Carbondale | Phil Claroni

Carbondale isn’t the sort of place most TV producers get their break, but it was my starting line. The story they assigned me: a poverty stricken mother killed by her neighbor, a classic example of Americana.

But once my plane touched Illinois ground, I came across a different tale. As my crew and I drove in, we saw him… a boy, no more than two years of age, sitting by his lonesome. The neighborhood was rough, if not dangerous. But the real scare was the summer heat – it felt as if the sun was only a few miles away. His parents were nowhere in sight, strange I thought. The camera began to roll, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would become of the boy once we left…

My crew urged me to knock on the front door. But there was a balance we needed to maintain. A silence came over me. Doubt brewed. They needed direction, they needed a tone. And I gave it. “The kid stays.”

The drive back to our hotel was a quiet one. A mutiny, I thought, maybe on my hands. All were tired, cranky, and my next decision had to be unquestionably perfect. “What should we do for dinner?”

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