Don’t Call Me Grumpy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Well…either, I suppose.’

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

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

‘That would make me grumpy,’ Colin chuckled.

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

‘What did she say?’

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

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

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

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

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

‘Well, let’s change them.’

‘What do you mean?’

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

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

They both laughed at that.

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

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

‘OK. Don’t call me grumpy!’

They smiled at each other before finishing their meal.

© Chrissy Siggee – January 2020

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

Archived in: 🦋 Short Fiction

Cindy

‘Don’t just sit there Cindy, talk to me,’ Steve pouted.

‘Humph.’

‘Don’t 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.

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

‘Humph.’

‘Please, Cindy. Look at me. Talk to me. I’m supposed to be your best friend. What kind of conversation can we have if you won’t even look at me?’

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

‘It’s 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 don’t we see what’s to eat?’

They walked hand-in-hand to where Cindy’s siblings sat sniffing and feeling fruit.

‘See Cindy’, Steve pointed out. ‘That’s the way I’ve been showing you how to choose the best fruit. Only, I don’t 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 Cindy’s head. ‘It’s okay. I promise.’

The pair didn’t look up from their meal.

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

He crouched down and spoke quietly. ‘I know this is all new to you…and you haven’t 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 Cindy’s 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 Steve’s 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 I’ve ever taught you. What is it?’

She fell limp in his arms.

‘Oh, I get it. You don’t 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 friend’s chin with two fingers. He looked into her misty eyes. ‘But, it’s time to be just that—a chimpanzee. You’re the best. You deserve the best. No more bananas for a trick. No more peeled grapes for signing a new word. You’re 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.

© Chrissy Siggee

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

Archived in:🦋 Short Fiction

Thomas

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

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

‘Yes, please. Any doughnuts?’

‘Sure.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Chrissy Siggee

(Perhaps the shortest investigation in history)

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

Archived in:🦋 Short Fiction

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
Faith’s Close Encounter
Faith’s Discovery
Faith Becomes a Mother
Faith – That’s my Blue Eye
1924250_36118412313_7426_n-imp

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

AWOL

–  a fictional short read based on a true incident.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron thanked him and drove off.

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

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

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

© Chrissy Siggee

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

Archived in: 🦋 Short Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

‘Kent. Michael Kent.’

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

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

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

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

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

‘Yes, Mr Winslow.’

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

‘Lord Keats?’

‘Yes, this is he.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What are you implying, Mr Winslow?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Chrissy Siggee

Authors Notes:

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

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

Archived in: Short Fiction

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 don’t 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 your—cane.’

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 didn’t 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 wouldn’t 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 didn’t realize I was still there.’

‘Where is your car?’

‘Sir! I don’t own a car. That’s 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 didn’t have the energy to get up until this morning. When I left the bathroom, I was aware that I couldn’t 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.’

© Chrissy Siggee

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

Archived in: 🦋 Short Fiction

Faith and Blue Eye!

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-imp‘WOW this little guy has one blue eye,’ Ken exclaimed.

Luke took the pup from Ken. ‘”Heterochromia Iridis.” It’s 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. It’s certainly striking. You may have problems selling him but I wouldn’t 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.  He’s 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.

‘It’s sounds like a plan. Faith’s area is large enough for the next few months if you don’t 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, they’ll 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 Shield’s 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. ‘Let’s 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 wasn’t 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…come 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. Then…One, 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. ‘How’d 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. ‘He’s 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 I’ll be…we have one smart pup here, Faith.’

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

‘Shield! That’s enough!’

At Ken’s 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. Don’t be jealous. You should be proud of Blue Eye…all of them. You have a great family. Try to get on and don’t 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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© 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 author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faith’s 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. How’d 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.

‘I’ll be here all day; in fact I have a few weeks off. It’s going to get busy for all of us. Shield will be back later today. He’s at yet another training session.’ He paused to take a sip of his steamy brew. ‘I’ve missed you the past few months. Don’t get me wrong. Shield’s been a good help on patrols but he’s 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 I’ll be quite a few kilos lighter. Well, except near feed times.

‘You know, I called him “Boof” at the end of last night’s shift.’ Ken chuckled when Faith lifted her head. ‘Yeah, I know. He’s OK and he’ll make a great dad. I’m just not sure he’ll ever be a great security dog.’

With her head resting again on her paws she closed her eyes. Maybe you’re right…on 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. I’ve called Luke – your favourite vet. He’ll drop by on his way home from the clinic. I can’t believe you’re a mother of seven.’ He watched the puppies feed and noticed that she had eight nipples. ‘Well, at least there’s 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. ‘That’s 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. He’s a bit clumsy too if I recall correctly. You may have to be here when he’s 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. Don’t forget I have first choice,’ he said with a grin and a wink. He stood to wash his hands in the laundry tub. ‘OK. That’s about it.’

