The Tale of Jack

Chapter 7

Jack woke up a little earlier than he’d have maybe liked, as was often the way when he was upset. Still able to feel the soreness in his eyes from when he’d been crying, he considered just pulling the pillow over his head and trying to go back to sleep. However, he then remembered the goose that was loose in the kitchen and decided that he had better things to do with his morning.


Stumbling into the kitchen, half-convinced he was going to find the place in a shambles, he was pleasantly surprised to find that the damage was minimal. There was a neat little pile of poop near the table and a bit of water was splashed on the floor, along with a few of the scraps of shredded newspaper he’d made the nest with. Goldie herself was sitting in the bowl of water he’d set out, and as he walked in she raised her wings and gave him a dirty look.


Probably hungry, Jack thought, and opened the cabinet.


Shit, what did geese eat?


He remembered feeding the ones on the lake bread, but that couldn’t be their main diet, right? They lived in water, so maybe fish? Or…wait, no didn’t they eat grass or something?




Well, Mr McElgar had ducks on his farm, he might know something about geese. And Jack was pretty sure that Dr Prince down at the veterinary clinic wouldn’t be averse to giving a down-on-his-luck guy a bit of free waterfowl advice. And there was always the library too, though he doubted that their little branch would have anything so specific as a book on caring for geese, but there was bound to be some book with a few hints.


He ripped up some bread and put it on a saucer, then opened the back door and reached out to pull up a handful of grass. By the time he turned back around, Goldie was out of the bowl and heading for the bread, so Jack picked up and refilled the water, rinsing the grass under the tap while he was at it. Breakfast served, Goldie tossed crumbs and little bits of grass around the floor with gusto, while Jack sat down to eat his cornflakes. She was sweet, like a little kid trying to get to grips with something new.


Jack sat and watched her for quite a while after he’d finished eating, and it was only when he looked at the clock and saw that it was nearly time for his mama to wake up that he realised he hadn’t come up with a story to explain Goldie yet. Hell, maybe he’d get lucky and something would happen to distract her.


He gently scooted Goldie out into the yard, where she immediately started poking through the grass, then cleaned up and bleached the floor where she’d pooped. The broom took care of the bits of bread and grass, then he emptied out the water bowl and picked up the nest to find…




There was an egg!


A big, perfect egg with a dimpled, tawny brown shell, still slightly warm when he picked it up. Easily twice the size of a chicken’s egg, if not more. He remembered Finn saying that she laid eggs fairly regularly, but the idea of it had seemed so abstract…yet here it was. The back door was open and Goldie was still pottering about outside, seemingly unmoved by Jack’s discovery. Well, it wasn’t like there was going to be a baby goose any time soon, right?


“Hey Goldie-goose,” Jack called softly. “You mind if I have this? You mind if I make some nice food for my Mama with it?”


Goldie glanced at him, honked, then went back to whatever it was in the grass that was so interesting. Smiling, Jack set the egg down, grabbed a saucepan and reached down a book from the little shelf above the fridge. The Cookery Course book, he had learned as a child, could tell him how to do pretty much everything in the kitchen, up to and including how to get rid of the milk he’d burned onto the bottom of a pan right after his Mama had told him not to…well, it was a useful book. And it didn’t let him down now, either. Goose eggs, fried, boiled or poached. Mama always seemed to prefer poached eggs, so Jack filled the pan with water and got it boiling, then carefully followed the instructions for breaking the egg into a bowl and stirring the water up before sliding the weirdly juicy looking egg in.


The yolk was a gorgeous colour, a really deep orange. Jack had never seen anything like it and in their dim little kitchen it almost seemed to glow. The egg cooked quickly, so Jack made some toast and buttered it, and had it and the egg arranged neatly on a plate by the time he heard his Mama’s alarm clock go off.




“Stay put Mama, I made you breakfast in bed!” he called to her, and heard her half-startled, half-surprised exclamation as he put the plate and some cutlery on a tray and carried it out of the kitchen.


