Thomas

The smell of fresh coffee teased my nostrils. I entered Daisys Caf矇 below the row of offices that overlooked a noisy intersection on Charter Row.

Daisys 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. ‘Ive 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 oclock, 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 cant 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 hadnt been on a bus for a long time; maybe not at all. There was a lot I didnt 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. ‘Ill give you a months trial. Johns a good teacher. Im sure youll 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 Bellamys residence, may I help you?’

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

‘Yes, Mr. Strong, hes been waiting for your call. Ill 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 Bellamys voice sounded stately but urgent. ‘My brother and my father, Lawrence Bellamy, had a disagreement over twenty years ago. My brother left and we havent 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. Its 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.’

穢 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 authors 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

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.

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

 

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

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. Susans 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, shell be found before we arrive. Those new GPS tracking shoes for Dementia and Alzheimer patients are well worth the expense in situations like this. Youll 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? Whos responsible?’ Susan demanded.

‘Please’, Ron soothed. It doesnt matter now whos to blame. The important thing is that everyone is doing their best to find her.’

‘Youre 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, Im OMalley. Im in charge of the team. Ive been here with your brother since late last night.’ He offered his hand.

Susan shook OMalleys 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 dont know. It wasnt until almost midnight that the situation had been fully realized.’

The space between Susans eyebrows creased. ‘What do you mean”situation?’

Ron replied for OMalley. ‘Mum had evidently dressed in a hurry. Her slippers arent here and her GPS shoes are still under the bed. We think she may have followed someone elses 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 couldnt 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. Its almost eight thirty. If shes exposed to this weather much longer, she色 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 hoursall 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 nurses 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 mothers 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 dont remember Dad ever going AWOL, Susan. Obviously, shes confused.’

Annie, who had been relatively quiet in the back seat, spoke up. ‘Isnt 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.’

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

‘Okay’. Ron took charge. ‘Well check the railway station on the way. If we cant find her there, well 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 OMalley 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. ‘Thats okay Mum, we know of the perfect pair to replace them with. Lets go home.’

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

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 didnt exactly find it. Its 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 doesnt appear to resemble a Kent.’

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

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

Winslows 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 grandfathers 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?  Its 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 grandfathers manuscript?

‘Your father paid me to know. You see Im 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 Im 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 hadnt 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 mothers writing bureau, Kent discovered a key to a safe deposit box that contained a letter from his grandfatheryour grandfathers younger brother. With that letter was your great grandfathers manuscript. The letter described in detail how your grandfather cheated him out of his share or their fathers estate. Your great uncle stole the manuscript after your great grandfathers 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 didnt 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 accomplicesomeone 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?’

‘Youre very clever, Mr Winslow. Theres one thing you havent explained. How did you get your hands on the manuscript?’

‘That was the easy part. After your fathers 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. ‘Youll 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.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Authors Notes:

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.

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

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.

She grabbed the phone and dialled. 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.

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 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 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?

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 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 Connies 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.

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Cindy

‘Dont just sit there Cindy, talk to me,’ Steve pouted.

‘Humph.’

‘Dont you think you are being just a wee bit selfish? I mean this place has a lot of potential. It has everything you need. Look at it. Your old place is gone Cindy. This is your new home.’

Cindy looked around. Her arms remained folded; her head held aloft. She puckered her lips and blew raspberries at no one in particular.

‘Youre not being polite. A lot of thought went into your new environment.’

‘Humph.’

‘Please, Cindy. Look at me. Talk to me. Im supposed to be your best friend. What kind of conversation can we have if you wont even look at me?’

She turned to face Steve and tapped on his watch with her long fingers.

‘Its almost noon. Are you hungry?’

Her reply was instant – and loud.

Steve was laughing now. ‘With all the dozens of words you understand, you must know every one relating to food.’ He stood. ‘Why dont we see whats to eat?’

They walked hand-in-hand to where Cindys siblings sat sniffing and feeling fruit.

‘See Cindy’, Steve pointed out. ‘Thats the way Ive been showing you how to choose the best fruit. Only, I dont kiss mangoes before I eat them’, he teased.

Steve moved toward Oliver and Tracy but Cindy pulled back.

‘Hi you two’, Steve said with a smile. He patted the top of Cindys head. ‘Its okay. I promise.’

The pair didnt look up from their meal.

With a flick of her free hand Cindy turned and marched away pulling on Steves arm to follow. She lowered her head to face the floor. Hands faced up and wiped her eyes and nose on Steves trousers.

He crouched down and spoke quietly. ‘I know this is all new to you地nd you havent seen your family for a while, but you will settle in. Things can only improve but this conversation has got to stop being one way. He paused and cupped Cindys face in his hand.  Look at me and tell me what makes you so sad.

In one huge lunge Cindy wrapped her arms around him and kissed his face, then danced around on the spot. She stopped suddenly and grabbed Steves shirt and tugged hard.

Taking the tiny wrists in his hands, Steve began to whisper. ‘I wish you could talk, Cindy girl. This is no sign Ive ever taught you. What is it?’

She fell limp in his arms.

‘Oh, I get it. You dont want me to leave.’

The reply was the slowest of nods with a bottom lip that would trip up a python.

‘Cindy girl, you have been the best chimpanzee I have ever had the pleasure to work with.’

He gently lifted his little friends chin with two fingers. He looked into her misty eyes. ‘But, its time to be just thata chimpanzee. Youre the best. You deserve the best. No more bananas for a trick. No more peeled grapes for signing a new word. Youre free.’ He paused. ‘Well, as free as the government will let you.’ He smiled and kissed his girl.

With that, Cindy strode in her cute swaying way to the table. She grabbed a banana and took it back to Steve, planted a kiss on his cheek and headed back to her family.

Oliver and Tracy looked up at Cindy shaking their heads and puckered their lips. They squealed in unison.

Cindy blew raspberries at her siblings and kissed a mango.

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Dont 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 didnt need that. I didnt deserve that.

It wasnt 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 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圯ither, I suppose.

Not to my knowledge. You seem quieter than usual but I didnt 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 didnt take long to collect the items I needed but I hadnt 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 thats the part when I almost lost the plot. She said, I quote: Im the checkout operator, not your maid and dont get grumpy with me or Ill call security. I found myself just staring at her bright slimy green hair that looked like it hadnt 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 wont be going through her checkout again, thats for sure. The worst of it is, I think I convinced myself that I must have been grumpy.

I dont think so Jessie, you shouldnt either.

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

Well, lets 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 shes a freckled face, slimy green frog? Thats 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 Im not grumpy.

How about: Dont call me grumpy. Im not grumpy.

OK. Dont call me grumpy!

They smiled at each other before finishing their meal.

穢 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 authors 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

Police Embarrassment

‘This is the Police. Come out with your hands in the air!’

Three police cars parked strategically around the front of the gas station. The alarm had been activated and the police were called in. There had been a spate of break-ins and they had finally caught the culprit in the act. Firearms used in the previous two robberies made the police nervous. They guarded themselves behind their cars where the faint smell of body odour and heated engine oil mingled. Neighbours awakened by the early dawn invasion, gathered cautiously outside their homes to observe the commotion.

‘Do you hear me? This is Police Officer Brody. Come out with your hands up!’

The door opened slowly, revealing a small laced-up boot. The officers dropped down behind their vehicles, guns cocked.

‘Please dont shoot’, a quiet trembling voice responded.

The door opened a little further and an elderly woman hobbled out. She was stooped low and walked with a cane.

‘What the? Please step out into the open and put down yourcane.’

She dropped the cane and raised her hands as far as her skinny arms would allow.

Officer Brody stepped forward to access the situation. He motioned Police Officer Mandy Walters to carry out a search. Brody steadied the shaken old lady with his powerful hand under her elbow. Officer Walters placed the crooked walking stick back into an arthritic hand. She obviously didnt want to embarrass the startled petite woman any further by searching her.

With an indignant expression, the woman faced the officer in charge. ‘I think there has been a mistake. You see, I left my keys in the bathroom and when I went back in, I noticed I had grease on my clothes.’ She rubbed at the spot on her weathered skirt.

‘I tried to wash it, but I had to take it off because the skirt wouldnt reach the faucet. I locked myself in so no one would disturb me. Unfortunately, I think the nice man at the counter must have closed up for the night and didnt realize I was still there.’

‘Where is your car?’

‘Sir! I dont own a car. Thats my motorcycle.’ She lifted her cane and pointed with her bent fingers past the police cars and confused police officers. A Harley Davison that sheltered under an ancient oak tree glistened in the morning sunlight.

‘I find this all hard to believe. Tell me how you were in there all night without triggering the alarm?’

‘Well, you see. I sat on the toilet seat to adjust my tights and I slipped off into the corner. I was stuck and didnt have the energy to get up until this morning. When I left the bathroom, I was aware that I couldnt get out so I shook the door. That pesky alarm just kept screaming at me.’

Brody scratched his head, completely mesmerized while she shuffled towards the Harley across the road. She mounted the motorcycle with a little difficulty, but unwavering. She placed an opened-face helmet over her greying, outdated hairstyle.

Using her key, the engine started up with a roar. Poking the cane into a side pouch, she flipped the kickstand up and drove off in one smooth movement. Officer Brody glanced at a smug-faced Walters before replacing his gun into its holster.

‘What are you looking at? You can do the report when we get back.’

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

44

No one, especially not 44, would expect what followed after the invention of the Super Entertainment Network Systematic Active Technological Interactive On-track Node, which was eventually shortened to SENSATION for obvious reasons.

Eugene Gilbert Dwight, creator of SENSATION, sat smugly at his dusty computer watching the latest advertising video that would draw in millions of dollars to the company. It would also make a tidy increase in his personal bank balance over the next few months. Eugene pushed his thick glasses further up the bridge of his nose, clicked the end video link and sat back in his desk chair that had seen better days. He grinned until his face hurt.

’44’, the overhead intercom announced. ‘Please report to Mr Prestons office.’

Carl Preston’s an okay boss I suppose but he only climbed the ladder of success with out-dated software games. He rose and put on his jacket still smiling. With his hands shoved deep into bulging pockets of his baggy trousers, Eugene left cubicle 44. He strolled with his head held high between endless rows of doorless cubicles. Each cubicle was numbered and accommodating an unknown geek working monotonously in their narrow workspaces. At the far end of the long building he knocked on the door of Preston’s eight-by-eight square air-conditioned office.

‘You wanted to see me, Mr Preston?’

‘Yes, sit down 44.’

Eugene sat but he left his hands in his pockets. He fidgeted with an iPod in one pocket and his mobile phone in the other. He preferred multiple gadgets; not like these new all-in-one inventions they had been selling in this dump lately. He relaxed. It was a good feeling to know that SENSATION is too perfect for a delayed unveiling.

‘We have a media release tomorrow for SENSATION’, Preston was saying while continuing at his computer. ‘Well be using the video I emailed to you this morning.’ He sat back in his chair. ‘However, after considerable negotiations with both the Executive Management of this company and the media, its been agreed unanimously that I will represent SENSATION at the press conference.’

With hands suddenly still within his pockets, Eugene stared at his supervisor in disbelief. ‘But its my invention. You know how hard I worked on this project. I worked unpaid overtime for six months to develop SENSATION to perfection before I revealed it to you.’

Preston sighed and raised his hand, palm forward. ‘I know, I know. His voice more relaxed and sincere. ‘This is business Eugene. Your place is working on your next invention. Youll be rewarded financially for your design and efforts, but you have known from the beginning, whatever is invented in our workshop belongs to Super Techno Entertainment. Plain and simple.’

‘But thats not fair.’

Preston returned to his business tone. ‘Lifes not fair 44, but a contract is a contract. Ill send a copy of the paperwork you signed when you joined the company eight years ago if you want.’ He paused to lean forward. Ill tell you what. Ill ask if your name can be mentioned as part of the team for the invention. Its the best I can do. I have also informed 3 to swap with your cubicle after work tonight. I need a good man nearby. What do you think? Its a huge promotion from 44.

Eugene was still absorbing the team part. ‘Team? What team?’

Preston offered a little further expansion on his offer, which Eugene considered reluctantly, but he was still annoyed over his lost chance to make Eugene Gilbert Dwight known in the technology circles via this press conference.

‘It was a one-man teamEugenes one-man team,’ he mumbled.

Prestons tone became serious. ‘Its a take it or leave it offer.’

I guess that $10,000 bonus will help me out.’ A little self-esteem returned as he shook Prestons hand.

‘Ill see you again after we complete the press conference and media release,’ Preston said as he stood. ‘Youll be the first to see it.’

Eugene stood and forced a smile then left.

‘Oh, and Eugene’, he added apologetically. ‘Dont forget to empty all the rubbish bins in the workshop every day. Its part of cubicle 3’s allocated duties.’

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faith’s Adventures – All 8 Stories

From the Archives:

Faith to the Rescue
Faith Loses a Friend
Faith Goes on a Holiday
Faith’s Christmas Surprise
Faiths Close Encounter
Faiths Discovery
Faith Becomes a Mother
Faith – Thats my Blue Eye
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Partly true, partly fictional. 8 very short stories about Ken and his dog faith. Suitable for all ages. Please note: story “Faith Loses a Friend” may need parental guidance for younger children.

Archived in: Short Fiction

The Rider and His Horse

Prickly wind struck his face repeatedly like razors and sweat stung his eyes as his horse zigzagged down the steep mountain. With every frightening turn he clutched the reins that were wrapped tightly round his raw and bleeding fists. His partly bare knees ached as they gripped firmly against the saddle, still his horse hurtled on further with sweat dripping from every inch of its petrified body.

The rider hung on frantically. With no power of control, they careered toward the valley below. He forced his head to turn to see the blazing inferno that threatened to overtake them and felt the searing heat insulting their already over heated bodies. The air was thick with blinding smoke but his horse continued to pursue an unknown trail heaving deep wheezing breaths as they went.

Rocks skidded from under foot causing the horse to lurch sideways and slide forward for a number of stomach-churning seconds. With stability regained the horse veered sharply left but the terrifying ordeal of the incline was not over.

Just as they plunged into the openness of the green valley a stampede of wild horses threatened their safety. The riders horse swerved to avoid collision. Regaining control, the rider eased his horse to a slow trot to allow its heartbeat to ease gently. But with the rapidly descending flames still raging toward the valley he needed to act fast.

Immediately the stampede had past, the rider steered his sweating horse toward a shallow stream. Without wanting to stress his faithful horse further he gently steered the horse with the reins toward a rugged landscape located on the opposite side of the valley. Once there he dismounted and led the horse through a maze of rocky crevices.

Above them a cloud of thickening smoke rapidly blocked out the sky. The ground beneath them altered from the luscious valley grass to a rocky path leading into a partially hidden opening in the side of the valley wall. The cave-like passageway was dark and damp as they edged forward to the echo of his horses hooves on the rocky surface. The horse’s wheezy breath gradually eased closer to a regular breathing pattern.

