Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2013 "30 Days, 30 Stories" Project!
Friday, April 30, 2010
- Continued from April 23 -
A little girl sat down next to him. "Guten Tag." Her voice was fresh and sweet.
"Why do you water the flowers?" She twisted the apron of her doll's dirndl.
"Because they are thirsty and the water takes away their wrinkles."
"If I water you, will your wrinkles go away?"
The innocence of the question made him smile. "It would take more than water to wash away my wrinkles, I'm afraid."
"Oh." The girl held her doll so close to Franz's eyes that he could see nothing but a colorful blur. "Do you like my baby?"
"Yes. She is almost as pretty as you are."
"You're funny. I guess you don't know her name?"
"I think it must be Gertrud."
"No. Try again."
"Not Gertrud? Well then, I think her name must be Elise, Elisabeth."
"No, that's my aunt's name. How did you know my aunt's name?"
"I'm an old man. There is nothing new to know."
"I know my numbers up to ten."
"I'll bet you don't."
"I do. Listen." She delivered her numbers like the Kaiser giving a speech.
"My, but you are a smart one. You still haven't told me your doll's name."
"It's Alice, of course. That's my sister's name, too."
The child's mother came and took the girl by the hand. "Come, Johanna. You shouldn't pester the nice old man." She turned to Franz. "I'm so sorry she bothered you."
"No bother. Let her stay." They walked away and his loneliness returned heavier than before. This was the child's world now, and he had no place in it.
Franz thought of the Danube. He hadn't seen the river in months. As a boy he had fantasized about living on the river. Later, the legendary Danube maidens became a part of the dream, inviting him to join them in the womb-like water for a lifetime of joy and dancing. That was long ago and he chuckled at the memory. "I think I'll go to the river," he said aloud. He rode a tram to Erzherzog Carl Platz, near the rows of railway tracks at the North Station. Franz felt little emotion as he walked the short distance to the Kronprinz Rudolfs bridge.
He stood above the river. Downstream a pair of young lovers walked hand-in-hand beside the Danube, as he and Elise had done so many years before. He watched the water swirl around the bridge supports. How would it feel to fall in? How easy it would be. One misstep and it would be over. He would be gone before the New Vienna beast could devour him. They would find his body and bury it unmourned in the Friedhof der Namenlosen with all the other unidentified people who ended their lives in the river.
He used to pity those nameless dead. Now that there was no one left to notice his absence, he was one of them. What would it be like to jump? He cursed the rails that discouraged him from acting on his impulse.
He walked down to the bank. He thought of Alois, of Elise, and the city walls. Where were the water maidens when he needed them?
A hat floated under the bridge, bobbing in the current. It looked like the hats he used to make, and he waded in to get a better look. He was not surprised to see Elise's face smiling at him in the river.
She beckoned. "Dance with me." It was the Elise of their courtship, before the painful disease had made her face old and worn. The sound of her angel's voice banished his melancholy. Peace washed over him as the "Blue Danube Waltz" echoed in his head, the way she used to play it on her piano.
He waltzed in the current, spinning, turning. The waist-high water eased his weight and helped him move gracefully with the music. He watched Elise dance near him. She smiled and motioned to him to go deeper into the current, to let the river wash away his troubles. He started toward her.
"Hey," a voice behind him called. He turned and saw Alois standing on the riverbank. He'd forgotten how tall his friend had been once. "Come back to the shore. This is no place to dance."
He glanced at Elise. She smiled and vanished beneath the ripples. He looked back to Alois, but where he had been there stood a young man, his sweetheart behind him. He reached out to them. They helped him from the river, then led him to a restroom at the train station so he could dry off.
Franz rode the tram home. He stopped only once, to buy some flowers. Maybe he'd give them to Frau Schmidt, if they pleased her.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Lu Ann Brobst Staheli
2010 copyright by the author; author retains all rights to the story. Please do not use the story without the author's permission.
“A New World. Just saying the words brings a fire to my belly,” Felipe Marco said, reading from one of the many signs posted in the village. Felipe’s fists rested on his hips and he pulled his shoulders back, his lean torso enhanced by the muscles emerging from sleeve above his almond-colored arms. “To travel to a new continent across the Caribbean. This—this would prove to your father that at fifteen I am a man. Old enough to own a bull and a piece of land, old enough to travel beyond the southern shores of Santiago de Cuba, and to marry his daughter.”
