Detective Crystal’s Investigation

Clutching the wooden spoon tightly and shaking it at my younger sister, I began my investigation. ‘OK, who did it? Who licked the mixing spoon?’

‘Not me.’ Madison answered, not looking up from the table.

‘Did too. Who else would have done it?’

‘Did not.’

‘Did too.’

The back door closed with a thump. Mum came in with her arms loaded with towels.

‘All right you two, break it up.’

‘But Mum…’

Madison crossed her arms tightly. ‘I… did… not… lick… Crystal’s… spoon.’

‘Did too.’

‘Girls, that’s enough!’

I tossed the spoon into the sink. ‘Mum, you promised that if I peeled the potatoes last night, I could lick the spoon when we baked the cookies this morning. It was my turn.’ I glared at my seven-year-old sister.

She poked her tongue out and I stomped out of the kitchen.

When I returned a few minutes later, notebook and pencil in hand, Mum and Madison were busy removing cookies from a baking tray.

‘OK… Mum, what happened when I left the kitchen to use the bathroom?’

With an audible sigh, Mum opened the oven door and placed another tray onto the top shelf. ‘Well, after we finished mixing the cookie dough, I went outside to bring the towels in from the clothesline. If Madison licked the spoon, I didn’t see her.’

Madison added a fairy-shaped cookie to a large plate and then turned toward me. ‘I… did… not… lick… your… spoon.’

I noted her statement. ‘Madison, what were you doing while Mum was outside?’

‘Colouring in my book.’

‘Before that, stupid.’

‘Please Crystal.’ Mum intervened. ‘You can play your detective games but please don’t be rude to your sister.’

Madison pushed a tiny candy bow into the icing on the top of a pink fairy before she continued with her defence.

‘I didn’t touch the spoon. Mum said it was your turn to lick it so I went and got my colouring pencils and book from my bedroom.’

Sandy, Madison’s kitty brushed against my legs. ‘Where was Sandy?’ I crouched down and checked the kitten’s paws and mouth.

‘She followed me outside,’ Mum replied, then handed Madison the container of sprinkles.

‘Well, it couldn’t be Sandy.’ Madison added not looking at anyone.

I added my notes about Sandy then poked the pencil behind my ear and placed the notebook onto the table. ‘Can I help decorate the cookies?’

‘Wash your hands and show Madison how to use the icing gun.’

Obediently but aggravated, I moved to the sink and washed my hands. I still think Madison did it. I kept my eyes on miss goody two-shoes while I turned on the tap. Little sister seems to always avoid punishment.

‘Did you come to any conclusions,’ Mum asked.

My attention remained focused on Madison. I took a small spoon from the drawer to use to fill the icing tube. ‘Well, if it wasn’t Madison or Sandy, who else could it be?’

‘It wasn’t me!’ Madison announced her innocence again. ‘You always blame me.’

Momentarily, I concentrated on filling the tube.

‘Well,’ Mum was saying. ‘If you did Madison, no one would be mad at you for it. It’s the lies that I don’t tolerate.’

Madison’s lips quivered. ‘I didn’t.’

A noise from the living room caused me to turn suddenly. ‘What’s that?’

Mum glanced up at the doorway as Dad entered.

Madison’s frown disappeared. ‘Daddy, you’re home early.’

I placed the icing gun on a clean plate. ‘How long have you been home, Dad?’

I grabbed my notepad and drew the pencil from behind my ear. I tapped my foot. ‘Well?’

‘Well…nice to see you too.’ Dad laughed.

I approached Dad and leaned forward. There on his loosened tie, was a tiny blob of chocolate. ‘Dad… you didn’t. How could you?’

‘Do what?’

Mum pointed her finger. ‘So, you’re the culprit.’

Dad bent down to kiss my forehead.

‘Da…ad, your lips are sticky.’

Dad just stood there and grinned. ‘Yeah, I came in to see my beautiful girls before I put my briefcase away. No one was here so I licked the spoon.’ He grabbed a paper serviette and wiped his mouth. ‘I guess you found me out.’

‘You licked the spoon? It was my turn!’

Mum came over and touched my shoulder. ‘I think you have an apology to make, Detective Crystal.’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in:
Children’s Corner by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Thomas

The smell of fresh coffee teased my nostrils. I entered Daisy’s Café below the row of offices that overlooked a noisy intersection on Charter Row.

Daisy’s beaming smile greeted me. ‘Morning, Dave. The usual?’

‘Yes, please. Any doughnuts?’

‘Sure.’

Daisy handed me the coffee then bagged the doughnuts while I guzzled down a few mouthfuls of the piping hot brew. ‘Ah… Just the way I like it. See you later Daisy.’

I stepped back out into the commotion of the busy street and headed up the flight of stairs a few feet away. There, blocking my way, sat a vagabond. A middle-aged man, down on his luck and known to every tenant on Charter Row as Tom.

‘Tom.’ I paused to calm my tone. ‘I really need to get to my office.’

‘Can I-I-I come up? I-I-I need to t-t-talk,’ he stuttered.

‘Come on then.’ I sighed. I knew the only way to pass was to allow him to accompany me. I shook the bag of doughnuts. ‘I’ve got your favourite.’

Tom grinned. He followed me up the stairs and I handed him the bag so I could unlock the door. I stepped aside to let him enter. Closing the door behind me, I placed the coffee on my desk and opened a window.

‘Now, what can I do for you Tom?’ I watched him gulp down the last doughnut.

He choked and sprayed crumbs over my desk. I handed him my coffee. I would go without. Tom stuttered his thanks and drank before he explained his request.

