MOVING DAY

“Hang on kids. Charlie finally sold this old clunker.”

     “Where are we going, Mom,” asked Wiggy.

     “I don’t know, but watch your sister don’t fall out.”

     “Where are you going? You can’t leave us alone,” said Earma.

     “I’m not going far. Your dad was out prowling somewhere last night. I have to see if he made it back inside.”

     “Maybe he took a nap along the way. He’s been so tired lately,” said Earma.

     “Stay in the corner with me. Mom will be back before you know it.”

     “It sure is noisy out there. I’m glad we quit shaking,” said Earma. “Mom is taking a long time.”

     “I know but she should be back soon. Here nibble on this leaf I left in the corner yesterday.”

     “Thanks Wiggy. I was getting hungry, but what are you and Mom going to eat?”

     “Mom will find something. She always does.”

     “I’m going to miss living at Charlie’s. Remember all the hours we played in the bicycle frame. A real maze, Mom could never find us,” said Earma.

     “I sure do. I will miss it too. The kids were always leaving toys in the yard that we could hide under.”

     “Hey we stopped. Most of the noise is gone too,” said Earma.

     “Thanks for delivering that old clunker, Bill. It looks to be in bad shape, but it’s still fixable. You won’t know it once I restore it. You don’t see many Dodge Darts anymore. It will be worth a mint when I’m done.”

      “I hope so Frank. I saw that mustang you did last year.”

      “Earma! You hear that? We have to get out of here,” said Wiggy.

      “Not without Mom. What’s taking her so long?”

      “Listen! I hear something,” said Wiggy.

      “Wiggy! Earma! Are you okay?”

      “Yes, Mom we’re fine,” said Earma, all brave now that she was back. “Wiggy even fed me.”

      “Mom, you didn’t find dad?” said Wiggy.

      “I found him. Earma was right. He stopped to take a nap and never woke up.”

      “Mom we have to get out of here Charlie sold this clunker to Frank the restorer. If he rips this door apart we are dead,” said Wiggy.

      “I know, I heard them talking. I left a sunflower petal that I was planning on having for lunch beside your Dad. It will make a good travois to carry your dad out of here.”

      “We don’t even know what is out there,” said Earma. “The air smells real nice, but I’m not sure what I smell.”

      “It’s beautiful out there. I took a peek when I heard Frank and Bill talking. Bill parked this clunker next to Frank’s Body Shop. The good news is that his body shop is in a restored barn in the country. There are fields and fields of flowers. There are rocks to sunbath on and an old fallen tree for our new home.”

      “Great, Mom! Dad would have loved it here,” said Wiggy.

      “Yes, he would’ve. That’s why we can’t leave him behind in this old clunker. So let’s get moving we have a long ways to go and a heavy load to carry. You know how your dad loved to eat.”

      “Wiggy, do you think there are any kids here?”

      “I’m sure there is Earma. I’m sure there is.”

(C)Linda Kuno

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SOLDIERS BY CHOICE

Proudly we should stand

For every woman and man

That put their life on the line

When they leave their family behind

On the outside they look brave

As they leave for foreign lands with a wave

To fight the undying battle as best they can

To protect the civilians and their fellow man

Their patriotic duty readies them for the call

And their compassion drives them to help the ones that fall

It takes strong men and women to serve our nation

In a country of enemies, landmines and devastation

We don’t need to approve of this alarming warfare

 But for the soldiers we appreciate how much they care

So we should support our troops, whom with all their might

Fight the fight with hopes of returning home in their sight

(c) Linda Kuno

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A WINTER PLAGUE

The rain came down so gentle, and innocently danced on the grass

The frozen earth refused to absorb the rain and the puddles began to form

The branches held their silence as the wind refused to blow

As the day passed and the air started to cool things began to change

The rain turned fierce creating frozen pellets and freezing rain

The branches grew heavy and began to complain of their layered burden

The gathering puddles turned to sheets of treacherous ice

The cutting wind roared through the laden branches rattling their distress

Sending branches of century old trees crashing down

Pedestrians slipped on the icy sidewalks trying to reach safety from fallen trees

Roofs caved in under the weight of fallen branches

Car alarms rang out and emergency sirens filled the air

By morning the sky was clear and the sun shone bright

Hopeful homeowners open their doors to observe the damage

Most were fortunate to have been missed, for others tragedy had struck

People gathered on the street and helped their neighbors

With chainsaws and pickup trucks, they began the chore of recovering

From the ice storm that plagued the warmer winter

(C) Linda Kuno

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SMOKING KILLS

August was almost over. It had been a long month. Now that the newlyweds are back in town, maybe things will get back to normal for Mr. Raymond Stokes.

            Brianna was his only child, and even at thirty he hated to see her marry. He didn’t agree with the saying, ‘you’re not losing a daughter, you’re gaining a son.’ To him she would always be his little girl. They had grown very close after he accidentally burned the house down in eighty-eight killing his wife.

Brianna and her stepmother were never close, so when Leona died in the fire, she made her dad promise not to marry again. He kept a close eye on her over the years trying to be the best father he could possibly be.

            Although he didn’t want her to get married, he did giver her and Pierce tickets to Maui as a wedding gift. Once Brianna and Pierce moved into their own home, he would be all alone. Nora the maid would be glad to see them go. She always had hopes of moving from maid to wife, but only made it as far as his mistress. Maybe with Brianna married herself and out of the house, Raymond will finally marry her.

            Pierce banging through the double oak doors of the study drew her back to reality. “Raymond! I need to talk to you, right now!” Pierce yelled, “Did you help yourself to a box of my cigars?”

            “He’s not here, Mr Anderson.”

            “Where is he Nora? I can smell the stink of his cigar. I know how much he enjoys his cigar after dinner. I was sure he would be here.”

            “I only put it out before you came charging through the door. I came in to ask him if he would like his tea in here seeing how he hadn’t made it to the sitting room, but he wasn’t here either. He wouldn’t leave a cigar burning and walk away, so where can he be?”

            “He can’t be too far. He never leaves the grounds after dinner,” said Pierce.

            “Maybe, he joined Brianna in the garden. She was there listening to the birds”, said Nora.

            “Figures, people are never where they’re supposed to be. I’m going to the club,” said Pierce, slamming the door on his way out.

            Later when the cops arrived at 10 p.m., Brianna knew it was official. Her dad was missing.

            “Mrs. Anderson, Detective Forbes is here,” said Nora.

            “Show him into the study.”

            “Before I forget, Mr Anderson is gone to the club.”