A gentle breeze carried a fresh earthy fragrance as they made their way through a tunnel that seemed to have no end. The man touched the wall and the ceiling above to find their way. Following a bend slightly leftward a faint light filtered in. Within moments they stepped out once again into the valley now blackened – burnt to ashes. A hundred yards further on, the stench of burnt flesh insulted their nostrils. The horse tried to push the man away from the scene but they couldnt avoid the hundreds of carcasses of wild horses that were scattered across the valley floor.

The riders horse reared and snorted. In awe and wonder the rider mounted and rode away from the valley of death.

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faith’s Adventures – re-posted all Together.

From the Archives:  Faith’s Adventure – All 8 Stories

Faith to the Rescue
Faith Loses a Friend
Faith Goes on a Holiday
Faith’s Christmas Surprise
Faiths Close Encounter
Faiths Discovery
Faith Becomes a Mother
Faith – Thats my Blue Eye
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Partly true, partly fictional. 8 very short stories about Ken and his dog faith. Suitable for all ages. Please note: story “Faith Loses a Friend” may need parental guidance for younger children.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faith and Blue Eye!

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impWOW this little guy has one blue eye, Ken exclaimed.

Luke took the pup from Ken. ‘”Heterochromia Iridis.” Its rare. It occurs as a result of too much or too little melanin in one eye.Can happen in humans too. He studied the pup further before reviewing the eyes again; a torch in hand.

‘So what does that mean?

‘Well, nothing we can hope. Its certainly striking. You may have problems selling him but I wouldnt worry about that just now.

Ken reach for the pup. ‘What do you think, Faith? Shall we call this little one Blue Eye?

Faith licked her pup.

Thanks for coming around, Luke. Much appreciated.

I see you built two new kennel yards. Great size.

Ken led the vet through the rear door. Yes, it seems to be working well. I bring Faith out onto the verandah with two or three pups at a time before bringing Shield out. Hes certainly clumsy. He almost squashed one on of them trying to play with it.

As if on cue, Shield barked and jumped at the fence.

Its sounds like a plan. Faiths area is large enough for the next few months if you dont sell them all by then but let Faith and Shield out together for an hour or two every day. Just watch his behaviour though. He looked beyond the enclosed area to the rest of the small acreage and chuckled. A good place to wear them out as they grow, and believe me, theyll grow.

The two laughed and shook hands.

Call the clinic when their ready for their vaccinations. If its easier, bring Faith in at a different time. Luke left by the side gate.

Ken released the catch on the Shields cage. Hey, Boof! How about a sprint around the acreage? He started the three-wheeled farm buggy and sped off.

Shield leapt out of the enclosure and chased after Ken while Faith and the pups looked on.

On a sunny day five weeks later while the pups were exploring the back yard beyond their enclosure, Ken released Shield for the first time with his whole family.

Ken mounted the buggy and turned the key. The buggy rumbled to life. Lets go! Shield, Faith.

Faith turned to her pups and barked a couple of times before chasing after Shield who had already bolted after the buggy.

It wasnt until Ken sped past the litter on his first lap that the three bigger pups joined the chase. On the second and third laps all but one pup had joined the game.

Faith slowed and plodded over to the little one that just sat staring out at the paddock. Aw圭ome on little Blue Eye. She nudged the little one but he remained staring. She woofed gently before she turned and ran to follow the last of the slower pups.

Blue Eye leaned forward. His eyes focused only on the buggy.

Again Ken sped past. COME ON BLUE EYE! YOU’RE MISSING ALL THE FUN! By the time Ken had passed Blue Eye the pups were spread around the full lap of the paddock.

Still Blue Eye sat and focused on Ken and his buggy. ThenOne, two, RUN!With an awkward leap forward, Blue Eye raced directly out across the worn track almost colliding with his youngest sister. With eyes focused straight ahead he ran faster than he thought his little paws could carry him. He crossed the centre of the paddock just as Ken made the bend to take the back straight.

Blue Eye yapped and slid sideways into the dust cloud that had formed behind the buggy. He was now leading the pack ahead of his father. Yap Yap Yap

Ken glanced behind. Howd you do that? 76007BD7-imp

Ken steered into the final bend toward the start place with Blue Eye yapping close behind. He glanced over his shoulder as he approached the turn to begin a new lap. Blue Eye had slowed and returning to the same spot to sit and stare as he had before.

Ken watched Blue Eye in amazement. You must be kidding me, he said out loud to himself when Blue Eye again dived out to cross the paddock. Hes figured this out. He laughed. Go Blue Eye!

Again Blue Eye skidded in behind the buggy and yapped loudly. This time however, the others were slowing, including his father. Ken slowed to let Blue Eye pass but to his surprise the pup came up beside him and slowed to match the speed of the buggy.

The two continued side by side until Ken stopped and turned the engine off. Well Ill be安e have one smart pup here, Faith.

The proud mother didnt need to be told. She was all ready smothering him with licks. Shield however was not so pleased and bared is fangs.

Shield! Thats enough!

At Kens pointed finger, Shield returned to his enclosure.

Well, Faith, Ken said. I think we had better get these pups cleaned and fed.

While Blue Eye enjoyed a few moments praise from his mother, the rest of the pups headed to the back porch. Ken approached Shield where he had waited at the entry of his enclosure. Ah Shield. Dont be jealous. You should be proud of Blue Eye…all of them. You have a great family. Try to get on and dont be so rough. He patted Shield before filling his food and water bowls. Leaving the gate ajar, Ken headed over to feed the rest of the family.

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穢 Chrissy Siggee 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other 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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faiths Becomes a Mother

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impThe aroma of fresh coffee brewing and the sound of country music playing announced the new day before Faith even opened her eyes. Squinting against the brightness that burst through the kitchen window to the laundry, where she had slept the past week, she stretched out her front legs.

Ken came over with her breakfast bowl. Hey, Girl. Howd you sleep? You were restless last night. Uncomfortable? He returned to the kitchen and poured a coffee.

Faith ate her breakfast hungrily without rising, lapped some water and rested her head on her paws. She woofed but it sounded more like a grunt.

Ill be here all day; in fact I have a few weeks off. Its going to get busy for all of us. Shield will be back later today. Hes at yet another training session. He paused to take a sip of his steamy brew. Ive missed you the past few months. Dont get me wrong. Shields been a good help on patrols but hes not my Faith.

Turning awkwardly in a circle on the bed she settled back into the same position. If only I could get comfortable.I hope the doctor is right. This time tomorrow Ill be quite a few kilos lighter. Well, except near feed times.

You know, I called him Boof at the end of last nights shift. Ken chuckled when Faith lifted her head. Yeah, I know. Hes OK and hell make a great dad. Im just not sure hell ever be a great security dog.

With her head resting again on her paws she closed her eyes.Maybe youre right她n both accounts and yes, I think Boof suits him.

It was just after she had eaten a few nibbles of lunch when the first puppy arrived, quickly followed by six siblings.

Well done, Ken exclaimed while checking the last puppy for signs of stress. Ive called Luke – your favourite vet. Hell drop by on his way home from the clinic. I cant believe youre a mother of seven. He watched the puppies feed and noticed that she had eight nipples. Well, at least theres plenty to spare. He patted Faith before leaving her to nurse her family. A830DBAE-imp

Shield was delivered safely home shortly before the vet arrived. He danced around the kitchen just outside the laundry door until the knock on the door.

gggrrrr..

All right Shield Ken warned. Thats enough. He grabbed his collar and led him out the glass sliding door that led to the rear verandah and closed it before Shield could push his way back in.

Ah, Luke sighed as he entered the kitchen. The over-protective father. Hes a bit clumsy too if I recall correctly. You may have to be here when hes around Faith and the pups.

I will. No problems about that.

Luke checked Faith first then each pup one at a time making sure they had good suction. A nice litter you have here. Dont forget I have first choice, he said with a grin and a wink. He stood to wash his hands in the laundry tub. OK. Thats about it.

When do you want to see them again?

Ill drop by in a few weeks to check when their eyes are open. Bring them into the clinic say in eight week after that for their vaccinations. Call me any time if Faith has any issues with her health or feeding.

It was when Luke moved past the back door to head up the hallway that Shield barked and jumped at the glass.

Thats enough, Shield! Ken pointed and directed him to sit. Ill limit his visiting times or hell be stressing Faith out.

Its probably a good idea and if he gets rough with them, you may have to ban him from any close contact. Luke paused before opening the front door. You will need a bigger area for the pups anyway. Perhaps a divided area where Shield can oversee without you having to watch him every minute.

Sounds like a good idea. It will give me something to do while Im off work. Thanks again for stopping by.

Back in the kitchen Ken stood watching Faith and the pups to his left and then Shield licking the glass to his right. Ah Boof, what an interesting few weeks we have ahead.

穢 Chrissy Siggee 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other 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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faiths Discovery

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impAsh threatened to gag her with each breath she took but Faith continued to sniff the charred ground around her. The smell of burnt flesh occasionally assaulted her nostrils and smouldering debris quickened her steps. Small puffs of smoke drifted upward here and there. It was a dismal aftermath.

Mind your paws, Faith, Kens voiced in a raspy whisper. He cleared his throat before continuing. I dont think theres anything out here but death, he added and knelt on one knee beside the burnt carcass of a small wallaby.

Faith nuzzled Kens elbow. He lifted his arm and drew her near. Theres always life after a fire. We just have to keep looking. With her head held low she continued her search.

Kens radio crackled to life. Hey you guys. Did you find anything?

Not yet, Chief. Mandy and Steve are searching along the creek then up to Wattle Road. Faith and I are moving in the same direct along the top of the ridge. Hopefully, we can cover more ground this way without walking right past any life. The air is still thick in places. Oh, and theres been a few spot fires we had to extinguish too. Ill check in when we meet up with the other two.

OK, Ken. I know its not the best job but someone has to do it. Later.

Come on, Faith. Lets get moving.

Faith thought about the conversation Ken had with his fire fighter friend Joe earlier today. Poor Joe. He found that old man in that burnt-out shed this morning. Not much left of him. Faith shuddered. Counselling, Chief had told him. I think I would need it too. A high-pitched whistle broke into her dismal thoughts.

Looking around, Ken whistled back. Faiths ears pricked up and shifted back and forth. The whistle came again and they both turned toward the sound in a hurried walk.

Whats up, Ken shouted as they approached two figures slumped over a mound on the ash covered ground.

Looks like a backpack but theres no one around here, Steve said. At least not in the ten-metre circle weve searched.

It could have been here for months, Mandy added poking at the pack with her fire fighters axe. We can take it back for further investigation.

The guys nodded in agreement and continue toward the road that was just within their hazy vision. Faith led the way with her head close to the ground. No one spoke until they stopped in the middle of the deserted street. They all walked slowly in a small circle just staring. Three burnt-out cars smouldered on the side of the road. They appeared to have been heading north out of harms way. Ken approached the closest vehicle and peered inside before moving to the other two. Faith stayed by his side.

Well, at least the occupants seemed to have escaped, Ken said to no one in particular. He removed his hat and wiped his sweating brow with the sleeve of his filthy jacket.

This has been a day of deaths and sadness, Steve said quietly. Down right depressing it is.

Steve and Mandy dowsed what flames they could. Dark puffs of dark clouds formed and died above the cars.

Faith began to walk in circles sniffing the ground.

Ken crouched on the warped bitumen. What is it, Girl?

She barked and headed up the road with Mandy, Steve and Ken following close behind.

Most of the houses on both sides of the road were burnt out; some still burning.

Anyone here? Ken shouted.

Hello, Mandy and Steve called in unison.

Faith barked.

Silence. Except for the crackling of nearby flames and the shifting of rubble, it was eerily quiet.

Well split up. Faith and I will check out these two houses. Mandy, Steve, take those two, Ken pointed across the road opposite the burnt-out cars. Dont go in unless you see someone在ut call for us first. He removed Faiths lead. Ill call for you if we find anything.

Steve nodded. All right. Be careful, Ken.

Faith looked up from the steps she had been sniffing to see Ken jog through the charred remains of the front gate. Nothing here.or is there? With ears twitching back and forth she listened.

Hear anything. He stood beside her and waited.

She wagged her tail and proceeded to circle the entire house before returning to Ken and looked up. Nothing. Lets go. She bolted through the side fence while Ken took the long way around.

The second house revealed nothing as well. They returned to find Mandy and Steve putting out spot fires near an outdoor BBQ and gas bottle. Nothing? Ken asked.

Nope, Steve sighed.

Faiths ears snapped to attention. There it is again. Something

Faith?

She looked over her shoulder at Ken and woofed.

The three followed her around to the rear of the house to what appeared to be a workshop or garden shed. As they neared the opened door they heard a faint cry. Faith was nudging a shelf that had collapsed.

Lets see what we have here, Ken said quietly. Faith moved out of his way and sat beside Mandy who patted her gently.

Oh my. How did you get stuck in there? Steve, give me your rake.

Steve obliged and placed his firemans rescue rake into Kens hand.

A few minutes later Ken stood up with something in his hand.

A flower pot? Mandy gasped.

Ken turned the pot around to reveal a little bundle of fur. A kitten, to be exact.

Faith whimpered and Ken placed the kitten, still in the pot, under Faiths nose.

She gently licked the ball of fluff. Hi cutie. Im sure glad Shield is spending the day in training. Hed eat you alive.

Smart dog, Steve finally reacted and moved outside with the others close behind.

The three fire fighters laughed. Faith barked. The Kitten meowed. Their depressing mood had suddenly been lifted. Mandy took out her water bottle and removed her glove. The kitten lapped from her opened hand.

Just above the commotion the chiefs voice was heard. Hey, whats happening out there? We havent heard anything for some time. Whats happening, Ken?

Ken handed the kitten over to a jubilant Mandy. Were fine Chief, he yelled. You wont believe this.

The cheering rose and Faith jumped up and down barking excitedly.

Ken?

Everythings OK, Chief. We found a kitten. Hes alive! Again, cheers went up.

The chief responded with a chuckle. Im glad for you guys. Its been a depressing day. Oh, and another search and rescue team found a backpacker. Hes all right. He was dazed and wondering around. Says he lost his backpack in the fire somewhere by the river. He paused. Return to headquarters. I think you all need a break.

See you soon, Chief. Were bringing in the kitten. Mandy’s already named it. He laughed. Lucky, I think. We also have the backpack. Hope that makes the owners day.Over and out.

Faith bounded over to Ken at his call. Lets go home.

穢 Chrissy Siggee 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other 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.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

Faiths Close Encounter

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impWith his gloved right hand still holding Faiths lead, Ken pulled his overcoat tightly around him. His brush with death a year earlier had left him somewhat thinner. Its a cold night for security, hey Faith.