He began by telling me his name was actually Thomas not Tom. His problem was a simple one. Thomas needed bus fare to a canning factory where his friend John worked as a packer. Thomas needed to go today, preferably before ten o’clock, because the cannery was employing staff this morning. He needed me to go along to speak for him. It was true enough, I understood his stuttering and asking for a position would be difficult for both Thomas and the employer.

‘Okay, you can’t go like that.’ I pointed him to the tiny bathroom and told him to strip and have a sponge bath using the sink while I checked the phone messages.

There was only one message. ‘Lord Bellamy here; I need you to find someone. If you return my call before midday the job is yours.’ I looked at my watch. ‘Ouch!’

I could hear Thomas complaining about the cold water. I gave Thomas some spare clothes I kept at the office in case I slept at the office during investigations. The trousers were definitely too long but they would have to do.

The wash, the change of clothes and a comb through his hair, made Tom respectable enough. Thankfully his thread bare shoes were hidden by his trousers. I sprayed Thomas with cologne until we both choked.

 

Thomas’s eyes widened. He seemed excited to be out of Charter Row. He obviously hadn’t been on a bus for a long time; maybe not at all. There was a lot I didn’t know about Thomas.

‘Thomas,’ I asked, as the bus neared the factory. ‘Where will you live if you get this job?’

‘M-m-my friend, J-J-John, h-he let me stay for a-a bit,’ he answered, his eyes still fixed on the view beyond the window.

We arrived at the cannery a little before ten thirty. The manager was sympathetic and understanding.

‘John would like me to give you a go’, he told Thomas. ‘I’ll give you a month’s trial. John’s a good teacher. I’m sure you’ll be fine.’

After handshakes all around, I left Thomas with the manager and returned to my office where Old Spice cologne still lingered in the stuffy air. I pressed the replay button on the answering machine and dialed the recorded number. I was pleased Thomas had the opportunity for a fresh start. I wondered now if I had a job.

‘Lord Bellamy’s residence, may I help you?’

‘Yes, this is Dave Strong, Private Investigator. Lord Bellamy left a message on my answering machine.’

‘Yes, Mr. Strong, he’s been waiting for your call. I’ll put you through.’

There was only a brief silence before the voice on the phone matched that of the recording on my machine.  He came straight to the point of his request.

‘Hello Mr. Strong.  I need someone to find my brother.’ Lord Bellamy’s voice sounded stately but urgent. ‘My brother and my father, Lawrence Bellamy, had a disagreement over twenty years ago. My brother left and we haven’t heard from him since.’

He paused before continuing. ‘Our father passed away a few weeks ago and regardless of their differences, Father left my brother half the estate. I need to find him. It’s time to bring him home. Can you help?’

This was right up my alley. I needed a good investigation and I loved finding long lost souls. ‘Yes, I can help you Lord Bellamy. Might I have some details to help start my search?’

‘His birth name is Thomas Alfred Bellamy, born 40 years ago in Sheffield. He has one significant characteristic trait that stands out. He stutters.’

© Chrissy Siggee

(Perhaps the shortest investigation in history)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Don’t Call Me Grumpy

Jessie stared wide-eyed at the freckled face of the checkout operator whose hair was as green as a florescent frog on high beam. She took a deep breath, reloaded her shopping trolley and headed to the back of the store where she plonked down the leaking carton of milk and retrieved a replacement before wandering along aisle after aisle until she felt ready to face another checkout operator.

The older woman wore a badge with the name Heidi printed in bold lettering. She was pleasant and the process went more smoothly than her earlier encounter. ‘How was your shopping experience today?’

‘It went OK,’ Jessie lied. ‘Thank you for asking.’ She tapped her credit card, loaded the grocery bags into the trolley and returned to the basement parking area.

After loading the boot of her SUV, she sat in the driver seat before bursting into tears. ‘I didn’t need that. I didn’t deserve that.’

It wasn’t until a car full of teenagers pulled in beside her that Jessie started the engine and reversed out of the car space. Taking a deep breath, she drove home.

‘Colin?’ Jessie asked that over their evening meal, ‘am I grumpy?’

Her husband of four years looked up; a surprised look on his face. ‘You mean in general or this evening?’

‘Well…either, I suppose.’

‘Not to my knowledge. You seem quieter than usual but I didn’t think you were grumpy. Why do you ask?’

‘Today was a trying day at work and I left late. I still needed to get the groceries on the way home. I must have caught every traffic light red and I had to drive around the car parking station for twenty minutes looking for a parking space. It really didn’t take long to collect the items I needed but I hadn’t realised until I unload the groceries at the checkout that the carton of milk was leaking and dumped a third of it’s contents on the conveyor belt.’

‘That would make me grumpy,’ Colin chuckled.

‘I did groan a little. I asked the cashier if someone could bring another carton and perhaps something to clean up the mess.’

‘What did she say?’

‘Now that’s the part when I almost lost the plot. She said, I quote: “I’m the checkout operator, not your maid and don’t get grumpy with me or I’ll call security”. I found myself just staring at her bright slimy green hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in a month. I just put everything back into the trolley, including the milk and went back to the dairy section.’

Jessie continued the story while Colin sat opposite and listened quietly. He reached across the table and took her hand. ‘That was just plain rude. You should have reported her.’

‘What good would that do.’ She sighed and a tear ran down her cheek. ‘I won’t be going through her checkout again, that’s for sure. The worst of it is, I think I convinced myself that I must have been grumpy.’

‘I don’t think so Jessie, you shouldn’t either.’

She poked at her food for a few minutes before speaking again. ‘I feel like I’ve been stabbed through the heart. I hear her words in my head over and over.’