She was sitting up in bed when he got there, smiling at him as she ran a brush through her hair, the brightest thing in the room in her pink and white pyjamas. He waited for her to arrange herself a little better, then carefully propped the tray on her lap.


“Here you go Mama, goose egg a la Jack.”


She giggled. “Oh sweetie, that’s so thoughtful. Where on earth did you get a goose egg from?”




“Try it Mama, see if it tastes okay.”


Thankfully, she didn’t pursue it any further, instead picking up the cutlery and carefully cutting into the egg. The yolk oozed out onto the plate as she sliced through the white and she gasped.


“What a lovely colour. This must be very fresh.”


“Yeah,” Jack agreed, hoping like hell that Goldie didn’t choose that moment to start honking or something.


His Mama cut a modest bite of the egg and tasted it, working it around her mouth with care as he’d often seen her do when sampling the first forkful of a new recipe. Slowly a smile spread over her face.


“It’s delicious. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it,” she breathed. She cut a little more and held the fork up to Jack, ignoring his insistence that he’d already eaten breakfast and waiting until he sat down on the edge of the bed and took the bite. She was right though, it was really tasty. Apart from just the flavour of it, which was rich and surprisingly meaty, once he swallowed the bite, it felt like his mouth was…refreshed.


His Mama ate as much of the egg as she could then cut the rest up and fed it to him, chuckling as she did so. Then they shared the toast, using it to mop up the remains of the yolk. And it was so nice, so nice to just sit here with his Mama, both of them feeling well fed and grinning. She put his arms around his waist and squeezed him hard, making them both laugh. How long since he’d felt like this? How long since he’d felt cheerful?


Things weren’t great. He missed Finn, if he let himself think about it, and he still had no idea how he was going to get them out of this hole, but if this morning could go so well, after last night had seemed to bad, then surely…


“Sweetie, you never told me where you got that egg from.”




Oh God, a distraction, anything, he’d take anything…


The doorbell rang.


“Hang on Mama, I’m gonna go answer the door.” Thank you!


She let go of him and he jumped up and ran for the hall. As soon as he got out of the bedroom he could see Dr Atieno’s face through the glass panel in the front door, and his heart jumped in his chest. He snatched open the door.


“What’s wrong?” he demanded, horribly aware that he was being rude but unable to help it. Dr Atieno’s face was worried.


“Jack, it’s not your mother. I need to talk to you. Is your mother in? Can you and I talk in private?”


Jack nodded tensely, as his stomach twisted into a knot. Oh God, what if they’d mixed up the test results? What if the blood tests had shown up cancer or something? What if something else was going to go horribly wrong?


He ushered Dr Atieno into the living room and pulled the door to, not wanting to disturb his Mama with the loud snap of the latch. Dr Atieno patted his shoulder comfortingly, but the worried expression on his face undid any positive effect.


“What is it?” Jack asked, shocked at how weak his own voice sounded.


“I can’t give you a lot of the details,” Dr Atieno began, his measured voice sounding like he’d rehearsed what he was going to say. “It’s because of patient confidentiality. But I found out that a local man has a very serious condition, and I’m worried that it might be one of your customers.”


“Oh God, does he have…”


Dr Atieno nodded, watching Jack’s face. “Now I know your tests came back clean, and they were, there’s no mistake. But I’m worried that this patient may be one of your…your customers. He was unwilling to discuss with me if he’d slept with anyone recently, but I want to ask you a few questions, see if I can find out if you’re in danger without…well, without breaking too many rules.”


“Sure,” Jack croaked, grateful and horrified in equal measure.


“Okay…have you had unprotected anal inter-”


“No, I always make them use a rubber, and I check it afterwards to make sure it didn’t break.”


“Good, that’s great news,” Dr Atieno replied, a little of the tension dropping from his shoulders. “Okay, I’m going to tell you as much as I can about this guy, and I want to know if it rings any bells, okay?”


