Chapter One

Chapter Two, Put that on my List

Chapter two

"Put that on my list"

Sunshine, traffic from the street, and an urge to pee pried his reluctant eyes open. It was 6:18 a.m. and he had a hangover. Blinking, his red weepy eyes began to focus on his bedroom surroundings. A poster from the Planeteers concert hung crookedly on the wall, clothes were scattered on the floor. With a deep breath he pushed himself up and noticed on the nightstand, a library book, “The Dictionary of Thought, and with a what the hell grimace he reached for it wondering if he had “Any thoughts to think?” He squinted, his tongue flicked out like lizard, licked his dry, floor of a jungle lips.  He opened the book with no particular page in mind.
Across the top of each page were key words with associated quotes. He had opened it to the section — thoughts on love. “La Dee da” — he mumbled to himself.

“Love is a thing to be learned. It is a difficult, complex maintenance of individual integrity throughout the incalculable processes of inter-human polarity”.
(D. H. Lawrence) “ You got that right old boy” he grimaced, “and it often does incalculable processes against your inter-human polarity. What the hell is that anyway?”

“The cure for all the ills and wrongs, the cares and sorrows, and the crimes of humanity, all lie in that one word — love. It is the divine vitality that everywhere produces and restores life. To each and every one of us, it gives the power of working miracles if we will.”  (Lydia M. Child)
“Yeah – I need a miracle”, he agreed, “Yeah, yeah, I suppose - One more” he mumbled shaking his head.

“It is better to suffer 'wrong” than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.” (Johnson)

This is crap he thought, as he closed it, saw the library pocket and realized the book was overdue. “Put that on the list, of things to do! ” he sighed. He closed his eyes and replayed last night his encounter with _ what was her name? He had it there somewhere - Oh well, I’ll find that out from Sling the bartender. “Put that on the list too!”
He slapped the book closed, tossed it on the night stand, where it slid right across teetered on the edge, and dropped to floor.  “I got to get going! I’m going to be late!” With a grunt he kicked the blankets off, but his foot got tangled and he, like the book, thumped to the floor. Indignant he weaved to the bathroom, scratching his ass and with satisfied grunt passed gas. He cracked his neck left and right as he turned the water on to brush his teeth. The tube was empty! He fumbled in the drawer to find some scissors and cut the tube open and poked his tooth brush inside. Need to get toothpaste! Put that on the list!

He brushed with his eyes closed — the final attempt to resist wakening up, but his eyes popped open and he found a stranger staring back from the mirror.
His hair was shaggy, and pushed out over his ears, his eyebrows need trimming and hair was sticking out of his ears like a corn broom. He took a good look at himself. “When did that happen?” he thought — combing his fingers through his hair-noticing the grey creeping into his temple, the stubble on his face and the frown lines in his forehead. “Man” he thought to himself — “you look like a bum. Must get haircut. Put that on the list.” Mortified, he climbed into the shower and let the hot water slowly restore him. The bar of soap, slipped out of his hands and up over the shower curtain to land on the floor breaking into several pieces. “Cheese and Rice!” he shouted. He grabbed the shampoo, “I’ll use this to wash” tipping it over and shaking it. A small gob plopped out. Put that on the list too!
“Can it get it any worse?” he snarled, throwing the empty container up and over at the waste can. Missed!
As clean as could be, he grabbed a towel and paddled over to the sink, lathered up his face, rinsed the razor in hot water to shave and  “SON OF A BITCH” he yelled, nicking his chin where it began to bleed. Again he fumbled in the drawer, this time for a bandage, but only found a roll of gauge. “Unbelievable! Bandages! Put that on the list!” He grabbed some toilet paper and stuck a couple of pieces on his chin.
Cursing back into the bedroom and into the closet, he sorted through his choices for the day and the night. He held up his favourite royal blue shirt, it fit and it looked great. But maybe this new black sweater with the grey piping across the chest would look better? He went with the sweater and spread it over the bed so it would be wrinkle free. His underwear drawer was empty so he picked up the pair from last night. Must do Laundry! Put that on my list.
Quickly dismissing that thought. He sat on the edge of the bed day-dreaming “I hope what’s her name will be there tonight at the Underbridge.” He’d be sitting in his usual spot, she would had already arrived and found a table in the corner nook — it was semi private and between him and the bar. Maybe I’ll just send her a drink and if she nods with a smile I’ll go and say hello. And so it went — after a dozen possibilities he began to look forward to one of these fabricated imagined intentions with some favour. Pretty sad, he thought, she chats you up for 3 minutes and you’re planing the rest of your week around her, he groaned-" I think I got mush brain!”
Into the kitchen, Damn! He had forgotten to top up the coffee maker before going to bed, with a sign he pulled the fridge door open, grabbed the mtwo: Put that on my listilk jug, kicked the door closed and went to cupboard for a dish and cereal. No clean dishes! Must put the dishwasher on, put that on my list. He pulled a box of cheerios down and with the milk under his arm he opened the dishwasher  “ Must be one fairly clean here” he peered in, bending over to search and the milk began to pour into the dishwasher. At the kitchen table he shook the remaining cereal out, “Damn, Only half a bowl….” Must shop for groceries! Put that on my list.
“Wasn’t it just starting out to be a pretty good day” thought Sam. He snagged his coat and opened the door to take battle to the minions, ignore the masses, and suffer the misfortunes of chance along the way.
He pulled the door shut and shuffled off to work with two pieces of toilet paper stuck to his chin.

Chapter Three: The Bus Ride

Chapter Three

the Bus RIde

The morning mist dissolved slowly, making the sun glow like a large fuzzy peach in the horizon. People hurried haphazardly over the steaming sidewalks, oblivious of the sun’s progress, oblivious of each other and certainly oblvious of Sam Ogrebee. The bus arrived,  he climbed on tossing his fare into the box while scanning inside for a spot to park his butt for the 18-minute ride. Nothing! No one looked at him and he looked directly at no one else. They bumped and bounced, leaning into each forward and backward with each shrug of the bus. Like an adult on monkey bars his arms swung left, then right, grabbing the back of a seat or a pole as his exaggerated “I’m on the deck of a rolling ship “ steps propelled him to the back.
The riders stood or sat silently, their noses nodding, poking at half folded newspapers as they read the days current take on misery, misfortune and catastrophe. Others, earplugs signaling that they were unreachable, listened to music totally immersed within their own cocoon, a traveling bubble deflecting the multitude of daily infringements.
There was no acknowledgement by anyone, of anyone else. Yet, with quick unseen glances, they practiced their unique, well rehearsed collection and assessment of passing individuals, the pulse and pause of the crowd, the flow of traffic, with its cars, taxis, buses, bikes and pedestrians, the various signs and advertisements covering store fronts, billboards, newspaper boxes, T- shirts, shoes and caps. All captured in a blink, evaluated, stored or discarded. With detached interest they continued to filter all of it to satisfy their own inner requirements for a peaceful resolution of uninterrupted unanimity surrounded by the days awakening, seething humanity.
Sam preferred to sit close to the doors in the middle of the bus so he could make a quick exit. He eyed 2 vacant spots besides the door but decided against it, as a homeless looking occupant inhabited the immediate seat beside the door. He didn’t look like he belonged on the bus and Sam wondered if someone had coughed up the bus fare for this scruff. He wore a trench coat that had seen far better days. It didn’t look like he could button it shut over his belly. Under that he wore a brown tweed jacket, a light blue shirt and what was once a white thermal t-shirt but now an unfortunate shade of coffee cream white. His shoes were badly scuffed, his pants too short, his socks, one up and one down. The one up had a hole. Sam looked elsewhere, he couldn’y imagine  sitting next to him, the unwashed odor, that sour days old smell of clothing and body odour and hurriedly cast his eyes away to see if anyone else was going through the same classification as he dumped himself into a seat across the isle.

He recognized a few other commuters, from his regular morning journey. One, a middle aged upscale suit that had all the trapping of money but Sam thought likely not. If he had money, why was he on a bus? An environmentalist? He didn’t think so. A classic poser thought Sam and he settled into his depreciating evaluation of fellow commuters.
A large, large coloured woman collected herself on the short seat perpendicular to the isle. Sam had sat next to her a few times. Sweet heavy perfume taught him to move along and away. She also dressed in very bright outfits and it was hell on your eyes if you had a hangover in the morning.
Sitting over and across from her was an ultra thin, bespectacled waspish lady, who talked like a parrot. She didn’t sound like a parrot but she repeated everything, her eyes following your lips as she somehow spoke in unison the words you were just speaking. This annoyed Sam to no end. He would begin a sentence and she would pick it up mid stride and finish it with him. Sometimes, he would begin and she would finish before him. Amazed he found himself baiting her, letting her mimic along but then suddenly would change his discourse to see if he could leave her eyes wide and mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. What Fun!
“Why didn’t the teddy bear finish his lunch? ” he said one day, watching with an investigative flair. Her lips twitched, he paused, slowing his reply, breaking the rhythm, silently forming a word that had no context at all to the riddle to see if he could catch her out. Her eyes dancing, reading his face and mouth, she began to form a reply encouraging him to go on, but he would have none of it. She pouted anxiously like a large mouth bass. Finally, realizing that she was about to be set adrift, she responded with “why didn’t the teddy bear finish his lunch?” And quickly followed him with “Because” she rhymed exactly in cue with him, “he was stuffed” hurried Sam, and she finished like an echo, smiling and nodding and laughing.
 He tired quickly of this and avoided her from that point on wondering if she was unbalanced somehow. This just isn’t normal he thought. Why bother having a conversation? He imagined her speaking to herself in a mirror and thought about that for the rest of that morning.


Finally the unsavory bum across from him slid out, stood up and rounded the steps, out the door and off the bus. Sam looked at his favourite seat with disgust realizing even though it was vacant; he’d not sit in its crab-infested depression today. He’d probably stink like an onion bun for the rest of the day if he did. Chewing the inside of his cheek, his eyes darting with each succeeding miserable embellishment, he pontificated to himself in rehearsal for tonight’s reinforcement of the worlds gone to hell in a hand-basket discussion with his finger jabbing, table thumping, fellow fiends. Two stops later, as he exited, not paying attention, he half fell, stumbling down the stairs, cursing, struggling to regain his composure, shaking his head.
In this souring mood he added another mental brick to fortifying his own history of misery, his internal Great-wall of China stretching into the darkest recesses of his mind.

Chapter four: Coffee and Aspirin

Chapter 4

Coffee and Aspirin

“What’s up Dick?” Casey greeted her boss as Richard (a.k.a the Dick) navigated the cubicle maze to his desk. “Just me and the sun” he smirked, unaware that Casey  was ridiculing him.  Although he preferred to be called Richard he mistook Casey’s slang as a sign of familiarity - a friendship. He had it all wrong. She loathed the guy. A dick! A self-centric bald headed ego, he was a continuously ballooning bag of hot air. He smelled like sport deodorant!
A typical pig of a man, depreciating of every women, every conversation turned into some form of sexual innuendo. It never stopped. Casey wondered why the circle of employees laughed at the constant routine. As long as it had some sexual reference then everyone laughed.
“Hey how did you make you out with the lady at the license bureau” cued Paul, the new marketing contract employee, referring to Richards recent struggle to reinstate his license because he had missed his renewal date.
“She really liked the numbers in my license plate” his eyebrows pumping. That brought a laugh from the group. There was no one who didn’t know that the last three numbers on his license plate were 4 69. He licked his lips and Casey, disgusted , turned to leave the charade behind. “Dick” she mumbled.A petite blonde, Casey was no nonsense, highly organized woman, tasked with controling the companies customer lists and tracking particulars as they progressed through the plant, she darted along the cubicle maze, her head down scanning the morning reports on her ipad and rounded the corner to make her way to the finance department. There were several files being held for some reason or other and she had to spring them loose as they were in danger of missing their due dates.


“Morning, Casey,” said Sam, darting to the left to avoid her.
“Sam, you miserable toad” she replied, “I’ll see you at 9.“
“Huh, yeah” he said slowing, his eyes widening, realizing he had totally forgot this Friday’s wrap-up meeting and now had less than an hour to prepare. He tossed his bag on the desk, knocking over yesterdays coffee cup unto the floor. Standing, bent over his computer, logged in and checked his schedule for more details on  the day. “ Mary, Joseph, and the little baby Jesus” he whispered. He was not ready for half. He felt the day sliding out of his control, and unconsciously began to shift into his under the radar, maintenance mode. His mood dropped as he figured he would be working the weekend to get back to square one. His reaction triggered an old well-worn thought process and he began to fume “I can’t keep up to this work-load. They’re going to have to hire someone else. I‘m going to talk to HR later this afternoon”, he vexed.
He threw his coat on the chair and stumped off to the cafeteria for coffee, toast and jam - anything that would help him avoid the work waiting for him back in his desk.
He mumbled “g’mornin” at Paul who had just left Richard nodding with a smirk on his face, and he drifted over unaware that he was already beginning to procrastinate. “You behaving yourself?” said Sam to Richard. “Not a chance” said Richard as Sam slowed to let him into queue. One of the office girls spiked her way past them, her breasts bouncing with every step. Dick grinned at Sam, his eyes leading Sam to her breasts, back to his eyes and his grin got wider. “She must have used one of those bounce laundry sheets when she washed that top” snorted Richard. Sam, grimaced a smile, his right eye closing in mock acknowledgement and he slid along the wall of the cafeteria and grabbed a cup, filled his cup with coffee. Sam was in no mood for Richard’s humour today. Just give me coffee and an aspirin he mumbled.
He caught Lucy’s eye behind the counter and nodded. He turned to grab a cup from the stack, placed it under the spigot. Nothing? He tapped the handle again. A dribble into the bottom of the cup. A drop, then nothing.  Empty! Cheese and Rice! he mumbled. “Lucy, there’s no coffee.” he waved at her and stomped off to the counter to drop some bread into a toaster, gathering knife, butter and jam, he balanced the lot over to a table. His knife fell on the floor.
He sat in the middle of the cafeteria not wanting to be bothered. He had experimented by sitting in different spots in the cafeteria and found that the middle, although in plain view of everyone, was the most private location because the tables around him acted as a buffer from all points. He could acknowledge and invite anyone over or glance away and pretend be focused on some notes if he wanted to be left alone.
Lucy, waved, “ your toast is burning”  He jumped up, shaking his head, knocking his butter off the table in the process, he pushed the smoking toast up and chucked it into the garbage.

At that moment Casey emerged from the opposite end of cafeteria, her current mission accomplished while Richard, swaggered through the cafeteria on his way back to this office, the two of them converging as Sam frowned into his empty coffee cup then up to Lucy as he made his way over to try again; “What blend of coffee did you mix up today?”
” Aphrodisiacs?” Richard loudly interjected.

Lucy chuckled.  “Dick, you’re impossible”
Casey swept wide and clear of them and headed straight to the coffee pot. Richard’s personality was that of a high school kid, some men just never grew out of that stage, she mused. “And at the end of the day he’ll still be a dick.” she muttered to herself.
“Sam”, shouted Richard, “David Donaldson (the companies CEO ) is sitting in today, He’s excited about your last months report and is looking forward to seeing your analysis”.

Sam, wondered if he should fake illness and go home. The day was just not going to get better!

The Underbridge Trilogy Chapters 5,6,7

Chapters 5,6,&7

The Underbridge Trilogy

 

The day had gone not so bad after all. Three people had called in with the flu that was slowly working its way through the office. Meetings were put on hold. David Donaldson had been called away and asked Sam to forward his report to him. Whew! Dodged that bullet. Still it had been a bit of a grind for a Friday and most of the gang from work would probably arrive at the Underbridge shortly before making their way home.

Sam was the first. He navigated a path away from the heavily trafficked areas to a table where he could see people coming and going.

The waitress Linda Anne mouthed “the usual?” at him and he nodded his head “thanks.”

Sitting with his back to the wall he refolded his newspaper and settled into his chair to read an article about the the high number of people remodeling their homes. The outside of his house was currently wrapped in Tyvek homewrap. (And had been that way for almost a year now.) He looked up to see who was coming in as the door opened.

He rustled the paper, slouching into his chair bringing one foot up to rest comfortably on his knee.

In a few moments, Linda Anne dropped his beer on the table, winked and without a word glided away; her eyes like a laser beam searching the faces of next table. She caught one looking up and she shook an imaginary empty bottle at him. He nodded yes and circled his index finger around the table. Linda Anne grinned as she steamed to the bar to place the order.

Sam looked up to see who was leaving as the door opened.

He sipped his beer.

He rustled the paper.

He shook his head back and forth negatively in slow movements as he read the paper. “This is just typical.” he mumbled to himself “ Ironic” he continued forming an opinion as he read.

He sipped his beer. Took another good swig before putting it down.

He rustled the paper.  Reread a couple of lines again. His head nodded up and down as he confirmed his thoughts.

He looked up to  -“You’re showing your age Sam old man,” Paul half shouted, bouncing into view.

Sam glanced up at Paul; eyebrows lowered, a frown forming on his forehead, he looked from his left shoulder to his right. “Something wrong with my clothes?” he eyeballed him.

