and friends, as well as from caring teachers and pastors, had helped me realise that I didn’t have to live in fear. I also learnt that while I had been the victim of an abduction, I was more than a victim. I had also experienced a great wonder. I chose this alternative: the miracle of surviving everything. David’s shot hadn’t killed me; the animals in the national park had left me be for six days; I hadn’t succumbed to my wounds; there hadn’t been a storm while I lay unconscious in the sawgrass. I learnt not to see myself as a victim but a wonder. That is how I got my life back.
I married, had two daughters and a son. I developed a profound appreciation for the luck and opportunities I had received – an appreciation I probably otherwise wouldn’t have had. And I regard myself as someone who has had more luck than most people would deem possible.
On 26 November 1996, someone at the care home gave me a call. David had fallen ill the previous evening and had been taken to a local hospital, where he died early in the morning. There was no answer when I asked who was organising the funeral. Nothing had been organised. The woman had called me because she knew I had visited so often recently. The home had no relatives or other contacts listed in his file.
I recalled the last time I had seen him. I had brought him a piece of yellowtail snapper, his favourite fish. I had read to him from the scriptures, and we had prayed together. Then I had held his hands. I had said I hoped we would see each other again soon.
A few weeks later, I went on a television show to talk about my friendship with David. In the middle of the interview, the presenter announced a report. A reporter had interviewed David in his care home.
‘What do you think of Chris Carrier?’ she asked.
David said nothing
‘Is he weird?’ she queried. The reporter was referring to the fact that I had sought out my abductor on my own initiative.
After a pause, David answered: ‘He’s the best friend I’ve ever had.’
Translated by Brendan Monaghan