A smile played at Felipe's lips as he embraced her. “Manuela, a child as lovely as you need not worry about marriage.” A chuckle rumbled low in his throat. He smoothed his hand across her ebony hair, tucking a loose strand behind her ear.
“And you know I would rather die than not return to you.”
“She wants you to go,” said Felipe. “And so do I.”
She was so proud of him, the way he stood up to this bully as though he wasn’t afraid. Perhaps Felipe really had grown up. Was it possible he was no more a child, but a man as he wanted her father to believe? Manuela trusted that Felipe would be able to care for her safety, just as she knew he cared about her.
César stood at his full height. His voice deepened with seriousness. He glanced at those standing around the fountain before speaking. “It matters not to me what you want, Felipe. I'll leave for now only because I have business with Hernán Cortés. But Manuela, you can expect to see me again. Soon I will be asking for the hand of someone to be my bride. Perhaps it will be you.”
Those from the crowd who were near enough to hear gasped as one then again fell silent.
A deep rumble of laughter escaped from César's lips, breaking the quiet. “We will see. We will see.” As he walked away, César nodded curtly to a group of boys standing nearby. They edged closer to the stone edifice of the Santo Domingo church, away from his path. The rest of the gathered crowd began to talk among themselves as they returned to their business.
She placed her other hand over his. “Nonsense. César is too smart to bother me with Papa at home.” She hoped her words soothed his concern, although she did not believe them.
Felipe glanced toward the group of boys César had passed. Their voices buzzed as Felipe pulled Manuela with him. The boys appeared to be discussing a parchment posted on the building wall.
Manuela nodded, and they walked toward the place where Cortes would speak. The group of boys also moved across the courtyard, turning into an alley finally emerging at the town’s main square.
“Here's a place,” Manuela said, as she pulled Felipe onto a spot near the palace steps. The rough stone stairs were worn and the arched doorway was closed as she leaned against it.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
A Turn of a Phrase
(a story in phrases)
Douglas M. Brown
2010 copyright; author retains all rights to the story. Please do not use the story without the author's permission.
A lovely summer’s sunset
Red clouds in the west
The path by the lake
Star struck eyes
A place to sit
Contemplation of shimmering water
A stone skipping three times
A shared look
A feeble attempt at humor
Shock and disgust
A stammering apology
A head turned in rebuke
Talk of reason
Attempt to follow
A rock heaved at the lake
Friday, April 23, 2010
-Continued from April 16-
The market was a jumbled collection of booths and tables covered by colorful awnings and umbrellas and plastered with posters advertising everything from hot sausages to fresh carrots. Franz bought some apples and beets that were not quite as fresh as he would have liked, but the price was good. He also bought some beans. He needed proof when he told Alois his grand lie about how the young lady had given him some beans and promised to go dancing with him. As always, he paid her a little extra money to make up for the bargains she gave Alois. He struggled slightly as he carried his groceries home.
He walked into the house and saw Frau Schmidt. She scrubbed the floor, standing bent at the waist. He danced on the wet floor in front of her. "Hello, young lady. Where is that old bird, your grandmother Frau Schmidt? When she's not watching, maybe you could come up to my apartment for some wine and fresh bread, and maybe a bit of bratwurst."
"God will get you one day for being so frech."
Franz pointed up. "He knows better than to come for Franz Mitterfeld. I will go to Him when I am ready, not before." He tipped his hat and started up the stairs.
He had just sat down with some bread and cheese when somebody knocked frantically at his door.
"Herr Mitterfeld!" It was Frau Schmidtﾒs voice. She pounded again. "Herr Mitterfeld!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming. Jessasmaria und Josef! I'm not as young as you think I am." He thought of something naugthty to say to the widow, but the words clung to his lips when he opened the door and saw her standing with an arm around Alois's daughter. Tears ran down the younger woman's blotchy cheeks.
"Waltraud, was ist? Please come in."
She stayed in the hallway. "Herr Mitterfeld, it's Papa," she said without entering the apartment. "Heﾒs very ill. When I brought him his berries, I found him on the floor. I think it's his heart. Come quickly. He's asking for you. The doctor is with him. Please hurry!"
Franz didnﾒt take the time to grab his hat or coat. He held Waltraud's arm and rushed down the stairs, nearly falling several times. He arrived at Alois's apartment out of breath. The doctor rose and gave them a look that said everything.
Waltraud fell into Franz's arms and sobbed. Franz held his goddaughter, somehow supporting her weight while the ruined world spun and collapsed around them.
