by Kellie Underhill
Everything Old is New Again
The sign said Renous River Antiques. He decided to go in and have a look around, maybe the shop would have something to eat. Inside Sammy discovered a world of handicrafts and antiques.
“Is there something I can help you with?” the man behind the counter asked. “I was just about to close.”
“Oh,” Sammy said. “I’ve been travelling a long time and I know this is an Antique shop but I thought you might have something to eat, souvenir chocolate or a lollipop or something. Right about now anything would be good.”
The man smiled. “Well, I tell you what, I don’t need to get home right away so why don’t you join me for a cup of tea. I’ve got some homemade sugar cookies and I’m always interested in hearing traveller’s stories. I’m sure you have a story or two or three.”
Sammy laughed. “Oh I’ve got a story alright, and it’s a doozey.” They sat at an antique table and chairs, slurping tea and stuffing their faces with sugar cookies as he told his whole story.
“Well, well, well,” the man said when he had heard everything. “I can tell you the history of that chest of drawers in the corner, but looking at you, I don’t know a thing. You could be anybody.” Sammy hadn’t really expected anything more. “But I don’t know, maybe there’s someone in Blackville who can help you,” the man shrugged.
“It’s okay,” Sammy said. “You’ve really been a great help. The cookies and the tea hit the spot. I’ll take your advice and go to Blackville and see if someone there can help me.” The man happily dropped Sammy off on Route 8 so he could hitchhike to Blackville.
A Slew of Purple Hats
He hadn’t walked very far when a car approached and Sammy stuck out his thumb. The station wagon pulled to the shoulder and a lady wearing a big purple hat waved to him from the window. “Hurry up dear! We’re going to be late!” He ran to the car and squished into the back with a bunch of ladies. They were all wearing purple hats and talking at the same time about how they were going to be late for High Tea.
“Look at him,” one of the women exclaimed. “He’s skinny as a rake!”
“You need to come with us, dear,” another woman said to Sammy. “We’ll soon fatten you up!” And they all laughed.
“Are you going to Blackville?” he asked.
“Almost,” the driver said. “We’re going to the Barnettville Road, which is just outside Blackville.”
“Come for tea!” everyone urged and Sammy shrugged and said, “Okay, why not.”
At Darlene’s Tea House over tea, fancy sandwiches, and scones with clotted cream, the ladies sang, recited poems and acted out skits. When the chef came out of the kitchen to say hello, Sammy asked if he could have something more substantial. “Not that high tea isn’t great, it’s just that I’ve been travelling for so long and I’m really hungry.”
“Yes dear! Oh my goodness, you can have whatever you want,” she said squeezing his shoulders as she hugged him. The waitress gave him a menu and he ordered bacon wrapped chestnuts, the grilled chicken breast dinner, and unable to decide between an apple dumpling with cinnamon sauce or the ginger bread cake with rum raisin sauce, he ordered both.
“Oh it’s good to see a young lad with an appetite!” the chef exclaimed and disappeared into the kitchen to prepare his feast. While the ladies laughed and carried on, a couple of men came in and took a seat by the window, ordering pork chops and coffee. With their green fishing vests and wide brimmed hats decorated with fly hooks, it was obvious they were fishermen. Sammy’s food came and he dove in, practically moaning with ecstasy. As his hunger subsided he looked around and noticed one of the men was looking at him, slyly almost, then leaning in to whisper to the other man, who turned around to look, nodding knowingly. Sammy wiped his face thinking he must have sauce dripping off his chin or something. When he looked again the men were standing right beside him.
“Oh,” he yelped. “You scared me.”
“Sorry about that,” the dark haired, deeply tanned one said. “I just noticed you sitting here, overheard one of the ladies say they picked you up on the road and I thought maybe you’d need a place to stay.”
“That’s really nice of you,” Sammy said. “I actually don’t have any place to stay.”
“Well, I got a lodge just down the road and there’s plenty of room.”
A look passed between the two men, Sammy wasn’t sure what to make of it, but he was really tired, so he smiled and said, “I’d like that very much, thank you.” The dark man grinned.
Finding the Measurements
Jardine Cast & Blast was written on the side of the dark man’s truck. Sammy sat in the middle between the two men who kept rolling their eyes at one another making him feel a little uncomfortable. Luckily the drive didn’t last long. The lodge overlooked the river. Inside the floors and ceilings were all wood, very neat, bright and homey. Sammy flopped into a big chair with a sigh.
“Yeah, you rest right there, little fellow, I’ll be back in a sec, just gotta go get something,” the dark man said and he nodded for the other man to also sit down as he hustled out of the room. Sammy sighed again and closed his eyes. He opened them just as the dark man came back into the room with his hands behind his back. Sammy didn’t like the way the other guy leapt to his feet and how they both seemed to be circling around him dangerously.
“Ah, guys,” Sammy gulped. “What’s going on here?” He looked from one man to the other as they approached him from either side slowly, and then when they got within a couple of feet of him they pounced. One guy grabbed him around his stomach and held him down, while the dark man whipped out a measuring tape from behind his back.
“Hold him still!” the man ordered as he tried to stretch the tape the length of Sammy’s squirming body.
“What is going on here?!” Sammy squealed as he flailed and tried to get lose.
“Hold him!” the man yelled. “Don’t club him, till I know for sure he’s legal. I almost got it, almost . . .”
Suddenly Sammy slipped free and slid to the floor. Off like a shot he barrelled out the front door, dove over the side hill and leapt into the river. He started swimming upstream as fast as he could, pausing just for a second to look back and see if he was being followed. The men were running to a boat carrying rods and nets. Sammy dove deep and swam for his life. After what seemed like a long while but may only have been five minutes he rose to the surface gently to sneak a look around. He couldn’t see the men or their boat anywhere. Sammy wasn’t sure what that was all about, but he wasn’t going to stick around and find out. He kept swimming.
Wanted Dead or Alive
Passing by the Country Haven Lodge a man beckoned him to shore.
“Hey there young feller, what’s your hurry? C’mon in and stay awhile,” the man said. He had the same sort of grin the dark haired man had, sneaky, devilish.
“C’mere little guy, c’mon, just a little closer,” the man beckoned. Sammy was tired, he hoped they’d let him stay the night. He was just about to inquire when a young man ran down to the shore.
“Here’s your rod,” the young man wheezed all of out of breath. He was carrying a net. And then Sammy noticed the measuring tape hanging out of the man’s fly decorated vest. Sammy turned tail and swam for it.
“Blast it!” the man roared. “He’s getting away!” There sure are a lot of slippery characters around here, Sammy thought. Everywhere he looked there were men with rods, who seemed to be tracking him, hoping to lure him to shore. Sammy was a wanted man! He swam until he didn’t want to swim any longer and then at a place that looked deserted he flopped out onto the shore to sleep. A sign said he was at the Blackville Municipal Park. Sammy found a nice spot in the grass by a big tree and lay down to nap. One thing seemed certain, the way to Blackville had been fraught with danger. These people seemed to not only know who he was but to have some sort of vendetta against him. There appeared to be a price on his head. He hoped he could find someone who could clear matters up.
… to be continued …