Jack nodded.


“Since you had the tests, have you done anything – anything – with a Caucasian, blond man in his forties.”


Jack racked his brain and nodded, feeling his breath hitch. Every one of his customers was printed on his memories by habit, so he knew who to approach in the future. “That could have been either of a couple of guys I went with recently,” he added. Dr Atieno sighed and continued.


“Okay, I’ll think of more detail. Uh…he’s a short man, a little shorter than you maybe, and has freckles…uh-”


“No! No, I’ve not even seen anybody like that!” Jack cried, ebullient with relief. No blond guy that age and that short, at least not since his last round of tests, or even the ones before that.


He and Dr Atieno both let out whooping sighs, so fucking relieved. It was okay, it was all okay again…


And then the worst possible thing…




His Mama was standing in the doorway. Both of them had been so focussed on each other they hadn’t seen her arrive, but she couldn’t have possibly heard…she couldn’t possibly have understood-


“Jack, why…sweetie, why are you both worried about doing s-something with this…this man?”


Jack opened his mouth to speak, but the words wouldn’t come out. He couldn’t think of anything to say. The only words in his mind were a horrible litany of this is it this is it this is it.


“Helena, I-”


“John…I’m sorry, but I think you should leave Jack and I to talk for a while. Please.”


Dr Atieno glanced from Jack to his Mama and back, clearly worried, clearly having come to the same conclusion that Jack had; it was time for everything to come out.


After a few abortive attempts to say something reasonable, Dr Atieno mumbled a request that he be called should he be needed, and left. Jack’s Mama didn’t even turn to see him out the door, she just stepped further into the living room and closed the door behind her.


“Jack what were…it sounded like you were talking about some kind of illness…” her words trailed off into worry, and even if it meant her knowing everything, Jack couldn’t bear to let her be so upset. There were already tears in the corners of her eyes.


“We were talking about VD Mama, he was worried I might have caught one.”


She nodded vaguely and eased herself into her armchair. “You were talking about several…several different people you could have caught it from. Weren’t you? I didn’t get that wrong?”


She sounded breathless. Jack opened the desk drawer and took out her inhaler, handing it to her and waiting for her to take a puff from it before he answered.


“You heard it right Mama.”


“Oh Jack,” she breathed, his name coming out as a sob. “What on earth have you been doing?”


It was too late to lie now, and for the first time, Jack realised how desperately he’d been wanting to come clean all along.


So he took a deep breath, and he told her. He told her everything.


He sat down in front of her and told her about how it all started and why he had kept doing it and why he lied, explained it all as best he could, except that he didn’t want to scare her too much and he couldn’t stop crying.


She was crying too, silently, her expressive face stilled by horror as the tears rolled freely down her cheeks. At any moment, Jack expected to be yelled at, lashed out at, pushed away…but he should have known better of his own mother, and when the retelling of it became too much, when he could no longer force words out through the tears, she crossed the room to him and gathered him into her arms, like she had when he was a tiny child.


She told him it was all okay, that it was all over.


He believed her. Oh God, it felt so good to believe her.




Jack did his best to explain everything, but by the time he’d told her as much as he could bear, he had begun to realise that it made no sense. Why had he gone on with this for so long? He’d been so stupid.


Once they had both calmed down, she had sent him to have a shower and get dressed, and to get copies of The Mirror and The Harrier, the newspapers of the City, so that they could look for an apartment and for jobs. In the space of a morning their future was decided. They’d sell their little home once and for all and go looking for an easier place to live.


Jack would be lying if he were to say he wasn’t upset. He wouldn’t just be leaving the town, the house, the home he’d known for all his life…he’d be leaving his father’s memory, his childhood.


He’d be leaving Finn.


And yes, the more distance between himself and Mr Golightly the better, but all the same he couldn’t suppress a sense of perverse pride at his success in supporting himself with his body for so long. It was dirty and shameful, but he’d done it. He’d kept their lives going.


