This is my version of Spike returns. It has nothing to do with what we'll get on Wednesday, I can pretty much guarantee. However - it's my story :)
It was late evening when he finally found the house. The streets of LA
seemed a maze to him, and walking alone, exhausted from his long search,
he’d despaired of ever finding it. He looked down at the white paper in
his hand, then up at the number beside the door. He placed his index
finger on the buzzer and pressed.
A burly young man opened the door. “Can I help you?”
He ran his fingers through long, curly dark hair. “Yeah, I ... Uh, can
I come in?”
“No.” The door keeper crossed his arms over his chest. “What do you
He shuffled back and forth, hands in his jeans’ pockets. “Look, I met
this bloke. Evan. Said you could help me. Said I should ask for Anne.”
“Evan?” The man stepped aside and let him through the door. “I’ll see
if she’s busy. No guarantees.” They didn’t get past the front foyer.
He nodded. “Thanks.”
Within a few minutes he was back. “Anne’ll see you. Follow me.”
They passed through the living room, where assorted teenagers lounged on
the couch, talked, and read. One had Trainspotting, another a well-worn
copy of The Fantastic Four. He barely had a chance to glance at them
before they came to the door of a small office, probably formerly a
downstairs bedroom, where the other man tapped on the door. “Come in,
Brian,” said a woman’s voice.
He followed Brian into the office. She was standing beside her desk.
She was tall, blonde and ...
“Don’t tell me. I’m younger than you expected.”
“To be honest, didn’t know what to expect.” When she held out her hand
to him, he took it. Her grip was surprisingly firm.
“My name’s Anne, as if you didn’t know. And you’re ...?”
“I wish I knew.”
Her eyebrows raised at that. “Have a seat, Mr. Whatever.” She gestured
to the other man. “You can go. I’ll call you if I need you.”
Brian nodded, shooting a less than pleased look at the visitor. “I’ll
be right outside.”
She smiled. “I know you will.” The door shut, leaving them alone, she
sat on the top of her desk. “Okay, mystery man. Spill. Who are you,
and what are you doing here? You’re a little older than the average
teen runaway, so I’ll rule that out.” She pointed to the chair, and he
sat. “If Evan sent you here, that’s one point in your favour.”
“Where should I start, then?”
“At the beginning. How do you know Evan?” She folded her arms and
prepared to listen.
“The beginning. That’s easy enough.” He sat straight-backed in the
chair, gripping the armrests. “The beginning was last night, least much
as I know of it. Woke up in a closet, starkers.”
“I don’t get you. Starkers?”
“No idea who I was or how I got there.” His grasp tightened on the arms
of the chair, whitening his knuckles. “Look, I know it sounds crazy
“You don’t have some weird ability to remember trivia, do you?”
The question took him aback. “Not that I know of.”
“Just a TV show I watched a few times. Evan?”
“Found me in the closet, when I started banging on the door. He’s a
“I know that. He’s one of our success stories.” She stood from the
desk, looking down at the stranger. “And he gave you my address? Just
“Not quite. Asked me questions, which I couldn’t answer. Got me some
jeans, this t-shirt. Told me you might be looking to hire a handy man.
Don’t know why he helped me, really.”
“Evan’s a great judge of character. He must have seen something in
you.” She tapped on the phone receiver. “I have to call him. Check out
“‘Course you do. Wouldn’t have it any other way.” He folded his hands
in his lap, staring at them. “No reason you should help me. But I
don’t know where to go.”
“S’okay. It’s what we do.” She put her hand on his shoulder. “If Evan
vouches for you, you can stay. But you have to work. No slacking. I’ll
get a doctor to check you out. That memory thing’s scary.”
“You’re telling me.” He looked shyly at her, mouthing a quiet “thank
Her smile was wide and genuine. “You’re welcome. But we’ll have to
call you something. I guess ‘English guy’ wouldn’t cut it.”
“I’m English?” He tilted his head, and she knew he was joking.
She laughed at that. “I think you figured that much for yourself.”
Anne sized him up and down. “We have to give you a name. Do you mind
if I call you Richie?”
“Richie.” He rolled the name around in his mouth. “Yeah. Good as any,
“Okay, Richie. I’ll call Evan, and you can wait in the front room.”
“Anne? What if ... what if I’m not ... What if I’ve done things ...”
“Hey, Richie,” she opened the door for him, “We’ve all done things.”
She stopped for a moment, staring at him.
“Nothing.” She paused, her hand on the doorknob. “You just seemed
really familiar for a second there. Guess you just look like someone
I’ve met before.”