‘Well, let’s change them.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Jessie, you are too sweet a person to be called grumpy. I think you should stand up to those nasty statements.’

‘How? Do I go back and tell her she’s a freckled face, slimy green frog? That’s not me either.’ She paused. ‘That would get security onto me,’ she added with a chuckle.

They both laughed at that.

‘I could tell her, and my head, that I’m not grumpy.’

‘How about: Don’t call me grumpy. I’m not grumpy.’

‘OK. Don’t call me grumpy!’

They smiled at each other before finishing their meal.

© Chrissy Siggee – January 2020

FICTION NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in:
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

The Runaway

Connie searched the playground the neighbours and the sand pile behind the back shed. Her hand went to her throat to ease the pain that seemed to creep up from her hammering heart. Moisture blurred her vision.

‘ETHAN!’ Connie’s throat grew tight. She had no choice but to call the social worker that had assigned Ethan to Connie and her husband Carl, a few weeks earlier.

She grabbed the phone and dialled. ‘Ethan is missing!’ She blurted out before Rebecca could finish her greeting. ‘I’ve looked everywhere.’ Connie found herself pacing.

‘Calm down Connie. He’s probably run away.’

Connie stood still. ‘Why would he do that?’

‘I don’t know. We get a lot of foster kids who run away. Ethan has been in the system a long time, and with numerous foster families. He’s run away before.’ She sighed. ‘I admit, I thought he was happy with you and Carl, but it’s hard to tell with these kids.’

Thinking more clearly, Connie contemplated the past few weeks. ‘He’s a bright little boy. I thought he was settling in.’ She paused. ‘Carl offered to take Ethan fishing when he returns from the office. He needed a file to work on over the weekend.’

‘Okay, I’ll call the local police and then come around. Just stay calm.’

Carl came in just as Connie hung up the phone. ‘Look who I found in the car under a blanket.’

‘Ethan, you scared me half to death.’ She placed her hand over her mouth and sat down at the table.

Ethan hung his head. ‘I was going to run away when Carl got to town but I fell asleep.’

‘Why would you want to run away?’ Connie dared to ask.

‘I got scared. When the Baker’s took me fishing, they got mad at me because I broke their new rod. They beat me with it and told me I was selfish.’

Carl sat beside Connie and drew Ethan close. ‘You’ll never be beaten here, I promise.’

‘Even if I wet my bed? Mrs Beasley wiped my face with the sheets and then made me wash them.’

Connie gasped. ‘There’s no excuse for bad behaviour by any adult.’ She thought for a moment before continuing. ‘You haven’t wet your bed since you’ve been here. Do you think there’s a reason for that?’

‘I don’t know,’ Ethan shrugged. ‘I’m not scared here.’

‘What kind of things do you like to do?’

Ethan tilted his head and bit his lower lip. He shrugged again.

‘Do you like going to the movies?’

‘I don’t know. I’ve never been. I watched cartoons sometimes at the Webster’s. The other families didn’t let me watch TV.’

‘Football?’ Carl asked.

‘The beach?’ Connie added.

Ethan began to whimper. ‘I haven’t been anywhere much—just school and the playground.’ A lone tear rolled down his face. ‘I like the playground.’ He wiped the tear away. ‘Can I go there again?’

Connie looked at Carl for a long moment. She pulled Ethan onto her lap. He was short for a seven-year-old but it was his frail body and lightness that had surprised her.

Ethan stiffened but soon relaxed in Connie’s arms.

She kissed his cheek. ‘We can go to the park together. How about a picnic of burgers and soda?’ She released her embrace. A tear stained face looked back at her.

‘What’s a pick nick?’

Carl sighed deeply. His sad eyes met Connie’s. ‘There’s a lot we can do. I think a picnic lunch at the playground is the perfect place to begin.’

A knock sounded at the front door. ‘Rebecca. I forgot all about her.’

Carl let Rebecca in and explained the situation.

Ethan’s lip trembled. He looked up at Connie. ‘Will I have to go to another foster family?’

‘No sweetie’, Rebecca answered for Connie. ‘But you need to talk to Carl and Connie in the future if you’re unsure of anything.’

‘Connie and Carl won’t beat me.’ It was a statement rather than a question.

Rebecca knelt down beside Ethan as he slid off Connie’s lap. ‘No, Ethan. This family is…different.’

Ethan looked up at Carl then to Connie, then back to Rebecca. ‘Why are they different?’

‘Well firstly,’ Carl began. ‘We really want you to be our son—to adopt you as soon as you feel ready. If that’s okay’, he added.’

The corners of Ethan’s mouth turned upwards.

‘Really? Yes, please!’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Graffiti King

The lunch bell rang. The din of chairs screeching, student chatter and books slamming closed echoed in the classroom.

‘Peter Mason, I’d like a word with you in my office over lunch.’

‘Yes Sir.’

Peter had only been at this school for six months. His father’s job regularly moved them from state to state. This was his second school in three years, making it difficult to make friends and to be accepted by his peers.

‘Hey Mason, what’s Olsen want to see you for this time?’ Jeremy Spears sniggered.

Jason shrugged and kept walking.

‘Mason,’ Spears shouted after him. ‘See you after school … usual place.’

The gym was his favourite place. Oddly enough, it was the only class he didn’t share with Jeremy. He entered the locker room and quickly changed into his gym gear.

One of the team’s pole-vaulters came over while Peter was placing a sweatband around his head.  ‘Mason, I didn’t think you were going to show. Good to see you.’ He snickered and slapped Peter’s back.