"Waltraud--" He tried to comfort her, but couldn't continue.
She buried her head in his shoulder. He was grateful for her presence. Consoling her meant he didnﾒt have to think of his own breaking heart. He sat with her while the doctor completed some paperwork and sent for the hearse.
Franz didn't know what else to do, so he resumed his routine. He took the bag of seed and bread crumbs from his pantry, put on his hat and coat, and shuffled out with heavy feet.
Loisl was dead.
The steps at the end of the street leered at him. Just that morning, he had spoken to Alois there for the last time. "Grüss Gott, Loisl," he had said to him. Now he really was greeting God. Franz's hand trembled as he stroked the rail his best friend had held.
He stopped at the church to light a pair of candles, the usual one for Elise and an extra Alois. He found no comfort in prayers. Even God had left him.
He walked toward the inner city. He turned on to Kaerntner Strasse where the massive Kaerntner Gate used to be, crowned by the double-headed eagle that symbolized the dual crowns of Austria and Hungary. The gate was so strong that it had taken seven months to tear it down.
Franz no longer felt as if he were in his mother's protecting arms when he entered the Old City. There were no more walls and gates to offer shelter. He knew that the wall had become ugly and useless, but some would say the same about him.
The pigeons flocked to him on the path between the Kur Salon and the pond. He sat on his usual bench and scattered seeds and crumbs. He liked to think the birds would not survive without his generosity, though he knew it was not true. Being the birds' savior gave him the strength to make the trip every day. Today he was sure they saw him only as an old fool who willingly tossed out perfectly good food instead of hoarding it for himself.
When the feed ran out, he walked to the gardens near the little Weather House. His dear wife had loved these flowers, and he watered them every day in her honor.
He could see her, how her dark hair used to fall into her eyes, just so, as she bent to pluck dead leaves from the rose bushes. He remembered how she lifted her hem, so, with her left hand to keep her skirt dry as she watered. He recalled those longing looks she tried to hide from him as she watched the children play run, rabbit, run and other games. He would have liked to have been able to give her a child. He remembered how weak she looked at the end as she lay in her bed, her infected lungs gasping for air, smiling through the pain as she looked at him for the last time.
He wished he could have been at Alois's side too. He pictured Loisl lying alone on the floor, grasping his heart as he waited for his daughter. He wouldn't have wanted to be seen that way. He would have tried to die with dignity. Franz crossed himself and sat on another bench and watched the people stroll by.
- To be concluded, April 30 -
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Renni looked up at his mom. The long fingers of her hand pressed gently
onto his shoulder. He shook his head, but shifted in his suit and tie
that was usually reserved for Sundays. Their family Robo-Maid had pressed
it just an hour ago before storing itself back in the closet. Why
couldn't he just wear a T-shirt like everyone else?
She bent down until she was eye level with him. "First, the reporters
will want to ask a few questions. Then they'll watch you pull the chain,
His stomach twisted and then settled. He and his Mom had practiced
pulling the chain dozens of time, so it wasn't something new. This time,
though, the chain was real and would actually do what it was suppose to
Grandpa snorted from his chair at the dinner table. "Remember your
birthday, boy?' His voice rose in pitch. "What happens to light bulbs in
Winter when they're cold and suddenly get turned on?"
Renni knew Gramps didn't like the whole idea of what he was going to do
nor all the reporters crowding around to watch. At least the reporters
were outside their house, circling the stand in their front yard. Renni
looked evenly at his grandfather. What was Gramps saying?
Suddenly, his grandfather bellowed, "Pop!" and slapped his hands
together, making a noise that echoed. "That's what happens when a bulb
gets too cold and you suddenly turn it on–Pop!"
Overhead, Renni heard the whoosh whoosh whoosh of helicopter blades
cutting through the air outside. The front room's clock chimed; one
o'clock in the afternoon on a hot Arizona summer day.
greeted them. Cameras floated in the air, like metallic balloons. The
three of them mounted the steps of the stand, smiling.
one to perform this important task. How do you feel about winning the
chance to take the first step toward preserving our world and its future
hanging directly above him. A few feet above the chain hung an electronic
switch. Balloons, held between helicopters high above, kept the two in
position. With a pull of the chain the breaker switch would transmit a
signal to the Hydrogen dampers positioned in space. would turn
on the dampers...
