Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Leadership (03/14/05)
TITLE: Birth Order Blues
By Chris Miller
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you.” As the detective tossed the manila folder across the table, photographs spilled onto my lap.
“I don’t understand,” I managed to stutter. “Why am I being questioned?”
Detective Jones cracked his gum as he sprawled back in his chair, tipping the front two legs
off the floor. I wanted to remind him of how dangerous this was but held my tongue and waited for his answer. “Well, I’m getting to that. Hold your horses,”
he thumbed through his dog-eared notebook. “My clients have a beef against you.” He coughed
uncomfortably. “They claim to be your younger siblings.”
“I’ve tried to be a good sister, in fact, a leader. Mom always depended on me to be a fine
example for the others. What have they got against me?” I threw my hands up in disgust.
“Well, let’s see here. It seems as if your younger brother, Greg, says you made him march
around the backyard carrying a sousaphone. Good night, that sounds like cruel and unusual
punishment to me!"
I found the picture of Greg in his band uniform. That sousaphone did look cumbersome. “See,
detective, freshmen weren’t normally allowed into marching band. As a senior, I wanted to help
my brother learn the routines. Our band director, Mr. Biddle, was a tyrant, and I didn’t want Greg
to face his wrath, if he messed up. I was only trying to help.” I smiled meekly at my interrogator.
His gaze seemed to soften.
“Hmmm, what about your sister’s complaint? She says right here that you kept her from the
companinship of her friends. You grounded her?” He dug the eraser of his pencil into his ear.
Gosh, didn’t he know that nothing smaller than your elbow should go into the ear. There are
products out there to deal with earwax. Oh well, it was
his eardrum, not mine.
“Well, I was housesitting for my parents while they went on a much needed vacation. I was in
charge of my younger sister who was still in high school. It seems as if she’d broken curfew the
first night. Some of her friends were encouraging her to drink and I wanted to protect her from
that temptation.” My explanation seemed completely satisfactory. Jones just nodded his head as
he looked at the picture of Ellen and me.
“I must interject something at this point. I don’t know if you understand my predicament. As
the oldest of five, I was raised by a mother who had six younger sibblings. Her father died when
she was only seventeen so my “leadership” skills come quite naturally. I am compelled to follow in
her footsteps!” The last statement rolled off my tongue. “By the way, don’t they have anything
good to say about me?”
“You know there was some discussion in that regard at our last meeting. Your middle sister
Ruth did remember how strong you were during your dad’s auto accident. When the neighbor
lady came to the door to get your mom, she left you behind with the four little ones. She didn’t
know what to expect because the lady said it was a head on collison. Ruth said you kept them all
from getting scared by saying a prayer.” Detective Jones handed me the photo of my dad’s
crumpled ‘65 Rambler. In the next one, my dad, midsection wrapped to protect his five broken
ribs, smiled at us from his hospital bed.
“Well, that’s a relief,” I sighed.
“Gary also talked about your parents’ deaths. It seems as if you were great with the trust
department down at 1st Citizens. He said they did remember to thank you in a special way.” He
took the gum and stuck it under the table. I just shut my eyes and tried to forget that wad of ick
waiting for the next unsuspecting person.
I picked up the picture of the flower arrangement. That had been so sweet of them to send it to
me at work. I remembered feeling very appreciated for my efforts. Of course, I was always glad
to help out whenever I could.
“Well, little lady, I think I’ve covered the major complaints. It seems you’ve defended yourself
quite well. My clients don’t want any money anyway. They just want me to remind you that
they’re adults now and want to live their own lives.” He seemed relieved to be finished.
Hmmm. This might be the toughest settlement concession yet. After all, I just wanted to help.
Now that my mom was gone, it was my responsibility, wasn’t it? Somehow, I heard Mom’s voice
whispering to me in my dilemma, “I had to leave them in God’s hands, Sis, and so do you.”
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