You’re the one who saved those kids

kindergartensw

He was different when he was dead, but while alive he was an idiot.
He needed money and of all the ways you can get some, legal and illegal, he chose to kidnap and hold to ransom a rural one teacher school — teacher and all. What a moron.
The minister for education volunteered to deliver the ransom — which took guts — no one considered him to be ‘just another politician’ after that. Before his phone went flat, THE KIDNAPPER didn’t turn up — couldn’t get the bus started — Miss Stephenson knew how to start the cantankerous machine, but she wasn’t about to help him. He got it going eventually, but by then the Minister and about a hundred well hidden, heavily armed police officers gave up on him and went home. THE KIDNAPPER didn’t have a plan B — didn’t have a phone charger either, so his phone died. He’d cut the school phone line — he probably saw that done on TV. With no way to contact the police, he panicked, not noticing the still functioning phone box outside the school.
He drove the bus towards the City until it ran out of fuel — parked it in a laneway and within an hour the area was awash with police. In the confusion, Miss Stephenson slipped away with five of the children. She would have gotten away with all of them but THE KIDNAPPER heard them, and she wisely left with the children she could save. He waived his rifle at her and the children, shouted at them, but didn’t fire. Miss Stephenson held her breath and didn’t look back.
The four kids I ‘saved’ were left behind. THE KIDNAPPER paced around the empty house and terrified the children before leaving by the back door when I banged on the front door — the rest has been well documented. That’s not strictly correct. You are one of the few people who know that I stumbled across the children.
Do you know how I pulled that off? The high point of my career? I was in the right place at the right time. I didn’t think they were there. I was banging on that door because someone had hemmed me in — parked so close that I couldn’t move my car. I was tired and pissed off, and I guess I sounded angry. The fuckwit must have thought I was the police and he legged it out the back door. When the front door came open, and that little face looked up at me and said, “Have you come to save us?” I just froze. I expected to get a shotgun pushed into my chest, but the kidnapper was gone. The kids were all scared and tired and grubby, and except for the boy who opened the door, they were very quiet.
I sat on the old vinyl couch with the kids and waited for the police to arrive. I’m not sure that the switchboard operator believed me when I rang it in. I left the front door open to show that we were in there and we were okay, but it didn’t stop the Special Response Squad from bursting in with the familiar sound of ‘Armed Police, get on the ground.’ I still have that fuckers knee print on my back.
They caught Stanley James Smith a few houses away, and I got a curt apology for being roughed up. ‘You know how it is Mr Fox. We can’t be too careful. Sorry about arresting you and all the rest.’
‘What’s your name again?’ I said.
‘Commander Wilson. I was in charge of the search.’ He put his hand out to shake mine — for the cameras.
‘Fuck you very much, Commander Wilson,’ was my reply — or words to that effect.
The Commander smiled at me and said, ‘Fair enough.’
We both produced our best smiles for the camera.
About a year later I won a Walkley Award for my series of articles on the Cameron Street Primary School kidnapping. The story stretched over four Saturday editions — about twenty thousand words and not once did I mention the kidnapper’s name — didn’t give the fucker what he wanted — fame.

The rest of the world needed a hero that week, and cynically, I cashed in on their need. I thought it would be good for my career. The truth of it weighed me down over time. It certainly did help my career, but it did nothing for my heart.
I interviewed Miss Stephenson for the series of articles I was writing. In a sane world, she would be the hero, but she made one mistake — she chose wisely and left with as many of the children as she was able — but not all.
THE KIDNAPPER walked into the well kept little one teacher country school on a bright Spring morning. Strangers are noticed quickly in rural communities, but although he was new to the area, THE KIDNAPPER didn’t raise suspicion. His appearance and demeanour made him look like any rural worker. His battered utility, just like a thousand others. Even the rifle he was carrying was not out of place in this environment.
People worry about their kids, but never in their wildest dreams would they expect them to be involved in a ransom attempt.
It didn’t take long for the press, of which I am one, to work out that Miss Stephenson was not going to sell newspapers beyond the usual five-day window — she wasn’t interested in being famous. “I was just doing my job. The parents entrust their children to my care, so I was doing my best to keep them safe and get them home to their parents.”
When I asked her how she kept the gunman from hurting any of the children she said, “I treated him like one of the children. I spoke to him firmly but gently and reminded him that people would not be happy if anything happened to the children.”
“Weren’t you frightened?” I asked.
“Yes, but I had a job to do, and if I showed fear, it was only going to escalate the situation.”
What a woman.
THE KIDNAPPER had a predictable background which was laid out in minute detail by his defence counsel at trial. His father beat him regularly, which caused some brain damage and he didn’t do well at school — which had nothing to do with his decision to hold an entire school to ransom, apparently. His defence team worked hard, but in the end, he was found guilty of kidnapping and a bunch of other stuff — all window dressing, the main charge was the big one. The sentence didn’t surprise anyone — life in prison, which meant that he would be out in about thirty years as long as the government of the day didn’t see the need to make some ‘hard on crime’ mileage and keep him inside.
In the end, it was all academic, as they say. THE KIDNAPPER got into a discussion with a big bloke who had kids — lots of them. The big bloke wasn’t allowed anywhere near his kids, for obvious reasons, but that did not stop him from striking a blow for parents everywhere. The resultant blow ended THE KIDNAPPER’s life after a few days in a coma.
His death was front page for a day, and my paper reran the series of articles I had written more than a year before and I became ‘the bloke who saved those kids’ all over again.
I never visited THE KIDNAPPER’s grave, and I never mentioned his name in print.
I don’t know where Miss Stephenson is these days although I believe that she got married and moved to a warmer climate. I’ll bet the children in her classroom will remember her and so will the parents.
Me too, if it comes to that.
She got her quiet life back, I got to be famous, and THE KIDNAPPER got to be dead — he was different when he was dead.