Linda Anne circled from a distance, like a shark eyeing her prey for the right moment to attack. Paul dragged a chair out, tossed his coat over the arm and sat down. She darted in, got his order and swam away through the room.

“You’re reading a newspaper paper. Nobody reads the paper anymore.”

“Right” said Sam, “I guess that’s why there are 3 different newspaper boxes on every corner.”

“No seriously! Sales are down big time!  The i-generation doesn’t read the paper anymore. They’re all wired. He pivoted in his chair looking about the room. “Check out those two by the pool table.”

Sam turned around. At a table for four sat two young men. Early twenties, he thought.  One had his hair cropped short to his head, the other long hair almost down to his shoulder. Cropper was checking messages; the other was listening to his cell phone. They seemed to be carrying on a conversation with each other at the same time while they randomly monitored the sports highlights on one of the several hanging TVs. The long hair nodded along in time with the music from the Underbridges sound system and with a final word, folded his cell phone into his pocket. He stood with a quick glance to the door, raised his arm and waved to catch the attention of his girlfriend and his friends, as they appeared arm in arm. They both waved back, their faces animated, inches from each other, laughing in agreement about something.“I bet they all sit there looking at their phones” Sam sniveled, as he swiveled to face Paul. Sure enough, having sat down after hello’s they all were sitting tapping away on their mobiles.

Richard and Andy soon appeared in the doorway. Andy was one of the oldest employees at work: both in age and years vested. He slowly scanned the room with the precision of a military scout. Richard, his big head bobbing swaggered into the most visible part of the room and bellowed “Linda Anne!” towards the bar. Linda Anne who was at the bar punching in orders raised her arms and mockingly bellowed back ”Let’s Party!” A couple caught at a table between them laughed as Richard quickly distracted, drifted over to a table of three ladies out for a night on the town. “I just found the party” he clowned. Sam peeked over his paper and muttered. ”Give the ham some mustard.”

“Make that hot mustard” Richard gyrated, winking at the blonde sitting on the far side of the table. Andy continued to make his way to the table while Richard a.k.a. Dick, devoted his attentions to the ladies, his intentions obvious, himself however seemingly oblivious to the groups evaluation of his overtures. After a couple of minutes of aimless and animated chatter Richard waved goodbye and turned to bulldoze a path to his friends. Paul raised his glass in acknowledgment as Andy shook his head with amusement. Across the table from Paul, a newspaper floated, the fingers of two hands clamped to its edges, gave the only indication of Sam’s presence.

Linda Anne like a seagull wavering in the wind, her timing perfect, swooped in, squawking pleasantries and collecting orders, she flew away picking coins from her tray dropping them into her apron.

Sam lowered the paper “It says here that there are now more women in the world than men and that men’s population has been decreasing worldwide for a number of years now. Seems the quality of sperm is not so hot with the new generation.”

“I think it’s all the preservatives, drugs, and fertilizers.” Paul ventured.

“With exposure to all the different levels of electrical waves it’s no wonder there’s so many numb nuts out there.” deadpanned Sam as he pivoted in his chair, his gaze reassessing Cropper and his friends.

“Nothing wrong with my patriot missiles” boasted Richard “ Explosions and fireworks guaranteed!” he slapped his knee enjoying his own humour.

“He just doesn’t stop does he?” thought Sam.

“What’s up for the week-end he quizzed Andy.

“The usual chauffeuring and shopping activities” Andy leaned in.

“I’m replacing all the fixtures in the bathrooms and the kitchen, so I hope to get that done Sunday. Looking at replacing the kitchen floor, paint the place to clean it up, get it ready to sell. Time to move on. House is too big for me. I’d be happy with a little shack stuck on 5 acres somewhere” he said, eyes looking off into the distance.

Sam nodded half interested, half distracted, thinking if he was Andy, he wouldn’t be moving on. Andy had a pretty nice place.

Sam angled for a better view of the door. The place was beginning to fill and come alive with the rabble of voices slowly increasing in volume to match Matthew Goods “In a world called Catastrophe.” playing on the Underbridge’s sound system

Seeing today’s horoscope had flipped open in the paper he pulled it over to read his.

Leo (July23-Aug22)    

After a long period of wretchedness, happiness is about to knock on your door.

It’s about time mumbled Sam, I wonder what it might be?

Chapter 6   Sam has high hopes!

His horoscope read: After a long period of wretchedness, happiness is about to knock on your door. 

Sam, isolated by his newspaper looked up at the door to see who had entered. Andy, Paul and Richard huddled, deep in their own conversations, glancing back at the three ladies on their own now arguing with Richard about offering to buy a round. Sam nodded in agreement hoping they would go (and good riddance) 

His eyes widened with a smile as the woman from the night before  appeared in the doorway and made her way inside. Her honey coloured hair cascaded over her shoulder. She wore a tailored black jacket, with a scarf, a hue of gold loosely tied around her neck. A matching black pencil skirt fit her perfectly, stopping at the top her knees. Her long black boots with modest heels, clicked across the floor. He looked away quickly not wanting to stare but then abandoned all pretence. She looked radiant, he blinked and reached for his beer and watched her as she found a small table not far from the bar. As Linda Anne approached she looked up to her smiling, bouncing with her reply. Her foot bobbed up and down as if unable to contain her restless energy. Sam inhaled slowly. 

She shrugged her jacket off her shoulders to drape it over the back of her chair. Underneath she wore an off white silk blouse, long sleeves with gold cufflinks. She turned to survey the room and quickly found Sam looking across the room at her. She held his gaze for a moment and flashed an acknowledging smile, then turned to watch for the waitress to return with her drink. 

Sam’s heart pounded. “She remembers me from last night?”’ 

“Better see a man about a horse”, he thought leaving his beer and paper on the table, made his way to the men’s room, a thought bouncing around in his mind. 

Sam worked his way through the tables to arrive in front of her rather than take the direct route around and behind. She was just turning to look up at him when her cell phone rang. She bent rummaging though her bag ignoring him for the moment. Sam slowed and walked by his hand drifting across the back of her opposite empty chair, then shoving his hands into his pockets he quickly headed off to the men’s room. 

“That went well.” he thought ironically as he dried his hands and combed his hair in place with his fingers. “Well, lets see what the return flight produces” as he speared the ball of paper towel at the receptacle, missed and kicked the door open deciding to retrace his steps. She was sipping her drink, a cranberry martini by the looks of it. He rounded her table, his hand reached out for the back of the chair again. He looked over and found her grinning at him. 

“ Do you want that chair?” she chirped, turning her head somewhat sideways. 

Sam stopped, both hands resting on its back. His eyes darting, searching her deep brown eyes, noticing the curl in her hair, the winkle in her forehead, her hands, her gaze, her mouth. 

“No.  Yes. Can I buy you a drink?” he blurted. 

“You think I need another drink?” she tested. 

“What? – need?, oh, no, It’s nice to see you again. I was thinking about our talk last night about the fog and how quiet it made everything. I thought, - well I hoped maybe I would see you again.” blurted Sam, his face beginning to blush having said far more than he intended. 

Her hands rested on her lap and with a toss of her head, shook her hair off her shoulders. She pushed the chair out with her foot. 

“Would you like to sit down Mr.?”  

“Sam” 

“Mr. Sam?” 

“ No. Sam, and you are?” he held his hand out. 

“My friends call me Cookie” she laughed, shaking his hand. 

“Cookie?” 

“Yes, like milk and cookies. You like milk and cookies don’t you Sam?” 

“Boy do I ever!” he pulled the chair out and sat down, looking at her with a smile. Her big brown eyes danced back at him. 

“Where was Linda Anne when you needed her?” thought Sam twisting around searching the room. Cookie watched him with a smile that was friendly, teasing, and inquiring all at the same time while her body bobbed gently with her foot that continued to tap up and down. 

“I’m just trying to give you a hard time” she sipped her drink, eyes slowly baiting him. 

“Sam, Earth to Sam!!!”

Sam blinked, blinked again. His eyes found Richard, Andy and Paul leaning towards him. “We’re going to join them for drinks?” blurted Richard, his eyes rising to the back of his head with a backward nod to the three women he had flirted with when he first arrived. 

“What?” said Sam coming out of his daydream, grimacing as the realization sunk in. 

“See you later. I’ve ordered a round already” Richard stood up and made his way over, bleating a noisy “Hello ladies” with Andy and Paul following close behind. 

Sam looked the other way hoping to catch her eye.  She was talking on her cell, not even noticing him. 

“I wonder when the wretchedness ends?” he thought to himself, 

Chapter 7. Sam gets a surprise!

As Sam continued reading his paper, his friends having left and invaded a table with 3 single ladies out on the town. Linda Anne dropped another beer and scurried away. 

He glanced over to see what his mystery lady was doing. Damn he couldn’t remember her name. 

He had only chatted with her a short while the night before and here she was again. Sitting alone. 

What the hell he thought, one more drain and I’ll go and say hello. 

In the washroom he cupped his hands and threw water in his face. Looking up in the mirror, he shook his head at himself. “Well, lets see what the return flight produces” as he speared the ball of paper towel at the receptacle, missed and kicked the door open to retrace his steps. She was sipping her drink, a cranberry martini by the looks of it. He rounded her table, his hand reached out for the back of the chair again. He looked over and found her grinning at him. “Hi, nice to see you again!” said Sam, 

“ Do you want that chair?” she chirped, turning her head somewhat sideways. 

Sam stopped, both hands resting on its back. His eyes darting, searching her deep brown eyes, noticing the curl in her hair, the winkle in her forehead, her hands, her gaze, her mouth. 

“No.  Yes. Can I buy you a drink?” he blurted. 

“You think I need another drink?” she tested. 

Sam, momentarily startled, asked “Do you ever have deja vu” 

“ I think I’m having one now “ she replied. 

“ Well, yes, me too” shaking his head, unbelieving the feeling of having been here before. 

“ It’s Sam isn't it?” she asked. “Sam it is” he replied, “ and your name is Cookie if I remember rightly.” 

“As it crumbles” she nodded. 

Just then her cell phone trilled, she glanced at the call and with a “sorry, I have to take this”, she stood and walked away talking quietly not far away, but turned and came back quickly, her hand over her ear. Richard and company were roaring loudly at some joke or something. 

“I’d like that drink if you are still offering “she smiled, but could we sit at the bar away from the noise.” Away they went finding 2 seats just off centre “Hey Shorty,” Sam waved at the diminutive bar tender. “Another of round please” he pointed at the two almost empty drinks they had carried over. 

“Shorty?” she leaned over whispering. 

“ Yea, well you would think because of his size obviously, “If you look over the bar, you’ll see he has a narrow platform he walks on. He used to be a truck driver, but the trucks kept getting pulled over because you could barely see him behind the wheel. When he drove he would look between the top part of the steering wheel and the dash. No accidents but complaints, as he was always getting checked out, and that held up delivery sometimes. A hassle. Anyway his mom passed away a few years ago and left him some money, so he bought the Underbridge. But he has  real anger issues,  a really short fuse, that’s why Shorty.” 

Cookie laughed, thanking Shorty as he thumped down their two drinks and was about to say something when her phone rang again. 

“I’m sorry Sam, this is a bother but I have to take it, do you mind keeping an eye on my stuff here? ” She slipped off her chair and walked toward the washed, her hand waving in the air as if directing someone. “ What, right now!” she shouted, looking around behind her towards the door. She came back, grabbed her purse and disappeared into the hallway leading to the washrooms, leaving a paper bag sitting on her chair. It was a small white bag with handles on it and !@? printed on the front. 

Sam sipped his drink, looking around the bar. Same old crowd he thought. He wondered where the usual grumpy cronies were that he usually hung out with, then spied them over by the front window table, looking like they were into another argument about how disgusting something or other was. 

At that moment the door opened and in walked two policemen. They made their way up to the bar and one waved at Shorty, who balanced his way over smiling. “Hello Constable Roy, you coming to finalize tomorrow nights arrangements?” 

“Yea Shorty, it looks like we’ll have about 20 for Detective Oaks retirement party. I thought I’d give you half tonite from our collections today.” 

“Sure thing, have a seat I’ll grab a receipt book. Be right back.” 

Constable Roy turned, looking around to see what his partner was doing. He had wandered over to the table with Richard and friends. Richard of course hamming in up shouting “ You’ll have to take me away!” holding up his hands for the cuffs. Constable Roy moved to sit beside Sam, unaware the small bag that had been left on the chair. As he tipped it back and over to sit down the bag slid off unto the floor. 

“Oops” he said “I’m sorry I didn’t see your bag there”. He bent down to pick it it up. Sam shaking his head ready to say that it wasn’t really his but then decided, what’s the difference and said “that’s alright, I should have put in on the counter here I guess” 

“Wait a minute” replied the Constable, who on reaching to pick up the bag had found a plastic bag had tumbled out of the little white bag. “What is this stuff? He held it up looking at Sam. 

“Um, well its, ah, I don’t know” Sam replied. 

Opening the zip-top the policeman stuck his finger in and put a bit on his gums. He motioned to his partner and turning to Sam he said, “This is a large amount of cocaine sir, and since this bag is in your possession, I think it’s best you come along with us to the station to get this properly explained. Hold out your hands, and we’ll do this with out a lot of fanfare” 

“What no whoa, this is a mistake” Sam half screeched, looking around for his new friend. Where is she, why isn’t she back already. The handcuffs snapped shut around his wrists. 

“Wait, no, this is a mistake” Where is she, he looked wildly around but she was no where to be seen as Sam was lead, half propelled through the bar and out into the evening to be lowered into the back seat of the car. 

He stared out the window hoping for salvation but saw no one as suddenly a newspaper page  flew up and stuck momentarily to the window. Sam fleetingly read the bold type, as it then blew away. It was his Horoscope. After a long period of wretchedness, happiness is about to knock on your door.

Chapter 8: Sam Gets Out! Twice!

Chapter 8

Sam gets out. Twice!

Sam spent a miserable weekend in jail. His court approved lawyer (Mr.Ernest Whitey) listened to Sam’s story, taking notes, and left telling Sam to not worry. He’ll be back tomorrow after spending the afternoon at the Underbridge, talking to Shorty, Linda Anne and Sam’s cohorts who were there that night. Sure enough he was back assuring Sam everything was going to be fine. Not to worry! Monday morning they would go before the court, they would ask for bail and Sam would be out shortly after. And thats what happened.
The judge demanded a bail of $50,000, which still threw Sam for a spin. His lawyer had explained Sam could put his house up for collateral, confident once the events of the night were explained and witness’s produced to verify his story, that the charge would be thrown out.


Late that afternoon, Sam was released and finally setting into the sanctuary of his house, after a long hot shower, clean clothes, a beer, a weary Sam finally checked his voicemail.
There was only one and that was from work, a Mr. Weston, from the H.R. department. He had heard Sam had been released and had offered that what a relief that must be for Sam. He asked Sam to come in a bit early the following morning to meet with him so they could talk about the appropriate message the company should take while his case came to a conclusion. Not to worry, he assured Sam, (He had talked to the Sam’s Lawyer) I’m sure this will be all cleared up quickly.

Sam had another beer and wandered out to the back deck. He sat, nursing his beer and looked around at his backyard. He hadn’t spent much time here lately. Work and the Underbridge being his main pursuits.
A pile of old siding from the house sat piled off to the left property line, which was marked by a fence starting to show it was losing the battle remaining upright.
Weeds had grown up between some of the siding. An eyesore, he slowly realized. Maybe he should just dump some topsoil over it all and throw some grass- seed, that would hide the fence too!
Realizing that was going to require some planning, coordination, effort and money, he took another long pull on his bottle. His eyes next found the garden he had started, geez, was it last year?  
There were sticks with faded seed packages stuck over them. Now noticeable only by the drooping string that lay on the ground, that reluctantly showed the original intention really was to be rows of vegetables. Reluctant perhaps by the shame of being mostly hidden by various heights of weeds, some that were beginning to go to seed.

This was going well Sam thought as he drained his beer. I need another. He clumsily kicked his chair getting up and sent it tumbling off the edge of the deck. Turning to go inside he was faced with the exterior cladding of his house. Tyvek home wrap, a yellowing white colour background with somewhat fading red type. Excellent!
The screen door slammed behind him causing the dog next door to begin to bark. Stupid little yapping white excuse for a dog. Sam closed the inside door. Damn dog looked like a roll of toilet paper attacked by a raccoon.

He cracked another brew, sat in his easy chair and found the remote. 2 hours later, and more bubbly pops, the night had settled into position. Hungry! Nothing in the fridge he wanted. He stumbled over to the phone and called “i-Bot Pizza” and settled back in his chair to wait arrival.

The pizza did arrive. A Fast and Furious movie came on and Sam spent the next 2 hours drinking and staining his shirt (and pants) with pizza sauce. A couple of crusts lay on the floor where he had tried to toss them into the box. Missed! Good Movie.He found some potato chips, another beer, thought about his court case. How the hell had this all happened? Remembered his meeting with Mr.Weston in HR tomorrow morning, he sighed, got up and  bouncing off each side of the hallway to the bedroom he finally flopped into bed. The little white toilet roll next door began to bark again.

