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.

Haunting Wails and the Seashell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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

The Runaway

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

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

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

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

Connie stood still. Why would he do that?

I dont know. We get a lot of foster kids who run away. Ethan has been in the system a long time, and with numerous foster families. Hes run away before. She sighed. I admit, I thought he was happy with you and Carl, but its hard to tell with these kids.

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

Okay, Ill call the local police and then come round. Just stay calm.

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

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

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

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

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

Carl sat beside Connie and drew Ethan close. Youll never be beaten here, I promise.

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

Connie gasped. Theres no excuse for bad behaviour by any adult. She thought for a moment before continuing. You havent wet your bed since youve been here. Do you think theres a reason for that?

I dont know, Ethan shrugged. Im not scared here.

What kind of things do you like to do?

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

Do you like going to the movies? Connie encouraged.

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

Football? Carl asked.

The beach? Connie added.

Ethan began to whimper. I havent been anywhere muchjust school and your playground. A lone tear rolled down his face. I like your playground. He wiped the tear away. Can I go there again?

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

Ethan stiffened but soon relaxed in Connies cuddle.

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

Whats a pick nick?

Carl sighed deeply. His sad eyes met Connies. Theres a lot we can do. I think a picnic lunch at the playground is the perfect place to begin.

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

Carl let Rebecca in and explained the situation.

Ethans lip trembled. He looked up at Connie. Will I have to go to another foster family?

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

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

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

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

Well firstly, Carl began. We really want you to be our sonto adopt you as soon as you feel ready. If thats okay, he added.

The corners of Ethans mouth turned upwards.

Really? Yes, please!

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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

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.

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 donuts?’

‘Sure.’

Daisy handed me the coffee then bagged the donuts 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 way. 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 donuts. ‘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 donut.

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, Thomas, you cant go like that.’ I pointed him to the tiny bathroom and told him to strip and have a sponge bath using the tiny 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 widow.

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. ‘I can help, 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.

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?’

Cindy 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 mangos 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. ‘Cindy, 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 Steve 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?’

Cindy fell limp in Steves 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,’ he continued, ‘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.

Foresters Assignment

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

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

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

Hush, son. Youre a disgrace to the ranks.

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

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

I need something different.

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

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

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

A fearful Forester tried to keep still.

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

Nevertheless, its the one I want.

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

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

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

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

Stanley smiled. A doctor, aye?

Yes, Dr Anne Shepherd. Anne, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam, I found one.

Cool! Let me see.

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

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

Here it is, Stanley called.

WOW! Its perfect, Mum.

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

Thanks, Mum. Thanks, Mister.

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

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

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

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

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

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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