Faith looked up in response and Shield shook himself causing Ken to drop his lead.

Just as Ken picked up the lead and twisted it around his bulky glove they heard a faint thud in the darkness beyond the path that led to the administration block of the high school they were patrolling. There had been a number of recent school break-ins and Ken and his dog team had been called in for an extra night’s security shift.

The thud came again and the murmurings of voices carried in the chilly air.

A quick directive from Ken silenced an anxious Shield. Lets get closer. Quietly,’ he added for the benefit of the newly trained canine. Shield was a quick learner but he had the tendency of being impatient.

Deep masculine voices sent chills through Faiths body. Cold is right and these guys sound dangerous and I cant even see them yet. Where are they?She stifled a whimper.

Ken stopped to point his torch at the ground and switched it on. Slowly directing the light in a sweeping circle around him, he found his bearings. He flicked the torch off again before continuing toward the voices.

Ah they must be between the Administration Block and the Science Building. Thankfully they mustnt have seen the glow of the torch.

Before taking the path between the two two-storey buildings, Ken knelt and drew his team close to whisper. I need to call for back-up but if something goes wrong before they arrive Shield, follow Faith, she knows the drill.

They took a few steps back and hid behind a retaining wall that lined the garden on one side of the path. Here Ken touch his radio that had been surprisingly quiet tonight. Bluelight, this is Canine Security over.

This is Bluelight. Whats up, Ken. Over.

I hope youre in the vicinity of High and Green. Over.

The radio crackled again startling Shield. ‘The high school? Over.’

That’s a big ten-four. Trespassers. Over, he said quietly listening for any changes in the distant voices.

On our way. Be careful.

Ken turned the radio volume dial down. Peering around the retaining wall, he listened and watched for a few minutes before leading Faith and Shield toward the corner of the Administration building.

Faith stood close to Kens right side and followed his gaze down the path where she could just make out the tall broad silhouette of a man with his hands reaching above his head. A ladder leaned against the Science building. There are at least two of them. If there are three, we still should be ok but they sure are big.

Ken took a moment to glance at his watch then estimated the distance between them and the trespassers to be at least twenty metres. If he could get closer he could see exactly how many and what they were up to.

Faith resisted against the lead a little but trusted Ken. They moved soundlessly toward the men whose voices became clearer as they approached.

Hurry up, one of them shouted in a whisper. We have enough computers. Grab some cables or something to tie them to the trolley or theyll fall off.

OK, OK, someone from the first floor window called back. Pascos gone to look.

Faiths hair stood on end. Shield made the quietest of whimpers but it was enough.

The dogs froze before Ken could stop causing the leads to become taut.

WHO ARE YOU?

Ken looked up at the huge dark figure that seemed to have stepped out of the wall just a few steps in front of him.

Oops! This must be the lookout.How did we miss seeing him? Faith stood her ground.

I asked you a question, Weed.

Ken kept his voice clear and steady. Well, Im Ken and this is my Faith and my Shield.

Another huge figure appeared and the two looked down at the dogs in surprise.

RUN!, Ken yelled and turned before the men realised what was happening.

Faith and Shield bolted.

Kens feet hardly touched the ground as they raced around the corner and back up the path. The oval, he panted. He gripped the leads tighter hoping they wouldnt slip through his gloves.

COME BACK HERE, WEED.

Faith made a sudden turn to the right causing Shield to gasp as he was jerked along. Ouch!Where do you get you strength, Girl?

The three kept running until the voices faded.

Faith slowed and panted to a stop. They all collapsed on the damp grass in the middle of the sports oval just as a distant siren broke the midnight darkness.

Ken turned the volume up on his radio and panted a brief update I think theres three, maybe four. They have computers on a trolley of some sort. Over.

Ok, Ken. Take it easy. We have called in another Bluelight. Well get them to cover the south of the Science block. Stay where you are until we have them in custody. Over.

No worries about that. He signed off and hugged his team.

Shield nuzzled Faith. That was so cool. Can we do that again?

Faith gave a quiet woof andpushed in closer to Ken. Her Ken宇he weed.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dogs Faith andShield all other 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.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Faiths Christmas Surprise

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impChristmas carols played while Ken wrapped the last of the gifts that were to be distributed at the childrens hospital later that afternoon. This was Faiths favourite time of year and best of all she was allowed to visit the children again with Ken.

It had been a busy year with many visits to hospitals where children needed a distraction from their pain, recovery or just the plain old boredom of their every day routine. Faith always looked forward to seeing them. It was their smiles and squeals of glee that made it all worthwhile.

Ken had made a silly elf hat for Faith to match his. She shook her head. Nope its not going to come off.Oh well, I guess the children will like it. At least its better than last years reindeer antlers.

Almost done, Faith, Ken said clutching a red ribbon between his teeth as he talked.

Faith tilted her head to one side and ruffed. Its about time. Curiosity had set in so she wandered over to the Christmas tree and sniffed a sack of gifts.

Youre not going to find anything under there for you this Christmas, Faith girl.

Faith whimpered and hung her head.

Its not like that, Ken laughed. He knelt on one knee as he often did and hugged her. Your gift will arrive sometime later tonight. Actually, it will be our gift. Well be sharing this one. Those gifts under the tree are for my parents who are coming for Christmas lunch tomorrow.

Faith wagged her tail. She loved Kens mum and dad.I wonder if our gift will arrive by sleighor maybe its being delivered in a fire truck. She nudged Kens elbow with her nose knocking him off balance. Come on! Its time to go.

Less than an hour later, Ken was busy handing out gifts to the children in the burns unit while Faith nuzzled the hands of any child, parent or nurse reaching out to her. The ward was noisy with excitementoh what fun it is!One child was almost totally covered in bandages; blue eyes, a little nose, hands and feet protruding. Faith looked up at a male nurse standing nearby.

Go on. Mandy will be thrilled he said nodding at the patient.

Faith cautiously stepped toward the child and licked a dangling hand before carefully lifting both paws onto the side of the bed. She was within inches of the little girl’s nose.

Mandy lifted her hand slowly and placed it on Faiths head. There they remained for what seemed a very long time. But, Faith didnt mind.

The afternoon visit included ice cream for everyone except Faith, as usual, but Ken had a few doggy surprises in his pocket for her to enjoy. It had been a great visit.

It wasnt until later that evening when she curled up on the mat near the back door that Faith thought about Mandy again. She whimpered a moment before resting her head on her paws. And, I wonder what our surprise will be尖awn.

It was just after dawn when Faith was aroused from a deep sleep by a faint scratching noise. She opened her eyes slowly anticipating a possum trying to steal the remaining few biscuits from her bowl. To her surprise, another pair of doggy eyes met hers across the porch. Faith blinked, not just to clear her eyes but in response to the handsome canine who lay opposite.

Both dogs lifted their heads in unison. Oh my, Faith thought. Her tongue slipped over the side of her jaw. A slobbery drool slipped down to the tip of her tongue before she could prevent it dripping to the floor. Fortunately, those amber eyes before her didnt seem to notice. Time seemed to stand still.

The glass door gliding along its track brought Faith out of her daze. Ken stepped out and knelt to stroke Faiths ears. I see you two have met.

Well, sort of. She shook her head throwing drool over Kens clean shirt.

Faith, meet Shield. Shield this is Faith.

Shield rose to his feet in what seemed to Faith as a graceful bow. Faith followed suit and approached the longhaired Border Collie before she shyly turned her head and nudged Ken instead.

With a chuckle, Ken picked himself up of the floor. Ok you two, how about breakfast?

Both dogs wagged their tails eagerly and waited in anticipation.

The two dogs spent most of the day playing and walking in the back garden. They soon became the best of friends. Kens parents had been and gone. Lunch was fabulous. There had been plenty of gifts to go around and the doggy treats were extra special on such a wonderful day of the year.

Merry Christmas from Faith and Shield Oh, and Ken too of course.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other 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.

 

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

Faith’s Goes on a Holiday

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impFaith was not her usual contented self. She wasnt happy about anything. Food tasted bland and her tongue felt like she had been licking out the cats’ bowl. With every breath foul, she drooled away whatever had died between her teeth. Her hair was sooty too from the mornings adventure and she badly needed her nails trimmed.

Ken brought fresh water. ‘Whats the matter, girl? I hope youre not getting sick. Youre going on a little holiday this afternoon.’

Faith lifted her head and licked his chin. She liked holidays and wondered what excitement they would have. Last time they went on a holiday she romped for hours on a farming property and chased butterflies until she was dizzy.

‘Yeah, I think you will enjoy a few days at the training school. I found one just right or you.’

Faith couldnt believe her ears. What are you saying? What have I done? She whimpered.

Its all right, Faith. Marnie will give you a shampoo and manicure while youre there. You’ll like Marnie.’ He tickled her belly and scratched behind her ears. You did great this morning finding that missing boy we thought had been caught in the fire. I dont know how you found him but you did. Even the fire chief was surprised since you havent had any training for that sort of thing.’ He attached the lead to Faith’s collar and stood. ‘I’ll miss you, girl, but we both need a break. Come on, Id better get you there before it gets too late.

Faith sat in the front passenger seat beside Ken, her favorite place. He talked as he drove and tuned in to her favorite radio station. She had mixed feeling about the days ahead. I wonder ifMarnie will clean my teeth. Maybe I’ll be able to taste my food again. She looked down at her toes where ash clung to her and nails.I’m surprised Ken let me sit on the seat the state I’m in. She looked out the side window. I guess if he’d hosed me off after work, Id have been to wet for the cabin of the fire truck.Come to think of it, Im glad he didnt. There is no way Id be dry enough now for Ken to let me travel in his new Twin Cab Ute. She sighed and tried to enjoy the passing view. She felt Ken’s hand rub her ear and listened to him sing along to the music.

After Faith had said her goodbyes, Marnie gave her a warm bubble bath, followed by a pedicure and a good brushing. Ah, this is the life. She closed her eyes while enjoying a good towel dry.

‘Have you ever seen one of these, Faith?’ Marnie held up a weird shaped gun.

Yikes!

‘It’s an electric dryer,’ Marnie continued. She aimed the gun at a nearby wall and flicked a switch before it began to purr. ‘See, if I point it at my hand, warm air blows out.’ She then lifted Faith’s paw to demonstrate.

Oh, this is sooo…good. She rolled onto her back to enjoy the rub and warmth. Mmm… I wonder if I get to take that gun home.

After she was totally dry, her favorite food of chicken and vegetables awaited her back at her kennel.

I think you deserve an early night. We have worked to do tomorrow. Good night, Faith. Sleep well.

Faith yawned and turned in circles on the padded bed before settling down. She had just closed her eyes when they suddenly sprang open. Work? What Work? I thought this was supposed to be a holiday. Oh…that’s right. Ken said something about a training camp.

It was after an enjoyable breakfast when Marnie came for Faith. ‘Let’s get you to the gym.’

Gym? You have got to be joking.’She considered returning to her comfortable bed but that would be disobedience. She hung her head.Groan. OK, where’s this gym?

Marnie led Faith around the perimeter of a room before stopping by a haphazard pile of hessian sacks that smelt of dirt, potatoes and straw.

‘Faith, sit.’

Faith sat.

‘Good girl, now I want you to have a good smell of this jacket.’

Faith sniffed the jacket that Marnie held in front of her. Then waited.

Marnie then led her back across the room to where a man was polishing his shoes and sat beside him. ‘Jack, this is Faith. Faith, meet Jack.’

After the introductions Marnie showed Faith the jacket again. ‘Faith, help me find the person who owns this jacket.’

Um… well it don’t belong to your friend here. The shoe polish made her sneeze. She sniffed the jacket again before pushing her way behind Marnie. With her nose to the floor she walked in a wide circle.

‘That’s it, Faith. Keep going.’ Marnie stood and followed her; the lead suddenly tightened between them causing Marnie to lurch forward.

Oh come on, Marnie. Catch up. Faith headed back to the sacks, sniffed some more than went around them. Behind the sacks was a door that stood slightly ajar. Using her paw she opened the door wide enough to get through. There behind the door sat a little girl.

The girl giggled. ‘She found me, Mummy.’

Marnie bent down to pat Faith. ‘ Yes, she did, Sarah.’ She handed Faith a small doggy chew. ‘ Good girl.’

‘Can we do that again?’ Sarah stood and hugged Faith around the neck. ‘Please, Mummy.’

‘Yes, but remember Sarah, finding missing children地nd grown ups, isn’t a game.’

‘I know, but it is a bit like hide and seek.’

‘I suppose it is but try and be serious.’

Sarah made a serious face. ‘Like this?’

Marnie laughed and Faith licked Sarah’s face making her giggle again.

‘OK, you two. Let’s get back to work.’

For the rest of the morning Marnie, Sarah and Jack took turns of hiding but Faith never knew who was next or where they were until she had sniffed them out.

‘You’re going to make a good tracker,’ Marnie told Faith while she filled a bowl with fresh water.

‘Will I make a good missing child, Mummy?’

‘I hope you will never go missing but just think of all the missing people Faith will help rescue in the bush or after a disaster.’

‘What if they get lost in the Mall?’

‘I’m sure Faith will find them. She’s one smart dog.’

Once Faith drank her fill she nudged Sarah with her nose and pawed gently at her shorts.

‘You know, Sarah, I think Faith would really enjoy chasing that tennis ball that you have in your pocket. Why don’t you take her out to play with her while I phone Ken to let him know how her training is progressing.’

Faith barked and danced in a circle.

‘She is smart, Mummy. I think she understands everything we say.’ Sarah carefully opened the gate that led to the grass area behind the row of dog enclosures. ‘Come on, Faith. It’s playtime. No more training until tomorrow.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2018

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other 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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faith Loses a Friend

Parents please note: Because this is a story about drug detection this particular fictional story about Ken and his dog Faith, may require parental guidance for your child or younger teen.

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impThe day began with rain setting in just after dawn. The roof over the back porch where Faith slept leaked with a constant drip echoing through her dreams. Breakfast was unappetizing. She washed it down with mouthfuls of water from her bowl.

Ken met her at the gate and opened the front passenger door of his twin cab utility. His Australian Border Security uniform looked impressive as usual but it somehow saddened her this morning. She sighed heavily.

Come on girl, youd better sit up front today, I left the back window open last night.

Faith kept her opinions to herself during the fifteen-minute drive to work. She just stared out the front window oblivious of the usual excitement of the windscreen wipers swishing back and forth.

OK, lets go.

Faith and Kens responsibility was to track down drug couriers, find hidden narcotics sent through the mail and check newly arrived shipping containers at the wharf. Today was different somehow. Faith wondered why Ken held her back from the work truck parked behind the security police offices. Instead, they headed into the lunchroom where she greeted the other officers. They joked together and tossed a ball around when the telephone was quiet. Faith particularly liked Jonesy who always brought biscuits.