Later in the morning after his visit with H.R.

It was 8.30 maybe 9 in the morning Sam was sitting on front porch of his house watching the quiet neighbour hood after the morning rush of those going to work, taking the kids to school, and so on.
His eyes and mind both half comatose, eyes mere red slits hidden by sunglasses. Comatose as there was no possible ability to think, or it was looking like no possibility to be aware for that matter for a while……


Coffee in hand (his third) his brains synapses finally startling to kick in, he reviewed his early morning meeting with Mr. Weston. “I should have called in”, came the first thought, “oh Christ I should have never gone in”. But he had, and he went in nursing a whopper of a hangover, in fact he was still hammered then, hell, probably still was now.

Perhaps because of that the meeting did not go well?

A subdued Mr. Weston, sat at his desk, welcomed Sam, offered a chair, and immediately sensing it was best to forgo pleasantries, announced the course of action the company would like to take. Same would take vacation time, it was a delicate time here with the company undergoing not only a very large account with a major company but also a possible acquisition of another. It would be best to announce to coworkers Sam was voluntarily take time off to deal with “matters”.
Sam, not in the best frame of mind, sparked right away with “voluntary” time off! His vacation time? And what if this went on more than the 3 weeks he had. Mr. Weston, pencil tapping slowly on his desk, suggested they could perhaps help him out with a laid off notice so he collect unemployment. That however brought the pot to boil and Sam with a full head of stream began to verbally assault Mr, Weston, the company, a few others and its President who just happened to wander by. There was no stopping Sam, he was a volcano of dissatifaction, mistreatment and of course, no sound mind.

However an agreement had been reached.

Sam was fired! They would say he was retiring and with goodwill, they would give him a reasonable severance. Goodbye.

Sam shook his head at the thought of it all. Idiot!  His attention drawn to a Lawn maintenance truck that pulled up next door. “Garden Ready”, was the name on the door where a slim but good looking man jumped out to be joined from the passenger side by a good looking golden hair lady wearing shorts and a tight T-shirt! “EXCELLENT!” thought Sam. He watched as she pulled a hose from the back and powered up a pump. The front lawn was attacked with a green fertilizer spreader, while the woman disappeared to back, spraying the sidewalk and stones along the side. In 15 minutes they were gone.
Sam continued to observe the neighbours lawn (perhaps thinking something would grow before his eyes?) A short time later he was rewarded with a flock of black birds with shiny blue necks come swooping down unto the lawn and begin pecking away. Fertilizer! he thought? He watched as they worked their way across the front lawn. What if they mutated, super charged from eating that stuff? What if they flew into the back yard all juiced up and attacked that little yappy roll of toilet paper!
He smiled at the first good thought he had today.EXCELLENT!           

Chapter 9: 4 Chickens and a Lawyer

Chapter 9

A Brother, 4 Chickens and a Lawyer

Tuesday: (the day after Sam gets out)
After a late breakfast Sam found himself rearranging the dirty dishes, pots and frying pans on his kitchen counter and stacking what he could into the sink. He collected the miscellaneous glasses and plates in the dining room, the living room, a few in the bedroom, some out on the front porch and a stack of plates and empty beer bottles on the back deck. He had just finished creating a very nice organized pile of dirty dishes when a triple knock on the front door had him opening it, to find his younger brother Mark!

Surprise!

A melancholic lad, Mark as a youth, married his sweetheart Lisa where they met in college. He graduating from a 2 year business course, and she with a commercial art degree. He was conscientious and strangely relentless with whatever task he was involved with but as a habit developed in his childhood he usually kept to himself.  His job as an accountant for a tax return company combined with his work habits and personality unfortunately had produced a slow falling apart of Mark and his wife. The short story: She filed for divorce. He had quickly packed and was heading to Nova Scotia, no particulate reason why, other than to get away.
But said Sam, that’s very sad, were you not aware of how she was feeling?
“Well I began to suspect something.   We started to order in a lot of pizza once or twice a week, and when one week she ordered pizza 3 times. I knew something was up. She fell in love with with the pizza delivery man.”
Sam sat silently for a moment, then wanting to cheer his brother up related all of his misfortunes, a drug charge currently against him and no job. (and also no love interest)
“Geez, a fine pair we are” said Mark, “Well I have just the thing for you then! I wanted to drop this off with you before I leave. It’s in the back of the truck, Give me a hand !”
The two went out the side gate along the side of the house and in the back of the truck was a long narrow structure with a roof. “Is it a doghouse?” Sam asked lifting one end and the two carried it back into the yard into the back corner besides the pile of siding. They lowered it down, the weight sifting, something was inside and now squawking up a commotion. Mark released 2 latches on the side wall and a door fell forward to become a ramp. “What the heck” shouted Sam as 3 brown chickens came flying out, followed by a larger white rooster.
“You’re leaving me with chickens?”
“Yea, isn’t that fate, you with no job and now you can have fresh eggs. That will help with expenses, and looking around the backyard, too bad your garden isn’t in better shape, but the chickens will help tidy everything up.
Sam I have to go, I want to be well on the way before stopping tonite. Best of luck Bro, I’ll call when I find a place.”


They both walk out to the front, where Mark jumped into his truck, gave a wave and drove away. Sam settled into one of the two Muskoka chairs on the front porch and watched his brother disappear down the road. Practically at the same moment a silver electric Ford Mustang Mach-E pulled up across the road and out stepped Ernest Whitey, Sam’s lawyer.
“Hello Mr. Ogrebee, I’m glad I caught you here, please forgive me for not phoning ahead but I just came from a meeting with the prosecutor of your case and this was on my way.”
“Good news” Sam inquired?
“A wrinkle, is all. They are exploring the case from the angle that you purposely   set up a purchase for cocaine the night before at the Underbridge and arranged to meet the following night to receive it. Also no one seems to know who this women is or where she may be and no one has ever seen her before that night before.”
“What! No way, that’s not what happened. I’ve never had cocaine, let alone ever seen the stuff! What are we going to do, how serious is this.”
“If we could find this woman, that would help considerably, but at the moment this is all conjecture. The fact that it was not found on your person is going to help us. This is all push and go to see what reaction they can get, and they still need some supporting evidence. We still have time yet, but I wanted to bring you up to date. I’ll be in touch as soon as I know how they are going to handle this”
With that he stood up, shook Sam’s hand telling him not to worry and down the stairs, across the road he went and silently drove off!

“@&#(&@$!” said Sam


Sitting, thinking….all the twisted up things in the world, the continuing of hate and war.  Computers, machines, and big business wrecking the best of human intentions, climate change, willful misunderstanding of one another, cruelty, ignorance, greed and superstition. The belief of false things to be a substitute for control, the disclaiming of science and history and liberal acceptance of customs, rituals, religion and people of different races. It’s overwhelming relentlessness. IT’S TOO MUCH!
He spent most of the day arguing with himself that these were not rational thoughts, but only the result of his continuing misery that resisted any conscious effort to dissipate.

“@&#(&@$!”

 

Chapter 10: Mr Tyvek meets Katie. The chickens get named!

Chapter 10

Mr. Tyvek meets Katie and the chickens get names


Wednesday morning

A morose Sam pushed open his back door and dropped into a chair on the back deck, coffee in hand, to see Chickens!
The rooster had woke him. The 3 bantam hens were quickly pecking and scratching in his weed choked garden, the rooster was perched on top of the coop, it’s head stretching up  and down and looking around. “On Guard” I guess thought Sam
Mark had left him some notes and a bag of feed, but they looked fine. He sipped his coffee. The chickens clucking up a storm now and the rooster strutted over to investigate. The little white yappy dog next door began to yip and yap
“Shut up” Sam mumbled, getting up he made his way into the kitchen, topped up his coffee and proceed through the house, out the front door and eased himself down into one of two chairs on the front porch.
A brief moment of silence was soon broken by the clicking and clacking of a skateboard coming down the sidewalk. A young girl, her long hair flying, her arms keeping balance, pushed her way along approaching Sam’s front entrance.
Bang! The skateboard shot out sideways and she flew in the air, arms out, hands breaking the fall, belly flopping to a stop.
“Ow, Jesus mother, and god damn his Holy Ghost” she cried.
“Oh, that f’ing hurts.” Her hands were scraped up pretty good, she wiped them tenderly on her jeans that now had a rip in the knee.

“Are you okay” Sam stood, walking to go and help.
“Yes I’m fine, I usually do this everyday, so my mother can bust my balls about ruining my clothes. This is my favourite spot to do it, right here in front of your gate where the sidewalk has lifted, and makes it so much FUN for me to wipeout and disable myself. DOH”

“Whoa, take it easy” said Sam walking to the gate. “You’re bleeding!” Here sit on the porch, I’ll get a wet cloth.”
Into the house he ran, grabbed a clean cloth (the only one) ran some cold water,  wrung it out and hurried back out to find her sitting on the step, her big brown eyes looking like they were going to lose the battle of keeping the tears back.
“Here, let’s take a look at those hands” he held out the cloth. she hesitated a moment then held both hands palm up. “You’ve scraped them up pretty good, let’s see if we can clean some of the grit out of them.”
After some ouches and several more curses (do all kids have as rich a vocabulary  as her)  they were as good as they could be for the moment. Sam took a moment to look at her, maybe 9 years old (or 12?), long blonde matted hair, some dirt smudges on her face, a bright green t-shirt , demin overalls (with a rip in the knee).  A tough little cookie with an attitude.

Thank you she said wiping her nose “Are you Mr. Tyvek?”
“ Mr. Tyvek?” Laughed Sam.
“Everyone calls this the Tyvek House, I thought it might be your name too?”
Sam turned to look at the house, it had been wrapped in Tyvek home wrap, white, with pink Tyvek writing for over a year, hmmmn maybe two now!

“Can you get it in different colours. I’d like yellow and blue. It looks like a big present all wrapped up. Was it a present for you?
My name is Katie Baker. thanks again for helping me, I should probably go. But I better know your name cause my mom is going to be asking a lot of questions!”

“I’m Sam, Sam Ogrebee, nice to meet you Katie, but next time no more flying crash arrivals please!”
“Ogrebee! What kind of name is that? Wow that’s a terrible name. You must get nasty comments all the time. You must have been bullied as a kid. Why don’t you get it changed? I can’t imagine having Ogrebee for a name. I’d rather puke and die!”

Before Sam could reply there came a loud squawking commotion from the backyard.
“Is that chickens?” Katie shouted. Do you have chickens. This I gotta see!” And with that she ran around the side sidewalk and disappeared, with Sam following. She stepped up on the bottom of the gate, peering over. “ Can I go in to see?” And before Sam could answer she had opened the latch and was inside crouched down walking toward them,”here chick, chick”
“What’s their names” she happily turned to Sam.
“I don’t have names.”
“Oh, let’s name them, can I help? I’m really good at naming things. I have a cat called Angel. Did you know the baby Jesus had a pet kitten called Angel when he was living in the manger! “
She stood, finger on her chin, thinking then suddenly
“This one is Bella, that one Prudence, and Miss Violet is the older looking one!
“Why Miss Violet?”
“She reminds me of my Aunt Violet. Her face is a scrunched up, her eyes wrinkled squinting almost closed, her mouth pucked up like she is going to spit and her nose almost disappears between her mouth and eyes. She looks like a prune that is going to blow up!”
“Um” was all Sam could think up as he looked at the Miss Violet wondering how the chicken looked like a prune ready to explode.
 OK you name the rooster now”
“How about Reggie, Reggie rooster”
“Excellent!, so this is where they stay.Oh! Look! Eggs! 3 eggs! Here I’ll get them for you. Oh crap I forgot I’m supposed to get eggs for mom, she making a cake for Mrs. Goldstein next door, her husbands 70th birthday!”
“Tell you what Katie, why don’t you take these eggs, I have more than a dozen in the fridge.”
Thanks Mr Ogrebee, could I call you Mr. O instead, you gotta do something about that name” as she stuffed an egg in each side pocket and one in the front. I gotta go!”

“Wait, You’re going to try to carry eggs in your pockets and skateboard home, what if they break?”
Hand on her hips and chin held high, “what! you think I’m just a little girl, Men!”
And in a blur she was out the backyard gate and the sound of a skateboard, clickedy, clacking faded away down the sidewalk.
Sam closed the gate, turned to look at the chickens.”What in the world just happened? he shook his head and tripped up the step going inside.

Watch for the next developing and very interesting Installment: “Fate”

 

CHAPTER 11: FATE OR FAITH

ChaPTER 11 - FATE OR FAITH

SAM ARGUES WITH ANDY AND THEY BOTH GET A SURPRISE!

Thursday.
Yesterday after the unexpected event with skater girl Katie wiping out on the sidewalk in front of his house, and waking up to the chickens that his brother Mark had left, Sam moped the day away. Finally around the start of the evening, telling himself to shape up he took a good look around his house, a mound of dirty dishes waiting him, he detoured to the bedroom, grabbed his wallet and locked up the house. A visit to the Underbridge was required, a brew or two, and to see if “Cookie” had ever showed up again. Boy would he ever be glad to catch her there tonite.
While not the busiest night of the week the place was still doing a good business. Thursday’s special was chicken wings, 2 lbs. for the price of one.
Sam made his way over to the bar. Linda Anne hussled over, leaned into Sam’s ear. “I’m glad to see you Sam, Listen I know you are innocent with this whole drug bust thing. Hang in there!” She squeezed his arm and quickly stepped over to a table to take an order.
Sam sat at the bar, Shorty made his way over, placed a beer in front of Sam and looked over at him not saying a word. “Has she been in here again, Shorty?” Sam asked.
“No, nothing, she was never a regular as you know, but she did come in occasionally, she seemed to be a nice lady, but this whole thing really surprised me. How are things looking?”
“My lawyer is 50-50 now” Sam took a good drink of his beer.”I really need to find her before my court case, if she comes in will you call me right away?
“Yeah, no problem, that beers on the house Sam. Good luck! he turned and stepped down off his elevated platform and practically disappeared from sight.

“Hey look who’s back, it’s the Jailbird!” Sam didn’t have to turn around, he knew it was his “old boss” Richard, the loudest mouth in the bar, at work, and everywhere else. Richard slid onto the seat next beside, leaned over to Sam and whispered “ What are you selling tonight.”

Sam closed his eyes, sat still, composing himself. He wanted to throw his beer at him..
“Richard, someday someone is going to put your lights out. Don’t you ever think before saying anything? You’re like a baying donkey.  If there is any consolation from all this, and it’s not working with you, and I don’t have to put up with your stupidity anymore. Get the F*#@ away from me!”
He slid off his seat and walked over to his favourite table, caught Linda Anne on the way for the special and another beer,
He sat steaming, somehow feeling better and not so better.
Linda Anne dropped his wings and brew on the table as the mega sound system of the Underbridge cranked up with the sound of the Planeteer’s hit single “Spark” the video on all the monitors.

https://ogilvieoriginals.com/music#video-s-from-the-planeteers

Andy, one of Sam’s better friends from work, waved and came over to join Sam. Andy was fattish, almost balding, between 30 and 40 years, who had welcomed Sam into the company on his first day. He was also a born again Christian. After polite opening conversations they both had a laugh at Richard moping in the corner with another poor unfortunate individual who was getting his fill of Richards verbalizations. Their talk soon turned to Sam’s upcoming court case.
“Well” Andy said “This is God’s will testing you no doubt and you will be better for it by being true to your beliefs and righting this unfortunate situation. Have faith Sam, I believe this will all work out as I know after working with you for so long that you are not guilty!”

Sam had another long pull on his beer, obvious to Andy’s well meant intentions, but still smouldering from all his continuing misfortunes, took a breath and slowly replied.

“I don’t think there is anything else besides Fate that determines an individuals path in life Andy.”Andy put down his beer and was going to reply but Sam cut him off.
“You’re ready to haul out your mantra that proves that fate does not rule. Go Ahead! Say it and when you’re done I’ll tell you why fate is impossible to stop or prevent.
Fate is relentless. It is inescapable. It is inevitable.”
“So you think we are puppets then?
“No, we’re not puppets. We have choices, we can choose. What is it when the paths of you and another cross? Is it fate that has you moving to another town on a whim? A chance meeting 3 years ago with a person who has become your soulmate. It’s all fate!
Little actions, coincidences, a friend of a friend, an accident, a birth, a death. It explains the hundreds of today happenings, some small, some life changing? From the time you awake and the time you sleep. FATE!”

Andy,  “I believe God determines our life’s path.”

Sam, “Oh Boy here comes the sermon, another of the “nailed” god’s list of restrictions and commandments no doubt.”

