Good Morning Ted and Jody:
It was good to hear your voices yesterday. It sounds like you had a wonderful time over Thanksgiving, even if your sister-in-law’s oven gave up the ghost. I am glad you are enjoying eating my packing material.
To reiterate, the dried tomatoes I sent should be added to about 32 ounces of boiling water and then let sit for 10 minutes or so, or continue cooking and add spices, and whatnot to them for a sauce. They should require no additional tomatoes, but if they are too watery, some tomato paste could be used the same as with canned tomato cooking. If they are too thick, add a bit more water.
I’m not sure why I missed your first call. I missed another call in the afternoon. My cell phone was in my shirt pocket and properly set for rings and all of that. It could be the clouds were bouncing tower signals the wrong way or the rain was too heavy (it was raining large mammals again mixed with hail at one point) to let the signal through.
I wrote another short story yesterday. It follows below.
Warmest regards, Ed
001 One Small Girl Found in the Brentwood District Answering to Amanda
Fiction in 1,504 words by T. Edward Westen, 2016
Patrolman Eddie Philipson didn’t mind working Christmas Eve. His wife, a nurse, worked the evening shift at the hospital. Working Christmas Eve gave another officer a chance to be at home with his family. ‘I hope when Maggie and I have children someone will work this shift so I can stay home with the family too.’ He smiled at the thought. He and Maggie had talked about starting to, as she put it, enlarge the family in two years once she had finished her work for the RN. Being an LPN was all well and good, but she wanted the increased patient responsibilities and the money was good too.
Patrolling solo in a car was a new experience for Patrolman Philipson. Keeping one eye on one side of the street for potential issues and the other eye on the other as well as both eyes on the road was more than he was used to doing. He was approaching the small park in the 1200 block of Mission Boulevard. The duty sergeant told him to keep an eye on the area by the swings as they had some reports about drugs begin sold there. As the duty sergeant had put it, “That ain’t healthy for little kids who just want to swing.”
Slowing so as to better see in the dyeing twilight, Patrolman Philipson saw a small girl standing about ten feet in front of the swings. He could not see anyone with her, so he pulled over to the curb, and got out of the car. Approaching her he asked, “Do you know who I am? “
The little girl replied “Yes, you are a policeman.”
“How old are you?” Asked Patrolman Philipson.
The little girl took her mitten off and let it dangle from the yarn that prevented her from losing it and held up four fingers and said “Four. I am Four.”
“Where are your parents?” Patrolman Philipson asked.
The little girl half turned toward the swings and pointed.
“What is your name?” Patrolman Philipson asked.
“Amanda, I am Amanda. Mommy calls me Mandy.”
The policeman reached down and took her by the hand the mitten had been on and said “Come with me Amanda”
Upon arriving at the station Patrolman Philipson showed Mandy to a chair next to a desk with a computer terminal and began his incident report: “One small girl, wearing a red coat, red mittens, a red sweater, white blouse and red skirt, found in at 1267 Mission Boulevard, the Brentwood District answering to Mandy and Amanda at 16:10 December 24, 2010 by Patrolman Eddie Philipson. I was driving patrol when I saw the child standing by the swings at that address with no one else around. I pulled over and approached the child. I asked her if she knew who I was. She affirmed I was a policeman. I asked her how old she was and she held up four fingers and counted to four. I asked her where her mother and father were and she turned around and pointed in the general direction of the swings. There being no one there I asked her name. She said, ‘Amanda but mommy calls me ‘Mandy.’ Since no one was in the vicinity I brought her to the 5th Precinct to await Child Protective Services.”
Patrolman Philipson looked up to see a woman covered in mud at the sergeant’s desk. Amanda jumped up yelling “Mommy, Mommy” and ran to the woman.
The woman’s face lit up like a decorated tree of the season and scooped Amanda up hugging her kissing her on the cheeks and crying “Mandy, Mandy, Mandy, Thank God, I found you. Let’s go home.”
Patrolman Philipson said “Just a few formalities, but we have to complete the paper work. I need to know where you were when I found your daughter.”
