1. She peered through the hole in the fence

2. That explains a lot

3. Miles and miles of memories


Austin Cooper was not a happy man. The holidays had been good to him, if you counted four ties and a giant size decorative flask of Musk aftershave appropriate gifts from the family. His brother Ford managed to come up with something a little better, though, and as Austin unwrapped the bottle of Wild Turkey, he thought he might just make it through the day after all.

Austin’s sister Mercedes was shocked, or at least she pretended to be.

“What’s the matter with you, Ford?” she complained. “You know he’s not allowed to have that stuff.” Mercedes had appointed herself the Watchbird for her two younger brothers, making it a prime goal in her life to keep them on the straight and narrow. They both had managed to avoid the confines by virtue of living several hundred miles away.

Ford laughed at her. “Don’t worry too much, big sister. The bottle is Wild Turkey, but what’s inside is iced tea. Austin wanted a gag gift to share with his group tonight.”

Mercedes shook her head at the young men’s antics. “You’ll never grow up, either of you.”

They opened the rest of the presents, a new hammer for Uncle Hudson, toy cars for the nephews, a gorgeous silk scarf for Mercedes.

“It’s beautiful!” she exclaimed as she planted a kiss on Austin’s cheek. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d find me such a great gift.”

Austin looked a bit sheepish. “Actually, I didn’t choose it. Henry J did.”

Well, that explained a lot. Henrietta, Austin’s latest live-in had exquisite taste and the money to indulge it.