Andy, “God knows everything about the universe — including everything that will happen in the future. God knows every action that you will perform for the rest of your life.”
Sam, took a swallow of his beer, took a breath, and settled into his rant.“If this is true. Then God’s knowledge of the future seems to show that fate is inescapable. Isn’t that what we are discussing?” Your black robed bandits preach that our misfortunes are caused by our sins. Yet they have no explanation why the wicked thrive and get rich and laugh at all the vices they are enjoying, free from punishment.”Thou shall not steal! A good commandment but your early priests of Christianity stole from pagan beliefs that existed far earlier than the birth of your religion.
For example did you know that Easter was celebrated by the Celts, the Danes, the Saxons?  It was a time for feasting, to celebrate the goddess of spring who was known as Eostre. There was song, laughter, dancing to celebrate new life, the buds and blossoms of primroses, bluebells, lilac and lilies, the springtime birth of birds and beasts and the renewal of all after winter. But unable to stop people from celebrating the “black robed bandits“ took it over and slowly changed it to what it has become today. Not so joyful at all, more like an obligation to show up at church and pay your guilty conscience away in the collection plate.”

Andy “Sam I had no idea of your feelings about this.”
Sam “ Andy, I’m not against your beliefs or anyone else’s. I just think it’s all a con game for power, for control, for money! It does nothing for me, but if it makes you feel good then pray. Pray until the knees of your pants wear out.
How many times have you flipped a coin, to decide something? Heads I’ll do it, Tails I won’t. You think your god is waiting to help you here! Have you said to yourself if God wants me to do it, whatever it is, then I’ll win the next hand of poker, but if I lose then he doesn’t want me to do it. Fate is the destiny that is pre-planned for you, but it's up to you to do something with it.”

At that moment, little did Sam and Andy know that fate was about to interrupt.  By coincidence (?) the music playing had just finished, and as a ‘now much talked about’ woman entered, most of the conversation in the Underbridge slowly dropped.
Some stared at her, and some turned to look at Sam.

“Son of a bitch” said Sam, “it’s her, it’s Cookie!”

 

 

Chapter 12: Cookie Crumbles

CHAPTER 12

COOKIE CRUMBLES

(Our Last chapter had Sam in the Underbridge looking for the elusive “Cookie” a beautiful lady that had him busted with a bag of Cocaine she had left behind. After disappearing for several days, to the amazement of most in the bar and grill, she walked in. Many knowing the story stared at her and then Sam. This was going to be interesting.)

There was a sudden lull in the conversation, the Planeteers music videos had ended and Sam hardly believing his luck with a surge of relief but also simmering anger hurried over to intercept her.

“Hi, remember me? I’m the guy you left holding a bag of dope and now I’m facing possession with intent to traffic. You are not leaving here without helping me out of this!”

“Sam, I’m so sorry. It was an accident. I had a phone call that told me the police were coming inside and to get out the back exit fast. There were drugs in the bag! I left in a panic. I didn’t know I had left it behind until I got outside and when I realized that, I wasn’t going to go back in to claim it with the police in there! My contact on the phone was across the street and told me to get far away quick. I didn’t know what happened to you until the following day. I had no idea how to reach you. I shouldn’t be even be here now, but I wanted to find you and explain. Can we please get out of here!”

Sam stood opened mouthed at what he was hearing. Once at a loss for words he grabbed her arm and they hurried out the door. “I have a car over there” she said pointing down the block.
“We can talk there or anywhere you want to go, but lets go now!”

She led him to a beat up silver Honda Civic, a dent on the passenger rear fender and scratches along the door. Sam waited as she unlocked the car and piled in. She started the car, turned to look at him “What do you want to do?”
“How about we go to the police department and you tell them the truth!”
“It’s impossible, I can’t. I have a daughter. I would lose her to Child Welfare!”
“Why the hell didn’t you think about that before deciding to - to be drug trafficker? Why are you selling drugs, you’re not a user are you?” He asked.
“I’m not.”
Sam stared at her, shaking his head ready to explode, but at the same time couldn’t help noticing she was still as attractive as the first time he saw her.
“What am I going to do? What are we going to do? I can’t go to jail. I’ve never used coke, I’ve never seen it before. I don’t know anyone who uses it! This is your fault! What the heck are you doing and who really are you?”
She sat, head down, tossed her hair off her shoulder as turned to Sam, tears beginning to form.
“Can I trust you, will you trust me? If I tell you everything, will you promise to give me time to sort this out. Right now I’m freaked out and no idea what to do.”
Sam fiddled with the door handle, he could get out, note the license plate, make and colour of the car and turn her in. But there was something about her. There was the unknown he wanted to understand and fool that he was he believed - what?- that the two of them could make things right.
“Oh, jumping Jesus, I hope I don’t regret this!
If it clears me of the charges, then I’m listening, but first I need to hear it before I promise. But first who are you, what is your name?”
“Amy. No last name until we talk this out.” She held her hand out to shake.
“Alright Amy, I’m listening.” He shook hands as they both looked at each other, eyes wide. “Explain.”

 

She recounted the events that led up to the night she ran out and Sam got arrested.
She was a single mother, with a daughter’s birthday coming up soon, behind in rent, no means to hold a birthday party, no regular job, surviving on welfare, desperate for money she had gone after any job available, but could only find occasional part time. Times were tough, the economy was going down the drain. One day she had been looking for bargains in the Riverside mall and noticed in the window of one store, the one thing her daughter had mentioned two to three times a day for the past week that she really, really wanted. She went in to see how much. Just over two hundred dollars! How could a child’s running shoes cost so much! She was besides herself, fretting over the impossibility of things lately, it seemed so unfair. With an overwhelming impulse she grabbed the box and hurried out of the store. Barely out, there was a shout and a hand clasped her arm immediately after.
“ Excuse me my dear but I believe you neglected to pay for those.” It was the store owner who had returned from the back storage room and had seen her grab the box and begin to walk out. With no money to pay and the threat of the police being called, she begged him, explaining her situation, how she had never done anything like this in her life, was there no way he could let this go?
He stood, hands on hips, thinking, perhaps there was something she could do for him. He needed to make a phone call first, he led her to a chair beside the back office and told her to wait, but he wanted her I.D. and phone. He’d be a moment and disappeared into the back room. Shortly after he came out with a small square box wrapped in brown paper and an address. Deliver this and then return here and he would give her things back and forget about her theft.
This being the least of things she worried he might of asked, she quickly agreed. There was no trouble, an hour and a half out of her day, she was back. He called to confirm delivery and handed back her things. Somewhat astonished she apologized again and thanked him for understanding. She fled home and spent the evening nervous, ashamed and wondering what on earth had she been thinking.
But as fate would have it, he called the next morning. Would she do another delivery and he would pay her for her time. This went on for almost a month. He paid well. sometimes the packages were wrapped, sometimes in a bag, sometimes left outside a door and she was told to knock 5 times and leave. A few times he phoned instructions when she arrived. Of course it soon occurred to her that she might be delivering drugs but all he would say was not to worry.
She finally decided enough and told him she could not do this anymore. He laughed, and reminded her he could still have her arrested but insisted on one more delivery and he would pay her $200. It was to the Underbridge Bar and Grill on Riverside Street. She was to keep her phone on, sit somewhere and expect a man to approach and ask if she was the receptionist from the Ears and Eyes Essentials. She was to agree, ask him to sit and pass him the bag privately. That was it! There the rest you know. She said looking at him. “What am I to do, What can we do?”
Sam asked a few more questions, they traded phone numbers and told her he needed some time to think, and one thing she must do now that she knew there was drugs in the last package is talk to a lawyer. Perhaps there was a way?
He got out of the car, saying goodbye, talk tomorrow. He was barely a block away when he had an idea. If this worked maybe they could both be off the hook!

 

 

 

Chapter 13: Sam Comes Clean

Chapter 13

Sam Comes Clean

Friday
That night after Amy (a.k.a. “Cookie”) had explained how she unknowingly at first, got herself into a mess delivering drugs. Sam puzzling the event on the way home had an idea. If it worked it might be a solution for the both of them. He decided to put it into action tomorrow first thing.

That next morning, sitting on his front porch, sipping his first coffee, he slowly became aware of a now familar clicking, clacking noise coming towards him. Blinking his eyes open more he watched Katie pushing herself along on her skateboard, hair flying behind her. Just before his gate, she leaned back, kicked the board up and neatly caught it, and happily pumped her first in the air! Turning to Sam “Hey, you haven’t had this sidewalk hazard fixed yet! Someone could get hurt here!” She laughed waving good morning to him shouting “How are Bella, Prudence and Miss Violet doing?”

“Um I haven’t looked.”
“Oh I gotta see then”, she flew through the gate, and hurried around the corner to the backyard.
“ Oh, sure, come on in then” quipped Sam to an empty space. Looked at his coffee, not sure if he should finish it or hurry to get up to see what might be happening.
He got up. Found Katie, already nose deep into the chicken coop, the chickens and the rooster raising a commotion from the weed infested garden.

“I don’t see any eggs yet, maybe they are hungry, have you fed them?”
“Um, I haven’t fed them, they seemed to be doing ok.”
Katie, hands on hips, look astonished (and much more older than she was) pointed at the (ahem) garden “They need something more than that!”
“Um, my brother Mark gave me a bag of feed. It’s in the house. I’ll get it.”
I need another coffee too he mumbled pushing the door open. Where did I put that?

“Mr. O, your place looks like a tornado hit it” Sam turned to find Katie right behind him.
“Katie, you shouldn’t be in here by yourself with me. Doesn’t your mother tell you to stay away from strangers, not get into cars, or go into houses with them. Wait outside.”

“You’re not a stranger, you helped clean me up after I wiped out on the sidewalk. We named your chickens!”
Sam wondered how naming chickens put him into a safe category with a 9 or 10 year old he had just met the other day.
“ All the same Katie, if your mom was here, that would be alright, but alone no, here’s the bag of feed, why don’t you feed the chickens for me.”
She took the bag peeping around him at the inside, appeared ready to say something more but scampered out the door calling “Bella, Prudence, Miss Violet, Reggie, come and get it”

Sam scratched his head, and looked around. “Lord she’s right. This place is a mess and I’ve got to get going.”
But clean clothes were needed and most were liberally distributed here and there about the house. Sigh. He looked out the door. Katie was sitting cross legged on the grass, hand held out with offering chicken feed on her palm. She was giggling, softly cooing and clucking to tempt Miss Violet closer. Uh! he thougt that hen does look a bit older than the others. Katie laughed out loud as Miss Violet had run up and pecked at her hand.

Sam returned to his tornado damage. Laundry! He grabbed a laundry basket and walked through the house collecting dirty clothes. Shirts hung on the back of chairs, socks, underwear, t-shirts behind the door in the bathroom. The bedroom proved too much for one basket. Into the laundry room he carried 2 full baskets noticing stuff tossed on top of the washing machine also waiting to be washed. He swept those off over to the top of the dyer.
“What the Hell?”
Water on the floor! Where was that coming from? He leaned over the topof the washer and found a small spray coming from one of the hoses. “Just great!” He found some black tape in his tool box and taped it up. Here’s hoping he thought.
Dumped the first load in and got it going. Stood watching nervously. Okay, okay, that’s going to work.
Into the kitchen. Lord! Everyday dish, plate, glass and utensil in the house was scattered along the counter, the sink full of old frying pans and pots. Man! He rolled up his sleeves, closed the drain, turned the hot water on looking for dish soap. “Don’t tell me! I don’t have any! What the hell!” Into the bathroon he grabbed a bottle of shampoo and dumped some into the sink. Lots of bubbles!
Should I use conditioner next, he wondered?

About half way though, a loud thumping sound had him running to the laundry room. BING! BANG! BOOM! Geez it sounded like a man inside the washing machine with a baseball bat.
An uneven load he thought. Inside the clothes were not piled to one side, there was still water in the bottom. Hmm. Poked the clothes around, closed the lid, started again.
Headed back to the kitchen. Boom! Boom! Boom! Back he ran. The washer had danced across the floor and was only held back from going any further by the hoses. The hose he had taped was now leaking much more water. “What the hell!” He stopped the machine. Turned the water source off. Lifting the lid he noticed the basket inside was quite wobbly. He pushed it a bit and it banged against the side. No! A busted drum bearing?
No time for this! He hauled the wet clothes out, and began wringing them out as best he could by hand over the laundry tub. Those he threw into the dryer and set it on maximum time.
Back to the kitchen! No, better check on what Katie was doing. Peeked out the door. No sign of her. The bag of feed left inside the door. Gone!
Running around like a man possessed he worked on clearing the house into better shape. When the dryer buzzed he hurried in, pulled out a shirt, pants, underwear and socks and into the bathroom for a shower and shave. He had a plan. He was going to get a job!

An hour later just around lunch time he stepped down off the Riverside Bus that had pulled into the Riverside Mall.
Walking through the parking lot, Sam glanced down at the pavement covered with fast food cartoons, paper bags, leaves and covid masks mixed together with dog turd baggies, beer cans, cigarette butts and gum wads. ( signs of the new fall season?)
School girls smoking across the street huddled in giggling clumps, cell phones in faces, held out taking selfies, music blaring, constant movement, pushing and shoving in friendly comfort. A hive.

Inside he wandered past the usual, Drugstore, Dollar store, i Bot Pizza, Hardies Hardware, a ladies 2nd hand store, a hairdressing salon, a convienence store and finally “SNEAK’S” a running shoe store. Unbelievably a small sign in the window “Part-Time Help Wanted”.
Sam strolled in, hoping his plan was about to come together.
The owner was about 6 feet tall,pale complexion, thin, oily black hair combed straight back, a thin mustache. Dressed in a black suit, black running shoes, face and hands pale as a zombie.
“May I help you?”

After a long back and forth from, “I’m afraid not”, to “perhaps, to how much do you want?” Sam eventually found himself employeed as a new stock boy, a customer service expert. a sales representative and a delivery man.
He would start tomorrow morning.

 

Chapter 14: SNEAK'S

Chapter 14

Sam becomes a Sneak

Excited by the first part of his plan falling into place by actually getting a job so quickly at SNEAK’S where Amy a.k.a. Cookie got stuck delivering illegals, Sam that evening decides to get things in order for a good start in the morning. This was going to so much better that a stake out.
First thing was to get the washing machine in working order. Having shut off the water to the washer he decided to see if a repair was something he could handle.

Editors Note* Sam at an early age showed a great interest in figuring out how things worked. A jammed tape in a tape recorder owned by his Aunt Julie had Sam feeling it would be an easy repair and set about examining the machine. Two hours later on a tarp, on the basement floor lay a dismembered tape recorder. The parts all in order of what came off first right down to the cord and plug at the end, It lay on the basement floor for another 2 years before Sam went off to high school, where Aunt Julie promptly gathered up the tarp and bits and put it all out to trash.

So fell to the washing machine the same progression. Having removed the outside cabinet, the drum inside seemed very unstable, He found a broken spring and thought maybe a rope would do the trick. But not sure if the that was the source of the Banging he decided to remove the drum. But how to that was a problem. He decided to have a beer and mull it over.
Another beer, some knicked knuckles led to a phone call to Tom Thumbs appliance repairs, an amazed Tom Thumb (if that was his actual name) after much back and forth questioning and answering announced to Sam that he best buy a new machine. If he was to attempt repairs , it would have been best to call him first but now listening to the various disseminations of Sam's
(ahem) repair, he decided it was one that was not worth the time for either of them.

 A dis-heartend Sam (after all the time he had put into dismantling/repair) pulled a canvas tarp from a closet and wobbled the half assembled washer on to it. Grabbing the loose corners of the tarp he dragged it through the house out onto the back porch. To get it out and away from the doorway he jumped down off the deck to the right and began pulling over to the edge. Stuck on a nail or sliver of wood. Sam put his foot up against the deck and a with a mighty heave, pulled the washing machine over on top of himself. At that moment 9 (or 10) year old Katie appeared in the yard and eyes popping out at the sight of Sam arms and legs flailing to unpin himself. Trying not to laugh she quipped quietly “ I’ve never seen anyone do laundry that way.”
An embarrassed Sam, momentarily lost for words, rolled the damn thing off him and loudly replied “It’s Broken”
“Like Doh! Her eyes rolling up in her head. “I kinda figured that. I’m came over to check on the chickens. I’ve been reading up on them.” She stood, hands on hips observing Sam standing up, (again looking far older that her 9 (or 10 ) years. She wore her familiar overalls repaired by mother a few days ago. And now newly acquired she sported a pale purple helmet, elbow and knee pads, and gloves with the finger tips cut off. Skater Girl!
“Chickens need protein to lay eggs and grow healthy feathers and strong beaks, We might need more bugs in the garden to help, but seeds, peas, meat scrapes are good too. Mom wants to know if you will come for cake and coffee tomorrow.”
“We’ll have to try some other time Katie, I got a job, I have to go in tomorrow to learn the ropes and I don’t know how long that will take.  Tell your mom thanks. Rain check?”
“You got a job, What are you doing? Where is it? I hope its not in a grocery store.”
Sam feeling the whole evening was about to go down the drain, hussled Katie along, telling her he was working at SNEAK’S. Katie beaming, jumped shouting, “I love that store, I’ll come a visit you there!” Sam politely explained that was probably not a good idea and said goodbye shutting the gate.
Katie stuck outside, indignant “But I didn’t see the chickens. I brought a hamburger!”