His mama hated the city. She hated how busy it was, how the people behaved, the noise and the size of everything. But they were going. It was their only real chance now. Jack wasn’t sure what he’d do about Goldie, but he was pretty certain that if they couldn’t get a place that would let them keep her as a pet, then the city farm he’d visited a few years ago would probably welcome a tame goose, and at least he could go and visit her.


When he got home his mama was in the back yard, scattering something on the ground out of a paper bag and watching Goldie peck it up. She’d probably gone and begged a favour from Mr McElgar. Jack opened the papers on the kitchen table and found the jobs pages. Lots of stuff going, nothing that caught his attention, but beggars couldn’t be choosers.


“Are you okay sweetie?” his mama asked from the doorway, her voice far too serious for the words she spoke.


“Yeah,” he replied. “Just…planning.”


She nodded and walked over to put her arm around his back.


They both sat down at the table and planned, organised, made page upon page of notes, until it was late and they were both tired, worn out from work and worry. Both of them were still restless from the shocks of the day, but they sensibly abandoned their work on the table and headed off to bed.


For the first time since he was a child, Jack slept the night on the little sofa in his mama’s bedroom.




Next morning was beautiful, the sun gleaming warmly through the curtains from a cloudless cornflower sky. Jack decided to take it as a good omen. He showered and dressed and then, while his mama was getting up, went to feed Goldie some more of the grain and clean up the kitchen after her. Done cleaning, he carefully ignored the messy pile of newspapers and notepads on the table and went out to join his goose in the yard for a few minutes, enjoying the sunshine. After a moment, he heard familiar footsteps tromping down the path on the other side of the fence.


“Hi Mr McElgar!” he called, and jogged across the grass to open the little back gate.


“Hello there Jack,” their neighbour replied. “How’s things?”


Mr McElgar was a kind, friendly man who’d always been a good neighbour to them, and Jack really didn’t want to lie to him. But something told him, deep in his guts, that he shouldn’t tell him they were leaving just yet.


“Things…things are going along as usual Mr McElgar. How is your wife?”


Mr McElgar let his enquiry drop and proceeded to tell Jack a funny story about Mrs McElgar thinking she’d seen a wolf in the woods and screaming the house down before realising that it had been a trick of the light. Well, maybe not that funny, but it was all in the way he told them.


“So there am I, I’d been about to take a bath so I’m in a bathrobe, and I rushed down the stairs thinking we were being pillaged or somethin’,”




“I grab the rifle from the den and rush out, and Melissa says to me ‘It’s okay baby, I just got swindled by some trees’! Swindled!”


Jack laughed out loud, and Mr McElgar did too, wheezing and leaning over to put his hands on his knees. A sudden little pain shot through Jack’s heart; he was really going to miss living here.


“So,” Mr McElgar continued once he’d calmed down. “Your Mother told me you got a goose?”


“Yeah, you gave her some grain, right? Thanks for that.” Jack stepped aside from the gate way so that Mr McElgar could look into the garden and see where Goldie was pottering around.


“Hm, don’t recognise the breed,” Mr McElgar noted, peering carefully at her. “Healthy looking bird though, female right? Probably be a good layer if you look after her properly.”


“She already laid an egg yesterday morning,” Jack told him. “I cooked it for Mama’s breakfast.”


“Yeah, goose eggs are a treat. ‘Course, goose meat-”


“Oh no,” Jack exclaimed. “We couldn’t eat her. She’s really like a pet. I told a friend I’d look after her ‘cause he couldn’t anymore and I really want to give her a nice life. If I can.”


Mr Mc Elgar nodded in that sage-like way he had and glanced around the small square of the yard. “You’re going to need a shelter for her then. Something to keep the weather off and the foxes out. I got some boards left over from when I took down an old shed that got its roof blown off in those gales last winter. They’re a little worn but good and sturdy still. You want ‘em, they’re yours.”


