In Trouble

"Today," Mrs. Wolfe swore to herself, "Today, I will remember to return Manda's whistle to her." She held the shiny instrument in her hands. Manda had accidently left it the very day she accepted Mrs. Wolfe's flat. They both knew that it was waiting for Manda in Mrs. Wolfe's kitchen, but somehow they never remembered at the right moment to get the whistle back to its rightful owner.

The cuckoo clock on the wall indicated 3:17. Manda would be home soon. She would go up to her flat, change into her jeans and flannel shirt, then head for the shed where the gardening tools were kept. Between her flat and the shed Mrs. Wolfe planned to catch her. She could then tick the whistle off her to-do list. By around 3:20 Mrs. Wolfe decided to fix herself a cup of tea while she waited. The water started to boil just as Manda entered the building. Mrs. Wolfe didn't hear her.

At 3:42 Mrs. Wolfe heard the revved up engine of a car noisly speeding across Grey Street. She checked the clock, surprised at herself for not paying better attention to the time. Surely, Manda would be home by now and out front. Mrs. Wolfe pocketed the whistle and looked out a window. Indeed, the door to the shed was open and Manda was gathering tools. Since she wasn't going to be catching Manda at the staircase, she decided to quickly wash up the tea things before heading out.

The time was nearly four when Mrs. Wolfe left her flat. As she opened the outer door two revved cars buzzed up the street with a group of teenage boys yelling at each other. Manda was looking after them. "What's going on?" asked Mrs. Wolfe.

"Some teenage boys are letting their hormones get the better of them," Manda replied. "I'm worried that parents are now coming to pick up their children while these hoons are making the street unsafe. Do you mind holding these a moment while I go in to get my badge?" Manda held out a shovel and gloves which Mrs. Wolfe accepted. Manda dashed up to her rooms.

In the moments it took her a number of parents had turned up for their young ones, and the boys had lined up their cars up for a race. Manda leapt out onto the street in front of the two vehicles and held out her badge. "I want the two drivers to get out of their cars, and I want them to get out now!" she bellowed at the teenagers. To make her point she pounded on the hoods with her free hand and pointed to her side.

The first boy got out rather shamefacedly, but was grinning back at his mates. "Show me your license," demanded Manda. As he pulled the item from his pocket, the second boy also exited his vehicle. Manda's attention was on the first boy, so she didn't see his grim inebriated features, nor the clenching of his fist.

Mrs. Wolfe did see these things from the stoop. She could also see what was coming next. His fist was raising.

In a flash of inspiration Mrs. Wolfe grabbed the whistle from her pocket, huffed and puffed, and blew into it with all her might. The sharp shrill shriek that came from it startled everyone on the block. Manda's attention was drawn up enough to see the punch coming her direction. She grabbed the boy's fist mid-flight and twisted it behind his back.

"Someone go phone triple 0 for help!" Manda yelled.


Pigs in the City
Copyright © 1999 Katherine Phelps
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