Saturday morning with the help of Reggie Rooster and the chicken trio doing their best to wake the whole neighbourhood had Sam up early. At least it’s better than that damn yappy white toilet roll of a dog next door he thought.
He arrived a few minutes to eight, Marcus Snidey the owner, pale as sheet of paper was standing behind the counter with a Tim’s in his hand, looking over receipts. “ Ah good you’re here” he said looking up. “Lets get started.”
Sam was shown the stock room, how it was arranged and what to do if a brand or shoe size required reordering. the front sales area Sam was meticously drilled on Sales,window displays, the hows and why of placements and so much more than Sam began to think it was verging on obession. The main theme was though that this was not just a running shoe store. It was an elite store, where discriminating buyers can get unique, styilsh, and very expensive SNEAK’s.
DIscriminating for sure thought Sam. Next came reception how to handle customers, what to do if more than one came in a once, never ignore a customer, let them know you’ll be with them right away, but please have a look around meanwhile. And so the morning went.
Around 11:30  Marcus wondered if Sam could make a delivery. Handed Sam an address, and dropped a set of keys into his hand. A Car! Excellent!
“After you drop this off, go and have lunch and I’ll see you back here at 1. I have a few things to get ready here and we can work on that when you get back.”

Sam happily escaped out through the back door and found a Grey KIA Soul parked nearby. He pulled out onto Wyandotte, left  on Riverdale and followed it down to RIverside.Turning right he drove along the millionaires mile past Riverfront Mansions, on both sides on the road, He came to a round about and took the first cutoff to Manning Road. Not much further now.He found Hayes and followed along the twistering and turning road and came to the address.
He pulled into a drive checking address and name once more, he walked up to front door and knocked.

A tall, older man, thinning somewhat on top with white hair, a Clive Cussler look alike thought Sam. He had answered the door prying it open with his foot and a hand holding a rag, a paint brush in his mouth, and a palette in the other.
Are you Ken Gibson? I have a delivery from Sneak’s”
“Come in Come in”, he mumbled as he stepped back and motioned in with his head.
Sam stepped in and found himself in a living room that had been converted to a studio, There were canvas’s and paintings everywhere.
“Here please” he indicated a clearing on a table, after relieving himself of brush and palette. “Wonderful. I’ve been looking forward to getting these, he smiled as he opened the box - inside Zebra hide running shoes. “And they glow in the dark! Aren’t they something!” He looked happily at them holding one up to show Sam.
“They are something!” replied Sam, holding in his real thoughts.
“I’ve been been waiting over a week, Mr. Sidney didn’t have in them stock and had to specially order them in for me.
“I believe that, they are something!” Sam said, wrinkling his forehead, remembering who he was working for.
“Well Okay bye now”, he tumbled into into car and figured he would go the Underbridge Bar and Grill for lunch.
Meanwhile inside Mr Gibson having cleaned his hands reached in to pull out the paper stuffed into the toe of the runners.  He turned the shoe up and gave it a tap and a small baggie of white power fell out into his hand.
“Oh Boy! Cheryl and I are going to have a party tonight!”  he whispered gleefully doing a little dance!
Sam meanwhile had retraced his route, continued along Riverside and stopped in the parking lot of the Underbridge. So named because it was tucked under the Ambassor Bridge,(Canadian Side)
Well thought Sam, that wasn’t what I thought might be in the box. This might take longer than I thought as he walked in to the smell of beer, food and years of customer traffic. The lights were dim, the music loud but not overbearing, with several tv monitors showing videos, and sports and weather. A group of men were gathered under one watching a golf game. Sam headed as far away as he could, waving at Linda Anne, “a beer and the special” He sat down to wonder what might be next. There must be somewhere in the back room that Marcus was hiding drugs, But where?

 

Chapter 15 Looking for a Clue

Chapter 15

Looking for a Clue

At the end of his first day at SNEAK’S Sam walked home mulling over the details of the day hoping something would provide a clue as how Marcus Sydney was running drugs out of the store.
One thing stood out, the running shoes for sale were not cheap. He was amazed at the prices of $300 at the lower end and going up to Jimmy Choo Diamond sneakers for $3,672.
Insane!
That afternoon a steady stream of customers came in, most looked around excited at the designer sneakers no doubt just as surprised at the prices as the wild variety of designs.  Three customers had come in to pick up shoes they had ordered. Marcus took care of them and had Sam make one more delivery. This was to a middle aged lady out in the west end on the south side of E.C. Row highway.
Sam pulled into a “McMansion” with a wrap around enclosed porch. The place looked to be situated on a double lot. Whoo-dee whoo! Sam thought as he rung the the bell.
The door was opened by a tall thin lady looking actually quite fit, wearing glasses, dressed in blue jeans, a blue silk shirt and no shoes just socks. “Are you Joanne Waltenbury? I have a package from SNEAK’s for you.”
“Oh yes, how wonderful I wasn’t expecting this until Monday. Please come in, excuse me for a moment I was on the phone.” Sam came in closed the door and watched as she walked to small table in the hallway to a desk top phone. She quickly said her goodbyes and came back taking the package in her hands, she asked” Have you seen these, they are one of a kind I’m sure!” She opened the bag and took the lid off the box. “Look, aren’t they divine.” She held up a blue running shoe with platform heels. Sam had never seen runners with soles that thick. They must be 2 inches. “What the heck, is that fur ?” He  asked. “Oh yes it’s blue mink, I can’t wait to show them off at our next concert. I play bass ukulele in a ukulele band and we all like to dress to the nines!, I’m going to dye my hair blue too. Won’t that be a hoot!? She laughed gleefully.
Sam momentarily at a lost trying to think of any music played with ukulele’s asked  “Do you play Tip-Toe Through the Tulips?”
He was quickly ushered out the door with a kind thank you.
Back to the store, he felt he was close to figuring something out but whatever it was it still failed to make itself known.
Meanwhile Jo (as her friends all called her) pulled the paper stuffing out from the shoe and reached in to pull out a 1/4 oz. of imported Moroccan pot. “Larry” she called quickly disappearing down the hallway, “ Get your hookah, our stuff has arrived early.”


Finally reaching home he climbed up the steps of his front porch and found an envelope wedged between the door and the frame. Unlocking the door he sat down in his recliner and opened the envelope. It was an invitation to Katie’s birthday party. Tomorrow!
A short note written from her mother at the bottom.
“Mr. Ogrebee, Katie talks about you all the time. Don’t you think it’s time we met? We would both be happy to have you here. Don’t worry there will not be a yard full of kids. Some neighbours who Katie is friends with their kids.  BBQ with just burgers and dogs!
Please come!” It was signed Mrs. Crosbie.

Huh, thought Sam, realizing he hadn’t known Katie’s last name. A kids birthday party. Geez. I don’t know but I should meet Katie’s mom especially if Katie keeps popping up here. I wonder if I should get a present? I wonder if she would like a chicken?
With a sigh he picked up his keys and went out to search for present for a 9 (or 10) year old girl. Is this weird or what he mumbled to himself.

After an hour of a progressively despairing search he finally stumbled across a very unusual toy store on a side street and with the help of a teenaged young lady who quizzed him with 20 questions he settled on a gift, accepting her advice as she happily selected a gift bag, tissue paper and a card, rang it up and wished him Good Luck!

Sunday morning around 11:30, maybe closer to twelve,  Sam in the dining room just finished writing a birthday greeting on a small card, and tucked it in on top of the gift bag. There was knock on the door, he crossed to open it and there was Katie smiling from ear to ear. “I came to walk with you to my house. Mom is excited about meeting you. I thought you might be scared so here I am.”
“I might be a little nervous” Sam replied “this is the first kids party I’ve been asked to. What ever is that you’re wearing today Katie” he smiled looking down at her.
“I’m not a kid and haven’t you ever seen a girl wearing a dress.” It was pink with blue flowers,  she also had white socks and black shiny shoes. She had a blue ribbon holding her hair back. “ Wow you look like a nice little girl, what have you done with Katie?”
Her bottom lip pursed up like she was ready hurl an insult, but then smiled, “thank you”

Sam picked up Katies present, locked the door and followed her down the stairs our to the sidewalk. “You got a present too, that was nice, but you didn’t have to do that.”
“Oh good I’ll just put his back in the house!”
“After going to all that trouble, I don’t think so” she tugged his hand and led him down the street, pointing out each house along the way telling him who lived there and if they were nice, or had 20 million cats, a dog to avoid or never seen anyone there. They stopped at the corner lot where a very little old bent over lady with a broom and dust pan was sweeping leaves off her sidewalk. She was bent over like an upside down capital L. She turned her head sideways and smiled a hello at Katie and looked up questioning Sam’s appearance. After introductions Katie offered to come back later and put the garbage out for her. “Really just what have you done with Katie?” Sam asked.
She smiled, took his hand again and led him around the corner. Sam walked along with a grin on his face feeling the happiest he had felt in along time.

Almost at the end of the the 2nd block she led him up the sidewalk of a 2 story wood framed house, nicely painted white with red window shutters. Sam starting to have second thoughts, thought to himself “What the heck am I doing? Going to a kids birthday party, going to meet her mother. This is nuts, I’ve never been to a kids birthday party, I’m usually at the Underbridge getting pissed with the guys where we can complain about the way the neighbourhood is going to the dogs and how the idiots who are running the country don’t know their ass from a … “Here we are Sam, this is my home!
She pushed opened the door.
Sam snapped back to reality, took a breath, and followed Katie in.

Chapter 16 Surprise !Surprise! Surpise!

Chapter 17 - Resentments, Grudges, and Delusions

Chapter 17

Resentments, Grudges, and Delusions

Sam sat nursing a drink, thinking about his Sunday lunch with Amy and Katie. He thought about the court case coming up, He thougth about losing his job. He thought about this stupid job at SNEAK”s.
Sitting in his leather easy chair his thoughts started to overlap, each shouting to be heard like a ego afraid to be ignored. Calculations, ramifications, imaginations, his eyes focused and reality stared him in the face. Here he was again with 2 empty chairs facing him.
The furnace whispering in the basement was the only reply to his thoughts. He should invite someone over
After all – it was no big deal, - play some cards, watch some sports, but no – the loneliness sat heavy – staring at him like a dog waiting patiently for him to get up, open the door and let him out.
There was no dog, and there was no conversation. Just him sitting alone in his house.

He wonderied where it began to go wrong and realized there was not just one event.
It was a continuation of little things that had reached critical mass.
Where did the romance go? Where did the conversations disappear? What about all the hopes and dreams? Was it that they had all been reached and nothing new replaced them?
He thought about the little events.
And then the slow seeping multi-consciousness that rattles your brain
The façade had slowly built up – like plaque on your teeth or your veins slowly clogging with cholesterol, the wear and tear of years not noticed because it was something you saw day after day- it seemed there was no change. Yet suddenly the walls needed painting, the facets replaced, the floors updated. You needed a shave and shower……
You need a punch in the head to wake you up !

Are there several parallel universes?
Maybe there is truth to the idea of parallel universes
There could be several of them all once
-     Some with get-aways –hopes and dreams
-     Others – that never got a chance to grow
-     Were they all overwritten by the prevailing plan – the master plan - Fate?
-     But it’s not until your intention, your conditions and all your coincidences melded to give chance to that first amoeba that began to grow in the rich pool of nutrients – enabling birth, growth, evolution, life crawling out of the teaming swamp.

(Whoa, fasten your seat-belts Sam is getting deep!)
     “Folks we’ve just taken the fork in evolution to the right and we’re coming up on 3 branches of which we are likely going to veer to the left.  Atoms, protons, quantum’s – what the bleep do we know? Are you locked in or is your mind wandering? Well– who knows – it just happens!
Will you win– or will you lose ?
Could it be a lucky break at first and then a curse later?
Will it be a miserable torturous punishment that has you praying for salvation, praying for redemption on your knees and slowly but surely, the light lifts you from your fog.
Hail-a-lou-ya!

Sam looked out the front window at the fog hugging the street and sidewalk in the dusk as the street light slowly began to burn the fog away – or was the fog enveloping the light – half empty or half full?
Know yourself was the old vantage.
“But I don’t know what I don’t know.”
The reality of self pity and history of misery is a result of continued enforcement, the destruction of self determination.  (Here he goes again)
“Where are my hopes and dreams – a better universe beckoning?  Is it fear and loathing pushing me away or hopes and dreams pulling me?”
Sam felt he had been pushed.

Sam remembered the last few days he had worked before getting fired
He plowed through the day. He cursed to himself. He cursed the people he worked with. He cursed at the people he indirectly worked with. He swore at the manager who handed him this drivel. If he were in charge this kind of shit wouldn’t happen. I’d fire their asses in a second. He fumed. Thinks they’re so good, if they stopped talking and started to do some work and give support to the people under them, they might have something to crow about.
He remembered walking over to Casey’s cubicle, Marilyn passed on her way with a pile of faxes, Kim on a mission blinked hello and ran away, Melanie, like a deer in the headlights, stopped to stare, she stopped unsure if she was going to have a conversation or not.
“Are those pills working yet? he mirrored a glare at her, continuing on his way.
Melanie, stood blinking, watching as he disappeared around the corner.
 
The Pills were working.

His mood slowly disintegrated. His day was drifting into constant requests that he couldn’t seem to ignore, he felt he had accomplished little, no personal goals addressed, and knew he was going to get stomped on if he didn’t begin to checking some long term items off his list. That was his frustration, his failure to put little steps in place to complete the bigger tasks was beginning to overwhelm him. So much for project management.
“What a bastard!” he swore. His angered transposed him to a another scene.
He was sitting with his ususal cronies, Andy, Richard, and Paul. It was R2D2,  their Supervisor, (that was his nick name for her, and he was giving R2D2 proper hell.
“You’re blowing smoke and I’m going to turn the fan on!” he jabbed his finger at her face.

“I’ll tell YOU how to run this place. Friggin’ fire what’hiz his name, spend some money on this and that, I’d write’em  up so fast for their stupidity, and that tell lady jane in the corner that she better pull up her socks because everyone else is pissed off at her!!!!!

KaaaaaBOOM!

His thoughts slapped him back to consciousness! He laughed, realizing he had been standing, lost in thoughts, He’d become stuck in his past, his outlook like a rock, shaped and filtered by personalized specifications, hunches, biases, defined perceptions. (This is deep isn’t it)?
So he stood, feet nailed to the floor, thoughts all tumbling to one conclusion.
“Idiot!” You’re a bleeping idiot.”

“Ahh , things happen, I’m such a critic. I want to complain to and about everyone. Nothing makes me happy. What an Ogre. What a troll. “

“Yes! – I’m OK with everyone around me saying it’s my fault” he proclaimed righteously as he nodded, his lower lip thrust out in disappointment betraying his true thought.

No one had been asked to think about better ways! Baaa, like sheep, follow the leader  Why should I make an effort to come up with a solution. They don’t pay me enough anyway. I’m doing far more than my job description already for crying out loud.“It’s not my fault!”
Or was it?


Well – nothing wrong with “thin’nin’ a thought” He looked out the window, “maybe I better have something to eat, I seem to be a little irrational. I’m having a conversation out loud with my cosmic companion.
My inner me. Mini me”
That brought another laugh as he turned reaching for a beer.
He sat in back his chair and sipped staring into space.

Next : Chapter 18      Don’t miss this one!      How Sam got his last name

 

Chapter 18 - Ripples

continuing story, mystery, romance, running shoes

Chapter 18

Ripples

Sam was sitting in his chair staring into pace. He had been wallowing over past mistakes and misfortunes. Caught in circling drain of despairing thoughts he decided to go for a walk, clear his head. On the way out he grabbed a large glaciated stone off a shelf. Its’ perfect round almost smooth shape had caught his eye. He had found it hiking along a park trail up in the Georgian Bay area. Midland - or some place like that.

He walked along Wyandotte, over the Little River Bridge to Lakeshore Park to stand close to the edge of a pond. With a shrug he tossed the stone high into the air, the sun on one side, shadow on the other as it rose high into the air towards it’s zentith and then fell (like a rock) into the center of the pond. KERPLUK!, A splash, sending waves out. Evidence of once was. It occurred to him as he watched the waves that all things cause ripples. Interactions with people, books you read, music you listen to, places you visit. Anything you did. Ripples. Sometimes they reflected back at you with unintended reactions.The returning waves reinforced the troughs and crests as they returned back to the source now transformed.  Sam watched, wondered if a decision, a clue, a direction might be carried to him.

His life had been such a turmoil. No mother or father that he could remember. Aunt Julie, who not really an Aunt, tried to be as much as a mother she could. Sam had never acquiesced to call her mother, always Aunt Julie. She had never ventured information about what happened to his parents, other than they went away and as a youngster he accepted that, felt no need to inquire where or why, or when they were coming back, perhaps he knew deep down that they might be dead?