The woman replied “I was lying on the ground, in the mud if you must know. Mandy jumped off the swing and it came back and hit me in the head.” She removed her scarf so the patrolman and sergeant could see the red mark the swing seat left when it stuck her. “As I was getting up I saw you put Mandy in your patrol car. I yelled but you didn’t hear me.”
“But I looked back where you claim to have fallen. I did not see you there” said Patrolman Philipson.
The woman turned around slowly so the patrolman and sergeant could see the coating of mud. “I suspect I rather blended in. It was twilight, as you know. Dark, and this is dark mud.”
The sergeant intervened “She’s right Eddie. Take her id information and let her take Mandy home. It is Christmas for God’s sake.”
Patrolman Phillipson did as the sergeant told him. From a three-year-old driver’s license he got Amanda Clarkson of 1246 Brentwood. ‘Funny’ he thought ‘one block from the swings where he had found the girl. They didn’t even have to cross a street to get to the swings.”
Patrolman Phillipson pulled on his jacket ready to go back on patrol when Edith Gunderson of Child Protective Services stormed into the Precinct Squad room. Dressed in Miss Marple Tweeds, at 5 foot 2 inches tall and weighing in at 200 pounds, Edith Gunderson looked like she could storm unchallenged into any room. “Where’s the child?” she bellowed.
The desk sergeant began an explanation. “We sent her home with her mother.”
“That is not the way it is done sergeant.” Said Edith Gunderson. “Were there any marks on the child? Were there any marks on the mother?” Her words did her storming for her.
The desk sergeant then explained the swing, the mud the child’s reaction and the whole incident. He then handed Edith Gunderson a printed copy of the incident report which he obtained by hitting the print key on his computer while he talked.
Had she been moving Edith Gunderson would have defied the laws of physics about stopping a moving body in no distance at all. She became silent. Pointing at the black and while version of the photos of the younger Amanda, she asked, politely and in a subdued manner “Can you put this on a computer screen for me?”
Since the incident repot was on the sergeant’s computer, he beckoned Edith Gunderson around to his side of the desk. She looked at the child’s photograph for some time. “This is ringing bells. How far back do you have these in a data base.”
The sergeant replied, “I remember they started in the late 1980 when I was a rookie. I hated the damned computers back then. 1988 I think.”
“Good, that is far back enough. Do a search with Amanda in first name category for both the child and mother, December 24 in the month and day and * for the year.” With that Edith Gunderson sat down in the sergeant’s chair.
The sergeant busied himself while the wheels or whatever was going on in the computer spun or whatever thing in there did to get answers. Edith Gunderson stood up. “Ah Ha, we have a hit—one hit.”
Patrolman Phillipson began to read “One small girl, wearing a red coat, red mittens, a red sweater, white blouse and red skirt, found in at 1267 Mission Blvd the Brentwood District answering to Mandy and Amanda at 16:10 December 24, 1990 by Patrolman Francis Milson. I was driving patrol when I saw the child standing by the swings at that address with no one else around. I pulled over and approached the child. I asked her if she knew who I was. She affirmed I was a policeman. I asked her how old she was and she held up four fingers and counted to four. I asked her where her mother and father were and she turned around and pointed in the general direction of the swings. There being no one there I asked her name. She said, ‘Amanda but mommy calls me ‘Mandy.’ Since no one was in the vicinity I brought her to the 5th Precinct to await Child Protective Services.” When he finished, Patrolman Phillipson was the most puzzled person in the room. “Except for Francis Milson and the year, that is word for word what I wrote. And that Amanda’s photograph is close to identical to the one I took of her this evening”
Edith Gunderson said “I knew she looked familiar. I handled that case 20 years ago. Francis Milson, who was a bridge partner of mine, found that Amanda the same way you found your Amanda and we ended up putting her mother in jail for child neglect and the child went into the orphanage over in Hillsdale.”
Patrolman Phillipson asked “So what does all of this mean?”
A completely mollified and puzzled Edith Gunderson was at a loss for words.
After a long silence, the sergeant said, “It is Christmas, I think we just made up for that mistake 20 years ago, and sent the kid home with her mother this time.”