The Story of Baby Doe

A few weeks ago — actually a couple of months ago, now — I facilitated a writing class at The Commons at Central Hall here in Dover-Foxcroft. Part of that class included creating a continuing “story” members of the class could work on {that sounds familiar}. For the next few weeks I’ll chronicle three of the stories they came up with and wrap it up with how we blended them together. Despite the common beginning — which some tweaked — the stories veered off in different directions … proving we all have a story to tell.

I started them off with a paragraph and instructed them to add to it … give the story a direction … find the characters … place it on a timeline. I told them together, we would flesh out the story line, develop characters and possibly throw in some curves or red herrings.

They did great with the lead paragraph …

We were walking down the path, something we did every morning. The sun started its ascent spotlighting the morning mist rising off the river. The dew glistened in the meadow and the birds serenaded us with their morning song.

Suddenly …

That was it. Suddenly what? Who are “we”? Why were we walking? Were they holding hands or walking independently?

I told them to use their imagination! Let the scene unfold in your mind and translate through your fingers. Have fun!

They had imagination! They painted mind pictures with their fingers. They had fun.

We’ve heard from Gloria Powell and Jody Morse. Here is the contribution from Mary Montag. Next week, we’ll see if we can bring the three thoughts together.

The Story of Baby Doe

We were walking down the path, something we did every morning. The sun started its ascent, spotlighting the morning mist rising off the river. The dew glistened in the meadow and the birds serenaded us with their morning song. Out of the blue, an eerie high-pitched scream assaulted the tranquility of the morning! Instantly, the birds muted their song, and I shivered involuntarily as invisible icy fingers played tic-tac-toe down my spine. In unison, Rob and I stood stock-still.

“What was that?” I cried.

“Shh!” whispered Rob.


Somewhere across the meadow we could hear a woman’s voice travailing from the depths of her soul. Then, just as abruptly, the cries stopped, the birds resumed their joyful singing and peace once again prevailed, as if nothing out of the ordinary ever occurred. Yet, something deep within me, call it woman’s intuition, perception or foreknowledge, convicted me that my life had moved off-kilter and may never become “my” normal again.

Rob took off running across the lush green meadow. I followed more slowly, hampered by the damp grass which slapped wetly against my legs and stained my new Reeboks the color of pale pea soup. Cursing my over-fed, under-exercised body, I watched Rob effortlessly reach a stand of towering spruce trees whose columns appeared to be marching down to the river. Breathing heavily and slowing to an awkward race-walk; I reached a conveniently situated stump. Plunking myself down was truly sweet indeed; but, before I could catch my breath I heard Rob‘s urgent voice calling, “Sarah, over here!”

Quickly I followed the sound of his voice, now modulated into a soft melodic croon. “Now, now, wee one, everything’s going to be alright! What a brave little girl you are!”

“Oh! No!” I thought, “He must have found a child!”

Sure enough, there stood Rob gently holding a small, dark haired, round faced little girl who was eyeing him with a sober intensity.

“Isn’t it amazing?” I enthused, “Look, she’s not in the least bit frightened of us!  Where is her mom?”

“Gone AWOL,” was his sarcastic reply.

“What a darling baby child,” I thought, as I gingerly approached her. “She looks to be about eight months old.”

She saw me and reached her arms towards me; and my heart almost stopped with a nameless joy as I lifted her into my arms. She snuggled her small self into my warmth contentedly. “Hello sweetie,” I murmured against her curly dark hair.

While I attempted to distract the baby, Rob did a quick search of the area and returned with a measured look.

“Did you find anyone?”

“No! Nobody,” he replied. “Did you bring your cell phone, Sarah? We need to call the police.”

Reluctantly I nodded as Rob reached into the pocket of my old, red, corduroy jacket and removed my I phone. I watched silently as he began tapping in the numbers of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department, located in Dover-Foxcroft.  Our town, Meadowland, is too small and too poor to afford a local police force. The only town official allowed to carry a weapon is the town’s animal control officer, Bert Peterson, so we use the county police or the state police according to whatever force is able to deploy fastest.

“Rob,” I said hurriedly, before he could speak to the dispatcher, “Do we need to do this? Can’t we just take her home?”

“Seriously Sarah? She’s not a lost kitten or puppy! Somewhere there’s a family member who is worried sick. Imagine how you would feel in the same situation!”

“Yeah, yeah!” I muttered, “Be like that; be the sensible one. But, I can’t believe any parent with kinfolk would abandon their child to nature.”

“Okay honey, I get that,” Rob replied, “but, there are two sided to every story, and we are only seeing the one in front of us.”

With deep sadness for the plight of this child who had lost everything meaningful in her young life — identity, family and stability — we three stood in Meadowland Park, shaken and anxious; waiting for the police and whatever developments would occur next. Time wise, it seemed an eternity!

Chapter 2

Lieutenant William Harrison, a Maine state trooper out of Field Troop E out of Bangor, was as usual up to his ass in alligators. Moments ago he had ended a telephone conversation with the sheriff of Piscataquis County, who requested assistance in an abandoned Baby Doe incident in Meadowland. In recent years, Will had become aware of the changing dynamics of Meadowland from a reasonably stable farming community, into a steady decline.  He believed some of the reasons for this decline were governmental buy-outs of dairy cattle, mill closings and lack of opportunity. The fairly recent clamp-down by law enforcement in the larger cities of Maine on prospering crack houses and meth labs produced a fleeing population of drug producers into the small unpoliced towns of the countryside where they thrived. Also, coming into the mix was the resurgence of “The Pagans,” a notorious biker club into the area. This speeding pack of gypsies, on speed, could mobilize and evacuate in seconds, frustrating and making impotent law enforcement pursuit. A merger was created as producers and bikers realized their potential together in uniting to form an unholy corporation. Will, shuddered, recalling an incident between a suspect and a land owner who discovered pot growing on his property. Blood was shed, and the landowner was killed. Consequently, most residents, fearing reprisals, became tight-lipped and uncooperative while responding to troopers inquiries.

Glancing at his watch, Will left his office to brief the deploying team, a Major Crimes Unit and his last two available detectives, troopers Auclair and Michaud. Winding down the briefing, Will reminded the team to stay within the protocols and watch each other’s backs while in Meadowland. As he watched the vehicles depart he mentally wished them both, “Bon Chance.”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: In life, when you encounter mean and hurtful people, treat them like sandpaper. No matter how rough they may scrub you, you end up polished and smooth.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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