Ken knelt down and rubbed Faith behind her ears. Were not going out today, girl. Sorry.

Chief Barrymore stuck his head around the door-frame.

Ken, Faith, he called out. My office.

Faith followed Ken obediently into the office before the chief closed the door.

Ken, Barrymore began, its a sad day when I have to keep you two from your work but this is important. He motioned to Ken to sit before handing him a file.

You are aware that we had stored those drugs from last nights bust in our unused vault here for safekeeping.

Ken nodded his reply but didnt look up from the file opened in his hand.

Some vault. The stuff vanished overnight. Its the last time I listen to Headquarters.

Ken head jerked up. ‘ You’re kidding?

No, I’m afraid it’s no joke but somethings strange about this whole thing. He paused Like there had to be a tip off. How would anyone know that it would be stored here until Headquarters could pick it up this morning?

Ken closed the file. What do you want us to do, Chief?

I want you and Faith to track down the culprit. Our overnight visitor didn’t leave any clues that I can see. Come with me. He stood and led them out the door and down a long hallway to the vault.

After Barrymore open the safe Ken peered inside and examined the dark chasm.

Theres no damage to the front of the safe but theres seems to be another room… or space behind it.

Yes, that is odd. I thought the rear of the vault was the outside wall. Hard to tell in these old buildings.

Its too small a gap for me. He turned to Faith and clicked his fingers at the opening.

With the light of Barrymores torch, Faith moved forward and crouched down onto her belly to crawl the short distance. She started to whimper and paw at the rear wall. Suddenly, there was a thin strip of light.

Stay girl.

Ken and the chief raced outside and around the building where they saw a couple of bricks laying on the ground between their building and the next.

As they approached, Faiths pushed her nose up against another brick causing it to fall at their feet.

Ken rubbed his finger along the mortar line around the immediate area then pulled a few more bricks aside and helped Faith through.

Good girl, Faith. Ken said before giving her a hug.

Clever, the chief said. They must have balanced the bricks after removing the mortar to give the appearance that it was still intact.

Thunder rumbled overhead as Faith sniffed the ground around them before heading back up the path. Barrymore diverted toward the rear door of the building where a few old umbrellas leaned against the wall before following Ken and his dog.

Alerted senses led Faith to the cracked concrete car parking area before circling a place where signs of fresh oil mingled with rainwater. The murky liquid dribbled on to an area where a car must have recently parked for some time. She continued to sniff around a small puddle of oily water.

Ken appeared behind her. What did you find, Faith?

Without waiting for his pat she continued on, her nose close to the concrete. It was still raining. In fact, it was becoming a heavy downpour.

Ken wiped his hand across the top of his head and followed.

Barrymore came up behind them with an umbrella held high and shrugged. Its got to be too wet for色 he yelled.

In the next instant she had raced off towards a car that was parked opposite the police vehicles.It was Jonesys car. Faith was all over the old Ford V8 in seconds. Chief Barrymore and Ken hurried over to the rear of the car where faith was barking and scratching at the boot lid.

Ken twisted his penknife into the keyhole before kicking it with the heel of his work boot. Concealed inside were the missing bags of heroin. Chief Barrymore turned and raced as fast as he could against the driving rain toward the rear door of the offices. His umbrella turned inside out with a violent rip, flew from his hold, and lodged into the fence, narrowly missing Ken struggling with the duffle bag.

In the confusion, Faith noticed Jonesy creeping around the side of the building toward one of the police cars. She bounded after him, leaving Ken to deal with the now-soaked bag.

Faith dived onto Jonesy, bringing him down hard onto the concrete. Chief Barrymore and two other officers arrived as he hit the ground. Jonesy was handcuffed and taken back inside.

Ken called to Faith as he passed carrying the duffle bag over his shoulder.

Once inside, and the drugs guarded in Barrymores office awaiting armoured collection, Ken wiped his face with a towel then dried Faith.

You did great, he said.

Later, when they were finally home, Ken put in an extra handful of dried biscuits into her dish and gave her a pat before heading inside to get out of his wet uniform.

Faith ate her tea hungrily and wandered off to her bed where she dreamed of biscuits that she would no longer get at coffee breaks. She would miss them and her friend Jonesy.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2018
This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dog Faith all other 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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faith to the Rescue

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impThe sand was soothingly warm. A gentle breeze kissed her face. With a sleepy yawn, Faith watched seabirds glide silently over a distant wave. A solitary, early morning board rider, paddled out across the sandbar in search of the best. Sunbeams danced on the surface around him. A shipping tanker seemed to glide across the smooth far-away horizon while the sound of waves crashing ashore filled the air.

It was Faiths first day on the job as a lifeguard. Ken, the head lifeguard, slouched high on the lookout tower, binoculars swinging from the arm of his deck chair. Faith was happy to stretch her long legs on the beach below. She watched a young mother dressed in red, chasing her small child around a sandcastle they had sculpted in the wet sand. The little one was wearing a bright yellow shirt and bathers. Faith blinked drowsily, shifting her slender body into the shade of the tower.

Help, someone, please help!

The scream jerked Faith to attention. Ken almost fell off the tower as he took the steps two at a time. Faiths gaze fell on the young woman in the red bathing suit screaming hysterically at a small yellow object bobbing in the waves. A quick assessment alerted Faith to a crosscurrent. Seizing a short-coiled rope, she raced down the beach and plunged into the breakers.

Wait for me! Ken yelled.

She turned her head momentarily and saw Ken dragging the life raft behind him. Her strong legs kicked through the waves. Tolerating her aching limbs, Faiths eyes remained focused on the tiny head that kept disappearing below the surface. It felt like an eternity of great effort. Her eyes and throat stung from the salt.

Training had not prepared her for the fear she saw in that little pair of eyes of such a small child. Closing the distance, Faith could see the little boys eyes wide with fright and gasping for breath. His lips were tinged with a thin blue band. Just a few more yards. Hang on, little one.

She held one end of the rope tightly between her teeth, causing the rope to trail behind, but as she advanced forward it gave her full use of her tiring limbs. Short wheezing sounds escaped her lungs as she convinced herself to breathe.

Thats it, Faith. Let him take the rope, she heard Ken calling as he approached from behind her.

The small child gripped the rope briefly then lunged forward, wrapping his little arms around Faiths neck. Gasping from the pressure, Faith twisted awkwardly with every rise and fall that attempted to consume them. She swam with determination to the nearby raft.

Ken reached over the side and picked the boy up by his shirt sleeve.

Faith began to tread water for a few minutes while Ken rubbed and patted the little ones back. He gave a choking cough and vomited seawater all over Ken.

Faith turned and swam back to the beach.

By the time Faith reached the dry sand she was exhausted but relieved the child was safe. Faith gave a few hoarse coughs before returning to meet Ken and help pull the raft ashore. The boys mother raced to retrieve her toddler from Kens arms.

Thank you! He was so quick. I only turned my back for a moment to get the towels.

Dont thank me, thank Faith, our newest lifeguard. Its a trial program and I think she passed with flying colours. Ken grinned.

Faith barked at hearing her name and shook violently, spraying salty water over everyone. Ken and the woman laughed. The child struggled from his mothers embrace and wrapped his little arms once more around his rescuers neck.

Say thank you to Faith, Ethan.

Good doggy.

Faith barked with excitement and licked the little boys face until he giggled with delight.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2016

This is a work of fiction. Except for the name of Ken & his dog Faith, all other 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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Stellas Plight Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Stellas arms had rested and the soreness from holding her baby gave way to the need to hold her again.

Teresa gave up the precious bundle into the arms of her mother not wanting to admit her arms were getting tired too.

Stella continued her narrative. When Kath found me, I was in the maternity ward at the Womens Hospital in Sydney. I had gone into false labour a few times since I was admitted with my fluid retention problem so they decided to keep me there until I delivered. I almost didnt recognise her. Kaths face had a green tinge about it and there were black and blue bruises around the white tape across her nose. Her right arm was in a sling. I just held her in my arms until she needed to sit. She was still weak from the ordeal. Her story was frightening. Stella cleared her throat. After David had found the bull dead in his paddock, he had stormed inside yelling that he was going to get revenge on Ryan. Kath try to calm him down but he was too angry. She said he went on like that for days after he buried the animal. One night he swore to Kath that he would make me pay and he would take me to court for the property that should never had been given to Ryan in the first place. Kath tried to reason with him but that just made him angrier and turned on her. After he beat her, he took his horse and rode off leaving her on the floor. It was their housekeeper who found her. Her son is the stable boy and the two of them helped her to Doc Stones house using Davids utility. Docs wife took her in until she was able to catch a train to a womens shelter in Sydney.

Oh my. That poor woman, Teresa whispered as she retrieved a tissue from her dress sleeve. Doesnt she have family?

Yes, but she was afraid he might hurt them too.

And David?

He went somewhere to cool off, or so everyone thought. Probably did the lap of their 92,000 acres. It usually takes a few days when he goes out to check on the fences and livestock.

Why would he want your property if he had so much?

Greed, was Stellas short reply. Ryan was given just over 300 acres from his Uncle Rick. Rick had bought it from a neighbour who wanted to retire and live in Bourke with his daughter. It was just a rundown hobby farm really.

Sarah stirred.

Hungry again, she whispered. Can you take her while I warm her bottle?’

Why would I not, she chuckled as Stella opened the door of the cabin behind them.

After Stella had returned and repositioned herself in the seat, she focused on feeding Sarah. She has Ryans eyes, she said smiling through her sudden sadness. I dont think I will ever forget him.

I should hope not.

Stella found it hard not to like Teresa. They had made an unusual connection in a very short time. We should be in Dubbo by mid-afternoon. Are you getting off there?

Teresa looked thoughtful. I dont know.

Stella was confused. What do you mean? Surely you know where youre going.

Well its like this, I have a ticket to Bourke but I can get off at any station before there.

Stella was quiet and a hint of fear returned. Im not sure I understand.

Dont worry yourself. Im just a free spirit. I can stay with you through to Bourke to keep you company and return to Nyngan later tonight. Im retiring and Nyngan is the only home I know.

Thats sweet of you but wont there be someone expecting you?

Sadly, no. My fathers house is there but he and all my family are gone now. The last of my siblings passed away last June.

Im sorry to hear that. Stella waited for Sarah to finish her bottle before speaking again. I hope David doesnt come to the back of the train again. Oh, I didnt think. What will I do when I get to Bourke? Hes bound to be getting off there.

Lets just wait and see. Dont stress. Tell me more about your story.

Well, Kath stayed close until after Sarah was born. She smiled at the thought. It was nice to have her there with me. Anyway, Kath was visiting me a few days later when David came into the ward. I freaked and Kath screamed. Nurses came running and security was called. David was escorted from the ward and the police came to take him away. He was charged for the attack on Kath and a restraining order was set in place.

Wheres Kath now? Teresa was eager to know.

Shes caught a train a few days ago to stay with her mother in Dubbo. Kath promised to keep in touch. The police suggested she find a lawyer in Dubbo and see what her options are. I dont expect shell go back to Bourke or David.

Surely not! So, what will you do? What do you think he would do to you?

The day after he was escorted from the hospital he returned. One of the nurses recognised him. He was in the nursery and standing over Sarah. She ran to call security but David had already taken Sarah out of her crib and sneaking toward the elevator. When the elevator door opened, there were two security guards. I havent let her out of my sight since and I honestly thought he would be in jail. This morning while I was signing my discharge papers a policewoman came up to me and explained that David had been released after he was charged. I was so scared I think she thought I would faint. We sat in a small sitting area near the entry while we talked. David had claimed he was just visiting his new niece and wasnt intending to take her anywhere. I dont know what to believe or what hes up to. Stella paused. He wouldnt have hurt her. Would he?

Teresa shook her head. He sounds very angry still and he has already been charged with violence but why would he take Sarah? He may just want to hurt you. Maybe its a way to get his property back. Im not sure but I think you should be careful and get some legal advice.

I know but色

Before she could continue the train was slowing to a stop at Nyngan. Are you sure you want to come with me to Bourke?

Im sure and look. Stella leaned forward to see what Teresa had seen.

There were two police officers standing on the platform.

Why do you think they are here? Teresa asked and Stella shrugged.

As the train came to a stop, the police officers walked along the platform looking through windows and doors. There was a curve in the railway at the front of the train so they could see clearly the front carriages and engine. After the police officers had past the first two carriages, David jumped from the first and ran towards the exit sign where two other police officers stepped out and grabbed him. The two walking down the platform continued looking until they came to the last carriage where one of them stepped inside.

He removed his hat. Stella Wilson?

Stella raised her free arm slowly. Im Stella Wilson.

Dont be alarmed Maam. We received a call from David Wilsons wife. Hes being arrested for breaking his restraining order by calling her from Sydney and threatening her and her family. He shook his head.

Stella gasped and covered her mouth. What are you saying?

Everything is going to be all right, Mrs Wilson. Hes going away for a very long time. He turned to leave but spun around again. Do you have anyone who can stay with you at your property? At least until Kath Wilson returns home.

Stella felt numb. She looked at Teresa who blinked once and turned to the police officer.

Will I do? Im just an old retired nun but I have a mean kick if anyone comes near her.

The officer chuckled. I meant for company but yeah, youll do. He replaced his hat and left the train.

The other passengers applauded.

Stella sat dazed.

Theresa just smiled and took Sarah in her arms. I always wanted to live on a big property. I also wanted to help busy young mothers with their babies.

Stella just stared at her.

Well, do you mind? I cant leave you alone. Now can I?

Stella swayed a little with the movement of the train as it left the station. I dont know what to say. You hardly know me.

I think I know enough about you that we can be friends. She looked down at the wee baby. What do you think, Sarah?

Sarah made a squeaking kind of noise and closed her eyes.

As the train rolled out of Nyngan, both Stella and Theresa watched the two police cars that had stopped at the rail crossing to let their train through.

Suddenly Stella burst into tears. Its over. Its really over.

The End

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Stellas Plight Chapter Three

Chapter Three

It didnt take long for the coroners report to come through. Ryan died from a burst aneurysm in the brain. His funeral was held a week later and he was buried beside his Uncle Rick. The uncle who left him the property. Stella added for Teresas benefit. The next day I was called to our solicitors office for the reading of Ryans latest Will. It was straightforward enough. The property and house were to be left to me. Everything except for the few head of cattle he had been breeding. Apparently, they were on loan from Uncle David so Ryan could breed and start his own herd. Unfortunately, there had been only four calves born at the time of his death. Once they were old enough to be separated from their mothers the loaned cattle had to be returned.

Why wouldnt this uncle David leave them a little longer so you could have an income?

Stella was about to answer when she noticed a man through the window of the doors leading to the next carriage. He was leaning slightly forward speaking to one passenger after another.