Peter turned but the guy was gone. What’s he on?  Peter pushed open the swinging doors, entered the gym and did his usual warm-up routine. His favourite apparatus were the rings, and he was grateful he had them to himself for the next hour.

‘Mason,’ the coach shouted. ‘Didn’t you hear the bell? Go shower. Principal Olsen is waiting.’

He showered quickly, dressed and was running his fingers through his matted hair when the coach entered the locker room.

‘Mason, you have an ability that will get you to the 2024 Olympic Games. Don’t waste your time painting walls in your spare time.’

‘Coach, I …’ But the coach had already left.

What is it with these jerks? He stormed off to the administration block, notified the secretary he had arrived and plopped in a chair to wait.

‘Come in, Mr. Mason. Take a seat.’

Principal Olsen didn’t even look up when he stepped behind his desk and sat down on his swivel chair. He picked up a newspaper and started reading.

They both sat in silence for a few moments before Principal Olsen spoke. ‘It’s come to my attention … again, that you were seen immediately following the latest graffiti incident here at the school. Somehow your picture and story made front page news.’ He emphasized his last words by tossing the folded newspaper across the table for Peter to read.

Peter stared at the photo, obviously taken by a security video camera, and the caption below. ‘Graffiti King Identified on Camera.’ In the hood of his jacket was a pressure-pack can.

‘How? Spears, it had to be Spears. Sir …’

‘I’d like to believe you, I really would. However, Spears is seen … here.’ He pointed to a gate, to the left of what appeared to be Peter. ‘He may have avoided the ‘camera rotation but …’

‘Why would I carry a spray can in my hoodie, Sir?’ Peter felt his pulse racing.

‘I’m sorry, Peter. This time I have to issue a suspension. Your father has been notified. You can collect your things now before classes resume. Return to the office to collect your suspension letter for your father and leave while everyone’s in class.’

Peter left in a daze. He couldn’t believe it.

He emptied the contents of his locker into his backpack and shut the door. He made his way back to the gym and wandered over to the rings. He was overcome with disappointment. He took one last look and turned to see the coach standing nearby.

‘It’s only for the remainder of the term, Peter, and unfortunately, Olsen won’t let you use the school gym after school hours either. I tried, but he won’t budge.’

‘Coach, I didn’t do it. Honest.’

His coach sighed. He placed his hand on Peter’s shoulder and spoke with compassion. ‘Look, stay away from Spears. He’s bad news. If you can keep out of trouble, I’ll talk to Principal Olsen about a summer training program.’

Peter smiled weakly. ‘Thanks Coach.’

With regrets, Peter returned to the administration block, collected the letter and headed home determined to hold on to the hint of hope that his coach had given him.

© Chrissy Siggee

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Younger Teens by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

Locked Out!

‘Geraldine! Open the door. Please, let me explain.’

‘Go away, Mum! I don’t want to talk to you.’

‘Please understand, Geraldine. I had to do it.’

‘That’s just so lame.’ Geraldine rolled her eyes. ‘You’re pathetic.’

Geraldine’s mobile phone played her favourite Red-Hot Chili Peppers song: Nobody Weird like Me. She grabbed her iridescent purple phone from the bed and checked the caller ID. Crystal’s photo appeared on the screen. ‘Hi, Crystal, I’m not really in the mood to talk.’

‘Geraldine, what’s going on? I was about to knock on your front door when I heard you screaming.’

‘Where are you now?’

‘At your front gate. Where are you?’

‘In my bedroom, but…’

‘I’ll come around to your window.’

Geraldine was about to argue but realized Crystal had rung off. By the time she opened the window Crystal was outside waiting.

To Geraldine’s relief, Crystal kept her voice quiet. ‘So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?’

Geraldine turned and threw herself back onto the bed. ‘I can’t believe she did it.’

‘Did what?’ Crystal raised her voice to a hoarse whisper to be heard from where she stood in the garden.

‘She threw Dad out.’

Crystal climbed through the window. ‘He’s been drinking again?’

‘Just because he likes a drink after work…’ Geraldine bit her lip and paused. ‘It wasn’t his fault that he hit her last night.’ She began to cry.

‘Hey, girl, you can’t possibly think he should stay if he’s hitting her.’

‘But, he’s my dad and it’s his home too.’

Geraldine’s best friend sat beside her and put an arm around her shoulder. ‘Do you remember when my mother threw my dad out?’

‘That’s different, Crystal; he was beating you and your brother. I remember going to the hospital with you when he broke your arm.’

‘Like, before that, he was hitting my mother. She used to hide out the backyard until he fell asleep, but then he started beating us instead. Yes, Geraldine, that’s why she threw him out, but do you think your mother is going to wait for that to happen to you? Your mother knows what we went through.’

There was a gentle knock on the bedroom door and Geraldine accepted a tissue from Crystal to wipe her eyes.

Her mother’s voice was croaky. ‘Geraldine, can we talk?’

‘OK Mum. Just a minute.’

Crystal gave her Geraldine a quick hug before she climbed back out the window. As she waved goodbye, Geraldine took a deep breath before opening the door.

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Younger Teens by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Stinky

Thirteen-year-old Sarah stood in the kitchen doorway; arms firmly folded. Defiance kindled her annoyance. Tension grew as she watched her mother fill the dishwasher. ‘I’m not going,’ Sarah declared. ‘Give me one good reason why I should.’

‘It’s only going to be a month. Please Sarah; you know your father needs this cruise to help with his recovery.’

‘But Aunt Carla … stinks.’ She knew it wasn’t a nice thing to say, but it was true. Everyone knew it.

