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 squad cars where the faint smell of body odour and heated engine oil mingled. Neighbours awakened by the early dawn invasion gathered cautiously outside their homes to observe the commotion.

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

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

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

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

‘What the?’

‘Maam, 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 didnt want to embarrass the startled petite woman any further by searching her.

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

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

‘Where is your car, maam?’

‘Oh! No sir! I dont own a car. Thats my motorcycle.’ She lifted her cane and pointed with her bent fingers past the squad cars and confused police officers. A Harley Davison sheltered under an ancient oak tree glistened in the morning sunlight.

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

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

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 She placed an opened-face helmet over her greying, outdated hairstyle.

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

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

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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

44

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

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

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

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

‘You wanted to see me, Mr Preston?’

‘Yes, sit down, 44.’

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

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

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

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

‘But thats not fair.’

Preston returned to his business tone. ‘Lifes not fair 44, but a contract is a contract. Ill send a copy of the paperwork you signed when you joined the company eight years ago if you want.’

He paused to lean forward. Ill tell you what. Ill ask if your name can be mentioned as part of the team for the invention. Its the best I can do. I have also informed 3 to swap with your cubicle after work tonight. I need a good man nearby. What do you think? Its a huge promotion from 44.

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

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

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

Prestons tone became serious. ‘Its a take it or leave it offer, 44.’

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

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

Eugene stood and forced a smile then left.

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

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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

 

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 and studied the gentleman sitting opposite who repeatedly wiped his balding head with a handkerchief. ‘Sir, where did you say you found this manuscript?’

‘Well… I didnt exactly find it. It was… um… part of my inheritance.’

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

‘Kent. Michael Kent.’

‘Well, Mr Kent, this signature doesnt appear to resemble a Kent.’

‘Oh, um it was handed down on my mothers side. My mother changed my surname name when she remarried.’

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

Winslows secretary entered his office the following morning. He looked up as she reached his desk.

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

‘Yes, Mr Winslow.’

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

‘Lord Keats?’

‘Yes, this is he.’

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

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

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

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

Thank you, but how do you know and what does his death have to do with my great grandfathers manuscript?

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

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

Winslow carefully chose his words before proceeding. Perhaps, Lord Keats, your father discovered he hadnt been told when someone had found it. That someone decided to use it for his own financial gain.

‘What are you implying, Mr Winslow?’

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

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

‘Late last year, your cousin decided it was time to show his hand by attempting to blackmail your father. Because your father didnt want his conniving nephew to get his hands on his money, he came directly to me. We thought it was an open and shut case until I discovered that Michael Kent had an accomplicesomeone who wanted revenge for an unrelated incident years before. Unfortunately, that piece of information inadvertently killed your father. The accomplice was you. Am I right, Lord Keats?’

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

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

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

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

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Authors Notes:

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

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

PIRATES, HIDDEN TREASURE AND …

Fourteen-year-old Electra sat perched on the edge of her chair facing the small group that sat cross legged on her bed.

‘It happened a long time ago,’ she began, ‘but it seems like yesterdayprobably because Ive told the story so often. The only reason why I tell the story is because its why my family is the way it is. You see, we are a family with roots. Oh, you think your familys has roots too? Okay, let me explain what REAL ancestry means.’

Electra put the empty popcorn bowl on the floor before continuing.

‘In 1801, my great, great, great, great grandfather, built this house. He had been a pirate ever since he ran away to sea and became a captains cabin boy. The ship was called the Black Raven its captains name was..’

‘Electra! Will you please stop telling that tale.’

‘Aw刑ad. Why not? It sure beats the real story.’

‘Theres nothing wrong with our familys history, or your family home. And, dont forget the reason why you were named Electra.’

Sandy, one of the girls at the pyjama party, bounced off the bed. ‘Tell us, Mr Chapman. We really want to know about your house and your family.’

The other girls joined in the pleading.

Electra stood and took the freshly made popcorn from her father, pointed the bowl toward her chair where she had just been sitting, and motioned him to take over the narration.