I think Sarah needs her nappy changed. Stella stood to retrieve the bag she had put in the overhead storage earlier.

At the same moment the guard came through the rear door. Theres a small table in the guardroom if you would like to use it and a microwave. I wont be using the cabin for a while.

Thank you, she smiled and let him pass before reaching for the baby.

She had only just closed the door of the guard cabin when the man entered her carriage from the other end. She stepped aside and peered through the stripped security screen that allowed the guard to see out but no one could see much if they looked in. Muffled voices kept her alert. Sarah stirred. Stella rocked her gently. Ssshhh奸ittle one.

Stella risked a glanced through the window. She drew in a sharp breath. David?

Finally, David moved out of the carriage and Stella could see him move from the next carriage through the door at the other end.

Lets get you cleaned up, Stella cooed at Sarah her big blue eyes gazing back.

Minutes later she returned to her seat. I should have bought a baby carrier before I left Sydney.

Theresa stretched out her arms. That would only make things more difficult for you.

Once settled back into her seat, Stella looked up to see Teresa looking straight at her.

What was that about? Teresa asked directly.

What was what about? Stella replied before looking away. Sorry. That man was Ryans Uncle David. She turned in her seat slightly to face Teresa. I was about to tell you what happened after David came for the cows.

Stella kept her voice low even though there were only two other passengers at the front of the carriage since the train stopped to embark and disembark passengers at Katoomba. The bull Ryan bought was lame after stepping into a hole in his enclosure. I had only been filling the food and water troughs through the fence since Ryan died. I was no way going to go in there, pregnant or not. I was about seven months along by then and Ryans only income was from the land he leased out to another property owner. David said he would pay to have the bull treated by a vet and then buy it from me at a fair price that included the vet fees. That was fine until the bull up and died. David demand his money back after I had already spent it on feed for the calves.

That doesnt seem fair, Teresa interrupted.

Well, I dont know much about whats fair but Kath, Davids wife, was upset over his treatment of me. She had come to stay with me after Ryans death until after the funeral. Shes a real sweetie. Anyway, from what I heard over the radio gossip line and in town that David beat her and she up and left him. I didnt see her again until I came to Sydney a month ago. I was having problems with fluid around my ankles and Doc Stone insisted I go to Sydney until after the birth. Friends from another property offered to look after the place until I returned.

Stella was tired. She hadnt slept properly since Sarah was born and the gently movement of the train made her sleepy. She almost dozed off when Teresa spoke.

How did you find Kath, or did she find you?

Stella squeezed her eyes closed before blinking repeatedly. Kath found me. Her voice cracked. Doc Stone told her where I was. She asked him not to tell anyone else, not even David, because she thought I was in danger. I guess he believed her because of what happened to her. She turned to Teresa; tears streaming down her cheeks. He broke her arm and her nose for standing up to him – for me.

Teresa sat quietly and looked out the window for a few minutes. Her heart broke for Stel and her baby. She lifted Sarah and kissed her forehead then turned to Stella. That man just now, your Ryans uncle, he asked if I had seen a woman with a baby. Im sorry色 Her voice drifted off.

Stella sat up straight and looked down the carriage through the door. What did you say? I dont understand. Why didnt he stay or go into the guards cabin?

Teresa turned back to Stella and gazed into her eyes. I knew something wasnt right. I answered him in German, my second language. I knew it would come in handy one day. She winked. I didnt lie. I couldnt lie. I wont, but he had no idea what I said and he just left.

Stella stared at this beautiful woman that had befriended her. She didnt know whether she should laugh or cry. After a few moments, she smiled. Thank you.

So, tell me what happened in Sydney.

After a long sigh Stella continued.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Stellas Plight Chapter Two

Chapter Two

Stella began her story from the day her life changed forever. She had awoken early New Years Day with a dry mouth and covered in sweat. Nothing unusual for this part of the world but what was different was that Ryan wasnt in bed and there was no evidence that he had. A wonderful husband of three years and a baby on the way, Stellas only longing was for a relief from the heatwave and yet another drought.

Peeling back the damp top sheet Stella sat up on the side of the bed; her head groggy from a restless night.

Making her way down stairs she headed to the refrigerator for the jug of water she had place there the evening before. She peered out the kitchen window and noticed the door of the tractor shed was open. Thats strange. It wasnt open before I went to bed. Maybe Ryans tinkering with the engine, she spoke into the empty room.

Stella looked around the kitchen for a sign that Ryan had eaten breakfast early. Nothing. Heading to the back door she pushed opened the fly screen door. Ryan often left the back door open to allow any breeze that might stir in the sweltering night air.

It wasnt until she reached the tractor shed that she realised how quiet it was. Ryan, where are you?

Flo, Ryans Blue Cattle Dog began to bark. Stella turned to see that Flo was still in her fenced off area near the house. Since a recent pack of wild dogs had been seen roaming the surrounding properties at night, Ryan had made sure Flo didnt wander and so the dogs couldnt ambush her. No way would he leave Flo in there if he were here.

A sudden chill rushed through her. She stood in the wide doorway. Ryan! There was no reply except for Flos constant bark. She approached the tractor and looked around. Where are you? It was then she noticed a dull glow of light coming from the small doorless room at the rear of the shed where Ryan used as an office of sorts and to clean small tractor parts.

Stella felt like she was walking in a dream only for the constant barking from Flo. There sitting on a stool slumped over a newspaper that lay open on the wooden bench was Ryan. A moment of relief that Ryan must have dozed off while working past through her. The lantern was struggling to keep alight. With no power to the shed, Ryan had kept an old kerosene lamp ready in case of an emergency.

Placing her hand gently on his shoulder she jerked it back. It was cold, an impossibility in this heat. She moved to where she could see one side of his face. His left eye looked back at her. Ryan! She gently shook his shoulder but he remained silent and cold.

Stella heart pounded as she ran back to the house. Letting the screen door slam behind her she rushed straight to the radio in the front room. She forced herself to concentrate on the user instructions. Even though Stella used the radio on occasions, it was Ryan who usually operated it.

Almost immediately the operator came over the line. Youre on air early, Ryan. How can I assist you? Over.

Maggie its Stella, she sobbed in relief. Over, she finally remembered and released the button.

What is it, Stel? You sound panicked. Over.

Its Ryan. I think hes dead, she blurted out and released the button without the over.

Calm down, Stel. Doc Stone is over at Davids place visiting Ryans grandmother. Ill contact him there. Stay calm. Over.

Stella gulped down air. Ill try. Tell him to hurry, please. She sat staring at the radio and took long deep breaths until she heard Maggies voice again.

Stel, Dr Stone will be there in about twenty minutes. David is driving him over in his off-road utility. Over.

Thanks Maggie. Over.

Ill call you later, Maggie signed off.

Flos yapping was beginning to annoy her so she went back out to the shed and closed the door but not before looking in the direction of back room where she could barely see Ryan through her tears. Then she let Flo loose, giving her a long hard hug.

Oh Flo安hat will we do without him?

It took less than twenty minutes for Doc Stone to arrive but to Stella if felt like hours. She had managed to change into a cotton house dress that had seen better days but she didnt seem to notice.

David, who was also Ryans Uncle, raced ahead of the doctor. Where is he? What happened?

He was full of questions but Stella could only point. She was shaking and her eyes hurt from rubbing away the constant tears.

Hes in the tractor shed, she finally blurted.

David put his arm around her shoulder and tried to soothe her. Im sure hes fine. Lets go with Doc and see what he says.

By the time David and Stella had reach the shed, Doc Stone had already squeezed through the door so Flo wouldnt follow.

David, I cant go back in there.

OK, stay here and hold Flo. Ill see what Doc has to say.

Moments later David and the doctor returned to where Stella waited. They both looked sad and pale.

I think hes been here since possibly late last night. What time did you find him, Stel? The doctor asked gently.

It was just after five this morning. I woke on Ryans alarm and headed to the kitchen for a drink. I guess it was only five minutes later when I noticed the shed door was open. She finished in a sob. What happened to him, Doc? she pleaded.

The doctor gently turned Stella back toward the kitchen. Youre in shock.

Shes shivering, David added running ahead to open the door before heading into the front room for a throw rug.

After the doctor gave Stella a mild sedative, he sat beside her at the kitchen table while David brought glasses of cold water.

Stel, Doc began quietly. ‘From what I can ascertain without an autopsy,’ he coughed apologetically. It appears to be a natural death.

But hes only thirty-four, Stella gasped.

We have to wait on the coroners report. He sipped from the glass that David had placed in front of him. I need to use your radio.

David pointed to the front room and the two watched the doctor leave the kitchen. Stel, Ill get Kath to come over. She can stay as long as you need.

Oh David, she has too much to do to bother with me.

You forget I make enough money to pay for a housekeeper to help my wife. He sighed heavily. Look, I know I havent been close to Ryan since. since my brother left the property to him instead of leaving it in my fathers family. To me匈m mean, Im sorry.

Stella looked up as if she didnt hear him correctly.

Only hearing bits of what Doctor Stone was saying in the other room, she waited. Her shaking had eased but she couldnt stop the tears.

Another few minutes passed before Doc came back into the kitchen. The authorities will be here as soon as they can. Theyll question you. Its routine but Ill stay until they take Ryan away.

David rose from his chair and gulped down the rest of his water. Ill head back and send Kath over in the Jeep. You can use the Jeep Doc until I can get to town to collect it. I need to get those antibiotics you prescribed for mother anyway.

The doctor nodded and sipped at his water.

The train lurched as it rounded a curve in the rails. Stella sighed. I can remember that morning like it was yesterday, she said looking over at her baby asleep in the arms of Teresa. Teresa had become a comforting traveling companion. You know, I didnt even ask how Davids mother was. She died a few months later from complications after a long illness色 Her voice trailed off.

Im so sorry to hear that you went through that. So, the little one is fatherless?

Stella nodded sadly. Thats only half of it, she whispered before continuing her story.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Stella’s Plight Chapter One

Chapter One

Stellas thick black hair momentarily obscured the unpaved footpath. Another April gusty breeze sent the fringe in the other direction but not in time to avoid the muddy puddle. Conscious now of a stain that would ruin her best pantsuit she avoided looking down. She wouldnt have been able to see much past the bundle in one arm and the heavy khaki carry bag over the other anyway. Can my day get any worse? she mumbled.

Oblivious of the people bustling around her, Stella again focused on one thing宇o get onto thattrain; her only escape.

Entering a short, almost empty tunnel the clicking of her heels on the concrete floor motivated her to walk faster. She dared a quick glance over her shoulder. Feeling only slightly easier, she turned a sharp right onto a crowded platform. Side stepping suitcases and groups of passengers that chatted and laughed, she kept going until she found an empty bench seat at the far end of the platform where she would be able to embark closest to the guards carriage.

The bundle stirred as Stella sat and eased the heavy bag from her sore shoulder. Not long now, little one. She reached into the bag for a pacifier. Sucking was instant. Stellas attention returned to her surroundings.

In a few short minutes, everyone had hushed and turned to face the approaching train. Returning the bag to her shoulder she stood carefully so not to lose grip of her precious bundle. Once the train had stopped completely, she stepped forward to board the carriage. Someone touched her elbow. Panic filled her until she realised that it was a short, pump woman dressed in very plain old fashion clothing. Around her neck hung a chunky cross on a simple chain.

Let me help with that. The woman took the bag without waiting for an answer.

Thank you, Stella answered as calmly as she could before she stepped across the gap and followed the woman to a seat at the rear of the carriage. Thank you, she said again before sitting beside her.

Stella moved the baby to the other arm to relieve the ache that had reached the point of stiffness and also to let the kind woman see her baby. Thank you, she said, knowing she had repeated herself again.

The warm smile made Stella feel more relaxed than she had been since the day before but still kept alert of what was happening around them.

Im Sister Anna Teresa, but you can call me Teresa. Its actually what my father called me.

Its good to meet you Teresa. Im Stella or Stel for short, she added with a smile.

Such a sweet baby. The words were tender.

Would you like to hold her, Stella asked.

Oh, could I? Teresa handed Stella the bag and reached over to accept the baby. Shes so tiny. Must be a newborn.

Stella searched the bag for the items she needed to prepare a bottle. Yes吁arah is a week-old today.

A whistle blew and the train began to move.

Teresa watched as Stella mixed the powder. Such a shame色 she said. I mean色

Thats all right. Im fine about not being able to feed her myself, was Stellas simple reply. Would you like to give her the bottle?

Teresas huge grin was all Stella needed to hand over the little bottle and remove the pacifier. She watched as Sarah sucked furiously bringing laughs from both women.

Looking up, Stella saw the guard making his way through the carriage. She closed her eyes and sighed heavily.

Do you have to travel far? Teresa asked carefully.

As far as the train goes, Stella answered without thinking. I mean匈m heading back to Bourke.

Such a long trip on your own with one so little. Her eyes now fixed on Stellas.

In that awkward moment she leaned forward and looked down at the blotchy brown marks at the hem of her slacks. She cringed slightly and studied the other passengers in their carriage. Some were involved in conversations, reading or preparing for a snooze. Stella took a deep breath and released it slowly before making an effort to respond. I am alone, she whispered. Its a long story.

We have plenty of time and Im a good listener夷f you want to share.

With a sense of relief, Stella slowly began her story.

To be continued.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

What Became of Marjorie – Chapter Five

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

The following morning, Maisie couldnt wait to see if Marjorie was still there. Sure enough, the two were back in the kitchen drinking coffee. This time they were laughing.

Well, it looks like I need to get my own breakfast this morning.

No, its almost ready. We can eat together.

Maisie was itching to ask what had happen to Marjorie for all those years but for now, she just enjoyed the friendly chit-chat around the breakfast table.

Later, when the breakfast dishes had been washed and put away, Marjory went upstairs for a long hot bath and dressed in very outdated but clean clothes Katie found in the attic that had belong to one of the older sisters. Then, they all sat in front of a blazing fire in the sitting room. It was clear that Marjorie had explained some things to Katie but after a deep breath she began her story.

‘It was the summer that Meryl came to stay for the duration of her pregnancy. I was barely fourteen and Meryl a couple of years older. Meryl made my life a misery and bullied me whenever no one was nearby to witness her behaviour. About three months later’, Marjorie paused momentarily. ‘Meryl must have been in her sixth month of her pregnancy and I had gone into town alone to purchase a few sewing items for my grandmother and some ribbon for Christine. While visiting Suzie, I met a seven-year-old boy. Peter was a scruffy little fellow but a hard worker. He did odd jobs for Suzie, like bringing the wood in for the fire. Tom had never met him because he was in his shop most of the day.

Why hadnt Suzie mentioned this? Maisie looked from Katie to Marjorie.

Marjorie shrugged. Anyway, I discovered he lived with his father in a small abandon cottage in the bush not far from town.