As a youth he was not a handsome lad, just an average looking kid. He grew to a normal looking fellow, 5 feet,11 inches, lots of brown hair, a permanent frown on his forehead as he accepted his middle of the road direction, ideas, social and financial levels. He thought perhaps he might find a “great” moment of clarity that would elevate him, but could not yet, solidify in his mind what that might be. Fall in love, get married, discover the fountain of youth! Be filthly rich. Hadn’t happened yet.
He was no virgin having had the usual adolescent trysts through his schooling years and dated occasionally later after being set up by friends with blind dates. Only once stuck with a arrow from Cupid with a girl named Marylin who he dated for almost a year. He was going to propose but she upped and left him for somebody else, leaving a poorly written note explaining that it just wasn’t working out. She had already found someone else. He never found out who and for the past-present he had avoided the exercise of finding the girl of his dreams. It was best to avoid that irreversible mistake.

He sighed, he didn’t believe any claptrap about seances, superstitions, crystal balls, tarot cards, mysterious cosmic energies, reading tea leaves or coin tosses. Never had his horoscope read, even for fun. But here he was looking for a revelation by tossing a 2 lb glaciated stone into a pond to watching to see if the ripples might carry salvation. He shook his head at his own duplicity, turning to head back home, slowly considering his examination of actions, feelings, this search for a decision, an awakening, a spark, an ember. Why? Why this metamorphosis? Was he unconsciously avoiding failure. Damn there was the unconsciousness again.
You can’t leap over your own shadow, he thought.

Was it attraction, that led to infatuation, lust, to love in that the order? Was there something before attraction, maybe other levels in between the others. Well he certainly had been attracted to Amy. He felt he almost had an answer, was there something before attraction?
Was it intuition, or intention, did that come from conscious thought or his sub conscious, Damn why did subconscious ever have to be discovered and be accepted as a real thing?
Perhaps there is no order. It just all happens in multiple variations, any old order. No definite start, no definable ending, It happens, who the hell knows why!
Lord I’m regressing, I’m a dripping malaise of sticky pudding, I’m going to the dogs. Next I’ll be passed out of the sidewalk outside of the Underbridge Bar and Grill, with a bottle in my hands. Enough!

He felt that he might not be truly living all of his life in the present, but wasn’t that what was he was doing? Could you not do that?  Was he just layers of past irreversible events. He wandered back to the house retracing the trail of his thoughts,

Paused on his front step a familiar thought rose into his consciousness. He knew what came before attraction.

Fate!

And again, soon, fate, was about to affect the lives of 3 individuals and we all can guess who they might be!

Back in the house Sam called Amy. She answered with a soft almost whisper “Hello.
Oh it’s you, I’m so glad you called!” she exclaimed happily. “I was thinking about you. Well us actually. That was nice this afternoon the three us having lunch. Katie thinks the world of you.”
Sam agreed but dejectedly continued “I needed someone to talk to Amy, I’m stuck. My life has been the pits for so long and to top it off I thought by now I would have discovered something at Sneak’s, but it just hasn’t happened”
“Sam, we still have time. They haven’t scheduled a date yet have they?”
‘My lawyer called and said in will be December 5th. I was wondering, do you think our lawyers should get together. Maybe the two of them can work something out. I’m really feeling miserable about all this. I just feel my life has been going steadily down the drain. I suppose that’s why I’m such a grump all the time.”
Amy, surprised at hearing this side of Sam, paused.
“Sam, we haven’t known each other for too long, but the time we’ve had has been wonderful. You’re not a grump! You’re always in a good mood here. You tell jokes to Katie, you’re helping me avoid going to court. We enjoy your company. We have fun. A lot!. You’re a good man. That’s why I like you so much! she added.”
That put a bit of a spark in Sam’s spurs!


“Amy can I ask something personal. Where is Katie’s father?”
She replied with no hesitation. “We divorced. He wasn’t much of a provider. He basically disappeared when Katie was two. He was a mope. He just wasn’t cut out to be family man. I never got one cent from him in child support. Not a word from him. I have no idea where he is and really don’t want to know. It’s actually better this way. He wasn’t half the man you’ve been to Katie and me in the last little while. I refused to be known by his surname so I use my maiden name, Crosbie. Sam, just like you my parents are gone, We have no relatives either. Aren’t we a pair? And since you ask you would you mind if I ask a personal question too? Katie has mentioned this a few times and I wonder about it too. About your name? I’ve never heard of anyone with the name Ogrebee before. Where does it originate?”

Sam told Amy about his Aunt Julie, how he never knew his parents. She had always called him an Ogre to Bee. When he was old enough he decided to move out to continue college and in the process had asked about his name. His father was Brodie Ogre, the name had Scottish origins from way back and the “clan” had slowly dwindled in size. She knew no one related to him at all. His fmother was a Bee, Samantha Bee, also Scottish in origin. They had never married and the birth record had Ogre/Bee listed as parents. His Aunt Julie decided to join the two name and ever since that had been his name. He went on to say that she had passed away a few years ago and had left the house to him.

“Sam, I don’t know how to say this, I hope you don’t take offense but your name Ogre doesn’t have the same meaning now as it probably did originally? ”
“I did get picked on quite a bit going through school”  Thinking it through, he laughed, “Amy, don’t you ever change. You and your daughter just say what’s on your mind. No hidden secrets with you two. I suppose the name could use a bit of polishing, but what would I change it to?
“Sam I like for who you are, there is no rush to to do that right away.” (But I know Katie would she kept to herself) She laughed. “ Listen, I have to go but you keep at it with Sneak’s for a while, somethings going to happen. I was hoping you would like to come over this Saturday after work. I’ll make dinner, we’ll have some drinks and talk about things. Let’s get to know each other better. “And Sam” she said quietly ” Katie is going to be at a sleep over at Melissa’s Saturday night. Bye” and hung up.
Sam’s face grew a big idiot smile. Things were looking up! “Excellent!”

 

Chapter 19 Invisible Forces

Chapter 20 Fresh Brewed Coffee

Chapter 20

Fresh Brewed Coffee

Sunday morning Sam woke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. He sat up feeling pleasantly content. Amy was not in bed, and as he was trying to find the various locations of discarded clothes, Amy, came into the bedroom, handed him a coffee and sat down on the side of the bed. He took the cup and immediately wished he had left his hands free as she leaned over to kiss him. Seeing the gleam in his eyes she shook her finger in his face, “Have your coffee, get a shower, Katie will be home soon. There’s extra towels in the bathroom.”

A little later, showered and having dressed in his yesterday’s clothes, he followed his nose into the kitchen. “I smell bacon! I can’t find my socks. Have you seen them?”
“You were in such a hurry to get into bed, you left them on last night,.”  She raised her eyebrows up and down seductively.  “They’re probably at the end of the bed under the sheets you animal.”

She had changed into jeans, a striped white and blue top, blue socks and white running shoes and was flipping the bacon over in the frying pan.
He had never met a woman like her. She was supposed to be of the weaker sex, a preconceived notion he now realized was wrong. Almost as tall as him, and looking amazing in those tight blue jeans. He was discovering that she could be determined, assured, competent and had a surprisingly dirty mind and he found he was beginning to lovie her for that.
“Are you are lost in thought? Forget about your socks or whatever you are thinking. Give me a hand - with breakfast “ she added shaking her head looking at him. "Impossible.”
He went to the front entrance where he had taken off his shoes and slipped them on.

“We’re having pancakes too. Grab the the big bowl from the bottom cupboard on the right.
You’ll see the flour next to it.”
With Sam following orders, the two of them had breakfast soon under control and not a minute too late as Katie came hurrying in. “I’m back, I’m starving, I got to pee!” She flew down the hallway with her backpack over her shoulder and tossed it into her bedroom. The bathroom door slammed. Sam and Amy finished setting the table and within minutes Katie wandered back into the dining room. Fingers tapping her lower lip, eyebrow’s raised she puzzled a look at Sam. He was wearing the same clothes as yesterday. He was grinning like an idiot. Hmmmn.
She looked to her mother then back to Sam, a thought forming immediately  “How was last night. Mom’s a pretty good cook isn’t she!”
Sensing an underlying motive to the question he nodded quickly and a bit too loudly “She is! Dinner was great!!” He threw a nervous glance to Amy, then to Katie, his face turning red.
He didn’t know what to say or do.
“Why don’t you have socks on?”
Damn he thought quickly, “Its the ‘in’ thing thing to do, wear your shoes without socks.”
Katie was going to ask if wearing the same clothes was an ‘in’ thing too.
But Amy jumped in, skillfully deflecting the conversation. “Sit. Lets eat. Tell me about your night with Melissa. What movie did you watch” They pulled out chairs and busied themselves filling their plates.
“We watched ‘Paranorman.’ We hadn’t seen it before. There were zombies and ghosts and witches. It wasn’t too scary.  Mrs Rutherford made popcorn and we had hot chocolate with tons of marshmallows. Melissa and I stayed up late talking. Mom! She got 2 training bra’s so I got to try them on. It was a little big for me but I’m going to need one. Soon! Oh and Melissa got her period and she has her mom almost convinced to let her have blue highlights in her hair! If she does can I have strawberry highlights in mine?”
She was deviously happy, enjoying the discomfort of both Sam and Amy. But mostly Sam who had slid lower in his chair and bent his head over his pancakes hoping to hide and somehow unhear what he already heard. This was too much detail for him. He had no experience handling things like this.

Eventually they settled into normal conversation. Sitting around the table talking about everything that had happened that week, Katie doing most of the talking about going back to school. All in all, Sam thought, probably a normal day for most, but for him, his battery had charged 100%.
They cleared the table and Sam felt he should be going. Conscious of Katie watching he gave Amy a quick peck on the cheek thanking her for the wonderful dinner last night and escaped out the door and whistled all the way home.
Katie watched the door close, with hands on her hips turned to her mother. Her face a mixture of mock concern and disbelief “You slept with him didn’t you?” Amy blinked, eyes wide her mouth open in surprise, not sure how to respond but Katie interrupted her by stepping in to hug her, “It’s about time!”
“Oh boy,” Amy shook her head at her daughter.  "I think we better have a talk.”

And talk they did. Amy told her everything. How she first met Sam. His accidental arrest, because of her mistake delivering packages. She told her about the charge now against Sam as a result and what he was trying to do to clear the both of them.  She retold their conversations, everything and even mentioned asking him about his name. She told her daughter not to breath a word to anyone  - this was serious!
Katie had lots of questions. Amy patiently answered them. Katie sat back and asked if she and Sam were going ……  but Amy put her fingers over Katie’s mouth. “Don’t you dare.”
“I like him mom. He’s a good man and it’s time you started seeing someone seriously.”  She got up looking at her mother and said “I’m going to think of a better name for him but  Melissa and I are supposed to going skateboarding at Lakeside park for a while. She left her mother questioning  what she just shared with her daughter. Pretty soon Katie tumbled out the door carrying her skateboard, wearing her new skateboard shoes, helmet, knee-pads and elbow pads.
Amy sat staring at the empty space “I wonder if I told her too much? My god what Sam will think about all this when he hears about this!”

Next week!
Sam meets two very odd customers.

 

Chapter 21: Grinding the week away

Chapter 21

Grinding the week Away

Back to work for another week.

Sam was not to know of Amy's talk with Katie for a while as the week at “Sneak’s“ (for all occasions) flew by with the usual sales, new shipments coming in and deliveries. Marcus was off in his own world muttering about a Chicago convention coming up and how he really wanted to attend.

Wednesday after work “Stuck on You” came by to look at the house to give Sam a quote. The owner, Jerry, an older man arrived. Well he looked older as he was covered with white dust in his hair, on his jeans and shirt. He walked around the house with a pencil and pad working out measurements. “Mr Ogrebee I have a proposition for you. I just had a young couple change their minds about the a light grey stucco they ordered. Now they want a dusty rose. Fine with me but they still have to pay for the first mix but as a result I can’t do the job for them this Saturday as planned. If you like the grey. I can do it Saturday. I’ll discount the mixing charge!”  Sam agreed on the price. Wow, His house was going to look different after all these years. Finished!

Excited he called Amy and told her about about the deal. She laughed saying “well there goes  Katie’s name for you. No more Mr, Tyvek!  This is great, we’ll have to come over and see the finished job. Let us know when we can come over!” He changed the topic by telling her of two odd deliveries he had made so far this week..

He had arrived at the first address on Jefferson remembering what Marcus had told him about this delivery that the man was famous not only for his political rantings but he could let off wind that would knock birds off telephone wires. Don’t let him turn his back on you, Marcus said. Leaning closer whispering in a conspirators tone, “I’m told he suffers from prostate problems and can only pee while humming the national ahem “Marcha Real,”of his native county Spain.”

This should be good thought Sam knocking on the door.
Horacio Hamn answered the door. He was a large man, 6 feet tall and looked almost that around. Wrinkles, folds, wattles and jowls somewhat hidden by a trimmed black beard streaked with grey. He had a horseshoe haircut, bald on top, hair on the sides, dressed in black dress pants with cuffs on the bottom, black slip on shoes, and white shirt and purple tie.  A very large grey cardigan buttoned up finished his attire.
“Mr. Hamn - I have a delivery from SNEAK’S “

“Ah, thank you young man. How wonderful to have this delivered to my door. A great service! Please be sure to mention Marcus my gratitude. So unlike those louts spouting these flimsy right wing politics that are finding popular attraction these days. All because of the cowering pudding hearts of the leftists. They should be pushing back against those ignorant people. Fake news indeed. Fake thinkers! They have brains no better than bread dough.”
“It does seems to be an evil development?” Sam ventured.

“No. Evil presupposes a moral decision, intention, and some forethought.
A lout, however doesn’t stop to think or reason. Like an animal he acts on instinct believing he is doing good and therefore always right. Proud to go around fucking up anything, anyone  or anything he perceives to be different from himself, be it of colour, religion, language, nationality or sexual preferences.
No what we what we need is more evil people and less borderline pig-heads.”

Sam thought of his friend Andy who would say what we need is more Christian charity.
He stood listening to the man go on and thought that the man’s monologue could drop flies in mid air.

“Let’s look at this delivery that you have been so kind to deliver.” He tore the wrapping paper off the box and opened the lid. Inside he took out glossy black high top sneakers, with glossy black rubber soles. “
“Formal Dress running shoes! Can you believe it!  You see I stand on my principals,” he laughed heartily at this joke causing him to pass wind in his merriment. Sam noticed the window curtains across the room suddenly fly about. Horacio turned around to look at the curtains.”What was that?”
Sam was now presented with the back end of Mr. Hamn. He quickly grabbed the door handle
“Time to go! Good bye, nice meeting you!”
Geez , It must be some kind of club that shop at SNEAK’S. I’ve never met so many weird  people. He backed the car out.
Inside, (of course after Sam had gone) Mr. Horacio Hamn reached inside his rather large formal running shoe, tossed the paper stuffing out and shook out a small oval box. He flipped the lid up and nodded satisfied at the sight of a dozen tablets of Ectasy.


Mr. Ron Lehigh was next on the list. Sam motored drove along Walker street beginning to realize that he was getting nowhere with his investigation.
He knocked on the door. The television was turned up loud with a game show host encouraging the contestants for the correct answer.
“And now for the last question can you tell us how could a girl fall off a 20 foot ladder and never get hurt?“
Mr. Lehigh opened the door “Come in, just a minute please, I have to see who wins.” He hurried to the TV and stood shouting out his own ideas as the first contestant answered.
“She jumped and caught a tree branch “ the woman contestant shouted jumping up and down.
“I’m sorry that’s wrong” A giant rubber hand about 5 feet tall came down and swatted her off the stage into a pile of Twinkies.
The next contestant, wiggling like a cobra trying to get out of the basket, held her hands together under her chin.
“She feel into a pool” she hissed. Again the host announcer said he was sorry and watched as the giant rubber hand swatted her off into the pile of Twinkies. She tumbled in head first, her feet kicking in the air was all that could be seen.
The last contestant, an older man, nodded like he had the answer.
“She was standing on the bottom rung of the ladder”
“You’re CORRECT!” the host announcer screamed. “you’ve just won ….
Mr. Lehigh turned back to Sam “I would have got that! The bottom step!  That’s so clever.!” He stood looking into the air contemplating what was a truly amazing finish.
Sam waited, not sure how long the rapture would last. He cleared his throat.
“Your delivery from Sneaks!”
Mr. Lehigh danced back and forth left to right. “What if she was wearing a parachute? I bet that would have been a good answer. Oh well, All men are by nature equal, until they are born!”
Sam was surprised. “Who said that? Plato?”
“No” replied Mr. Lehigh, “Harvey Lemon, the owner of the Circle K on the corner of Lauzon and Tecumseh. He’s quite witty and constantly spouting clever saying, but only if you are a paying customer.”
Mr. Lehigh was doing a two step still contemplating the many answers that could have been possible as he drifted off into a daydream visualizing himself a winning contestant.
Sam gave him the box not waiting to see what was inside.


The next 2 days flew by, with only deliveries and phone calls to Amy the most exciting things to happen. But thought Sam, the week sure started out good!

Next week: Chapter 22

Katie mistakenly tells Sam she knows what is going on.
Finally. Sam learns how about  !@?

Chapter 22 Discovery!

Chapter 22

Discovery!