            “Thank you, Nora.” said Brianna, he is always running to that damn club, it was so nice to be away from here for awhile; too bad we had to come back three days early.

            “Detective Forbes; please, have a seat,” said Brianna, motioning to the large luxurious Italian leather armchair, which her father personally picked out in Italy. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”

            “We understand Mr. Stokes has medical problems, so we didn’t want to delay. My men are outside searching the grounds. Now when was the last time you saw him?” asked Detective Forbes.

            “At 8:20 when he left the dinner table. He said he was retiring to the study for his evening cigar, which the maid did find still lit at approximately 8:47.”

            “Perhaps he went out and didn’t bother informing anyone,” suggested Detective Forbes.

            “No. He never leaves the premises after dinner, and our driver was off duty at eight-thirty,” she replied.

            “I would like to question the driver to confirm that,” said the Detective.

            “His number is 555-0088. Roger doesn’t live on the estate.”

            “Why not, that must be inconvenient?”

            “Roger is only temporary. Spence the old driver died last week.”

            Detective Forbes dialed the number, receiving no answer he tried again after five minutes, but he still received no answer. A knock came to the study door and the maid showed in another police officer.

            “Excuse me, Detective Forbes; I wanted to let you know immediately that the limo is not in the garage.”

            “Thank you, Peters.”

            “Well isn’t that strange. I’m sure Mrs. Anderson that you don’t allow the driver to take the limo home.”

            “Of course not, Detective,” snapped Brianna.

            “What kind of car does Roger drive?” asked Peters. “There is an old Volkswagen Beetle parked next to the garage.”

            “That’s his car,” said Brianna.

            “We better mark off this room, and call in forensics,” said Detective Forbes. “Also, mark off the garage and Roger’s Volkswagen.”

            “Yes, Sir,” Peters said and showed himself out.

            “Do you really think my dad is in danger,” asked Brianna.

            “When a schedule as strict as your fathers is broken, we must take it seriously.”

            “Roger seems so harmless. He’s barely 19. He took the job so that he could pay his traveling expenses to a University out of state,” said Brianna defending him.

            “I’ve seen many innocent faced criminals, who seemed harmless. You can never be too careful,” said Detective Forbes.

            “Well, I hope Roger hasn’t harmed my father.”

            “Mrs. Anderson, let’s go to the sitting room. My men will be here shortly to examine the study.”

            “Follow me. It is down the hall, the third door on the left. Would you like something to drink Detective? It sounds like it is going to be a long night,” asked Brianna picking up the servants phone.

            “Black coffee would be fine, thanks” said Forbes. “I want to question all the staff. Will you have Nora inform them to join us here?”

When the knock came to the sitting room door, Brianna thought it was Nora, but it was Peters. “Detective Forbes when we bagged the cigar at the desk, we also found a chewed tip in the wastebasket. There were different sets of prints on the cigar box. Briggs took the evidence to the crime lab. We should have the results before morning.”

“Thanks, Peters. Let me know what you find at the garage and Roger’s Volkswagen.”

“Yes! Sir,” said Peters holding the door for Nora on his way out.

“Thanks everyone for coming,” said Brianna. “This is Detective Forbes. He is here to ask you a few questions.”

“This is all the people you have on staff?” asked Detective Forbes.

“Seven counting Roger,” said Brianna, handing him his coffee. “If you are suspecting it to be one of the staff, I can tell you right now, you are wrong. For the exception of Roger, the rest of have been here for over twenty years. This is Carl, the gardener, Frederick, the butler, Rachelle, the chambermaid, Nora, the servant, and then there are Susan and George, from the kitchen.”

“I have to ask you a few questions. You may have seen something that at the moment you might not have thought was important, but once questioned you will see the situation in a different light.”

Suddenly flashing lights drew them to the window, a cruiser was following the limo up to the house. Brianna ran to the door expecting to meet her father, but it was only Roger. Peters already put him in handcuffs.

“What did you do to my father?” she yelled, striking him across the face.

“I didn’t do anything to him,” said Roger, “He is at Victoria Memorial Hospital. When I was going off duty, I saw him in the garden and he wasn’t acting at all like himself. He told me to get the car right away and take him to the hospital. By the time I got back with the car, he had passed out; so I didn’t want to waste any time getting him to the hospital.”

“Did the doctor say what is wrong with him? Why didn’t you call from the hospital?” asked Brianna.

“He said that Mr. Stokes had an epileptic seizure, but he was waiting for test results to figure out what triggered them. I came back to bring you to the hospital,” said Roger. “The doctor said for you to come in immediately. Can I get these cuffs off now?”

“Not until we confirm that Mr. Stokes is actually at Victoria Memorial,” said Peters.

“I will make that call and find out,” said Detective Forbes.

“How was he when you left the hospital?” asked Brianna, dreading the thoughts of losing another parent.

“He was still unconscious.”

“Peters, take off the cuffs. He is free to go,” said Detective Forbes. “The hospital was about to call the house. I’m sorry, Mrs. Anderson, your dad died at 11:45.”

“NO!” screamed Brianna. “Roger we’re going to the hospital. Dad was fine at dinner. I need some answers.”

“I’ll take you to the hospital, Mrs. Anderson. I have to speak to the doctor to make my report,” said Detective Forbes, turning to the staff he added, “Thank you all for coming so promptly to the sitting room, but it looks like I may not be questioning you after all. Keep yourselves available in case that changes, that means no vacations and no leaving the country.”

“Okay everyone, you heard the news. Now, please get back to work,” Said Brianna.

On the way to the hospital, Detective Forbes got a call from the police lab. He never would have suspected what they had found in the tip of the cigar. He decided he would wait until he got to the hospital to see what the doctor said was the cause of death before he mentioned it to Mrs. Anderson.

Dr. Miller was waiting for her at the emergency entrance to take her to see her dad. “This way Mrs. Anderson,” said the doctor, and then he noticed Detective Forbes and asked, “Is he with you?”

“Yes, he is. I call the police when my dad went missing. It was so out of character for him to leave the grounds after supper that I felt I should.”

“It is a good thing you did, Mrs. Anderson. Your dad died from a seizure caused by an overdose of ecstasy,” said the doctor.

“Ecstasy, are you nuts my dad was sixty-eight years old. What would he be doing with ecstasy? You must be wrong. I want that test run again.”

“That has already been done. I also questioned the lab test, but the results are still the same.”

“Mrs. Anderson, the doctor is right. The call I got on the way over here was from our crime lab. They found enough 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine for a multiple dosage of ecstasy pills. What I would like to know is how they ever got into the cigar?” said Detective Forbes. “Do you know where that cigar came from?”