Jack felt his face flush with a weird mix of happiness and sorrow. “That’s real kind Mr McElgar, I’d like to take you up on that, but…can you give me a couple of days? I…er-”


“Sure I can Jack, no worries.” Mr McElgar had probably gathered that something was wrong, but he didn’t know what. He gave Jack a hair ruffle, the same way he had done for the last twenty years, said a cheerful goodbye and carried on his way along the path. Jack stood in the gate way and waved until he was out of sight around the corner, then shut the gate.


He stood there for a moment rubbing his eyes, until Goldie came up and pecked at the knee of his jeans.


Several minutes later, halfway through an invigorating game of Kill the Shoelace, Jack and Goldie were both brought up short by the strident ring of the doorbell. Involuntarily, Jack winced. It was about the same time of day as when Dr Atieno had called yesterday, and look how that had gone!


But his mama was yelling from the bedroom for him to answer it as she wasn’t dressed yet, so he jogged through the house and opened the front door. It was so unusual to be visited by a stranger that it took him several seconds to realise that he didn’t recognise the young woman standing on the doorstep.


“Good morning,” she said pleasantly. “Would this be the household of Mrs Helena Bean?”


“Y-yes?” Jack responded weakly. She wore a business suit and carried a briefcase with her, but for some reason she didn’t seem like one of the debt collector types, and he’d have seen her before if she worked for the bank. “I’m her son. Can I ask why you’re calling?”


She looked slightly abashed. “I’m only allowed to discuss the matter with Mrs Bean directly,” she said in apologetic tones, as she slid a business card out of a pocket on the side of her case. “But I can assure you I’m not soliciting anything, and I’m not going to try and get money out of you. Here.”


She handed him the card and he looked carefully at it. Her name was Myra Buford and she worked for a company called Number Arts. He recognised it vaguely, but all he could call to mind was that they were involved with something he’d seen on TV.


He nodded and stepped back from the door. “Would you like to come in? My Mother’s just getting ready but she’ll only be a couple of minutes.”


Looking relieved, Miss Buford followed him into the living room and took a seat on the sofa, politely accepting his offer of a cup of coffee. By the time he returned from the kitchen with the tray, his mama had come in and was shaking hands with Miss Buford, who was giving her another one of those business cards. Jack set the cups down and went to sit on the end of the window seat nearest to his mama’s chair.


“Number Arts?” his mama read off the card as she sat. “I recognise that company, but I can’t think where from.”


“We get that a lot, Mrs Bean,” Miss Buford replied politely. “You may have heard the name on the television or radio. We’re the company that organises the regional lottery.”


Jack felt a shock run through him, and could tell from the look on his mama’s face that she’d felt the same thing. It couldn’t be for real though, surely? Neither of them ever played the lottery.


“My job is to track down unclaimed winnings and try to find the people who’ve won them,” Miss Buford explained, opening her briefcase. “About three years ago, a ticket was bought in this area for a number that later won a sum of money. It wasn’t the jackpot, but it was a fairly substantial win, so when nobody had claimed it within two years, I was asked to investigate. It’s taken some time, because for the longest time it looked like there was no way of finding out who had bought the ticket, but just recently I had a revelation.”


She smiled with a hint of pride on her face and glanced between Jack and his mama. “We knew that the ticket had been sold from a local supermarket,” she continued. “but it had been paid for with cash, so we couldn’t trace it to a specific person.”


“So what led you to me?” Jack’s mama asked, frowning slightly.


“I realised that the ticket had been bought during a week when there was a special promotion happening. The company said that, for every ticket bought that week above the total of the previous week, they’d donate twenty five dollars to various charities. I interviewed the employee who ran the supermarket counter that sold the ticket with that in mind and to my surprise, he remembered something; the only person who bought a ticket that week who didn’t usually buy one was you.”


