Haunting Wails and the Seashell

Multi-coloured seashells lined the shelf in Sophies spare room. They had always fascinated her nine-year-old granddaughter, Emma. Each shell had its own special story. Today, Emma had asked to hear about the big, shiny, spotted one, which twisted and curled to a little holey point.

Emma carefully lifted the shell from the shelf and sat on the bed as Sophie entered from the kitchen, wiping her wet hands on her apron. She smiled down at her granddaughter holding the shell gently in her lap. I suppose you want to know about this very special seashell.

Where did you find it, Nana? Its so pretty.

It is prettyas pretty as the beach I found it on. But, this shell has a sad story to tell. The memory will live forever in here. Sophie placed her hand over her heart before continuing.

Poppa and I were visiting a place far from here on the west coast for a holiday back in 1992. It was our holiday of a lifetimejust after your mother finished college. It was a summer. We were staying at a resort village and Poppa and I spent the evenings walking along the cooling sand. On the third evening there was a full moon and we were about to head back up the beach to our bungalow when we heard a pitiful moaning. It seemed like it was coming from the ocean. The sound lingered like a haunting wail that echoed. I have to admit, I was afraid. Im not one to believe in ghosts, but that night I would have believed anything.

Oh, Nana, that must have been soooo scary. What did you and Poppa do? What was it?

Sophie traced the contour of the twisted shell to the point, holding her finger in mid-air for a moment before continuing. Well at first we just stood there trying to work out what it was. Some of the resort staff came running down onto the beach yelling, Save them! Save them! It was then that we realized there were black mounds rolling in the surf. They looked like huge boulders. Some were closer to us on the wet sand; water lapping around them from the incoming tide. Some of the people started running into the waves. Poppa grabbed my hand. The boulders were actually whales. Some had already beached themselvesothers splashed about a little offshore where waves crashed around them.

Tears ran down her cheeks as she recalled the events. People were trying to persuade them back by yelling at them. Others just stood, staring, as one by one they beached themselves. It was an awful sight.

Did they go back into the water? Emma asked, her eyes reflecting her anguish.

Unfortunately, most of them didnt. I guess its part of nature. We never did find out why those whales beached themselves. We tried to help by keeping the whales wet. We even tried to encourage them back into the water. Sophie shook her head. Four days later the beach was covered in dead and dying whalesfifteen in all. I remember I sat in the shallow water beside a mother and her calf and wept for them. Poppa and I took turns taking short naps and taking time out for meals provided by the resorts kitchen. We continued our vigil for four daysthe remainder of our holiday. Weve always considered it a small sacrifice. We managed to get three whales back out into deeper wateronly three, but we were relieved we were able to help in a small way.

Oh, Nana, this is the saddest story of all. But, where did you find the shell?

Sophie picked up the shell and blew into the small hole at the point. It made a howling sound, like the wind. She handed it back to Emma so she could have a blow, and continued her story.

About mid-morning on the last day, men with hoists came and loaded the dead whales onto the back of trucks to take them awayfor burial. I suppose we were too exhausted to ask where. When they lifted the calf beside me, I noticed something lodged in the wet sand. Poppa used his hands to dig it out and held it up to look at it more closely. One of the helpers from the night before took it from Poppas hands and washed it in the seawater. He lifted it to his lips and blew it, long and loud. It sounded almost like the mournful cry we had heard the evening before. The man handed it to me and walked away, back up the beach to the resort where he worked. Ill never forget those whalesor the beach.

Emma blew into the shell. The haunting wail lingered like the memories on the shelf. Sophie sat beside her in silence for a few minutes. Emma traced her finger around the shell before placing it into Sophies hand. She too, traced her finger to the point then placed it back in its place. They continued to sit in reverent silence.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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

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.Im not going, Sarah declared. Give me one good reason why I should.

Its 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 wasnt a nice thing to say, but it was true. Everyone knew it.

