Children Fiction posted December 25, 2009

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1614 words

A Christmas Conscience

by AlvinTEthington

The stick hit Tommy across the face with an unexpected force so hard it knocked him to the ground. Only a minute later, there was this huge dog on top of Tommy licking him across the face.

"Morgana! Morgana! Where are you?"

Tommy could hear another boy's voice. Then a blond boy of about ten appeared.

"Morgana, you get off that boy right now. Are you all right? Morgana and I were playing fetch. She's been rowdy since she had her pups about a week ago. I'm Timothy Allen Evans. What's your name?"

Does this kid want to know if I'm all right or not? Tommy thought. "I'm Tommy," he said.

"Well, Tommy, are you all right? My daddy will pay for anything that you need at a hospital. But I'll have to go wake him up; he and Mother had a party last night, and they're still asleep."

It must be about eleven o'clock, Tommy thought. He knew, because it was about ten that Dad had sent him out to look for some mushrooms for their Christmas Day meal. Dad was the groundskeeper at the estate on the top of the hill and had taught him the difference between the edible and poisonous mushrooms. His salary had been reduced, so instead of buying groceries, his father had come home that morning with a live chicken. He thought his son was asleep, but Tommy watched his father in the yard from their cabin; he was fascinated. Tommy watched his father cut off the head of the chicken. The headless bird ran around the yard for a while, then lay down. Tommy's father took the chicken to the small kitchen of their cabin.

Then Morgana aroused him from his memories, licking him all over...

"Hey, Tommyboy! Where are you? You all right or not?"

Tommy pushed the dog off him."Yeah, I'm okay. What did you say your name was?"

"Timothy Allen Evans."

"You have a shorter version of that name?"

"Well, Auntie calls me Master Timmy."

"Who's Auntie?"

"She's the woman who looks after me, when Mother and Daddy can't, which is a lot of the time; they travel a lot. You know what?"

Tommy looked at this guy. He had on a white shirt, black slacks, and loafers. Those are odd clothes to wear to play with your dog, especially in this humid south Georgia heat, he thought. He was conscious of his faded T-shirt, cut off jeans, and his lack of shoes.

"No, what?"

"Last night, after I went to bed, Auntie came to my room to get me up. It seemed like the middle of the night. She said, 'We be goin' to church; it's time you get some spiritual upbringin'. Get out of your pajamas and into you suit.' I did and we went off to this strange place and people sang and danced and talked a lot about God, and lined up and ate bread and drank wine. Auntie said, 'This be the way we do it back home in Jamaica. You don't go tellin' you folks I brought you here. But you be good, and I'll bring you back here on Sunday whilst you folks be sleeping off the party from the night before.' I wanted some bread and wine, but Auntie said I didn't know enough. Weird, huh?"

Gosh, can this kid talk! I don't think I speak that many words in a whole day! Tommy's mind was reeling.

"So what are you doing out here on Christmas Day?"

"I'm looking for mushrooms."

"You know how? Mother and Daddy won't let me; they say I wouldn't know the difference between the good and the bad. Why are you looking for mushrooms?"

"For our Christmas dinner."

"Why didn't your mom send out for groceries and have your cook prepare a meal?"

Was this guy from Mars? Send out for groceries? A cook? Come to think of it, Tommy had never seen this Master Timmy character at school. He was w-e-i-r-d.

" My mom's dead and we're too poor for that."

"Oh, I'm sorry." The guy sounded genuinely concerned.

"It's okay; my dad had to take a pay cut this year, too. I didn't even have any Christmas presents."

"Gee, that's awful. Would you like one of Morgana's puppies? Daddy said I couldn't keep them all."

Well, maybe if I took a small one, Dad wouldn't mind. I'd see some way to get him food. I wanted a puppy for Christmas, anyway. Maybe there is a God, although Dad said that God left when Mom died.

"Yeah, well, okay."

"Come on with me, then." Timmy and the dog started up the hill.

"Timmy (Tommy wasn't going to call anyone Master), where are we going?"