You mean, that was him I saw, or rather heard yesterday?

Peter? Yes sorry. He was just looking out for me.

Maisie signaled her to continue.

I would sneak out at night with blankets and bandages. Little things at first. His father had been kicked in his chest by a horse he had bought so they could head south again before the winter hit. I had to do something. One night, Meryl followed me as far as the wood pile that Peter and his father had built away from the cottage. She told me she had waited there for a few hours for me to emerge. On my way home, I found her on the ground crying at the edge of the cemetery. She had tripped and fell belly down on a headstone that had fallen some time ago. I helped her back to the house and upstairs to her bed. I offered to summoned the doctor or at least Mother but she wouldnt hear of it. A few days later she threatened to tell my father that she saw me with a boy and I was sharing a bed with him. I convinced her that he would want to know how she knew, which would get her into trouble too. After she got back on her feet, she bullied me even more. One night when I arrived at the cottage Peter was crying. His father had died earlier that evening. I couldnt leave him alone with his dead father in the one-room house.

Oh, that poor child, Katie gasped. And you. Only a child yourself.

It took all night to dig the grave on the far side of the cemetery close to the bush. We didnt dare drag the body during daylight so I stayed all the next day and into the night. We used the thin mattress his father was on and rigged it up like a stretcher and used rope to tie it to the horses saddle. It was a slow process but we finally made it to the grave. It was a nightmare and it was after sun-up by the time we returned to the cottage and guess who was waiting for us?

Meryl? Katie answered.

You guessed it. I had some explaining to do but it wasnt going to be to her. She yelled at me and called me names I wont repeat. Peter began to cry, so I sent her away telling her to tell whoever she wanted whatever she wanted. I never saw her again, not even when I returned to steal food. She looked over at Katie. I only took enough for the boy and a little more for myself. He only earned a few coins for the odd jobs he did for Suzie. We had to let the horse go. We just couldnt afford to feed it and I couldnt let Peter try and sell it on his own. Ive seen it a few times since. Its a bit wild I suppose but it looks healthier. Theres plenty of dams and grassland closer to town.

Why didnt you trust any of us?

I guess I thought I knew what Meryl had been saying and I just couldnt leave the boy.

Where is he now? Maisie asked.

He found full-time work at a farm just before his fifteenth birthday. Its the old Thompsons farm on the other side of town. Im not sure who owns it now. I had taught Peter to read and write, gave him little history lessons about the country, where he lived and where the capital cities are. He was quite bright and always asked questions. When he moved into accommodation at the farm, he visited every few days and brought me food and purchased little things in town. He found the hooded cloak in a shed on the farm. It helped in the cold months and recently when I began to sneak into the house again. About a month back, Peter told me he was going on a trip with his boss to buy farm machinery. He said it would only be a couple of weeks at the most but he didnt return until yesterday. When I ran out of supplies, I decided to return to the house. I had only seen the one car which was still a surprise because its off season.

Katie paused Marjories account to properly introduce Maisie. After the introduction, Marjorie continued.

The day before Peter left for the trip, I told him it was time I needed to work things out. He had new responsibilities and I had to find some way to support myself, but he made me promise not to go too far until he returned. I was contemplating heading to Melbourne or Sydney but most of my own personal items were still in my room. Hence my sneaking about upstairs. I also wonder why Maisie would be here on her own. She paused. Im sorry I went into your room. It was inappropriate.

Maisie leaned forward in her chair. Forgiven. Were just glad you are here now. Did Peter know much about himself? His birth date? Full name? What happened to his mother? She stopped. There I go again. Even as a small child, I was known as the interrogator. Dad said I should be a detective.

Marjorie smiled. Thats fine. His father Ruben kept his papers and his family records in order. His mothers name was Susan. She was killed by a stampede of horses on a property up north at Lightning Ridge where his father worked as a property manager. Peter doesnt remember the incident and his father only told me little bits before he died. Susan had taken their only child Peter to the river for a paddle. Peter says they went many times and remembers things like paddling barefoot and chasing butterflies but thats about it. After she died Ruben couldnt bear to stay there so he packed a few things on to his horse and hiked south. He hadnt intended to stay here but his horse became lame.

Here she frowned and spoke directly to Katie. Sorry about the roast. It was his birthday and I wanted to give him something special. There wasnt much already prepared in the refrigerator so I took the chance of anyone seeing the smoke from the wood stove.

Why didnt you come home? The family searched for you and when the last of your family were buried the solicitors tried to find youas far away as Ireland.

This appeared all too much for Marjorie. Her voice lowered. I watched the burial of my grandparents, Father and Mother from the bushes. After they died, I couldnt bear to return.

Katie held Marjories hands between her own. Your sisters moved away. They have passed on too. You knew of Stans death?

Yes, I was here when you first came to live with us, but I was so afraid of what everyone thought they knew. She sat for a moment in silence. I think Father knew I was here sometimes. He may have even known a little of where I was. I would sneak into my room and sleep for hours. One night I thought he was sitting in the chair near my bed. It felt so real, but times I was so tired. I dont sleep well in the cottage.

Maisie shook her head. Im still amazed that no one saw you. How could you be there for all those years and not be found? Not even by a bush-walker…

Or the police, interrupted Katie. They were here for a week looking for you. I think they were actually homicide detectives from Sydney or Melbourne; because of the blood.

The blood? Oh yes, I remember. I lost my scarf. I cut my finger cutting a piece of leftover meat in the kitchen here. I had wrapped the scarf around the finger to help stop the bleeding. We hid most of the time if we heard anyone but we saw no police.Maisie leaned back and looked up at the ceiling while the other two chatted away. Finally, she spoke but more to the ceiling then the women: The cottage is concealed from the road and it is about ten miles from here地nd the cemetery is only 100 yards from the gate. Perhaps the police didnt search that far.

Katie broke into her thoughts. You could be right. Theres a lot of bush between the cemetery and town and the police seemed to concentrate much of their time interviewing the family, our guests and people in town, especially Tom.

Tom! the two younger women spoke in unison.

Why Tom? asked Maisie.

Tom had always been bad-mannered and can be quite unpleasant when he wants to be. Hes mellowed over the years but I was always thankful I didnt marry him.

Are you saying the police thought he had done away with me?

Tom was the main suspect. He was in custody for almost three weeks before they released him. The police never returned and listed you as a missing person. Your parents were beside themselves with worry. There were rumours about a hitchhiker serial killer at the time but your parents finally decided that wherever you were, you were alive. It was the only way they could move on with their lives but they were never the same. It was your father who demanded we left your room as you left it.

So, its possible your father knew more than he was letting on? Maisie waited for her reply.

Perhaps. I never stopped to think about how they felt. Not until years later. Peter became like a son to me. Other times he was just my little brother.

Maisie stood to stretch her legs. I hate to finish on a low but the authorities will need to be informed that youre not a missing person anymore.

Shes right, Katie said. I still have the contact details of the family solicitor. Ill call him today and ask his advice. He could take us to the police and explain things to them.

Marjorie looked like a scared kid.

I dont think you will get into too much trouble but you and Peter will have to show them where you buried his father, and the cabin. For now, Maisie said. While Katie goes into town to use the phone, why dont you try on some of my clothes. Were about the same size.

This brought a small smile to Marjorie. I guess I do look a sight.

Final Notes:

Maisie stayed on for a month focusing on her new mystery novel. Marjorie and Katie spent a few days in Melbourne to clear things up with the police and shopped till they dropped. The solicitor wanted to make Marjorie the official owner of Kellys Inn but Marjorie insisted he left things as they were until Katie retired or passed on. They planned to share the management of Kellys Inn and insisted on Maisie making an annual bookingoff season of course.

Peter came to visit twice while Maisie was there that winter. Her suspicions were correct. He was the young man she had met at Suzies and the one who had spooked her that same day. After the police closed their investigation, Peter and Marjorie invited Maisie to return with them to the cabin one last time. Katie had also been invited but declined because she needed to right upstairs as she always did in the afternoon. They marked Rubens grave with a memorial plaque that also acknowledged Susan.

The End

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

What Became of Marjorie – Chapter Four

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Back at the inn Maisie turned the engine off and took a few slow deep breaths. She stared at her image in the rear-view mirror where blood had congealed along small scratches on her forehead. Brushing her long fringe over the wounds, she opened the door and headed inside and upstairs to the bathroom to clean up before tea.

I thought I heard you come in, Katie said before lifting the lid of the pot of stew.

Yes, Im back. Can I make myself a cup of coffee?

Sure, help yourself. How was your trip to town?

With Katie busy at the stove, Maisie was relieved that they couldnt see each other. They chatted with small talk until the coffee was ready. Reluctantly, Maisie returned to the larger kitchen and sat on a stool.

What happened to you? Katie was panicked.

Maisie touched her face where fresh blood had dribbled onto the bridge of her nose and down her cheek. Its just a scratch. I stupidly went bush-walking without planning it.

Katie fussed over Maisie and her scratches before insisting that she didnt go off on her own again. What were you thinking? You could have been mugged or murdered.

Now Katie, dont try scaring me. She sighed. Actually, there was someone out there. I think he just yelled at me when he caught me watching his cabin.

Katie pulled a kitchen stool closer and sat looking at Maisie. What are you saying Lass?

Maisie told her all she did that afternoon, including the unplanned bush-walk. Does someone live there?

Katie sat in thought. You have been a nosy one since youve arrived.

I should mind my own business. Right?

Well since youre a writer, I shouldnt be surprised. Katie stood and switched off the hot plate. Lets talk.

There is a mystery about Kellys Inn. I honestly dont know the full story but I do believe it has something to do with Stans youngest sister, Marjorie. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was never allowed to clean nor enter her room. Ive been tempted believe me, especially when odd things happen around here this past week; upstairs, downstairs, in the garden, even in here. She looked around the room and waved her hand. Things go missing. Food is taken from the refrigerator. She sighed again. Thats why I had to return to town yesterday. My roast disappeared.

Why dont you tell the police? Or ask Tom to look around.

Because I dont want trouble. Because I want to believe its just a frighten homeless child or a lonely person that doesnt know they shouldnt steal. Whoever it is, I come to believe he or she is not dangerous.

Katie, whoever comes into your home has been in my room.

With this newest bit of information, Katie looked frightened. When?

The past few days had been quite eventful and Maisie realised that something more serious may have or may happen if Katie stays on her own in the house.

I think we need to find out whats going on. First, we need to open the door to Marjories room.

Katie looked shocked but then nodded. Youre right. Let me get the key. She stepped into the small kitchen and opened a drawer. Lets go. She took hold of Maisies hand and marched off.

Maisie grinned and marched with Katie down the hall and up the stairs before Katie defiantly put the key in the lock and flung the door open. In that instance, the curtains shifted in the gusty breeze that had begun earlier.

Why is the window open, Katie?

I dont know. Everything could have been ruined. We get nasty storms and heavy rains at times. She rushed over and closed the window.

Maisie joined her. Surely it hasnt been open for all these years.

I wouldnt think so. After closing the window securely, Katie check the room closely. Theres nothing missing that I can see but its obvious that someone has slept on this bed recently and with muddy clothes.

The two examine the bedding before locking the door again on the way out.

How do you suppose they got into my room?, Maisie asked.

Well theres more than one key. She held up the small bunch in her hand. These are the spare keys for guests if they lock them self out of their room. They have always been in the drawer.

Where do you keep the main keys?

In my room.

Okay. Lets think. Tell me about the garden gate?

It used to squeak terribly and it woke anyone who slept on that side of the house. We thought it was the wind but it was checked before bedtime. Every night until Marjorie vanish, it squeaked.

Then what?

It stopped守ntil recently. Katies eyes widened. What do you think it means?

Im not sure, Maisie pondered. But it means something.

Its getting late, Maisie. Lets go eat some of that stew.

While eating, both women were quiet for most of the meal.

What kind of food goes missing? Maisie finally asked.

Well, besides the roast, which was the biggest haul, its usually only leftovers really or the odd cake or loaf of bread.

Katie, are you up to a bit of staking out?

Steak? Then reality hit. Oh, you mean catch them in the act? She shook her head slowly. I dont want anyone to get hurt.

Itll be fine.

Later that evening, the house was locked as usual for the night; the kitchen cleaned up and the leftovers put in the usual place. The two sat in the dimness of the small kitchen, like shadows they sat still as they could; talking only in hush tones.

Katie stifled a yawn. Maybe we scared them off.

Maisie was about to answer when they both heard the distinct squeak of the gate. A few minutes later the back door opened with a creak.

Katie held her hand to her mouth and Maisie tipped-toed across the floor to see better. The refrigerator door opened, spilling light across a thin face of a woman.

Hello Marjorie. Maisie spoke clearly but not too loudly.

The woman rushed to the back door leaving the refrigerator open but Maisie and Katie stood between her and the door. Her long monk-like robe dragged along the floor; the hood on her shoulders.

Marjorie! A sob caught in Katies throat. It is you.

Marjorie stood staring at Maisie for a long time and then at Katie. How did you know it was me?

We didnt know for sure but it was a reasonable assumption. Maisie had answered knowing she really didnt know until now.

The young woman dropped to the floor and sat weeping.

Katie squatted uncomfortably beside her long-lost sister-in-law and held her while she sobbed.

Maisie switched on lights and closed the refrigerator door. Not knowing what to say next, she put the kettle on.

It was a long way past midnight and after the two Kellys caught up on a smidgen of their lost years, Maisie said: Even this nocturnal writer needs to get some sleep.

They looked up at her as if in a dream.

Will you two be OK if I go to bed?

They both nodded.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

What Became of Marjorie – Chapter Three

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter 3

While waiting for Katie to call her down stairs for what promised to be a wonderful old fashion roast, she sorted her notes into themes.

The upstairs rooms were fascinating; one in particular since Katie brushed her passed its locked door. Because Katie had chatted the whole time throughout the tour, she managed to ignore some of Maisies questions. Perhaps they remind her of some painful memories, she whispered. She couldnt wait to start typing a mystery that had collided with her jumbled thoughts.

The roast dinner was superb and Maisie had to finally insist she couldnt eat another bite, but then Katie brought out the apple pie and cream. She sat now rubbing her rather full belly wishing she didnt eat so much. I hope Katie doesnt expect me to eat like that every night. She smiled despite the ache.

With notes spread around the room, Maisie sat crossed legged on the bed and typed madly away on her laptop. She laughed to herself as memories from the day of exploring interrupted her thoughts.

It was almost midnight. She stretched her legs to regain movement to now stiffened joints. The enticement to step out onto the balcony was more than she could bare as a gentle breeze kicked up the hem of the curtains that hung from the glass doors. Outside the chill of the night stung her face. She rubbed her warm hands over her cheeks and allowed the peace of the night hug her.

