This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyrighted by Parker Sheaffer, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Simon knew that at seven years old he couldn't live on his own so he needed a family. If that family would love him it would be even better.
He pushed open the glass doors of the police station and went right up to the big desk where a uniformed man stood sorting through some papers. Simon politely waited until the officer noticed him and said, "Can I help you with something, kid?"
"Yes, sir. I need the Family and Children's service. I need to find a foster home to live in."
The officer looked down at the small, dark haired boy and said, "You do, huh? What's the matter, kid? Mad at your mom or something? Did you do something bad?"
"No, sir. I'm an orphan, my parents are dead."
"Orphan? Look kid, go back home and make up with mommy. What's your address and I'll call her."
"I don't have an address, sir."
"Aw, rats," the man said. "Why do I always get these weird ones? Okay, kid. You want DFACS? You're gonna get DFACS. Hey, Wilson. Get me that social worker on the phone. You know the one, Pothead or whatever."
"Potter," someone called out from the back. "Just a minute."
Simon saw that his nametag said Morris. "Thank you officer Morris", he told the man as he spoke into the phone.
"Hello, Miss Potter? I have a child here, male, around six..."
"Seven," Simon interrupted.
"Seven... years old. Says he's an orphan and needs a foster home. Nah, he looks okay to me. Probably in trouble at home. I see. Yeah. Thanks a lot, then." He hung up the phone and looked down at Simon.
"Have a seat over there, kid. She'll be here in a few minutes," the officer told him before going back to his paperwork.
Simon sat in one of the blue plastic chairs that lined the wall. He looked so small sitting there clutching his bag that the desk Sergeant felt a little sorry for him. "Maybe the kid was telling the truth. Cute little tyke with those big, brown eyes. Maybe I should adopt him," the officer thought. "What am I thinking! Man! Snap out of it."
He didn't know that Simon was unconsciously emitting empathy waves, a part of his newfound powers. People often would mysteriously feel sympathy and respond to him with care and concern when they were near him for a few minutes. At least the good people would. The bad people would still be nasty to him and that was one way he could tell who they were.
He was looking at the posters on the wall when a young woman came in. She was nice looking, not beautiful but her face had a look of kindness to it as if she was used to mothering people. Her face lit up with a smile when she saw him. She gave a little wave as she went to the desk and spoke with the Sergeant. A couple of minutes later she came over to Simon and sat down beside him.
"So, they tell me you don't have a family. Is that true?"
"My name is Lois Potter. What's your name?"
"Simon what? What's your last name, sweetie?"
"I'm just Simon."
"Well, just Simon. Where do you come from?"
"You must come from somewhere. Where were you before you came in here."
"I can't tell you."
"I just can't. Please. I just need a family to live with who will love me and take care of me."
"Can you tell me how old you are, Simon?"
The woman looked at him for a minute and said, "You know, it's not that easy to get a good foster family right away. You may have to go to a group home for a while. They're not such nice places. I'm sure you'd be much happier back with your own parents. Won't you tell me who they are?"
"I don't have any parents. You can find some parents for me, I know you can."
"Hmmm... okay, just a minute."
Lois went back to the desk and said, "He's not going to tell me anything right now. Maybe I can get it out of him later but for now I have to take him to the office with me. Can you ask around the neighborhood and see if anyone knows him?" She opened her phone and it looked as if she was going to make a call but she was really taking Simon's picture. "I'll email this to you so you can have something to show around."
Simon carried his bag out to Miss Potter's car and they drove to her office where she bought Simon a coke and had him wait while she filled out some papers.
She was impressed with the boy's patience and the way he was so well behaved. He was an attractive boy and very healthy looking. There were no overt signs of abuse or neglect except that his clothes were soiled and worn, so she wondered just what his story could be. Until he talked or until the police found his parents she had no choice but to put him in a home, at least for a while.
She took him to a large house that was sort of old and run down. White paint was flaking off in some places and the roof had been patched with different colored shingles, but it was still a lot better than the apartment he had been living in. It wasn't as nice as the house he used to have when his father and mother were both alive. That was a brick house with a big, green yard and lots of trees. He still remembered it.
This house had a chain-link fence around it and there was no grass, mostly just dirt, but there were some toys scattered about so it looked as if children lived here.