"To my house."

"Which one is it?"

"The one at the top of the hill. That's where I live when I'm not away at school."

"Timmy, I can't go there. My dad works for your family. They're the ones who cut his pay."

"Look, I could have killed you with that stick. They'll do what I want. Good thing I wasn't playing cowboys and Indians and had a bow and arrow. I take archery at school. Have you ever shot an arrow?"

This guy was really nuts.

"Can't say that I have. Well, I'd better get back to looking for mushrooms now."

"Nonsense. You're coming with me. You're my friend now. You're the only friend I have here near Mom and Dad's place."

Well, I do want a puppy, Tommy thought.


The two boys and the dog began the hike up the hill.

They arrived at the estate. Timmy opened the door and there stood a woman, dressed in silk pajamas and a silk robe, with velvet slippers.

"Tim, your father and I were worried about you; it's nearly noon. We woke up and you weren't here. Who on earth is this, um, urchin?"

"This is my new friend, Tommy. His dad works for us."

"Tim, you get that boy out of the house right now. He doesn't belong here."

"But I promised him one of Morgana's puppies. He didn't have any Christmas presents. He said you and Dad cut his father's salary."

"Tim, times are hard. When his mother died, his father had one less mouth to feed. We had to cut some expenses, so we lowered his salary a little."

Out of nowhere appeared a large black woman. "Mrs. Evans, may I have a word with you?" she said.

That must be Auntie, Tommy thought.

"Not now, Emma. I have a problem on my hands."

"Not a big a one as you do if I quit, Mrs. Evans."

"Not that threat again. Every time we try to teach Tim responsibility and money management you interfere with that darn Christian charity of yours. The boy already spends a lot of time in the school counselor's office."

"What did you do to have to do that?" Tommy whispered to Timmy.

"Never mind. I'll tell you later."

"Mrs. Evans, now, in the parlor, not in front of the boys."

"Oh, all right. But fix me a drink first. I have a headache."

"My mom gets a lot of headaches in the morning," Timmy whispered to Tommy.

"I will, Mrs. Evans. Now come on."

They both left to go to the parlor. The boys were alone.

"I think if my dad talked to your mom like that, he would lose his job."

"Not Auntie. She told me she stays here for me. She told me that lots of families would like to hire her; she can really cook. Say, maybe you could have Christmas dinner with us."

"Dressed like this?" Tommy said in disbelief.

"We can worry about that later."

"Yeah, I just don't want Dad to lose his job."

"Say, you want to pick out which one of Morgana's puppies you want?"

"I think I really should go."

Just then Auntie and Timmy's mother reappeared.

"Tommy, if we give you one of Morgana's puppies, will you take good care of it?" Timmy's mother said.

"As best I can. We don't have a lot of money."

Auntie gave a stern look at Mrs. Evans.

"Oh, about that. Tim's father and I are restoring your father's salary back to the level it was before your mother died."

Tommy was amazed. Maybe there was a God.

"And what else, Mrs. Evans?" Auntie said.

A look of pure horror crept across Timmy's mother's face.

"Auntie, can I talk to you for a minute?" Timmy said.

"Sure, honeychild. Your mother and Tommy need to get acquainted, anyway."

Auntie and Timmy went into the parlor. Tommy and Mrs. Evans just looked at each other in silence.

In the parlor, Timmy said to Auntie, "Where is my mother and who is this new woman?"

"She be the new, improved Mrs. Evans. You don't know how much she hate to cook." Auntie laughed loudly. She took Timmy by the hand and led him back to where Mrs. Evans and Tommy were.

"As I was saying, Tom, would you like to go fetch your father, you all change your clothes, and come back and have Christmas dinner with us? Emma has fixed a feast."

"We would be much obliged," Tommy said. Was this really happening?

"And one more thing, Mrs. Evans," Auntie said.

Mrs. Evans coughed. "Tom, would you and your father like to go with Tim's dad and me and Emma...," she paused, "to church next Sunday?"

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