Friday, May 25, 2012

Answered Prayers - Part 1

Good Morning FFFFs!
I hope your week has been as slow as mine. :) I'm really enjoying this slow paced week and the time I can spend just relaxing with a book. The weather earlier this week was so nice we had the windows open, but it's gotten warmer and we've shut the windows and turned on the AC.

I have to sit here at my desk at an angle because now the sun comes up earlier and nearly blinds me when I sit straight. Oh, well. It could be worse. :)

Saturday I spent about seven hours working out in the yard. I mowed, weeded, planted flowers, trimmed the ground cover (which was trying to take over everything), and did more weeding and trimming.
On Sunday there were babies at church! I got to hold and play with Princess and she even gave me several kisses. I love baby kisses! I also held J-J and his baby sister, Sweetheart. (Don't you like the nicknames I pick. :) ) Oh, I also got a bit of writing done.
Monday came and I chatted with one friend during the afternoon, walked with my best friends after supper and then chatted with another dear friend that evening. I didn't write that night.
When Tuesday came I got to relax and read. :) My sister and I did pit cherries. We do it the old fashioned way with paperclips. And that night I finished a short story.
And on Wednesday I was able to write that night, but had a little bit of an interruption when my brother and his family dropped by to pick up some times. The 3 older kiddos were full of delight at being at Grammy's and Papa's again. I took them out to play on the swings. When it was time for them to go, Funny Boy grabbed on to the swing as I stopped him and said, "No, not me go shopping!" :) He got over it though and gave us big hugs before they left.
Yesterday we went to Connie's to check our booth. Some things were gone which left room for the new things we brought. I also finished another short story and another part of "Dr. Morgan."
And then there's today. I need to clean the house and I'm supposed to go over sometime this morning and watch the kiddos while my sis-in-law goes grocery shopping to fill the new fridge. (She didn't want to have to take all the kids.) Mom is going over to help price since we have another conference in Wichita next weekend. Then this evening, S and I are going over to babysit the kiddos. We haven't done that for several weeks so it should be fun. No writing tonight.

This story was different. I had my three writing class students (in the girls class) each create a character for me and write a character sketch about that person. Then they all had to decide on which calendar picture they wanted to put their characters in and I was left with writing the story. :) And, since it is rather long, I'll be doing it in parts. I hope you enjoy it and tell me what you think.
click on the picture to see it larger