Sarah remembered their visit to her Aunt Carlas at Christmas. She lived in a sun-bleached clapboard house in an old neighborhood. 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 mothers voice drew her back to the present. I know how you feel about your Aunt Carla, but shes close to school. You wont 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. Hes fortunate the stroke didnt affect his walking.

Okay, Ill go to Aunt Carlas.

 

Sarah ate her breakfast in silence. She ignored her aunt sitting opposite. The kitchen smelled musty and mingled with the naphthalene, 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 Carlas way.

Would you like something special for supper tonight? Aunt Carla asked. I can make hamburgers and chocolate chip cookies, your fathers favorites.

The packet macaroni and frozen pizzas her aunt had prepared previous night, invaded Sarahs already depressing thoughts. Thats 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, whats ya doin at Stinkys? 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, Im Jenny and you must be Sarah. Carlas been so excited about you coming to stay. You know, I overheard that boy. Im sorry. It must be hard to hear people say such nasty things about your aunt. They just dont understand that some forms of terminal lung disease cause the body to produce odor from dying cells.

What? Oh尖eah, I I I better get to school.

Sarahs 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, Im 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 Im here. Help me learn

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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

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! Connies 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.

Ethan is missing, she blurted out before Rebecca could finish her greeting. Ive looked everywhere. Connie found herself pacing.

Calm down, Connie. Hes probably run away, Rebecca answered.

Connie stood still. Why would he do that?

I dont 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. Hes run away before. She sighed. I admit, I thought he was happy with you and Carl, but its hard to tell with these kids.

Thinking more clearly, Connie contemplated the past few weeks. Hes 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, Ill call the local police and then come round. Just stay calm.

Carl came in just as Connie hung up the phone. Look who I found in the car under my 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 Bakers 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. Youll 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. Theres no excuse for bad behaviour by any adult. She thought for a moment before continuing. You havent wet your bed since youve been here. Do you think theres a reason for that?

I dont know, Ethan shrugged. Im 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? Connie encouraged.

I dont know. Ive never been. I watched cartoons sometimes at the Websters. The other families didnt let me watch TV.

Football? Carl asked.

The beach? Connie added.

Ethan began to whimper. I havent been anywhere muchjust school and your playground. A lone tear rolled down his face. I like your 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 Connies cuddle.

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.

Whats a pick nick?

Carl sighed deeply. His sad eyes met Connies. Theres 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.

Ethans 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 youre unsure of anything.

Connie and Carl wont beat me. It was a statement rather than a question.

Rebecca knelt down beside Ethan as he slid off Connies lap. No, Ethan. This family is圬ifferent.

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 sonto adopt you as soon as you feel ready. If thats okay, he added.

The corners of Ethans mouth turned upwards.

Really? Yes, please!

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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

Bartholomews Adventure

‘Bartholomew, is that you?’

*pant* *pant*

‘Bartholomew, its hard enough to get six babies to have a nap after Sunday School without you coming home late. This floor shook all the way through the singing. The entire ruckus has given me a headache.’

*pant* *pant*

‘When I catch my breath, *pant* Ill explain.’

‘Bartholomew, were you chased by the janitor?’

‘Mildred, hes on to us again.’

‘Well its no wonder. Your snooping around those Sunday School classes is going to get us into trouble one of these days.’

Bartholomew ignored his wife and continued. ‘I got right up close to the piano. It was awesome. They were singing Jesus loves me; my favorite. I managed to sneak in behind the young ones going into class. Mildred, their new Sunday School teacher, Miss Cooper, is delightful.’

‘I thought you were going to find us some Sunday lunch, not check out the girls.’

‘I did. Anyway, I was captivated by the way she presented the Noahs Ark storypictures of the ark, birds, animals, even Noah. Young Tommy asked if there were any rats on board and everyone laughed. Miss Cooper assured Tommy that if there are rats around now; they wouldve been on the ark. She spoke with enthusiasm about our Maker and His promises. Oh Mildred, youd have loved it. It was a perfect morning.’

‘So why were you panting?’

‘I was coming to that. You see, Billy was about to leave the room with his Bible still on his chair.’