‘When do you want to see them again?’

‘I’ll 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.

‘That’s enough, Shield!’ Ken pointed and directed him to sit. ‘I’ll limit his visiting times or he’ll be stressing Faith out.’

‘It’s probably a good idea and if he get’s 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 I’m 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.’

© 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 author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Faith’s 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,’ Ken’s voiced in a raspy whisper.  He cleared his throat before continuing. ‘I don’t think there’s anything out here but death,’ he added and knelt on one knee beside the burnt carcass of a small wallaby.

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

Ken’s 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 there’s been a few spot fires we had to extinguish too. I’ll check in when we meet up with the other two.’

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

‘Come on, Faith. Let’s 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. Faith’s ears pricked up and shifted back and forth. The whistle came again and they both turned toward the sound in a hurried walk.

‘What’s up,’ Ken shouted as they approached two figures slumped over a mound on the ash covered ground.

‘Looks like a backpack but there’s no one around here,’ Steve said. ‘At least not in the ten-metre circle we’ve searched.’

‘It could have been here for months,’ Mandy added poking at the pack with her fire fighter’s 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 harm’s 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.

‘We’ll 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. ‘Don’t go in unless you see someone…but call for us first.’ He removed Faith’s lead. ‘I’ll 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. Let’s 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.

Faith’s 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.

‘Let’s 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 fireman’s rescue rake into Ken’s 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 Faith’s nose.

 She  gently licked the ball of fluff. Hi cutie. I’m sure glad Shield is spending the day in training. He’d 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 chief’s voice was heard. ‘Hey, what’s happening out there? We haven’t heard anything for some time. What’s happening, Ken?’

Ken handed the kitten over to a jubilant Mandy. ‘We’re fine Chief,’ he yelled. ‘You won’t believe this.’

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

‘Ken?’

‘Everything’s OK, Chief. We found a kitten. He’s alive!’ Again, cheers went up.

The chief responded with a chuckle. ‘I’m glad for you guys. It’s been a depressing day. Oh, and another search and rescue team found a backpacker. He’s 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. We’re bringing in the kitten. Mandy’s already named it.’ He laughed. ‘Lucky, I think. We also have the backpack. Hope that makes the owner’s day. Over and out.’

Faith bounded over to Ken at his call. Let’s go home.

 © 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 author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

Faith’s Close Encounter

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impWith his gloved right hand still holding Faith’s lead, Ken pulled his overcoat tightly around him. His brush with death a year earlier had left him somewhat thinner. ‘It’s 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.  ‘Let’s 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 Faith’s body. Cold is right and these guys sound dangerous and I can’t 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 mustn’t 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. What’s up, Ken. Over.’

‘I hope you’re 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 Ken’s 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 they’ll fall off.’

‘OK, OK,’ someone from the first floor window called back. ‘Pasco’s gone to look.’

Faith’s 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, I’m 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.

Ken’s 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 wouldn’t 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 there’s three, maybe four. They have computers on a trolley of some sort. Over.’

‘Ok, Ken. Take it easy. We have called in another Bluelight. We’ll 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 and pushed in closer to Ken. Her Ken…the weed.

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Except for Ken and his dogs Faith and Shield all other characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Faith’s Christmas Surprise

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impChristmas carols played while Ken wrapped the last of the gifts that were to be distributed at the children’s hospital later that afternoon. This was Faith’s 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 it’s not going to come off. Oh well, I guess the children will like it. At least it’s better than last year’s 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. It’s about time. Curiosity had set in so she wandered over to the Christmas tree and sniffed a sack of gifts.

‘You’re not going to find anything under there for you this Christmas, Faith girl.’

Faith whimpered and hung her head.

‘It’s 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. We’ll 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 Ken’s mum and dad. I wonder if our gift will arrive by sleigh or maybe it’s being delivered in a fire truck. She nudged Ken’s elbow with her nose knocking him off balance. Come on! It’s 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 excitement—oh 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 Faith’s head. There they remained for what seemed a very long time. But, Faith didn’t 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 wasn’t 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…yawn.

 

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 didn’t 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 Faith’s ears. ‘I see you two have met.’

Well, sort of.’  She shook her head throwing drool over Ken’s 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. Ken’s 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.

© 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 author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

Faith’s Goes on a Holiday

1931032_36129957313_9434_n-impFaith was not her usual contented self. She wasn’t 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 morning’s adventure and she badly needed her nails trimmed.

Ken brought fresh water. ‘What’s the matter, girl? I hope you’re not getting sick. You’re 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 couldn’t believe her ears. What are you saying? What have I done?  She whimpered.

‘It’s all right, Faith. Marnie will give you a shampoo and manicure while you’re 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 don’t know how you found him but you did. Even the fire chief was surprised since you haven’t 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, I’d 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 if Marnie 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, I’d have been to wet for the cabin of the fire truck. Come to think of it, I’m glad he didn’t. There is no way I’d 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…and 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.

