Weekend Reading, Conclusion: Phase 2 (Part 3)

Mrs. Foxe left. Mom turned from the door, wrapped me and Neddy in her arms, held us for a long, long time. No one said anything. We were all wiped out from emotion.  After a while, Mom said, “Let’s get some sleep.” She went into her bedroom. Neddy and I went into ours. I sank down on my bed. Neddy walked over to his and punched his pillow, real hard.

“Huh?” I said.

He turned, came closer, spoke in a low, angry voice, his face all red. “She’s a fake.”

“Mrs. Foxe?” I said. “What the hell are you – “

Neddy reached into his pocket and took out the razor.  He held it on the palm of his hand. I actually had to touch it to make sure it was real.

“You took it off the table?” I said. “I don’t understand.”

“She took it off the table,” Neddy said. “Remember when she got Mom to sit back down?”


“She scooped up the razor at the same time, without even looking, real smooth, and dropped it in the pocket of that coat of hers.”

“Oh my God. Are you sure?”

“’Course I’m sure,” said Neddy. “I took it out the next second, while her back was turned. And you know what else?”


“The way it moved on the table, spinning around and all that?”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yeah. She had a magnet or something between her knees, under the table. I peeked. She didn’t see me – her eyes were on Mom the whole time.”

I felt sick. “What about the flame?”

“She has this real sneaky way of blowing out through her nose,” Neddy said.

“So none of it was real?”

Neddy shook his head. He looked like he was about to start crying, and Neddy wasn’t a crier.

“But I felt him there,” I said. I wasn’t a crier either, but I was crying now. Then I got angry, real angry, and the crying stopped. I wiped my face on my sleeve, pulled myself together. “This is bad,” I said.

“What are we going to do?” said Neddy. “Tell Mom?”

I thought about that, picturing how Mom had hugged empty space and told Dad how she’d always loved him.  Dropping the truth on her? No way. But Mrs. Foxe would be back, again and again, getting her hooks deeper and deeper into Mom, taking every cent we had.

“What happens when she discovers she doesn’t have the razor?” I said.

“She’ll just figure it fell out, getting into her car or something like that,” Neddy said. “A little thing like that won’t stop her.”

He was right. But how could we let this go on? Over on the desk, the green button on the computer we shared was blinking slowly in sleep mode. That reminded me of the four objects, one in particular. I went over to the computer and woke it up. I wasn’t a great computer person, but Neddy was.

“Got an idea,” I said.

Neddy came closer. “Using our Wi-Fi?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said. We were turning out to be a team.  Neddy sat in front of the computer, started tapping away. He figured everything out real fast, was almost done when we heard a sound from the kitchen, maybe a chair scraping on the floor. I opened the bedroom door, went to look.


Mom was at the table, standing behind Dad’s empty chair. She wore a nightgown now, and her hair was kind of wild. The candles were burning again, the only light in the room. Mom was facing in my direction but she didn’t seem to see me.


She jumped, startled. “Lara? What are you doing up?”

“I couldn’t sleep.”

“Me either,” Mom said. She put a hand on Dad’s chair.  “I’ve been kicking myself.”

“Why?” Had she figured out that Mrs. Foxe was a fraud, problem solved?

Far from it. “There was so much more I wanted to say to Dad,” Mom said. “And he never really got a chance to say anything.”

“What do you mean?”

“They speak sometimes, these … these souls. Mrs. Foxe has seen it happen. I’m going to call her first thing in the morning, get her to come back tomorrow night.” Mom bit her lip. “What if she’s booked?”

I heard our bedroom door open, glanced over, saw Neddy in the doorway. Things were moving faster than we’d anticipated, but why not? I raised my eyebrows. He gave a little nod.

“Mom?” I said. “Why don’t we try right now?”

“Oh, I don’t think Mrs. Foxe would come over now.”

“Without her, Mom.”

“Without Mrs. Foxe? That won’t work.”

“Why not?” I said. “We know how it goes.”

“It’s worth a try,” Neddy said, coming toward the table.

“Well … “  said Mom. “I guess it can’t hurt. Can it?”

“No, Mom.”

I sat in my chair. Slowly Mom sat down in hers; there was still something trance-like about her movements.

“What object should we use?” I said.

“How about the laptop?” said Neddy, and before anyone could answer he took Dad’s laptop off the side table, opened it and laid it between the candles.

“Start us off, Mom,” I said.

“I’m not sure … “

“You know,” said Neddy. “Breathe together, hold hands and project a strong mental image.”

