Abigail’s Special Birthday Gift

Abigail Hyatt was almost seven and her daddy let her choose where to have her birthday party. It had been a sad winter and a party was a good idea.

‘Can we have it at the park, Daddy?’ Abigail asked.

‘Which park, Abigail?’

‘The big one, Daddy— the one Mummy loved.  You know… the one where we threw the rose petals after her funeral.’

‘If that’s where you want it, then that’s where we shall have it.’ Daddy kissed the tip of her nose.

Abigail smiled. ‘I’ll help with the invitations but we have to invite Grandpa and Grandma Lawson. Do you think they’ll come, Daddy?’

‘You can ask them. They would like that.’

Her smile faded. “I wish they didn’t live so far away. Do you think Grandpa and Grandma miss Mummy, too?”

‘I’m sure they do. I would miss you, my darling daughter, if you had died. Now, let’s not be sad. Mummy would want us to enjoy your party.’

‘I want to wear the party dress Mummy bought me last year.’

‘Abigail, honey, I don’t think it will fit. You have grown so tall. Why don’t we go to the mall tomorrow after school and see what we can find?’

‘Okay, Daddy.’

Finaly the party day arrived. It was a sunny day and the park had lots of spring flowers growing in the gardens. Abigail could see her grandparents at the end of the short path that led to the playground. They were tying balloons on swings and trees. There were two picnic tables.  One had lots of party food on it and the other held a huge birthday cake with pink icing.

‘Grandma! Grandpa!’ Abigail called and ran to meet them.

‘Abigail! You look so grown up and your party dress is so pretty,’ Grandma said, smiling.

‘It’s Mummy’s favourite colour. Do you think she’d like it?’

‘I think it’s perfect,” Grandpa said.’

‘Abigail,’ Daddy said quietly. “Your friends have arrived.’

She looked up at Daddy to ask him to greet them for her, but he was wiping something out of his eye. Grandma hugged Abigail. Abigail knew Grandma was crying too so she hugged her as well. ‘Oh Grandma, I miss Mummy soooo much, but she would want us to enjoy the party.’

Grandpa hugged them both ‘Yes, she would. Now go and meet your friends and enjoy the afternoon.’

Abigail greeted her friends and opened her presents. A clown skipped into the playground, making the children laugh. He twisted balloons to form the shape of little animals, stood on his hands and spun hoops on his feet. Abigail thought it was the best party ever.

Abigail was too excited to go to bed that night. After her bath, she dressed in her new summer night gown, and sat on Grandpa’s knee while he read her favourite story: Noah’s Ark. She knew it almost by heart because her mummy had always read it before she went to sleep—sometimes twice.

‘Abigail,” Daddy said, coming into the room with a glass of milk. “Grandma and Grandpa Lawson want to talk to you.’

Abigail felt suddenly afraid. Daddy had said something like that when Mummy got sick. She remembered that Mummy was crying and Daddy told her they would be okay. Abigail climbed off her grandpa’s knee and went to her daddy.

‘It’s all right, Abigail,” Grandma smiled at her. “Everything is OK.’

‘You see,” Daddy said, lifting Abigail onto his knee, “we all miss Mummy very much and…’

‘What your daddy is trying to say, is that we miss your mummy, too,” Grandma continued. “But, we also miss you and your daddy.’

Grandpa sat on the floor in front of Daddy and Abigail reached down to hug his neck.

Grandpa took a deep breath. ‘Grandma and I want to move in with you and Daddy, at least until we get a house close by. Your daddy and I talked about it a lot and we think your mummy would like it. What do you think?’

‘This is the best birthday gift ever! Can they live with us, Daddy… please?’

‘Abigail, this is your birthday gift. It’s up to you.’ Daddy was laughing now. He hadn’t laughed for a long time.

She jumped off her daddy’s knee and hugged her grandpa and her grandma. ‘Please come and stay— I’ll even let you call me Abby. Mummy always called me Abby.’

© 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 Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

Locked Out!

‘Geraldine! Open the door. Please, let me explain.’

‘Go away, Mum! I don’t want to talk to you.’

‘Please understand, Geraldine. I had to do it.’

‘That’s just so lame.’ Geraldine rolled her eyes. ‘You’re pathetic.’

Geraldine’s mobile phone played her favourite Red Hot Chili Peppers song: Nobody Weird like Me. She grabbed her iridescent purple phone from the bed and checked the caller ID. Crystal’s photo appeared on the screen. ‘Hi, Crystal, I’m not really in the mood to talk.’

‘Geraldine, what’s going on? I was about to knock on your front door when I heard you screaming.’

‘Where are you now?’

‘At your front gate. Where are you?’

‘In my bedroom, but…’

‘I’ll come round to your window.’

Geraldine was about to argue but realized Crystal had rung off. By the time she opened the window Crystal was outside waiting.