The couch fabric felt gritty from the wind of a few hours ago. The front
door had been left ajar to capture the evening breeze. It had been weird
to have it dark in the middle of the day. Several hours earlier, it had
taken just over eight minutes for the sun's remaining light to flow to
Earth before thinning into darkness.
pretty exciting day for you. Alright, you can stay up for a half hour,
then off to bed." She hesitated. "And don't let Grandpa's teasing get to
still bothering him. Renni looked out the dusty window to the platform
still bathed in spotlights. After all the media, their whole yard looked
like an old trashed fairground.
switch. They would return to the stage tomorrow, when Renni would than
perform the task of turning the sun back on.--
light bulb on a cold winter day?" He leaned forward, hugging his knees.
throughout the night he would wait...
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
by Anji Sandage
2010 copyright; author retains all rights to the story. Please do not use the story without author's permission.
Chapter 1: Big Trouble
“Mother isn’t going to be happy,” said ten-year-old Dena Connolly as she brushed her dusty brown hair away from her face. She looked around her where her three younger sisters huddled in the makeshift shack they had built of old tires and boards that had been stacked out behind the chicken coop. She waved her hand through a shaft of sunlight beaming down through a hole in the ceiling and watched for a moment as little particles of dust swirled in the air. “She’s already mad enough about the sheet, and now there’s no roof on our clubhouse.”
Michelle spoke next as her three sisters turned there eyes in her direction. “It’s not my fault. You shouldn’t of . . .”
“It is too your fault,” Renee interrupted, poking at the dirt floor with a stick. “If you hadn’t told her, she wouldn’t of ever found out. Just ‘cause you were mad—you ruined the whole thing!”
“Well, you’re the one who broke the leg off my Barbie!” Michelle cried indignantly, holding up a dirty one legged Malibu Barbie with matted hair.
“I didn’t mean to! Besides, Barbie dolls are dumb anyway!”
Shannon, the youngest of the four sisters, watched closely, her blue eyes moving back and forth from one face to the next as her older sisters quarreled.
Michelle brushed a handful of stringy honey-blonde hair out of her eyes with her free hand and made a face as she looked up through the hole in the ceiling.
“Will you two just stop fighting for a minute?” Dena yelled. Who cares about the stupid sheet anyway? Mom asked for a dozen eggs, and we only could find three! She was going to make custard. You can’t make custard with only three eggs!”
Three younger sisters were now staring at their older sister, three sets of blue eyes wide with amazement.
“Gee whiz, Dena ya don’t haf ta yell,” Michelle pouted. “‘sides, you know we always find at least a baker’s dozen.” She paused self-importantly. “That’s thirteen.”
“Don’t you think we know that already? We were there when mom told you,” Renee said smugly. “Besides, last time I got the eggs, I found fifteen.”
“Mom will never believe us anyway, if we come in the house with only four eggs . . .”
Renee looked at Dena impatiently, eyeing the three large brown eggs she held in her lap. “I thought you said there were only three.”
“Well, there is one more, but I need some help getting it . . .”
Michelle pursed her lips. “What? Did you find one in the wheat barrel again?”
“No!” Denise said with disgust. “Remember, I was the one who got the last one out of there. This is way worse than that!”
“Oh no!” Suddenly Shannon clapped her hand to her mouth.
“What?” Michelle asked.
“Mean Ol’ Henny Penny!” Shannon gasped breathlessly.
Michelle and Renee looked at Denise, their faces pale.
Denise nodded. “That’s right. Mean Ol’ Henny Penny. But I think I know how we can get her egg.” Dena stood up, half hunched over, being careful not to bring the ceiling of their fort crashing down on top of them. “C’mon!” she said as she moved toward a narrow opening in one corner of the little room. Her sisters stood up and followed, single-file, out into the morning sunlight
“Ok, this is what we’re going to do,” Denise said, grabbing a long stick off the ground. I’ll go into the chicken coop, and use this stick to pry her up like this.” She wedged the stick under a large rock and pushed down, forcing the rock up from the dirt. “When there is enough room, Renee, you grab the egg out from under her.”
“How come you get to pry her up? Last time I tried to get an egg from her, she pecked my finger!”
“You just have to be more quicker about it then,” Dena said frowning. “I’m the only one tall enough to reach the nesting boxes.”