Answered Prayers
Part 1

    The sky was growing overcast. Storm clouds from the south were pushing their way across what had been a brilliantly blue sky. The rocky mountaintops stood half in shadow and half bathed in the light of the yet uncovered setting sun while scattered across them were a few unmelted patches of winter’s snow.
    “Come on, Sare,” Susan pulled at her sister’s arm once more.
    “Look at the clouds coming!” Sarah breathed, gazing in delighted awe at the quickly moving grey mass overhead. The wind, rippling the water of the beaver pond nearby, caused the reflections of the mountains and sky to blur. Swaying gently, the lush green vegetation made a soft noise in the quiet, early evening.
    Susan gave a sigh. “I know, Sare, that’s what I mean. A storm is coming and we’re a ways from home. Please come now,” she begged. “Ma will be worried, and Pa and the boys will come out looking for us.”
    At that Sarah reluctantly turned from her study and allowed her twin to hurry her towards home. The girls were nearly identical with light, curly hair and blue eyes. Strangers never could see the difference between them and even those who knew Susan and Sarah Smith well often second guessed themselves if they weren’t paying close attention. Though they were thirteen, Susan and Sarah were small for their age and often mistaken to be the same age as their younger brother instead of four years older.
    The wind had begun to pick up, whipping the girls’ dresses about their legs and blowing their hair back from their faces.
    “I didn’t know we had gone so far,” Sarah remarked after several minutes of rapid walking.
    Susan nodded. “I think this wind is making it take longer to get back. Let’s catch our breath a minute,” she gasped, turning her back to the wind and drawing in a deep breath.
    Not bothering to reply, Sarah also turned and together the sisters stood until they could breathe easily once more. “Now, we’d better really get moving, Suz,” Sarah looked up at the dark clouds overhead and noticed the fading light.
    Gripping Sarah’s hand, Susan bent her head against the wind which was growing stronger every minute and struggled forward. It was hard work but bravely they pushed on neither one wanting to get caught out in the mountains in a storm.
    “Sare!” Susan had to shout to be heard for the wind ripped the spoken words and tossed them far away to be lost in the great vastness of the mountains.
    Turning her head, Sarah raised her eyebrows questioningly.
    Cupping her hands to her mouth, Susan shouted, “Let’s be like the geese. One go in front for a while to break the wind. Then we’ll switch.” When Sarah nodded in agreement, Susan added, “I’ll go first. Hold on to my dress!”
    With her head bent low behind her twin’s sheltering back, Sarah found it easier to walk and breathe for the winds wasn’t constantly pushing, shoving and trying to blow her across the mountainside. After several minutes of walking thus, Sarah moved in front and led the way so that Susan could rest.
    This way, by changing leaders every few minutes or so, the girls managed to reach the sloping side of a high hill. Here they paused to rest in the shelter of a little hollow.
    “I wish I hadn’t stayed so long,” Sarah sighed. “We’d have been almost home by now.”
    Susan tried to encourage her sister. “I should have made you come, but I didn’t so it’s my fault too.” They both smiled. Both were to blame, but as their mother always told them, it was no use crying over spilled milk.
    “Suz, should we go on now?”
    “Let’s pray first and ask God to help us get home safely,” Susan suggested.
    To this Sarah readily agreed and both girls bowed their heads. They were not strangers to prayer for early in life both girls had found the Friend who sticks closer than a brother and daily committed themselves to their heavenly Father’s care, asking for strength and help for whatever came their way.
    After praying, both girls felt calm and were eager to finish their journey and reach home with its sheltering walls and roof, a warm fire and hot food. Rising from the hollow, their breath was nearly snatched away by the fierce gust of wind which swept down the hill. They had to climb that hill and go down the other side!
    Scrambling up on hands and knees, for the wind was too strong to let them stand, they pushed their way forward. The sharp rocks cut into their skin and the clusters of brambles tore at their clothing. Struggling, falling, panting, the twins continued upward. When at last the top was reached, they lay a moment gasping for breath and trying to calm their pounding hearts. It had been harder to climb that hill than they had imagined.
    Finally, Sarah pulled on Susan’s hand and together they began their descent on the other side. Going down was somewhat easier for they turned their backs to the wind and half slid, half scrambled down the rocky side until they were once again in the grass at the foot. There they turned around slowly.
    It was almost completely dark now, for the storm clouds had covered up the setting sun. The wind cut right through Susan and Sarah’s dresses, and they shivered. Oh, if only someone would find them and help them home, they thought. Neither one would admit it to the other, but they were exhausted and weren’t sure they could make it home.
    Suddenly a large dark shape seemed to appear out of nowhere and a whinny startled them.
    “What are you two doing out in this weather?” the rider hollered. It was Darline Blacksmith, a young lady who lived with and helped her uncle with his ranch. She knew cattle and horses almost as well as he did and loved nothing better than the wide open plains, the mountains and nature.
    “We went too far,” Susan shouted back.
    And Sarah added, “And stayed too long.”
    Darline had swung off her horse and looked at the girls a moment. “Your parents will be worried about you.” She seemed to think a moment. Then, pulling off her warm jacket, she put it around Susan saying, “You’ll have to ride before me. Sarah, you’ll be behind so we’ll block the wind. Let’s go.”
To be continued next week.
What did you think of this first part?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Triple Creek Ranch - Part 19

A lovely Good Morning Faithful Friday Fiction Fans!