Jack looked at his mama’s face, expecting her to deny it, but instead her face was lit with understanding; she remembered buying it, he was sure of it.


“He remembered you specifically,” Miss Buford went on, “because you mentioned the charity promotion, and he thought you were particularly generous because-” she suddenly realised that she’d talked herself into an awkward corner and flushed. “Because, uh…he knew you had some money problems.”


“I remember buying it,” Jack’s mama said thoughtfully, “but I never even thought to check the numbers afterwards. I just wanted some money to go to the charity. One of the groups on the poster was for bereaved families, and it wasn’t long since my husband had died…but I can’t remember what the heck I did with it. I’m sure I didn’t throw it out though…”


“Well, I’m afraid we need that ticket Mrs Bean,” Miss Buford said. “There’s no other solid evidence that it was you who bought the ticket. Are you sure you haven’t seen it around? It would be on blue-green paper with black print and my company’s logo on the back.”


Jack’s mama thought carefully, then shook her head.


“How long do we have to find it?” Jack asked.


Miss Buford glanced down into her briefcase worriedly before she spoke. “Like I said, it took so long to find a clue in this case…tomorrow is the last day the money can be claimed. You’ll have until midday.”


Jack felt his mouth fall open. No way. No way in hell would they be able to find a tiny lottery ticket in – he glanced at the clock – twenty seven hours.


His mama straightened in her chair and smacked her palms down onto her knees in a gesture of determination. “Well,” she said brightly. “We’d better get searching!”




An hour later, Jack was going through the drawers of the little desk and filing cabinet that were tucked in a corner of the living room. He and his mama had been through them so many times in the last few years as they arranged and rearranged their financial papers to try and make them seem less depressing that he couldn’t believe they could have missed anything. But Mama had said no stone unturned, and Jack was there, turning stones.


To their surprise, Miss Buford had stayed to help out and was dutifully checking each book in the book case, flipping and shaking out the pages to see if there was anything stuck inside. So far she’d found four bookmarks, one plastic picnic knife acting as a bookmark, a photograph of Jack aged 5 at the beach, and a spider. No ticket.


Mama was in her bedroom going through every drawer and cabinet, turning out pockets and looking under liners. Every now and then, they clearly heard her sigh.




Three hours into the search and the doorbell rang. Jack answered it to the McElgars, who bore a book full of blueprints for various farm buildings, including a goose enclosure. Jack found himself once again overwhelmed with gratitude, and would probably have ended up crying on them if Mrs McElgar hadn’t looked down the hallway at the carnage behind him and asked “What the heck is going on?”


“Melissa? Is that you?” Jack’s mama called to her, and came out of her bedroom, hair full of dust bunnies, to greet them politely. She quickly explained the situation and, gaping with disbelief, Mr and Mrs McElgar bustled into the house, rolled up their sleeves and asked where they should start searching. Mama tried to tell them it wasn’t necessary, that they didn’t need to, but they’d already started taking the cushions off the sofa, which Jack and Miss Buford hadn’t even thought of. Surely with the five of them they’d get it done quickly.




Around two, Jack’s mama went in the kitchen and made drinks and sandwiches for everybody. The five of them, all dusty and red in the face, sat around the little kitchen table and discussed what they’d searched and what was left. Mama sadly admitted that she’d never realised how much stuff she had, or how tiny something like a lottery ticket really was. The McElgars and Miss Buford all cheerfully began dividing up the remaining places to search among themselves, but Jack was watching his mama. Her eyes were tired and sad, her shoulders drooping. It wasn’t just the illness, he could tell, though he had no idea how she’d lasted as long as she had without becoming exhausted.


This was something much worse; this was being handed hope, then realising that it could so easily be taken away. Twenty two hours left now, and most of the house still to be searched. The elation of that morning had faded to a more realistic doubt; by tomorrow afternoon, they could so easily be back in the sad situation they’d started the day in. Jack got up and stood behind her, rubbing her shoulders with his palms to comfort her. She turned and smiled up at him, weak but still hopeful.


