The Watchers
By: Timothy Law

I'd stepped out of our shower earlier that morning smiling at the message that had appeared across our mirror thanks to the steam. Angel Park, 900 hours. It had been half past seven then. I had an hour and a half.

By half past eight I was already pulling up to the Angel Park entry gate. It did not take long to spot my husband, third bush in a row of sixteen that circled the pond.

"Your coffee, dear," I whispered in his ear, making him jump.

"Egad! How did you know it was me?" hubby asked, indignant.

"Darling," I laughed. "You are the only bush in the whole of the park with two white legs."

"I knew I should have worn my shrubbery stockings!" my husband announced accepting the coffee I'd picked up from MacDonald's.

Dressed in camouflage first donned in Vietnam my husband looked very bushy. He'd taken our role as Neighborhood Watch members very seriously. Perhaps it was a chance for him to play soldier again.

"Who do we have our eye on this morning, General?" I murmured throwing some stale bread at the half dozen ducks that floated on the water.

"Black van… Ten o'clock…" murmured back the bush.

I scanned the horizon, squinting in the morning light.

"A-E-R… 6-5-7?" I asked, hoping I was right.

"Spot on my little scout!" replied my husband proudly. "Children were visiting that same van quite a lot yesterday." As usual a trip to the park for my militant man was never just about the leisurely stroll.

"What of today?"

"Five little ones have wondered over from the playground in the last half hour."

On previous occasions my husband's observations led to naught. This time though…

"I know darling, very strange," said my husband, filling the silence as I pondered what he was telling me.

As we both looked on a girl maybe five years or so shot down the slide before running toward the van. Within a minute she accepted something from the driver before heading northwards.

"Have all the children run away?"

"Yes, all seemed in quite the hurry."

"Have they always left in the same direction?"

I could see my husband's brow furrow from within the bush's foliage.

"No," he replied, slowly.

"We need a closer look," I decided.

"On it, love!" announced the bush.

Over the next five minutes I continued feeding the disinterested ducks while the third bush of sixteen made a slow and careful trek across the park. Just as the bush settled into position another child ran across from the swings to the van. A minute later the child bolted. Simultaneously the bush transformed into an angry old man.

"I say! You should be ashamed! Paying children to letterbox drop your propaganda!"

It was an election week; some parties would use any trick to win it seemed.

With satisfaction we watched the van sped away. There would be no more child labor that day. Thanks to General Lewis and wife, Neighborhood Watchers extraordinaire.



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