“Maui, my husband Pierce and I just got back from our honeymoon. He has a club downtown and he gives cigars out to his favorite customers. He said it is good for business. When he was giving instructions to the pilot of his private jet, I put a box of cigars in my overnight bag for my dad. I meant to tell Pierce about them, before he took the rest of the shipment to the club. With all the excitement of seeing my dad I forgot. They were a thank you gift from me, for giving us tickets to Maui for our honeymoon.”

“Can I go see my dad now?” asked Brianna. “I have lots to say to him, even if he can’t hear me.”

“As soon as you give me the name of Mr. Anderson’s club,” said Detective Forbes.

“It’s the Brews ‘N’ Blues Club on Main and Fifth: now I’d like to go see my dad.”

“Okay, but I will be sending Peters to escort you back to the house, and stay with you until I get there.”

“Thank you,” said Brianna.

Detective Forbes pulled into a parking spot half a block from Brews ‘N’ Blues Club. His charcoal grey unmarked car shouldn’t attract any attention. He didn’t want the muscle at the door warning Pierce. A long line of customers waiting to be carded crowded the sidewalk. Forbes knew he’d have to wait. He had no worries of fitting in, the ages of the crowd varied from teenagers to seniors. He didn’t think teenagers would be interested in the blues crowd. What could they possibly be blue about? The man with the thick wallet and a gorgeous blonde clinging to his arm likely had a reason to be blue. Pierce couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.

“Come on, Roy. Let’s just go to your place. We can have a drink there.”

“No Barb. We have to stop here first. It won’t be much longer. I told a guy that I’d stop in tonight. I’ll be quick.”

“Okay Roy, but you better keep your promise of a great night.”

“Barb, it’ll be a night you’ll never forget.”

The muscle opened the door and people flocked in including Barb and Roy.

Detective Forbes entered the bar with the next flock of people. Two teenage boys from the last crowd that went in were already on their way out and excited about some house party. The music was blaring and the crowd was elbow to elbow. Flashing lights bounced around the room making it hard to focus on anyone in particular. Then he spotted Barb and Roy in a discreet corner. Roy was dropping something into Barb’s drink. Forbes squeezed through to the crowd, “Barb, don’t touch that drink. Roy just dropped a pill in it, and my guess it’s ecstasy. Call yourself a taxi and go home.”

Roy sprang from his seat; knocked over Barb’s drink; and pushed his way towards the door. Forbes wasn’t there for the little guy, so he let him go. He was more interested in what Pierce was doing in his office. Forbes saw the office door on time to see one of the bodyguards going in to see Pierce. Forbes knew from experience if Roy shot his mouth off to the muscle outside the door, Pierce wouldn’t be coming out through that door.

Forbes made his way back outside, pass the preoccupied muscle at the door and to the alley where a black sedan was idling. Pierce came out the door closes to the car and never noticed Forbes behind the door. “Police freeze!” yelled Forbes.

Pierce ran for the car carrying a silver briefcase. He managed to get into the driver’s seat but he wasn’t going anywhere. Detective Forbes shot out the front tire before Pierce could get the car in gear. Forbes walked over to the car with his gun raised, “Pierce Anderson get out of your car and put your hands on the hood.”

Pierce surprisingly did as he was told. Forbes handcuffed him “Pierce Anderson you are being taken to the station for questioning.”

“About what, I didn’t do anything?”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” interrupted Biggs, who had just entered the alley. “I was waiting on this search warrant for your club and car, when the call came in about a shot being fired in the alley. “So let’s see what your car can tell us for starters,” Biggs put on gloves and reached into the sedan and pulled out the silver briefcase.

“Look at this Detective Forbes, an interesting find, cigars, ecstasy, and bundles of cash.”

“Well Anderson, looks like you have lots of questions to answer,” said Detective Forbes.   “I’ll take him to the station and start the interrogation, said Biggs. “I already called the tow truck on the way here to haul his car to the impound yard. The club is closed and our men are inside conducting that search warrant.”

“Once they pick up the car, I have to go back to see Mrs. Anderson at her house,” said Forbes. “I left Peters with her at the hospital.”

“Come on, Anderson, let’s go. I have a room for people like you,” said Biggs grabbing him by the handcuffs. “You wouldn’t believe how many so called innocent people sat on that very chair.”

Forbes couldn’t help but chuckle at Biggs sense of humor.

“Good evening, Detective Forbes, Mrs. Anderson is in the sitting room,” said Nora, “I will show you in. Would you like a cup of coffee, I’m making one for Mrs. Anderson and Officer Peters?”

“No, thank you. Once I speak to Mrs. Anderson, Peters and I will be leaving.”

“Okay, right this way, Detective.”

Nora wrapped lightly on the door and entered, “Mrs. Anderson, Detective Forbes is here to see you.”

“Thank you, Nora,” said Mrs. Anderson. “Now, that Detective Forbes is back, you can forget about making coffee. I’m sure this won’t take long. You can retire for the night and I’ll see these gentlemen out when we’re finished.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Anderson, Good night.”

“Sorry, I’m so late getting back, Mrs. Anderson. I went to the club as planned to talk to Pierce and he was leaving out the back door to the alley, with his silver briefcase. One of my Officers showed up with a search warrant for the club and his car. Upon searching his briefcase we had enough evidence to haul him down to the station for questioning, where he will be facing a lot of charges and many years in jail. If you have a family lawyer, you might want to call him first thing in the morning.”

“We used the same lawyer my dad did. Pierce will have to find his own lawyer. The honeymoon is over and so is the marriage. I’ll be calling the lawyer in the morning to file for a divorce.”

“Sorry for the loss of your father, Mrs. Anderson,” said Detective Forbes.

“Thank you Detective, if we are done here, I’d like to get some rest.”

“Yes, that is all I can do until the investigation is done. Here is my card. If you think of anything that I should know don’t hesitate to call. We can show ourselves out. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight. Thank you, Officer Peters for staying with me. ”

“You’re welcome, Mrs. Anderson. Goodnight,” said Peters.

On the way back to the station, they picked up coffee. It was going to be a long night.

(c) Linda Kuno

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LETTERS, WORD, PHRASE, SENTENCE AND BOOK

All the letters in the alphabet can be

Beautifully used in sentences

Creating paragraph after paragraph

Drawing in the readers

Encouraging

Feelings, bad and

Good

How we always

Insist on

Journeys to far away places to

Kingdoms of the unknown. From

Lying in the green

Meadows of the

Netherlands

Or

Poking along the seashore

Quays to

Relaxing in the

Sunshine

Taking in the

Unlimited

View of the ocean

While an old

Xebe vessel

Yields at the dock for

Zealous readers

(C) Linda Kuno

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ONE NEVER KNOWS

Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy New Year!, echoed over Parliament Hill from the roaring crowd.

