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Please Note: This is a reworking of an earlier story now with an option of two different endings
It was mid afternoon on yet another bleak English Saturday and I was trying, and failing, to get some work done, I was a self-employed IT Consultant advising companies on all things computer related. The previous seven days had been hectic and I was already a week late with my report. The incessant rain hitting the window and reverberating across the still room wasn't helping my already wavering concentration one little bit.
I'd just decided to give up, again, and was on my way to make my umpteenth cup of coffee when I heard the doorbell chime to the tune of the Adams Family. It was one of those ideas that sounded great when I initially bought the thing, but it very rapidly lost its appeal. I repeated my promise to replace it with a normal, boring one the next time I was out. Typically, rather than just answer the door I tried to guess who was calling, I was certainly not expecting anyone and so thought it was probably a door-to-door salesman, I also thought that if it was then he deserves a sale for persisting in this weather. The only other possibility was my girlfriend. Juliet, though she too was supposed to be working. I decided that I wanted it to be Juliet, I needed cheering up and Juliet was built to cheer men up; just looking at her was enough for most men. She was 5'10" tall, slim, with large firm breasts and glorious long legs to die for. Add to that long blonde hair and she would not look out of place on Baywatch. I pictured her naked body next to mine and felt an erection coming. I sure hoped it was Juliet.
I opened the door, and immediately felt the chill wind bite through my thin tee shirt and my arousal instantly shrivelled. Standing in front of me was not my girlfriend but a young lad, who looked about twelve years old. He was dressed in a similar style to me, that is, tee shirt and jeans. He was also looking thoroughly miserable and doing a very good impression of a drowned rat.
'Excuse me mister, ' he said trying to smile, 'can I use your phone please?'
I was just about to accede when I noticed another face peering around my gate. I smiled and a young girl, a year or two younger in appearance, made herself visible and shyly walked to the doorway and stood behind the boy. She too was dressed for the better weather the morning had tempted and it was only her long hair, which in its current soaked state hid most of her face, which told me the child was female. Her demeanour too looked pretty miserable, and she appeared to be limping slightly.
I asked the pair to come in, fairly sure that they were genuine, but decided I would not leave them alone in a room or allow them to separate. It is a sad indictment on today's society when you have to doubt children's honesty, but I am not naïve and had heard of many such sneak thieves targeting local homes.
I took them into my living room and pointed to the phone. As he went to the phone, which was still antiquated enough to require a cord, I took the opportunity of studying both of them. Each were dark haired and had the type of perpetual natural tan that only youngsters seem to manage. Both were slim and dressed for the sun, which had greeted the day, rather than the current downpour. I wasn't sure but I guessed they were brother and sister. I decided that my initial guess at their ages was pretty close. It was only then that I realised that the girls face was not normal, but seemed slightly deformed. Her long hair, parted centrally, hid much of her face, probably a deliberate ploy. I tried not to stare at her but could not help but feel pity for the child. I went over to the fireplace and pressed the buttons to ignite the gas fire there; so much easier than a coal fire though I had to concede a real fire, once the hassle of lighting it was over was much more preferable. I asked her if she wanted to stand by the fire to get some warmth into her fragile frame. She ignored me and when I repeated the question her brother looked up and said.
'Sally's deaf and has lost her hearing aid. She can lip read a bit providing she's looking directly at you and you talk clearly.'
He spoke in a manner both protective of the girl but also resigned to her problems. He looked at her and mouthed something, which was an obvious repeat of my request. I was just wondering whether she could talk when I heard a quiet but perfectly understandable 'Thank you.' as she moved gratefully to the heat. Her brother turned his attention back to the phone. I was drawn to the girl and maybe I was naïve after all for my initial concerns about their honesty eased enough that I decided I could leave them whilst I went to make a cup of hot chocolate for each of us. When I returned the boy was still on the phone.
'Sorry Mum, honest, it wasn't my fault. I tried to stop her but you know what she's like.' I overheard the boy pleading.
'At a man's house in Hartshill, ' he added. There was then a silence as he listened to his mother's response.
'She's OK, just a grazed knee I think, although she has lost her hearing aid.' He listened for a moment before continuing. 'I don't know. I'll ask, ' he said in reply to an unheard question.
He turned to me and asked. 'What is the address here?'
I told him and heard him repeat it into the phone.
'Mum would like to talk to you, ' the lad said, nervously, then added, 'please don't tell her that I knocked on your door. She is always saying that we should be careful of strangers.' The last sentence was accompanied by a very tentative smile.
I took the phone from his still, wet hand and said 'Hello!' as I waved him over to join Sally by the fire.
I was very surprised to hear laughter at the other end, which explained itself when a very sweet voice replied, 'Hi! Tell Craig, if he doesn't want me to know something then he should at least cover the receiver while he's talking.' This unexpected comment, along with the pleasant way it was said, brought a smile to my face.
Craig's mother's voice then turned more serious when she asked. 'Did he really just knock on your door?' After receiving confirmation she continued, 'I'm sorry about that, he should know better at his age. I don't even know what he was playing at, riding that far from home with Sally, but he should have walked home and not bothered a stranger.'
Whilst I agreed that youngsters needed to be careful about who they talked to, seeing how the young girl was limping and listening to the torrential downpour still going on, I decided to take Craig's side. 'I don't think so, ' I said, 'certainly not in this weather and your daughter limping as she is.'
'What weather?' came a puzzled response, 'It's fine, ' and after a pause, 'or, at least it was fine this morning.
'You're obviously not near a window then.' I stated.
'No. I'm at work, there isn't a window in sight at this place.' The tone in her voice told me that this was obviously something that depressed her, though whether it was the lack of windows or just her place of work I couldn't tell.
'At work?' I asked shocked that she was allowing her children to roam the streets whilst she was at work.
It was her turn to understand my tone of voice, because she replied very defensively, 'Yes at work! We do need to eat you know, and their father should be looking after them, but I should have known better, he's probably in the pub or down the betting shop.'
Realising I had jumped to the wrong conclusion I apologised. She gracefully accepted it and said she would make arrangements to finish work early and come and pick them up, but it would be at least half an hour before she could get here, and would I really mind if they stayed here to wait for her. I looked at my watch, more from habit than needing to know the time, because I'd checked the time a few moments ago, just before I left my computer.
'Look!' I said, 'It's gone three thirty already, what time are you supposed to finish?'
After a brief pause she answered 'Five thirty. Why?'
'Well I've got nothing better to do.' I lied, knowing I still needed to finish the report, but was honest enough to know that I wouldn't get it done today whatever happened. I continued, 'why don't they stay here until you finish work?'
The hesitation, this time, was even longer. 'I don't know, ' she started, 'I don't even know you.'
I laughed before answering, 'I understand your concern, but if I was going to do something bad then I wouldn't have let Craig ring you and give you my address, plus even if I had done I could still do things in the thirty minutes before you get here.'
Again a pause before she conceded, 'Yes! I suppose you're right. Are you sure though, they're no angels, my pair.'
Again I laughed, 'They can't be any worse than my four.' I said.
'You've got four children of your own? That makes me feel a bit better then, knowing that you have kids that is. Are they there now?'
'No! Fortunately they're all grown up and flown the nest.'
'Oh! You don't sound that old.' She said not realising that she was actually paying me a compliment.
'Thank you!' I said smiling, 'shall we say about sixish then?'
This time her response was immediate, 'if you're sure you don't mind.'
.... There is more of this story ...