To Geraldine’s relief, Crystal kept her voice quite. ‘So, are you going to tell me what’s wrong?’

Geraldine turned and threw herself back onto the bed. ‘I can’t believe she did it.’

‘Did what?’ Crystal asked, raising her voice to a hoarse whisper to be heard from where she stood in the garden.

‘She threw Dad out.’

Crystal climbed through the window. ‘He’s been drinking again, huh?’

‘Just because he likes a drink after work…’ Geraldine bit her lip and paused. ‘It wasn’t his fault that he hit her last night.’ She began to cry.

‘Hey, girl, you can’t possibly think he should stay if he’s hitting her.’

‘But, he’s my dad and it’s his home too.’

Geraldine’s best friend sat beside and put an arm around her shoulder. ‘Do you remember when my mother threw my dad out?’

‘That’s different, Crystal; he was beating you and your brother. I remember going to the hospital with you when he broke your arm.’

‘Like, before that, he was hitting my mother. She used to hide out the backyard until he fell asleep, but then he started beating us instead. Yes, Geraldine, that’s why she threw him out, but do you think your mother is going to wait for that to happen to you? Your mother knows what we went through.’

There was a gentle knock on the bedroom door and Geraldine accepted a tissue from Crystal to wipe her eyes.

Her mother’s voice was croaky. ‘Geraldine, can we talk?’

‘Ok, Mum, just a minute.’

Crystal gave her Geraldine a quick hug before she climbed back out the window. As she waved goodbye, Geraldine took a deep breath before opening the door.

© 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 Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

Butterfly Cakes and Parenting Skills

‘No! And that’s my final word.’

Sarah was irritable. Her twin daughters, Lucy and Annie, had been arguing with her for almost fifteen minutes. They had been invited to their best friend, Amy’s, ‘teen theme’ birthday party the following Saturday. The problem was she would be eight; the same age as the twins.

The girls stomped off to their bedroom just as the telephone rang. Sarah took a deep breath and released it slowly.

‘Hello.’ Rubbing her forehead she leaned against the wall to ease the weariness that threatened to overtake her.

‘Well, you sound happy.’ It was Connie, Amy’s mother.

‘Hello, Connie. I’m sorry, sometimes I find parenting a little stressful.’

‘You? Of all people, Sarah. You’re a great parent. You always seem to have it all under control.’

‘Well not today. What can I do for you, Connie?’

‘I was just checking if the girls are coming on Saturday.’

‘Actually, it was the party we were discussing. I just don’t feel the theme is appropriate for eight-year-olds. Peter and I made the decision a long time ago that they are not to attend a party which goes against our values.’

Sarah cringed as she realized what she had said. Connie was a good friend who attended the same church.

Connie sighed on the other end of the phone. ‘Can I be frank with you, Sarah?’

‘Sure, we’re friends.’

‘It was Amy’s suggestion. In fact, she demanded it. Honestly, I have been trying to keep the peace around here. We received a letter from her teacher last week concerning Amy’s rebellious behaviour.’

Sarah made herself busy at the stove.

‘Yesterday, we went shopping to buy her an outfit for the party. I have never been so embarrassed. Her performance was appalling. She insisted on purchasing the skimpiest pair of shorts I have ever seen and the top barely covered her. There wasn’t enough material to cover her navel.’ Connie’s voice reached an intense pitch.

Sarah stirred the contents of the saucepan. ‘Lord, why is it so hard to do what is right as a parent?’

‘Sarah, why does parenting have to be so hard?’

‘I don’t think any parent finds it easy, Connie. We aren’t born with the skills either. We all have to learn them—’

Connie resumed talking before Sarah could finish. ‘I was just telling my mother yesterday that I remember some of my own childhood birthday celebrations. We used to dress up in our Sunday best and eat those yummy cakes. You know the little ones, Sarah, the ones you make so well. You scoop out the little piece from the top, and then add just the right size dollop of cream, before cutting that extra piece in half and sitting it in just the right spot on top, then sprinkling icing sugar over it all to give it that perfect sweetness.’

‘Butterfly cakes?’ Sarah smiled at Connie’s description. ‘It almost sounds like parenting skills. You need just the right balance to get it right.’ She laughed at her own illustration.

‘Oh, Sarah, I just had a marvellous idea. Why don’t I call all the parents and tell them I’ve changed the theme? It will be a good, old-fashion party for an eight-year-old girl. They can all dress in their Sunday best and you could make butterfly cakes. I think it’s about time I initiated some parenting skills. The first thing I’ll introduce is Christian values.’

Sarah laughed. ‘All right. I’ll talk to Peter tonight. He should be happy with the change, and yes, I think it’s a wonderful idea. Bye, Connie.’

‘Bye, Sarah.’

Sarah was still smiling after she hung up the phone. She turned to see the twins standing at the door, their arms folded stiffly.

