The Nine Lessons

The Nine Lessons by Kevin Alan Milne

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Authors: Kevin Alan Milne
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my destination. From there I could hear the sounds from their talking, but I couldn’t make out the words. After ten minutes or so the girl pulled a pen and paper from her purse and started writing something down, making sure to keep what she was writing hidden from Erin. When she was through she folded up the paper and handed it to my wife, who then stood and started toward me. My wife looked back over her shoulders a couple of times as she approached. The teenager sat waiting on the church step.
    “What was that all about?” I asked once she’d joined me in front of the bookstore.
    “I don’t know—it was very weird. One minute she was bemoaning her first broken heart, and then in the middle of our conversation she just started writing this note, and insisted that I bring it to you. She said it was for your eyes only. I’m supposed to have you read it and then go talk to her about what you think.”
    I looked up at the church, and the girl waved.
    “Very weird,” I agreed. In the back of my mind I was wondering about this poor girl’s parents. Were they worried about their daughter? Did they know she wasn’t at home? Or were they the kind of parents who didn’t care one way or the other? I unfolded the paper and held it up at an angle to better catch the glow from the nearest lamppost. I had to squint to make out the fine cursive lettering. “Dear sir. I just wanted to say thank you for letting me talk to your wife. We had a nice chat. She honestly made me feel better. Also, I want to say that I’m truly sorry. As you walked away it gave my boyfriend the perfect opportunity to take your wife’s—oh fetch!” My eyes darted back up to the church, but there was nobody in sight. The girl was gone.
    Erin groaned as she realized what was going on. She quickly checked all around her person for the purse she’d been carrying earlier. “What? No… are you kidding me?”
    We stood there for several moments, too stunned to react. We’d just been robbed by a weeping teen and her unseen boyfriend, who were probably long gone, or else hiding in some undetectable shadows of Burlington, happily counting the money in my wife’s handbag.
    Erin paced back and forth in front of the store, one hand on her hip, the other covering her mouth. We both replayed the scene again in our minds. I could clearly picture her sitting down next to the girl, and as she did so she lifted the leather strap from her shoulder and laid her purse down on the concrete behind her. Since my back was turned as I left, a stealthy young man would have had no trouble sneaking out undetected from behind the corner of the church to nab the bag, especially under the cover of the girl’s incessant wailing.
    “Finish the letter,” said Erin. “I want to hear the whole thing before we take it to the police.”
    “That was pretty much it. Blah, blah, blah… as you walked away it gave my boyfriend the perfect opportunity to take your wife’s purse. I feel really bad about this, but we need money in a hurry. Have a great night. Affectionately, the Teenage Drama Queen.”

    The next morning, after spending hours on the phone trying to cancel all of our credit cards, I received an unexpected call from London. He didn’t bother to say hello.
    “A father bloody well deserves to be told when his son and daughter-in-law get mugged, Augusta!”
    “Well, you’re in a fine mood today, aren’t you? How did you find out?”
    “By reading the bloody newspaper. The headline on page two caught my attention. ‘Drama Queen Pulls Wool Over Veterinarian’s Eyes.’ ”
    “And you’re upset that I didn’t call you? I’m actually flattered. When was the last time I called to tell you about anything?”
    “Exactly! When?”
    “Hey, don’t get all bent out of shape. It was a long night at the police station, and I’m not up for it right now. Anyway, I’m just following your lead. When was the last time you called me?”
    The phone went silent

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