Sarah remembered their visit to her Aunt Carla’s at Christmas. She lived in a sun-bleached clapboard house in an old neighbourhood. With no car, she walked once a week to the store and post office. Her only apparent regular visitor was a nurse every Wednesday. Sarah recalled the embarrassment she felt when they took her smelly aunt to the Christmas service.

Her mother’s voice drew her back to the present. ‘I know how you feel about your Aunt Carla, but she’s close to school. You won’t be with her all day every day. Even church is nearby and you can phone Pastor Jim for transport to youth group.’

Sarah unfolded her arms and opened her mouth to respond, stopping short at the sight of her father staggering in from the yard. His mouth drooped on one side and spittle hung in mid-air about two inches from his bristly chin. She turned and ran to her room, throwing herself onto her bed. Her mother followed.

‘You will go, Sarah. The doctor said it will take time and this cruise will help. He’s fortunate the stroke didn’t affect his walking.’

‘Okay, I’ll go to Aunt Carla’s.’

Sarah ate her breakfast in silence. She ignored her aunt sitting opposite. The kitchen smelled musty and mingled with mothballs, which lingered in the air throughout the house. Neither had spoken much since Sarah had arrived three days earlier. In the evenings, the only sound heard was the tinkling of silverware against old dinner plates while they ate their evening meals. The spacious sunroom, consisting of a large comfortable day bed, a closet and an antique table, was where she would stay … out of Aunt Carla’s way.

‘Would you like something special for tea tonight? I can make hamburgers and chocolate chip cookies, your father’s favourites.’

The packet macaroni and frozen pizzas her aunt had prepared the previous night, invaded Sarah’s already depressing thoughts. ‘That’s okay, whatever you want.’

Aunt Carla rose to her feet and wheezed heavily; her foul breath caused Sarah to cringe. The older woman took her breakfast plate to the sink and stood with her back to her niece.

Sarah felt a pang of unexpected guilt. She finished her breakfast and hurried to collect her things for school. Her aunt was still at the sink when Sarah passed the kitchen on her way out. She heard her aunt sniffle and watched as she removed a tissue from her pocket. Leaving the room noiselessly, Sarah step outside and closed the door.

‘Sarah, what’s ya doin’ at Stinky’s?’ She looked up to see a face disappear back through the window of a passing school bus.

Keeping her eyes downward, Sarah began walking in the direction of school. She quickened her step and almost immediately bumped into someone approaching from the opposite direction. Sarah quickly apologized and knelt to pick up the items the woman had dropped. Sarah lifted her head and realized this woman was a community nurse. ‘Oh, you must be going to see my aunt.’

‘Yes, I’m Jenny and you must be Sarah. Carla’s been so excited about you coming to stay. You know, I overheard that boy. I’m sorry. It must be hard to hear people say such nasty things about your aunt. They just don’t understand that some forms of terminal lung disease cause the body to produce odour from dying cells.’

‘What? Oh…yeah. I better get to school.’

Sarah’s heart pounded and her breathing accelerated, but it had nothing to do with her vigorous walking. She began to cry thinking about the terrible things she had said and thought about her aunt.

Oh God, I’m so selfish. Help me to be a friend to Aunt Carla. Please look after Daddy and make him well.  I think you have a few things to teach me while I’m here. Help me learn…

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Younger Teens by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

January is Fiction Month at Riverside Peace.

All links to chapters of your favourites mysteries and short stories from the archives.

Faith’s Adventures – A series of short stories about Ken and his dog Faith.

Faith to the Rescue
Faith Loses a Friend
Faith Goes on a Holiday

Faith’s Christmas Surprise
Faith’s Close Encounter
Faith’s Discovery
Faith Becomes a Mother
Faith – That’s my Blue Eye

 

Memory of Dread – A fictional short murder mystery for the Christian reader.
Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

 

Stella’s Plight – a mystery fictional short story in an Australian setting.
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four

What Became of Marjorie – a mystery fictional short story in an Australian setting.
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

Stories written by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

The Mystery of Keats’ Missing ‘Endymion’— Solved.

Historian Albert Winslow sat at his desk in a sparsely furnished London office. Using two large wooden tweezers, he gently unrolled the manuscript. Faded calligraphy on tea coloured paper revealed its age and fragility. With a magnifying glass he studied the almost illegible signature confirming the author, John Keats.

Winslow peered over the top of his wire-framed spectacles. He studied the gentleman sitting opposite, who repeatedly wiped his balding head with a handkerchief. ‘Sir, where did you say you found this manuscript?’

‘I didn’t exactly find it. It’s part of my inheritance.’

Removing his spectacles, the historian studied the gentleman sitting on the other side of his desk fidgeting in his chair. ‘What did you say your name was?’

‘Kent. Michael Kent.’

‘Mr Kent, this signature doesn’t appear to resemble a Kent.’

‘It was handed down on my mother’s side. My mother changed my surname when she remarried.’

‘I see. Leave it with me, Mr Kent. I’ll have it valued for you by tomorrow. Leave your details with my secretary on the way out.’ He rose and shook his client’s hand.

 

Winslow’s secretary entered his office the following morning. He looked up as she reached his desk.

‘Miss Harwich, could you please place a call to a Lord David Keats of Hampstead? Give him my name and switch him through to my office. Give me a few minutes though, I need to talk to Scotland Yard.’

‘Yes, Mr Winslow.’

It took just moments for Lord Keats’s voice to be heard.

‘Lord Keats?’

‘Yes, this is he.’

‘I believe I have in my possession your great grandfather’s missing manuscript, ‘Endymion’.’

The line was quiet for so long that Winslow thought he had been disconnected when suddenly Lord Keats continued.