Saturday Morning

Watching the chickens scratching and pecking in the backyard, Sam realized he hadn’t heard the yappy white fluffy toilet roll of a dog next door for some time. Maybe it ran away he thought. Too bad! Or maybe the fertilizer enhanced crows had flown down and carried it away to drop it in the town’s water treatment pools about a mile away. He visualized the crows picking it up and fighting over it as they carried it away. What a pleasant morning thought.
A knock on the front door woke him from his daydreaming.
It was “Stuck On You” The stucco company had arrived to work on his house. Jerry, the owner, looking like he had fallen in a cement bin, waved hello while instructing two helpers to haul out scaffolding, boards, ladders and a whole range of equipment. Sam decided to wander down to the inconvenient store to get a paper and leave them to it.

About a block away he heard the familiar clickety clack of a skateboard coming up behind him. “I see they are working on your house.” It was Katie of course. “ I guess I can’t call you Mr. Tyvek now. What can I call you? Maybe Mr. Sleep-over?” Sam stopped mid-stride turning to face Katie, her eyes looking up and away, a smirk on her mouth. He was astonished. Surprised that she knew.
“Shouldn’t a 10 year girl old have more sense not to be such a little snot!” His anger surprised him but he quickly realized the anger was more at himself than at her, but again not sure why.
Katie stood one foot on the sidewalk, one on the skateboard and pushed along beside Sam who had huffed away.
“I’m not 10 years old Sam, you came to my birthday party remember. I’m 12 years old and I’m not trying to be rude. It’s okay, I know all about you and mom. I’m happy for the both of you!”
“You’re 12? What do you mean you know everything?”
“Ah, oops, I guess mom hasn’t told you we had a talk after you left Sunday”
“Sam hung his head, thinking thanks Amy for giving me a heads up. “Katie, take it easy on me, I’ve been on my own for a long time. This is all new for me. Especially having a 12 year old girl in the mix.” He thought Katie was taking what he said a little too much to heart, a pout to her lip. “Hey” he tipped her chin up “ But I wouldn’t have it any other way, You’re both very special to me!”
“Back at you” she grinned off her fake sadness,” I’m off to the park to meet Melissa. See ya soon!”

He watched as she motored away. “What is happening to my life?” She talks to you like an adult and expects to be treated like one. Little girls are usually - what ? More demure, respectful.  But not Katie.
Late that day Sam walked around the house admiring the new stucco finish. Wow, it looked great. Time to celebrate with a beer - or two.
Sunday was chore day, shopping, cleaning, washing and rearranging things in the house.

Monday Morning
Sam walked into SNEAK’S to find Marcus behind the counter hunched over records. Today he was dressed in a 3 piece suit, having a buttoned up vest and black tie, his black hair slicked back, shiny with brylcreem or olive oil? He looked paler today. You could see blue views under his skin, in his hands, his throat, his face. Sam wondered if he was centuries old. Maybe a vampire?
“I got a coffee for you” said Marcus and I’ve decided to go to the Chicago convention tomorrow. It’s for two days, Think you can handle the shop?” Sam assured him no problem.
“I made out a list here for you too. Some deliveries I’m expecting and a couple of customers coming into pick up orders. I’ve marked if they have paid in full or not,” They spent the next hour as Marcus made sure Sam was totally up to date.
The day flew by and Sam hurried home, excited about two days on his own! Finally! This was the chance he had been waiting for.

Tuesday Morning
Sam opened the back door and entered Sneak’s (for all occasions). He had come in a bit early  to prepare for the start of his 2 day solo. He flipped the open sign over and sat behind the counter sipping a coffee reading the note Marcus had left him. Nothing until mid morning! Excellent! He poked around the back room and was searching under the counter when the back door buzzed. He hurried back to find a delivery man climbing the stairs.
“Hey how you doing? Marcus here? Got a few boxes here. You want to give me a hand.”
Sam explained Marcus was in Chicago. The driver shook his head knowingly.

Out back a small white cube van had backed in. On the door was a large !@? symbol. It took Sam a moment to remember where he had seen it. It was on the bag that Amy had left sitting on the chair next to him the night he got arrested.
About to ask what it was, he decided to play along like he knew the whole story.
The driver, a face on a pole, was tall, thin, hairy, dressed in brown cords top to bottom. Stuck his hand out to shake and introduced himself as Carl. “Yep, got a new clients keeping us busy. Got some ‘primo” stuff here in these boxes!” he handed them to Sam.
“Better than the stuff we’ve been getting” Sam asked feeling this was safe ground.
“Oh yea” he said following Sam up the stairs into the back. “ This is what the Chicago thing is all about. I hear they now have Acapulco Gold. The best bush ever! Expensive too!”

“You deliver only to footwear outlets.” Sam adding he was still learning the ropes.
Carl feeling he was meeting a friendlier ear then the old Marcus began to tell the Sam how the whole set up worked. “You must be the guy Marcus is thinking of getting to run this place after he opens the other store. Sam played along and introduced himself.
Carl had been involved since the start up 20 years ago. He was a retailer then, but saw an opportunity running a delivery service. Over the years he had befriended others in the organization and had slowly worked things out. Eager to share his knowledge he began the story.

It had started with customized products. For example your customer asks for sparking ruby running shoes. “Just click your heels together” he had a laugh like a choking comedian. The request went to R&D who made one for the customer, but later they got the idea that maybe the design might do well elsewhere and made a few more to see if there would be demand. Of course this was all under the table and the Brass soon offered all kinds of illegals beside cash payouts.
And it’s not just Shoes. Everything that was outrageously custom, taboo, illegal or hard to get soon took over. Guns, Special tools, Clothing, Hotels. You can imagine some of the crazy things the adult sex stores had made. Eventually it started to get organized with everyone involved getting a taste. Exclusive Membership only! Extreme background checks! Very expensive membership, not for the middle class sucks like you and me!”
So Marcus knows nothing about what the customer orders and he doesn’t want to know. He gets a stipend from each order involving blackmarket goods ordered through his site.
That’s why he has a delivery person who doesn’t know anything. Every hand-off is insulated with a layer of people who have no connection to the next. Which reminds me! Is that hot babe still here that Marcus had making deliveries. Man would I like some of that! I fantasized about her all the way home the day I saw her.”
Sam resisted the urge to plough his fist into Carl’s face. Keep to the script!
Carl continued. So there’s the top - the Brass as they are referred to. They are the ones organizing the hierarchy, the payouts, everything. But they don’t do it themselves they have patch men who handle that. No connection to them at all,
Pickups to be delivered - I never know where they are coming from. The patch men handle that. I don’t know who they are. I’m told where to pick up the package. Usually a Fedex to a P.O.box
It’s been rumoured that there is another group above the Brass, very high up people, maybe politicians, government. It’s huge. Imagine!
Customers have all been investigated inside-out before being admitted.
They choose a User name, they are given a password, they don’t make one up.
They go to the retailers site where they are ordering something. Most  have to order something in addition to what ever under the table product they want.
In the search bar, guess what they type?
Sam screwed up his faced thinking then smiled. “!@?”
Nothing happens right! Can’t be found in the search. Then they type in their user name. Now the IT setup behind the scenes ( I told you this was big) notices that the !@? connects with the user name in the database and when the password is input, up comes a page with the all the products available. And there is everything, Magic mushrooms, extra rich Mary Jane, Psychedelics, Drugs, Taboo items, illegal products, whatever! It’s all listed there.
Sam looked at the boxes just delivered realizing these all contained contraband.
A chime sounded. Someone had come in. Sam bumped fists with Carl and walked out to the front his head swimming with information.

Next Week.  
The evolution of Unspoken Thoughts
Andy’s advice
Katies Stories
Solution to an Overload

 

Chapter 23 Unspoken Thoughts

Chapter 23

the Evolution of Unspoken Thoughts

After Sam’s two days minding shop
Wednesday found Marcus back in the shop, excited and pumped about the Chicago convention. It was great, lots of new products and exciting opportunities! He was also really happy with Sam taking care of things and complimented him with a job well done.
He hinted at better things. The day progressed with the usual comings and goings of customers but no deliveries.
That evening he called Amy and outlined his discovery but decided to wait to discuss the whole thing. Excited that something seemed be showing hope she invited him to come Thursday for supper after work.

Restless after his phone call he decides to go to the Underbridge and again the place is happening. Music, video screens and seating almost full. Tonights special is Roast Beef Dip and fries which he orders from Linda Anne as he spies Andy sitting by himself over in the corner.
He waves and is invited to share the table.
“Good to see you again Sam. What’s going on with you these days?”
Sam’s immediate concern is something not to be shared but his second is Amy.
(Andy does not know she is the one responsible for Sam’s upcoming court case.)
He explains his growing attraction and dilemma on how and when to approach the topic with her.

Andy philosophically recited. “You want to be complete, to achieve that universal goal. Get yourself a wife. A wife will save you, it’s her mission to keep you on track, to make you a better person. It’s an occupation. I don’t mean a job, and not an invasion. He laughed “But maybe Both!” It’s an occupation of your soul, you’ll be absorbed”.
Sam thought that was mostly true. He felt more real with her. It was present tense, a discarding of past layers . Perhaps with her, he would find a “great moment of clarity” that would elevate him to whatever that might be?
He never really felt he was who he was until he talked to her.

But he was frightened too. Marriage, money, living together. And Katie! The idea of doing everything right worried him and he wondered when to raise the topic with her, was it too early, too late, not right, possibly wrong? Was she in the same frame of mind? What about his irreversible mistakes form the past.

As usual it was Katie who broke the ice.
Thursday Evening
Sam had gone straight to Amy’s after work. Katie had gone skateboarding and was to be back soon for supper.
Enjoying the short time alone they had been sitting on the living room sofa having a comfortable, cosy, peaceful moment together interrupted suddenly when Katie came roaring into the house. Her discarded Skateboard sent shoes in the entrance flying as she flew into the room and down the hallway. “I’m home, I’m starving, I got to pee.”
Sam burst out laughing, “ I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say anything different when she comes in the door.”
Moments later Katie came around the corner and took a running jump to squeeze in between the two of them.
Linking her arms between each of them she asked “what’ca doing?  I bet I know what you’ve been talking about! When are you two going to get married or are we all going to just move in together.” She grinned a Cheshire Cat grin, leaning on Sam’s shoulder, looking up at him and fluttered her eyes.
“We were talking about putting you in an all girls school to teach you some manners” Sam replied. “ Not a chance” she returned.
“What, not a chance they would be able to teach you manners?”
Her eyes went wide and her mouth hung open in mock horror.
“You wouldn’t know what to do without me.”
“We might like to give it try!”
Amy pulled her daughter closer. “It’s both of us or nothing. Kate, stop trying to embarrass Sam”
“Well, I’ve said it out loud now so think about it! What’s for supper?” She got up and headed for the kitchen.
“Out of the mouth of babes” she said.
Sam sat in an odd kind of thoughtful silence. Mouth of babes? The remark Katie had just made about getting married and then Amy’s “It’s both of us or nothing.” Had him spinning in thought. Did that mean what I think it does? Should we talk about this now?
A crash of pots and pans from the kitchen ended that possibility.
“It’s okay! Nothing broke!”
“Let’s feed the beast” Amy rose, reaching out to pull Sam up off the sofa.
With Amy giving orders, spaghetti and meat balls soon were placed on the table. Katie was very polite, prim and proper, making small conversation, her manners impeccable.
Sam resisted asking her what she had done with the real Katie.

She related a funny thing that happened at school. The janitor had been called into the room because one of the girls had seen a mouse run into the cupboard. (she didn’t say who the girl was though) Anyway the janitor was not the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawers (as she put it) He had opened the cupboard door and was leaning on it peering inside when suddenly the door came off and he fell on the floor with a crash. Some  of the kids laughed and others were concerned but he got up, took the door and mumbled something about it being unhinged because the screws were too small. She giggled, “I think he was the one unhinged” she snorted suddenly laughing milk through her nose. Amy sent her dagger eyes warning her she was on thin ice, however Sam thought both the story and Katie blowing milk through her nose was funny.

He asked Katie, “Where is the kitten? Angel I think you said was it’s name. I’ve never seen it here.”
“Um, it didn’t understand the house rules and so mom insisted it had to go to another home.”
Sam puzzled looked at both of them “House rules?”
“Didn’t like the litter box very much and when it dumped on mom’s bed a second time mom had a fit and that was it. We had to give it away. I guess Angel wasn’t the right name for it.”
Sam nodded thinking that had been a good decision and was probably not quite the one he would have made.
“Speaking of Angel that reminds me,” Katie continued, “Do you think Jesus was Italian?”
“Oh brother,” laughed Sam, “this is going to be good. Okay why do you think Jesus was Italian?”
“Well, all the popes are Italian and so is everyone else over there in the Vat-in-a-Can? Jesus had to be Italian! Can you imagine an American as Jesus or a pope?”
Both Amy and Sam laughed over that.
Sam turned to Amy “How’s Paradise Pasties working out?”

It was going really well, but Amy wondered if she was taking on too much. The small range/oven was fast becoming insufficient for the amount of baking they were wanting.
“I need a bigger oven but there’s no room in the kitchen for one, I’d hate to turn down business but I can’t see a way around it.”
Sam: “I have a big range/oven that my Aunt Julie reconditioned from a restaurant closing, Fridge too for that matter. It’s about time you got to visit. How about this Saturday?
Come for lunch, my treat for a change!”

“This has been nice” exclaimed Katie “May I please be excused?”
“Yes, if you would clear the table thank you” her mother replied.
Sam and Amy sat looking at each other neither wanting to say anything that might break the spell.
“Not like the kids I remember when I was growing up. She surprises me, I guess it’s street smarts or something?”
“She’s 12 going on 19” smiled Amy. “She’s testing you Sam.”
He thought about that. How was he to know what he was being tested on and if he was getting a passing grade?
Amy went into the kitchen and came back with coffees and sat with Sam.
He proceeded to tell the story as related to him by Carl the delivery man about !@?
They ran though the some scenarios and decided to continue to think about it and maybe come up with a plan on Saturday.

Arrangements made, Sam made for the door, (after a little bit of hanky panky) and followed a now familiar route home. Maybe Saturday might be the time to talk about his second concern?

Next week:
The Visit
 

 

Chapter 24 The Visit

the VIsit

Pick a lucky Number

Saturday

At home in the kitchen Sam finished the lunch he was preparing for Amy and Katie’s visit. This was the first time they would be inside the house and he was a bit nervous about it, however the house was a clean as it ever had been and the bathroom even had clean towels.
He checked his homemade chicken soup and was carrying a plate of sandwiches to the dining room when a knock on the door announced their arrival. Sam opened the door to a smiling Amy and Katie. He gave Amy a quick kiss on the cheek and stood aside to let them in. Katie stuck her hand out to shake. He laughed and gave her a smooch on her forehead.

After niceties about how the great the outside Stucco looked and their first impressions inside, Sam decided a tour was required and started with the kitchen first.
Amy was surprised at the how large it was.  Seeing the Fridge and Stove she groaned in amazement. Excited she examined the reconditioned Italian Z-line appliances that his Aunt Julie had bought from a restaurant going out of business. A 42 inch Stainless Steel Dual Fuel Range sporting a triple layered glass window on a huge oven door. A large 22 cubic foot Stainless-steel fridge with French doors and 2 extra wide freezer drawers had Amy coveting it all. This was more than twice her kitchen setup.
“I’m moving into the kitchen Sam, this is gorgeous!”
He showed her the walk-in pantry and the steps down to a cold cellar, which had a door leading to the basement. Both pantry and cold cellar were barely used. At the other end of the kitchen was a stairway upstairs.” Where does that go?”asked Katie, “there’s a staircase on the other side of the living room too”
Sam nodded - 2 staircases upstairs. “ Go on take a look!” She ran up the stairs.
Amy forcing herself to look away from the oven  “I had no idea your place was so big.”

“I don’t use the upstairs, I converted the back room to a bedroom.There is a bathroom right there and everything I need is on the same floor.”

“Come on let’s find Katie.”