‘What’s so wonderful?’ Annie asked sourly.

‘Well, first of all, go and get the flower-girl dresses you wore to Uncle Tony’s wedding and put them on the sewing table. Then, we need to start on some parenting skills.’

‘What are you talking about?’ Lucy was totally confused.

‘I’m going to bake some butterfly cakes, and you two can help. It’s never too early to learn.’

© 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
Christian Reads by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

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!’ Connie’s 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. ‘I’ve looked everywhere.’ Connie found herself pacing.

‘Calm down, Connie. He’s probably run away,’ Rebecca answered.

Connie stood still. ‘Why would he do that?’

‘I don’t 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. He’s run away before.’ She sighed. ‘I admit, I thought he was happy with you and Carl, but it’s hard to tell with these kids.’

Thinking more clearly, Connie contemplated the past few weeks. ‘He’s 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, I’ll 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 Baker’s 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. ‘You’ll 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. ‘There’s no excuse for bad behaviour by any adult.’ She thought for a moment before continuing. ‘You haven’t wet your bed since you’ve been here. Do you think there’s a reason for that?’

‘I don’t know,’ Ethan shrugged. ‘I’m 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 don’t know. I’ve never been. I watched cartoons sometimes at the Webster’s. The other families didn’t let me watch TV.’

‘Football?’ Carl asked.

‘The beach?’ Connie added.

Ethan began to whimper. ‘I haven’t been anywhere much—just 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 Connie’s 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.

‘What’s a pick nick?’

Carl sighed deeply. His sad eyes met Connie’s. ‘There’s 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.

Ethan’s 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 you’re unsure of anything.’

‘Connie and Carl won’t beat me.’ It was a statement rather than a question.

Rebecca knelt down beside Ethan as he slid off Connie’s lap. ‘No, Ethan. This family is…different.’

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 son—to adopt you as soon as you feel ready. If that’s okay,’ he added.’

The corners of Ethan’s mouth turned upwards.

‘Really? Yes, please!’

© 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 Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

Fields of Laughter

The sun was warm on the somber faces of ten year old twins, Holly and Steve. Their legs swung carelessly over the edge of the old rustic fence. Aunt Mary shuffled past with her black veil held tightly against her chin, barely noticing the children.

Steve’s voice was solemn and quiet. ‘Holly, do you remember when Grandpa fell into the river trying to reel in that big trout last summer?’

Holly laughed unexpectedly. ‘Yeah, my sides hurt from laughing while he was explaining to Mother how he got so wet.’

Uncle Peter hurried past with his weeping wife and two protesting young children tagging along behind. He glared at Holly and shook his head in disgust before hurrying up the drive. Steve and Holly tried to stifle their giggles as they watched the small family group approach the house.

Holly laughed again as she remembered. ‘We never did get to eat fish for supper that night.’

‘Hi, Holly. Hi, Steve.’

The twins smiled and waved back to their cousin Gerald. His father grumbled and prodded Gerald in the direction of the house.

Quite a few relatives lived nearby and sometimes they walked the short distances between the farms and their community church but visits weren’t common. They were all busy with their own lives, their own farms.

Holly frowned. ‘Do you think Grandpa ever found out I was the one who hid his tobacco?’

Steve grinned at his sister. ‘Probably, he always said he had eyes in the back of his head.’ He threw his head back and snorted, almost losing his balance in the process and sending them both into fits of uncontrollable laughter.

Mr Snyder, the owner of the farm that adjoined theirs, drove his rattling pickup truck in the direction of the open gate and stopped almost directly in front of Steve. ‘You children should have more respect for the dead. For pity sake, I can hear you from my front door.’ With that, he accelerated toward the grass area where other vehicles were parked haphazardly under trees.

The twins were silent for a few moments before Steve spoke again. ‘I don’t think Grandpa ever liked Mr Snyder.’

Holly smiled, trying to smother another giggle. ‘Remember when Mr Snyder let our cows out of the back field and Grandpa chased him with his shot gun?’

‘Yeah, that was funny, especially since Grandpa had forgotten to buckle his trouser belt before leaving the outhouse.’

The twins were continuing their banter when they noticed their father strolling up from the barn toward them. Work still needed to be done, even if Grandpa’s funeral had be held earlier that morning.

‘Hey, what’s the joke, you two?’

‘Holly and I were talking about Grandpa. Sorry Dad.’

‘Dad,’ Holly asked sadly. ‘Why is everyone mad at us?’

‘Because, my sweet child, no one knew Grandpa like you both did…and like I did, for that matter. Even your mother could tell you a story or two.’ He leaned up against the fence between the twins and nodded in the direction of the house. ‘Not one of these guests will miss Grandpa after today.’

‘They didn’t really know him?’

‘No Son, they didn’t.’

‘That’s sad,’ Holly concluded.