“Oh, right,” said Mom.

We breathed together, held hands, closed our eyes. Crazily enough, even though the fix was in and this time Neddy and I were the fixers, a hyper-clear image of Dad arose in my mind at once. He was out in the desert where the winds blew strong, back in the Tucson days, flying a box kite. Dad loved flying kites, built his own. I remembered this one very well, a strange-looking thing in the shape of a flying horse, but it had soared way way up there. Dad had this enchanted expression on his face, like a little kid.

“I have an image,” Mom said, so quietly I almost couldn’t hear. “What comes next?”

“Travelers,” Neddy said. “Three faithful travelers.”

“Three faithful travelers are trying to reach you,”  Mom said. “Your wife and your beautiful children. If …”

“You can hear us, or see us,” Neddy said.

“Or sense us,” I said. “Please give a sign.”

We sat in silence, eyes closed. Time passed. I started to wonder whether Neddy had messed up somehow, snuck a glance at him. His eyes were closed. He looked calm, and more than that, a lot like Dad in the box-kite memory.

“Please, Rich,” Mom said. “There’s so much I want to say. I beg you.” She sounded desperate, unbearably so. And at that moment, Dad’s laptop made one of those beeps that signal a computer coming to life.

We all opened our eyes, gazed at the screen. It remained blank for a moment, and then a message popped up.

Dear Family,

I just want to tell you that I am fine. There is no pain and I love you very much and will always be with you. But the best thing you can do for me now is to go on with your lives and be happy. That can only happen if you dont contact me anymore. We will be together soon enough.



Neddy had left out the apostrophe in don’t. Dad would never make a mistake like that. But Mom didn’t seem to notice. She gazed at the screen, tears streaming down her face, not making a sound. I felt bad.

After a while, her tears dried up. She turned to us.  “Dad’s right,” she said.

“Yes,” we said.

“Can you print that for me, Neddy?”

Neddy rose, brought back the portable printer, printed the message. A few seconds later, the screen went blank.  Mom kissed her fingers, touched the screen. Then she gave herself a little shake, almost like a dog, and blew out the candles. She didn’t seem so trancelike now.

Faint milky light came through the window. The first number 7 bus of the day rumbled by. The air in the kitchen wasn’t tingling anymore; we were back to a kind of normal.

Mom yawned, checked the time. “Oh my goodness,” she said. “I don’t want to see either of you till noon, at the earliest.”

“’Night Mom.”

“’Night.” She kissed us both and went to bed, taking the printout. We heard her sigh softly as she lay down, not an unhappy sigh, more like the kind of sigh when something is over. Almost at once, her breathing grew slow and rhythmic, the breathing of sleep. We closed her door.

Neddy and I went into our bedroom, closed our own door. I’d never been so tired in my life.

“Good job,” I said.

“You, too,” said Neddy. “Do you – “

Our computer beeped, all on its own. We went over to the desk. Words appeared on the screen, but not in the usual way, more like they were materializing.

Thanks, kids. Good advice – not just for your mom, but for you, too.

I turned to Neddy. “Did you do this?” But all those commas in the right places – no way.

Neddy shook his head, eyes wide. Very slowly, almost a pixel at a time, the message dematerialized from the screen, leaving it blank. The air tingled.


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This entry was posted on Sunday, March 7th, 2010 at 8:27 am and is filed under Chet The Dog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

45 Responses to “Weekend Reading, Conclusion: Phase 2 (Part 3)”

  1. Moogie the Cat
    4:48 am on March 7th, 2010

    Ok. Great ending for a kid's story! Not exactly the undercover military plot I had imagined… But what do I know? I sleep in cardboard boxes over soft warm beds and I eat dead bugs off the ground instead of real food just so I can practice my survival skills and stay sharp for the time I may have to use them…

  2. Melanie
    5:13 am on March 7th, 2010

    Wow, I was in that tingling air with Neddy and Lara. The Pack feels that Mrs. Foxe needed to be brought down, but are containing themselves.

    We all agree that since the family has now gone on to Phase 2 they should get a dog. Very important. Will keep those Foxes away, even though Neddy was able to figure it all out and Lara came up with the idea.

    A cat might be a good idea also. (I'm just saying because I don't want the kats to come over and bother the pack!)

  3. Melanie
    5:50 am on March 7th, 2010
  4. Rio - The Evil Pug
    6:08 am on March 7th, 2010

    Neat!…I enjoyed that story very much!…snort!… Maybe if we all behave ourselves,… [snicker!]….Spence will fight with Admin to let Chet post more of Mr. Abraham’s short stories in the future?….grunt!

