Monday, November 14, 2005

11/14/05 Te Amo, Claudia Part II

Claudia Perez has been gone for over a year now. It was thought that her boyfriend would know where she was, or that she might be with him somewhere, but she wasn’t. He was watched, and no one ever saw Claudia again, not with him, and not with anyone else.

The day before Claudia disappeared, she, her little brother, Armando, and Joaquin, spent a special day together eating out and shopping. This was their once per month outing, so it was not a spur of the moment decision to do this.

Joaquin was having just as much fun with the children and indulged them in their every wish, although they did not take advantage of it. Claudia found several outfits she liked, but decided upon just one sport shirt. Armando picked out a team jacket. Claudia asked for a simple camera at the drug store, and they took turns taking photos of each other. Armando took one of Claudia hugging Joaquin. She remarked it had been a long time since there were photos taken of them.

During the course of the day, they spoke of future plans:

“When I get older I am going to get me a nice car.” Claudia said.
“Yea, what kind of car do you want, Claudia?” I asked.
“I want a corvette with white interior and purple on the outside, with my initials on the back of the head rest. I am going to have a good job so I can have a nice house and be able to buy what ever I want.”

Claudia was so excited when she was telling me this that I couldn’t help but too give her a big smile and tell her:

“You know Claudia, you can have all this and much more, but first you must finish school then go on to get a good career and it will be possible. You are young and you have the whole future ahead of you.”

We started home at a real slow pace because for some reason Claudia was in no hurry to get home. She was having too much fun, I guess.”

That evening, Claudia asked Joaquin to take a late night walk with her. She typically did this when she wanted to talk about something that was important to her. He shares part of the conversation of this last walk together with us:

“We had just started our walk when she started to talk:
“Grandpa, do you think I should break with Jessie?” Jessie was Claudia’s boyfriend at the time.
“Why do you want to break with Jessie?” I asked her. “Don’t you like him anymore, or is there a problem with the two of you?”
“No it just that I feel he doesn’t give me enough room to be myself. He always wants to be right there with me every where I go,” Claudia replied.

“Did you talk to him about it?” I asked.

“Yes I did, but he doesn’t want to listen.” She explained. “I love him, Grandpa, but I don’t want to feel crowded.”
“Do you want me to have a talk with him and explain to him just how you feel about that?” “No! I mean yes…. I do, but I don’t want him to get mad at me.”
“He won’t get mad. I promise you that I will have a talk with him, ok?
“Thanks, Grandpa.”

We walked around for a little while longer and just talked about usual things, like school, and her grades.”

Did Claudia know she was going to leave? Until she is found, Joaquin will not know. He had no idea that fine day that his life would be turned upside within a mere 24 hours. Even though Claudia was labeled as a runaway, and especially with the passage of time, she should be considered endangered.

Joaquin says “I know kids run away all the time but some one sees them, or they let a friend know. They don’t disappear into thin air!”

Where did Claudia go, and why did she did she leave the grandfather who clearly loves her with all of his heart and soul?

Claudia's story will conclude on Thursday.


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