While Jim jumped off the passenger car, the train’s whistle bellowed behind him. Underneath the evening stars and full moon’s light, he stepped down the brick walkway. The crisp air swerved around him as he dug his hands into his damp pocket. He shivered. Pulling out his soaked handkerchief, he dabbed his runny nose before he returned the cloth to his pocket. His stomach growled. He needed to go home and get something to eat and put his family at ease about his whereabouts. At least this time of night, he would not bump into that exasperating Annie Lee. He smiled.
Adjusting the heavy camera in his hand, he hurried to his house. Creaking the gate open, he latched it behind him.
Gwen marched out the front door and stood on the porch steps to greet him. “We — We,” taking a deep breath, “didn’t know what happened to you. Pa said he had no idea where you went. He’s been pacing the hallway ever since I got home.” She hugged her brother. Her brow furrowed. “You’re wet.”
“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you about it once we get inside.” Jim sniffed the fragrant scent in her hair and took a step backwards. “I smell hair pomade, Sis.” He studied her. “Where’d you get that?”
“I — I,” Gwen stammered as she turned to her father’s approaching footsteps.
Facing them, Pa asked, “Son, where have you been?”
“Tracking a story.”
“What it’s about?”
“The mayoral election. I found the missing ballots.”
“You did?” He grinned, his eyes twinkling.
“Yes.” Jim pulled out the soggy papers from his trouser pocket.
“Tell me more.”
“Well, it might not be as good of a find as you think because the rest of these lie at the
bottom of a pond.” He sneezed.
Gwen chimed in. “Pond, you’re going to catch a deathly cold. This cool air isn’t going to help. I’ll get Jackson. He can heat some hot water for a bath and lay out a new set of clothes.”
He nodded. Pa followed behind, asking for more details as they climbed the porch steps.
“I’ll develop the photographs in the morning. I can get it done by the late edition.”
Pa chuckled. “You’re the best reporter ever.”
Jim swallowed the lump in his throat. I know but – His thoughts broken off, he scooted in front of his sister to open the door for her.
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