“Should auld”, Jodie resisted singing her old favourite which always came to mind on New Years Eve. She fought the tears as she thought about the people she’d lost in the past year. Some were deaths, some were disagreements, and some were better off left in the past: Or so she thought until she ran into an ex-boyfriend while Christmas shopping. Her mind wasn’t prepared for the signals her heart was sending.

When she had spotted him at the library in July, she thought she was imagining things. How could Ron be here? He’d been in New York City since he graduated from Ottawa University. What could he possibly be doing back in Ottawa? She was very curious but no way was she going to be the first to break their months of silence. 

“Jodie! Are you okay?”, asked Heather, her best friend since high school. “You’re awfully quiet tonight. We came up this hill to make noise remember?” She didn’t feel much like coming out to ring in the New Year either, seeing that her husband had served her with divorce papers on her thirtieth birthday, six months ago. Watching the happy couples kissing in the New Year was not easy.

“I’m okay. I was just thinking about the past year. Now that grandma is gone, mom is by herself and she is not feeling the best either. You know that at one time I thought I would eventually leave this city. I’d like to travel for more than business. For once in my life, I’d like to do something exciting and spontaneous.”

“You have a good life here. You’ve published a few best sellers and in Canada that is a great accomplishment.”

“Business, Is that all my life is supposed to be about? I don’t think so.”

“Probably not, but the married life is not always so swell either.”

“I’m sorry Heather, being here must be hard on you.”

“We’re a fine pair. Let’s go grab a coffee.”

                                                               *   * *

“I was quite happy with my life until this summer when you know who came to town,” said Jodie stirring her coffee. “I had put those university years behind me and decided that staying here in Ottawa wasn’t such a bad idea.”

“You did have some big dreams.”

“Had, I’ll have you know that I still have them, but I can’t hop on a plane and fly halfway around the world. Mom will never leave Ottawa and I can’t leave her behind.”

“Maybe leaving isn’t the issue. Didn’t you say Ron was back in town?”

“Forget Ron, he was likely here on business. For all I know he went back to New York City. Look how fast he left town in July.”

“Did you even think to talk to him when you bumped into him at The Rideau Centre? No, of course you didn’t.”

“I was in a hurry to finish my Christmas shopping. Besides he didn’t look too happy to see me. So I thought it best to keep my mouth shut and keep moving.”

“That’s twice he has been here in the last six months. Do you think it is just a coincidence that you saw him both times in a city this big?”

“I don’t know, maybe. If he wanted to talk to me bad enough, he could’ve called the house. The number has never changed.”

“True.”

  “Would you like more coffee ladies?”

”No, thanks,” said Jodie checking her watch.

“It is really late boss. I’m calling it a night. I’ll see you at the office on Tuesday,” said Heather picking up the taxi’s direct line.

“I’d meet you tomorrow for coffee, but I promised Mom I’d spend the day with her. How about going for coffee on Monday?”

“Oh don’t worry about it. I’m sure I’ll find something to keep mind occupied. I have to finish packing up the last of my soon to be ex-husband’s junk he left behind. Divorce seems so final, but for some reason I’m kind of looking forward to what the next year holds for me and you too, of course.”

“Leave it to you to think that way, Heather always the optimist.”

“You wait and see. I have a feeling about this.”

“Goodnight Heather.”

“Goodnight Jodie.”

 *  * *

The lacy sheers didn’t stop the morning sun from filtering into Jodie’s room. She tumbled out of bed and flung the sheers open to get the full extent of the view. The canal always looks so beautiful after a fresh snowfall and with the frost in the tree branches this morning, it looked tranquil. Hard to believe in a few hours it would be filled with people skating and sleigh riding. The vendors would be giving everybody a reason to stay longer. People loved the beaver tails. Jodie and Heather were no exception. During their university years, they spent every weekend on the canal, until Jodie did a figure eight into a tall dark handsome man, named Ron.

Her trip down memory lane was intruded by a tapping on her bedroom door. “Jodie!  Are you up?”

“Yes, Mother. Come in! I was enjoying the view.”

‘Things always seem more beautiful when we have a New Year ahead of us,” said Joy, holding the bedpost for support. “At least some of us do.”

“Don’t talk like that Mom. The doctor says you just need to rest more. Let’s get some breakfast. It’ll make you feel better.”

“I’m not hungry,” retorted Joy as usual.

“You have to eat. Would you like some cream of wheat? It will warm you up and maybe you will feel better after a little rest.” Jodie knew she’d eat with a little persuasion.

“I just got up, ” protested Joy.

“You don’t have to go to bed you can rest on your lounge chair by the window and watch the cardinals and blue jays.”

“That sounds good to me,” said Joy taking Jodie’s arm and looking at the view. “Sure is a beautiful day out there.”

“It sure is Mom. Now, let’s go have some breakfast.”

* * *

“Thanks for breakfast, Jodie. You always know what is best for me. I think I will have that rest on my lounge chair and read a little.”

“Okay Mom. I’ll wash the dishes and be in to sit with you soon.”

“No rush dear. There must be lots of things you have to catch up on. I’m sure I saw your briefcase in your room.”

“You did. I brought a few manuscripts home in case I had some down time,” said Jodie feeling guilty. There was a backlog of work and she knew there’d be time to work on it when her mother was napping. “I told you I would spend the day with you and that is what I’m planning on doing. Make yourself comfy in your chair and I won’t be long.”

It took longer for Jodie to clean up the dishes than she thought. The Christmas leftovers had to be tossed and the pile of bowls had to be washed. By the time she got to sit with her mother she was sound asleep. She looked so peacefully lying there, facing the warm sun. The cardinals and blue jays were doing a dance on the windowsill.  A well-worn manuscript laid on the lounge next to her. The thought that her mother still had the manuscript she had written her first year of university made her warm inside, but the feeling was short lived when she read the cover page, My Winter on the Rideau Canal, by Ron Harlow, June 30, 2005. Successfully she took the manuscript without waking her mother. This was a manuscript she wouldn’t put down until it was finished, but why did her mother have it.