Their father looked up and scanned the fields. The children turned their heads to follow his gaze. ‘I remember when I was about your age,’ he began. ‘Your Grandpa worked the farm completely on his own. One day, Mr Snyder let his cows into our corn field. Your grandfather decided from that day on, he would get revenge. It was never anything serious. They both got over it soon enough. Grandpa’s funny antics were really something to witness.’ He finished with a short, choked laugh and wiped his hand across his eyes.

Holly and Steve jumped down from the fence and walked hand-in-hand with their father back through the gate. The trio didn’t enter the house full of mourners. Instead, they headed for the corn field which was now ready for harvest, and then on to the fields beyond. Their laughter echoed across the farm.

© 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 Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

MEMORY OF DREAD – Part Six

🦋 – a short murder mystery for the Christian reader – Part 6 🦋

Brenda gasped. ‘What?’ She stared back at Constable Hoxley then turned to Inspector O’Malley. ‘When did you find this out?’

‘This morning,’ Hoxley replied. ‘Frank Davies’ drive to claim you several years ago set him into a downhill spiral. He began skimming money from your husband’s bank accounts a few years ago as well.’

‘Davies introduced Carlos Lorenzo to Charles as a gardener,’ Hoxley continued. ‘Lorenzo was to spy on your husband’s clients for Davies and to check your comings and goings. He had an elaborate plan that would not only get you but ultimately Charles’ company and investments. Because of Davies’ dirty dealings, he unintentionally put you in danger, even from some of Charles’ clients. Why, we aren’t completely sure.’

Hoxley flicked through his notebook before continuing. ‘Davies’ plans began to come unstuck when you took a disliking to Lorenzo, whose feelings, as you know, were mutual. However, Lorenzo had already become a loyal worker, and possibly a good friend to Charles, at least someone he could trust. Because of this, Charles learned of Davies’ desire to have you and his money. But, he needed proof. The private door was your husband’s idea for private meetings with Lorenzo and clients who were aware of Davies’ dirty dealings. We suppose Lorenzo simply got tired of playing Davies’ sick games, including the blackmailing.’

Brenda sat in dumb silence. This had been going on for at least two years? It was inconceivable. Why hadn’t I noticed? Where was I when these meetings were going on in my own home? She couldn’t even speculate why Charles put up with Frank for so long, proof or no proof.

‘Six months ago,’ O’Malley broke into her thoughts, ‘Davies represented a small-time drug smuggler. The accused walked and Davies’ pocketed a large amount of laundered cash.’

‘And Charles didn’t know any of this?’ Brenda interrupted, her frustration showing from her usual demeanour.

‘Oh… it gets better,’ O’Malley sniggered. ‘Lorenzo found out about the money and dug up some more dirt on Davies.’

His toned softened. ‘But no, I don’t think your husband was aware, at least not until much later. Perhaps only recently. Charles did pay Lorenzo enough money to pay off the blackmail so Davies wouldn’t know things had changed. This we discovered in a ledger your husband kept for his own records, not that he actually recorded it as blackmail money. He recorded Carlos Lorenzo in his last tax records as a business advisor, hence a higher payment.’

Brenda stood and walked back and forth, not that there was much room with the four of them in the small office. The three officers watched her and waited. She turned to Hoxley. Her mind went back to the early piece of news that shocked her most.

‘But I hardly know Frank. He attended business lunches and dinners with us. I sometimes sat in occasional meetings where it involved my own investments but other than that, I only knew Frank as Charles’ lawyer. Why would I be attracted to Frank?’ She hugged herself and grimaced. ‘I doubt I could ever be. You are kidding. Right?’

Hoxley shook his head slowly. ‘Sorry. They were his words. I admit though, he’s one sick man and you have no way led him on.’ He turned to McDougal who had picked up the file on the Asian guy.

‘This Asian character,’ McDougal began, ‘was one of Davies’ clients. He was also a client of Charles’ for a legitimate business. Somehow after a meeting with Charles, Davies and this client, this file got caught between some of Charles’ own paperwork. When Davies went to work on the file, he couldn’t find it and figured out what must have happened.’

‘So, this file,’ she pointed, ‘is what put Charles and me in danger?’ Brenda asked directly.

‘Yes, and this is where it gets messy,’ McDougal replied. ‘You see this client, Fo-Yong-Ho, is also a member of an Asian drug ring. He had met with Davies before this meeting with Charles; the morning before Charles’ murder.’

McDougal handed Brenda the file page. ‘These numbers indicate names of drug dealers, or rather their code names.’ He walked over in two short steps and stood beside Brenda. He pointed to the third number on the list. ‘This number here for instance: 49560HO is Fo-Yong-Ho’s. This sign here,’ he pointed to an Asian character symbol before the number, ‘represents what would be the third letter of their alphabet. What’s so important about the list is that the ASIS (Australia Secret Intelligence Service) would love to get their hands on it, and as soon as we have finished with the murder case, they can have it along with Frank Davies.’