  5. Mollypop
    6:17 am on March 7th, 2010

    Melanie – Love the poufy tail picture. He also has hairy feet like a Clydesdale horse (from Budweiser like Rio drinks).

    SiberH – I want to hear more about the poodles!

  6. Rio - The Evil Pug
    6:30 am on March 7th, 2010

    Hey!…how did you know I was drinking Budweiser the other night??…snort!… Were you that Coy poodle sitting at the end of the bar….wheeze!… doing tequila shots?….hmmmm

    Well!… snort!… the guys here are leaving, and they are taking me with them to visit some old people… grump!… so be seeing ya!… snicker!

  7. AbbietheKitty
    6:54 am on March 7th, 2010

    Very good story there Spence, Chet, and Admin. Loved the ending. That Mom is lucky with her kids.

    Thanks for cross-posting a little of the PA site over here. We appreciate it.

    Alice Johnson and AbbietheKitty.

  8. Gus & BooBear
    7:12 am on March 7th, 2010

    Wow, that made us cry a little! Really super short story. Can't wait to read some of PA's books.

    Melanie, LOVE the picture of Mac with his poufy tail! GEEZ, Mom really wants a Newf! Although she would be happy with just about any big dog! We just have to wait and see if we get to move.

  9. Siberian Husky
    7:13 am on March 7th, 2010

    I really enjoyed reading that story, got totally involved in it,and felt an immediate attachment to the characters. I even remembered what I had read the day before so I didn't need to go back and re-read it. Maybe my memory is improving, or more likely, the story is that good.

    I support Rio's idea of Admin. letting Chet post more of P.A.'s short stories.

    This glowing review is from a dog that doesn't normally read short stories.

  10. dawson
    7:31 am on March 7th, 2010


    Thanks Chet, Spence and Admin.

    That was a little bit of wonderful. And fantastic. Like all Chet's friends. Congrats B. Stover on figuring out the magnet trick.

    Speaking of fantastic…Rio visits old people? Whoodah thunk it?

  11. Gus & BooBear
    7:34 am on March 7th, 2010

    We just checked the late posts in yesterday's comments and Rio, shame on you for making Moogie and Beazer feel bad about posting a lot! We all want to know about the new kids and LOVED seeing the pictures. We feel bad for Budreaux. It's always sad to lose one of our own earlier than we should. And Jasper, you are a handsome poodle…but probably a lot smaller that Mollypop. But she is a BIG fierce poodle with a poufy tail.

    Where, oh where is Cosmo???

  12. J V
    7:43 am on March 7th, 2010

    good story but what i want to know is what chet is up to.

  13. Siberian Husky
    8:13 am on March 7th, 2010

    For the poodles and Rio: The poodles running the Iditarod was way before my time,but there is a small bit about it in mom's books, and you can learn a little more by Googling "Iditarod Poodles". I think the reason it is not well-known is because the Alaskan Huskies (different than Siberian Huskies) have conspired to keep it a secret. Don't feel bad poodles, those same Alaskan Huskies don't want the world to know that Siberian Huskies have also run and finished the Iditarod. Finishing the Iditarod is what counts in my book, and, yes, poodles and Sibes, we have finished the Iditarod! In the middle of the pack, no less!

    The poodles ran from 1988 through 1991. There are no teams of poodles this year, but there is one team of Siberians.

    Rio, unfortunately, there is no tv coverage of the Iditarod. We follow it on the Iditarod's website and the websites of the tv stations and newspapers in Alaska. Go Dogs Go! Go Siberians Go!

    ps: There is no way in you know what that my mom would let me do the Iditarod.

  14. Mollypop
    9:04 am on March 7th, 2010

    SiberH – Be still my heart. These poodles are great.

    [img ]http://chetthedog.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/1267988626-Iditarod Poodles.jpg[/img]

  15. Jasper the Poodle
    9:49 am on March 7th, 2010
  16. dawson
    11:41 am on March 7th, 2010

    Wow Oh Wow Mollypop,

    That is such an inspiring photo – I really should harness the energy of the two next door.

    In honor of Budreaux I"m gonna enjoy life today, doing whatever strikes my fancy.

    In honor of Richard Byron I will try to put my commas and apostrophes in the correct place. Even if it doesn't strike my fancy.

  17. Irma Smith
    12:37 pm on March 7th, 2010

    This was an interesting well written story, but I don't think the characters ring true.