Jodie flipped through the pages. The story was very similar to the winter Ron and her had spent on the canal. The words poured off the pages and into her heart. The questions raced from her mind so fast she was having trouble reading. Did Ron really feel that strongly about her? Why didn’t he ever say anything? How could he have left town so abruptly after university? Why didn’t he call? She hoped the answers were in the last chapters of the manuscript. Quickly she skimmed through the pages, looking for the answers she so desired. Some chapters brought laughter and tears. Finishing the last page she looked up. She had been so engulfed in the book, she didn’t see her mother standing in the doorway holding the phone.

“Here dear,” said Joy handing her the phone. “I think that young man is waiting to hear from you.”

“Mother! You have kept the truth from me all this time. How long have you had this manuscript? Why haven’t you ever told me about this? How did you ever get it in the first place? It should’ve been sent to the office?”,fumed Jodie, grabbing the phone and slamming it onto the table. Forgetting her mother’s frailty. 

“Hold it, I’ll tell you, but one question at a time, please,” said Joy dropping into the closest armchair.

“This better be good, Mother.”

“Remember when you were off for holidays in July and you had the mail delivered here. That was one of the manuscripts.”

“Mother,  how could you keep this from me for so long?” Jodie couldn’t help but wonder if that was why Ron was in Ottawa in July?

“At first I didn’t realize it was your Ron. Then when I did, I also thought of how you were hoping to move to New York. I didn’t want to go to a nursing home.”

“Mother, you should know by now I’d never leave you, or expect you to go to a nursing home,” said Jodie taking her mother’s hand.

“Besides, if he loves me so much why did he leave town so quickly when his work was done on the Rideau Canal.”

“I’m sorry Jodie. I really am. Ron came here before he left town.”

“Mother what are you saying? Ron came here? That part is not in the manuscript.”

“That is why the ending is different. Ron knocked on this door with full intentions of proposing to you and taking you away, but when he saw your grandmother and I here he said a very noble thing. He said that he would never expect you to choose between him and us. He said family must come first.”

“So why did you let me see that manuscript and why are you telling me the truth now.”

“Maybe, it is time for me to face it Jodie. This man loves you very much and his life is in New York. I am not going to be here much longer. I can feel myself getting weaker everyday.”

“Mother, no!”

“Yes! Death is a part of life. My life is almost over and it is time for you to pick up that phone and start living yours. I’m going back to lie down dear.”

Jodie reached for the phone as she watched her mother slowly retreated to the other room.

                                                             *  * *

Ron was by her side when Jodie laid her mother to rest two weeks later. Heather stood close by with a man she shared the taxi with on New Years Eve.

© Linda Kuno

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COMPASSION IS LOVES COMPANION

When you see a lame person, offer him a hand
Not for a few steps, but until his journeys end

When you see a blind person, provide him vision
Not out of sympathy, but for direction

When you see a crying child, show him comfort
Not for your honour, but for his solace

When you see a thirsty person, give him a drink
Not an almost empty cup, but fill it to the brim

When you see a hungry person, offer him food
Not your last crumb, but a feast to feed a king

When you see an animal trapped, release him
Not to take him home, but to set him free

When you see a troubled person, give him guidance
Not with a map, but with the Holy Bible

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MY MIRACLE

It was the fall of the year 2000, and I was having yet another fight with my sister Betty about God.

Our voices were raised, and she was preaching to me about something great that God had done in her life. As she continued as she always did, she asked me something about God, which I can’t remember now, what it was, but she had me in tears. Well, I yelled at her with a bold, “I cannot make peace with God until I understand, how he allows babies to die and children to be born crippled.” She tried to defend him, but I promptly hung up on her.

After all I had put Betty through, she must’ve prayed for me, when I slammed the phone in her ear, and turned me over to God to deal with. Within the month my heart started to soften and I was back in church. I thank God for one persistent sister. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God or Jesus Christ as a Saviour, that wasn’t the issues that kept me out of church. It was the negative evils of the world that I was blaming God for, which Satan should’ve been getting all the credit.

For two Sundays I went to the church where I got married nine years prior to this, but didn’t feel comfortable there. On the third Sunday, I went to The Salvation Army Corps, now there I felt comfortable. The music was good, the sermon was great and I felt surrounded by God loving people. Finally, after twenty-eight years and the prodding of the radio playing, ‘Backslider’s Prayer’ every Sunday morning that I had set the alarm planning on going to church, but didn’t, this backslider is home. What a feeling of peace.

I continued to go to church, and the Salvation Army welcomed me like I was one of the family. Shortly after my return to the church I gave myself back to the Lord, It must’ve been God’s plan; because shortly after I went to my doctors, and he told me I had to have a hysterectomy.

November 13th, was the day I got the news that I didn’t have cancer, but I had a 10 percent chance in my lifetime of getting uterus cancer. So, I had little choice in whether or not to have the surgery as soon as possible. The doctor asked me if I wanted to discuss it with my family and let him know, but I knew there was nothing to discuss. The surgery had to be done, so I told him to book me for the 5th. He penciled me in and told me to get back to him the following week to confirm the date after I talked to my family.

I left his office with tears running down my face, and I cried most of the way home. I wished I would’ve had someone at the office with me; I sure could’ve used a hug. It was a long, lonely walk. People were coming and going like they did every day, but today seemed different. I wondered what was going on in their minds today. Did any of them have bad news from a doctor too, or news even worse than mine? I thought of the good news I had also received, that there was no cancer present and with the surgery I would eliminate the possibility of uterus cancer. I knew without a doubt, that I would be having surgery on the 5th.

By the time I got home I had a chip on my shoulder and I decided if my husband, Howard didn’t ask me what the doctor said I wasn’t going to tell him. The one time, that I’m dying for him to ask he doesn’t, so I sit around and wait; but by bedtime I gave in, and told him what the doctor said. He also thought I should have the surgery as soon as possible, but the final decision was mine. Everyone I talked to said the same thing, except Chris and Amanda of course; they wanted their mother well for Christmas.

The way the doctor talked scared me. It felt more like a forty percent chance of cancer in my lifetime. So I didn’t really want to wait. The doctor couldn’t give me a specific date in January and that made me nervous.

Usually I am scared stiff of surgery, but not this time. When I told people about the surgery, and they wished me good luck, I told them everything was going to be okay, because God was going to be with me in the operation room, and He never let me down. I told everyone that knew I was having the surgery about God, even Dr. Mc Coubrey, who was performing the surgery.

On December 5th, 2000, the alarm clock spitting out words alerted me to the day I’ve always dreaded for so long. I’ve had this surgery mentioned to me often in the last ten years, but after tests the doctor said there were no need for surgery; until now, a different year, a different doctor, and some different tests.