‘You mean he’s on the list?’ Brenda was beginning to understand. She ran her index finger down the page. ‘71062FB! You’re kidding: number 27. As simple as that? But, does this mean he’s just…?’

‘Just a pawn,’ the sergeant finished for her. But a valuable pawn to the ASIS.

Brenda went to the sofa and sat down. With her head bowed slightly she touched her wedding ring. She took in a slow deep breath. ‘Look, I’m grateful for you all explaining all this. It gives me an idea what Charles was dealing with. About Frank I mean.’ Her voice wavered. ‘It’s also good to know why Charles died but what I really want to know is who killed him. Was it Carlos? Was it Frank? Or… this Fo-Yong-Ho person?’

‘Let me give you the facts about your husband,’ O’Malley began. ‘He wasn’t perfectly innocent in a few things but if he was still alive, he would probably be charged for withholding information that would have led to the arrests of Davies and at least a few other names on this list. Also, the fact is he would have known sometime after he employed Lorenzo that he was an illegal resident. For those things alone he may or may not have received much more than an acquitted short term sentence.’ He returned to his chair behind the desk. ‘His gun, as you know, was registered but we’re unsure why it was in his drawer fully loaded.’

Brenda had listened in silence as tears suddenly streamed uncontrollably down her cheeks. She didn’t bother to wipe them away. Had her husband been a criminal or just plain stupid? The thought gnawed at her.

Hoxley came over and sat beside her. As if reading her mind, he said, ‘Brenda, the way I see it, the only thing that Charles was really guilty of was protecting the woman he loved. He wasn’t letting any creep-of-a-lawyer claim you, or his company.’

‘That’s about size of it,’ McDougal conceded.

O’Malley cleared his throat and gulped down his cooling coffee. ‘Let’s finish this up so Sergeant McDougal can continue his research on this Fo-Yong-Ho character.’

The officers returned to their notes and waited for each other to continue.

Hoxley took the lead. ‘After Davies discovered that the file was missing he told Lorenzo to find it or else he would report him to the authorities. Davies informed him that you and Charles would be out most of the night and that he would have plenty of time to search. Fo-Yong-Ho called Davies about 10:00 pm to question him about an error in one of the code numbers. Out of panic, Davies told Fo-Yong-Ho that he had hidden it in Charles’ home safe for security and that he, Davies, could retrieve it in the morning. However, when Lorenzo hadn’t reported back to Davies as scheduled he went to the house to see what was keeping him. Shortly after midnight Davies entered Charles’ home office by the side door, just as Lorenzo had done earlier.’ Looking up he added, ‘apparently Davies had known about the side door but assumed it was just for Lorenzo.’ Here he paused to flip to the next page. ‘Lorenzo had found the file and realized what it was or, at least he had a fair idea. Davies found him in the process of photocopying the file. He hadn’t heard Davies enter, probably because of the noise of the photocopier. Davies struck Lorenzo over the back of the head with the eagle paperweight.’

‘Forensics,’ O’Malley interrupted, ‘had discovered some dried blood on the eagle. At first they thought it was Charles’ but until today we really had no idea whose blood it was. When Davies made his statement this morning, forensics paid a visit to Lorenzo in his cell for a sample.’

‘When Lorenzo regained consciousness,’ Hoxley continued, ‘Davies was sitting in Charles’ chair. Lorenzo was tied up and Davies had Charles’ gun pointing at him.’ He looked over to the sergeant.

‘Yes,’ McDougal confirmed. ‘Lorenzo had admitted in a later interview that he had found the gun in Charles’ desk drawer and had been just checking-it-out while the photocopier warmed up. He had placed it on the desk to press the copy button. A silly mistake no matter how you look at it.’

McDougal took a moment to sip his coffee and waited for any questions. When none came, he continued. ‘Lorenzo also told us that Davies forced him to confess everything including details about the ledger that he found during his own search of the office after rendering him helpless. Davies then gagged Lorenzo and threatened him to keep quiet.’

When McDougal stopped to take a long drink, Hoxley continued the narrative.

‘Davies decided he would wait for Charles to have it out with him, only he didn’t expect the telephone to ring on your arrival. He panicked and forced Lorenzo to hide with him behind one of the large double doors he had opened so he would know when you both returned home. Once Charles picked up the phone in the office, Davies waited a few minutes to be sure you had gone upstairs. By that time Davies had figured out it was Fo-Yong-Ho on the phone. Davies said Charles raised his voice at Fo-Yong-Ho telling him that he would deal with the situation at their next meeting. Davies said he was unsure what the conversation was about but figured Fo-Yong-Ho must have used some weak excuse to call, perhaps to make a visit himself. We don’t know.’