They got back to work.




At just after five that afternoon, Dr Atieno turned up. Miss Buford was closest to the door and so answered it, which confused him to no end. Once appraised of the situation, he awkwardly tried to apologise to Jack and his mama about what had happened yesterday, but Mama was in too practical a mood for apologies and put him straight to work on the larder.


The McElgars had hit a low patch earlier when their meticulous search of the little attic space had turned up nothing, and the disappointment had sapped their energy for a while. Mrs McElgar had got her second wind and was attacking the Stuff drawer in the kitchen, but Mr McElgar was still all droopy and worried, and had gone out into the yard for a breath of air. Jack took a brief break from his hunt around his own room and looked out the window to check on him, to see him playing Kill the Shoelace with Goldie…possibly involuntarily.


Miss Buford stuck her head around the door to see if he needed a hand, but he wasn’t going to let anyone else go through his room; who knew what embarrassing shit they might end up finding?


“It must be out of your work hours by now,” he told her. “You’ve been a huge help, but don’t feel you’ve got to stay here all night or something. You’ve done so much already.”


She smiled, just a touch embarrassed. “I know, but I really want to see this through. You’re nice people, I hope you get it.”


That was sweet. Jack mentally added her name to his list of good people. “Thank you. You want to go and get Mr McElgar and help him look in the garden shed?” he asked.


She nodded and went out into the yard.




At seven, Jack’s mama flew into his room all of a fluster and cried out “What if it was in the car!?”


Jack couldn’t explain it, but he knew it hadn’t been. “Mama,” he asked, “Did you ever take the car to the supermarket?”


“No, I always walked.”


“I think it’s pretty unlikely that it was in there then.”


She nodded agreement, then sighed and let her chin drop to her chest. Her shoulder hitched a little and Jack hurried across the room to put his arms around her. This was so fucking difficult, and he knew that all either of them was thinking was ‘what if we get it, what if we don’t? what if we get it, what if we don’t?’ a terrible mantra that had been going around in his head since that morning.


“We’ll get it Mama,” he told her softly. “This feels right. Don’t you think so?”


“Yes,” she replied, her voice shaky.


They kept searching.




It was just getting dark when Jack heard the slapping goose footsteps in the bathroom. Everyone in the house was tired and restless and disappointed and hopeful, the atmosphere so taught he felt like he could have plucked it and heard a note. The last thing they needed was Kill the Shoelace: Indoors Edition going on.


He rushed into the bathroom to find Goldie standing in the middle of the floor, looking around curiously. The bathroom had been the first place he and his mama had searched, way back at the beginning of the morning when they’d still been putting things back in place as they went along, so it was still pretty tidy in there, goose notwithstanding.


“C’mon Goldie, let’s get you back outdoors,” Jack said to her gently and reached down to pick her up. As he did so, he noticed that there was an egg on the floor. “Aw Goldie, you really picked your moment there!”


“Jack? Are you in there?” his mama called from the hallway.


“Yeah, I’ll be out in a moment Mama.”


Seeing Goldie indoors would stress her out probably, and there was no way he could sneak the goose out past her, but he could at least hide the egg. He set Goldie back down on the floor, picked up the warm egg and opened the little cabinet underneath the basin.


Where to put it so that it couldn’t roll around? he thought. There was an old vinyl shaving kit bag that had belonged to his Dad on the bottom shelf of the cabinet, folded flat and stuck near the back. His mama had gotten a little misty eyed when she saw it that morning, but Jack was glad it was there now. If he opened it up, the egg would sit in it neatly.


He pulled it out of the cabinet.

Undid the zipper…

And there was a little slip of blue-green paper inside, dot matrix printed numbers on one side and a Number Arts logo on the other. Just like Miss Buford had described to them.





This free website was made using Yola.

No HTML skills required. Build your website in minutes.

Go to and sign up today!

Make a free website with Yola