‘Electra was right about the year. Thats when the house was built, but thats where the truth of her story finishes.’ He waited for Sandy and his daughter to join the other girls on the bed. Electra passed the popcorn round before he continued.

‘Basically, my father bought this house to save it from being bulldozed. The locals wanted it demolished for safety reasons. My father made an offer, bought it and renovated it. Its been our family home since I was a boy. There are a few rooms that have never been restored but its stable.’

Sandy stared at nothing in particular. ‘You mean those rooms could be haunted?’

Electra burst out laughing. ‘You must be kidding.’

‘Please continue,’ one of the girls requested, her eyes focusing on Electras father and ignoring his daughters outburst.

‘No, the house is not hauntednot that I know of. The rooms have just never been needed. Theres no great mystery, only the family who my dad bought it from. They lost all their fortune and the house was left empty for years.’

Sandy looked puzzled. ‘Is that it? Electra, I think its a great story. Tell us Mr Chapman how did Electra get her name.’

‘Its not all that interesting,’ Electra commented casually, wriggled back against the bed board and stuffed popcorn into her mouth.

Her father paused and took a moment to continue. ‘Electras mother was beautiful. She had red hair’

‘That explains your hair,’ Sandy teased.

Electra pushed Sandy playfully off the bed, causing Sandy to squeal and the others to laugh.

‘She died in child birth’ he continued unperturbed. A hush filled the room before he continued. ‘I didnt know what I would do or how I would bring up our little girl on my own. I brought her back here to my family home where my parents helped until they passed away. Not only was Electra born with red hair but she looked like she had a shock that caused her hair to frizz. Her grandmother named her. Over time her hair lost its frizz but the name stuck. Her hair still reminds me of her mother.’

He stood and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

The girls remained speechless. Electra climbed off the bed and placed the popcorn on her desk before anyone spoke.

Sandy followed Electra and stood behind her, hesitating before speaking. ‘Youve never told me the real story, Electra. Why wouldn’t anyone like the true story about your family and this house?’

Electra turned, her eyes glistened with tears. ‘I wish I knew my mother but I do know a lot about her. Dad and my grandparents made sure I knew everything about her. Every birthday I tell my pirate story so I dont get sad. I guess I didnt realize, until today, just how sad my dad gets.’

The girls gathered around their friend for a group hug. ‘Your family sounds wonderful,’ Sandy exclaimed. ‘Your family home is beautiful. Why dont we ask your dad to show us around?’

Electra smiled and wiped her eyes. ‘Thats sounds like a great idea. Maybe well find some pirate ghosts or some lost treasure,’ she added with a giggle. She took Sandy by the hand and led the girls from her room in search of an adventure.

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 Dragon and the Princess

Everyone except Thomas Creighton-Smiths granddaughter, Ada, knew Rosie was more than just a pig. Adas ideal retirement for Rosie was to explore the ancient land of dragons by day and visit the kitchen for under-the-table dinner scraps in the evenings before dreaming by the fireplace.

At breakfast one dank April Friday, Grandma had suggested they have roast pig for Sunday lunch complete with the traditional three vegetables and brown gravy made from the juices of the roasting meat. It was while Grandma chatted on about where she would insert the large rotisserie rod that Ada ran from the kitchen with Rosie close at her heels. ‘It will help tenderise the old sow,’ Grandma was saying without acknowledging she had heard the back door slam.

Thomas put down his morning paper. ‘I just wanted to take the pig to the abattoir to recoup some of our loses. After all, this is a working farm,’ he muttered as he left the house in search of Ada.

His eyes scanned the landscape for a sign of the two gallant explorers. In spite of himself, old Thomas didnt envy the little girl. He had grown up in Beatrix Potter country and the fantasies she created in the stunning Lake District would have been more practical for Adas school holiday fantasies. He shook his head. Maybe we should have stayed in Ambleside and taken up trout farming.

