A Progress Report and Edith Gunderson’s Christmas Eve (or part 4 of Amanda’s story)

Good Morning Ted and Jody:

Nancy did sleep in the recliner last night.  Hence, my bed was the couch so I would be handy to assist when she needed to get up.  She slept for six hours before getting up.  She did three on the second go.  Couches are fine for quick naps; but, couches seem to fail in the “good night’s rest” department.

Her pain levels appear to be down and her mobility is increasing.  However, she has not had to struggle to get out of a bed since she moved to the recliner that lifts her up.  That takes a bit of the struggle out of rising when one has help from the chair.

The television is full of news about weather related school, business and other closings this morning.  Unfortunately, there is no weather associated with the closings yet.  The forecasters predict snow for this afternoon—a trace to 3 inches.  If this were Michigan they would not bother until the forecast was for 10 inches.  Despite the weather closings, the vising nurse outfit called and they will be here between 11:00 and noon.  I guess a little adverse forecast just serves to clear the road for them.

I am attaching the fourth entry in the Amanda saga (lack of a better word for what it might become)

Warmest regards, Ed

Edith Gunderson’s Christmas Eve (or part 4 of Amanda’s story)

Fiction in 1487 words by T. Edward Westen, 2016

Edith Gunderson was puzzled. But she was not about to shirk her duty.  ‘That little girl, what was her name,’ looking at the loose papers she thought of as a new case file, ‘Oh, yes, Amanda, needs looking in on.’  With determination, Edith turned to the two police men “Merry Christmas and Good Night.” She left on the same storm on which she entered the precinct.

Edith pulled into a parking space across from and two doors down from 1246 Brentwood. The porch light was on but the house was not lit other than a Christmas Tree in the front window.  No car in the drive or carport.  Edith looked at her watch.  7:33. ‘I guess you are not back yet Amanda Clarkton.  I’ll wait.”

Edith was not used to waiting. When doing an onsite home inspection, she always had an appointment and if the people were not home for a scheduled visit, Edit always left immediately and filed a pick up order for the child or children in question. ‘No sense in exposing them to more danger than necessary.  When I get involved, there is no more fooling around.  The police were always kind to children and it made things less messy with the parents.’  So, Edith was on a stakeout and it was her first.  ‘If I leave the car running, carbon monoxide could build up and I might get sick or die.  On the other hand, if I turn the car off, I will get cold and possibly catch pneumonia.’  So, Edith settled on 5 minutes running and then turn the car off until she could start to feel the cold.  Then turn the engine back on to run the heater. ‘I know it is not freezing yet, but it is darn close to it.’

Edith saw a car pull into the drive next to 1246 Brentwood, another dark house with no porch light and not even a Christmas Tree in the window.  However, Edith was not experienced at surveillance enough to note that while the car’s headlights were turned off, the car remained running.  No one got out.  No one went into the house. And the lights in that house stayed off.

It had been a long day for Edith. Although Christmas Eve, people hurting children do not stop because of holidays.  Today, she had been at it since 7 this morning and had Patrolman Phillipson not called about the little girl he found, Amanda, more than likely Edith Gunderson would be having her annual Christmas Toddy about now.  No, people didn’t stop hurting each other and children because of holidays, but almost no one called about it on Christmas itself.  “I’d wager, if I were a sporting woman, that I haven’t been called on Christmas Day in 20 years.”  ‘My’ she thought ‘Now I’m talking to myself.’

Edith had switched on the radio while the car’s engine was running and listened to a version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with Jack Benny as Scrooge from the station that played recordings from “The Hay Day of Radio.” The announcer called it a “pod cast from the 1950s.”   As Scrooge was confronting the ghost of Christmas past a car pulled into the drive at 1246 Brentwood.  Edith turned off the engine.  The radio went off with the engine.  She watched as a man, woman and small child, a girl, entered the house.  The man and woman made several trips between the car and house carrying packages, ‘Did a bit of late Christmas shopping, did we?’

When the front porch light was turned out, Edith got out of her car.  She remembered to lock it; walked across the street and past the dark house at 1248;  then she mounted the dark steps to the front door of 1246 and rang the bell. ‘Thank goodness people have these bells that are lighted, or I never would have found it,’ thought Edith.

As Edith was about to ring the bell a second time, the porch light was turned on and the door opened.

A young woman in her early 20s answered the door.  Edith thought she recognized the woman, but rather than asking the obvious question of where she knew her from, she presented her Child Protective Services Badge.  “Edith Gunderson, child protective services.  I’m following up on the incident earlier this evening.  May I come in.”

Yes, please, do.” Said Amanda “We thought we lost Mandy when the policeman drove off with her. Thank God he was a real policeman.”

“Oh, you feared an abduction? Queried Edith Gunderson raising her eyebrow.

