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.
“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 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?