© 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 author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Short Fiction

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, you’d 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, let’s go.’

Faith and Ken’s 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. ‘We’re 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, ‘it’s 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 night’s bust in our unused vault here for safekeeping.’

Ken nodded his reply but didn’t look up from the file opened in his hand.

‘Some vault. The stuff vanished overnight. It’s the last time I listen to Headquarters.’

Ken head jerked up. ‘ You’re kidding?’

‘No, I’m afraid it’s no joke but something’s 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.

‘There’s no damage to the front of the safe but there’s 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.’

‘It’s too small a gap for me.’ He turned to Faith and clicked his fingers at the opening.

With the light of Barrymore’s 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, Faith’s 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. ‘It’s got to be too wet for…’ he yelled.

In the next instant she had raced off towards a car that was parked opposite the police vehicles. It was Jonesy’s 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 Barrymore’s 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.

© 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 author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Short Fiction

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 Faith’s 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. Faith’s 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, Faith’s 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 boy’s 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.

‘That’s 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 Faith’s 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 one’s 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 boy’s mother raced to retrieve her toddler from Ken’s arms.

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

‘Don’t thank me, thank Faith, our newest lifeguard. It’s 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 mother’s embrace and wrapped his little arms once more around his rescuer’s neck.

‘Say thank you to Faith, Ethan.’

‘Good doggy.’

Faith barked with excitement and licked the little boy’s face until he giggled with delight.

© 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 author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in: Short Fiction

Stella’s Plight – Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Stella’s 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 Women’s 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 didn’t recognise her. Kath’s 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 Stone’s house using David’s utility. Doc’s wife took her in until she was able to catch a train to a women’s shelter in Sydney.’

‘Oh my. That poor woman’, Teresa whispered as she retrieved a tissue from her dress sleeve. Doesn’t 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 Stella’s 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 Ryan’s eyes’, she said smiling through her sudden sadness. ‘I don’t 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 don’t know.’

Stella was confused. ‘What do you mean? Surely you know where you’re going.’

‘Well it’s 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. ‘I’m not sure I understand.’

‘Don’t worry yourself. I’m just a free spirit. I can stay with you through to Bourke to keep you company and return to Nyngan later tonight. I’m retiring and Nyngan is the only home I know.’

‘That’s sweet of you but won’t there be someone expecting you?’

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

‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ Stella waited for Sarah to finish her bottle before speaking again. ‘I hope David doesn’t come to the back of the train again. Oh, I didn’t think. What will I do when I get to Bourke? He’s bound to be getting off there.’

‘Let’s just wait and see. Don’t 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.’

‘Where’s Kath now?’ Teresa was eager to know.

‘She’s 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 don’t expect she’ll 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 haven’t 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 wasn’t intending to take her anywhere. I don’t know what to believe or what he’s up to.’ Stella paused. ‘He wouldn’t 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 it’s a way to get his property back. I’m not sure but I think you should be careful and get some legal advice.’

‘I know but…’

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

‘I’m 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. ‘I’m Stella Wilson.’

‘Don’t be alarmed Ma’am. We received a call from David Wilson’s wife. He’s 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. He’s 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? I’m 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, you’ll 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 can’t leave you alone. Now can I?’

Stella swayed a little with the movement of the train as it left the station. ‘I don’t 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. ‘It’s over. It’s really over.’

The End

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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

Archived in: Short Fiction

Stella’s Plight – Chapter Three

Chapter Three

‘It didn’t take long for the coroner’s 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 Teresa’s benefit. ‘The next day I was called to our solicitor’s office for the reading of Ryan’s 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 wouldn’t 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. ‘There’s a small table in the guardroom if you would like to use it and a microwave. I won’t 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…little 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.

‘Let’s 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 Ryan’s 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 Ryan’s 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 doesn’t seem fair’, Teresa interrupted.

‘Well, I don’t know much about what’s fair but Kath, David’s wife, was upset over his treatment of me. She had come to stay with me after Ryan’s death until after the funeral. She’s 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 didn’t 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 hadn’t 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 Ryan’s uncle, he asked if I had seen a woman with a baby. I’m sorry…’ Her voice drifted off.

Stella sat up straight and looked down the carriage through the door. ‘What did you say? I don’t understand. Why didn’t he stay or go into the guard’s cabin?’

Teresa turned back to Stella and gazed into her eyes. ‘I knew something wasn’t right. I answered him in German, my second language. I knew it would come in handy one day.’ She winked. ‘I didn’t lie. I couldn’t lie. I won’t, but he had no idea what I said and he just left.’

Stella stared at this beautiful woman that had befriended her. She didn’t 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….

© Chrissy Siggee – 2019

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

Archived in: 🦋 Short Fiction