‘How can that be? It disappeared after he died, in 1821?  It’s been almost a century?’

‘Yes, I know. I also know that your father, Lord Alfred Keats, passed away last week, my condolences.’

‘Thank you, but how do you know and what does his death have to do with my great grandfather’s manuscript?’

‘Your father paid me to know. You see I’m a historian and a private investigator. Your father visited me here in London on December sixth last year. The manuscript had apparently resurfaced and he hired me to investigate its location. I sent him a wire last Monday about my findings before his heart attack. Did he mention it to you?’

‘No, and I’m not sure why he would hire anyone. Until Christmas my father and I had been investigating the mystery disappearance together for almost a decade.’

Winslow carefully chose his words before proceeding. ‘Perhaps, Lord Keats, your father discovered he hadn’t been told when someone had found it. That someone decided to use it for his own financial gain.’

‘What are you implying, Mr Winslow?’

‘Let me refresh your memory. Two years ago, your cousin, Michael Kent, inherited a meagre bequest. While clearing out his mother’s writing bureau, Kent discovered a key to a safe deposit box that contained a letter from his grandfather—your grandfather’s younger brother. With that letter was your great grandfather’s manuscript. The letter described in detail how your grandfather cheated him out of his share or their father’s estate. Your great uncle stole the manuscript after your great grandfather’s death in 1821— before he could have it published. Are you following me Lord Keats?’

‘Continue, Mr Winslow. I find your hypothesis intriguing.’

‘Late last year, your cousin decided it was time to show his hand by attempting to blackmail your father. Because your father didn’t want his conniving nephew to get his hands on his money, he came directly to me. We thought it was an open and shut case until I discovered that Michael Kent had an accomplice—someone who wanted revenge for an unrelated incident years before. Unfortunately, that piece of information inadvertently killed your father. The accomplice was you. Am I right Lord Keats?’

‘You’re very clever, Mr Winslow. There’s one thing you haven’t explained. How did you get your hands on the manuscript?’

‘That was the easy part. After your father’s death, you and your cousin-initiated plan B: to sell the manuscript to a publisher and split the profit. However, your cousin decided to have it valued first. Unfortunately for you both, he came to me. I advertise my professions separately and I only display my name on the door.’

There was another notable silence followed by a murmur of voices at Lord Keats’ end of the line. ‘You’ll have to excuse me, Mr Winslow. Apparently, I have visitors.’

‘Ah yes, my friends from Scotland Yard. Blackmail is a serious crime. Good day to you, Lord Keats.’

© Chrissy Siggee

Authors Notes:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

English poet John Keats, born October 1795 in Moorgate, London, died in February 1821 at the age of 26 from tuberculosis. His works had been the target of much abuse including his last epic poem ‘Endymion’. John Keats never married, which should indicate that the contents of: ‘The Mystery of Keats’ Missing ‘Endymion’ – Solved’ set in the early twentieth century, is completely fictional.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

AWOL

–  a fictional short read based on a true incident.

Snaking up the mountain road was miserable, and not just because great droplets of rain were exploding on the windscreen before the wipers could whisk them away. Susan’s eyes were strained from weeping most of the night since her brother, Ron, phoned her. After picking up her friend Annie, just after 6am, they began the long drive.

‘How could she get out?’ Susan cried. She squeezed the steering wheel tighter. ‘How could they let this happen?’

‘Susan please, you need to stay focused; otherwise Ron will need to send out a search party for us too.’ Annie sighed. ‘Hopefully, she’ll be found before we arrive. Those new GPS tracking shoes for Dementia and Alzheimer patients are well worth the expense in situations like this. You’ll see.’ She sent up a silent prayer as Susan drove into the storm.

Ron met the two women at the car with an umbrella. He shouted updates as they scrambled across the parking lot and into the foyer of the nursing home. Inside, a young aide that Susan had recognized from her visit the previous week, greeted them with mugs of steaming coffee. Annie accepted hers with enthusiasm, but felt a twinge of guilt when she heard Susan decline.

‘What happened? Who’s responsible?’ Susan demanded.

‘Please’, Ron soothed. ‘It doesn’t matter now who’s to blame. The important thing is that everyone is doing their best to find her.’

‘You’re right.’ Susan reached for the coffee that the aide was still holding out to her. She held the mug of steaming coffee between her hands but didn’t drink.

A man wearing a search and rescue uniform stepped toward the siblings. ‘Ms Cummings, I’m O’Malley. I’m in charge of the team. I’ve been here with your brother since late last night.’ He offered his hand.

Susan shook O’Malley’s hand and took a quick sip of coffee before speaking. ‘Call me Susan, please. Ron tells me you have people out looking for our mother. How far could she possibly get in this weather?’

‘We don’t know. It wasn’t until almost midnight that the situation had been fully realized.’

The space between Susan’s eyebrows creased. ‘What do you mean—”situation”?’

Ron replied for O’Malley. ‘Mum had evidently dressed in a hurry. Her slippers aren’t here and her GPS shoes are still under the bed. We think she may have followed someone else’s visitor or a member of staff out the front door around 9pm. With the rain, they would have been concentrating on getting to their vehicle. Being so late well…Who would think?’ He paused to wipe rainwater from his face.

‘Ms Cummings…Susan’, O’Malley spoke above the sudden clap of thunder. ‘We are almost certain she couldn’t have gotten very far but this constant rain has slowed us down’.

‘Ron called me at 11:15pm last night.’ She looked at her wristwatch. ‘It’s almost eight thirty. If she’s exposed to this weather much longer, she…’ Her words faded with the reality hitting Susan with a jolt. She handed the coffee to Annie with shaking hands. ‘Okay… O’Malley, what can we do? Where do we go from here?’