    I don't know of any child who is so put together after a parent has died. Life really doesn't go back to usual so quickly. In fact this might mean that in the public school setting the child would qualify for psychological counseling. Children don't act as adults. This was a role reversal. It might be appealing, but this hasn't been my life experience. My favorite authors for children are Phyllis Reynolds Naylor,Kate Di Camillo, Patricia Maclachlan, and Luis Sachar.

  18. Rio - The Evil Pug
    12:55 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Whew!… back from the old folks visit!… snort!… I need about six beers Right Now!… damn!… You guys have been very busy today and Interesting too!… burp!… I have a question to ask Zippy…. Grunt!… is she about???

    Hey!… Irma’s back!… Irma, have you ever written a short story??…grunt!

  19. Irma Smith
    1:13 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Rio, don't be so defensive and protective. Rio, have you read Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds


  20. Lexi
    1:28 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Hey! That was a great ending! I guess spirits really ARE real! Yippeee!

  21. Rio - The Evil Pug
    1:41 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Irma!… I thought I was being perfectly nice when I asked you about your writing background…snort!… Please re-read my question with a different intonation, I’m sure you will agree that I am not being defensive or protective, just inquisitive…. wheeze!… And sadly, No Irma, I do not usually opt for Children’s stories.. Grunt!… but you seem to have considerable knowledge of children and their psychological make-up,…wheeze!… so I thought perhaps you also wrote children’s books or short stories…. Gulp!

    Plus!… I am probably the most critical of anything or anyone on this blog… snort!… so criticism from others is always a welcome experience…(probably not for Spence!…snicker!)

  22. Mollypop
    2:41 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Rio! Good point about the Time Warp because I fell into it too. Since you just mentioned it, I went back and there were the A-Kat's and Alice's pictures and some – ahem – interesting commentary. It wasn't there yesterday!

  23. Mollypop
    2:43 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Yesterday upon the stair

    I met a man who wasn't there.

    He wasn't there again today,

    Oh how I wish he'd go away.

  24. Rio - The Evil Pug
    3:06 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Molly!… have you been reading “Oblivion”?…

    Yikes!… I am on chapter 29 (part 3!)… grrr!… I had to stop a few pages into it…grump!…for the ride home… (can’t read in the car, I get car sick)…mmmm….and have not been able to get back to it since…growl!…

  25. Siberian Husky
    3:10 pm on March 7th, 2010

    I got lost in the time warp, but back to the short story. I do think the characters ring true. Sadly, children often have to be the ones to take over when a parent is having a meltdown. Throughout history, children have had to act as adults. It's not fair, but it is life. I'm sure most of us have witnessed this happening to families we know.

  26. Melanie
    3:20 pm on March 7th, 2010

    I agree with Siberian Husky on this one. Those kids sounded like kids and tried to figure out how to just get along when their mom is losing it.

    Dealt with some kids like this in my teaching days. Some became the grownups and some rebelled against everything.

  27. Siberian Husky
    3:21 pm on March 7th, 2010

    What is happening to us today–I'm getting very serious, Molly is doing poetry, and Rio is visiting old people. Chet, you are going to need to show up soon to get us out of our time warp.

    I liked Molly's poem.

  28. AbbietheKitty
    3:24 pm on March 7th, 2010

    I think that Admin has to check any comments with photo's because photos can be sneaky ways to get viruses and other bad things into a site. It is not an IT problem, it is just safe blogging. When you put up a photo you will see the sentence that says this post is being 'moderated'. You will see your own post but until it is passed as safe no one else will.

    That is Admin's job, I think, or one of them.

    Rio, AbbietheKitty was just trying to spice up the talk there Rio. Did it work?


  29. Siberian Husky
    3:26 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Way cool Molly–You found a photo!

  30. AbbietheKitty
    3:26 pm on March 7th, 2010
  31. AbbietheKitty
    3:30 pm on March 7th, 2010

    The staff finally got to the good (independent) bookstore and they had all three of the Echo Falls books. She is on page 82 of Down the Rabbit Hole. Good reading.

    She also picked up two hardcovers by Mr Abrahams. Sort of nervous about reading them as I am a book wussie. I want them to all be happy and that is just not life is it?


  32. Mollypop
    3:37 pm on March 7th, 2010

    AbbieTheKitty's Staff – If you are correct about monitoring pics here, then where was the admin person at 8:20 last night? Out drinking with Rio and Balloon Butt? Of course, that was just one of many time warps I've fallen into.

    Rio – We have to get busy on yet another assignment to find out the working hours of our admin person.