We've had the windows open most of the week which has been fun. Yesterday we did turn the AC on after we ate our ice cream in the afternoon. :) We might have to turn it on again today, we'll see. Right now it is quite pleasant.

And now for the update on my week: So wonderful to be home! :)
Well Friday and Saturday were busy at the conference which went well. Packing up Saturday evening wasn't too bad. At least some of the ALERT guys helped with taking the boxes over to the trailer and helping load it. My heart-sister and I took lots of empty boxes to the "cardboard collection dumpster." Mom, S and I left for home about 9:30 Sunday morning. It was a long drive, but at least we had something to listen to. Do you all listen to "books on tape" (or CD or MP3) when you travel? We were listening to "A Tale of Two Cities." Having never read the book, and having an excellent reader to listen to has made it very interesting. We haven't gotten it finished yet, so no telling what happens at the end. :)
On Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday we remained at home all day long. There was laundry to do, things to put away, and lots of ironing to do. I did go walking with my best friends Monday and Tuesday evening which was delightful. We saw a hot air balloon and waved to it as it was low. They waved back. :) Have any of my readers been in a hot air balloon? What is it like? Can you hear if people on the ground talk to you? :) You see, we asked for a ride. :D One of these days I'd love to ride in a hot air balloon.
Yesterday I went over to my brother's to play with the kids while Mom priced, my sis-in-law packed and my brother did everything. That was fun.
Today we clean the house! It really needs it! And on Saturday I'll be mowing our yard and doing some yard work and I might end up mowing my brother's yard as well. I mentioned to Pickle Puss that the weeds were high in her yard. Her reply, "Beh Beh (the name she gave me when she was really little and is still used by her and her brothers), those aren't weeds. I call them prairie grass." So there you have it. If the weeds look too high, just call them prairie grass and it will all be okay. :)

Have I been writing? Every night! :) I'm delighted to be back to it for more than one or two evenings a week. I'm working on several things and wanted to start another short story, but all my files on NEO were full or at least occupied so I have to wait until I transfer things to the computer.

But, since you asked for it, here is the next part of Triple Creek Ranch. I hope you enjoy it.