They were greeted at the door by an older woman in a well-worn blue dress and an apron. She had flour on her nose. The smell of chocolate chip cookies wafted from inside the warm house and Simon's mouth watered. How long had it been since he had cookies? Years?
The woman smiled and said, "This must be Simon. Please come in, son. Come in and get warm. I'm Mrs. Lockett. Hello Lois, nice to see you again.
"Here, let me take your bag, Simon, and come on in the kitchen. We were just baking some cookies so we need to get back in there before the others gobble them all up." She said all of that and more without taking a breath.
Mrs. Lockett was talkative and friendly and Simon sensed that she was a good person. She led them into a large country style kitchen where five children stood around a table. One child was stirring a big bowl, one was rolling out some dough and another was fanning a pan of fresh, hot cookies trying to cool them off enough to eat. The smallest two were just watching the fresh, cooling cookies with wide, hungry eyes. They had all made a bit of a mess and there was flour everywhere, even on their faces and clothes, but they seemed to be having a good time.
Everyone looked at Simon when he came in and a couple of them smiled. Mrs. Lockett introduced them as Charles, twelve, Lisa, ten, Joey, ten, and Mike and Marty who were six and were twins. Simon said hello to them and they went back to making the cookies.
Miss Potter knelt and put her hand on Simon's shoulder. She looked at him and said, "We're lucky that the Locketts have an opening. They are very nice and I think you'll like it here so you be good and get to know everyone. Okay?" She left then and told Simon that she would be seeing him again very soon.
Simon sat on a tall stool and watched the activity around him while Mrs. Lockett talked a lot about everything. The children all seemed to be familiar with their tasks and kept busy at them. It was a different world than Simon was used to. He had never had the opportunity to be around other children, especially in a friendly environment.
The cookies and milk were delicious but they could only have two cookies each until after supper. Simon helped clean up before they took him upstairs and showed him where he would sleep. He would share a room with the twins. It was a nice room with blue flowers on the wallpaper and blue curtains on the window. There were two sets of bunk beds, a desk, a large chest of drawers for them all to share and four small chairs. Simon talked to the twins a little, but they seemed very shy so he lay on the bed and watched while they played on the floor with some toy cars. He rested until supper was ready.
The twins, Mike and Marty, had been living with their grandmother until she died a few months earlier. They didn't know where their mother was and they had always been told that their father was killed in the war. Now they had no one but each other. They were both sweet looking boys with dark hair and blue eyes but neither of them would talk much, even to the Locketts.
Charles was the oldest of the children there and he had been living in the home for three years, ever since his parents were killed by a drunk driver. Even though he had blond hair and a handsome face with cute freckles he had long ago realized that no one wanted to adopt a boy his age. Sometimes he got sad thinking about it.
Lisa had never known her parents at all. She had been shuffled around from one foster home after another for years. No one had ever been able to find any relatives for her. Miss Potter couldn't understand why no one seemed to want to keep her. Lisa was pretty with a very bright smile that only peeked out occasionally from her normally cloudy face, but when it did it was like the sun coming out.
Joey had been abandoned at a rest stop on the interstate. As his father had been driving him to Miami Joey had fallen asleep in the car. When he woke up he was lying on a picnic table, wrapped in a blanket and his father was nowhere to be found. That was two years ago but the cute little red head never gave up hoping that his dad would come back for him.
Simon felt sorry for all of the children there. They had experienced some sad times, just like him.
Mrs. Lockett was an excellent cook and there was plenty to eat. Simon was not as hungry as he should have been considering how little he had been eating lately, but the food tasted good and it felt nice to have a full tummy for a change.
Mrs. Lockett's husband, Albert, joined them at the table. He had been at work all day and was tired but very friendly with all of the children and made a point to joke a little and talk nicely to each one for a bit.
Simon watched some television with the others for a while, something he had never been able to do before, and then went to bed. He felt better than he had in a very long time. He wore his father's amulet, tucked inside the pajamas that he had been given to wear and he wrapped his hand around it and thought of the Green Man.
He sent out thoughts of gratitude and joy to his mentor and magical benefactor and in return he received a sense of well-being and warmth.