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Then There Were Three (part 9)

Joe Spivey's picture
Submission type:

Joe was still reading his mail and composing responses an hour later when Taiyoko opened the door.

“Joe? You better come.”

After hiding all his correspondence under the top drawer of the little desk, Joe followed Taiyoko upstairs to the dining hall. Inside, the Matron was standing on a bench addressing the assembled orphans and staff. As they walked in through the swing doors, Joe caught what she was saying.

“…Because of the close relationship Fiesta and Lenny had for each other, the doctors here,” Matron Clinton indicated the two serious-faced Union doctors behind her. “Are confident that one of them most likely picked up the bacteria from cutlery that hadn’t been cleaned properly…” This caused a murmur among the children and a salty comment from head cook Edna. Matron Maisy ignored the comment and the sniggers that followed it. “…And then passed it to the other.” More sniggers, prompting the matron to clap her hands. Everyone shut up.

“Because of this, everyone,” She took in the whole ensemble of orphans with a slowly moving finger. “And I mean everyone, will set to and clean every knife, fork and spoon. Every ladle and spatula. Every pan. Every dish. In fact, everything and anything that comes into contact with the food we all eat,”

Obligatory groans were also ignored.

“You will all be split into teams with a member of staff as team leader. Everything you do will be inspected. So, let’s make a good effort to do our bit in preventing the spread of this infection, and make absolutely sure there are no more cases that can be traced back to the orphanage.”

To Joe’s surprise, he and Taiyoko were each handed a piece of paper. Joe’s read, ‘Kitchen – Ovens and Grease Traps’ followed by six names. He looked over Tai’s shoulder and read his overseer’s list. ‘Dining Hall – Tables, Benches and Work Surfaces’ and had only four names. Joe snatched Tai’s list out of his hand and replaced it with his own.

Onetooth suddenly found himself dragged backwards through the open door way to face a furious Finny.

“What are you doing?! You can’t dob Worms in!”

In Worms’ sick room, more hot words were being spoken between the two doctors. One of whom was still being held tightly, with feet clear of the floor, by an impassive nurse Maisie.

“Let me go, dammit! I’ve got to get that boy to New Flagstaff. Now.”

It wasn’t often Finny got really mad at any of the three boys but Onetooth had just gone ahead and blatantly broken the cardinal rule of kidizenship. You don’t dob your buddies in to the grown-ups.

Onetooth’s bottom lip started to shake as he stood before Finny, who was in full Finny mode, all hands on hips and glaring green eyes. He was scared that, any minute now, Finny’s hands would be balled into fists… And that was a fight he didn’t want to get into.

“Finny. I gotta. Worms won’t tell an’ I bet that’s where he got all diseased an’ I’m the only one who knows where it is an’ they’ll never find it and then everyon’ll get diseased an then they’ll blame him for it an’…”

But Finny never got to find out what the next ‘and’ would be. Behind them, the grown-ups had stopped fighting.

While the children outside squabbled, Doctor Troy had drawn herself up to her full five feet two inches and taken a step forwards towards where the Union doctor hung uselessly struggling against her head nurse’s immovable arms.

“Dr. Unwin. You gave up all authority the moment you attacked my patient. I will go to New Flagstaff. But you will be remaining here to faces charges of assault.” She tilted sideways to talk to Maisie. “Maise, be so kind as to take Dr. Unwin to the constable outside and have him escort her to jail for assaulting that poor, defenceless and sick little boy.”

Maise stepped through the doorway and barged through the three members of the Reading Group. Tuki followed, tapping Onetooth on the head.

“Well done, young man. You’re with me.” Oblivious to the quarrel that had just been interrupted, but seeing the look on Finny and Casper’s faces, she paused for a moment on the way to the door.

“You two can stay here with nurse Maisie or you can tag…” Finny and Casper bolted for the door, leaving Tuki talking to empty space. “… along with us.”

Two minutes later, Doctor Troy and all three kids passed a very annoyed looking Union doctor being escorted through the town and towards the jail. Two minutes after that, Finny and co. were holding on for dear life as Tuki tortured the gearbox all the way to New Flagstaff.

Joe had moved his office to the dining hall and now sat quite happily working through his bits of paper amongst the organized chaos, accompanied with a soundtrack of expertly played scrubbing brushes, that was going on all around him. Matron Clinton, who had been going from team to team checking on their progress, siddled over to him.

“How come, Mister Spivey, my staff daren’t let their attention drop for a moment keeping their kids working, while your four are scrubbing away like dervishes without you even so much as looking in their direction?”

Joe didn’t glance up or even stop writing when he reached down with his left hand and held up an empty sack he had collected from the kitchen.

The matron stared at it for several seconds.

“I don’t understand.”

Joe dropped the sack to reach for an invoice.

“No. But they do.”

As it seemed that was the only explanation she was going to get, Matron wandered off to see how the kitchen was getting on.

Lunch that day was sandwiches. Grudgingly made by the kitchen staff whose feathers had been ruffled by the suggestion that they were less than hygienic in the running of their little kingdom. Some satisfaction was had, however, by the knowledge that the various grease traps which they had neglected for months were now bright and shiny clean.

That couldn’t be said, however, for the now malodorous and grease-blackened urchins that had had to climb inside the ovens to clean them. But that was somebody else’s problem.


Canni Belle's picture

((I think Dr. Unwin got off easy getting tossed in Hope Springs clink.

If Canni had seen that, well .. let's not even think about it.

Also .. wtf is in the sack?

One minute your calm, the next your shooting someone in the face, then your doing your chickendance. If that is not chaos I dont know what is - Aiid

Joe Spivey's picture

Before Finny met Joe, she was in one of the gangs of 'The Borough', which is where she grew up after escaping the massacre at the Devil's Own canp north of Hope Springs.

"Finny and her cohorts did other jobs too. Like delivering packages and posting leaflets. Crunchy was one of Joe Spivey’s ‘eyes’ and never out of work, which was good for the whole gang. Joe Spivey, though, was on the ‘definitely not safe list’. At least according to Crunchy. Also according to Crunchy Joe was known to ‘…tie kids up in a sack and drown ‘em and then feed their bodies to the hermit crabs.’ Stories like this, besides giving her and the other little kids nightmares, intrigued Finny. But it wasn’t until she was seven that her curiosity led to her first meeting with the man himself."



((Edited the post to make it an empty sack))

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Canni Belle's picture

((That absolutely explains it .. ty Joe <3

One minute your calm, the next your shooting someone in the face, then your doing your chickendance. If that is not chaos I dont know what is - Aiid

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