Thursday, November 24, 2011

Excerpts from Amanda Younger: Girl Detective

“Ok, now see if you can throw it in the basket, Amanda,” said Brenda, as the young people in the Carter family gave Amanda her first lesson in playing basketball.

“You can do it, Manda, you can do it,” screamed little Robbie, jumping up and down in excitement. “Then it’s my turn everybody, ok?”

Amanda grinned as she stared up at the basketball hoop on the garage. “This is fun,” she thought to herself. “I like being a kid again. I remember enough about being a kid the last time to know I never got to do anything like this. I remember some people saying that this sort of thing was for ordinary children and I mustn’t waste my time on it.”

Amanda shot the ball three times and finally managed to get it through the hoop. “I did it, I did it!” she shouted.

“Yes you did,” laughed a tall, smiling man who had just climbed out of the car which he had driven into the driveway. “Good job too! You must be Amanda. I’m Ken Carter, most of the kids that are part of our family call me Dad Ken. I hope you will too. I’m glad you’ve come to be a part of our family.”

“Thanks Dad Ken,” said Amanda shyly as the man put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick hug. The memories that were slowly clearing in her mind had already told her that in what she now thought of as ‘the first time she was a child’ her father had always been called “Father” and as for hugs, well the nearest thing she could remember were profunctionary kisses on the forehead which were few and far between.

“Manda made a basket, Dad Ken,” said Robbie. “She really did, did you see?”

“Yes she did and it was a good one too,” said Ken Carter. “With more practice, Amanda is going to be a really good basketball player.”

“Do you really think so?” asked Amanda, looking at Ken Carter and trying to decide if he was just being nice or if he really meant what he was saying.

“I sure do,” said Ken. “And the more you practice, the better you’ll be. We like to play basketball around here, so we’ll give you plenty of chances to practice.”

“Now it’s my turn,” said Robbie, doing his best to dribble the basketball, which in his case was a bounce and catch effort.

Ken Carter scooped the little boy up in his arms and held him up near the basket. “Now throw it in, Robbie, you can do it.”

Robbie threw the ball into the hoop and the others all cheered.

“I did it, I did it,” crowed Robbie. “I’m going to be a basketball star just like Manda. I made a basket just like Manda.

“Yes you did,” his foster father told him. “But you know the most important thing isn’t winning, it’s doing your best and having a good time.”

“Then you don’t think it’s a disgrace to lose?” asked Amanda. “My father always used to say that losing was disgraceful, you should always be the winner.”

“Well this father doesn’t say that,” Ken told her. “Everybody likes to win of course, but the most important things are to do your best and to have a good time.”

“And to try to make sure that every body else has a good time too, right Dad?” asked Sarah.

“That’s right,” said Ken. “Amanda, do you remember anything else about your father? I know you’ve been having trouble with your memory.”

“Not really,” admitted Amanda. “I remember he wanted me to work with my teachers till I could answer all the questions correctly and do all the work that they gave me, but that’s about it. I remember he used to wear suits to work, but I can’t remember just what he looked like. He didn’t have much time for kids, neither did my mother.”

The fact that Amanda spoke of her parents in the past tense wasn’t lost on Ken. “I wonder if something happened to them and she’s going to eventually remember that they’re dead,” he thought to herself. “Sounds as if she wasn’t allowed to have much fun. Hopefully we can make up for that a little bit while she’s with us.”

Ken sat Robbie back down on the ground and took a shot at the basketball hoop himself. “Well, looks like I need some practice too,” he grinned as the ball hit the edge of the hoop and then rolled off. “I’m going in and let your mother know I’m home. You kids have got about fifteen minutes or so for fun stuff, then why don’t you come in and help get things ready for supper?”

“I can help, Dad Ken,” said Robbie. “I’m a good helper. Mom Kate said so.”

“Yes you are,” Ken told him. “You’re a very good helper and we’re lucky to have you as part of our family.”

Robbie beamed. It was evident to Amanda that he definitely valued his foster father’s opinion.

“This being a kid again is really pretty nice,” thought Amanda. “I couldn’t possibly have come up with a better disguise. Nobody is going to be looking for Patricia Mason as an eleven year old.” Amanda gasped as she realized what she had just said. Suddenly memories started whirling through her mind and she felt dizzy.

“Hey there,” are you alright?” asked Steve grabbing Amanda by the arm. “You look sick, sort of like you’re going to pass out.”

“I’m, I’m ok,” said Amanda, allowing him to lead her to a nearby lawn chair where she sat down. “I guess it’s where my head got banged up, I just suddenly, felt dizzy but I’m ok now.”

“Are you sure?” asked Brenda. “Maybe one of us should go get Mom or Dad.”

“No, please, for goodness sakes don’t do that,” said Amanda. “I’m ok, I’ve had enough of sitting around while I was in the hospital. Please don’t say anything, I’m ok, really.”

“Ok, if you’re sure,” said Sarah. “I don’t think any of us would want to have to sit around and act like an invalid either. If you think you’re ok and it doesn’t happen any more none of us will say anything, right gang?”

“Right,” answered the others. They took turns shooting at the basket for a little while longer, then Steve took care of the basketball and they all started towards the house.

“Wow, that was really something,” thought Amanda. “Now if I could just remember the last name I’m supposed to be using and the code to get hold of the chief I’d be all set.”

In the meantime, the chief followed the professor around, helping him to make a list of the things he was going to need for his experiments. “He’ll never suspect that his helper is the chief of Operation Themis,” she thought to herself. “He wouldn’t expect me to be out here in the field, but I like to kind of keep my finger right on what’s going on. Besides, I’ve always said the best place to hide is right in plain sight.”

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