A heartless man refused to pay his stepson’s ransom when he was kidnapped, but would he change his mind if the little boy’s life was threatened by a disease?
Lucy Durrel’s life hadn’t been easy. She married young but her young husband, John, had quickly fallen under the spell of drugs and alcohol, and even the birth of their son Charley didn’t make a difference to him.
When Charley was three years old, John’s wealthy family put him in a rehab program. But Lucy had finally had enough. She divorced her drug-addicted husband, moved to Denver, and started a new life. She never saw John again.
Two years later, Lucy met and married Jim Durrel, a handsome, successful businessman who treated her like a princess. Finally, she thought, I’ve found happiness! But she was wrong.
Although he was as doting, generous, and loving a husband as any woman could hope for, Jim was cold and distant with Charley. Charley, on the other hand, hungry for a father figure, worshiped Jim.
It broke Lucy’s heart to see Charley do all he could to win Jim’s affection and to see the cold way her husband rejected her son. Lucy had spoken to Jim about it several times but to no avail.
Love that crosses the line into obsession is as dangerous as hate.
Under the obvious dislike Jim felt for Charley was jealousy that Lucy had loved another man. Lucy had convinced Jim to go to couple’s therapy and the therapist suggested Jim take over some of the parental tasks.
So Jim started taking Charley to soccer practice, and to his violin lessons, and to his yearly doctor’s appointment. Lucy was delighted to see that Jim was kinder and more patient with Charley. The therapy was working!
Then one day, when Lucy went to fetch Charley from school, he was gone! Lucy picked up her cell phone. “Jim, did you pick Charley up from school?”
When her husband told her she hadn’t, Lucy panicked. She started calling all of Charley’s friend’s mothers to find out if they had taken Charley home with them. Then she received a text message: “WE HAVE CHARLEY. IF YOU WANT HIM TO LIVE WE WANT $200,00. IF YOU GO TO THE POLICE YOUR SON WILL DIE.”
The text was followed by an image of Charley sitting in a chair looking small and lost. Lucy called Jim immediately. After explaining what was happening, she cried, “Please, babe, we need to give them $200,000! Or they will kill Charley.”
“Are you mad?” asked Jim. “$200,000 with no guarantee that they’ll return the kid? No way!”
“Jim!” Lucy gasped. “This is my SON! Please!”
“He may be your son, but he’s not mine!” cried Jim angrily. “And I’m tired of you putting HIM first! I’m your husband!”
“Jim…” Lucy begged. “Please, he’s my baby…” But no matter how Lucy cried, Jim refused to help. He even suggested calling the police and ‘getting this over with.’
That night, while Jim slept, Lucy got up, got dressed, and slipped downstairs to the safe where Jim kept her jewelry and some ready cash. Jim had over $300,000 in the safe, and Lucy took the $200,000.
She left the house and sent the kidnappers a message: “I have the money.” They quickly responded and ordered her to drop the money in a brown paper bag on a park bench near Charley’s school.
Lucy was told to go home, and that she would soon be advised where Charley was. For hours, Lucy sat anxiously, waiting for news, then another text message told her to go to the hospital. That was where Charley was.
Lucy left a note for Jim and drove to the hospital. When she asked for her son, she was told he was in surgery. “Surgery!” she gasped. “Was he hurt?”
Just then, a tall man approached her, a man she knew… It was her ex-husband John. “Lucy,” he said gently. “Charley is having an operation on his heart. The doctors hope it’s not too late…”
“Too late?” gasped Lucy. “What do you mean?”
“He was diagnosed with a congenital heart problem six months ago,” John said. “My brother Chris — you remember Chris’ — he was consulted by Charley’s doctor, but your husband never brought Charley back for the surgery.”
“My husband?” asked Lucy, bewildered. “But Jim…” And then Lucy remembered that Jim had taken Charley to his last doctor’s appointment, that he’d told her that everything was fine…
It was at that moment that Jim walked in. “Lucy!” he cried. “You’ve found Charley?”
“You!” Lucy screamed angrily. “What did you do? Why didn’t you tell me Charley needed surgery?”
“The doctor said…It was $200,000 to fix him up, minimum! I wasn’t going to pay that kind of money…”
A doctor walked up to Lucy and took her hand. “Mrs. Durrel? I’m afraid the news I have isn’t good.”
“Charley…” Lucy gasped. “Please don’t tell me he’s gone!”
The doctor shook his head sadly. “Not yet, Mrs. Durrel, but the surgery wasn’t a success, we were too late to repair the damage. He’s going to need a heart transplant, and soon.”
Lucy pressed her hands to her eyes. “I’ll give him mine!”
The doctor shook his head, “You’d have to be a match, and even then, ethics would not permit me to help you in any way.”
“What did you do? Why didn’t you tell me Charley needed surgery?” | Source: Unsplash
Jim stepped forward and placed a hand on Lucy’s shoulder. “You’re not going to kill yourself,” he said angrily. “I forbid it!”
“You forbid it?” cried Lucy, pushing Jim away from her. “My son is going to die because of you. He loved you, Jim, he wanted you to be his father! He needed a father! And what did you do? You didn’t tell me he needed surgery, you were going to let him die! You refused to give me the money for the ransom…”
“The ransom,” John stepped forward looking embarrassed. “I’m sorry about that, but I didn’t have the money for Charley’s surgery, and I knew your husband did…”
“John,” Lucy turned to him with tears in her eyes. “Thank you. I know you did it all to try and save Charley. You came through for him. Thank you.” Jim listened sadly as Lucy talked to her ex-husband, then he quickly walked away.
Lucy went home alone, and spent the night tossing and turning, praying that a donor heart would turn up, that Charley would be saved. In the early hours of the morning, she received a call from the hospital.
They had received a donor’s heart and Charley was being operated on that very moment. Lucy rushed to the hospital and found John and Chris already there, waiting anxiously.
The same surgeon came out untying his mask, and Lucy saw that he was smiling. “Mrs. Durrel, your son is a strong, brave boy, I think he will be alright!”
Lucy started crying. “The donor’s heart was a miracle,” she whispered. “God was looking out for Charley!”
The surgeon handed her a note. “We found this on the donor. It is addressed to you.”
Lucy unfolded the note with trembling hands and read:
“Forgive me, Lucy. I never wanted to cause you any pain. I love you more than my own life. I wish I could have loved Charley as he deserved. I couldn’t give him my love, so I’m giving him my heart. Love you always, Jim.”
Lucy wept for Jim and for his noble sacrifice which had redeemed his past bad deeds and felt John’s arms around her. Charley came through the surgery, and was soon back at school and playing soccer.
John, who had recovered from his addictions, asked Lucy to marry him again, and two years later, Charley became a big brother to a little boy they named Jim in honor of the man who had saved their son’s life.
What can we learn from this story?
Love that crosses the line into obsession is as dangerous as hate. Jim’s love for Lucy made him jealous of Charley to the point that he allowed the boy’s life to be in danger.
There is always a way back to grace through redemption. When Jim realized how much Lucy would be hurt by the death of her son, Jim sacrificed his life to save Charley.