“Hey, Richie. Slow down.”
The man looked up from the bowl. “Sorry. It’s just ... this tastes so
“Yeah, well not if you choke to death on it.” The carrot-topped boy
grinned. “I remember what it was like, when I first got here. Real food
after trash can cuisine. No comparison.”
“Don’t remember that. The streets, I mean.” Richie stopped to lick the
gravy from his spoon. “This really is bloody good.” He smiled back at
Glen. “Can’t describe it, really. It’s not just that I’m hungry.”
“You should be hungry after all that work you did on the roof this
afternoon.” Karen lay a hand on his shoulder. “I’d be so scared up
there, and you just hammer away like you don’t care. Aren’t you afraid
“Guess not,” he shrugged.
“So, if you’re not hungry,” Glen interjected, “why do you eat like
that? I mean, it is good stew, but ...”
“It’s like ...” He thought a moment. “It’s like I haven’t really
tasted anything in a hundred years. Does that make sense?”
“Naw.” Natalie ladled out a generous bowlful for the newcomer who
arrived at the table. “It’s my cooking.”
The thin young girl sat as far as she could from the others, her spoon
shaking as she picked it up. Without a word, she dipped into the stew
and raised a taste to her mouth.
“Don’t be scared, pet,” Richie told her. “We’re all friends here.”
The girl nodded. “M ... Mary,” she said, with hesitation.
“Welcome, Mary. I’m Richie, new myself of late.” He pointed around the
table. “Red here’s Glen. Watch him; he’s a bit of a joker. Karen’s
just sitting down, aren’t you luv? She loves to hover. Regular mother
hen. And Nat’s our cook du jour.”
The dark-haired girl smiled, but she didn’t make eye contact. “Hi.”
Tears filled her eyes. She dropped the spoon on the floor and began to
Richie picked up the spoon and gestured to Karen, who knelt down beside
the newcomer. “You want to go up to your room, Mary?”
Mary nodded, and let Karen lead her out of the kitchen.
“Bolloxed that up, didn’t I?” Richie’s eyes burned with frustration.
“No,” a voice from the door stated. “You didn’t.” Anne was leaning
against the doorframe, her arms folded across her chest. “You’re the
first person she’s spoken to since she got here.” She pointed to the
stove. “Nat? Give Richie another bowl.”
He was painting the backyard fence when the young girl sat down on the
lawn, watching him. “Feeling any better, luv?” he asked, but she looked
down at the grass and started plucking at it.
“Never you mind.” He bent down and dipped his brush in the paint.
“Nice to have the company.” From the corner of his eye he could see her
staring intently at him again. “Want to help? I’ve got another brush,
if you’re so inclined.”
She just shook her head and watched him work.
“Fine. If you want me to have all the fun.” He flashed a grin at her,
then turned back to the fence. After fifteen minutes of silence, Mary
stood up, took the other brush from beside the bucket and tentatively
dunked the bristles in the paint. He didn’t comment, just let her start
to work beside him, her strokes even. Together, the extra set of hands
made light work and they soon finished. He stood back to survey the
finished result. “Good job. You’ve got a nice, even hand.”
“Th... thank you,” she stuttered, shyly meeting his eyes before she
turned and ran back into the old house.
“And once again, you get her to talk. Good job yourself.”
He spun around to see Anne leaning against the back wall, her arms
crossed, a smile on her face. “I think maybe we’ll just have to keep
“Yeah?” He sealed the can with the lid, picked up the brushes, and
headed towards the tool shed. “Gotta wash these out before the paint
She followed after him. “Really. You were great with her. I don’t
know who you were before, but I think you’ve worked with kids. Teens,
maybe. Maybe you have sisters.”
“It’s no big deal.” He turned on the hose and ran the bristles under
the stream of water. “She just helped me paint a fence.” Satisfied
that the brushes were clean, he put them on the shelf. “Sisters?
Really?” He turned to face Anne. “I wish to hell I could remember.”
“I know this is hard for you.” She put her hand on his arm, leaving it
there when he didn’t pull back. “But whoever you were, here and now you
can make a difference with these kids.”
He searched her face. “I wouldn’t know where to start.”
She placed the hand on his chest. “Start here. Your instincts seem
pretty good so far.” She looked into his eyes, realizing how very blue
they were. “Anyway.” She stepped back and took a breath. “The
basement needs cleaning. Grab a few of the kids and get them to help.”
He snapped a salute and clicked the heels of his running shoes. “Aye,
aye, captain.” But his eyes were soft and his smile warm. “And thanks
for the vote of confidence.”
Continued in Chapter 2