The crash startled Maisie and she held the railing tightly with her hands that somehow found themselves outstretched. She instinctively bent her knees so she could see past a branch that protruded across one corner of the balcony. There, just like the night before was that same hooded figure but this time it seemed to be picking itself up off the ground. She was tempted to call out but fear seemed to mute her. The figure stood and brushed itself off. The sound of glass tinkled in the still night air. Focusing on the location she tried to memorise the distance from the gate to the bush where the figure had fallen before it disappeared into the darkness.

Maisie retreated to the warmth of her room and stood momentarily with her back to the double doors she had closed behind her. She quickly drew the curtains and climbed onto the bed. Who is it? It couldnt be Katie. This person is thinner and appeared more agile. Do I ask Katie, again? She didnt want to upset the friendship they had formed. Whats going on around here? She paced the room anxiously then silently open the bedroom door that opened into a dimly lit hallway. She listened in the silence but there was no sound. She had learned during the tour that Katies room was at the other end of the long hallway but there didnt seem to be any light showing between the floor and the bottom of the door.

It felt like hours before she closed the door again but the clock confirmed it was only a few minutes. The adrenaline she felt on the balcony began to slip away and tiredness began to overwhelm. She laid on her bed fully dressed and dozed off.

There was no knocking on her door the following morning; just the sun shining on her face. She opened her eyes then let them close. With a jolt she sat up. Hadnt she closed the curtains the night before? She shuddered and attentively peered out. Perhaps she didnt. Or, maybe Im spooked by the history of this place. Closing the curtains, she gathered her toiletries and headed to the bathroom.

Good morning, young Maisie, Katie sing-songed when her only guest entered the kitchen.

Good morning, Katie. I wouldnt have thought it but Im starving this morning.

Ah, the country air is working its magic.

Katie was obviously in a very good mood this morning. She glanced at her watch. So, shall we call this brunch?

Katie looked up. How about scrambled eggs and hash browns?

Is that what I could smell coming up the hall?

Probably but Im also cooking up a stew for this eveningunless you will need lunch too.

No thanks. She laughed. Katie, did you hear a crash last night? Around midnight?

Katie hummed while she cooked. No. unless my snoring rattled some china. She snorted then continued stirring the eggs. So, are you hungry or not?

Maisie left any further questions about the incident alone and ate her hearty brunch. Swallowing her last mouthful down with the rest of her coffee she stood. Im going into town. Do you need anything while Im there?

No thanks. Dont forget to call in to see Tom.

I wont. Maisie rushed upstairs to clean her teeth and grab her laptop. Thats strange. She knelt down to pick up her notes that were now scattered on the floor. The door to the balcony was still closed and the only window in the room was too small for any breeze to disturb the pile of notes. She shrugged it off, grabbed her keys and headed for the car. She slowed her steps and looked toward the side gate. Something glittered in the sunlight. Glass! So, I didnt imagine it.

MAISIE! Katie called from the front door. You left your phone on the kitchen table.

She jogged towards the waiting Katie with an outstretched hand. Thanks. Ill be back by the time your stew is ready to serve. She waved and hurried to the car.

With a quick glance in the rear-view mirror she released the brake but not before noticing Katie heading toward the gate with a brush and pan. So, she did hear it. My instincts tell me there is something mysterious going onbut do I want to know?

Tom was a rough but nice enough old guy. His stories were hilarious and a little scary. His belly would bounce up and down with his enthusiastic laugh. Maisie ask question after question and probably got more answers than she needed. She also doubted if any of it was true. After she read her emails and sent the necessary replies, her mind wandered back to the past two nightly events.

Maisie chose her words carefully. So, is there any ghosts still around at Kellys Inn?

Well now, that young couple that died in the fire could be still haunting the old place.

Besides the fire, what about the family that were there prior to you knowing Katie and Stan? Maybe even later. Has anything else occurred there?

Tom eyed her for a moment. He stepped around the counter and returned to his chopping block and smashed a meat axe through the carcass that he had placed there as she was entering the shop earlier.

The sound of the axe slicing the bone and the silence that settled afterward startled her. She was about to speak when Tom roared laughing.

Maisie smiled gingerly not knowing what else to do or say.

There was the incident with Stans little sister. Just fourteen she was. He rubbed his bristled chin. Now what was her name? He slammed the blade down hard into flesh spurting a few droplets of blood onto his butcher apron. Ah, yes Marjorie. She had a feisty spirit that one. Sneaky too. She would sneak out of the house at night to meet up with some boyfriend. Rumour has it that one night she just ran off with him, or so they say.

Interest soared and Maisie dared further questions. Do you think she still alive?

Could be alive. Could be dead. No one recalls if any young fella disappeared at the same time. There was nothing taken from her room. He pointed the meat axe at Maisie. Did you know her room has never been touched since that night?

Maisie sat stillthinking. Why would that be? she finally asked.

I dont rightly know and Katie is tight lipped about it. He paused; meat clever in mid strike. I just thought of something. I do remember something about a blood-stained scarf had been found caught on that old garden gate out beside the Inn. Police were all over the place for weeks but nothing else was found. Marjorie simply vanished.

To change the morbid subject, Maisie asked about Suzie, Toms wife.

Shes out the back in the kitchen. His smile was crooked. Why dont you go and say hello. She doesnt get much company these days. Katie stops by when shes in town. Thats about it.

Thanks Tom, I will. Can I charge my phone out there?

Sure. Theres reception if you stand on the step ladder near the pantry. He winked and returned to his work.

This was turning out to be an interesting afternoon. Suzie was a shy woman but it was obvious to Maisie that she enjoyed her visit. They talked about Kellys Inn, Katie and their years of friendship and about life in a little country town.

A handsome young man stopped by to visit with Suzie but didnt stay long. She never did get to ask his name. There was no further conversation about Marjorie even when Tom closed up the shop for the day and joined them for a cup of tea.

Before returning to Kellys Inn, Maisie walked round the small town and explored lanes and the very few shops in the main street then got back into her car. At the fork in the road that would take her left back to the inn or right to the main highway, she stopped to talk to a man who appeared to be a farmer. He was a cheery bloke and gave Maisie some information on local places she might like to visit. She had thanked him and made the turn back to her accommodation.

From the inn to town was about twelve miles. It was only a few miles from town when she decided to take a walk down a narrow bush-track she had seen on her way to see Tom earlier that afternoon. She had left her camera back in her room but she could use her phone for a few shots if she needed too.

Maisie picked up a small broken branch and plucked off the leaves and smaller twigs and held it out in front of her. She giggled and began to use it like a sword. I have you now! She spoke to the dense shrub and stepped onto the narrowing path swinging the crooked branch back and forth.

A bird squawked. It rustled the bushes and flew off to avoid the approaching stranger. Maisie looked up. I wont hurt you.

After walking about ten minutes, she decided it was getting too late to be traipsing around unknown bushland, but as she turned to go something caught her attention a little off to the right. Using the sword, she carefully pushed back prickly branches of a huge shrub and crouched low. There in a small clearing was an old run-down cabin.

What are you looking at! a voice barked from behind.

Maisie cried out when the branches smashed back into her face. By the time she recovered from the fright the bushes around her were empty. There was no one there. The cottage door slammed shut. Maisie tossed her sword into the bushes and ran back to the car. She drove off without looking back.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

What Became of Marjorie? – Chapter Two

Chapter One
Chapter 2

It was just after noon when Maisie returned from her car with her laptop when she almost bumped straight into Katie crossing the hall.

The older woman was all smiles again. Lunch will be served in a few minutes if you would like to join me. I hope you like homemade vegetable soup.

Thank you. Yes, soup sounds lovely.

OK, Ill take it to the Great Room, as it was called. I can fill you in on its history while we eat.

Maisie thanked her again before off-loading her laptop into her room.

The soup was delicious and Maisie said so as the two chatted at one end of the grand antique dining table that could seat twenty easily. I cant imagine sitting at this table filled with guests. Do you actually cook for them all?

Not so much these past ten years. I do remember assisting the housekeeper Hilda and a second cousin of Stans. She leaned forward as if to tell a secret. Cousin Merle stayed until she gave birth to her still-born son, but we wont go into that. She paused while she spooned another mouthful into her mouth and tore a small piece from her home baked dinner roll. When I married my husband Stan, we bought a modest cottage in town. I didnt want to burden his parents and grandparents with another mouth to feed and to be honest, I hated the house back then and it wasnt over friendly at times. Merle was a spoiled brat when she first came but I think her situation and Stans parents parenting skills changed her by the time she left. Katie ate a little more before speaking again.

Remember I mentioned Tom earlier? She waited for Maisies nod. Well he was courting me for a while before I met Stan. Oh, we all turned out to be good friends, especially when Tom met Suzie and married before Stan even proposed to me. We lived in town a few years before both Stan and Tom went off to the Gulf; Stan was Navy and Tom was Army. They never set eyes on each other again. Her voice was almost a whisper. She cleared her throat and continued. Stan was killed when his ship struck a mine just after his ship entered the Gulf. Tom returned a year later with an injured leg. He still walks with a limp. Anyway, Stans father wouldnt hear of me living on my own. Besides, I couldnt pay the bills or buy food for myself. She smiled at the memory. Stan didnt want his little lady working after we were married. She cleared her throat again. Now, where was I? Ah yes. There were no local jobs I could do so I was contemplating returning to Parramatta where I still had family色

How interesting, Maisie interrupted. Thats where I live. Sorry. Please go on.

Katie shook her head. Thats fine. Fancy that? Anyway, thats when the invitation came from Stans parents. Of course, I had to work for my keep and I was only asked to help where I could until I settled in. After a few months, I found myself taking care of Stans grandmother who by then was confined to bed. She was a cranky old thing but we grew to love each other and enjoyed spending long days together doing needlework and chatting. After she died, I took over the care of all the upstairs rooms. Oh, and Merle had returned to Sydney by then and became a mid-wife or so we heard. After guests left for the day, I cleaned and readied everything up. Here Katie smiled. I guess thats how I got into a habit of cleaning upstairs in the afternoon.

Maisie smiled too. So how was it that you were left with this huge place. Surely there were other family members around.

Sadly no. Stan wasnt the only son who died during the Gulf War. There were three other sons and three daughters. The youngest boys both died before they married. Stans eldest brother returned but never married. I think he died from a broken spirit. He never spoke much about the war but it was obvious that it caused him more than physical pain. Stans father died in his late seventies and his mother soon after. Stan and I hadnt been married long, so we had no children of our own.

And the sisters?

One went to Melbourne and married there. We heard soon after that she had died from natural causes. I never knew what. She was only in her early thirties. One sister, Christine, was living in town with her husband but they were much older than Stan and I. They never had children and Christine didnt want the place. She died only last year in a nursing home. There was one other sister, Marjorie. She was the youngest. The solicitor who managed the affairs when Christine died even tried looking for her back in Ireland. Nothing. It was like she just vanished into thin air.

After Katie had been silent for some time to finish her soup and bread, Maisie quietly asked about how she managed on her own for so long.

I down sized, I guess you could call it. I only cope with up to six guests at any one time. I open up the house on occasions for bus trippers but just for afternoon tea and a guided tour. It helps with the bills. She sat up straight. You know what? I havent given you the guided tour. I wont charge you, she laughed. I just know you would appreciate it.

WOW! Thanks! That sounds wonderful. Would this afternoon be a good time?

Give me an hour while I tidy upstairs. Its just you and me so it wont take long.

I can clean up these dishes if you like. Maisie stood and picked up her empty bowl.

Well, I dont see why not. Thank you. Youll find everything you need in my little kitchen. Oh, just put the lid on the soup pot and check that I turned it off. Ill deal with it later.

The afternoon was everything Maisie expected and didnt expect. The building and all its history turned out to be the perfect place to break her recent writers block.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

What Became of Marjorie? – Chapter One

Chapter 1

It was a glorious night with an Autumn full moon and a canvas of twinkling stars that stretched out before Maisie. She stood now on the only second-floor balcony of this quiet country retreat. Huge Banksias all but obliterated the front of the historic building; the perfect location to write her new mystery novel. Taking in a slow deep breath of the crisp air she took the few short steps to the railing and took in the outline of the surrounding landscape beyond the front garden.

The Last Stop Hotel had been built in 1869 but was renamed Kellys Inn in 1880 after a fire partially destroyed the ground floor on the same day as Ned Kellys death. One hundred years later, it was converted to a bed and breakfast by an Irish family of the same name who immigrated during conflicts that took the lives of family members and friends. Generations later, Kellys Inn had still retained its name and function. It was inherited almost a decade earlier to the Australian born Gulf war widow, Katie Kelly.

Maisie gasped with surprise at the sight of a shooting star. She watched in awe until it disappeared from view. A squeak that sounded like a gate opening or closing, brought her back to the moment. The following echo of a click confirmed it. There in the moonlight off to her right was a hooded figure who was now heading down the path and into a dark shadowed area that she perceived as the bush-land she noticed when she arrived that afternoon.

With strained eyes focusing, she waited for further movement. Perhaps I just imagined it, she mumbled to herself. After all, she knew she had an imagination that freaked everyone she knew.

Closing the balcony double doors behind her, she headed for the bathroom to ready for bed. Tomorrow, Maisie hoped, would be a day of exploring and note taking.

Maisie woke to a faint tapping at her door. Blinking at the clock beside the bed she wondered for a second where she was. Another slightly firmer knock woke her fully. Come in, she said, before thinking about who it could be.

Mrs Kelly entered with a tray atop with a mug of hot coffee, a small creamer jug and a bagel filled with bacon and melted cheese. I dont usually serve breakfast in bed to my guests but I need to drive into town for more supplies.

Thank you. What time is it? This clock doesnt seem to be working.

So, youre not an early riser? The woman moved the clock back a little so she could place the tray on the side-table. The clock is working fine. Its five-thirty in the morning.

Maisie groaned but it was too late. Sorry, I often write late into the night.

Thats all right. She grinned. When I return, we can sit down and discuss your nocturnal needs and later breakfast times.

I should have mentioned it yesterday, but an early start would do me good today. I need to make notes and check out this beautiful place. Maisy looked around the ornately decorated room.

Katie Kelly went to the door before answering. Until I return, can I ask you to keep the checking out to the down stairs and surrounding grounds. She turned and smiled. I prefer to right upstairs after midday. She winked and left the room.

Maisie smiled as she placed her feet on the floor and reached for the steaming coffee.

The largest room downstairs had obviously been the 1880 refurbished dining room or perhaps a dance hall, which could explain the size and the raised section at one end. The chandeliers above glowed dimly, but the intricate embossed ceilings held her attention.

Your mouth is open. Mrs Kelly interrupted her reverie. Theres a few dust spiders up there that drop unexpectedly.

Maisie mouth slammed shut as the womans jovial laugh echoed down the long hallway toward the back of the house. She gathered herself and rescued her notebook that had dropped to the floor before following her host.