Marcel

faff059654d2d62a06c9ebd29f2411a6

When I met Marcel, I was wearing a slinky gown that reached to the ground. It hugged me in all the right places, and every penny I had spent on my spectacular body was on display. My breasts aren’t large, but they are pretty. My dress caressed them and exposed just enough. I wasn’t wearing panties or a bra because it would have ruined the fall of the dress —the dress I purchased only for this occasion.

One of my husband’s friends was receiving an award so the banquet hall would be full of uncomfortably dressed men imitating penguins and fabulously dressed women, all trying to impress each other while comparing their husband’s incomes.

When I first saw him, the dining hall was receiving its finishing touches. None of the bustling staff paid me any attention — one more weepy woman — what did I have to be unhappy about? An observant person would say my life looked perfect. The girls, earning minimum wage, while arranging crystal wine glasses, probably wanted to be me.

My husband disappeared into his career a long time ago, but he still expected me to adore him even though he’s a stranger. If he had found a woman who was prepared to play his game I’m sure he would have left me, but instead, we occupy the same house, and our schedules mean that we occasionally bump into each other.

Marcel was dressed like a penguin also, but he wasn’t a guest he was working — a hired gun, so to speak — an experienced chef moonlighting as a head waiter — just for the night.

“You are unhappy, beautiful lady?”

“Just a bit — nothing to worry about,” I said.

“Why are you alone?”

“I’m not. My husband is in the other room — networking.”

The anteroom was full of well-dressed people exchanging business cards.

“If you were with me, I wouldn’t leave you alone for a moment.”

I lowered my eyes as I smiled demurely. I searched for something to say, but his words took me by surprise. I’ve had men say such things to me in the past, but there was always an edge to their voice that made me uncomfortable.

I sensed a gentle sincerity in Marcel — he meant what he said. That’s not to say that he wasn’t trying his luck — trying to get into the pants that I wasn’t wearing.

He moved closer, and I lowered my eyes a little more. He leaned into my personal space, and I could feel his breath on my bare shoulders.

“You are very forward for a waiter,” I said as I finally found my voice. I didn’t move away from him as a married woman should have while spurning an unwanted advance. Instead, I looked up into his eyes and my rebuke held no venom.

“I am many things and a waiter for only one night. I am also a man who recognises an unhappy woman. I can make you happy,” he said with a devilish smile.

“I doubt that my husband would like to hear you say those words.”

“You are a woman who should be cherished. Your every wish should be granted. Your man should put his hands on you and show you what heaven looks like.”

“And I suppose that you are a man who can achieve that for a woman?”

His attention was arousing me. I didn’t see the harm in encouraging him; I wouldn’t see him again after this night — we come from different worlds.

“I would take you anywhere you want to go,” he said with that same smile.

I had butterflies in my tummy, and I was moist. A trip to the ‘ladies’ would be necessary before we sat down for dinner.

I went to find my husband to tell him of my cheeky adventure, but he was deep in conversation with a couple of penguins — he ignored me, once again, so I stood by until we were called for dinner.

The banquet hall buzzed with conversation. The food was good, and the wine was better than expected. The hotel staff hovered around the table and made sure that we were well looked after. Marcel found any excuse to service my end of the table. He smiled at me constantly. He made funny faces and caught my eye. No one noticed his interest in me, but I loved the attention even though I did my best to look as though I was discouraging him — he saw through me.

Despite my beauty and position in society, no one had shown me this kind of blatant interest. I swear he would have made love to me there and then if I had let him.

~oOo~

“Hello, Elizabeth. Are you still sad?”

I was going through my notes for the lecture I was to give the next day — I was glad of the distraction. I recognised his voice, but I made him work for my attention.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know to whom I am speaking.”

“It’s Marcel, from last night’s banquet. Tall, dark, handsome in an irresistible way. Marcel, the head waiter,” he sounded cheeky, but a bit disappointed that I did not immediately know who he was.

“What can I do for you Marcel the head waiter?”

“You can meet me for coffee.”

“Will you be wearing your Tux? I meet so many handsome men. How will I recognise you out of uniform?”

There was a moment of silence. Maybe he was trying to work out if I was kidding him or not.

“The Tasty Cafe at about three tomorrow. I know you will recognise me because I remember the way you looked at me.”

“I might be able to drag myself away — we’ll see.”

I hung up the phone before he had time to answer. I felt like a naughty school girl planning to cut classes for the day.

 

An excerpt from DOT, DOT, DOT …

Untitled (2)

Didn’t Make It Home

Untitled 11 (6)

 

Untitled (2)

The audiobook is free if you preorder a print copy before the publication date.

Okay, so it took a little longer than I thought, but it is worth the wait. The book now includes two novellas — UNEXPECTED and READ ALL ABOUT IT was well as a bunch of stories written specifically for this anthology. As a special treat, there are a series of Sam and Scarlett stories that follow Sam’s journey as he rediscovers his love for Scarlett after his near-fatal car accident. These stories are lifted from the ill-fated and as yet unpublished novel, YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS. These are adult stories and not for anyone who is upset by depictions of lovers doing what comes naturally. The book, DOT, DOT, DOT … will be available in late December or early January, and if you preorder a print copy, you will receive the audiobook for free. So don’t just sit there, order your advance copy now. This is a limited print run so don’t miss out.