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Mystery Visitor
Kathy, Age 15, British Columbia, Canada

The screen went blank in the middle of "Spunkyman". The words SPECIAL REPORT flashed across the screen. Henry Parkway frowned. He knew that his 6 year old his son had been waiting all week to see this special episode. He braced himself for the whining.

"Daddy! What's happening? Spunkyman was about to save the world! Why is he gone? You said that if I learned my multiplication tables, I'd get to watch Spunkyman! You lied!"

Henry sighed. He spoke to his son in a patient tone, "Now Mikey, first of all, I did not make Spunkyman go. The TV station must have cut off Spunkyman. And if they had to do that, then this special report must be very important,".

Soon enough, a reporter appeared on the screen. He seemed quite bewildered. "Attention, all residents of Gortonville," he started, "we interrupt your regular programming for this special news bulletin."

Henry sat up, amused. Gortonville is a small town. Not very many big things happen. Mikey, on the other hand, was in hysterics.

"Daddy! It's NOT FAIR! I was a very good boy and learned the whole multiplication table. I want to watch Spunkyman!". Henry held up a hand to silence him. "But Daddy!". He shot him an annoyed look. Mikey quieted, knowing his limits.

The reporter continued, "A dangerous criminal by the name of Leslie McPhil has escaped from the town prison today at approximately 2:45 PM. At this moment, police are trying to track down McPhil. Leslie Mcphil has a very big criminal record. We advise you to keep your doors and windows locked tonight. For safety reasons, please stay inside until tomorrow morning. We now return you to your regular program. Thank you for listening, I'm Stew Danman."

Henry stared at the screen as it returned to Spunkyman. "Yay! Spunkyman's back!" Mikey cried.

The next morning, everyone seemed a little nervous. As Henry dropped Mikey off at his school, Mikey tightly clung onto his father's jacket, "You can't leave me, Daddy! What if the bad guy gets me?"

Half way to his office, he got pulled over by a police officer for an interrogation. When Henry arrived at his office, the workers were all crowded around one desk, gossiping about last night's events. A typist turned around and saw Henry. She gave him a dry smile.

"Morning, Henry. Did you hear about the Leslie McPhil guy?"

He rolled his eyes. "Who hasn't?" He made his way over to his desk. He heard excited whispers throughout the day. This issue will die down soon enough, he thought to himself. He was wrong. For the next couple of weeks, all people could talk about was Leslie McPhil.

One day, during his drive home, Henry picked up a hitchhiker. She was of middle age. She had a broad face framed by short, brown hair. She wasn't very tall, about an entire head shorter than Henry, who wasn't considered a candidate for basketball, himself. Despite her lack of resemblance to a supermodel, she apparently had a good nature, a beautiful tinkly laugh, and was very polite.

"Where to, ma'am?" he asked with a grin.

"Oh!" She frowned, "I don't really have anywhere to go. Do you think I can stay with you?".

Henry raised his eyebrows in surprise. He thought about Mikey. Would he mind having a stranger in the house? She seemed to be a very nice person, though.

"Well... Er... Gee, I dunno, Miss. I, er-"

"Oh, it's alright. I didn't think you'd say yes, anyway." There was an awkward silence. "Oh, no! I didn't mean that! It will be quite alright if you stayed at my place."

When they arrived at Henry's house, Mikey greeted him enthusiastically. "Daddy! Daddy! I brought home my drawing book today! Wanna see it? I drew the most wonderfulest picture of Spunkyman!"

Henry smiled down at him. "Of course I want to see your picture of Spunkyman, Mikey!". Then he remembered: the hitchhiker.

"Mikey, we have a guest at our house tonight. Now, I want you to be on your best behavior okay?"

Mikey nodded solemnly, "Where is he?".

Henry chuckled. "She's right here,".

She smiled at Mikey with a with a natural smile; not at all forced like the look he saw on most people when they saw small child like Mikey. "Is this your son?"

Henry grinned, "Yeah."

She bent down. "How old are you, honey?"

Mikey straightened up, obviously proud of his age, "I'm six years old!" he beamed.

Now it was Mikey's turn to ask her a question. "What's your name?"

She replied, "Well, my mom always called me Leah, so you can call me that, too".

Mikey's smile faded. Leah noticed, "What's wrong, sweetie?"

Henry decided it was time for him to cut in. "His mother left him- us, two years ago. He's still upset."

She looked stricken, "Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to remind you." She thought for a moment, then said, "Tell you what, I'll be your mother for now, okay?"

He positively glowed! "Okay, Leah."

"Nuh uh uh! Okay Mom," she corrected. He broke into a fit of giggles.

Leah stayed longer than Henry had expected. After a little more than a week, Mikey and Henry had both decided that they loved Leah. She was so nice! One night, after Leah tucked Mikey into bed and read him story, Henry and she had a little talk. It was then that Henry decided to bring up the subject that had been bothering him for quite a while.

"You said that your mother called you Leah, right?" She nodded. "Well, if she just called you Leah, then that means it's not your real name, doesn't it?" Again she nodded, but she was visibly nervous. She was shifting in her chair. Henry could see that it was bothering her and thought that he should stop badgering her with questions, but an impulse told him to ask the final question. "What is your name, then?". She hesitated. Then, with a gleam in her eye, she said, "Leslie Mcphil."

 

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