‘Again? His parents must have replaced his Bible a dozen times.’

‘I know, and I thought if I could get someones attention before they left, theyd see it and return it to him.’

‘So what did you do, scare poor Miss Cooper half to death on her first morning?’

‘No, I simply marched over to the Bible and stood on it only I didnt see the janitor passing the door with his broom. He saw me about the same time as Billy did. Billy stood between the janitor and me so I could get away.’ Bartholomew chuckled. ‘You shouldve seen me run, Mildred. I slipped out the door as quick as a flash with that broom coming mighty close.’

‘OK, so wheres lunch? Maybe we can enjoy some of His gifts before the babies wake up.’

Bartholomew removed the pack from his shoulder and began to unload his findings.

‘I found a couple of potato crisps in the foyer. A gummy bear with his head removed in the cry room and a half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the Sunday School Hall. All while they were busy singing themselves silly.’ He chucked again.

‘Oh, this is great, Bartholomew. We wont go to bed hungry tonight.’

‘ILL FIND YOU, RAT!’ A voice bellowed through the walls.

Mildred began to shiver. ‘Bartholomew’

‘Mildred, take the babies through the side door to the end of the stage. Take the underground route to Uncle Moses and dont stop until you get there.’

‘Bartholomew, dont leave us. Where are you going?’

‘Its all right. Ill distract him and meet you at Uncle Mosess later. Ill be fine. GO!’

‘WHERE ARE YOU, RAT?’

Bartholomew scurried back through the hole and across the stage. His feet skidded beneath him on the varnished boards, causing him to slide sideways and crashing into a pile of electrical cables. He scanned the stage and the hall just as one of the cables hit the floor below.

‘I HAVE YOU NOW.’

As fast as his little legs could carry him, Bartholomew scampered into Miss Coopers classroom, raced past Noah and the ark and up the drapes on the other side of the room.

There he waited.

 

It was dark when Bartholomew reached Uncle Moses place, tired and hungry. He listened, but there was no sound. He tapped lightly before entering.

‘Bartholomew, where have you been? Ive been worried sick. The babies wore out poor Uncle Moses. Theyre all curled up with him on his bed.’

‘Im fine. I told you Id be fine. I know that place blindfolded. We can return in a few weeks once the exterminators have gone and the air is clear again.’

‘In the meantime, Bartholomew, you can help me with the babies. When we return home, I want you to take them to Sunday School, but no more adventures.’

‘All right, Mildred, no more adventures for me.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Authors note: No rat or any human being was harmed during the writing of this story.

Tommys First 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?’

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

‘Why?’

‘Because its part of learning.’

‘Why?’

‘Well, if everything was easy to learn in life there wouldnt 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.’ Tommys face screwed up. ‘It was so hard to get the worms to stay on the hook for the fish to bite them.’

‘Thats 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 grandfathers hands.

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

Tommys 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 wont be easy either.’

Tommy sat looking at his shoes in thought. ‘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 thats 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; thats a grow-ups 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.’

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

‘I certainly can but right now… why dont we have some ice-cream?’

Tommy giggled and his eyes shone. ‘I guess we dont 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 authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Graffiti King

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

Peter Mason, Id like a word with you in my office over lunch.

Yes Sir.

Peter had only been at this school for six months. His fathers 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, whats 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 didnt share with Jeremy. He entered the locker room and quickly changed into his gym gear.

One of the teams pole-vaulters came over while Peter was placing a sweatband around his head. Mason, I didnt think you were going to show. Good to see you. He snickered and slapped Peters back.

Peter turned but the guy was gone. Whats 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. Didnt 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. Dont waste your time painting walls in your spare time.

Coach, I 色 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 didnt 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. Its 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 色

Id 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 色

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

Im 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 everyones in class to save face.

Peter left in a daze. He couldnt 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.

Its only for the remainder of the term, Peter, and unfortunately, Olsen wont let you use the school gym after school hours either. I tried, but he wont budge.

Coach, I didnt do it. Honest.