With a huge grin from Katie Kelly, Maisie stepped into the outdated but awe-inspiring industrial kitchen.

This kitchen is amazing.

Yes, its that. Too big when Im here alone during the colder months. I use the old domestic kitchen.  She pointed to an open door beside the door they had come through. Take a look.

To her surprise the smaller kitchen was no bigger than an English utility room she had seen on one of those country-life television reality shows. It had all the basics a single person would need. In fact, it was better designed than her own kitchen in her Parramatta apartment.

So, how was your breakfast? Her host peered from behind the open door of the biggest refrigerator Maisie had ever seen.

Lovely, thank you. Im sorry I put you to all that trouble.

Nonsense, I enjoy spoiling my guests. Even nocturnal ones, she added with a wink.

Maisy couldnt help but like this motherly older woman. So, how can we make this work, Mrs Kelly?

For starters, stop calling me Mrs Kelly. Its Katie. Im not the old housekeeper. She paused before continuing. Well, old maybe.

They both laughed.

OK Katie. You can call me Maisie. Im so glad I came across your website. Which reminds me. Do you have WiFi?

No. We are too far out and I like to keep it that way. Katie closed the fridge door and placed the last of the shopping bags under the huge work-space that seem to possess the room. She leaned against it. I use the butchers computer in town. Tom is happy for my guests to use his WiFi too. Just be ready for his weird tales from the past…like the one he tells about the young newly-weds that stayed in the room above on the night of the historic fire. She pointed toward the ceiling before adding: then theres Old Ned himself but Ill let Tom tell his stories. Katie slapped her ample thighs. Lets go into the sitting room. Its warmer in there. First on the left, she pointed. Ill bring down a pot of tea.

The next few hours sped by filled with hot tea, scones and laughs. Katie answered historical questions about the house and family. Maisie interest peaked when Katie mentioned the family cemetery a little way passed the side gate.

Last night I thought I saw someone going through the gate. Actually, I heard the gate squeak.

Katie sat silent before answering. You must be mistaken, she snapped. That gate hasnt squeaked for years. Ill check it later when I dig up some potatoes for tonights tea. Will you eat with me? she continued bringing an abrupt end to their pleasant morning.

If its no problem. I can pay for any extra meals I have.

Now cut that out, Miss Maisie. Youre welcome to join me at any meal. As for breakfast, why dont I prepare it once you come downstairs each morning. Ill be somewhere down here. Probably in the kitchen. With that, Katie packed up the dishes and left the room.

It took a few minutes before Maisie moved. She was at a loss to the sudden change of mood. She was concerned that she had offended the woman and decided to immediately apologise. Entering the kitchen a few minutes later she searched for Katie but she obviously made herself scarce. With a deep sigh she returned to her exploring. It was too late to drive into town. I dont want to upset Katie again. Still mystified, she headed back to the large room she had visited earlier.

穢 Chrissy Siggee 2019

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.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Wisdom in the Midst of Valentines Day Cards, Mush and Romantic Songs

Another short story I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t edited any of them but I thought I might share some of my old writing.

Wisdom in the Midst of Valentines Day Cards, Mush and Romantic Songs

Anthony and Gladys were quite a couple who loved each other dearly. After my own parents died, my husbands parents became more than just family, we were friends. Michael and I valued their wisdom and their guidance, especially on marriage. Gladys passed away a few years ago and Anthony died shortly after. I loved them both, and the memories of Gladys in particular, still make me smile.

I remember one special occasion like it happened yesterday. It began when Gladys and I went shopping for Valentines Day. I found what I wanted fairly quickly but nothing was good enough for her Anthony. We read cards for hours but she wanted that perfect card. She wanted a Valentines Card with the perfect words.

Youre the only love in my life,

Youre the only one I love

When was the last time I said I love you?

When was the last time I said I care?

It may have been last Valentines Day

But I could never be untrue?

If I tell you that I love you,

If I tell you Ill be true,

If I tell you youre my sunshine

Will you be my Valentine?

Even when words are unsaid,

Youre forever in my heart

Youre forever in my head,

We can never part.

I give you my heart,

I give you my all

Just never let me go,

Let me be your Valentine.

Oh, please. What a lot of mush, Gladys concluded in desperation.

It was the fifth store we had visited and we had read dozens of silly poems, listened to romantic lyrics and trudged through mazes of red hearts and balloons. I had had enough. Gladys had given up. She replaced the last Valentine card back in the rack and we leftempty handed.

I tell Anthony all the time that I love him. He tells me all the time. Well no… thats not quite true.

We laughed together and left arm-in-arm to the exit and out to the car.

Glad and I were sipping tea on her patio a few days after Valentines Day. Her eyes sparkled as she shared some moments from their Valentines dinner. Gladys always had a way of weaving teaching and wisdom together with life experiences to tell a story地s well as making it fun. This is what she shared:

The aroma of roasting beef filled Anthonys senses the moment he entered the house just after six oclock圯xactly how I had planned it. Our favourite romantic songs played quietly in the background, and two simple taper candles flickered in the gentle breeze from the fan rotating above an elegantly set table for two.

Something smells good, Anthony said. It was his usual greeting, followed by a peck on the cheek. Looks good too. Anthony opened the oven door to take a long sniff.

I had even made a lemon-meringue pie for dessert, and told him so as he continued toward the bathroom to shower and change.

My diamond ring still holds its sparkle, and for the evening, I had let my hair fall over my bare shoulders. Theyre more like old prunes these days, but he never seems to mind.

Gladys and I laughed at that.

Gladys continued. The softness of the satin evening dress Anthony had bought me for Christmas, matched my mood of the evening.

Anthonys after-shower look made me smile. Always has. He looked relaxed after his long day and the scent of his favourite cologne drifted across the table and a wet strand of hair stuck to his forehead. He wore a shirt to match his hazel eyes, which twinkled in the candlelight.

I smiled at her words. They were still in love, and it showed.

The music changed as if on cue. Remember this song? Anthony had whispered, like he was trying to avoid drowning out the words.

Yes, I smiled. It was the song on the car radio the night you asked me to marry you.

Anthony looked into my eyes and said, I love you more now than I can say. His boyish grin still captivates my heart.

Gladys admitted her throat constricted many times that evening.

I thought about those mushy greeting cards a lot. All I could get out was that I loved him too. Anthony admitted he hadnt bought a Valentines card either. They were all so色

Mushy. We finished the sentence together.


After 40 years of marriage, they didnt need a card to say how much they loved each other.

No, I guess were mushy enough, Anthony had declared. He had stood and took me by my hand and led me outside where, in the light of the silvery moon, we old mushies danced the night away.

I miss Glad, and I miss her guidance she gave as the older woman. Yes, Gladys was my mother-in-law but most of all, she was my friend. Our shopping trips were always special. Her wonderful stories will stay with me forever. Perhaps one day, Ill have a daughter-in-law of my own to whom I can pass on Gladyss stories and share similar ones of my own.

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.

Archived in: Short Fiction

One Hundred Twenty-Two Steps to the Floor of the Rain-Forest

One of the short stories I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t edited any of them but I thought I might share some of my old writing. I’m finally learning how to use WordPress blocks so this is also a practice post.

One Hundred Twenty-Two Steps to the Floor of the Rain-Forest: the sign read at the beginning of the narrow track.

Joe looked at his cell phone. Are you sure about this? Theres no reception up here, so I doubt if there is any at the bottom.

Ill be fine. We can stop and rest as many times as I need. We have all day. Look! Theres a rope handrail. Honest, Ill be fine.

OK, he sighed. Ill go first. If you fall, Ill save you.

My hero. I laughed and tightened the laces on my walking shoes and adjusted my leg brace.

The descent was steeper than I thought and the steps carved into the dry crusted earth, twisting over exposed tree roots and around broad tree trunks and small boulders. Using the rope to steady myself, I made my way down the sloping path. My encouraging husband restrained his usual pace and stayed close.

Deeper into the bush it was shady and cool. The steps dropped away at sharp angles and I noticed the overhead canopy had thickened. An old stump that had split lengthwise made an ideal resting place near vine entangled trees. The silence was intriguing.

Can you hear that? I whispered.

Hear what? Its so quite here.

“Exactly!”

We continued silently, stopping once to let me catch my breath beside a trickle of a waterfall. Stepping onto the forest floor, we came upon a sign that gave information regarding a bushman who once lived in the area. I wiped the sign to read the remainder of the text.

Wow! Imagine living here. Its so peaceful.

Dont touch the leaves of the red nettle treethey sting, Joe warned, reading a small rusted sign by a mysterious tree with an enormous red trunk.

My curiosity about the bushman increased when I observed a wooden structure beyond the red nettle tree. The fireplace and chimney were entwined with thick vines. Three walls remained standing, although I wondered if there was an original fourth wallor a door. Located near another path, the huts open section faced a dried-up waterfall and stream. A memorial plaque erected above a crude water tub detailed the life and death of this bushman of the wilderness.

Joe wandered around the immediate area, taking snapshots. Wait here. Ill see where the other path goes.

OK, I replied, studying the hut in more detail. Sitting on one of the two tree stump seats, I leaned back against the simple wooden table and closed my eyes. The sweet bird calls resounded through the bush as I breathed in the clean, crisp air. I wonder what it was like to live here.

The sound of whistling and running water interrupted my thoughts. On the path where Joe had left minutes before, a young bushman entered the small clearing. He ceased whistling, removed his weather-beaten hat with a row of corks hanging from the brim, and stood staring at me. Gday Maam. Um, whered you come from?

Without taking my eyes off the bushman, I pointed to the other path. Where did you come from? I finally managed.

Maam, this is my home. I was going to make a billy of tea. Would you care to join me?

Yes, thank you. Sorry, I didnt think anyone lived here anymore, Mr … er …

John Wilson, Maam. He dipped his head before replacing his hat.

He filled an old billycan with water from the waterfall, which had suddenly begun to flow freely. Weird. I watched in a dazed silence as he placed the billycan on an open fire.

How long have you lived here, John?

Oh, since early 1890, I suppose; I came down here looking for me horse and fell in love with the place. I never did find me horse. I go back into Vacy every three months or so to get some supplies.

John placed tin cups on the table and poured in the hot tea. We talked about the town of Vacy and his home under the canopy. The afternoon air seemed to tug at my eyelids. Crossing my arms on the table, I listened with interest to his friendly talk.

Hey, wake up sleepy head. We have to start the climb back if we want to get back before dinner. Joes voice drifted down the path. I got some good photos for your journal about John Wilson. He paused. Are you OK? You look like youve seen a ghost.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Authors note: This story is mixture of non-fiction and fiction but the Australian history details are fact. Vacy is a locality of the Dungog Shire local government area in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia

Wounded Hearts

Carrie, you have wounded my heart. Why do you keep saying hurtful things? 

Carrie rolled her eyes. Oh please, youre so melodramatic, Sandy. Get over it.

Youre always insulting me in front of my friends. Why?

Why, why? Always, why? Sis, you just dont get it. Read my lips. You安ill好ev宅er吁ING. Stop embarrassing yourself and I wouldnt have to come to your rescue.

Rescue?

Growing up in a family of five girls, Sandy always felt stuck in the middle. It wasnt easy. She was the plain sister. Her hair was plain. Her face was plain. Her nose was plain. Sandy looked in the mirror. My whole me is plain. But匈 can sing, she protested at the image. “I know Im not perfect but from the moment I wake each morning, I wanted to sing.

Sandys sisters constantly teased her about her singing. Carrie was the worst. She was a year older than Sandy and seemed to find joy in wounding her sister with her words. Carrie couldnt sing. Actually, she hated singing. She would scream at any of her siblings for playing a record or if they hummed as they worked or played.

Just after Carries seventeenth birthday, there was a huge argument between the five girls over the record-player disappearing. Carrie finally admitted shed thrown it out. She stormed from the family home and moved up state with her boyfriend. Sandy never saw Carrie again. Marsha was the only one who kept in contact with Carrie在esides their mother. The teasing continued from the others but not as often or as cruel. 

After high school, Sandy worked as a secretary for a pastor in a big church. One day, he heard her singing along to their churchs latest CD. She was busy typing the monthly newsletter and didnt see him enter the church office. Usually the place was empty on Fridays so Sandy could sing to her hearts content安here no-one would make fun of her. Pastor Lloyd was just standing there, leaning on the door-frame. It gave Sandy the fright of her life. Her face burned with embarrassment.

Sandy and the Pastor had a long talk that day about her voice and experience她r rather, lack of. Within a few weeks, Sandy was singing back-up on Sundays and shortly after, the music director allowed Sandy to sing her first solo.

That was nine years ago. Sandy finally got over the hurt she grew up with她r so she thought.

Sandy and her husband, Geoff, had not long arrived home from church, when Geoff went to the study to put his Bible away. Sandy was preparing lunch when the telephone rang. with her hands in water, Sandy let Geoff take the call and kept working. 

Honey, its your sister列arrie. 

Gingerly Sandy accepted the phone. Carries taunts echoed in her head宇hey still hurt.

Sandy squeezed her eyes shut and tried to focus. Hello.

Sobs and hic-cups muffled the words. Sandy多ic Marsha gave me your多ic number. Whats your address? I need to see you.

Sandy’s eyes sprang open. Carrie, where are you? Whats wrong?

“Stans left me圩or another woman多ic地gain. But多ic thats not why I called多ic. Please, Sandy.

Sandy gave Carrie their address and hung up. Geoff knew of Sandy’s years of her sisters’ relentless insults. There was nothing Geoff and Sandy didnt share. She admitted mixed emotions about seeing Carrie and Geoff prayed for wisdom and peace. Sandy was so afraid she would be wounded again.

Carries arrived shortly before two oclock the following afternoon. She talked non-stop and seemed genuinely happy to see Sandy and Geoff. Her frail figure worried Sandy though. 

Carrie, are you okay? You said yesterday that Stan had left you,” she paused. “Youre also looking守nwell.

Carrie burst into tears. Geoff left the women alone. Sandy wasnt sure if it was Carrie’s bawling which made him feel awkward; as it did her, or if he thought it was best for the sisters to sort it out themselves. They were still talking when Geoff returned a few hours later.

Geoff, Sandy said quietly. Please sit for a moment.

Carrie filled him in on some general pieces of conversation before Sandy continued. Geoff, Carries kidneys are failing,” she said her voice quiet. “Without a donor, she could die. Marsha, Eleanor and Sophie, arent compatible and shes asked me to be tested. We do have the same blood-type. What should we do?

Geoff took his wife’s hand. What do you think you should do, Sandy? Its your call.

Sandy searched his eyes, trying to see his thoughts, and then turned to see Carries tear-stained face. Sandy took a deep breath and looked into her sister’s pleading eyes. She felt her anguish. I think its time for wounded hearts to heal.

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.