Part 19

    It was while Jenelle was setting the table that Orlena walked in.
    “Why are you setting so many places?” Orlena asked. “No one told me there was a party tonight.”
    Jenelle continued to lay the napkins carefully at each place as she answered, “It is no party, Orlena. Every Monday night everyone on the ranch eats supper together. It is a tradition your grandmother’s brother started before Norman came to live with him.”
    “Humph,” Orlena snorted, and then continued almost under her breath, “no wonder he has such ridiculous notions. Consorting with the hired help during meal times! Well,” she said aloud, not realizing that her low toned remarks had also reached the ears of her sister, “you needn’t set a place for me, for I don’t associate socially with hired help.” Then she brushed past her sister-in-law and swept to the doorway where she paused and looked back. “Have my supper served to me in my room.”
    She had nearly reached the top of the stairs when a quiet voice stopped her.
    The girl paused and turned her head, looking down to see Jenelle standing below her at the bottom of the stairs. “Yes?” her voice was haughty and annoyed.
    “The choice of eating with the rest of us is up to you; however, the choice of serving meals to you in your room is up to me.” Jenelle’s voice was calm, even a bit cool as she went on, “And I say that no meals will be served to you in your room tonight. If you wish to eat, you may come to the dining room.” Then quietly, with no show of haste or display of temper, Jenelle slipped away.
    Orlena watched her go with her mouth partway open to reply, but Jenelle’s disappearance gave her no chance to speak. For a moment she remained where she was, then with a “Well! I never!” she continued on to her room where she shoved the door shut with a bang, dropped into her chair with a huff and scowled at the wallpaper as though it were to blame for everything.
    To say that Orlena was annoyed at her sister would have been true, she was also annoyed and angry at her brother for letting his wife treat her with such disrespect, seeming to forget the things she had said to Jenelle; she was also confused and astonished. Here she had been at the ranch for six days and never had she heard Jenelle’s voice raised nor seen her act upset about a thing. Also, it was puzzling how this same sister-in-law had a way of saying things and then leaving the room before a fitting retort could be made. “She hasn’t any courage,” Orlena muttered. “If she had she would stay and listen to me.” Suddenly she sat up straighter and her eyes glowed. “That is it,” she announced triumphantly to her reflection in the mirror, “the next time my brother’s wife walks out on me I will follow her and make her listen to what I have to say! No one in proper society would do what she does. It just goes to show what a selfish, ignorant child she is,” and Miss Orlena Mavrich tossed her head making her curls swing and bounce. “And as for Norman,” she snorted her disgust, “he is no gentleman. Expecting me to be happy in the middle of nowhere with no one but a common country housekeeper to talk to! Why Mrs. O’Connor had more manners than Jenelle does!” And so, this poor, spoiled child sat justifying her actions and condemning others until she heard her brother’s footsteps on the stairs. Yes, she was poor. Not poor in the sense that the world counts, for she had money enough waiting for her to come of age, but she was poor because she knew not the love that comes truly from the heart, poor because real happiness had never been known among the riches and spender of her life, poor for her friends had only wanted the wealth she lavished among them and the hint of reflected glory she allowed them to bask in, poor for each thought she had was of and about herself. Have anyone known someone who seemed so intent upon themselves that they shut out all real love and happiness to hold onto the one thing they cherish most, their pride? Orlena’s pride was her most prized possession and thus the enemy of souls used it to rule her life and gave her no peace.
    Flinging open her door, she was about to call to her brother and inform him of the impertinence of his wife, but to her utter disgust, Jenelle’s gay laughter sounded in her ears. Silently she pulled the door shut, moved to the window and stood looking out.
    When Norman’s voice called to her some fifteen minutes later to ask if she were going down, she replied shortly, “No,” and then added in lower tones, “I won’t eat with hired help like common country people.”
    Scowling, Orlena watched the hands striding from the bunk house laughing and talking in the greatest of good humor. “Ignorant nobodies,” she muttered. “This place is worse than the slums of the city and I won’t stay here much longer.” The only things that kept her from packing and walking away right then was her trunk in the attic and the fact that she didn’t know where she would go since school didn’t start for another few months. The only things? There was something else keeping her at Triple Creek Ranch though Orlena Mavrich didn’t know it. Every day earnest prayers had been made for her from nearly every member of the busy ranch. Norman and Jenelle never went to bed without spending time on their knees pleading for this younger sister to find the only Fountain of lasting Joy and the One who is Love. Those prayers, and a Father’s tender plan, kept Orlena at Triple Creek Ranch.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Triple Creek Ranch - Part 18

Hello Friday Fiction Fans!
I'm actually getting this ready to post Thursday night since I'll be leaving about 6:00 AM to head over to help finish setting up for the conference. We spent most of today setting up, but there is still more to do.
Let me see, this week has been busy, but it was nice to be home until Wednesday. On Saturday Mom and I went to Connie's to check our booth since it had been two weeks since we'd been there. I got a new hat. :) Then we went to get our birthday sundaes at Culver's. Yum.
On Sunday there were no babies at church! :( But I did get a nap when we got home.
Monday came and suddenly there were only two days before we left again! Yikes! I had to get things done and that evening we went over to my brother's for supper and to help out some.
Mom and I went over to my brother's and worked. I played with the kiddos some and helped get DVDs on the spinner racks.
Mom, S and I left on Wednesday morning and headed down to TX. I must say the roads in OK aren't that great. They haven't been improved at all since we used to drive down to Big Sandy to visit my brother when he was in ALERT. :P
And like I said, today was busy setting up.