‘Hang on…’ Brenda interrupted. ‘Back up a bit. This Fo-Yong-Ho, Charles had no idea that he was a drug dealer. Right?’

‘Fo-Yong-Ho was a client of Charles with a legitimate jewellery business, which was also a cover-up for the drug dealing, but he used the family company name when dealing with Charles.’ Hoxley checked his notes. ‘Minh Nhung’.

‘Davies has confirmed that Charles knew nothing about the drug deals,’ McDougal added for Brenda’s benefit.

After a quiet minute in thought Brenda nodded for them to continue. She was tired and felt like she had been sucked through an engine of a jet plane but she needed to know the rest so she could make sense of it all.

O’Malley’s phone rang before anyone could speak. ‘O’Malley. Yes, right. Good job! Thanks.’ He hung up. ‘A highway patrol constable has Fo-Yong-Ho in custody but more on that later. We’re almost done. Continue Hoxley.’

‘According to the telephone company the call lasted no more than a couple of minutes. Davies confirmed it. When Charles replaced the telephone receiver, he turned to follow you upstairs only he was confronted by Davies who had stepped out from behind the door with Lorenzo held tightly in his grip and the gun in his free hand. Davies claimed he just wanted to talk. His plan was to take Lorenzo as hostage and leave the country with Fo-Yong-Ho. He told Charles if he called the police or tried to follow, he’d have Fo-Yong-Ho get someone to kill you.’ He paused. ‘Davies also told us that he would never have done that and his real plan was to have you abducted and take you out of the country too.’

Brenda felt ill and must have looked it. McDougal filled a glass with water from a jug on O’Malley’s desk and handed it to her. She accepted it with thanks.

Hoxley continued. ‘Lorenzo kicked and twisted himself out of Davies’ grip. Charles made a dive for Davies but the gun was by then, aimed at Lorenzo. Charles dived between them as Davies fired, taking the bullet for Lorenzo. Charles apparently died instantly. When Lorenzo began to gag on his own vomit, Davies dragged him back out the side door to the garden before he removed the handkerchief from his mouth telling him to stay put and keep quiet or he would get a bullet in his head. Davies then went back inside, wiped the gun clean and placed it in Charles’ hand. He also wiped his prints off the paperweight but missed the blood. Because he was a regular to the room, he didn’t bother to clean up too much else. He was so flustered he left the room without the file and the photocopy he had placed on the filing cabinet behind the door when he hid there with Lorenzo. He returned for Lorenzo and left. When he realised his carelessness he sent Lorenzo back to retrieve the file but by that time they had to wait until the forensics had left. He was in the house when Davis took you back to pack a suitcase.’

‘Thinking back on it,’ McDougal added, ‘Davies’ behaviour was meant to be a distraction and probably timed your visit to make sure Lorenzo wasn’t caught. What he didn’t expect was your sensitive nose.’

Brenda took a deep breath. ‘So it was Frank?’

‘Yes. Davies was the one who pulled the trigger that ultimately killed your husband.’ Hoxley walked over and put his hand on her shoulder and sat down. ‘He died saving Carlos’ life and trying to stop Frank from proceeding with his plans.’

Brenda gave a deep audible sigh. ‘I need to be left alone. Please.’

McDougal and O’Malley quietly collected their notebooks and empty coffee cups and left the office.

He stood up. ‘Do you want me to send in Cheryl?’ Hoxley asked.

‘Not yet,’ she replied weakly. ‘Give me half an hour,’ she added. She managed what she hoped was a thankful smile.

He left and closed the door quietly.

In some ways she was relieved; relieved Charles didn’t suffer. Relieved it was all over. Relieved they had found Fo-Yong-Ho and relieved the law would deal with Frank and Carlos. Yet, a sensation of unexpected sadness tugged at her.

Carlos was also a victim and almost killed by this lunatic, perhaps trying to save Charles. Her emotions confused her. ‘Oh Charles, why?’ The pain was drowning her. She rested her head on the back of the sofa. Just as she did, a still small voice spoke within her. ‘Child, lean on me. Cast all your burdens upon me and I will give you rest.’ Brenda prayed quietly until the floodgates opened. It seemed to wash all the pain,  grief and dread of the past few weeks away in one cleansing torrent.

The life she and Charles had shared was over but she knew deep down this was a new beginning. She thanked the Lord for ten wonderful years with Charles, her safety and a closure. It was time to move on, on to a new life with her newfound faith in a God who loved her.

THE END

© 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
Christian Reads by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

MEMORY OF DREAD – Part Five

🦋 – a short murder mystery for the Christian reader – Part 5 🦋

Time seemed to move in slow motion. Cheryl was chatting away as she busied herself in her kitchen.

Although Brenda had appreciated the conversation, she was way too distracted to comprehend what she was hearing. Her hand was much better after the emergency department treated the burn and re-bandaged it. She smiled briefly as she thought of Peter’s first-aid efforts.