Out into the living room and up the opposite stairway they reached a landing, a sitting area with a large window looking out onto the backyard. A hallway traversed the whole width of the building across to the stairs that went down to the kitchen. A large bathroom, this one in the middle of the upstairs featured a large old porcelain claw tub and sink both with white porcelain handles. A black and white checkered tile floor. Three bedrooms upstairs with the two across from the bathroom empty. They found Katie in the last.
“This was my bedroom long ago” said Sam. There were shelves full of books and toys, models of cars and planes and trains. Boxes of Baseball and Hockey cards. The wooden floor was partially covered by an oval antique braided rug.  Katie was sitting on his old bed reading a magazine. “This is going to be my room “ she looked up. “Look at this magazine I found on the bottom shelf.” She held it up sideways and it fell open to a playmate centrefold. “ Oh boy,” Sam blushed red. “I forgot that was there.”
Katie grinned,”There are some interesting articles to read too." She was ready to burst out laughing.
Sam reached out to relieve her of it and said to Amy more than her. “Time for this to go in the trash. Katie, why don’t you go see how the chickens doing?”
She lit up with the idea and hurried down the stairs and out the back door. Sam encircled Amy in his arms and kissed her but reluctantly stopped.“We better check the soup and get ready for lunch.”
They made their way down the back stairs into the kitchen. Soup and sandwiches on the table they were about to give Katie a shout when she burst in “ Look what we got!” A baby chick chirping loudly was cupped in her hands. “There’s three more!” The look on her face was a Kodak moment. “Haven’t you been picking eggs Sam?”
“No” he said slowly, “I didn’t think of it, Katie you had been doing it so I totally forgot. Four baby chicks, oh boy. That’s a problem?”
Amy hustled her daughter out the door to free the chick, and sent her to wash her hands for lunch.
They started in on the soup. Katie talking exciting about new names and more grain, and a bigger hen house for the new additions.
Sam wasn’t sure about all that, but Katie was on a mission now. Eventually though the topic got changed. Katie, unknown to Sam had started Karate lessons at the beginning of the school  year and was eager to show Sam some of the moves she had been taught.
“Come on Sam. I’ll pretend I’m walking down the sidewalk and you come up behind me and put your arm around my neck like you’re going to kidnap me!”
He was not going to get tossed on his back on the floor.
Amy reminded Katie about her class food drive and she should tell Sam about it. Maybe he could help? There was to be a school wide sale of baked goods, old treasures and whatever the students thought people might like to spend a few dollars on.
Sam nodded, he had an idea and told Katie to go up to his old bedroom and bring down anything she thought would be suitable.
Amy helped clear the table and Katie began bringing things down to spread on the table.
The two adults had a beer while they watched as the blonde 12 year old ran up and down the stairs carrying treasures.
“Okay “ said Sam “Lets’ see what you got” He removed the Playboy magazine from the table, rolled it up and threatened to chase Katie as if he was going to beat her with it.
Amy called them back and asked what was the plan.
Sam explained. They would make a Pick a Lucky Number Jar. Each item of the table would have a number and a duplicate set of numbers would go in the jar. It would cost a Toony (a two dollar Canadian Coin) to pick a number and good luck on what you win!
They left Katie with papers scissors and a marker and Sam led Amy out to back deck.
Reggie Rooster and Bella, Prudence and Miss Violet, and the four baby chicks were invading the weed infested garden looking for treats.
“Sam, you’re going to need a bigger Hen house” she laughed holding his arm pulling him closer.
She could see he was not accepting this very well and began to tease him.
“Couldn’t I just make more chicken soup?” She smacked him on the arm, “And suffer the wrath of my daughter. Sam you don’t know what I went through when Angel the cat was banished! How do you think she got all the new skateboarding equipment! She was ready to move in with Melissa and her parents.”
Sam began to smile. ” Don’t you dare think what you’re thinking” she mockingly began to strangle him. They collapsed into a hug and about to kiss when Katie popped out the door.
“Okay I’m done.” Looking at the chickens in the old garden, she beamed “Aren’t they cute! What are you doing to do about a bigger home for them?”
“Actually I’m thinking a few chicken pies might be good” he grimaced a look at Amy, who just shook her head. Idiot!
Katie stood, hands on her hips, her lips pursed, her eyebrows down, her nostrils flared and her face was turning red. “Sam” Amy whispered.
He ran laughing dodging around Katie and ducked inside the door slamming it as Katie hurled herself after him.
Amy followed in and found the two of them ducking and jabbing, Sam laughing happily as Katie slowly realized he had been spoofing her. “Don’t you dare. You’re just kidding aren’t you? I’m going to get you if any one goes missing!”  Sam ruffled her hair and gave her a hug.
“Not to worry Kate” We’ll figure something out!”
“I might have an answer” Amy said watching the two of them. She smiled thinking he really was a good man. How lucky that he and Katie were getting along. (relatively well)  “One of the customers of Paradise Pastries makes different sized chicken coups for urban backyards. He’s usually there when I take my mid week delivery. Some of his business cards are on the counter. I’ll ask if he has something to suggest.”

Sam found some tape and had Katie fixing numbers to the bottom of items where no-one could see them.
He pulled Amy into the kitchen and asked, “Would this work for you” he indicating the oven and fridge. Amy told him it was perfect, but wanted to know if he would mind her invading his kitchen. Sam remembered Andy saying something about an invasion, or an occupation and he was happy thinking this was a good start. “Not a problem, I’ll give you a spare key. Now I was thinking about what we should do about !@?  I think we should get both our lawyers together and see what they think might be the best way to go about this. Eventually the police will have to be brought in but we need our lawyers to set things up first. Amy agreed adding she had come to the same conclusion.

Next week.

A hen house to envy
Amy invades
The lawyers

 

Chapter 25, Chicken Coops

Chapter 25

Chicken Coop

Imagine you are looking down from a great height on the neighbourhood of Windsor. Over in the distance away from the Detroit River you see the Riverside Mall/Plaza. Mall because some outlets are inside and Plaza because others are stand alone outside. Perhaps it should be called a Plazall?
Inside Sneaks (for all occasions) Marcus Sydney is pouring over his latest accounts pleased with the climbing percentages from  !@?. You would think that should put more colour in his chalk white face? Perhaps he really is a vampire?
Over on the E.C.ROW expressway, Carl, the deliveryman is speeding south-west towards the town of LaSalle with another delivery.
By the Ambassador bridge Andy has just parked his car in the Underbridge Bar and Grill parking lot. Before going in for lunch he walks across the road to deliver a box of food donations to the Food Drive at the local church. Cars and people are moving everywhere. Happy man, so named as he seems to be always happy; today he is marching his knees high, a military gait, his arms spreading high up and then down in front with his palms open to the sky. He is apparently singing while marching. Bag lady approaches FreshCo Shopping centre trailing her folding shopping cart. Known as the bag lady not because she lives on the street but she often teaches the shoppers inside the grocery store how to open the plastic bags for fruits and vegetables. They are notoriously difficult to open. Simply go and tear a piece of wet lettuce leaf off and now with wet fingers you can run your thumb and index finger together opening the bag. Works every time!
(Although the staff can’t figure out why the lettuce looks as if something is eating it!)
Now as you watch the comings and going between the 2 blocks where Amy, Katie and Sam reside and add the wanderings of Katie to and from Karate and Skateboarding it would look like a hive of ants scurrying to and fro, unaware of each other unless their paths collided, and then only a momentary recognition. There is much to do.

Imagine the whole scene from the cement paved express-way of E.C.ROW to the green parklands along the Detroit River, imagine it, the cars and trucks and all the inhabitants to be moving in fast forward.
That is how this week has progressed. Individuals as they are, they are unaware of the circumstances of influence moving them about like leaves in the wind. Or as Sam would say. Fate!
But enough! Let me, as the writer, fill in the highlights and skip over some endless conversations.

This week we have Amy in Sam’s kitchen baking up a storm for her Saturday and Thursday morning deliveries to Paradise Pastries. Katie who has been taking lessons at Karate Kickers since the start of school has so impressed the instructor that he has contacted Amy with a glowing progress report. She is a natural, she has intuition, agile, surprising strong, naturally reading the her opponents next move. He insists Katie attend Wednesday night advanced classes. With Katie’s persistent urgings Amy relents. Because Karate Kickers are in the mall where Sam works; Sam has agreed to pick Katie up and bring her home. (Katie tends to wander) Amy has supper ready for them at Sam’s. It just makes sense and they are all happy with the arrangement.
Meanwhile skateboarding Katie has been also discovered by a young couple who met each other skateboarding a few years ago and they are amazed at Katie’s flexibility, intuitive moves and potential promise of development. The young man, who coincidentally (Sam would say Fate) is the regions reigning skateboard champ of the province. He decides along with his skateboarding wife that this prodigy is to be given the benefit of both their skateboarding talents.
Amy asks Sam if this is too much for Katie to take on. Sam in his first parental-like decision figures the busier the girl is the better.
However Sam now finally as a victim of his own Fate, has been enlisted to chaperone Katie while Amy makes her deliveries Saturday morning. Now it may seem obvious that a decision could be made with all this traversing back and forth. (Remember Fast Forward?)You may also remember, Katie had already voiced this out loud but both the lovestruck adults have resisted the opening gambit of asking “Should we move in together, or get married?” That is too far away and they are all distracted by the day to day new requirements.
There is much to do. We must wait.
Tuesday both Sam’s lawyer and Amy’s meet at Amy’s to be brought up to date with recent findings about (!@?) And begin to search for a reasonable outcome. The two lawyers are optimistic and agree to arrange a ‘strategy appointment’ with their aides. The police will need to be introduced into the mix next.

There’s more!
Saturday after skateboarding, Amy has arranged for them to visit Urban Coop
(Not only for chickens) Amy having prepared lunch, (at Sam’s) informs them they are expected around 1 o’clock. Sam’s expanding chicken population now needs proper housing for the growing poultry empire.
They arrive at a 7.5 acre hobby farm owned by a Mr. Wes Carrington and his wife Cindy.
Cindy meets them at the door wearing a white apron covered in blood and guts and a filleting knife in her hand. Introductions made, no she wasn’t butchering chickens. Cindy comforts Katie by explaining she is preparing a fish fry of fresh caught perch from this morning. She tells them to wander through the house to the back yard.
Here we find Sam in the backyard listening to Mr. Carrington as he explains the benefits of the half dozen chicken coop models he has offers. He is an affable middle aged man, bald as a cue ball as they say and talks with assurance, and a bit of pride about the features of the “coops” displayed.
Sam is nodding, listening, but his attention is also divided by both Katie and Amy. Amy is watching Katie crouched down with her chin on her knees and her hands outstretched, fingers wiggling and beckoning to a pair of white Wyandotte Chickens who are a wonderful breed that stand cold weather well and are good brown egg layers. Sam’s main focus is on Amy’s skin tight faded blue jeans that have worn through in appropriate appealing areas. As he admires her, she feeling his gaze, turns to grin a “I know what you are thinking” smile at him. Sam continues to soak up the details of each of the chicken coops that, “Wes” as he insists to be called, proudly points out.
This is Sam perhaps at his best multitasking ability of the moment. However if tested on his recollection skills in 15 minutes, it would be in the low percentile with a noticeably higher than normal recollection of the condition of Amy’s blue jeans.
Wes eventually ends his spiel and waits for Sam’s response who now glances at Amy, hoping for a helping nod indicating an acceptance of one; but she reminds cool not wanting to become involved in the decision. “Lay your own eggs” she  mouths silently.  Katie, her intuition senses a decision is required. She hurries to Sam, leans on him, her hands circling his arm giving him support (as she has already made her decision within minutes of arrival.)  Katie reminds Sam they have to be warm as winter is coming and Sam finds no argument to counter. He agrees to the Solar powered chicken coop with indoor lighting, outlets and smart plugs to connect to all kinds of Chicken app’s. It also has a heated floor and a conveyor belt run on a rechargeable battery that collects the eggs and delivers them to a basket on the side so you don’t have to lift the roof to collect.
Wes, happily takes cash from Sam’s hand and even declares he will deliver the Chicken Coop that afternoon. This is done efficiently and quickly and Wes even offers to haul the old Chicken coop away.
Sam, Amy and Katie sit on the back deck admiring the new addition, happy to see Bella, Prudence, Miss Violet and the four baby chickens (yet to be named) readily adapting to their new home. Amy is pleased she now has a regular supply of eggs for baking. Sam insists Katie is responsible for collecting eggs unaware that this is his second time to exhibit a parental-like relationship. Katie agrees because she got everything she wanted.  
Amy mentions that her lease on their home is up at the end of the month and the landlord is asking for an increase. She waited silently as the words settled in Sam’s consciousness.  He sat silently while the moment was close to becoming uncomfortable. Katie punched him in the arm to help Amy’s words settle and asks “ What do you think mom should do?”
Once again, here we are at the continuing unspoken thought that if chipped away at it any more it is going to have to speak out loud by itself like a voice from God (Sam would say. Fate!)

 

Chapter 26 Bag of Bones

Chapter 26

Bag of Bones

Arriving for work Monday morning, Marcus first thing has a parcel ready for Sam to deliver up to the small town of Belle River at the bottom of Lake St.Clair.
He readies Sam for the delivery by describing what he knows of Miss Eve Lawrence. “She’s a fox, a real beauty, You’ll swear you’ve seen her somewhere before. She has a habit sharing quote after quote to anything said or any situation.”

Sam takes the large double sized package and disappears out the back door and climbs into Marcus’s Kia Soul. He punches the address in to the GPS and makes his way out onto Riverside, turns right and continues through the million dollar section along Riverside Road turning right and left as the directions send him around the bottom of Lake St.Clair into Lakeshore county. It’s a pretty nice drive, large lots, large mansions, weaving along the shoreline of the lake.
At last on Belle River Road which ran parallel to the (little) Belle River he came to a large Stone house nestled into a curve of the river. Every light in the place was on. It was lit up like a Christmas card! He rang the bell and watched as the door silently and smoothly opened. A speaker to his left announced  “I’ll be with you in a sec” In front of Sam sat a small white dog with curls similar to the style of the 1930’s Carole Lombard.

“This is Carole, she’s a pure-bred Havanese, isn’t she cute! Do you know Elizabeth Taylor once said 'I’ve never loved a dog like this in my life. It’s amazing. Sometimes I think there’s a person in there"
Sam looked up to see Eve Lawrence flashing a welcome smile as she stepped into the foyer. Wow!  She was stunning! Long feathered blonde hair with a bit of curl resting on her shoulders.  Large blue eyes that looked right through you, she was wearing skin tight white jeans, and a loose aqua coloured blouse worn off both shoulders showcasing - whowser -  attributes. A welcoming bright smile, soft pink lipstick on soft moist lips. Her lovely graceful neck, her evenly tanned shoulders… (SAM ! Give your head a shake!)
Sam  stammered. “I have a package for you, Miss Lawrence”

“Yes you certainly do, I can see that” She looked back up into his eyes, she had a smokey seductive, sinful voice, “Thank you dear,” she took the package and noticed Sam had turned his attention to the row of plaques on the wall.

“You’re an actress. Fantastic!” Sam squeaked “I was told you were really something,” trying to soften Marcus’s remarks into a compliment. He stuck a finger in his collar and gave it a stir.

"Always be careful of what you hear about a woman. Rumours come from either a man who can’t have her or a woman who can’t compete with her,” she quoted.
Sam had stepped closer to read. The first award was for her part in “Eve and Adam,” the second was “ Eve in Silk” then "Eve doesn’t sleep” and “Christmas Eve.” Sam was starting to wonder what kind of actress she must be.

She had been watching him come to a conclusion and quipped “Albert Einstein said the woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. I think that describes me quite well don’t you think so?”
“Um - well I really don’t know you that well to have an opinion.”
Eve quoted “Anne Hathaway at one time told of a meeting where  a man once told her that for a woman she was very opinionated” She replied, “For a man you’re kind of ignorant!”
Eve laughed a loud throaty laugh. “Maybe it’s good not to have an opinion then. Thanks so much for the delivery.”
Sam craned his neck taking a good last good look as the door smoothly and silently closed.
He drove back tight-lipped trying to remember the titles on the plaques.

Tuesday evening
Sam’s lawyer Esq. Ernest White called Monday evening and asked if it would be possible that he and Amy meet at his office tomorrow, Tuesday around 5.30.
Esq. Jonathan Bennet, Amy’s lawyer, would also be attending. He asked if Sam would make arrangements with Amy and then please call him back to confirm. A quick call to Amy, in turn involved a short number of ‘question and answer’ discussions,  however finally the meeting was agreeable. He immediately called the lawyer. They would be there.

That next evening Mr. E. White and Mr. J. Bennet after vocalizing the customary welcoming rituals had every seated comfortably. Mr. White began by saying “Mr. Bennet and I believe there is good possibility to have the charges dropped against you Mr. Ogrebee. Miss Crosbie would have to make a formal statement with the police as the first step in explaining this series of events. In the beginning her name would be kept confidential. However if the case went before a judge then she may have to testify.”
 
Mr. Jonathan Bennett added, “There is conceivably a chance Miss Crosbie that you could be charged after for your involvement with the delivery and possibly other deliveries you made. However we would argue against that eventuality and we both believe it would unlikely come to that.”

“Therefore” Mr. White announced “ we think the circumstances have, if you’ll pardon the expression, good bones.” We need however a little more meat on them. We could go the police and lay out everything as you have related to us.If this network of !@?  was to be uncovered, the possible ramifications we feel would be more than sufficient for the police to begin an investigation. It has the potential of being something quite big.
“Since Mr. Jonathan Bennet, is at the moment not involved in this case, it is his conjecture to approach the police and offer everything we know to date. Again you both would remain anonymous at this point.”

Mr. J. Bennett concluded. “As Mr. White mentioned, we need to put some meat on these bones. Mr. Ogrebee, if you can unearth any more information, it can only be to your benefit. If the police do decide to investigate they would of course be able to dig more thoroughly into matters. If you should find something as such you absolutely must contact us first! Do not go to the police without speaking to us. Now the question is where do we send them first? Because with no-one or nothing else to back this up, our ‘bones’ are going to be just bones in a bag.”
Outside,
Sam took Amy’s hand turned her towards him so they were facing.
“Amy I think you and Katie should move in with me.”