"Are you set to go Jenny?" Angela called to her three year old. Jenny appeared in the hall with her dolls pram. She was ready as usual to go out for their walk. With Jack fast asleep in his pram they left the house by the front door shortly after Ten o'clock.
Although Angela tried to change the route, Jenny usually dictated the ultimate destination, which was the childrens playground on the corner of Cypress Avenue. Sometimes Angela would try to get there by a more round about route but Jenny knew if they were walking away from the playground.
"This is not the way Mummy."
"It's just round the corner dear." Jenny looked up at her mother doubtfully and conceded this time.
Mrs. Maxwell came out to her gate and remarked how beautiful the children looked. Angela prided herself on the way she dressed her little ones and felt it was her due, when complimented.
"Jenny had her dress given her by her Nanna, didn't you?"
Jenny nodded shyly and Mrs. Maxwell smiled down at her. She then turned and headed back to her door saying "Its a fine day."
They reached the park. Jenny headed for the swings. Angela started her swinging and pushed Jenny's dolls pram back to stand next to Jack's larger one. Angela sat on the bench seat under the wattle tree and relaxed. She could see both of her babies at the same time and felt with the warmth of the sun, a deeper, warmer, more satisfying feeling of contentment and pride, at being able to produce two such perfect children. Jenny, she could hear was singing the nursery rhyme Polly Flinders but had got the words mixed up with Ring-a-ring o roses. She smiled to herself and noticed at the same time out of the corner of her eye that there was someone running towards the playground. She turned and saw two teenager boys approaching. When they reached the fence, one jumped clear over it, while the other scrambled over. She stood up concerned lest they frighten Jenny who was some distance away from her. The two youths were now whooping and skylarking on the equipment. They reached Jenny first. One mounted the other swing and the other got behind Jenny and pushed her hard. Angela heard her cry out in alarm and started running over to her. They danced away from the swings and raced past Angela.
"Whats-a-matter lady, scared?" The last word drawn out with horrifying intent.
Angela looked right into the face of the youth. His pale spotty complexion, crew cut hair and vicious sneer on his face sent a shudder of fear through her.
"Leave my children alone."
"Huh. Where's the other one then?" They scampered off toward the prams. Angela screamed.
"Don't you dare touch him!"
Its made no difference. They took a pram each and with careless abandon and intent tore around the park with Angela chasing after them, whilst Jenny sat wailing on the ground. The youth with the dolls pram at one point lifted the whole contraption up and turned Jenny's doll out on to the grass. Angela was so terrified and anxious at this point she thought that it was Jack that had been pitched out. She rushed up to the tiny heap of clothes and searched though them for her baby before she realised her mistake.
Luckily the torment was soon over and they left the playground almost as quickly as they had arrived. Jack was unharmed and although awake was unconcerned by the events. Angela gathered the children and the bits and pieces together. Still sobbing she and Jenny hugged each other for comfort.
"Let's go home now darling."
It was only then, when she started to push the pram that she saw that her handbag was missing. She looked around frantically for it but it had definitely gone.
"Those damned boys have stolen it."
Jenny looked up in surprise at her mother. Her sobbing stopped. Mummy hardly ever got cross. Just to help she said:
"Those damned boys."
Despite the seriousness of the situation Angela laughed and squeezed Jenny's hand.
"How are we going to get back in the house without a key? Daddy is going to think me such a fool."
The little family group got back to their street. Angela tried both of her neighbours but neither one was there. She had to go further up the road to Mr. Lawrence's house before she could find anyone at home.
The elderly white haired man came to the door.
"Well hello my dear...."
Angela cut him off. "I'm sorry Mr. Lawrence could I use your phone. I have just had my handbag stolen and they've taken my keys as well."
The old man took several seconds to take it all in.
"Oh. Oh. Yes. Come on in. Do you know the number?" He started fussing around with the directories.
"It's all right. I shall phone the police first."
She dialled the emergency number. Waited, then when answered, had to explain which service she required.
She was asked to hold on. Again the wait. She looked around. Jack was getting restless in the pram. Jenny was clinging to her thin dress.
"I've been robbed.....In the street.....Well at the Sarah Patterson playground on Acacia Avenue.....They took my handbag.....Two youths..... No, I'm at a neighbours now.....
Well, money, keys, credit cards and personal things..... No, I can't get in but I'll phone my husband next."
She agreed to return home and wait for a patrol car to arrive.
"Could I make another quick call, Mr. Lawrence?"
