She was fast learning the particulars of this newfangled Internet contraption.
It occurred to her that everything anybody could wish to know about anything, was online; including comprehensive information about the child abduction ring in North Korea. By following the appropriate channels Beth was able to find out that an incredible 212,101 Korean boys of varying ages had been caught up in this most despicable of crimes; of whom, 5,732 were now orphans.
As she peered up at her computer screen to read of these atrocious actions perpetrated by her fellow man, Beth found herself weeping for the human race. She couldn’t help it; photos of these orphaned children were being posted to the Internet site as quickly as she could read their names and ages. They all looked so sad. Beth scrolled idly through the pages of melancholy until she came upon an address; a phone number. She ran to the lounge to grab the cordless phone then back to the computer. She once more read the displayed number, mentally added the international extras, then with attention split between the telephone keypad in her hand and the computer screen before her she began dialling…
Something else caught Beth’s eye. It made sense that they’d do it that way. Seemingly the organisers of the website had foreseen the wealth of compassion from abroad, and in the probability of international appeal there was a list of various countries along with the international calling options provided; but looking at them more closely, they weren’t all international numbers. At least one of them was local. Beth felt herself filling with further exuberance when she saw the contact phone number for New Zealand – local inquiries were going directly through the Second Chance Adoption Agency.
Body trembling she gripped the phone with one hand and flicked through pieces of paper with the other until she found where she’d scribbled Garth Gleeson’s business number. Her skin had taken on the sheen of incipient perspiration. She was aware that her breathing had become ragged, as if her lungs had lost the ability to fill to any more than ten percent capacity. Suddenly Beth felt lightheaded. Everything was beginning to swirl around the room. She felt nauseas. She closed her eyes. Beth clenched her teeth and did her best to control her breathing: slowly in through the nose, right to the top and hold, two, three, four, five; then slowly out through parted lips, right to the bottom and hold, two, three, four, five, and so forth. Two minutes later she opened her eyelids and turned her gaze to the bookcase to her left. It had stopped moving. Everything had stopped spinning. She felt able to maintain a conversation. Beth checked the computer screen then confirming Garth’s number, she dialled.
It was engaged. She spent another two minutes with eyes closed, breathing calmly before trying again.
She spent some time gleaning further insight into the ‘North Korean Horror Story’, as journalists appeared to be referring to it, no doubt in an attempt to garner as much interest as possible. This annoyed Beth. On one hand it was good that the media were making people aware of these recent atrocities, but she understood media corporations well enough to know that their biggest objective would be to engender public emotion; outrage and sympathy which could be subsequently translated into ratings, thus revenue. That part of it made her ill – as if money was so important; as if the welfare of these kids was simply valued as currency in some big-time editor’s pocket…
Beth was calm again. She picked up the telephone. She dialled Garth Gleeson’s number. It rang. She smiled.
“Second Chance Adoption Agency, you’re speaking with Garth Gleeson,” announced a clearly strained voice.
“Oh, Mr Gleeson,” said the expecting mother, “I do hope you’re well today – this is Beth Fle… Gosh, I’m sorry, Mr Gleeson,” she laughed nervously, “I almost gave you my maiden name -”
“Mrs Walters,” he cut in, “how pleased I am to hear from you.”
“Oh, well, yes, sorry, Mr Gleeson, you caught me off guard, I didn’t expect you’d remember me.”
“I seldom forget such an attractive voice, Mrs Walters, how are you today?”
“Oh, Mr Gleeson, you’ve made me blush, I am well today, thank you,” as she tiptoed around the inevitable inquiry Beth was experiencing the onset of her debilitating nervousness – she held her breath and awaited clarity.
“I’m glad to hear that, and if I may ask, although I can speculate, what was the reason for your call today?”
A rush of air preceded her speech: “I’ve just been online, Mr Gleeson, reviewing that Korean Horror Story, and I saw your number.”
“Well,” he laughed, “isn’t this a surprise, the very woman who, only a day past, was in search of an Asian adoptee, may now have her pick of, if I’m not mistaken, over five thousand … But seriously, Mrs Walters, horrific business, this child conditioning, wouldn’t you say?”
“I agree, Mr Gleeson, truly horrific, in fact I think even if I had not been on the search for an Asian child to adopt in the first place, I think I would still be on the phone to you now – I just want to do something helpful for those poor kids.” Beth thought she heard Garth smiling down the phone at her.
“Bless your beautiful heart, Mrs Walters, I’m sure nobody deserves a child more than you do, alas, I’m afraid many others share your sentiments of altruism – the phone has been ringing off the hook all morning.”
Beth had no idea what ‘sentiments of altruism’ were, but she could work out that there must have been other people also wanting to give these unfortunate kids a home: “Oh, well … Are there any left?” she asked with all the innocence of a saint.
This elicited a roar of laughter down the phone: “Oh,” he managed between breaths, “Mrs Walters, you wonderful woman … Yes, to answer your question, there are still, some, left, but you must be aware of course, that New Zealand is not the only country adopting these orphaned children, so I really couldn’t tell you exactly how many children, are, left.”
“Oh, no, I hadn’t thought of it like that, but,” she felt like a fool for the wording of her question and now, right on cue, Beth’s anxiety levels were rising, “but if you could, kind of, I don’t know, reserve, one for me – for us – Mr Gleeson, I’d be very grateful.”
“Bless your sweet heart, Mrs Walters, yes, I will be glad to put your name forward as an adopting parent…”
Darn it, that was exactly the kind of thing she had wanted to say; her brain just didn’t work properly under pressure.
“…and permit me to clarify, it was a seven-year-old Asian boy, is this correct?”
“Yes, thank you, Mr Gleeson.”
“Alright then, Mrs Walters, you can expect a call tomorrow, or the day after … You have a great day now, won’t you.”
“Oh, ah, Mr Gleeson,” Beth spoke up quickly, “before you go, sir, sorry, but, um, does this mean, we’re, you know, going to get one?”
“Well, let me tell you, if I were a child, I would give anything to have someone as sweet and kind hearted as you as my mother … So, yes, Mrs Walters, you have not only my unreserved recommendation, it is my belief you will soon have your very own child … Good day.”