‘This coffee sure beats the cup Peter brewed at the police station,’ she said when Cheryl came over and sat down opposite of her.

‘Brenda, you need to rest. You really should have some sleep before Peter returns home this evening. That’s your fourth coffee since you’ve arrived. Not that I mind.’ Cheryl sighed. ‘Peter has put your suitcase in the spare room. Why don’t I run you a hot bath?  You can change into something more comfortable for a nap. Look at yourself. You’ve been in that stiff-tailored suit all day.’ She tugged at the coffee-stained sleeve. ‘I’m worried about you, and Peter’s going to be worried too if he sees you like this.’

Brenda put her cup down and reached out to touch Cheryl’s hand. ‘You two have become good friends. I wish Charles had a chance to meet you.’ She gulped away another threatening sob.

A sympathetic face looked back. ‘If I have to, I’ll undress you myself and put you in that tub, then, tuck you into bed…for at least a few hours. Cheryl gently squeezed her hand. ‘I’m going to pray with you right now.’ She paused. ‘Please. Did you get any sleep at the hotel?’

Brenda couldn’t lie. She smiled, awkwardly, and rolled her eyes toward the ceiling before bowing her head while her friend prayed the most beautiful prayer she had ever heard.

Soon she was settled into a hot bath filled with bubbles finally allowing herself to relax. She laid back, closed her eyes, and listened to the CD Cheryl had playing in the next room. The music was soothing and the words were filled with praises and promises from the Psalms. She listened and began to hum along. The tune was one she had heard a long time ago. Peace is flowing like a river, flowing out to you and me…

Later that evening, Brenda felt more relaxed and refreshed. A rest, a good meal and a fresh change of clothes did help. Peter updated her, although there really wasn’t much to tell. They were still clueless, and although a replacement lawyer had been found for Brenda, Frank Davies had not yet found legal assistance. He was being uncooperative.

‘What about the client’s file they were trying to find?’ Brenda asked after the brief update.

‘We haven’t found it. At least nothing that looks suspicious. There’s one thing though. Carlos told O’Malley when he was arrested that the gun was on the desk when he was in the house the night of Charles’ death but then he changed his statement and said he didn’t see it. After that, his information was not so forth coming.’

‘So did Carlos kill Charles?’ Brenda persisted.

Peter stifled a yawn. ‘To be honest, I don’t think he did, but, if he did, it was by Davis’ instructions…or someone else’s’ – if there is a someone else.’ This time he didn’t manage to cover his yawn in time and apologised before heading to bed.

Cheryl left a few minutes later but not until Brenda had a private moment to thank her again. Brenda stayed awhile in the living room alone with her thoughts and memories.

The next morning Cheryl accompanied Brenda to the police station at Brenda’s invitation. It would be a long day for her and she needed a friend around while Peter and O’Malley were busy with other things. Cheryl had gone to the kitchen to brew some coffee she had brought from home. O’Malley opened the door and held it open for Cheryl, who followed with two large mugs of steaming coffee.

Once the women were seated on the sofa and O’Malley at his desk, O’Malley held up a thin manila file folder. ‘We found the file.’ He opened it and pulled out what appeared to be a sheet of ordinary office paper.

‘Is that all there is?’ Brenda asked a little confused.

He stood and leaned over the desk to hand it to her. There appeared to be an Asian name at the top, some contact details, and then a whole lot of figures: mathematical symbols and what looked like serial numbers or possibly invoice numbers.

After she gave it a good look-over she handed it back. ‘What’s it mean?’

‘I’m not sure but it was hidden in the lining of Frank Davies’ briefcase. What I want to know is why someone would want to steal a single sheet of paper from your husband?’ He sat down again. ‘And, why would it lead to his death?’ He studied the paper while the women drank their coffee in silence.

Brenda began to pace. After a few minutes she looked at her watch and placed her empty mug in Cheryl’s hand when she had reached for it. ‘Thanks Cheryl. I’m afraid it’s going to be a bit of a bore for you today.’

Cheryl smiled. ‘That’s all right. I’m here if you need me. If you need some space, I’ll be in the kitchen.’ She left, closing the door behind her.

O’Malley stood up and started to leave. ‘Oh, I almost forgot. We sent the forensic team back out to your house late yesterday with some specific instructions. Once they are through with their examination, our cleaners will be sent in and have it ready for you when this is all over. I hope for your sake that it’ll be soon. I’ve taken the liberty of finding you a new lawyer, Cole Webster. We’ll hand over a few of Charles’ personal files, including his current Will. That’s if you’re happy with Webster.’

Brenda nodded before he continued.

‘There was nothing in your husband’s personal files that could help the investigation. I believe everything was left to you except for a holiday cottage which he left to his brother, Patrick.’