It was two days before St Georges national holiday and Thomas needed to take that fat old pig for a road trip but Grandma was fixed on having tough pork and bacon. He stood at the garden gate and looked around. Where are they?He squinted into the fog that settled over the bogs as he recalled his mothers favourite story that dated back to the 6th century. What was it, again? Oh, yes. St George rescued a young maiden by slaying a terrifying fire-breathing dragon.He slipped his hands into his warm pockets and headed for the main road.

So she wouldnt fall over, Ada held up her long flowing medieval princess costume as she marched down Old Kent Road. Rosie trudged slightly behind with cardboard toilet cylinders on her pointy ears and three black bows tied onto her limp tail.

They stopped near a red telephone box just beyond the intersection where the road-signs crisscrossed a wooden post. ‘Oh Rosie, how could Grandma say such horrid things? I wont let them eat you.’ Ada stomped her foot splashing slops of mud over both of them.

She lifted the old play dress above her waist to search the pockets of her faded jeans beneath. With 10p in her hand she stepped into the telephone box. Finding the correct number from the list beside the chunky black phone, Ada dialled and waited. Rosie grunted, shuffled and squeezed in until she jammed herself tight between Adas knees.

‘Hello,’ Ada shouted into the mouthpiece. ‘Please help me. Theyre going to kill Rosie!’

Approaching the end of the lane where it met the road, Grandpa looked left then right. Their farm was located two miles due east of the abattoir between Dover and Holyhead. He sniffed the thick foul air. This neighbourhood is likened to the lowest-priced property on the English Monopoly board. A few moments later he decided Ada would have headed away from town so off he trudged.

Minutes later he heard an ear-piercing squeal followed by a shout from young Ada. He quickened his stride. The telephone box a little ways past the next farm on the opposite side of the road seemed to be alive as it shook and groaned. Grandpa stopped in mid-step; his neck craned forward. There was someone, or something, in the telephone box. There were too many legs to count. He saw what looked like horns and a tail with blades. There was a lot of banging and bumping going on behind the grime and moss streaked glass.

‘Oh my, it looks like a dragon!’

Ada screamed again jolting Grandpa from his trance. Manoeuvring the door open to avoid swishing his granddaughter, he grabbed Rosie by the tail and dragged her squealing from the booth.

Later, after the local Bobbies had their explanation and had a good laugh, Grandpa and Ada sat down to rest at the nearby bus-stop.

‘Did you know, Ada, only forty-five to fifty percent of animals at the abattoir can be turned into edible meat products, fifteen percent is waste, and the remaining forty to forty five percent is turned into by-products like bath soap, candles and glue? Mmm夙lue suits her.’

‘But Grandpa’

‘Its okay, honey. I rather like rescuing my little princess from dragons. Come on, lets go home and break the news to Grandma.’ He winked at his granddaughter. ‘There will be no more talk of bacon and roast pork.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Its Time to Grow Up!

Simon! Dad called from the back of the house. Come and fix this mess!

Uh-oh…

Simon stopped at the door of the laundry and watched as bright red foamy bubbles spewed from the family washing machine.Oops.

Oops is right and youd better clean it up before your mother returns with the groceries. Then, you had better deal with that car of yours. The windscreen looks like the aftermath of a locus plague.

The unusually quiet son entered the kitchen later that day and watched his parents move about to prepare for the evening meal. Steak, onions and potatoes sat ready for preparing. He sat in a chair to watch. Simon was always fascinated and somewhat proud of how they worked together. Being the youngest of five, and at almost twenty-three, Simon knew it was time to give his parents a break and move out on his own but…

Hey, Simon, his mother interrupted his thoughts. Are you going to the young adults Bible Study tonight?

Yeah… Ive even completed this weeks study questions, he grinned.

Dad looked up from chopping onions. Tears ran down his cheeks. Really?

Simon grinned at the voice that didnt match the tears, which were thankfully not related to this latest bit of news. Um…yeah. Were studying Hebrews chapter five. Im守m…finding it quite interesting.

His mother wiped her hands and approached the table. May I ask why?