Michelle and Shannon hung back, as their older sisters swung the outer door of the coop open, and they were suddenly engulfed in the smell of methane and straw. The floor was dusty and scattered with grain and straw. Most of the room was taken up by four one-hundred gallon drums, three sealed, and the fourth one open. It looked empty, until you came up close and looked into the bottom and saw the wheat. Sometimes a very fat little gray mouse would be running in circles at the bottom of the barrel. To the right was a wall made of plywood and chicken wire, were two rows of open slots, just large enough to reach your hand into if necessary, three on the top, and three on the bottom, each with a carpeted chute to catch the eggs as they rolled gently out from under the unsuspecting hen, as she laid her egg. On the near end of the wall there was a door, which opened into the main chicken coop, where there were always several hens roosting on the wooden rods that crossed the room.
Dena grabbed the doorknob. “Are you ready?” she asked
Dena opened the door, and suddenly the coop was alive with flying feathers and squawking hens, as they all fought their way out a small opening, about two feet square, on the far side of the room.
“Maybe she’ll run out with the rest of them,” Michelle anticipated, with the air of a hopeful spectator.
After the dust had settled, Dena went into the coop. “She’s still in there. I’m going to try to lift her up off the nest now, ok?”
“Which box is she in?” Renee asked, putting her hand up.
“She’s in the one on the top—in the middle,” Dena added. “I’m ready.”
“Ok,” Renee said climbing onto the closest grain barrel. Heny penny’s brown feathers were visible through the slot now, and she squawked loudly as Dena slid the stick underneath her feathered body.
“Hurry! Get the egg!” Dena called out excitedly.
Henny Penny beat her wings frantically, standing briefly enough for Renee to catch a glimpse of the nest. “Hey! There’s more than one in there!” she yelled, as her hand darted between the hen’s leathery yellow legs. “Ow!” Renee’s hand came out empty.
Dena peered out through the chicken wire. “What happened?”
“She scratched me! Pry her up again and let’s try again. I think there might be three eggs in there!”
Michelle and Shannon cheered loudly.
“Ok, I’ll count to three,” Dena called from inside the coop. “Get ready! One, Two, Three!” Henny Penny began to squawk loudly and beat her wings. “Hurry! I have her pinned against the top!” Dena called out excitedly.
“I got them! There were four!” Renee scooped with her hand, pushing the eggs gently down the chute, where they clunked softly against the padded rail.
The four girls cheered loudly as Renee gathered the four warm brown eggs into her t-shirt, and the squawking subsided as Dena pulled the stick out from under a very unhappy Henny Penny and slammed the door of the coop behind her.
“You haven’t noticed any animals around have you?” Mother looked worried as she scrubbed Shannon’s dirt streaked face with a soapy washcloth. “Remember there was a skunk holed up under the coop a while back . . .how do you girls get so filthy anyway?”
“Maybe it’s a weasel!” Michelle called out excitedly. “I’ll bet there’s a weasel sneaking into the chicken coop at night.”
Mother laughed. She put down the washcloth and put a plate of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the table.
“Well, one thing’s for sure—we’ll hafta vestigate!” Shannon giggled.
Dena grabbed a magnifying glass off of the kitchen counter and stuffed it into the pocket of her jeans. “Dena Bean-a, Private eye! I’ll find the culprit, just you wait and see.”
“You girls be careful out there. If there’s another skunk, that’s something your dad will have to take care of when he gets home.”
“Don’t you worry, mom. If we see any skunks, we’ll just steer right clear of that stuff!” Renee giggled, remembering when she had almost tried to pet one, thinking it was a cat.
Mark, the girls’ three-and-a-half-year-old brother, who was sitting at the table laughed. “Rargh!” he said fiercely waving his hands in the air.
“That’s right! You go get that mean nasty skunk!” Michele laughed.
“That’s enough, girls. You take your sandwiches and go out and play,” Mother said as she wiped bread crumbs off of the counter. She handed Dena the jar of peanut butter. “Put this away for me, will you please? Mark still hasn’t even touched his lunch.” She picked up his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and held it out to him. “Just take one bite, Mark. Look, it’s yummy.”
“No!” Mark turned his face away. “I don’t want it!”
“Well, I can see that this is pointless,” Mother said frowning.
Soon the girls were back in their fort.
“This calls for an investigation!” Dena held the magnifying glass she had swiped off the kitchen counter up to her eye.
Shannon giggled, pointing. “You have a giant eye!”
“The better to catch sneaking weasels with,” Dena said.
“We’ll have to look for clues. Where do you think we should look first?” Renee asked.
“I think we should have a stake out. That way, if there is some dangerus animal, we can just watch where it hides and tell Dad ‘bout it later.” Shannon said, her freshly washed face now streaked with dirt.