A knock came to the door shortly after five a.m., while I was dressing for the hospital. It was my sister Betty. She had been in town since one-thirty in the morning, but was too scared to wake me up, so she parked in my other sister’s driveway and slept for two hours. She was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting her at my door. It was the first time we had contact since I hung up on her months ago.

She drove us to the hospital at 5:25 a.m. Betty and Howard stayed with me until it was time to go to the operating room. By 5:50 a.m., I was in my room and changed into my hospital gown. Here is where my story gets interesting. The nurse came in shortly after that to take my vital signs and start the Intervenes. She tried twice in my right hand, the first time she missed the vein and the second time she was sure she had it in the vein, and started the drip; but my hand started to swell, and bruised right away. She had to remove the I.V., and put it in my left hand. The skin looked like it was going to erupt from the pressure of the swelling, and my hand was sore. When I showed Betty my swollen hand, she prayed for God to take away my pain and swelling. Well the pain was gone right away, and the swelling was gone in fifteen minutes. I knew God was going to be there to take care of the big things, if He took care of the little things like that.

It gets better from here, wait until you hear the name of my O.R. nurse, who was by my side to watch over me until I woke up in recovery. I did my best to keep my mind positive for the surgery. I didn’t get nervous this time about surgery like I usually do. I thank that all to God. I did a lot of praying about this surgery. The time came too quickly and the nurses came to put me in the hammock and take me to the operating room. Howard and Betty wished me well and I cried all the way to the O.R. like I usually do. I was starting to get nervous. I knew Betty was praying for me; but while I waited outside O.R., I prayed for me too. I prayed for my family not to lose me, because I knew they would take it hard, especially my children.  I was trying to be brave making jokes with the nurses. Then the surgeon comes along, and tells me because of my breathing I might wake up in the Intensive Care Unit; it was only a precaution they may have to take.

Upon being wheeled into the O.R., I was introduced to Angele, my O.R. nurse. Well needless to say, I was thrilled that she was my nurse when I heard her name. I thought this is a sure sign that God was watching over me, when He sent a nurse with that name. Although, I tried to relax a little I still warned the nurses, and doctors that I say stupid stuff when I am nervous, but not to take me seriously. They weren’t the least bit worried, I had no more than said that, and I was going to sleep. The doctor hadn’t even warned me that she was starting the anaesthetic; so much for my big mouth.

Without realizing where I was, I opened my eyes to see a plastic thing lying on my chest and a few nurses standing around.

Angele was still by my bedside. I closed my eyes quickly not wanting to wake to the reality of coming out of anaesthetic. It must have been because I was so drugged yet that I didn’t feel any pain. I was in no rush for the lousy feeling of recovery from being put to sleep; a harsh throat from the tube, the sickening taste in my mouth, and the upset stomach. I hadn’t closed my eyes fast enough. The nurse caught me, and told me now that I was awake they were taking me back to my room. I thanked God for taking me through another surgery safely. I was glad to be alive.

Howard and Betty were waiting for me when I got back to my room. It took some work, but I was able to slide myself from one bed to the other. I don’t know why they didn’t just bring me back in the hammock. By now I was starting to feel the pain, although it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. As I slowly became a little more alert, I realized that I didn’t have a harsh throat or an awful taste in my mouth. I had a few scrapes on my gums though. My stomach felt a little queasy, but I swore although I was thirsty that I wasn’t going to drink any water right away, and make myself vomit, and I didn’t either.

I tried my best to find a good position to lie, but even with that fandangle electronic bed I couldn’t do it. I lied on my back all day with head raised slightly. My back was just as sore as my surgery. My sheets were soaked with sweat and the room was way to warm. I had lots of visitors that day, my children, grandchildren, a couple of my sisters and friends from out of town. I tried to talk to them all a little, but I didn’t want to fight my sleep and make myself worse. I think they all understood that I would be drowsy. I remember telling my grandson I was okay and asked if he had went to school that day. He told me he did. I assured him that I would be okay, and he could go to school the next day too. I told him he could always come in and visit me again, before I went home. Eventually all my visitors left except Howard, who stayed all day.

After visiting hours, the nurses came in to get me sitting up in bed, but my blankets were so wet, they had me stand beside the bed, so they could change the bedding. Well that was quite the experience, rolling to my left side to sit up was bad enough, but to put my feet on the floor. It seemed like a long ways down. After some moaning, and groaning in pain, I made it. The dry clean bedding made it worth the effort, but my bedding didn’t stay dry for long. I tried to lay on my side to sleep, but that was impossible, until I put a pillow behind my back for support, then I finally slept.

Eighteen hours after coming back to my room, I had my first sip of water. Water never tasted so good, but I didn’t over do it. I had a morphine drip on me for the pain, which I used very sparingly. When the nurse removed it three days after the surgery, she told me that I never even used two full doses of the pain medication. The doctor expected me to be in the hospital for at least seven days or more, but I was only there six. He was surprised that I was doing so well. The home nurse removed my last bandages on December twenty-second, and said there was no reason why I couldn’t go out of town for the day on Christmas Day.

When I went back to the surgeon for my six week check up he had the results from the biopsy that he did on the day of my surgery. The results showed that if I hadn’t had the surgery, I would’ve had uterus cancer within three to five years. This was a lot different than the ten percent chance in my lifetime, which he initially told me. I was so thankful, that I had returned to church, and placed my faith in God, because I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through it without the strength I got from him.

I am still attending the same Salvation Army, and participate in the Ladies Ministry Programs.

(C) Linda Kuno

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IS THERE LIGHT OUT THERE

There came a day, I know not why

When the sun above was not bright enough to light my sky

 I closed the door and walked away

Then pulled the blinds, for at home I’d stay

The ringing phone didn’t draw me near

The people around me I did not want to hear.

A TV playing in another room, annoyed me to no end

I felt like I was going around the bend

When morning came I looked outside to find

A sky filled with clouds of all kinds

Back to my bedroom, I went to lie down

My feelings of turmoil I wish I could drown

A longing for something was pulling at my brain

If only I could get away, I might not feel such a strain

Day after day it is always the same

The toils of life feel like a stupid game

Alone in a room, my thoughts with me confer

But when in a crowd, solitude is all I prefer

This dreadful struggle I have every day I fear is here to stay

To me it came, I know not why, but I long for the day it goes away.