Mr. Lawrence nodded his head. His worried look probably meant that all this was becoming too much for him to cope with. Jack was crying now and Jenny pulled insistently at her clothes.
"I want to go home Mummy."
"Let me talk to Daddy first darling." There was no answer. Mr. Lawrence looked pained. His morning procedure was being severely disrupted. She gave Jenny a cuddle then cooed at Jack who refused to be pacified.
"I'll try Frank again." she apologised.
Still no answer. Where was he?
"I'll have to go. I'm meeting the police at my place."
Mr. Lawrence looked relieved.
"Could you ring my husband again. Please ask him to come home straight away."
The old man nodded in agreement, took Frank's number and ushered them out onto the street.
She wheeled the family home. Jenny valiantly pushed her doll's pram despite the uphill climb. Sensing her mothers distress she said not a word.
Angela felt relieved to get back home but frustrated because she couldn't get into the house. Jack needed a change of nappies so she took them both around to the side of the house under the patio. She deftly changed Jack's disposable nappy and rinsed her hands under the garden tap. She sat down on a patio chair in the dappled sunlight and rocked Jack back to sleep again. Soon he was quietened. Angela relaxed and hoped that Frank would come home soon. Then she remembered that the police were due to arrive and glanced now repeatedly towards the front garden. All was quiet. She started making lists in her head of all the things she needed to do as soon as she could get indoors. She had to ring the Bank, then there was the store and credit card numbers. There was her driving licence. She knew there must be more.
"Oh. Frank please come home" she murmured.
Jenny went off to talk to the gnomes in the front garden.
"There's someone at our front door, Mummy."
Angela walked around to the front door. She expected to see a police patrol car in the road, but it wasn't there. Neither were there any policemen on her doorstep. The front door was open.
"Daddy must be home" she breathed with a sigh of relief.
"No, it's not Daddy."
Angela froze. Until this very moment she hadn't dreamt that the hooligans would use her own keys to break into the house. Without a seconds thought, she told Jenny to go back to look after Jack in his pram. With a fury that she could not explain, she went in through the open door. She picked up the walking stick with a brass birds head handle that was standing in the chinese pot, with the umbrellas by the front door.
Quietly she listened at the Lounge Room door. She could hear them talking.
"Quick. There's no time to fiddle with it."
"Pull it out from the bloody plug."
"Go and see if there's anything in the bedroom while I check the Kitchen for cash."
As one of the youths came out the door to the Hall, Angela swung the walking stick and hit the boy across the throat. He made a strange 'thuk' 'thukking' noise as he dropped the video, fell to his knees and clutched at his neck. His face was drained of all colour and he had difficulty breathing. He lay on the floor twitching.
"You haven't dropped it, you pillock!" shouted the other boy from the Kitchen.
Angela was waiting for him as he emerged from the kitchen with a fist of small notes in one hand and the other putting the loose change from her earthenware spice jar in his pocket.
"You bastards, how dare you do this to me and my kids."
The spotty lad's mouth fell open. As quick as a flash he turned to go back out through the Kitchen. Surprising herself Angela darted after him and struck at his back with the stick. The birds beak caught him in the middle of his back and stuck there. The stick was wrenched from Angela's hand as he fled. He reached the back door but couldn't open it because of the deadlock. She looked frantically around for another weapon. All she could find was a copper bottomed saucepan. She stood over the crumpled figure by the door as he desperately tried to reach the walking stick stuck in his back and get away from her. The saucepan was lifted high in case he made a move against her.
Suddenly she felt an hand on her shoulder and the saucepan taken from her grasp. She thought that the other boy had come after her. She struggled and slipped away, only to see a policeman holding the saucepan that he had wrested from her.
"Thank God you've come."
"Perhaps you could explain what's going on, Madam, while my colleague calls an ambulance."
Angela could see the second police officer kneeling by the boy with the injured throat. He was calling base asking for assistance. "I must see to my children."
"Not just yet, Madam."
"Don't you try to tell me what I can or cannot do with my own children." Angela hurried back out to the Hall past the figures by the Lounge door and went out to get to Jenny and Jack.
"Would you please stop, Madam." The policeman insisted as he followed her out. Angela ignored him and went to the children.
"Is everything all right now Mummy?
"Yes, darling." She lifted up her daughter to hug her.
A vehicle drew up at the curb, Angela turned and hoped it would be Frank. It wasn't. It was the meter reader. He smiled at her.
"It's a fine Day!"
Angela nodded. Yes, perhaps it was now.