A Present For Johnny

“Freddie holds on with all his might.

            The cat frantically rips white stuffing out of the bolstered head of the padded armchair and leaps at the bookcase. Books fly in all directions from the book shelves. The cat skates across the waxed surface of the desk leaving scratched figure eights in the mahogany.

            Freddie catches a glimpse of his blurred image in the mirror above the mantelpiece and vows never to take up cat-busting as a career. The sun streams in through the open window seemingly burning its way into the wooden floor. The cat jumps on top of the floor lamp which topples to the floor. Freddie, losing his grip on the flea collar, flies through the air out the open window.

            Gigantic, swaying trees wave to him in the wind. Strangely winged creatures chirp at him from leaf-enshrouded branches. White, cottony clouds float lazily in a blue sea of sky above his head. A red, ball of fire, which pains his eyes when he gazes at it, burns down upon him from its heavenly perch. Down, down, down he falls through the air and lands softly upon a pile of gunny sacks in the back of the groundskeeper’s wooden cart.

            The groundskeeper lets out a yell to his mule, cracks a whip and the swaying cart begins to roll on creaking, wobbly wheels down the dusty road, which leads away from the village.

            Bruised and dazed, Freddie gazes back through dimmed eyes at St. Thomas’s Church peeking over the tops of the trees. The weathered face of the church clock on the church tower droops the arrow-pointed corners of its black-lined mouth in sad farewell. As the cart rolls on, a sleeping Freddie is being taken farther and farther from home.”


Johnny’s delight disappears for his friend Freddie is in danger.


“The sun melts below the horizon into night. The earth is clad in moonlight. When Freddie awakes a shooting star trails brightly across the night sky, misses being caught by a crescent moon and disappears into the inky blackness above his head. The cart has stopped. In the stillness of the night Freddie, stretched out comfortably on the gunny sacks with his arms tucked behind his head, listens to the unhitched mule munching noisily upon the grass in front of a large, window-lit mansion.                      

            Freddie watches with hypnotic fascination as the glowing end of a lit cigar wavers in the shadows next to the front porch. Fearing it might be the groundskeeper resting from his travels, Freddie picks up a pebble from the floor of the cart and throws it into the darkness.

‘Who threw that?’ comes a startled cry. The glow flickers. A mouse in a bright red smoking jacket with a crisp white tie storms out from the shadows and stares about.

            ‘I’m afraid I did,’ says Freddie, as he climbs down from the cart and hurries over.

            ‘Who are you?’ says the mouse, glaring at Freddie through the thick lens of the glass monocle with his eye seemingly popping out of his head.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Lawrence E. Collins travels, hikes, fishes and writes from his hometown, St. John’s, NL. His stories have been published in magazines, including Canadian Stories Magazine, ‘The Dress’, Vol 17 No. 96, April/May, 2014, ‘Ebenezer's Party’, feature story, Vol 17 No. 99, Oct/Nov, 2014, at www.canadianstories.net [Archives 2014], and ‘Sidney’, Vol 18 No. 102, April/May, 2015.
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