I got a little writing done Monday night, but not much.
Hope you enjoy this next part of Triple Creek Ranch. :)

Part 18

    This she did with her head high and her nose tipped up. She knew she was causing a sensation with her dress and her fine hat, and, if the truth be told, she thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Orlena didn’t hear a word of the sermon that morning, for her eyes were busy taking in every detail of the small country church and her mind was calculating just how much the dresses and hats which she could see before her cost and comparing them in her mind to her own wardrobe. Her lip curled slightly at the thought of the difference between them. Orlena had never been taught to think of much else besides herself and money and had never learned the joy of loving Jesus and serving Him; she had never even known of anyone who followed their Savior in their daily life except Mrs. O’Connor, until her grandmother’s death had brought her to Triple Creek Ranch.
    Even if Orlena didn’t hear the sermon, Norman and Jenelle did, and were helped.
    “Thou hast planted my feet on the Rock and established my goings.” Mr. Kirby read the text once more. “If your feet are planted on the Rock of Jesus Christ,” he said, “your goings, your ways, yes, and even the trials which seem so hard to bear, have been placed before you by a loving Saviour that your faith might be established more firmly. So, if you feel overwhelmed by life, go to your Rock, that Rock in a weary land which cannot change, go to Him for strength and He will establish you.”

    On Monday, Norman drove his wife and sister into town to do some shopping. He had some things to pick up for the ranch as well. Normally Hardrich or Lloyd or one of the other hands would have made the necessary trip for supplies, but Mr. Mavrich didn’t trust his sister’s temper, therefore, he went himself.
    It was several hours before the trio returned to the ranch, leaving busy tongues to talk in town about Triple Creek’s newest member. Orlena had made it very clear that she disapproved of nearly everything she saw. Having discovered that no rich silks or expensive real lace were to be had in the small store, she left everything up to Jenelle, merely sniffing when asked an opinion and remarking that “it might do for a servant or a cook.”
    Jenelle had been much relieved when Norman had left them to do their own shopping while he did his, for she was afraid some of his sister’s remarks would not have settled well with him. It was difficult to deal with Orlena, Jenelle admitted that, but she also realized the wisdom of a quiet answer, or in some cases, no answer at all.

    Being too tired to work on new clothes when they returned, Jenelle laid aside the material for another day.
    “I wonder if Orlena will enjoy sewing her own clothes?” Mrs. Mavrich mused while she drew the curtains in the front room to shut out the afternoon sun. Then another thought struck her and she paused. How could she have forgotten that today was the day the entire ranch ate together? What would Orlena think of eating with the ranch hands? Should she tell her or wait and let her find out when it was time to eat?
    “Perhaps it would be best to wait. At least for the time being.” Jenelle sighed and brushed a few stray pieces of hair off her face. Brightening suddenly, she smiled. “I’ll have help with the meal tonight at least,” she whispered.
    She wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone, but the fierce heat as well as the extra work and stress her young sister was causing had made her more tired that she had been for a while. Tonight would be different for on Monday nights Al St. John, the bunk house cook came to lend a hand. Al also worked with the others, but when it came to cooking, all the hands agreed that no one, with the exception of Mrs. Mavrich, could cook like big St. John.

    Out in the fields, Norman turned to his husky field hand and crew chef. “St. John, be sure you don’t let my wife do much cooking tonight. She’s worn out.”
    “How am I supposed to do that, Boss, when she’s the one in charge?”
    There was a general smile among the ranch hands for it was a well known fact that since Norman Mavrich had brought his wife to the Triple Creek, things about the house had been under the management of Mrs. Mavrich. No one had ever complained, for Jenelle ran the house smoothly and treated the men as friends not just as hired hands.
    After thinking a minute, Norman spoke. “I’ll send Hearter to help out and you can tell Mrs. Mavrich I said for her to take it easy.”
    Al St. John nodded and grinned. “I can do that, Boss.” Then he turned to his future assistant. “How good are you at scrubbin’ taters?” he asked.
    “Don’t know,” Lloyd retorted pushing back his hat. “Never scrubbed ‘em. I just ate ‘em dirt an’ all.”
    A roar of laughter greeted this comeback before the hands returned to their work.