Dad continued to chop and sniff.

Ill show you. Simon left the room and returned a few minutes later with his New International Version of the Bible. He opened it to where it was bookmarked.

You see, he began, last weeks topic was about “Warnings Against Falling Away”. Verses 11 to 15 says: We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Dad wiped his eyes before joining them at the table. What do you think these verses are saying?

Well, he began thoughtfully. Its like eating.

His parents laughed in unison.

Yeah, I know. Everything with me is related to food, he grinned. But its like the verse says, we have to stop just drinking milk and get in to the steak and potatoes of life地nd onions, he finished with a chuckle.

Dad reached across, pulled the Bible to him and turned it around. Yes, youre right. We need to grow and mature in His grace. He paused and turned over a few pages. Hebrews 10:25-27also says: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one anotherand all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.’

Pretty heavy stuff, Simon sighed. But I think Im beginning to understand this whole adulthood stuff. I mean, Im no longer a child, or a teenager anymore. Im supposed to be an adult. Right? Not just as a person, but as a Christian. I cant rely on you and Mum all my life to feed me or clean up after me. In the same way, I need to get into the Word and grow up.

His mother smiled. Even us older Christians need to grow. We can never outgrow the need to grow. But, youre right, Simon. You do need to do this for yourself. She reached out and touched his hand. Is there more to this conversation than impressing us?

Simon took a deep breath. Well, I like my job and doing church stuff, but…

But what? Dad asked, a hint of worry in his tone.

This weeks Bible study has had me seriously praying about a few things. Im ready to put away childish things. Ive decided to start adulthood properly. Im going to attend Bible College. I believe thats where God wants me to be.

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.

AWOL

– a fictional short read based on a true incident.

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

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

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

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

‘What happened? Whos responsible?’ Susan demanded.

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

‘Youre right.’ Susan held the mug of steaming coffee between her hands but didn’t drink.

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

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

‘We dont know. It wasnt until almost midnight that the um存ituation had been fully realized.’

The space between Susans eyebrows creased. ‘What do you meansituation?’

Ron replied for OMalley. ‘Mum had evidently dressed in a hurry. Her slippers arent here and her GPS shoes are still under the bed. We think she may have followed someone elses visitor or a member of staff out the front door around 9pm. With the rain, they would have been concentrating on getting to their vehicle. Being so late well…Who would think?’ He paused to wipe rainwater from his face.

‘Ms Cummings…Susan,’ O’Malley spoke above the sudden clap of thunder. ‘We are almost certain she couldnt have gotten very far but this constant rain has slowed us down’

‘Ron called me at 11.15pm last night. She looked at her wristwatch. Its almost eight thirty. If shes exposed to this weather much longer, she色Her words faded with the reality hitting Susan with a jolt. She handed the coffee to Annie with shaking hands. “Okay… O’Malley, what can we do? Where do we go from here?’

 

There was still no sign of their missing mother by the time the rain eased at midday when the siblings and Annie returned toswallowdown 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 westand the vacant overgrown paddocks beyond while O’Malley had conducted a search of out buildings, laundry and kitchen facilities at the nursing home. The night staff had been requested to report in with any information that may or not be related to the missing patient. O’Malley and a staff member also conducted interviews with a few patients who were with her shortly after seven last night. No clues or explanations were discovered. With directions for the original team to take a short break, eat and get dry, the new team were given maps for the north and east of the nursing home.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

‘I dont remember Dad ever going AWOL, Susan. Obviously shes confused.’

Annie, who had been relatively quiet in the back seat, spoke up. ‘Isnt there an old army storage unit around here?’

‘Well yes, but it’s almost three kilometres from here. O’Malley replied. 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 it.’

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

‘Okay,’ Ron said, taking charge. ‘Well check the railway station on the way. If we cant find her there, well continue on to this army place.’ Ron swapped the diary with a folded map with O’Malley who had quickly circled a crossroad to the east.

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

Ron thanked him and drove off.

 

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

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

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

穢 Chrissy Siggee

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