Dena looked at her quietly for a minute. “Hmm, not bad. But I thought we could use this to look for clues first,” she said waving the magnifying glass. “I think that a stake out is a good idea—but not until later. I don’t think that a wild animal is going to come out in plain daylight.”
“You guys can be my assistants. Now let’s go look for anything unusual.”
Dena marched her sisters out of the fort. “Michelle and Renee, you look around the fence. Pick up anything that you don’t think should be there. Shannon, you help me look inside!”
“Hey, how come you get the magnifine glass?” Renee pouted.
“It’s ‘cause I’m the head detective,” Dena said. “Now don’t bother me ‘bout that again!”
After several minutes of crawling around on their hands and knees, they had gathered a blue button, two old marbles, a black penny, a few sticks and rocks, a shoestring, and an old fishing lure, and some leaves and bits of grass, which they took back to their headquarters for closer examination.
“What kind of clue is that?” Dena asked wrinkling her nose at what had at first looked like a chunk of black rock with a white streak on it. “It looks like chicken doo-doo. I thought we were just picking up things that seemed to be out of place! This seems like it belongs in a chicken coop to me!”
“Well, It seemed out of place to me,” Michelle said indignantly. “How come a piece of chicken poop wasn’t inside the chicken pen like it should have been? That’s what I think.”
“Humph. Well, I just don’t know about that one.” Dena flicked it away into the pile of rocks, sticks, bits of grass, and leaves, which she had already discarded. “How ‘bout this shoelace?”
Renee looked at it closely. “Hey, that’s mine! I wondered what happened to that thing.”
“That’s yours? What were you doing by the chicken coop with a shoelace? That’s what I’d like to know.” Dena turned toward her sister. “You weren’t stealing eggs were you?”
“Dena,” Renee sighed and rolled her eyes, “the eggs were stolen today. I lost that thing a long time ago—maybe clear last week.”
“Well, I’ll have to make a note of it in my log.”
“Your log?” Shannon asked, wide eyed.
Dena sighed patiently. “My notebook.” She pulled a small notebook and a ballpoint pen out of her back pocket.
“Hey, isn’t that mom’s budget book?” Michelle demanded.
“I’m only going to write on the empty pages. ‘Sides, I need to record any suspicious activities.”
“Losing a shoelace isn’t xactly what I’d call a suspicious activity,” Renee said looking insulted. “Now can I have my shoelace back?”
“Well, why wasn’t the shoelace in your shoe where it belonged?” Dena asked.
“I was using it for a rope,” Renee replied, “and there’s nothing suspicious about that.”
“Fine. How about these then?” Dena asked after handing the shoelace to Renee and tucking the notebook back into her pocket. She poked at the marbles.
“I never saw those before in my life,” Renee said. She looked at Michelle and Shannon.
Shannon shrugged. “Not mine,” she said.
Three sets of eyes, two blue and one brown, turned to look at Michelle who was looking uncomfortable.
“Fine—they’re mine. But I wasn’t up to anything. I just lost them one day when I was looking for worms.”
Dena pulled out the notebook again and scribbled:
Renee --> shoelace
Michelle --> Marbles
Then she took some stolen zip lock bags out of her pocket and put the marbles in one of the bags. “I need that shoelace please.”
“Why?” Renee demanded.
“It’s evidence. Give it here.”
“Hey, I told you . . .”
Dena sighed. “Look, if you don’t give it here, It will look like you’re trying to hide something. Then I will have to say you are guilty. You don’t want that do you?”
“Fine!” Renee frowned and handed her the shoelace. “But I want it back after the ‘vestigation.”
“ What about the chicken poop?” Michelle asked.
Dena sighed, and scribbled in her notebook again. “There. Are you happy now?” She then turned her attention back to the remaining items. “What about this thingy here?” She pointed at the fishing lure.
“Uh, that’s daddy’s” Shannon said hugging herself tightly. “I lost that thing when I . . . uh, we was playing fishing. Probly the same time Michelle lost her marbles, ‘cause she was finding the worms for me to stick on that thingybobber there.” She pointed at the hook. “I don’t care if you write me on your s'pishous activity list—just don’t tell daddy I stole his fishing thingy, ok?”
Dena sighed. “Fine, but I am really wondering what you two were doing with worms on this thing around chickens. Someone could really get hurt.” She looked at the button and the penny. “I don’t think this investigation is really getting anywhere at all. I’m solving all kinds of criminal activity—just not the one I wanted to find out about!”