There was still no sign of their missing mother by the time the rain eased at midday when the siblings and Annie returned to swallow down coffee and sandwiches. While O’Malley was updating the family and his search team, a small bus loaded with local volunteers arrived. After quick handshakes all-round the meeting continued. Annie, Susan and Ron had searched south along the main street questioning storeowners and shoppers. The search team had walked a few metres apart through an adjoining cornfield to the west and the vacant overgrown paddocks beyond, while O’Malley had conducted a search of out buildings, laundry and kitchen facilities at the nursing home. The night staff had been requested to report in with any information that may or not be related to the missing patient. O’Malley and a staff member also conducted interviews with a few patients who were with her shortly after seven last night. No clues or explanations were discovered. With directions for the original team to take a short break, eat and get dry, the new team were given maps for the north and east of the nursing home.

Susan and Ron took off on foot to cover the area between the car park and where they started their search that morning. Annie stayed behind to help serve coffee to the morning’s search team.

An hour later Susan and Ron returned chilled and wet from another soaking downpour with no news that would help with the search. Other searchers returned in groups of two and three’s over the next few hours—all quietly murmuring their disappointments but at least the rain had completely stopped.

Finally, Ron suggested to Susan that they drove around up and down every street and lane. He looked at his watch then up at the clearing clouds. ‘She has to be somewhere. It’s been too long and you know how Mum doesn’t like standing for too long. Perhaps we’ll have more success now.’ His face suddenly paled. ‘There’s also the railway station.’ He grabbed Susan’s arm and led her to the parking lot with Annie close behind.

Just as they were putting on their seatbelts, the nurse’s aide approached the driver’s side window of the SUV with O’Malley. Ron press the down arrow switch to hear her better. ‘I think I found something that may help.’ She handed him a book opened at a page with a recent date at the top and stepped back.

Ron read from his mother’s diary. ‘I have to know for certain if my Harold went AWOL. If he has, I know where he could be. We often met at our secret place before he went to war.’

‘Why would Mum think Dad had gone AWOL?’ Susan asked.

‘I don’t remember Dad ever going AWOL, Susan. Obviously, she’s confused.’

Annie, who had been relatively quiet in the back seat, spoke up. ‘Isn’t there an old army storage unit around here?’

‘Well yes, but it’s almost three kilometres from here.’ O’Malley looked in the direction of the army base. ‘It sounds a long way for an old woman to walk.’

‘When I was here a few months ago with Susan,’ Annie continued, ‘I remember their mother had an old newspaper clipping about the unit.’

‘You’re right.’ Susan gasped. ‘I wondered at the time why Mum had kept the article.’

‘Okay’. Ron took charge. ‘We’ll check the railway station on the way. If we can’t find her there, we’ll continue on to this army place.’ Ron swapped the diary with a folded map with O’Malley who had quickly circled a crossroad to the east.

O’Malley nodded. ‘I’ll grab some first aid gear and blankets and meet you at the Army storage unit.’

Ron thanked him and drove off.

At the railway station Ron and Susan raced in opposite directions down the platform. It was silent and empty. ‘Let’s go! This is a waste of time’, Susan shouted to Ron who stood with his hands on his hips at the far end and gawking down the tracks that disappeared in the distance.

A clear starry sky abruptly brought the long day to a close when the three entered the old army storage unit with O’Malley and two military personnel. Within minutes they had found, huddled in a skeleton of a storage shed, their mother. She was cold and wet but uninjured. With her dirt-smeared face looking up at Susan, she apologized for ruining her slippers.

Susan knelt beside her mother. ‘That’s okay Mum, we know of the perfect pair to replace them with. Let’s go home.’

© Chrissy Siggee

 This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Summer Garden

Bottle Brush bush weighed down with it’s first season’s bloom.
Sunny places to sit and wander.
The sun shines on the bird bath making it glisten.
The weather station, a Christmas gift, is doing it’s job.
We’ve had a lot of rain. This time last year we were in a drought. When the drought broke the lawn turned into a marsh land but the drainage our son put in back in August 2020 is working perfectly. https://riversidepeace.com/2020/08/19/more-activity-in-the-yard/ Gumboots no longer required. 🙂
Still planting and harvesting.
It’s amazing to think this was our backyard in January 2020.

Archived in: I’m in the Garden

Abigail’s Special Birthday Gift

Abigail Hyatt was almost seven and her daddy let her choose where to have her birthday party. It had been a sad winter and a party was a good idea.

‘Can we have it at the park?’ Abigail asked.

‘Which park, Abigail?’

‘The big one, the one Mummy loved.  You know… the one where we threw the rose petals after her funeral.’

‘If that’s where you want it, then that’s where we will have it.’ He kissed the tip of her nose.

Abigail smiled. ‘I’ll help with the invitations but we have to invite Grandpa and Grandma Lawson. Do you think they’ll come, Daddy?’

‘You can ask them. They would like that.’

Her smile faded. “I wish they didn’t live so far away. Do you think Grandpa and Grandma miss Mummy too?”

‘I’m sure they do. I would miss you, my darling daughter, if you had died. Now, let’s not be sad. Mummy would want us to enjoy your party.’

‘I want to wear the party dress Mummy bought me last year.’

‘Abigail, honey, I don’t think it will fit. You have grown so tall. Why don’t we go to the mall tomorrow after school and see what we can find?’

‘Okay Daddy.’

Finally, the party day arrived. It was a sunny day and the park had lots of spring flowers growing in the gardens. Abigail could see her grandparents at the end of the short path that led to the playground. They were tying balloons on swings and trees. There were two picnic tables.  One had lots of party food on it and the other held a huge birthday cake with pink icing.