“Crazy things happen.  Remember that girl that was held in a back yard for 15 years?”  Amanda’ face was contorted into a frown and sorrow at the same time. “I . . . “

Brice Clarkton, still wearing a coat and boots entered the room and said, “I didn’t know we had company.”  He strode over to the couch where Edith had taken up residence and stuck out his hand “Brice, Clarkton.”
Edith Gunderson was not to be deterred from getting to the bottom of something but what something she knew not.  Rather than reaching for the proffered hand she held up her Child Protective Services Badge and ID “Edith Gunderson, Child Protective Services.  And where, might I ask, did you just come from young man?”

“I just took the trash out back.  It may be Christmas, but tomorrow is also our trash pickup day,’ Brice replied as he took his coat off and hung it on a hook by the front door.

“And where is the child?”  Edith asked

Amanda Clarkton intervened “Our daughter, Mandy, was just put down for the night.”

“I’d like to see her”, insisted Edith.

“I’ll go get her,” said Brice.

“If you don’t mind we’ll all go”, said Edith Gunderson.

The three of them walked up the stairs and around the corner to a room that Brice pointed toward.  Edith indicated the two parents should wait and then opened the door. She reached around the door and found the light switch and flicked it.  Mandy was lying on a bed, tucked in holding a Teddy Bear.  She was wide awake, or had she not been the overhead light in her eyes insured she was.   Edith took a cautious step into the room beckoning Brice and Amanda to follow.  Mandy was wide eyed, but did not appear frightened.  So, Edith Gunderson applied all of her child psychology and asked “Mandy, who are these two people behind me?”

Mandy’s face broke in to the largest smile a little girl’s head can hold and said “That’s my Mommy and Daddy.  Tomorrow is Christmas.  Mommy says Santa knows where I live and I must go to sleep so he can come.  I try.”

Edith Gunderson smiled, and said, “Yes, you go to sleep so Santa can come.  Good night, Mandy”, switched off the light and shut the door.  Turning to the Clarktons, “I’ll need proof, you know,”

Brice was the first to recover, “Proof?  How do you prove a kid is your kid?”

“Certificates of Birth, for one,” said, Edith.

Amanda said, “But those in the safety deposit box. We can’t get them until next week when the banks open.”

Edith thought for a moment, “Did you brush her hair tonight.”

Amanda, “Yes, why.”

Edith replied “Give me the brush and I’ll take the hair.  I will need a few strands of your hair with a roots too.”

Amanda, held up a finger as if to say, yes, but Edith interjected, “Mr. Clarkton should bring the brush.”

While Brice went back upstairs to get the brush with Mandy’s hair in it, Edith Gunderson produced two evidence bags and handed one to Amanda “pull out a couple of your hairs, and put them in the bag.  Then initial the bag.”

Amanda complied, albeit she winced when the hairs came out.

Brice returned and handed a child’s brush to Edith Gunderson and said, “That is her favorite brush.”

Edith Gunderson, smiled for the first time since they met her “I only need the hairs in it, the brush stays here.”  She then pulled all the hair that she could from the brush and put them in the second evidence bag. “That ought to do it.  No, don’t show me out, that’s that door I came in.  With that she was gone.

Amanda and Brice sat perfectly still for several minutes.  Before Brice spoke.  “OK, so what do we do next.  We have no papers.”

Amanda said “Well, I suppose we . . .

Amanda was interrupted by the doorbell.  She got up without finishing her sentence, switched on the porch light and opened the door.  You could have blown Amanda over with a feather. Standing on the porch was the mirror image of what Amanda would have guessed was herself in twenty years.  Her older mirror image spoke “I thought that woman would never leave.”


About democratizemoney

Retired University Professor
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6 Responses to A Progress Report and Edith Gunderson’s Christmas Eve (or part 4 of Amanda’s story)

  1. Eddy Winko says:

    Oh my! And believe me when I say that’s not something I normally say. Whatever next? Although I’m trying to work put your Christmas Carol breadcrumb of a clue.
    Good to here Nancy is improving already.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Re: Nancy, so far so good. She appreciates all the well wishes.
      Re:clues, sometimes details are just window dressing and sometimes they are clues. She had to listen to something, or why else turn the radio on? Turns out I saw or heard Jack Benny do Scrooge in the middle of the last Century, so I had that memory…..
      Thank you, Ed


  2. beetleypete says:

    Wow! That story is getting like a black hole, turning in on itself. I found myself reading the last section twice.
    Glad to hear that Nancy is getting some rest, albeit in her new chair.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Best wishes to Nancy for a speedy recovery. The story continues to fascinate, I am thinking of time loops or ghosts and can’t work it out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy thanks you for your well wishes.
      I am delighted that the story continues to hold your attention. I don’t know what, for lack of a better word, “the phenomenon” is; so, we will just have to see when we get to some sort of ending. (I don’t know when that is either.
      Warmest regards, Ed

      Liked by 1 person

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