(C)Linda Kuno

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IT IS NEVER TOO LATE

“Often on cold, windy nights, when the shelters were full, I had nowhere else to go, but in the dead-end alley, where I curled up to sleep. I still shiver when I think of those January winds that blew across Queen Street and bit into my face. But I’d only take another swig from the almost empty rye bottle that I had found discarded in the dumpster next to me. That alley had been my home for ten years. I had never felt too lonely if I had a bottle of Jack Daniels to keep me warm.

Many nights I  would whisper to my rye bottle, “Come on baby, let’s try and get some sleep,” and I hugged it tightly as if it was a gorgeous woman. Then I’d pull the collar of my trench coat up around my ears to keep the snow out.

Until one morning, I was a awakened by this kid who came running into the alley yelling, “Hey Mister! You have to help me.”

“What are you yapping about? Are you blind? I can’t even take care of myself.” For the first time in years I took a good look at my layers of rags I called clothes. They were a far-cry from my three piece suit I used to wear.

“Come on, Mister! You have to help me. Quick, before they get here.”

“Who? What do you expect me to do?”

“These guys are chasing me. Hurry up, do something.”

“Lay down here behind me. Hopefully, they won’t see you.” I moved away from the dumpster far enough for him to squeeze behind me.

“Man, it stinks back here. How can you sleep here?”

“The stink or those guys chasing you. It’s your choice?”

“I will take the stink.”

“Get down! There’s someone coming.” A tall lanky guy wearing a leather jacket and black jeans came to the opening of the alley. He was accompanied by a shorter stout man dressed in track pants and a denim jacket. They definitely were the ones looking for the kid.

“Come on, Lou. Let’s check out this alley. We have to find that kid,” said the tall guy, heading my way and bringing his sidekick with him.

“Yeah, whatever you say Al, but all I see is a dead-end and a drunk laying by the dumpster.”

What am I going to do now? They are getting closer by the second. I rested my arm on the kid’s side trying to camouflage his presence. They were getting so close that I could tell by the scars on Al’s nose that he had got punched in the face a few too many times. Lou looked under the empty boxes as he made his way into the alley.

“Al, I’m telling you, that kids not here.” Lou threw the last box up against the wall. “Can we get going now we have better things to do than look for some stupid kid?”

“Maybe we should ask that drunk first. Nah man never mind he likely wouldn’t tell us anyway, let’s go.” Al headed for the street and Lou followed, that looked like their regular routine. I was never so glad to see two people leave my alley.

“Okay kid! They’re gone. You can come out now.”

“Boy that was close!”

“I’d say a little too close. If they had grabbed me, they would have found you right away. What are you doing out so early anyway?”

“It’s not that early. I was on my way to school. Thanks for helping me Mister. I better get going before I’m late.”

“Thanks for what? I didn’t do anything. Why were they chasing you?”

“Maybe not, but you made me feel safe. They saw me watching them load boxes into their van. I thought it was no big deal until they started chasing me. I really got to go now. Bye.”

“Bye! Go on! Get out of here. You were lucky this time kid.” It felt nice to be needed again.

That was when I realized I was still hanging onto the rye bottle. I left the last swig in the bottle and threw it crashing into the dumpster. Damn booze! What have I done with my life? That kid was lucky those guys didn’t follow him into the alley, because I never could have fought them off.

Going back to sleep was out of the question, so I sauntered down the sidewalk checking the garbage cans for breakfast. I found a fresh cinnamon roll in front of the bakery. Usually all I ever found was  stale bread or wilted fruit. After I ate the roll, I was still hungry, so I rushed to the soup kitchen. I made it just in time for Shelly the volunteer to serve me the last plate of bacon and eggs. I ate breakfast quickly, thanked Shelly for breakfast and left.

Allen Park was one of my favourite places to go. I enjoyed sitting there watching the birds. They reminded me of myself, picking here and there for food. The sun  had made me tired and I fell asleep on the park bench.  I was having a good dream about being locked up in a bakery full of cinnamon rolls, when I felt a poke in my ribs. “Hey Ed, you’re not allowed to sleep there, so you better get moving.” Officer Pyke said, continuing to poke me in the ribs.

“Don’t poke me.”

“You know you can’t sleep there.”

“I wasn’t planning on it, but the sun felt so good it made me tired. I won’t do it again.”

Behind Officer Pyke I could see the kid coming chewing on a nice red apple. My mouth was drooling at the sight of that apple. I must have been sleeping for awhile. My breakfast was long gone.

“Make sure you stay awake, Ed” Officer Pyke said, walking away past the kid.

“Hi Ed. So that’s your name. My name is Daniel by the way. What did the cop want?”

“Hi Daniel, I feel asleep, and he just had to wake me up. Are you on your way back to school?”

“Yep! I was hoping to see you, because I wanted to give you this apple.” Daniel said, pulling an apple out of his backpack that was bigger than his.

“Thanks a lot Daniel. It does look good.”

“They are good. See you later.”

“Bye for now.” I was positive, that I would be seeing him again.

After I ate the apple, I headed for Floyd’s Gas Station. Floyd allowed me to use his washroom to wash up. An old Ford van was pulling away from the pumps as I came around the front corner of the garage. After I washed up, I went to Floyd’s office hoping he’d share some of his good coffee with me. It was strange that Floyd wasn’t at the pumps or in his office. What are these maps doing on the floor? Ontario, Quebec, New York, and Vermont, I’ll never forget all the plans for a family trip to Vermont, a trip that never happened. I picked up the maps to put them back by the cash register, but dropped them when I say the cash register drawer was open and empty.

“Floyd!…Floyd! Where are you?”  I went to check the bay area. The receiver of the wall phone was dangling and dripping blood unto Floyd’s still hand inches below. I was bending down to check Floyd’s pulse when the blare of sirens sent me running out the back door into the alley. I only stopped long enough to scoop up a piece of paper that caught my eye.

I had run all the way back to my spot in the alley next to the dumpster before I looked at the piece of paper that I had picked up. I stared at it with amazement  when I realized it was a twenty- dollar bill. I hadn’t touched one of those in a long time; I stuffed it back into my pocket thinking about what to spend it on. Twenty-dollars made me feel like a millionaire. It had been a long time since I actually went into a store to buy something. I didn’t have it in my pocket five minutes before I went to the store.

The Liquor Store was the first store I headed for to buy a bottle of rye, just in case I needed it to calm my nerves. I never walked into a Liquor Store without a reasonable explanation for buying rye, today it was Floyd’s death. He would’ve have given them all the  money in the till. Why did they have to kill him?  On the way back to my alley, I saw a baseball cap like Daniel’s in a store window. I debated spending my last few dollars on the cap, but his was worn out. Besides, he made me feel needed this morning and it felt good. So I whistled all the way back to my alley. I was happy thinking about giving Daniel his new hat.