    Thus it was that Jenelle, attired in her kitchen apron with her sleeves rolled up, turned around in surprise as not only Al came in, but Lloyd too. St. John delivered Norman’s message and Jenelle smiled. She understood and appreciated her husbands kindness in sending extra kitchen help.
    “If you both work on the meal,” she complained with a laugh, “what will I do?”
    The two men looked at each other in confusion. How were they to know what the lady of the house should do?
    Smiling at their bewilderment, Jenelle put them at ease by saying, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll set the table and if you should need anything, you can let me know.”

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mystery at Random - Part 8

A lovely good morning from Home!
How are all my faithful Friday fiction fans fairing? (I couldn't resist that alliteration.)

Yes, I'm home again! For six days. As much as I enjoy traveling and seeing new places, there is no place quite like home.
Let me see, last Friday I was at a conference. I spent most of Friday and Saturday playing with some little kiddos while my friend attended sessions and shopped. Sweet Pea, J-J and Baby were such fun. And at other times I got Princess from some other friends. It was great to see people that we usually only see at this conference or at weddings. And, since there are no weddings that we know of for this year, we made the most of our time.
We headed home on Sat. evening. On Sunday we had a guest speaker at church as well as other visitors so we didn't get home as early as sometimes.
On Monday morning, Mom and I headed down to the next conference to help J set up. It took us all afternoon. J got pizza for us in our hotel room and he headed back home leaving Mom and I to stay the night.
Tuesday came and the start of the conference. Dad and S came down to help. It was a rather slow conference. But, there was a booth of used books! Books Bloom is a favorite booth to visit. We had boxes of books we were getting rid of so, we were able to trade books. We came home with only 22 new books, but they were ones we were wanting and that are expensive. It was nice to use credit and not spend any money. :) Dad left to head home that night, but S stayed.
Wednesday was the last day of the conference and I sold five of my books. That was fun. :) We ran out of The Unexpected Request and only had two copies of Home Fires left. My brother and sis-in-law came down with the kiddos about when the conference ended and did most of the packing up. Mom, S and I headed home about 7:00.
Being home is wonderful! I got some things done yesterday, and today we're cleaning house! It hasn't been cleaned for several weeks! I did write some last night. I can't write well when I'm gone. My brain just won't focus. Hoping I can get more writing done before we leave town again.

Thanks for all the comments about this story. It's been fun to see what my readers think of it and who they think might be the thief. And now, since you all have waited so long, here is the final part of Mystery at Random. Enjoy! Remember, this was based on a true event.

Part 8

    “Better call for backup.”
    Jeff thanked his dad quickly and dashed back to the porch and his friends leaving his father to look after him with a smile on his face. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they do catch the thief,” he mused.

    At the police headquarters, Chief Gallant was having a difficult morning. His phone wouldn’t stop ringing. It seemed as though everyone in Random had an idea about the missing flags and while some blamed the Okeefenokees, many were indignant that anyone even suspected them. Finally he gave an order that if the caller wanted to talk about the Okeefenokees, the missing flags or give advice about the case, the desk sergeant should handle it.

    Charging out to the park after a hurriedly eaten lunch, the second group of Okeefenokees were eagerly anticipating their afternoon in hiding. As they stood tossing the ball to each other, the first group of Okeefenokees silently slipped from their hiding places and joined them. The ball continued to be tossed from one person to the next but without much purpose as the mornings uneventful happenings were recounted.
    “Say Dan,” Jeff said, “why don’t the rest of you all stay over at my place. Mom and Dad won’t care. That way if the thief does come, we can send someone for you all and Dad at the same time.”
    “I thought we were going to catch the thief.”
    “We are, but Dad said we’d better call for backup anyway. Besides,” Jeff added, “we might need an officer of the law to confirm who did it.”
    There was a general laugh before Patsy whispered, “Don’t pay any attention but there is Officer Erikson again.”
    “How many times has he been here?” Levi glanced at the slowly patrolling police car.
    “I don’t know,” Dan rolled his eyes, “but as soon as we’re sure he’s gone, you all in the second group had better get hiding.”