  33. Rio - The Evil Pug
    4:01 pm on March 7th, 2010

    See!… it’s not consistent!… snort!…I smell “bugs” in the software… grumble… I’ve put up photos, not a lot, but if it works, the photo is there right away… Grunt!… the only day I have ever seen the “Moderator” holding back anything I posted, was the very first comment I made on this blog… gruff!..wheeze!

    AbbietheKat!…. I am very hurt by your words… sniff!.. And, even though I still think your evil roommate, Alice, is influencing you! I am hurt and very disturbed… Pugs have feelings too!… dammit!… even Pugs who like Budweiser… A lot. Snort!

  34. Rio - The Evil Pug
    4:09 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Molly!… I know, I know!…snuff!… Just when you were about to be included in a Mission…growl!… the bottom fell out… snort!… And then we thought we had a Pub Date, but according to Bernie, nothing is set in Stone!… Snort!… But tell me why you think we need to get Admins’ schedule at this time???…wheeze!… I am very curious about that!

  35. Mollypop
    4:11 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Rio – You haven't put up photos, you've put up photo – like one! Also, if our Moderator is doing the job and an Evil Pug shows up – well they probably had an FBI check on you.

  36. Mollypop
    4:14 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Rio – We need the admin/moderator's schedule to know when our pics will appear and when they won't. If this person is sleeping or out drinking, then I'll wait to put up a photo until later.

  37. Rio - The Evil Pug
    4:37 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Hey!.. Molly Moo!… you are being totally misleading with that Rio – One Photo –Posted statement!… wheeze!…so untrue!… Plus, waiting for Admin to let loose your photos is just going to mess up your story lines!

    Plus!… Sorry! … I thought you were talking about another Big Mission..grunt!…Not just a software induced adventure… Snort!…. we have to let go of software Molly… just let go!

  38. Mollypop
    4:50 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Oh Rio = I think I may need a 12 step program. What is life without software – like hexadecimal stuff. Oh man!

  39. Rio - The Evil Pug
    5:12 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Molly!… I Know!…I so Totally Know what you are going thru right now… snort!… its taken me years!…grump!…And here I am still frustrated and irritated when I see bad stuff…damn!… But it’s not in our paws anymore (be happy!)….gurgle!…and we just have to deal with it….Woof!

  40. Rio - The Evil Pug
    5:19 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Plus!… the Academy Awards are on…snort!… what ever that means, in the scope of all things relevant… growl.

  41. AbbietheKitty
    5:32 pm on March 7th, 2010


    Maybe I shouldn't be talking about software as I have not a clue what that hexadecimal meant.

    ~ Abbie's staff

  42. AbbietheKitty
    5:36 pm on March 7th, 2010

    And I also noticed that only some of my pix are moderated. Maybe he is sleeping on the job sometimes? Are you sure you should be paying him for this work Spence? Chet?

    Maybe he does it for the fun like our posts?

    ~Aw shucks Rio,

    It is time for another adventure? Alice Johnson is thinking of going up to Fargo/Moorhead and helping with flood control. Anyone else in????

    Alice Johnson, maybe.

  43. Rio - The Evil Pug
    5:39 pm on March 7th, 2010

    AbbietheKat!…. software ugh!… snort!… leave it be… gruff!…and live life for meaningful things… like being nice to your friend “Rio”… heh!…

  44. Rio - The Evil Pug
    5:45 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Wha!?… the hell is Alice going to do to help Flood Control??? …grunt!… hypnotize the water for Pete’s Sake???…gosh!… what an ironic picture that brings to mind…snort!… Alice aka Moses!… parting the waters!….saving everyone!… Lordy!

  45. Rio - The Evil Pug
    7:01 pm on March 7th, 2010

    Wha!?….what the hell?… I went back to yesterdays posts because sometimes there is a Time Warp!.. snort!… and pictures with comments do not show up till the day after!…

    Chet! … You need to get IT to work on this problem please!…

    hmmmpf!…And there was my precious AbbietheKat deliberately bad mouthing me in front of everybody on this Blog!… Well!.. grunt!….I never have felt so betrayed in my entire life-form…What a …Slap!.. in the face from my favorite Kat!… sniffle.

    So Then!… I decided to go back in time even further to see What Else I Have Missed!… snort!… and there was Jackie sitting in a White car ready to take me for a drive and I NEVER got the chance to respond to her because of the Crappy Software issues on this Blog.. damn again!…

    Jackie!… I would definitely go for a ride with you girl!… whooo!…

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