His coach sighed. He placed his hand on Peters shoulder and spoke with compassion. Look, stay away from Spears. Hes bad news. If you can keep out of trouble, Ill 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.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Don’t be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.

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

Foresters Assignment

All eyes seemed to follow the smartly dressed young woman marching between the rows. Her head moved from side to side inspecting the finest of specimens. She stopped occasionally for a closer assessment.

Stand straight, Forester, the commander yelled. What happened to you anyway?

Forester leaned back as far as his twisted limbs could take the strain. Sir, I色

Hush, son. Youre a disgrace to the ranks.

Forester watched farmer Stanley as he followed the woman who had turned into his row. Their conversation grew louder.

Maam, what kind of tree are you looking for? They all look the same to me.

I need something different.

She stopped suddenly and pointed. That one! Its perfect.

Staring forward, Forester focused on the womans jacket which blocked his view of the commander.

Stanley was scratching his head. Why would anyone want a Christmas tree that looks like this? Its just a mangled mess. Its stunted and undeveloped. He ran his calloused hands over the branches.

A fearful Forester tried to keep still.

Theres too much space between these limbs, Stanley pointed. Theres more on one side than the other. Its worthless.

Nevertheless, its the one I want.

OK, Maam, but Im not going to charge you. I dont want you coming back for a refund or giving my plantation a bad name.

Stanley removed his axe from its belt that hung loosely under his protruding belly.

Where are you going to put this宇hing? There has to be a reason for choosing such a pathetic looking tree for Christmas.

Its was my son Sams idea. Shetook a deep breath then exhaled slowly.Sams a paraplegic. He fell from his horse a few years back. Hes spends a lot of time in the childrens hospital and since I have to work over Christmas, well we have to make the most of it. Ill be the pediatrician on call over Christmas.

Stanley smiled. A doctor, aye?

Yes, Dr Anne Shepherd. Anne, please.

She accepted his out-stretched callused hand before continuing in a more subdued manner.Sams father is in the army and has been serving in Iraq but hell be home for Christmas. Anyway, Christmas with the children is going to be the only way well spend any time together.

Stanley was staring at the woman for a few moments before he shifted his attention back to the narrow trunk and lifted the axe.

With one crack Forester fell sideways and looked up at his commander. Sorry, Sir.

The commander glanced momentarily at his fallen comrade. Its all right, Forrester. I think you may be worthy of this important assignment after all. Do us proud.

Yes, Sir,’Forester replied as he swayed back and forth in Stanley’s hand.

Stanley walked behind Anne to where she had parked her vehicle. There he waited while she opened the rear door.

Sam, I found one.

Cool! Let me see.

Hanging almost upside down, Forester appreciated Stanleys strong grip and watched Anne climb into the back of the modified van. Anne pulled a small lever at the base of the boys seat and turned it around.

Forester became suddenly dizzy and almost lost his bearings when Stanley unexpectedly flipped him upright.

Here it is, Stanley called.

WOW! Its perfect, Mum.

Forester blinked and opened his eyes wide so he could see clearly a child who sat in a strange chair with big wheels. The boy was smiling broadly and Forester realized it was he, Forester, who Sam was so excited to see. Forester felt six feet tall.

Thanks, Mum. Thanks, Mister.

You can place the tree here beside the wheelchair in a moment, Anne told Stanley. She turned Sams chair back into place and secured it before climbing back out through the rear exit. Thank you, we appreciate your kindness.

Its my pleasure Maam and you have a great Christmas, Sam.

Resting beside Sams chair, Forester was overwhelmed by the excitement that had glowed in the boys face. Forrester didnt even flinch when the door closed and latched.

Come on, Mum. We need to get to the hospital so the kids can decorate it. Its going to be a neat Christmas and with Dad coming home, everything will be perfect.

Forrester heard the front door open and close. Annes sweet response and cheerful laughter sounded beautiful. When the engine started he felt Sams fingers wrap around his feeble trunk. He shivered with pride. His assignment had begun.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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