‘Yes, I was aware of that. We discussed it some time ago.’

‘We had the authorities speak with Patrick. Everything was in order.’ He paused. ‘Patrick has offered any assistance if you should need it and sends his condolences. I believe he’s been interstate for business trips these past weeks and wasn’t even aware of Charles’ death.’

Brenda’s hand went to her forehead. ‘I hadn’t even thought about contacting Patrick. I feel terrible.’

‘Well, it’s understandable, considering you had been detained, and Davis obviously wasn’t doing his job. Anyway, my office is yours for the day. I’ll be in and out to update you, and get files as I need them.’

He started to gather a few things from his filing cabinet and desk when they heard a scuffle outside the door. They both watched as Cheryl burst in and placed her back up against the door.

‘I believe that’s Carlos.’ Cheryl pointed over her shoulder. ‘He’s not happy.’

Carlos Lorenzo was causing a commotion in the hallway as officers tried to escort him to the holding cell after yet another interview.

The inspector sighed. ‘If he does gets off the murder charge, he’ll be serving a few years for breaking-and-entering, and stealing before being deported. Our friend Carlos is an illegal immigrant. But right now we need to separate him from Frank Davies. Davies, by the way, will represent himself. He doesn’t appear to have too many colleagues that like him. I wonder why?’ He bid farewell to the ladies and left.

Brenda wandered to a small barred window that over looked the parking lot. The bars made her cringe. Would she ever be free of these memories?

The meeting with the new lawyer went well, ending with a promise of a letter going to the magistrate that afternoon to support the new police findings. The letter was roughly drafted for Brenda’s benefit and the Will was read in full. Charles’ funeral arrangements were discussed and partially organized but a date couldn’t be determined until the investigation was over and his body released by the coroner. Cheryl had been there throughout the meeting at Brenda’s request.

After the meeting Brenda wanted to take a walk but she knew, at least for today, would be impossible. Her thoughts involuntarily wondered to the Asian man. Who is he? Where is he? What did he want?

‘Do you have any family of your own, Brenda?’

Brenda felt the urge to hug her friend, so she did. ‘Thanks for being here for me, Cheryl.’ She released her and stepped back to the window. ‘My father passed away after a long painful illness a few months ago. There’s just my mother; I have no siblings. I had finally convinced her to go with a friend on a cruise. She left the day before Charles died. I’m glad she did. I’m not sure if she could have coped with all this.’ She turned to face Cheryl. ‘Anyway, she’s due back next week when this will hopefully be all over. I called her on Sunday after you and Peter dropped me back at the hotel. I didn’t tell her anything. Just that I missed her…’ She finished and looked down at her feet.

Brenda felt Cheryl’s arm go round her waist.

This dear friend was a good head and shoulders shorter than Brenda but she had been a tower of support. She rested her head on the top of Cheryl’s. They stood in silence until a knock came and Peter entered.

‘I’m going to get us some lunch. I won’t be long.’ He stepped inside and closed the door. ‘Brenda, Frank’s told us everything. As soon as we get his interview typed up and some legal paperwork done, we can let you know what’s going on. We need to find this Asian fellow though. All we have is his name a telephone number in a motel’s reception. I’ll be back soon. We’ll need to start praying.’ He kissed Cheryl’s cheek and left.

Brenda was amazed at this couple’s faith in God. ‘Cheryl,” she said eagerly. ‘I want what you and Peter have. I mean, I need hope and you two seem to have that hope in God. Show me how to get that same faith and assurance you have.’

Cheryl’s face lit up and she encouraged Brenda to sit and pray with her. ‘This is a big day for you; in more ways than one.’

After they had eaten and the officers and station staff returned to their duties, Brenda returned to the office with O’Malley and Peter following close behind. Cheryl stayed to clean up the station’s tiny kitchen.

Once the three were seated, Police Officer Sergeant McDougal, joined them. McDougal gave a preliminary report. Most of it Brenda had already heard, except for some details of her own arrest and interview but she was able to add a few extra details to complete the report.

Constable Peter Hoxley then began his report on Carlos. ‘Carlos Lorenzo has been an illegal immigrant of some four years. A year after his arrival, Frank Davies represented Carlos for a minor traffic offense. Davies found out about Lorenzo’s illegal papers and began to blackmail him.’ He placed some notes on O’Malley’s desk and looked over at Brenda before continuing. ‘Basically, Frank used Carlos to do his dirty work.’ He nodded to O’Malley to continue.

‘Frank Davies had been working with your husband long before you and he were married…’

‘Yes, I know that.’ Brenda interrupted. ‘What does that have to do with Carlos?’

‘Carlos Lorenzo was hired to spy on you, Brenda.’ He paused to let this newest information sink in. ‘You see, Brenda, Frank Davies says he was in love with you and still is.’

© 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
Christian Reads by Chrissy at Riverside Peace