‘Grandma! Grandpa!’ Abigail called and ran to meet them.

‘Abigail! You look so grown up and your party dress is so pretty,’ Grandma said, smiling.

‘It’s Mummy’s favourite colour. Do you think she’d like it?’

‘I think it’s perfect,” Grandpa said.’

‘Abigail.’ Daddy spoke quietly. “Your friends have arrived.’

She looked up at her father to ask him to greet them for her, but he was wiping something out of his eye. Grandma hugged Abigail. Abigail knew Grandma was crying too so she hugged her as well. ‘Oh Grandma, I miss Mummy soooo much, but she would want us to enjoy the party.’

Grandpa hugged them both. ‘Yes, she would. Now go and meet your friends and enjoy the afternoon.’

Abigail greeted her friends and opened her presents. A clown skipped into the playground, making the children laugh. He twisted balloons to form the shape of little animals, stood on his hands and spun hoops on his feet. Abigail thought it was the best party ever.

Abigail was too excited to go to bed that night. After her bath, she dressed in her new summer night gown, and sat on Grandpa’s knee while he read her favourite story. She knew it almost by heart because her mummy had always read it before she went to sleep—sometimes twice.

Daddy entered the room carrying a glass of milk. “Grandma and Grandpa Lawson want to talk to you.’

Abigail felt suddenly afraid. Daddy had said something like that when Mummy got sick. She remembered that Mummy was crying and Daddy told her they would be okay. Abigail climbed off her grandpa’s knee and went to her daddy.

‘It’s all right.” Grandma smiled at her. “Everything is OK.’

‘You see,” Daddy said, lifting Abigail onto his knee. “We all miss Mummy very much and…’

‘What your daddy is trying to say, is that we miss your mummy, too.” Grandma added. “But we also miss you and your daddy.’

Grandpa sat on the floor in front of Daddy and Abigail reached down to hug his neck.

Grandpa took a deep breath. ‘Grandma and I want to move in with you and Daddy, at least until we get a house close by. Your daddy and I talked about it a lot and we think your mummy would like it. What do you think?’

‘This is the best birthday gift ever! Can they live with us, Daddy… please?’

‘Abigail, this is your birthday gift. It’s up to you.’ Daddy was laughing now. He hadn’t laughed for a long time.

She jumped off her father’s knee and hugged her grandpa and her grandma. ‘Please come and stay— I’ll even let you call me Abby. Mummy always called me Abby.’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Children’s Corner by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Me and My Writing….

I don’t care what people say
It’s time to look the other way.
If I want to write – I will
with or without a copyright.

Poems, fiction and mysteries,
for children and adults.
Whatever takes my fancy – oh yeah…
It’s what I like to do.

My grammar may not be perfect
and rhyme is not my forte
But whatever I write –
I write with all my heart.

Grandchildren love my nonsense,
Friends enjoy a jingle.
I only write for them and those
Who enjoy my writing most.

© Chrissy Siggee – 2018

Archived in
Poetry Mix by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Tommy’s Lesson

Tommy entered the kitchen; his head bent forward to watch his feet as he walked. His hair skimmed the underside of the kitchen counter as he cut the corner.

‘Grandpa, can you help me tie my shoelaces please?’

‘Sure. Up we go.’ He lifted his grandson onto a high kitchen chair.

‘Grandpa, why is it so hard to learn how to tie shoelaces?’

‘That’s a good question. Everything we learn in life can be hard.’

‘Why?’

‘Because it’s part of learning.’

‘Why?’

‘Well, if everything was easy to learn in life there wouldn’t be any strength to our character.’

‘Huh!’

Grandpa slowly looped a shoelace as Tommy watched. ‘Let me put it this way,’ Grandpa continued as he twisted one end of the lace around the loop. ‘Do you remember when your daddy and I took you fishing last summer?’

‘Yes.’ Tommy’s face screwed up. ‘It was so hard to get the worms to stay on the hook and get the fish to bite them.’

‘That’s right. Do you remember how many times you had to practise to get it right?’

‘Lots.’ The little boy nodded once and continued to study his grandfather’s hands.

‘By the end of the weekend you had it just right and you caught the biggest fish for supper.’

Tommy’s face beamed and revealed a toothy grin. He let his foot drop and held up the other one.

‘Your turn,’ Grandpa encouraged.

Tommy wriggled his foot onto his other leg and concentrated on the shoelace. It took a few minutes but eventually he made the final turn and pulled the loop through.

‘There will be other things in life you will need to learn and they won’t be easy either.’

Tommy sat looking at his shoes while he listened. ‘Like what?’

‘Oh, all sorts of things, like how to know the difference between right and wrong, when to make an important decision and how to choose which decision to make.’

‘Why?’

‘Because that’s life and we need to learn lots of things like tying shoelaces and how to fish. Making a decision when choosing what kind of friends we should have can be a tough one.’

‘That sounds really hard. Will I have to learn how to talk to grandsons too?’

The old man laughed. ‘Yes, but not for a while yet; that’s a grown-up’s lesson. You can wait for that.’

‘Look, Grandpa. We tie shoelaces the same. Maybe you practised lots too.’

‘Yep, I practised lots too but some life lessons took longer to learn than others.’

‘Grandpa, can you teach me how to learn other life lessons?’

‘I certainly can but right now… why don’t we have some ice-cream?’

Tommy giggled and his eyes brightened. ‘I guess we don’t have to learn how to eat ice-cream.’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Children’s Corner at Riverside Peace