By the time Daniel was on his way home from school, the cops had me in handcuffs and were hauling me out of the alley to their cruiser.

“Ed! What happened? Where are they taking you?”

“Daniel, I got you something. It’s in a paper bag behind the dumpster.” I told him knowing it might get me in more trouble, but I might not have another chance.

One of the cops stopped Daniel and retrieved the bag himself. He pulled the hat out of the bag and stuck it under my nose. “Smell this Ed! This is a brand-new hat. Don’t try and tell me you found this on the street.”

“Too bad kid, this is a nice hat, but I can’t let you keep it. I have to bring it to the police station as evidence.”

“Why are they arresting you? What happened?”

“They think I killed Floyd Johnson, but I didn’t.”

“Come on Ed, into the cruiser,” the cop said guiding my head in the door.

“Bye Daniel, I’ll be back out shortly. They can’t keep me for something I didn’t do.”

“Bye Ed. I’ll go to the police station and wait for you.”

“Daniel, I think you’d be better off going home,” the cop said, then he got into the cruiser and hauled me off to jail.

Two hours later, I heard Daniel walk into the police station and ask, “Did Ed get released yet?”

“There was a guy brought into that room, but I don’t know if his name is Ed or if he has been released,” the Desk Sergeant told him. “You can have a seat over there and wait. He will be brought out this way.”

“Thanks.”

When I was brought back into the hall, I had to sit on a different bench than Daniel. I was glad to see him.

“Are they letting you go?”

“No, I have to see a lawyer. The only friend I have is you. Who would bail me out? You should have gone home after school. Your parents will be worried, besides there is nothing you can do here.”

Daniel and I both jumped when we heard a familiar voice. “Daniel! What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at home doing your homework.”

“I’m here to see my friend. The cops said he killed Floyd Johnson, but I  don’t believe it. He saved my life this morning. I’m sorry Mom, but I felt Ed needed me here.”

That was when she noticed me sitting on the other bench. She stared at me like she couldn’t believe her eyes.

“Save your life Daniel, really, that is a new one. Don’t you move from that spot. I am here to see Ed,” she said, and took me back into the same room.

“Helen!” I said almost in shock. “You got your law degree?”

“Of course, I did. Ed, what the hell is going on here? Why do they think you killed Floyd Johnson?”

“I was there around one o’clock. I went to use the washroom like I do every day. I didn’t see Floyd pumping gas, so I went inside. I found the cash register open and empty, so I checked the bay area and that’s where I found Floyd with blood dripping from the dangling phone receiver onto his motionless hand. I was bending down to check his pulse when I heard the sirens and I bolted out the back door into the alley. I only stopped long enough to pick up a piece of paper, which I found out was a twenty-dollar bill after I got back to my alley. I waited about five minutes, then I went and bought a bottle of rye and a hat for Daniel.”

“What are you doing living in an alley? I thought you remarried and left town years ago.”

“That was the plan, but it didn’t work out that way. I’ve been living on the street.”

“You weren’t a very good husband or father, but I don’t think you’re a killer. Obviously, Daniel doesn’t know who you are and I’d like to keep it that way, at least until you’re out of this mess.”

“I would like to tell him today if I get out of here.”

“We’ll worry about that when the time comes. You’ll have to find a place to stay besides the streets. Let’s deal with this Floyd Johnson problem first. Where were you at twelve forty-five this afternoon?”

“I was in Allen Park. Daniel brought me an apple on his way back to school.”

“Okay, if your stories collaborate,  you should be set free,” Helen said, bringing Daniel into the room.

“Daniel, did you see Ed earlier today?”

“Yes, I saw him before nine on my way to school; that’s when he saved my life. Then I saw him again in the park about quarter to one. I wanted to bring him an apple for helping me earlier. There was a cop talking to him when I got there.”

“That’s right, an Officer Pyke,” I said thrilled to put in my two cents. “Am I free now?”

“No, not until I have a word with Officer Pyke,” Helen said, returning me to the lobby.

Officer Pyke and the Officer that arrested me were coming in with the two guys Daniel and I had seen that morning. “Ed, you’re free to go. We followed your lead about the Ford van,” Office Pyke said. “The desk sergeant will give you back the baseball hat.”

“I knew it. I knew, Ed, couldn’t hurt anybody,” Daniel said, jumping up and running to accept the baseball cap that the desk sergeant was holding.

“Thank you, Officer,” Helen said, speaking up. “Is there a room I can use to speak to Ed and Daniel privately? We have some important matters to discuss?”

“You can use the same room as you questioned him in,” Officer Pyke said, closing the door behind us.

“Are you sure it will be okay, Helen?” My stomach was rolling and my hands were starting to shake, that’s when I realized I didn’t have a drink all day, and I didn’t feel too bad. The bottle of rye I had bought for my nerves was back in the alley, the seal wasn’t even cracked.

“I think so. He seems to have bonded with you already.”

“Daniel, remember when I told you that your dad had remarried and moved out of town.”

“Yea.”

“Well,  I found out your dad never left town. He has been living on the streets, since shortly after he left us.”

“Why didn’t he come home or a least come and see me? He don’t love me anymore?”

“Your dad likes to drink too much.  I thought he had quit, but I found open bottles of booze hidden in the house. I told him, that it was us or the booze.”

“Daniel, your Dad never stopped loving you. Every day that he was away made it harder for him to return,” I said my chest tightening at the thoughts of the pain I had caused my son.

“Do you know my Dad?”

“Daniel, Ed is your dad,” Helen said.

“You’re my dad! Did you know that when you saw me in the alley?”

“No, Daniel. I didn’t know for sure, but your worn baseball cap reminded me of the day I took my son to see his favourite ball team and I bought him a baseball cap.”

“I have always worn this cap, because I knew my dad bought if for me,” Daniel said, running into my arms.

“Daniel, I love you. I’ve missed you so much.”

“I love you too, dad. Mom, can dad come home with us? Please! It really stinks where he is sleeping. We can’t let him go back there.”

“Ed, do you think you can throw that bottle away now and come home where you belong?”

“Yes, I think I can,” I said and placed the new baseball cap on Daniels’ head.

Helen agreed to let me come home for a little while to try and get myself straightened out. On our way home from the police station, I had Helen stop at an Alcoholics Anonymous Hall, so I could attend a meeting.

I will always be an alcoholic, but this is my tenth year of sobriety. I would like to thank you all for coming out tonight. I will see you next week, when I get home from our family vacation in Vermont.”

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