    From his vantage point under old Mrs. Featherwood’s front porch, Jeff eyed the two small flags waving gently in the summer breeze. How he wished someone would come and take them. Then they could find out who was doing the real stealing.
    Beside him Levi, in a low whisper, voiced his thoughts. “Man, I wish the thief would get here. It’s already been two hours!”
    “Me too.” Absently Jeff kept peering through the lattice work in the direction of the flags. At first he didn’t pay any attention to the grey figure peeping around the memorial. It wasn’t until it had climbed to the top, looked cautiously around and then, jumping down had seized one flag that all Jeff’s senses became alert.
    “The thief!”
    The second flag was seized and the grey figure was bounding away with them. They had to hurry!
    “Run to my house and get the others and Dad. Hurry!” Jeff ordered, crawling rapidly out from under the porch.
    Levi took off, eager and excited! They had found the thief!
    Racing to the memorial, Jeff was quickly joined by the other four Okeefenokees.
    “No one would have believed us if we hadn’t caught him red-handed,” Tammy grinned.
    “We may have seen the thief, but I want to find the hideout,” Jeff declared. He knew just saying they had seen the thief might not be enough proof for some of the town folk. “Come on, but quietly. Don’t lose sight of him.”
    For several minutes the five Okeefenokees hurried out of the park, down the road, across an empty lot and into a group of trees. There, they halted.
    “Wait here until I get the others!” Jeff ordered softly.
    Red assured him that they wouldn’t go anywhere, so he hurried back to the park where he met his dad and the rest of the Okeefenokees. All wore excited, expectant faces, but Levi hadn’t told them who the thief was.
    “Hold on, Jeff,” Officer Hansen stopped his son. “Perhaps this is a job for the police.”
    Jeff grinned. “That’s why you’re here, Dad, and I don’t think we’ll need anyone else. But hurry. We found the thief’s hideout.”
    A thoroughly puzzled officer followed Jeff and the rest of the eager Okeefenokees until they reached Red, Tammy, Pam and Dwight. All four were standing under a large tree and gazing into it’s branches.
    “So, where’s the thief?” Officer Hansen asked, glancing around and seeing no one.
    Jeff pointed to the tree branches overhead. “Right there.”
    There on a branch high up in the tree, sat a grey squirrel, chattering and scolding while nearby was a large nest from which several American flags showed their bright colors through the other sticks and leaves.
    “There’s the thief, Dad,” Jeff laughed. “A patriotic squirrel wanted to use the flags to build its nest.”
    “Well I never.” Officer Hansen shook his head. “You all certainly cleared yourselves on this one. I’ve never seen or heard anything like it.”
    Neither had anyone else in Random. By the time Officer Hansen and the Okeefenokees had returned to the park, Officer Erikson had discovered the missing flags and had notified Chief Gallant.
    Officer Hansen had the Okeefenokees wait for him at the park, while he went home and called the police chief. Before long, Chief Gallant, Officers Hansen, Erikson and Thompson, Judge Azeria, and several newspaper reporters arrived. It was a jubilant gang of Okeefenokees who led the way to the tree which housed the patriotic squirrel whom they had already named Old Glory.
    Just as the story of the missing flags and the only suspects, the Okeefenokees, had flown about Random, so did the story of finding the true thief. Tammy got back her Okeefenokee pin and Old Glory’s nest was the most visited place for weeks. People began leaving food for her near the tree or at the memorial. Once she had finished building her nest, Old Glory left the rest of the flags alone. Officer Erikson never again doubted the honesty of the Okeefenokees and, last I checked, the Okeefenokees still thrive in Random.

So, now that you have read the ending, what did you think of it?
Did you enjoy it?
Had you guessed who the thief was?
Do you have any questions about it still?